In last week's post I laid out a very basic guide to run commuting. This week we are going to get down and dirty and discuss my favorite aspect. The gear! Just like any outdoor activity we participate in, there comes a plethora of gear but how to choose? Lucky for you, I will be your guide. Below is the gear I use for my commute in the modest Phoenix winters. For the sake of simplicity we will start high and work our way down the body. The following list is for temperate Phoenix winter conditions.
-The Original Buff- One of the most used items in my adventure wardrobe. I use this on every run to keep the sweat drip to a minimum and to keep my ears warm. Usually I wear it 'headband' style over my ears in the morning and then just above the ears on my run home. Wearing it this way allows for massive moisture loss through the top of the head, which makes it extremely comfortable in low temperatures.
-Petzl Nao (Generation 1)- This headlamp is bomber. It is extremely comfortable on the head and goes unnoticed while running. The ability to charge the headlamp from any USB port, without needing a special cord is ideal. I use this headlamp in the morning and occasionally on the way home. If you have set hours you should still carry a set of lights just in case something unexpected happens and you have to commute in the dark.
-Smith Pivlock V90- The thing I like most about these glasses are the minimal weight and the lack of bounce. I have never had any issues with the frames bouncing around on my face, even after my form goes to shit.
-Far End Gear One Good Ear Bud- I have used these headphones for cycling and running exclusively for years. Most buds last a year (which considering the amount of use mine get is impressive). I have worn the ear bud in light rain and during heavy sweat and have not experienced any issues. The best thing about this model is that one ear is empty allowing you to hear traffic, other trail users, and your surroundings. The two most annoying things about my commute are the people who have two earphones in and the people who choose to share their playlist with the fucking world. This product solves so many issues. It should be mentioned that I couple this ear bud with the Budloks. These are sold by the same company and have never failed to hold the bud in securely.
-Patagonia Capilene 1 Silkweight Sleeveless Shirt- This tank is affordable (you can find lightly used or in last years colors for a great price), tough, and lightweight. I own four of these in various colors allowing me to run to and from work in the same one. They are synthetic so the ripeness factor is quite high but I have yet to have any issues with chaffing (but my girlfriend does make me ride home on the roof rack some days).
-Patagonia Houdini Jacket- Although I would never pay full price for this one, the cost of use has easily paid for itself after buying it used. I wear this jacket every morning to keep the chill off. As I warm up climbing into SOMO I am able to unzip and regulate my temperature quite well. The material does get swampy against the bare skin but this does not bother me. The jacket has provided me enough protection on the times I have been caught in minor rain, but I would not recommend it if your commute plans to take you into a monsoon. The best part about this jacket is that it fits in my tiny pack, and dries extremely fast at work. I do wash mine weekly as it does hold some funk, but this is after logging four and half hours in it.
-Salomon S-Lab Advanced Skin 5 Vest- This is one of my favorite pieces of gear. I log the most amount of time with this between commuting and trail running on the weekends. The pack is just large enough for me to fit daily clothes, headlamp, sunglasses, Salomon 1.5 Liter bladder (partially full), keys, phone, tube of body lube (more on this later) and wallet. It is a tight fit on days when I bring an extra pair of shoes in, but for the most part it is just the right amount of space. If you plan on bringing your clothing and food into work this vest would be ideal. If you need a slightly larger model I would suggest the S-Lab Advanced Skin 12. I own this model also and it does a great job of carrying larger loads.
-Outdoor Research Liner Gloves (Unknown Model)- These are really a personal preference. You want a glove that allows moisture transfer but keeps the chill off. These particular gloves are made of Polortec and do the job well. I have used different gloves for running with similar results. Unless you plan on using your hands on rocks while running the durability should not be an issue.
The Lower Half-
-Patagonia Strider Pro 5"- The shorts are by far the most comfortable pair I have worn. The liner and waist band are soft against the skin. The drawstring is not noticeable. Chaffing has never been an issue with these, but that could have more to do with my skin lube. The winning feature on these shorts are the pockets. They lay flat when not used but can be stuffed full of shit when the vest is too full. I have even managed to fit an iPhone 4 with a LifeProof Case and specific audio connector in the rear zippered pocket. The shorts have mesh on the sides that are breathable and the five inch inseam is modest compared to my three inch classics.
-Patagonia Lightweight Merino Wool Socks- These socks have never caused me any issues. They are extremely comfortable in all weather conditions, including when they are wet. I never get blisters or hot spots. The only complaint is that the low anklet version has a tendency to to let in small pebbles and sand when not wearing a gaitor.
-Patagonia Everlong- Seeing a pattern yet? I have a soft spot for Patagonia clothing. Unfortunately,, I have heard rumors that Paty is going to stop shoe production which would be a shame. These runners are light, have great traction on dry desert trails, and are affordable (often found on sale). With these being discontinued I will have to seek out another pair. This will allow me to find a pair that has better traction on wet surfaces as this was the only area these shoes did not perform. After a rain I was forced to be conservative on technical descents.
-Beljum Budder Skin Lubricant and Chamois Cream- This shit works, well. I use this for every run to prevent any chance of chaffing. A small pea sized quantity is more then enough for the inner thighs, and a second pea size quantity for the backs of the underarms. This cream has no odor and easily washes off clothing. Additionally, the price is excellent for the amount you get. I have tried using coconut oil in the past with similar results, except that the shit gets stuck in clothes. So basically don't go the super cheap route--just buy this stuff.
-Nathan StrobeLight- This is an excellent piece for running near roads. It is always a good idea to have reactive and proactive lighting. This little light weighs nothing, easily clips to clothes or a pack and stays put. The battery life is good, with the only downside being that the batteries are the coin style and non-rechargeable. I purchased an orange one but if I were to do it again I would select a red light as this makes more sense.
-Reflective Waist Band- No specific brand needed. I bought a knock off on eBay and have been pleased with it. I only take this with me when I know I will be commuting in the dark on streets. The waist band is easily spotted on the road. The only downside is the size when not wearing it and it can be slightly uncomfortable to wear for a long time.
-Garmin Fenix (Generation 1) and Garmin Chest Strap- The Garmin Fenix has been my go-to device for recording all activities, including commuting. I like the ability to track my body and view the information later. It is also an excellent motivation technique to see your improvement over time. The classic heart rate monitor strap is not the most comfortable, but after burning through two of Garmins new style heart rate monitor I am happy to stick with this. It should be noted that the monitor can be worn in a way that is not effected by the Salomon running vest.
There you have it, my gear list for my run commute. Obviously these are not the only choices out there for gear but it gives you some ideas of what it takes. After using these products for hundreds of runs I can attest that they are of high quality and happily recommend them for your run commute. Now get out and run!
Disclaimer: All products were purchased with my own hard earned cash.