The days of carrying a jumpy portable discman and chunky CD wallet around the trail are long gone, with thousands of hi-tec gadgets competing with each other to accompany you on your next run. But with so many to pick from, where the hell do you even start? We've done the hard work for you by putting eight portable sound systems through their paces. All you need to do is pick your favourite then crank up the volume.
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Petzl BINDI (£50.00)
The BINDI head torch is a new departure for Petzl. It’s very compact and weighs just 35g, yet it’s powerful at 200 lumens. The design rotates on its mount so you can tilt it upward when it is worn around the neck for example, and it reverses into a locked position to avoid accidentally turning it on. There are three lighting modes: proximity, movement and distance vision, with red lighting to preserve night vision. The BINDI has a rechargeable internal battery, charged via a micro USB port. Perfect for urban and trail runners, sailing, backpacking, climbing; just about anything really…
La Sportiva Unika (£165.00)
A new trail running shoe designed for middle to long distances, over any type of terrain, the Unika is also La Sportiva’s first running shoe to feature Infinitoo foam. Incorporated into the soft polyurethane midsole with its Rock-Guard Skin external protective layer, Infinitoo’s elasticity absorbs the ground impact and converts this into an energy return superior to any other foam technology. External stabilisers on the sole, called Stability-Lugs, help keep the shoe stable especially when contouring or on uneven terrain. The super-snug uppers use a Sock-Like construction derived from La Sportiva’s climbing footwear. The Lace Up Harness system structurally integrates the uppers to the sole, distributing lace tension perfectly.
La Sportiva Lycan (£110.00)
Light in weight, easy-fitting and with a 6mm drop, the Lycan is perfect for medium distances on harder surfaces. The breathable mesh upper uses abrasion-resistant microfibre reinforcements, and features a roomy toe box with protective TPU toe cap. A shock-absorbing injected EVA midsole provides a smooth ride, while the Frixion Blue outer sole with its Impact Brake System is ideal for grip on rocky terrain.
La Sportiva VK (£135.00)
The VK has been developed specifically for Vertical Kilometre racing, in collaboration with world champion Urban Zemmer. Ultra-lightweight (190g per shoe) for maximum performance uphill, the super-light sole features rubber only at the front section with a TPU rock-guard on the forefoot and an abrasion resistant, compressed EVA wedge at the back. The ‘rear spoiler’ in slick microfibre makes the shoe quicker and easier to pull on. The snug-fitting upper uses Sock-Like technology, a single piece of knitted fabric with differentiated stretch zones and thermo-adhesive stabiliser panels, eliminating seams. The ‘Ghost-Stream’ asymmetric lacing system is a structural part of the uppers; snug fitting with laterally retractable laces.
Julbo Aerospeed (£135.00 with Zebra Light lens)
Specifically designed for trail running performance; so well balanced and ventilated that you won’t notice you’re wearing them. With the 3D Fit nosepiece, the Aerospeed is stable and stays in position even through sharp and repeated movements. Features supple, sculpted inserts for excellent hold, curved wrapping temples and a panoramic lens surface for broad vision spectrum. The photochromic Zebra Light lens gets darker or lighter depending on light intensity with ultra-fast activation speed, exceptional anti-fog coating, a hydrophobic coating on the outside, and the non-shatter lens material reduces the risk of injury during falls. The Full Venting design allows complete air circulation around the lens to avoid fogging.
HydraPak SpeedCup (£8.00, or £25.00 for 4-pack)
The sustainable, durable alternative to single-use plastic, HydraPak’s flexible SpeedCup crushes down small yet pops up when you need to drink. Made of ultra-durable, abrasion resistant TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane, a mixture of hard plastic and silicone) using RF (radio frequency) welded seams for superior durability and elasticity, the cups are 100% BPA and PVC free. An integrated finger loop provides support when drinking or pouring, while the cup remains free-standing whether empty or full. Can be frozen or filled with hot water (max temp 60°C) and is dishwasher safe for super cleaning. Available in four colours, or a 4-pack with one of each colour.
With the Virgin London Marathon looming ever near, we thought it was a good moment to tell you of some great kit to get you in perfect shape (for the road, but hey, we know some of you enjoy that this time of year.
From left to right, top to bottom: New Balance Fresh Foam 108v8, £125, available from www.newbalance.co.uk, New Balance Accessories Endurance 2.0 Backpack 10, £60, available from www.amazon.com, Garmin Forerunner 645M, £399.99, available from www.garmin.com, New Balance Accessories Daily Driver II Backpack, £40, available from www.amazon.com, New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v8, £125, available from www.newbalance.co.uk, Stance Mesa Crew Sock, £16.74, available from www.stance.com, New Balance Accessories Performance Waist Pack (Pacific), £20, available from www.amazon.com, New Balance Accessories Performance Waist Pack (Vivid Coral), £20, available fromwww.amazon.com, Stance Minimalism Crew Sock, £16.74, available from www.stance.com, New Balance Accessories Laser Perf Run Hat, £25, available from Urban Surfer (from February), New Balance Accessories Everyday Gloves, £25, available from Runner’s World, New Balance Accessories 5-Panel Performance Hat (Brain Wave Marble Print), £20, available from Amazon
Stuff you really shouldn’t be without
OMM Kamleika Pant £120
These lightweight pants are made from OMM’s unique stretch fabric, which stretches with you, giving the comfort of a running tight and the performance of a fully featured mountain pant. It has Dyneema panels for extra protection over rough terrain and also contain technology to manage moisture and temperature build-up
Arc’teryx Trino Beanie £20
This beanie is windproof, breathable and weather resistant. The headband is shaped for coverage all the way to the earlobes and the side ports hold sunglasses in place. A pass-through slot in the back accommodates a ponytail.
Smartwool PhD Ultralight T-shirt £60
Breathable mesh panels combined with Merino wool ensures this Tee combines comfort and performance with warmth. It holds its shape during sweaty activities and helps regulate temperature too.
Women’s Runderwear Merino Brief £25
Made with the finest Merino wool with thermocool technology, these briefs respond to changes in body temperature and warms or cools as needed. The fabric absorbs, stores and wicks moisture away from the body to guarantee comfort. They are seamless and designed to reduce friction and irritation, allowing a freer, faster movement.
Odlo light tube, £12
A soft and lightweight neck and head tube which is fast-drying and wicks moisture away from the body. Seamless open-edge construction offers a great, chafe-free fit. Easy to carry when it’s not needed
EDZ merino wool thermal gloves £9.99
Wool gloves are great at this time of year when the weather can be changeable – mild one minute, not the next. Made from pure wool these gloves are soft, thin and have a long cuff. One size fits most.
Helly Hanson Lifa Merino baselayer £80
HH’s warmest baselayers are constructed in a 2-in-1 system with Lifa and Merino wool. This Lifa moves moisture away from the skin to make sure you keep dry and comfortable, whilst the Merino on the outside protects you from the cold. Perfect!
Garmin Forerunner 935 £469.99
This watch won’t keep you warm but it does give you advanced running and multisport features. And it’s easy to wear. It will monitor your training and recovery to better prepare you for a race or progressive training cycle. Not cheap, but it does everything you could need.
Inov-8 AT/C Protec-shell Waterproof Jacket £270
This women’s jacket is Inov-8’s most protective running jacket ever. Designed specifically for use in the mountains and on multi-day, ultra runs although those with less ambition will still find this jacket useful on wet and cold days. It has a three-layer waterproof fabric with 20,000 HH and taped seams – nothing is getting in. It’s also highly reflective.
Smartwool PhD Outdoor Approach socks
These crew height men’s socks are designed to fit seamlessly and offer Smartwool’s 4 Degree fit comfort. They have an Achilles strap to offer protection to that area and help avoid injury. 54% Merino wool.
Ashmei Hooded Sweatshirt £139
The new high-performance sweatshirt is a piece designed as much as a lifestyle garment as one for the road or trails. The merino terry loop backing gives great next to skin comfort while its excellent stretch offers a full range of motion. Lightweight, wicking and highly breathable, the luxurious Merino fabric will easily handle cooler winter temperatures as well as warmer spring conditions.
Looking for the perfect running shoe can be a daunting task and there’s a huge range available, from deep-studded mud specialists to super-light racing flats. Consider how you’ll use them and the terrain you’ll be running on. Great fit and comfort are essential, and having the right balance of weight, cushioning and grip will ensure you have the most running
How they were tested
Jen and Sim are lucky enough to live somewhere with easy access to country lanes, muddy hills, steep rocky trails and gravelled towpaths, to put the shoes through their paces. They ran in each pair of shoes over a variety of terrains and in different conditions, comparing them against each other and their recommended use.