I’m a little late on the holiday gift guide this year, but that’s allowed me to review many other runner gift lists and hopefully not bore you with things you’ve seen already (is there literal magic in the Oiselle New Flyer jacket, $140, that it’s on everyone’s list?). If you’d like to see a thorough gift idea list, click here for last year’s guide.
But let’s be honest, you’re just shopping for yourself at this point so it doesn’t really matter when you get the goods as long as you get them. Just remember that all the running stuff you buy only helps you become a healthier, happier, better person, and you can’t put a price on that. Or actually, you can, since if you bought everything on this list it would cost $838 for the high-end products but only $134 for the cheaper versions. Sometimes it’s worth buying high-end stuff, but sometimes a great dupe (aka duplicate) can be just as good. Hopefully this guide will actually end up saving you some money, since there are some great dupes below at great prices!
- All-Over Reflective Jacket – $33 (!!! with shipping included) to $500 – You’ve all seen the Nike Flash gear by now. It’s really expensive and fancy so it kinda makes laughing at this okay. They don’t even make the all-over flash jacket anymore – this year it’s dots, $495, or half flash, $350. I lusted after those jackets last year but decided not to get one (even on sale) after I tried them on and found them too heavy and hot. My search for an all-over reflective jacket did not end, however. I considered the Lululemon Bomber Jacket, $228, but it looked too short, heavy, and still so expensive! But huzzah, I’ve finally discovered a fantastically cheap all-over flash jacket that’s not too heavy – on eBay (Fashion Woman Mens Unisex 3M Reflective Windbreaker Jacket, $23 plus $10 shipping)! Delivery takes about a month since it’s shipped directly from China, but it’s worth the wait. It’s a little sketchy since they are clearly branded as Supreme jackets but nowhere in the description do they list the word “Supreme,” but it’s a legit seller and the product is good. It’s totally reflective all over (minus the Supreme logo) and lightweight enough to wear while running in cool to cold temps (it feels like a rain jacket, so not very breathable, but I wasn’t expecting that from 3M flash material). Note that the sizing is “Asian” which in this case means “small.” I ordered the unisex size Medium and it is a tight fit around my hips (laid flat out on the floor the bottom hem measures 19.5 inches across), and while I successfully wore it in the snow last night (and stayed totally warm), I’d prefer a larger size. It’s also a little bit short on my gorilla long arms, and the pockets aren’t nearly deep enough (I plan on adding some velcro to the pockets so lip balm or tissues don’t fall out). It has a nice, solid plastic zipper, a non-detachable hood, and velcro along the main zipper and at the cuffs. It’s not a totally fully featured jacket, but it’s pretty dang good for any jacket at that price, let alone a 3M reflective one. If you would like a “half-flash” option for even less than that, check out the “Harajuku 3M reflective stars leopard splicing charge trench coat Jacket” for $25 with free shipping (there’s no size choice and it’s listed both as a “women’s M” and a “L” so who knows exactly what size it will be, but it’s cute and cheap!). There are also similar jackets for even less listed at Aliexpress, but their payment confuses me so I stuck with the more familiar eBay. None of these will arrive in time for Christmas, but you can put an I.O.U. under the tree, or just keep them all for yourself.
- All-over Reflective Hat – $10 to $50 – Ok, so I’m obsessed with reflective gear. I take crossing the road and running in traffic seriously! So before I found the jackets, I actually got an all-over reflective hat from Nike (Nike AW84 Hat, $50). It’s not bad, albeit plenty dorky. Then I found a slightly-less-dorky-looking-but-still-reflective hat from Forever 21, of all places, and it’s only $10! (Reflective Night Runner’s Cap, $9.90) The Forever 21 hat has a stiffer brim and black mesh on the top and sides, making it more breathable and slightly less dorky-looking. The reflective material is also not as reflective as the Nike hat nor the Supreme jacket, as you can see in the photo below (taken with flash in a well-lit room). It’s still more visible than a normal hat, so at 10 bucks I say it’s still a “buy.”
- Bluetooth Hat or Headband – $30 to $99 – I’m still seeing AcousticSheep SleepPhones, $40, make it onto “new” holiday gift lists (cough cough Today Show cough cough) even though they’ve been around for what feels like centuries (Amazon tells me I ordered them in January 2011). They’re ok, I guess, but that stupid cord is still stupidly annoying. AcousticSheep now sells a wireless version for $99. And yet Target is selling bluetooth (that means wireless, Mom) hats (Bluetooth beanie, $30) and headbands (Bluetooth Headband, $30, unfortunately out of stock right now) and nobody is covering this. This is news, people! I ordered some for gifts (shhh don’t tell!) and of course one for myself, which I’m wearing right now. It just arrived today so I haven’t put it through its paces yet, but so far it paired quickly with both my phone and laptop, held its connection even when I walked all the way across my apartment and into another room, and it’s plenty loud enough, which is about the only audio review I can give, since I’m totally not an audiophile and my favorite earbuds are 11 bucks. I can tell that the right speaker seems louder than the left, and the electronics seem a little flimsy, so I worry they’ll break easily, but they slip out of the headband very easily so you can wash the gross off the actual headband. The headband itself is quite thin so wouldn’t provide much warmth in the winter, but I think it would block the wind and it’s thin enough you could just wear a regular hat over it if you’re cold. All-in-all, I definitely would take a chance on this over the $100 headband. Plus everything ships for free from Target from now until Christmas!
- All-Weather Paper – $13 to $25 – I’ll admit I got this idea from the Runner’s World Gifts Under $30 list where they suggest using it to print trail maps for running. But then I found this version on Amazon for only $13 with free shipping, and it’ll work with my laser (not inkjet) printer. I haven’t actually ordered any yet, but the reviews are good.
- Wool Socks & Underwear – $16 to $60 – (This isn’t really a “dupe” item, it’s just a solid gift idea.) The temperature has finally dipped low enough in NYC that I’m breaking out my wool hiking socks for running, but it would be nice to have wool socks that are actually for running (like Darn Tough Vermont Women’s 1/4 Merino Wool Ultra-Light Athletic Socks, $16, Men’s version here). Since wool has both magical anti-stink properties and is warm while wet, I’ll be wearing wool underwear (not just long underwear, but Icebreaker Botanical Hipkinis, $30) and even a wool sports bra (Smartwool PhD Seamless Racerback Bra, $60, but I’ve occasionally seen it on sale for $35) for my camping trip around Crater Lake next year. Besides finding the items on sale, I guess the dupe here would be to find other brands, although since we’re talking about wool next to your most precious skin, you might want to stick with a name brand, like the well-reviewed items above. Check out Sierra Trading Post for constant sales on stuff like good wool socks.
- Lightweight Jogger Pant – $27 to $89 – Unlike people who hate ugly and comfortable clothing, I love that jogger pants and tapered sweatpants are all over stores right now. They’re not for actual running, mind you – they’re to remind you and others that you might have in the past or will in the future be running. Some of us are celebrating the end of the tyrannically tight yoga pants and are proudly wearing only clothing that can be confused with pajamas or found on those who have given up in life! So I love Athleta’s City Jogger Pant, $89, but I also love not spending $100 on what are essential track pants. Luckily, Athleta’s sister brand Old Navy has me covered with some similar pants (Active Lightweight Warmup Pants, $27, but there’s always a sale) and striped sweatpants (Side-Stripe Fleece Pants, $18, so not the same thing, I know, but they were on sale for $11 last week), and Marshall’s was just selling some thin jogger pants that were definitely Athleta-style for about $30 (photo below but no link is available – check your local store for availability). I like these pants for travel because they are incredibly lightweight and dry quickly, and I can pretend they are fancier than jeans and wear them as such.
- Headbands – $5 to $15 – Those sparkly bands look pretty but they always slip off my head and they don’t really do anything besides keep my bangs off my face (until they slip off, and then they really don’t do anything). Bondi Bands are not quite as cute but they are effective at corralling stray hair and not slipping off, plus they double as ear protection. A lot of time I just need to block the wind from my ears, and Bondi Bands are great for that. Plus they have a large selection on sale for $5 at any given time (even ones that look like Frootloops, French Fries, or Jelly Beans).
Finally, a note on something I’ve found on every single holiday gift list focused on runners (including mine from last year, grimace) – compression socks and/or calf sleeves. You know my love of compression gear, and I don’t step foot on a plane without wearing compression socks or calf sleeves (more recently I prefer the calf sleeves as they feel less constricting & let me wear a weird American flag design on my lower legs). However, it’s one of those gifts that is basically impossible to give to someone else. Why? Because you have to know the calf circumference of the person wearing them. Do you even know your own calf circumference? No, you do not. Which is a good thing, because it probably changes over the year with training and ice cream and not-training, forcing you to measure yourself before you buy something as tight as compression socks. If you know the calf circumference of your giftee, then you’ve been measuring them while they are asleep, and that’s creepy. If you want to share your enthusiasm for compression gear, give your giftee a link or photo of what they should buy along with a gift card. Or just buy them a reflective jacket.
What’s on your holiday wish list? How many reflective jackets are you going to order? Does anyone know a dupe for actually running the miles? Share in the comments!