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2022 Gearhead Picks For Spring Running

Footwear, Apparel & Gadgets For All Terrain

We don’t let winter slow us down, but that doesn’t mean we’re not excited to get out on snowless trails—especially with the new spring run gear out there. A teaser of what we’re excited about this season? Super light, yet nicely padded sneaks, and trail runners inspired by race shoes. Read on for a breakdown of our top mixed-surface and trail running footwear, plus the accessories and gadgets we’ll be taking with us post-spring melt. 

Mixed-Surface Running Shoes

If you’re planning to run primarily on pavement (or trail), you’ve got to check out On’s Cloundmonster (men’s) and HOKA ONE ONE’s Rincon 3 (women’s). On and HOKA’s innovative footwear continue to floor us, but these two shoes have specifically caught the attention of our Gearheads.

The Cloudmonster was made with long runs on hard surfaces in mind, and it’s almost like someone on their design team was on a mission to destroy shin splints. On took their legendary CloudTec science—multi-directional rubber that activates during landings to absorb impact—to the limit. They also added even more cushion with their super-springy Helion foam, making the Cloudmonster perfect for stacking on miles. Its 6mm drop targets runners whose forefoot or midfoot hits the ground first, so if you’re a heel striker, keep the drop on this shoe in mind.

To introduce our next mixed-surface shoe imagine a small paperclip, which weighs about a gram. Most race shoes clock in under 200 grams, but the HOKA ONE ONE Rincon weighs just 185 grams. That’s about the weight of a box of small paper clips. You might be wondering how a shoe that light could have enough cushion for mixed-running. The Rincon manages to pull it off with its high-abrasion rubber sole. 

Trail Running Shoes

Scenic views, physical challenge, and the drumming of feet on dirt make trail running zenfully blissful. That’s why we’re so stoked to get back on iceless paths. HOKA ONE ONE and On have done their off-season homework, and our Gearheads have noticed. We’re waiting for the snow to melt before breaking in the On Cloudultra and HOKA ONE ONE Torrent 2, but trust us, they’re already unboxed and waiting to be laced up. 

HOKA ONE ONE’s Torrent 2 is stacked with features, making it the closest thing we’ve seen to the perfect trail shoe—yet built like a race shoe. If the typical trail presents problems, this shoe has the solutions. A reinforced overlay protects against rocks and other debris you might kick on the trail. The lightweight midsole balances cushion with propulsion, keeping your pace up without sacrificing endurance and distance. On uneven ground, the super-sticky multiple-directional lugs grip well, and a seamless mesh top delivers breathability and quick-drying properties for wet terrain. Finally, and most importantly, it comes in some sweet color combos. 

As far as perfect trail runners go, On’s Cloudultra isn’t far behind. Constantly in search of innovation, the Cloudultra features On’s Missiongrip sole and Flexlock lace. On’s Flexlock lace system allows a quick, one-pull cinch to adjust to the perfect comfort level. Once your laces are in the right place, you can lock the lower and upper part individually, making for a super-smooth fit that won’t have you retying halfway through a run. The Missiongrip sole is a specially designed rubber that keeps you from slipping on both hard and soft surfaces, because running is fun, but falling’s not.

Running Accessories & Gadgets

Less is usually more when it comes to running, but there are a few things you can bring along to enhance your miles. Our Gearheads are loving the little Nathan Zipster Lite Lumbar Pack for packing snacks and keys. It’s low-profile and lightweight and compensates nicely for running apparel’s biggest issue—bad or insufficient pockets.

Training and recovery are tough without a smart device. After all, knowing your data is knowing yourself. Our Gearheads have agreed that the Suunto 9 Peak Sport Watch has knocked it out of the park. The Peak packs all the original Suunto 9 features into the thinnest, smallest, and toughest size Suunto’s ever made, including a new and improved GPS system. The Suunto combines GPS and motion sensor data for dependable distance tracking that doesn’t rely entirely on the GPS. This allows the GPS to reduce its impact on battery and lets movement data fill in the gaps, ensuring we’ve got enough charge to log those 20-mile workouts accurately.

See You Out There

Street, trail, mud, dust … whatever you’re running on we’ll be right out there with you this spring. If you still have questions or want to learn more specifics about your next running shoe, connect with a Gearhead

Alex Moliski is a writer at Backcountry. When he’s not typing, he’s exploring the country, climbing, skiing, or backpacking somewhere remote. See more of his stories on Instagram @alexmoliski.