The Best Gear for Chilled-Out Summertime Running

From warmup to cool down, these pieces will keep you feeling breezy through the hottest runs of the year.

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Between sweat, salt stains, sunburn and sweltering temperatures, summer running supplies a unique set of challenges, but no matter how hot the sun and how high the mercury climbs, nothing will keep devout runners from pounding the pavement. After all, summer is a key building block, an opportunity to get your base miles in before marathon season kicks off in the fall.

And with your winter running gear tucked safely away — at least we’d hope — it’s time to bring out the coolest, lightest, airy-est, feels-like-nothing’s-there-est garments in your running wardrobe. Crafting the proper outfit for a summer running excursion, especially a long run, is a case of addition by subtraction: you want to wear as little as you can, but not at the expense of functionality. After all, staying hydrated and cool are core tenets of an enjoyable summer run.

To help you strike that perfect balance, we’ve rounded up some of the best summer running gear (not shoes) on the market, from feather-light tops to technical vests and crushable water bottles. If you aim to beat the heat and look as cool as you feel, both literally and figuratively, read on.

Goldwin Star Trail Pack

Why You Need It: To put it in the most blunt terms possible, taking a summer long run without proper hydration is nasty work but lugging around a weighty water jug is work of an equally repulsive nature. Thankfully, there are hydration vests that solve this very problem — and Goldwin‘s new Star Trail Pack is one of the very best you’ll find. Co-designed with world-class trail runner Dylan Bowman, it boasts a mix of elastic and mesh that reduces shake and chafing, with a slightly higher center of gravity than most running packs to minimize the feel of weight. There’s a large half-pocket on the back for storing any extra clothes, while a multitude of front pockets offer space for water, gels, keys or whatever else you’d need. For an ultimate one-two hydration whammy, you can even combine it with our favorite water bottle, which can be seen further down in the list.

Where You Can Get It: Goldwin, $210 USD

Tracksmith Van Cortlandt Singlet

Why You Need It: Running apparel is always looking for the latest and greatest, most high-tech aesthetic it can possibly find, which is exactly what makes Tracksmith‘s signature Van Cortlandt Singlet, a summertime staple inspired by classic New England running aesthetics, so refreshing. Inspired by the never-ending pursuit of personal greatness on the track — and the story of “Boston” Billy Rodgers wearing a mesh tee he found in the trash while setting a US marathon record in 1975 — the Van Cortlandt Singlet is made of a top-tier premium mesh and demands attention with the sash-like stripe slashed across its chest. If you’ve got a summertime race on your schedule, it even comes with gold pins for race day.

Where You Can Get It: Tracksmith, $70 USD

SOAR Hot Weather T

Why You Need It: On the hottest days of the summer, even running in a short-sleeve tee can be a risky proposition, as you want maximum ventilation, and, more often than not, minimum coverage. Long story short, if you don’t want MIMS’ 2006 “classic” (a term we use loosely here) “This Is Why I’m Hot” to be the theme song for your run, a tee like the SOAR Hot Weather Tee is an optimal choice. As its rather on-the-nose name indicates, it’s impossibly (their word, not ours) lightweight, with targeted ventilation and UV protection provided by a technical blend of fabrics. An open weave mesh called SPACE3D is used on the torso, while a closed fabric with UPF 50 protection is used on sleeves, shoulders and upper back to avoid sunburn’s sizzle.

Where You Can Get It: SOAR, $110 USD

Mountain Martial Arts Denim Racing Run Pants

Why You Need It: Two of the summer’s hottest casual trends are super-short shorts worn outside of athletic endevors, and knee-scraping jorts so long and flowing that they look like they were cast aside after a Korn music video shoot. If you love ‘em both and are wondering how you can translate a jort vibe to your run (you wouldn’t run in regular jorts … would you?!) Mountain Martial Arts’ Denim Racing Run Pants are the ideal choice. Made in Japan and featuring breathable, quick-drying Dot Air technology, the “pants” are made for high-performance runners, but keep it playful with a highly-detailed print that makes them look like a pair of denim shorts. Hidden details include five pockets, including a large phone pocket on the back that won’t alter your center of gravity.

Where You Can Get It: Renegade Running, $140 USD

Bandit Running Superbeam Half Tights

Why You Need It: Suns out … thighs out?! The half tight has gotten a makeover, courtesy of Bandit Running chopping a few more inches off of its cult-favorite performance tights. Officially titled the “Superbeam Next Gen 7 Pocket Quarter Tights,” the design’s name may be mouthful but the garment itself espouses Bandit’s sleek outlook on performance wear. Arriving in two new colorways, an olive and a deep purple called “Nightshade,” the tights are constructed out of the brand’s bespoke re-generated nylon and as a bonus, offer UV50+ protection.

Where You Can Get It: Bandit Running, $118 USD

MILER RUNNING Work Running 2-In-1 Short

Why You Need It: Why pick between a half-tight and a short when you can have both? MILER RUNNING’s 2-in-1 Work Running Short layers a woven shell over a slim-fit compression liner. Don’t get intimidated by the two-piece design – both the shell and liner use a thin nylon that moves with body without tacking on excess weight or material. Hidden inside the waistband is an adjustable drawcord and two internal pockets for housing gels, along with another two drop-in pockets situated on the hip. A monochromatic palette and raw cut hems add an aesthetic edge that’s still subtle enough to wear at a track meet.

Where You Can Get It: MILER RUNNING, $150 USD

Unsanctioned Running x Fractel Run Cap

Why You Need It: Fractel makes some of the finest running caps in the world, and Unsanctioned Running is all about circularity and sustainability. Therefore, for their collaboration, they decided to re-work existing Fractel product instead of creating entirely new caps — taking Fractel’s M-Series cap, itself made of 100% recycled fabric, and simply hand-sewn over its labels with 30-year-old factory deadstock thread. They’re breathable, moisture-wicking, sustainable and offer SPF protection, and, let’s face it: offer a more low-key, IYKYK vibe than some of the dorky designs you’re bound to see across summer running headwear (more colors and more graphics does not a fire hat make!).

Where You Can Get It: Unsanctioned Running, $57 USD

Satisfy SoftCell Bandana

Why You Need It: A bandana is about as multi-purpose as it gets. Maximum functionality and minimum weight are two core tenants of a successful summer run, and a bandanna provides both: you can use it to keep your hair out of your face and prevent sweat from seeping into your eyes, or tie it around your neck and use it as an on-the-go towel. If the heat is really kicking, dunk that bandana in cold water and throw it under a cap. The opportunities are endless. Satisfy’s SoftCell Bandana is, true to its name, extremely soft down to a cellular level, thanks to its 100% Japanese cotton makeup. It’s also available in a variety of prints and patterns, from potent paisleys to trippy “LSD” (Long Slow Distance) tie-dyes.

Where You Can Get It: Satisfy, $60 USD

District Vision Kohei Aero Blade Ti Sunglasses

Why You Need It: You got the vision, fam? Proper eyewear is essential for any and all summer running excursions unless you’re looking to stare directly into the sun a la Joey Badass, and when it comes to ultra high-end running eyewear, nobody does it better than District Vision. The brand’s Kohei Aero Blade Ti sunglasses, inspired by ’80s speed cycling eyewear, boast a frame made of aerospace-grade titanium that’s so light you won’t even feel it on your face, while lenses are made from a shatterproof polycarbonate compound treated with both anti-reflective and oleophobic coatings. As an added bonus, their mirrored finish is sure to hide your exhaustion at the end of a long run — even if you’re totally cooked, nobody will see it in your eyes.

Where You Can Get It: District Vision, $635 USD

Janji Multipass Sling Bag

Why You Need It: The fanny pack has gotten a sexy rebrand as the “sling bag,” the preferred term for those who cringe when reminded of the bulky, hip-hugging pouches of decades past. Embrace the sling bag as a storage option for your gels, keys and phone — and free up your hands — with Janji’s elevated version, which can be worn around your waist but is moreso billed as a sling à la broken arm style with the pouch sitting on your chest or back. The weather-repellant Multipass Sling Bag can hold a roomy two liters, and is designed for a no-slip fit, so it doesn’t bounce around aimlessly when you up the pace.

Where You Can Get It: Janji, $56-$58 USD

norda SoftFlask WMX

Why You Need It: The method you use to transport your water on a summertime run is almost as important as the actual act of bringing the water, and there’s no better way to transport bev than with the norda SoftFlask WMX. Created in collaboration with HydraPak®, the crushable flask can fit in a wide variety of vest and pack pockets, even wide and short options. It weights next to nothing when empty, and boasts a proprietary taped pinch welded bottom plus a wide cap that simplifies adding ice and nutrition mixes to your water.

Where You Can Get It: norda, $30 USD

Near Earth Distance Running Sock

Why You Need It: The weather may be blistering but that doesn’t mean your feet have to be. While post-run aches are somewhat inevitable, achy feet can be averted with a well-fit pair of shoes and some stretchy, moisture-wicking socks, like this pair from Near Earth. Engineered in Germany, the nylon-spandex blend Distance Running Sock hugs the arch without constricting movement, while strategically placed “breathable zones” are interspersed throughout the silhouette to prevent a post-run puddle in your sneaker. For those going the extra mile (or ten), the eco-conscious brand also makes a Race Day Sock built to pair with carbon-plated shoes.

Where You Can Get It: Near Earth, $24 USD

Running Order Lorien Swimsuit

Why You Need It: Many can call themselves a runner but few can say they’re an Ironman™ (yes, trademark included). If you’re looking to make 2024 the summer you graduate to triathlete status, or if you’re an accomplished triathlete you can run, bike, swim (and even hit the club after) in style wearing Running Order’s Lorien Swimsuit, a versatile, chlorine-safe suit with a snap-neck closure. The anonymously-run boutique brand has been breaking ground on the “performance clubwear” space with unisex designs that wouldn’t look out of place on the track or at a rave. Who wouldn’t want to party all night after finishing an Ironman? (We understand you might want a nap first, of course).

Where You Can Get It: Running Order, $295

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