Great running involves lots of intense training, but can also be enhanced by the tech you use. Here are some of the very best gadgets for runners.
1) Griffin Adidas miCoach Armband
You’ve got no shortage of options for specialized fitness-tracking gadgetry, but simply using free apps on your phone (e.g. Endomondo Sports Tracker, RunKeeper, or MapMyRun) is also a viable choice. It presents you with a new problem, though: How are you going to hang onto that phone? A phone is an awkward and delicate thing to run with, especially if you favor offroad trails. Griffin’s armband does an excellent job of protecting your phone and keeping it dry and secure.
The shell of the miCoach armband is crafted from adjustable lightweight nylon. Though it’s not as impressive at wicking moisture as it claims to be, it does stay in place like a champion. Make sure you’re comfortable with the slight restrictive feeling this armband puts on your bicep! Besides standardized connections for headphones, the band also has a dedicated port for linking up with Adidas’s miCoach Connect heart rate monitor – that’s where it gets its name branding.
Our favorite little extra feature on this armband is a dedicated key holder. This solves one more persistent running quandary for you while also protecting your phone.
2) TomTom Spark 3
If you’re looking for a solid GPS widget and you’d like to spend a little less money, TomTom’s new Spark 3 is an excellent budget option. Though its feature list is rather bare-bones, it handles swimming and cycling as well as running.
The Spark 3 has complete heart rate monitor integration and a few nifty pacing options. You can set a predefined target or race against your previously-logged performances. One of the nicest features you get from the TomTom Spark 3 is a rock-solid music player. Load up your favorite playlist and listen through Bluetooth headphones while you run.
That makes the Spark 3 a motivational tool, a heart rate monitor, and an entertainment centre all in one. Added bonuses: It tracks steps and sleep patterns, too!
3) Garmin Forerunner 630
Surprise, surprise, Garmin has created a new smartwatch. The brand is in no danger of losing its place at the top of the heap when it comes to runners’ gadgets, and the Forerunner 630 is simply one of the best smartwatches available today.
It does accurate tracking. It will follow steps and log your sleep quality when you’re not exercising. When you are on the trail, it’ll relay phone updates to your wrist automatically, minimizing the hassle involved in staying connected.
Note that the Forerunner 630 will require a touch of extra expenditure to really open up all its abilities. It lacks an integrated optical heart rate monitor, so you’ll need to add on a separate one. It’s worth the expense, as the Forerunner 630 will be capable of monitoring things as subtle as foot dominance and ground contact time.
Just watch out for the Forerunner 630’s sensitive touchscreen. While I was trying it out, I lost the data from a long training session to a wet sleeve. If this looks to be a deal-breaker for you, consider upgrading to the Garmin 735XT. It fits the same dimensional profile as the Forerunner 630, tracks triathlons, and uses tactile buttons instead of a touchscreen.
4) Berghaus Limpet 10+ Backpack
The Berghaus Limpet 10+ is one of the tiniest backpacks we’ve ever seen, but after trying it out we’re convinced it’s also one of the most versatile. This trail runner’s best friend is crafted from waterproof reflective fabric and is secured in place with a chest fastener and waist straps – features that are tough to find on a backpack this small. The Limpet 10+ also has padding that opens up a little airflow and reduces the magnitude of sweaty back problems it creates.
There are mesh pockets on the exterior surfaces that can hold anything from water bottles to sunglasses. Inside the Limpet 10+, you’ll find an elasticated pouch suitable for a hydration pack. Though it’s clearly designed for trail running, this pack also makes a decent all-rounder. The Limpet 10+ can be expanded with a zipper to accept up to 15 litres, and the elasticated pouch is also nicely sized for a tablet or 10-inch netbook.
5) Sole Insoles
Mouldable insoles and arch supports are a simple piece of technology that can really help your feet when running. Sole Insoles like these either mould to your feet over time, or alternatively they can be heated up to do so. The fact they conform to your feet mean that running is easier and more comfortable.
6) Sennheiser Adidas PMX 685i Sports
Odd though they might look, these earphones are expressly designed for running. The neckband headset sits across the back of the head. It’s water-resistant and even washable, and it can be adjusted for a perfect fit.
The earphones themselves are also optimized for running. They’re designed specifically to deliver a full range of sound without impeding your situational awareness.
In terms of support features, these headphones come with a cable clip and an in-line remote control on the cable. This makes it easy to navigate your playlist, adjust volume, and even answer phone calls without breaking stride.