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The best part about running is that, unlike those other Colorado pastimes, it requires very little buy-in at the outset. With a decent pair of shoes, all you really need to do is lace up and head out the door. But for as minimalistic as the activity is, it has a not-so-secret secret: Most runners are obsessed with gear—and we’re not just talking about shoes. Runners tend to love all of the bobbles that come along with the sport: apparel, watches, vests, snacks, hydration, recovery tools, and, yes, shoes.
If you’re struggling to come up with the perfect surprise for your favorite runner, check out our list below. We’ve outlined 10 perfect gifts for Colorado runners—all from local manufacturers. Truth be told, this is the stuff headlining our own wish lists.
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Norwegian Olympian Bjørn Dæhlie knew his stuff, raking in enough medals to cement him as one of the most successful cross-country skiers ever. Now, his Broomfield-based Dahlie has branched out into trail running with his hard-earned expertise on staying just-right in all weather. The Coverage zip-up ($120) is one such piece. It’s perfect for cold-weather runners thanks to a technical softshell fabric that breathes well but keeps wind and precip at bay. The laser-cut holes on the back of the jacket add bonus ventilation. Available online
There’s a lot to love about these plush kicks. Altra’s newest road shoe will make its hometown runners happy with 33mm of cushioning—the most in the company’s entire lineup. The VIA Olympus ($170) still keeps the brand’s signature zero-drop platform (the sole is the same height beneath the heel and toe for natural midfoot striking) and rockered profile (it curves upward like a smile for natural toeing-off), which will keep most road runners happy. It’s also foot-shaped—which many runners find more comfortable than more ovular or rectangular shoes. Bottom line: If your giftee likes long runs on pavement, chances are they’ll swoon over these shoes. Available online and in various retailers
We’re not sure when and where socks earned such a bad reputation when it comes to holiday gifts. Here’s a tip: Runners love high-quality socks like these ($21) from Denver-based Smartwool. Designers added extra cushioning in high impact areas like the ball and heel of the foot, which protects runners’ feet while ensuring a smooth ride. The ankle height means no slippage or rubbing, and because the socks are constructed with the brand’s signature merino wool, they’re naturally breathable and odor-resistant. Available online and in various retailers
Like Dahlie, Kari Traa is a Nordic brand—also named for an Olympian—that came to the States and set up shop in Broomfield, bringing along the brand’s signature activewear, all beautifully patterned. These synthetic, high-waist tights ($90) are perfect for making miles: They’re quick-drying with mesh ventilation zones and clever details like ankle zips and reflective piping. They also look good at the coffee shop if your friend pops in post-workout. Sorry, guys—this one is only available for women. Available online and in various retailers
Versatility reigns supreme with the Micah ($100), a breathable fleece midlayer from Denver-based Flylow. While it was technically designed for skiing, we think its slim profile and breathable synthetic fleece suit it to cold-weather runs. There’s just enough spandex in the fabric (6 percent, to be exact) that the layer moves well as your giftee glides along frozen sidewalks, and no hood means no bounce in the back (and easier venting). A small, zippered chest pocket will swallow a credit card and a key. Sorry, ladies—this one is only available for men. Available online and in various retailers
Runners who go long will love the efficiency and comfort of the Vest 6.0 ($139.95) by Broomfield-based Ultimate Direction. Known for its amazing fit, Ultimate Direction’s vests utilize a unique cinching that prevents bouncing. (The gendered vests also accommodate anatomical differences.) Plus, a host of bells and whistles like hooks to stash away trail-running poles and a bazillion stuff-it pockets will keep the pickiest runners happy. Available online and in various retailers
If your beloved is a runner who likes to log double-digit mileage, chances are good that they are always in need of fuel. Consider scoring them some Tailwind to keep them energized on their next long run. Cobbled together by nutritionists and scientists in the Durango office, the Endurance Fuel ($38.99 for 50 servings) replaces electrolytes, increases water absorption, and adds calories so a runner doesn’t have to worry about digestive issues. There’s caffeinated and non-caffeinated options, as well as a variety of flavors—including plain. Available online and in various retailers
Help the runner in your life get out the door quicker with a pack of Honey Stinger waffles ($27.99 for 15). The easy-to-digest snacks deliver quick energy and are easy on the tummy—perfect for runners who need a boost before or on a run. There are a bunch of flavors (including gluten-free); this variety pack contains the classics: honey, vanilla, and chocolate. Available online and in various retailers
Louisville-based Amanda Brooks is a certified running coach with a ton of credentials, but that’s not what makes her book valuable. Rather, Run to the Finish ($17.99) is a celebration of running for all athletes, even those in the back of the pack or the beginning of their jogging journeys. The book includes dynamic warmups, advice on treating common injuries, guidance on mastering the mindset, and most importantly: the humor and support you pal wants to help them love running. Available online
Give your runner the gift of recovery with the R8 Plus massage tool ($169) from Boulder-based Roll Recovery. Unlike elaborate percussion massagers, the R8 uses simple tension—your own hands and an easy dial adjustment. The end result is a deep-tissue massage that can target the IT bands, hamstrings, calves, quads, or glutes. There are no batteries needed, and the R8 is ready to go straight out of the box. Available online