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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 can be, runners have a not-so-secret secret: Most of them 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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Runners are extremely picky about their shoes, so gifting them a pair of kicks can be difficult. But if you have an avid trail runner in your life, the new Jackal II BOA ($185) from La Sportiva, whose U.S. headquarters are in Boulder, is one of the most comfortable, supportive sneakers on the market. The brand’s Infinitoo cushion technology provides enough padding to cradle your foot while you pound the path—but not so much that you feel unstable. The Jackal II BOA’s all-terrain tread provides more than enough grip to tackle even the most technical trails, and the Double BOA Fit System (BOA is based right here in Denver) allows the runner to dial in a precise heel-to-forefoot fit that feels nearly custom-made. But the best part might be the Ariaprene tongue and collar, which offers breathability while preventing debris from falling inside. And that means no more stopping mid-run to dig rocks out of your shoes. Available online and at various retailers
The only thing runners might love more than the actual act of running is obsessing over their training data afterward. If your loved one spends hours going over their Garmin stats, they’ll almost certainly geek out over Boulder-based wearable Stryd ($249). Unlike other fitness trackers, this one clips to your shoe, pairs with a variety of watches (Garmin, Apple Watch, Polar, etc.), and focuses on running power. Like cycling power meters, Stryd monitors a runner’s output (in watts), which can provide a more accurate picture of effort than heart rate or pace. It also tracks cadence, distance (even when you’re in a GPD dead zone), and gives you a Running Stress Score—a number that quantifies just how hard you trained that day based on the duration of your run and your power output. Available online
Is there anything worse than having to continuously hike up your pants while you’re out for a run? Definitely not. That’s why Denver-based Vitality created a buttery soft legging that stays in place while you pursue your next PR. The Cloud II Pant’s ($85) luxurious fabric rivals that of beloved big names but its medium compression offers just enough support for a fit that feels like a second skin. These leggings also ditch the front seam so you’re not showing off anything but your gains. Available online
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 at various retailers
Versatility reigns supreme with the Micah ($110), 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 at various retailers
Runners who go long will love the efficiency and comfort of the Ultra Vest and Vesta 6.0 ($149.95) 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 at 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 ($39.99 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 at 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 at 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 your 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