Regret a Running Gear Purchase? We Can Help You Find the Right … – Runner’s World

Regret a Running Gear Purchase? We Can Help You Find the Right …  Runner’s World

Earlier this month, Reddit user agreeingstorm9 posed a question on the r/running subreddit: “What running purchase do you regret the most? Or think is a giant waste of money?” More than 300 comments stand as proof that there are many—as are the reasons why a piece of gear may not work out.

Maybe you put too much stock in your running group’s hype about a trendy pair of joggers, or perhaps you relied too heavily on Amazon reviews only to end up with a product that wears out after a few uses.

Our experienced test team actually tries everything it recommends, from sneakers and socks to percussion massagers and treadmills. We make sure to only recommend the products we’ve loved—a.k.a. products that are high quality, durable, and as functional as possible—for our gift guides and shopping roundups to help prevent regretful purchases.

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To learn from the hard lessons of those Reddit commenters, we pored over the list of woes to help you learn how to shop better for running gear (including specific recommendations), or figure out how to make what you already have work.

⇨ I bought a “million pairs of shoes” in search of the perfect pair.

While our experts ensure we only recommend great running shoes, it can still feel like a shot in the dark to buy shoes online—specifically for new or uneducated runners. Reddit user pimpampoumz lamented the “million pairs of shoes” they bought when they were “desperately trying to find the one that worked for me,” which is something nearly every runner can relate to. Even if you’ve already found your perfect pair, we all remember those months of testing different brands and styles to find the support, comfort, breathability, shock protection, and of course, look, that makes us want to hit the trail or treadmill again.

We wish we could fix this problem for you entirely, but the bottom line is that we cannot see your feet or watch you run. (And please, do not fill our inboxes with feet pics.) We are, however, experts in how to find the perfect fit, and one way to avoid pimpampoumz’s “millions of pairs” issue is to learn about your feet before shopping online. An employee at your local running shop can give you insights like your foot size, foot profile, and arch height, or you can learn how to take these measurements at home for online shopping. Understanding your feet will help you avoid regretful purchases: If you know you have high arches, for instance, you can trust these recommendations for shoes with arch support.

What to Know Before You Shop

  • Foot size and profile
  • Arch type and height
  • Gait and pace
  • Mileage
  • Terrain

It’s also a good idea to read up on our resources about different types of running shoes and shoe tech, and marry that knowledge with your running goals. For instance, if you’re a casual jogger who cares more about distance than pace, you don’t need to worry about getting the fastest shoe. On the other hand, all runners should know about the basics, such as heel-to-toe drop, since factors like that determine your preferences and comfort when running.

Types of Running Shoes

  • Lightweight and racing
  • Daily trainers
  • Trail running shoes
  • Stability shoes

If you have no idea where to start with these preferences, our best recommendation is to visit your local running store to make sure you’re in the correct size and the right pair for your gait, arch height, mileage, and terrain. Once you sort out the type of shoe that’s safest and most comfortable for you, like thick cushioned shoes for people with desire protection from pavement or heavy-duty trail runners for people who like tumultuous trails, you can start shopping online. And don’t forget: A poor fit might be easily fixed with a new pair of insoles.

If you have been properly fit in the past, and know what works for you, check out the best shoes that we tested this year and you can buy right now.

Best Neutral Trainer

 Ghost 15 Neutral Running Shoe

The vanilla ice cream of running shoes, the Ghost is great for all your training needs. It has a mid-cushion midsole which keeps you comfortable on long runs, and is light enough that it won’t weigh you down while you bust out reps on the track.

Best Supportive Trainer

Gel-Kayano 29 Running Shoes
ASICS Gel-Kayano 29 Running Shoes

$160 at Amazon$160 at Nordstrom$160 at Zappos

If you overpronate or just like a bit more arch support, this high cushioned model works to keep you comfortable while you pound through the miles. It uses gel only in the heel which gives it the signature squishy feel without weighing it down.

Most Responsive Trainer

 Wave Rider 25 Running Shoe
Mizuno Wave Rider 25 Running Shoe

$140 at Amazon$140 at Walmart

The Rider has been a favorite for years thanks to its soft, plush foam, and wave plate which gives it a springy, responsive feel. This one is the most cushioned yet thanks to a full-length midsole layer of soft Enerzy foam.

⇨ My “vest was too hot, plus my phone kept bouncing around and butt-dialing people.”

Yes, vests can be a bit warmer than shirts, but they shouldn’t cause overheating—a vest is supposed to make your run easier, not sweatier. Vests are best if you need additional storage but don’t want (or need) to clad yourself in a full jacket and prefer to not wear a hip belt. You can easily tote water, gels, and other necessities while staying hands free.

Look for materials that are lightweight and ventilated to avoid the problem Reddit user wheezy_runner had, where their vest was too hot and not secure enough to hold items. Our test team has determined that the best materials for vests include ripstop polyester and mesh, but it’s also a good idea to consider what you’re wearing beneath your vest. A lightweight shirt can help prevent chafing, for instance, whereas an insulated thermal shirt might lead to overheating where the vest is snug.

As for the phone bouncing around, try stashing it in different pockets or sizing your vest tighter so it hugs your cargo closer to your body. While hydration vests are adjustable, it’s still worth paying attention to the size guide to avoid bouncing and chafing. We recommend sizing up if you’re between sizes so long as you can cinch down the adjustable straps for a tighter fit.

Since I’m a bit of a pack-rat runner, I am no stranger to the vest and have run many miles with a whole bunch of stuff packed in there—and I can safely say no butt dials have been made since my vest fits snugly against my body.

Read our full article on vests here.

Our Hydration Vest Recommendations


Flight Race Day Vest 8
The North Face Flight Race Day Vest 8

$149 at The North Face

Testers found that this held all of their gear snug to the body—yet it was still easy to access when they needed to. It is on the small side, which makes it breathable and lightweight, and it comes with two bottles—though it can also accommodate a bladder.

Best For Holding Lots of Stuff

Signature Series Ultra Vest 5.0
Ultimate Direction Signature Series Ultra Vest 5.0

Now 23% Off

$107 at Amazon

This vest has room for plenty of water, snacks, and anything else you might need to pack mule on a long run. It also features elastic strings on the outside that are great for keeping the contents snug and tight against the body, as well as stowing an extra layer within reach. Despite its capacity, it is made from thin but tough ripstop material that won’t contribute to overheating.

Best Lightweight

Nano Hydration Vest
CamelBak Nano Hydration Vest

$100 at Amazon

If you’re looking for a vest as an alternative to a belt or something lightweight to race in, this is a great option. It has a bit more open space in the front that allows for better airflow, and includes bottles instead of a bladder for a lighter, faster feel.

⇨ “My nice shorts wear out too fast.”

Having owned both expensive and budget shorts, I feel confident that most high-quality running shorts can last ages if you take care of them right—but there are a few reasons your expensive shorts might wear out quickly, like what happened to Reddit user PurplePotamus.

Some pricey shorts are made with materials like wool or hemp, which can shrink or lose elasticity when put through the wash. Instead, we recommend washing them by hand or using the cold water setting on your washer, then hanging or tumbling dry on low to prevent pilling, wear, and loosening over time.

If budget shorts, like a good ol’ pair of , work fine for you, you can get away with throwing everything into the wash in one load—but try to wash like colors and materials together to keep your shorts bright and stretchy. Tumbling dry on low is always recommended for fabrics with elasticity—even less expensive materials, like polyester—since they’re apt to shrink with too much heat. If you’re feeling lost about how to take care of your running shorts, just look at the care tag before washing.

Check out more of our top picks for men’s and women’s shorts here.

Best Storage

Glide Short
Hoka Glide Short

$52 at

Not only does this waistband come up high to keep your shorts snug and flatter your figure, it also has stellar storage. The large pocket built into the waist is great for storing necessities or nutrition, making it a great workout or race-day short.

Most Comfortable

Session Shorts
Tracksmith Session Shorts

$68 at Tracksmith

These shorts hold up even if you sometimes forgo the hand wash care instructions and throw them straight in the laundry—coming from personal experience—and are so lightweight and breathable (thanks to a nylon/elastane blend) you forget you even have anything on.

Best Length

Surge Lined Short
Lululemon Surge Lined Short

$68 at Lululemon

These high-tech shorts are breathable, lightweight, and stay out of your way as you run thanks to the perfect length that doesn’t gather between your legs, or bunch up. They have a thin but secure waistband, and a liner means you don’t have to don underwear. They also have smart design features, like an internal side pocket for your phone and a waistband loop for stashing your shirt.

Most Versatile

Baggies Short
Patagonia Baggies Short

$55 at Backcountry

Though advertised more for hiking than running, these are a great option if you like a more durable, liner-less short. They will last for years on end and hold up to snagging branches because of the durable nylon fabric, which is also moisture-wicking. The baggy fit keeps the fabric away from the leg to help prevent chafing.

⇨ “I regret my down-filled running jacket.”

While down jackets are cozy and great for winter walks and outings, it’s best to dress as if the temperature is 10 to 15 degrees warmer than it is, because your body temperature rises significantly when you run. Instead of down, which can be expensive and too warm for runners, layer up with base layers and a shell that breaks the wind.

If you do need an insulated jacket, synthetic filling retains heat even after getting wet with sweat, so you won’t be a popsicle by the end of your run. If it’s really cold, a vest is great for keeping in body heat without constricting your arms or causing you to overheat.

Most Flattering

Another Mile Jacket
Lululemon Another Mile Jacket

$228 at Lululemon

Winter jackets are notoriously unflattering, but this one bucks that trend. It has a tapered waist and hits below the hip bones which helps to both keep out wind and make you look lean. It’s windproof, water-repellent, and stretchy, thanks to four-way-stretch tech fleece.

Best Insulated

Inlet Jacket
Athleta Inlet Jacket

Now 32% Off

$136 at GAP

Thinking about giving insulation another shot? This jacket has insulation only where you need it most: the body and head. The arms are made with stretchy material that allows for full range of movement and offers some more ventilation.

Luxury Pick

NDO Jacket
Tracksmith NDO Jacket

$308 at Tracksmith

Water repellent, wind-repellent, and cozy, this jacket is worth the price if you can stomach the cost. Wool insulation traps heat while also wicking moisture away from the body, and reflective details help keep you visible in low light.

Lightweight Warmth

Partial Gore-Tex Infinium Hooded Jacket
Gore Wear Partial Gore-Tex Infinium Hooded Jacket

$200 at

This jacket is incredibly lightweight, and yet shockingly warm. Since it is made with Gore-Tex, it won’t weigh you down, but it traps heat well and is waterproof in light rain.

⇨ I tried trendy bras that look cute but aren’t supportive.

If you have ever tried to wear a cute, strappy Lululemon bra and realized your grave mistake shortly into your run, you are not alone. Redditors Alastairthetorturer and poodleaficianado said their most stylish bras ended up in the trash after resulting in chafing so bad it bled. There’s nothing worse than worrying about that pulling pain, hotspot chafing, and cumbersome bouncing while you’re trying to focus on your run—but these days, there’s no shortage of attractive bras that are also supportive.

Here’s our full review of high-impact running bras for more info on how to choose the right one.


AirSupport Bra
Lululemon AirSupport Bra

Now 60% Off

$39 at Lululemon

This bra is sleek and simple. The smooth Ultralu fabric hugs your body and has four-way stretch for unimpeded movement. It’s also quick-drying and soft to the touch.

Best Storage

Pockito Bra
Oiselle Pockito Bra

$58 at Oiselle

Many of us have shoved things in our bras at some point. But this can get whatever you stow a bit sweaty. To keep things accessible, Oiselle incorporated a front pocket which allows you to store your essentials within reach. The bra is double -ined, which helps prevent the phone from getting too damp—though if you sweat a lot you may want to opt for a waterproof case—and the stretchy material makes it easy to access and prevents anything from falling out.


Drive Three-Pocket Run Bra
Brooks Drive Three-Pocket Run Bra

$50 at Zappos$30 at Backcountry$33 at Brooks Running

This basic bra is soft and comfortable while still being impressively supportive. It has a compressive fit, and, instead of clasping, a thick elastic band keeps it in place. The racerback allows for full arm movement without chafing. Bonus: The cups are removable.

For the Largest Chests

Solidarity High-Impact Sports Bra
Maaree Solidarity High-Impact Sports Bra

$89 at Amazon

If you have particularly large or heavy breasts, this could be the bra for you. It’s cute enough to wear on its own, and it has a dedicated strap that secures and holds down the girls while you run to prevent any bouncing and discomfort.

⇨ “I ditched my rain jacket because it doesn’t keep me dry.”

If your rain jacket isn’t keeping you dry, chances are it’s not a true rain jacket. Windbreakers are often marketed as rain jackets, and while they are water-resistant, they’re not fully waterproof. This means that, after a while, rain will begin to soak in and the jacket will trap it, leaving you freezing, wet, and liable to chafe. If you choose to forgo a rain jacket and embrace the wet, more power to you. But for those who don’t want to feel like a drowned rat post-run, here are some jackets that will actually keep you dry.

For more jackets to keep you dry, check out our full reviews of the best rain coats.

Best Lightweight

Helium Rain Jacket
Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket

$159 at REI

This jacket is lightweight and breathable despite being fully waterproof thanks to a 2.5-layer Pertex Shield—a tricky balance to nail. It comes in seven different colors, and the pocket on the chest lends additional storage.

Best Breathable

Cloudburst Jacket
Showers Pass Cloudburst Jacket

$189 at Amazon$189 at Backcountry

Slim-fitting and breathable, this jacket stays out of your way while still keeping you dry. It doesn’t have a hood (and that may be a plus if you don’t like one flapping around behind your head), but it is made with three-layer waterproof fabric.

Loose Fit

Resolve 2 Rain Jacket
The North Face Resolve 2 Rain Jacket

$137 at Amazon

This jacket is roomy, which makes it great for layering in cold conditions. It has a stowable hood and breathable fabric to help keep you both cool and dry. The storm flap on the front also prevents any water from sneaking in the zipper.

⇨ “My carbon-plated shoes gave me an Achilles issue.”

Carbon-plated shoes are the pinnacle of running shoes now, so much so that if you show up to a competitive race without a pair of these super kicks on, you may feel the odd one out. But while they are designed to make you faster, some runners associate them with shin and Achilles pain, like Reddit commenter Raiseruntimeerror.

Because the carbon plate is so stiff and snappy—exactly what makes it oh, so fast—it may also be hard on your feet and ankles. A big part of those shoes feeling as light and fast as they do is the foam that surrounds the plate, but if carbon plates aren’t for you, there are plenty of kicks that can replicate that snappy, fast feeling without the plate. Here are some of the best shoes to race in that will give you that springy feel without a carbon plate.

Check out our top running shoes of the year for more options.

Most Responsive

Levitate StealthFit 5

Brooks designed this shoe for responsiveness. The midsole is the brand’s DNA Amp, which is a midsole designed to absorb and return up to 71% of the energy, making it incredibly springy. The knit upper is also lightweight and flexible, boosting the comfort.

Most Supportive

Endorphin Shift 2
Saucony Endorphin Shift 2

Now 52% Off

$67 at Amazon$67 at Walmart$67 at Dick’s Sporting Goods

This Saucony shoe is on the firm side, but it has speedroll technology which helps to propel you forward from heel to toe thanks to the rounded shape. This works whether you are a heel or midfoot striker as no matter where you land, you will be propelled towards the toe. This shoe is also pretty stable despite being neutral, with a hard plastic heel counter that helps support the ankle and prevent overpronation.

Best Lightweight

Mach 5

The Mach has a super light foam for a springy, responsive feel which is great for everything from long runs to speedwork as it provides ample cushioning without over-the-top weight. It also has a high heel which keeps it from slipping off, while cutting down on the sides to make room for the ankle bones.

Best High Cushion

Vomero 16

The Vomero has a mix of the traditional Nike Zoom foam and the ZoomX foam which is the main foam in the coveted Alphafly racing shoes. It’s lightweight and bouncy, but it’s cushioned enough that it also makes a great everyday trainer.

⇨ “I bought $60 worth of Gu and it hurt my stomach.”

Though sports gels are designed to be easily digestible, the sickly sweet, edible slime can do the opposite, with many runners reporting that it turned their stomachs. Overthinker37 made the mistake of going all in on a bulk box of Gu before making sure their tummy could handle it. Whether you have never tried using gels before or are looking to test out a new one, you always want to test a few before committing to a large pack. Since everyone’s stomach is different, you never quite know what will make you feel your best, and what will leave you stopping at every porta-potty. If you have a sensitive stomach, test to see which gel will work the best for you. But here are some that tend to work best for those with tummy troubles.

Here are tried and true energy gels we love.

Best Vegan

Chia Energy Gel
Hüma Chia Energy Gel

$33 at Amazon

This gel is made from real whole foods like fruit, brown syrup, and chia seeds and is gluten-free, vegan, and easy to digest.

Simplest Ingredients

Maple Syrup Athletic Fuel
Untapped Maple Syrup Athletic Fuel

$40 at Amazon

Gel can’t get much simpler. This is made of just maple syrup, which has natural carbohydrates, amino acids, and antioxidants.

Best Tasting

Organic Fruit Smoothie Energy Gel
Honey Stinger Organic Fruit Smoothie Energy Gel

Now 14% Off

$36 at Amazon

This honey-based gel is easy on the gut and the tongue. It has a slightly sticky texture, so take it with water. But the flavors are delicious and don’t leave an aftertaste.

Best Formula

Gel 100
Maurten Gel 100

$43 at

Maurten’s gel may not be the most delicious, but it provides the best fuel in a six-ingredient hydrogel—meaning no artificial flavors or colors that can irritate the stomach. It’s also somewhat watery, which makes it easy to shoot back while running.

Headshot of Gabrielle Hondorp

Gabrielle Hondorp

Before joining Runner’s World as an Editor in 2019, Gabrielle Hondorp spent 6 years in running retail (she has tested top gear from shoes, to watches, to rain jackets which has expanded her expertise—and her closets); she specializes in health and wellness, and is an expert on running gear from head-to-toe. Gabi began her journalism career as a Digital Editorial Fellow for Runner’s World and Bicycling Magazine, and has since advanced to a Runner’s World Editor specializing in commerce. She has a double degree in English and Media and Communication from Muhlenberg College where she also ran cross country and track.