The best trail running tops and shorts for men

Kit yourself out for some off-road running, no matter what the weather throws at you
​The best trail running gear for men

While they are ostensibly the same sport, trail running requires subtly different gear to road running. Trail jackets, shorts and clothing are better suited for long runs away from civilisation, with more pockets and better protection against the elements.

Prepare for the trails: The best trail running shoes

There are undoubtedly certain advantages to getting trail-specific tops and bottoms for off-road running. Trail-running t-shirts and shorts, for example, will have more pockets than gear designed for the road, since you usually have to carry more stuff.

What should you look for in trail gear?

A good trail-running jacket is also a key bit of kit because you can expect the weather to be more changeable when you head to higher climbs. Your jacket should also be fully waterproof and packable, so you can stash it in a pocket or trail-running rucksack when required. Taped seams are also worth looking out for because they are a requirement of many trail races where you have to carry a waterproof jacket with you.

Jump to the trail kit you need:

Here you’ll find a selection of gear that will ensure all your trail runs are completed in the utmost comfort, aside from the challenge of actually having to run them, obviously.

Best trail-running tops

Columbia FKT II T-shirt

The best trail running gear for men

Boasting a host of features that will help keep your cool on the run, this tee excels when it comes to long trail runs in hot weather. FKT stands for Fastest Known Time, which is simply the quickest recorded time over a particular route – something trail runners often focus on instead of the 10K or marathon personal bests that are the primary target of many road runners.

We can’t guarantee you’ll set any FKTs while wearing the shirt, but we can guarantee you'll get the best possible protection from the sun. The t-shirt’s material is rated UPF 50 and covered in silver dots that reflect the sun’s rays away from your body. On top of that, the Omni-Freeze Zero fabric wicks sweat away at a rapid rate to keep you dry and comfortable on the run.

Soar Sierra Half-Zip

The best trail running gear for men

Having a couple of pockets on your t-shirt seems like a great idea – who wouldn’t want a little extra room for gels and essentials without having to carry a running rucksack? However, t-shirt pockets often prove to be more of a hindrance than a help in reality, because anything put in them swings around in incredibly annoying fashion when you run.

Fortunately, Soar has thought very carefully about this with the Sierra Half-Zip, which has two rear pockets positioned to sit right on your pelvis to avoid their contents flapping around while you run. The result is a lightweight, comfortable top that has space for a couple of gels, snacks or your keys – just what you want for long runs out on the trails.

Kalenji Short-Sleeved Trail-Running T-Shirt

The best trail running gear for men

Here’s one clear difference between a trail running t-shirt and a road tee – you won’t find any of the latter that boast about the abrasion resistance of their fabrics. This bargain t-shirt is built to withstand constant rubbing from backpacks, so you can strap on your trail pack with no fear your top will be run ragged by the end of the day

The t-shirt also has two back pockets to pop a gel in, and the long zip on the front and lighter fabric on the sides and under the arms will help to keep you cool while running. The synthetic fabric might start to whiff a bit after a run, so it might not be the best pick for multi-day trips, but it does dry in a flash if you do find a handy stream to wash the top in.

Patagonia Airchaser

The best trail running tops and shorts for men

As well as being a company synonymous with environmental and social responsibility, Patagonia is known far and wide for producing apparel that's looks and feels like the most premium kit you're going to find.

The Airchaser is no exception and manages to elevate the humble technical t-shirt to a truly impressive place. The main reason for this is the material. Despite being made from polyester, it has the soft, comfortable feel of a natural material that has the benefit of something called MiDori bioSoft for added wicking and softness.

Add to that Patagonia's HeiQ technology for odor control, not to mention the fact a large percentage is recycled fabric, and you can see why so many outdoor enthusiasts are big fans.

As well as the material, there are a host of features designed to make this top as comfortable as possible from underarm gussets for added motion and strategically taped seams to mesh shoulder and back panels for breathability, it's a great option if you're willing to invest in a slightly more expensive top.

Best trail-running jackets

Gore R7 Shakedry Hooded Jacket

The best trail running gear for men

Any waterproof jacket has to strike a balance between protection from the rain and breathability, and no jacket does it better than Gore’s R7 Shake-Dry. It will keep you dry even when running through a storm, but it’s also lightweight enough that you can pop it on in the drizzle without fear of overheating.

That almost magical balance of waterproofing and breathability does come at a hefty cost, but the R7 is worth the outlay. It also packs up into its front pocket to be stashed in your trail backpack or even a pocket, and weighs a mere 118g, so you’ll barely know it’s there until you need it. The material also lives up to its name in that you can quickly shake the drops off after a shower, so you can pack it away without also dumping a load of water into your pack.

Salomon Bonatti Waterproof Running Jacket

The 8 best running jackets for men 2019: Tackle whatever the weather can throw at you

The Bonatti Waterproof jacket is the Jack-of-all-trades of trail running outerwear. Although it may not be the best at any specific feature, overall it offers an all-round great option for anyone heading to the outdoors.

The 'Advanced skin DRY' fabric manages to deliver an excellent balance of comfort, breathability and protection against the elements. It'll keep you dry, take the edge off the wind and the material is surprisingly soft on the skin, especially in comparison to the majority of tough, crinkly waterproof options out there.

In the most extreme of conditions that balance of breathability and waterproofing is a trade-off, but that does mean the Bonatti Waterproof Running Jacket is a great option for people looking for one jacket to cover them throughout the year.

Inov-8 AT/C Stormshell

The best trail running gear for men

The Inov-8 Stormshell is another great lightweight waterproof jacket that will serve you well in all conditions on your trail runs. It has taped seams, so you can tick that off the checklist of any trail event where they have required kit for you to compete, and it packs into its own pocket for easy storage in a rucksack.

It’s not quite as light and breathable as the Gore R7, but then it is an awful lot cheaper, and it still impresses on both those counts. And it does have one nifty feature that the Gore R7 doesn’t – thumbholes on the sleeves, for that extra cozy feel.

Best trail-running shorts

Montane Fang Shorts

The best trail running gear for men

You might think you could never fall in love with a pair of running shorts, but after a long day on the trails, you can be sure you’ll look at the Montane Fang shorts with a surprising amount of affection. The reason for that starts with their practicality – they are lightweight, comfortable and have both a zipped pocket for your keys and stretchy pouches for your gels.

However, it’s the anti-odour properties of the Fang shorts that will really win you around to them, especially if your trail run ends in a tent with the prospect of running again the next day on your mind. The Polygiene-treated fabric used in the shorts prevents unpleasant odours from building up, so you can use them again and again without fear you’re going to scare away the local wildlife with your stench.

Patagonia Strider Pro Shorts

The best trail running gear for men

There’s a lot to like about these shorts, ranging from the water-repellent finish on the material to the anti-odour, Polygene-treated inner brief, but perhaps their finest feature is the hefty amount of storage they offer.

There’s the classic zipped pocket on the back, which is bigger than most you’ll find, and then there are four – FOUR! – stretchy pouches to pop gels, snacks, keys or whatever else in. Sure you’ll need to pull the drawstring pretty tight to ensure the shorts don’t fall down if you load up every one of those pockets, but that’s a small price to pay for all that real estate.

On Hybrid Shorts

The best trail running tops and shorts for men

Although the On Hybrid shorts are two-layer, meaning there's a hidden internal fabric that hugs the legs, the difference with them is that the two parts of the shorts can be worn independently. It's a nice feature that means you can always opt for just one, depending on the weather and activity. Especially useful if you need to strip down when you're dealing with unplanned heat halfway through the run.

When it comes to trail running that includes more technical terrain, it's also good to wear shorts that don't limit your mobility. For us the Hybrid shorts strike a nice balance between race shorts and longer trail options, offering a great looking option that has just the right amount of movement.

As well as a side pocket, there's a back zipped option for storing your valuables and a reflective strip running down the seam of one side. One issue we have found with the shorts is that the drawcord always falls out in the wash, something we'd love to see On fix in a future update.

Best trail-running leggings

Salomon Fast Wing Long Tights

The best trail running gear for men

If your trail runs tend to take you to high altitudes, then the extra warmth provided by a pair of tights will be welcome. These lightweight leggings offer that warmth without being too hot in milder conditions, and they also provide a low level of compression to support your muscles without becoming uncomfortable when worn over long periods.

The Fast Wing tights also have a clever extra feature for mountain runners in the grippy pattern on the thighs, which is the spot you put your hands down when moving into powerwalk mode on steep ascents. It’s something you’ll probably barely even notice until the day you have to power/plod up a climb in the rain, when you’ll be very grateful for it.

Inov-8 Winter Tights

The best trail running tops and shorts for men

Unlike some leggings, where the focus is on the minimal, the Inov-8 Winter Leggings have had a great deal of thought put into the design to pack them with useful features for those long, cold trail runs.

The clue is in the name here when it comes to the focus of these tights. Everything about them is made to keep you warm and protected from the cold and the wind, from the thick material to special zoned reinforcement areas to up the protection. If you want a light level of protection, you're going to be very warm in these.

As well as calf zips, they also feature a handy back pocket with a long zip loop to help open and close them. The material, although being on the thick side, still offers a remarkable degree of flexibility and range of motion.

Best trail-running base layer

Gore Windstopper Base Layer Long Sleeve

Take on the trails with the best running tops and shorts for men

The high point of many trails runs is literally the highest point, when you crest the top of a ridge or mountain and stop for a second to savour the epic view your uphill efforts have entitled you to. Unfortunately, your enjoyment of said view is often somewhat reduced by the wind blasting you off your feet, because peaks are very windy places indeed.

Pull on this base layer before you head for a summit then, because the windproof material used on the front and over the kidneys will protect you from the elements. The base layer is also water resistant, so you can opt to wear it under just a t-shirt and enjoy impressive levels of protection from wind and rain without needing a a jacket.

We’d recommend only popping it under a jacket when you’re tackling runs in sub-10°/50ºF temperatures, because it is warmer than most base layers, though you can also get short-sleeved and sleeveless versions of the top if that’s a concern. But when you are facing extremely cold and windy weather for your trail runs, there’s no better base layer to have at hand

Tracksmith Brighton Base Layer

The best trail running tops and shorts for men

Boston-born running brand, Tracksmith has been turning heads ever since it was launched in 2014. Not only because it makes some of the nicest looking running kit available today, but because it's also some of the most impressive apparel in terms of technical features.

The Brighton Base Layer is the perfect example of this seamless balancing of form and function. A beautifully designed top that looks more suited to a fashion model than someone speeding down the side of a hillside in the rain.

However, aside from the looks, the lightweight, 16.5 micron Merino blend is not only designed to reduce chafing, but the soft, non-scratchy fabric wicks moisture and regulates temperature. It'll also not smell like synthetic fabrics and it'll stay warm even when it's wet – which makes it a perfect option for trail running.

Tags:    Running
Tagged    Running