The 10 best places to shop for summer running gear in 2021

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Best places to shop for summer running gear in 2021 Lead Photo

  • Staying cool and comfortable on summer runs requires breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics.
  • To stay safe on hot runs, you also need sun protection and hydration systems.
  • We love these 10 brands for all the gear you need for a safe, comfortable summer run.
  • Athleta is the best overall hot-weather running brand, thanks to its performance fabrics, extended sizing, and stylish gear.

Running is one of the cheapest, most accessible ways to boost your cardio fitness, improve your overall health, and enjoy the mental benefits of exercise. And while all you truly need is a quality pair of running shoes, having comfortable, functional gear can make running a lot more enjoyable – especially as the temperature starts to heat up.

As an avid runner and personal trainer myself, I’ve run in my fair share of both cheaply-made and luxury gear. What I’ve learned: Cotton and cheap fabrics will either absorb your sweat or trap it next to your body, causing it to literally weigh you down and heat you up.

If running is your sport of the summer, it’s worth it to invest in performance fabrics that have sweat-wicking, quick-drying features and apparel designed to be breezy, lightweight, and move with your body, comfortably (no one needs chafing to interrupt their flow). It’s also crucial that you don sun protection – UPF clothing, polarized sunglasses, sweat-proof sunscreen – and have a comfortable way to carry water, no matter how many miles you’re logging.

Lastly, in an effort to shop smarter and make the fitness world more inclusive for everyone, the brands most worth your money should be able to perform during both speed training and long runs, and offer extended sizing.

To help you figure out where to shop for the best summer running gear, we laid out our favorite go-to retailers. These brands will become your best new run buds so feel free to go all in.

Here are the best places to shop for summer running gear:

  • The best place to buy running clothes overall: Athleta
  • The best brand for budget running apparel: Amazon’s Core 10
  • The best boutique brand for run apparel: Tracksmith
  • The best brand for running socks: Balega
  • The best brand for running hats: rnnr
  • The best brand for sports bras: Brooks
  • The best brand for running sunglasses: 100%
  • The best brand for hydration systems: Nathan Sports
  • The best brand for running shoes: Hoka One One
  • The best brand for sport sunscreens: Coola

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The best place to buy running clothes overall

Athleta not only has cute, comfortable, and 100% functional gear for going on the run, but they also offer extended sizing and sustainable apparel.

Athleta not only has cute, comfortable, and 100% functional gear for going on the run, but they also offer extended sizing and sustainable apparel. 

For starters, Athleta has great workout clothes that hit that sweet spot of quality and price. I always turn to leggings and shorts with pockets — a must when trying to stash your phone, credit card, keys, and maybe even some fuel on the run. Plus, many of its bottoms feature moisture-wicking fabrics and waistbands that won’t slip as you speed up. Its range of silky soft and extra lightweight tanks also offer that nearly-naked feel I crave on hot, sweaty runs. Lastly, its sports bras provide the support you need to withstand the impact of your stride. In other words, you can wear Athleta from head to toe and feel good through every mile. 

What’s more, earlier this year, Athleta expanded its sizing in more than 70% of its collections to offer everything from XXS to 3X. It also plans to offer extended sizing across all categories by the end of 2022. The brand worked with thousands of women to create clothes that work for all sizes and it’s on a mission to feature diverse body types across its catalogues and in-store mannequins, too. 

In addition to inclusive sizing, Athleta is also a certified B corporation, meaning it treats its employees and the environment well with fair trade practices and sustainable materials incorporated into its clothes.

What to buy:

Phenomena Bra B-DD (small)Vapor Scoop Tank (small)Ultimate Stash Pocket 7″ Short (small)Accelerate Shortie (small)

The best place to buy budget running apparel

Amazon’s Core 10 brand makes cheap workout gear that fits and stays put.

If you’re looking to save money but still want comfortable gear that moves with you and feels good as you go, Amazon’s Core 10 collection has you covered from head to toe. 

With most pieces in this Amazon line checking out at under $30, you can’t go wrong with a set of hot weather run gear from this brand. I felt pleasantly surprised by the touch and feel of the pieces I tried on the run, including the soft, stretchy fabrics and lightweight materials. 

The gear on Amazon’s Core 10 line-up ranges from shorts and leggings to tanks and tees, plus sports bras and jackets too. The clothes also offer features you want from your warm weather apparel, including moisture wicking to soak up the sweat and four-way stretch so the clothes move with you, not against you. Look for the cuts and styles you prefer on the run, but a few of our favorites are below.

What to buy:

Tri-Blend Muscle Workout Tank (small)Knit Waistband Woven Run Short (small)All Day Comfort High Waist Yoga Short with Side Pockets (small)

The best boutique brand for run apparel

Tracksmith is a boutique running brand with great performance fabric and an ethos that gives back to the sport.

For a brand that promotes running in its next-level clothing and athlete-supporting programs, Tracksmith brings the best in fashion and function. 

Tracksmith honors the sport of running in several ways, including making clothing that looks good and feels even better on the move. Each piece of its line has a retro varsity track team vibe, which looks cool on the road. But it’s not all about the style: Each top and bottom also rocks technical properties to help you stay comfortable, like merino wool (a moisture-wicking and anti-odor fabric, which you’ll find in its Harrier collection) and a super lightweight and breathable mesh (which you’ll find in its Van Cortlandt collection). My favorite, the Twilight collection, also features a super lightweight and silky-smooth mesh material that helps to stop you from overheating on those humid days. 

We love Tracksmith because it also has a few initiatives that support runners: Its Amateur Support Program offers help for non-professional athletes looking to compete for the podium, giving them stipends for gear; its Fellowship Program funds creative projects that elevate the sport of running, like film, poetry, or podcasts. So, when you buy Tracksmith clothes you can also feel good knowing you’re supporting a brand that’s advancing the sport.  

What to buy:

Harrier Tank (small)Twilight Crop Tank (small)Twilight Split Shorts (small)Merino Tube Socks (small)

The best brand for running socks

Balega running socks are the best and most comfortable for long runs with more cushioning.

You’ll want to wear Balega socks every day, but especially on the run thanks to their tech, support, and supreme softness. 

You know how good your feet feel after a pedicure? Well, that’s the sensation you get when you slip into Balega’s socks thanks to their ultra-soft material that feels so good against the skin. The brand has a few stand-out performance features, too, including a deep heel pocket that adds comfort and support as you stride, a seamless construction that shields your feet from blisters, plus supreme moisture wicking materials and ventilation that keep your feet cool, even when the weather (and you) heat up. 

In addition to those general performance features, Balega also has a few collections with other technology that makes them ideal for running. For example, the Balega Silver sock line features an anti-microbial finish that keeps stink at bay. If you prefer more cushioning, the Hidden Comfort line also acts like a pillow for your feet, while the V-Tech arch support in the Enduro collection adds extra comfort underfoot, cushioning your stride through plenty of miles. 

What to buy:

Ultralight Crew (small)Hidden Dry (small)No-Show Socks (small, Preferred: Balega)

The best brand for running hats

The best brand for running hats - rnnr

 For a lightweight running hat that looks cool and keeps you cool, too, rnnr has a line-up of caps you’ll love wearing. 

Founded by a former special education teacher and track and cross-country coach, rnnr aims to get more people to lace up and hit the road via affordable gear. That gear includes their extremely lightweight and breathable hats, perfect for blocking the sun without locking in heat. Its collection of hats feature mesh materials that allow for airflow and ventilation, plus quick-dry and moisture-management properties — all features you want in a good run hat and at an affordable price point (the most expensive one is $35). With each hat, you can also style it to your liking, with a flat, curved, or popped-up brim, or choose to get in on the trucker hat trend.

In an effort to get more people to fall in love with running at an early age, the brand also donates  a portion of the proceeds from each purchase to initiatives that fund local youth running programs.

What to buy:

Lightweight Running Hat Pacer Oreo (small)Lightweight Distance Hat Unicorn (small)

The best brand for sports bras

Brooks makes incredibly supportive sports bras for small and big chests alike.

To find a great fit at any size, along with high-impact support, Brooks sports bras bring all the features you want to keep things in place — without too much restriction. 

Brooks has long been making bras that offer max support during high-impact activity like running and the brand particularly beloved by ladies with a large bra size (some items go up to 44E) for being comfortable, not too restrictive, and reliably supportive. That’s why it’s one of our top picks among the best sports bras you can buy.

You’ll also find more customization throughout its collections, with straps you can arrange multiple ways, straps that you can tighten in the front for easier access, and hook-and-eye closures in the back. They also offer bras with or without molded cups, and some even have pockets for storing keys or more with ease. There’s truly an option for all women at all sizes, with any preference.

Brooks recently launched a new running bra collection called Drive, meant to offer full support through every run. Based on research and testing in partnership with the University of Portsmouth and 1,000 runner reviews, this line stops the bounce, no matter your speed or size. This line features four new bras, including those with high necklines, mesh materials, and fabric that holds you in — and while all these bras stop any uncomfortable movement on the run, they don’t make you feel restricted.

Like their shoe search, Brooks also offers a Bra Finder so you can find your best fit before buying. It’ll ask you a series of questions on fit, preferences, issues you’ve had in the past, and what you like about your sports bras, and then it’ll serve up some suggestions.

Drive Convertible Run Bra (small)Drive 3 Pocket Run Bra (small)Dare Racerback Run Bra (small)

The best brand for running sunglasses

100% performance sunglasses are light weight and non-slip, even when you’re sweaty.

You can’t get much more lightweight and non-slip than 100% performance sunglasses, which stay comfy through every mile. 

Sunglasses not only keep you from having to squint from the brightness of the sun, but they’ll also protect your eyes from harmful rays, especially if you get a quality set. The problem: I’ve always found it tough to run (especially when super sweaty) with glasses. That is until I found a solid, lightweight pair that didn’t slip off my nose as I hit my stride. These from small-business 100% do just that. They feel incredibly light on the face, courtesy of the carbon material, and have a rubber nose piece that keeps them from sliding down with sweat. 

100% sunglasses have plenty of tech on each pair, too, in both their active performance and sports performance lines. For starters, they offer color contrasting lenses to make various hues on the street or trails pop and enhance your depth perception. The polarized lenses also reduce glare and, if you choose the Photochromic lenses, they also adjust to the lighting outdoors to better your vision. Finally, you get superior UV protection on all 100% glasses, as well as a treatment that keeps dirt, oil, and water from smudging up your lenses. And just in case you take a spill, this eyewear is also impact- and scratch-resistant. 

What to buy:

Lagere Round (small)Rideley (small)Racetrap (small)

The best brand for hydration systems

Nathan Sports makes water bottles and hydration vests for cheap, ideal for running in the summer.

Stay hydrated on the move, without feeling like you’re carrying around tons of weight with Nathan Sports bottle, belt, and vest options. 

During long, hot runs (and even during some especially humid short ones), water is crucial to not only finishing your miles, but also making sure you’re still standing at the end. For that, you need to take some water with you on the go, and it should be easy to carry along. Enter Nathan Sports’ hydration systems from bottles to vests to waist belts. 

Handheld bottles work perfectly for any short- to medium-distance mileage and you have several options from Nathan. The brand’s line-up of handhelds includes insulated bottles that not only feel easy to hold (no grip required, thanks to comfy straps), but also keep your liquids cooler for longer and some have extra pockets, too. Nathan also offer belts, complete with water bottles tucked into the sides, so you have plenty of H2O for longer distances. And for those going extra far, you can opt for a vest that makes drinking up easy and carrying convenient. 

The new line of Pinnacle vests is a solid go-to. Created from years of feedback from customers and athletes, these vests weigh 20% less than others in Nathan’s line-up, plus they have 13 pockets to stash all your snacks and other belongings, a more comfortable carry design, and they hold up to 12 liters of water. 

What to buy:

Pinnacle 12L Women’s Hydration Vest (small)Peak Hydration Waist Pak (small)Quicksqueeze Lite 12oz Insulated Handheld (small)Speeddraw Plus Insulated Flask (small)

The best brand for running shoes

Hoka One One makes well-cushioned running shoes for distance running, sprints, and recovering from injuries.

For that sweet spot between cushion and responsiveness, Hoka One One brings the shoes that keep you going the distance. 

Shoes hold the top spot for must-haves when it comes to running gear, no matter the temperature. Finding a sneaker that works for you and your gait often takes a little trial-and-error to see what keeps you comfy and ache-free through all the miles. And sometimes, you might love a shoe for your long runs and a totally different one for some speed work. But one brand I love myself as a long-time runner and that I hear the most raves reviews about again and again is Hoka One One. 

Known for being super light but mega cushioned, Hoka shoes tend to have a thicker sole that provides the support needed for longer miles. They also have a heel cup that helps to keep the foot stable as you land and take off. Depending on which shoe you choose, you may also experience the ProFly technology, which provides a bouncy, more responsive ride, or if you’re really looking to pick up the pace, a carbon fiber plate in some shoes will help to propel you forward. For those who pronate, Hoka also offers stability shoes, thanks to their J-Frame construction. And another feature that helps with the impact on landing is Hoka’s extended heel. So whether you’re looking for light and bouncy or something more stable, Hoka has an option for you.  

What to buy:

Clifton Running Shoes (small)Mach 4 (small)Speedgoat 4 (Women’s) (small)

 

The best brand for sport sunscreens

Coola

In addition to your typical body and face sunscreens that feel lightweight and smell delicious, Coola also has tons of products to fulfill all your UV protection needs. 

Coola has a few stamps of approvals from third parties, including maintaining formulas that are cruelty free, vegan, organic, paraben free, and safe on our coral reefs. So, you always have the benefit of feeling good about what you’re putting on your body with this brand! But beyond the label, each product in the brand’s line-up also feels lightweight and great against the skin — and most smell delicious too. 

In addition to your typical non-greasy body lotions and sprays, the brand also features several facial products that don’t feel oily when you rub it on and those that keep your eyes from burning when you start to sweat. The brand also has a few products you wouldn’t even think you need but are totally helpful, like the Scalp & Hair Mist SPF 30 — perfect for those who wear braids and need some protection for their part as they run. 

What to buy:

Full Spectrum 360° Sun Silk Drops SPF 30 (small)Classic Body Organic Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 (small)Classic Body Organic Sunscreen Spray SPF 70 (small)Liplux with SPF 30 (small)

 

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