Top 10 Trail Running Essentials for South Africa’s Best Trails

Whether you’re a seasoned runner of trails and off-the-beaten-paths, or just starting out, there’s no debate that you need to have your trail running essentials from the get-go. You might think you can sidestep it, but the gear you have can make or break your run. While road running provides a smoother and harder surface, allowing for faster run times, trail runs tend to be more technical. Running on trails means navigating uneven terrain, as well as hills, rocks, sticks, streams…you name it! Take a closer look at the top 10 trail running essentials for successful trail running in South Africa. 


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1. Trail running shoes

Proper trail running shoes are first up on our list of essentials. They give your foot the right amount of grip so that you don’t slide when running uphill or downhill, and offer better balance and stability if it’s raining.

New Balance 590 Trail Ladies’ – R1000.00

New Balance 590 Trail Men’s – R1000.00

2. Comfortable running pants

When you run, you create friction between your thighs and, without the right running bottoms, inner thigh chafe. Ouch, not fun! Specialised running pants are a must-have addition to your arsenal of trail running essentials.

First Ascent Reaction Ladies’ Tights – R550.00

First Ascent Men’s X-Trail Short Tights – R600.00

3. Packable jacket/windbreaker

Out on the trails, the temperature and weather can change at the drop of a hat. Prepare yourself for any weather outbursts with a wind and water-proof jacket or windbreaker.

M Distance Wind Shell – R2595.00

4. A buff

You might be thinking “Do I really need a buff?” Buffs protect you from sunburn, nasty bugs, sweat in your eyes, cold nose, cold ears, cold face, and the list goes on! They’re an investment in being comfortable while you run.

BD Neck Gaiter – R375.00

5. Peak cap

The last thing you want while you’re running is the annoying glare of the sun in your eyes, so peak caps are definitely one of the top trail running essentials. They also keep your hair out of your face and shield your face from unpleasant raindrops if you’re caught in the rain.

Aonijie Windrunner Visor Hat – R299.00

6. Insulated water bottle

Bringing water on your run is non-negotiable. Likewise, no one wants to drink warm water after sweating it out on a challenging trail, so kill two birds with one stone and get a quality insulated water bottle. That first refreshing sip after a long run will be well worth it.

Aonijie Windrunner Soft Flask Holder – R450.00

7. A running backpack

Unless you want to carry all your supplies in your hands while you run (we don’t recommend this) you’ll want to get yourself a light, durable running backpack. Pro tip: Look for running backpacks that have front pockets for storing your water bottle.

Scott Trail Kinabalu TR’ 20 Backpack – R1300.00

8. Nutrition/healthy snacks

You’ll be burning a lot of calories while you run, and the trail you choose may be a long one. Make sure to pack in some healthy snacks, with your other trail running essentials, to tuck into if you feel a hunger pang coming on.

Primrose Kitchen – Orange & Cashew Granola – 60g – R31.99

Serano – Almonds & Raisins – 150g – R71.90

9. Comfortable sunglasses

Sunglasses with reactive lenses allow you to keep up your pace, no matter how much or how little sunshine there is. Plus you look cool while wearing them!

Darcs Edge SL – R585.00

10. A headlamp

Don’t get caught in the dark with no headlamp, otherwise, you’ll have to walk the rest of your trail using a torch or cellphone light, and that’s not fun! Headlamps are also great for running trails that don’t get much natural sunlight.

Hilight Light Focus 300 – R385.00

If you’re serious about trail running, it’s a good idea to commit to getting your trail running essentials. Thankfully you don’t need to rack up a huge bill when you buy your gear. With Payflex’s multi-payment system, you can get everything you need and pay for them in 4 installments over 6 weeks, completely interest-free! So there’s no excuse not to hit those trails with the best gear out there!