Trail Running for Beginners: What Kit Do You Need to Start Trail Running?

One of the great things about trail running for beginners is that you don’t need a lot of equipment to get started. 

While having a good pair of trail running shoes should be your number one priority, there’s a variety of equipment that will enhance your trail running experience. Once you’ve invested in the essential kit, it will last for between 300 and 500 miles of running.

Use this guide to discover our recommendations on essential, nice to have, and extra kit for your next trail run in the great outdoors.

Non-Negotiable Trail Running Equipment

If you want to try your hand at trail running, there are a few pieces of essential kit that you’re going to need. The equipment on this list is enough to get you started so you can be as comfortable and injury-free as possible when trail running.

Trail Running Shoes

Shoes specially designed for trail running are more dynamic and suited to environments with rocks and other obstacles.

Trail running shoes often have rubber outsoles with widely spaced lugs to make running on uneven ground as safe as possible. Their unique soles mean that you’re less likely to slip and any sharp and protruding obstacles on the path, and they won’t puncture the sole and injure your feet.

Unlike normal running shoes, trail running shoes are designed for running on softer surfaces like grass and mud compared to running on roads or concrete in a city. As such, heavily cushioned soles are less important and instead the emphasis is placed on ankle support. 

Good trail running shoes are designed to be lower to the ground which provides your ankles with the best stability and movement on rough terrain.

Good trail running shoes should be breathable, lightweight and provide proper support to your feet.  

Water Bottle or Hydration Bag

Staying hydrated is key no matter how long you plan on trail running for. 

Water bottles or soft flasks are a great choice if you prefer to carry water in your hand. Make sure that the bottle you choose is comfortable to hold and has a rotating mouthpiece so that you can drink from any angle.

Bottles are often better for shorter runs where you won’t need as many fluids, or if you’ll have more opportunities to refill it with water.

Hydration bags are better suited for longer trail runs, as they carry more water than a bottle and you can store a few of your other items such as sunscreen, a map and insect repellent in them too.

These are a comfortable option that won’t weigh you down when you’re trying to reach your personal best. Hydration bags don’t have any awkward caps or lids to distract you from the trail either.

Waterproof Jacket

In the UK, rain is never too far away. Having a lightweight waterproof jacket will keep you warm and dry in the wet and windy weather. You might also consider opting for a water repellent jacket that also has high-visibility for evening or late night runs.

Trail Running Equipment That’s Nice to Have

Once you’ve got the basics, it’s time to start thinking about adding a few more pieces of equipment to enhance your trail running experience. Keep reading for a list of equipment that’s important, but won’t necessarily make or break your next trail run.

Wicking t-shirts are effective at drawing moisture away from the body. These high-tech polyester garments don’t absorb any water, and unlike cotton, they won’t hang onto your sweat and make your t-shirt heavy and clammy.

You may consider opting for a pair of trail running shorts with pockets so you can carry a few of your essentials in the waistband. Trail running shorts have breathable wicking fabric to make sure you’re as comfortable and dry as possible while running.

While shorts are suitable in most cases, waterproof trousers are useful when trail running in cold, wet or even snowy conditions, especially in areas of higher elevation. They’re lightweight and don’t restrict your movement while running. 

Having a trail running hat is an important piece of equipment all year round. In the summer, a hat protects your head from the sun, while in the colder months it keeps your head warm and comfortable.

Trail running sunglasses protect your eyes from the elements and prevent glare in changing weather. The best running sunglasses have flexible arms and a rubber nose, something that them more durable than regular sunglasses.

If you’re trail running in the mountains, then lightweight and compact running poles are a great idea. Running poles give you support during steep ascents, and make massive hills a little bit easier to tackle. Having a head torch can help light the way and avoid obstacles while trail running in the dark. 

Visit Decathlon’s Trail Running Shop

Having the correct equipment is important to get the most out of your trail running experience. Explore the Trail Running Shop on the Decathlon website to find all of the trail running kit you’ll ever need.