As you can imagine, at Rackets & Runners, we love running. Some of us run for fun, some for fitness, and some of us are even out breaking Canadian records and fighting for a place in the Olympics.
It also happens to be the driving force of life at the store. Over more than 40 years, we’ve built our brand around the sport. We’ve forged long-lasting relationships with customers and brands, and now, people trust us with all their running essentials.
We have the luxury of living in a city with some of the best trails in the world. Vancouverites have developed a taste for trail running, but in the dead of winter, it’s important to use the proper equipment to stay safe and optimize performance.
If you know someone who loves venturing off into the hills, a pair of trail shoes could make a world of difference in tackling the muddy, rugged terrain.
The Brooks Cascadia 16 GTX ($174.98) is your classic, take-it-anywhere, supportive trail runner. Brooks has developed the Cascadia over a decade, tweaking the model to perfection, with this version softer and lighter than ever. We recommend going with the Gore-Tex version if you’re looking for a gift.
The rise of maximalism in running shoe cushioning is slowly making its way to the trails, and the New Balance Fresh Foam X More V2 Trail ($189.98) is one of our favorite models. Apart from having a remarkably concise name, the shoe packs in all the cushioning and support benefits we’ve come to appreciate from these maximalist designs. For those who may worry, stability is a non-issue, which is impressive considering the stack height on the More.
Bundle Up Your Hi-Fivers
Cold fingers can help cause some poor running performances. Not only can the uncomfortable sensation cause any runner to lose motivation, but the feeling of heat escaping from your hands can quickly freeze the rest of your body.
In the dead of winter, with the sun setting so early, reflective gloves like the $59.98 Nathan HyperNight Reflective Convertible Glove/Mitt are a must to provide the highest level of visibility. These are comfortable and lightweight and work best between the -1° to 10°C range.
For a more wind and waterproof option, go for the Brooks Draft Hybrid Glove ($54.98). A removable mitt acts as a shell to cover the lightweight and breathable interior.
A running jacket is a perfect gift to go hand in hand with any pair of gloves.
Again we’d like to emphasize that staying visible during the winter is key to remaining safe on busy roads in a big city. We recommend the $209.98 Sugoi Zap 2 Training Jacket. Besides the bright colors and reflective devices, the jacket features a waterproof breathable membrane.
If the temperature drops a little more, throw on a vest like the Brooks Carbonite Running Vest ($129.98) to stay toasty.
Meat & Potatoes Runners
At the top end of the running industry, there is so much excellent product it’s impossible to pick out just one shoe. But we’ll do it anyway.
The Hoka Clifton 8 stands out not because it’s better than any of its counterparts but because it sits between two exceedingly popular categories. It’s neither a classic neutral shoe nor 100% maximalist. Instead, Hoka has designed the Clifton as a sort of hybrid. You get the best of both worlds with the lightweight and natural response of a neutral shoe but also part of the great cushioning and snappy support you get from the brand’s more classic maximalists.
We invite you to browse through our various other runners here, but if you know someone who might want to try something different, give the Clifton a shot.
The Ultimate Stocking Stuffer
Few products can change the quality of a running setup as drastically as a pair of premium socks.
A premium pair of socks can be the difference between an excruciating blister-filled run and a carefree jog in the park. During the winter, the Balega Hidden Comfort’s ($18.98) extra padding can keep your feet nice and warm on the coldest of days. If your feet don’t get particularly cold and you prefer something a little more close fitting, the Feetures Ultra Light Cushion No Show’s ($16.98) are a staff favorite.
Get Them Race-Ready
Our signature 10K run clinic Project Finish Line is back in January and would make the perfect gift for a newbie runner or speed seeker. Buy now and transfer or purchase a gift card for them to sign-up on their own.
Happy Gift Giving!
If you need a little extra help this season, we’ve got a fantastic team of shoe fitters and running enthusiasts at your service in-store. You can also check out our more in-depth reviews on The Baseline and our YouTube channel.
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