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The Green Life: For the Long Run

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July 26, 2011

For the Long Run

The hardest part of a lengthy trail run is often just getting comfy in your gear. To that end, here's some lightweight support to help you go the distance.

FOOTWEAR

Though its products look like something a toddler might wear, Vibram FiveFingers launched the boom in barefoot-style running. Once you've slipped into their glovelike TREKSPORTS, you'll understand why: They give you a feeling of complete liberation. Lightly padded with EVA foam (for protection from pebbles and sticks) and a rubber Vibram tread, they let feet and body slip into the natural rhythm of our ancestors. At some point, perhaps, today's traditional running shoes will be the ones getting strange looks. $100

The Merrell TRAIL GLOVE is a slipper masquerading as a shoe. Its Vibram outsole is flexible and soft, and its upper holds your foot in place with a gentle embrace. It doesn't have much padding, but it's an ideal bridge to the ultra-minimalist FiveFingers (above) — or to actually going barefoot. $110

If you're curious but not convinced about trying minimalist footwear, the MT101 by New Balance is the way to go. It's very much a traditional trail runner, with widely spaced lugs on the tread, a comfortable upper of mesh and synthetic leather, and a flexible plate in the foot to guard against rocks. But it's stripped of frills to keep the weight down to an extremely light 7.8 ounces. $75

APPAREL

A jacket as silky soft as the LSD LITE II might not seem trail-worthy, but this windproof, water-resistant offering from Brooks is durable and tough enough for extended backcountry runs. The elastic at the cuffs and the drawstring at the waist buffer wind, and the ripstop nylon resists tears from wayward branches. Should the weather really go south, there's protection most running shells lack: a stowaway hood. $75
Sustainability has been slow in reaching the running market, but Patagonia leads the way with the AIR FLOW T, which is as comfortable and fast-drying as any shirt spun from virgin fibers, despite being made of 30% recycled polyester. It's built from soda bottles and respun scrap fabric, and at the end of its life it can be recycled. Bonus: It has an SPF 15 rating. $59
Mile after mile, the soft shell of Pearl Izumi's INFINITY LD SHORTS stays comfortable and cool. The liner is stretchy and nearly seamless, and while it doesn't dry instantly, it comes pretty darn close. If you're worried about how little some running shorts leave to the imagination, fret not: The 4.5-inch inseam covers plenty without being so long that the legs flop against each other. $50

ACCESSORIES

The optics from Oakley have always been among the best in sports sunglasses, but within the past year, a new feature has been making a huge difference: The hydrophobic coating on the RADAR RANGE wraparound shades repels water and sweat. It's not quite as powerful as an anti-gravity force field, but during an endurance run, it kept the glasses cleaner than any others we've tried. $180
Never guess at your mileage or pace again. Garmin's simple-to-use FORERUNNER 110 watch tucks a GPS receiver into its sleek casing, so an accurate record of speed and distance covered is just a touch away. For an extra $50, you can add a heart-monitor function. $199
The RUNLITE TRAIL RUNNER by Amphipod is the Swiss Army Knife of running storage. It features a double-zippered pouch for cards, keys, and energy bars and comes with two 10.5-ounce water bottles that snap in and out of their brackets for one-handed drinking on the fly. Just want the storage? The brackets slide right off the belt. $42

--Steve Casimiro

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