Whether you’re going for a leisurely stroll around the block or jogging a few miles, it’s nice to have the right gear to avoid distraction and ensure maximum exercise enjoyment.
I’ve put together this list of everything I gather when I’m heading out the door. You may find that you need more stuff or less stuff. Over the years, this collection has proven to be the right balance of convenience vs. weight/hassle for me.
Most of the links that follow will take you to the Amazon product page. Skip to the bottom for a print-friendly version.
- Ballcap, ponytail holder (if you have enough hair for a ponytail… I don’t.)
- Sunglasses – find a comfortable pair that protects your eyes as much as possible. They don’t need to be expensive, but it’s nice to have some that wrap around to the sides of your face at least a little.
- Earbuds – I use these by Sony. It’s important to use a pair with remote controls so that you can easily adjust volume and advance tracks without touching your phone. If you want to be able to easily take calls, find a pair with a microphone too.
- If you are looking for music to motivate you and help you maintain a certain tempo, check out the Rock My Run app.
- Some of my favorite podcasts include APM’s Marketplace and Marketplace Weekend, The Sporkful and the NPR app.
- It’s worth noting that earbuds are optional. Sometimes it’s nice to talk a walk or run without the added noise and distraction.
- Facial lotion with sunscreen – Something like Olay Complete Daily Defense Moisturizer with a medium-high SPF.
- Comfortable clothing – it’s nice to have clothes that you feel good in. This little boost of confidence goes a long way.
- Sunscreen – for all active outdoor activities (including long bike rides), we choose Coppertone Sport SPF 50 or the store brand equivalent.
- Sport watch – a basic digital watch with a “chrono” function is all you need. I found my Timex watch at Target marked down to about $10. If you want to buy something fancy like a Fitbit or Apple Watch, why not first set a workout goal (exercise X number of days, run your first 5k, log X number of miles, etc.) and treat yourself when you reach your goal?
- Road ID – personal identification gear. My Wrist ID Slim is a lightweight wristband that includes my full name, known allergies (or lack thereof), emergency contacts, etc. Essential if you’re heading out alone. Plenty of style options and interchangeable colors available. Husband likes his Wrist ID Elite model with its watch-style buckle.
- Waist pack – Find one that works best for you and your body. It should also comfortably fit your phone and a water bottle. Mine is similar to this one from Nathan (although the pocket on mine seems to have greater capacity), and the Nathan Peak Waist Pack also looks like a great option if you have a larger phone.
- house key – nice and bright in case I drop it mid-journey.
- water bottle – we are big fans of the Camelbak Podium Chill in the QP household. Choose a smaller size to fit in your waist pack. Fill it with tons of ice, cold water and a slice of lemon for ultimate refreshment.
- snack – optional, but more important for longer outings. Choose something carby (about 100-200 total calories) that’s easy to eat straight from the wrapper. I especially like the KIND Healthy Grains, Maple Pumpkin Seeds with Sea Salt, because they don’t weigh much in your pack, and when you’re drinking a lot of water and sweating, it’s nice to have a little added salt. There are myriad sport gels, bars, waffles, etc. targeted at “serious athletes” if you want to pay a premium for them. Clif Shot Bloks are quite tasty, I must admit, but a portable fruit like a banana or apple will also do the trick.
- credit card or some cash – (not pictured) optional, but nice to have if an emergency arises. Or a craving for a donut.
- tissues – optional. Exercise often triggers a runny nose.
- lip stuff– optional. Lips get dry when you breathe through your mouth. I use something lightweight and simple, like Vaseline Lip Therapy.
- Socks – my quest for the perfect running sock is ongoing. Feetures! Light Cushion are the current frontrunners, but the cheaper socks I’ve bought at big box stores hold their own too.
- Shoes – I’ve been wearing the Brooks Adrenaline model running shoes for over a decade. I love them for walking, running and cardio at the gym. Good shoes are the only gear you really need for a great walk or run. You’re going to pay upwards of $100, but it’s worth the investment if you can afford it and want to commit to regular exercise. Take the time to visit your local running store for a professional fitting. Find a pair that you look forward to lacing up.
Here’s the basic checklist version for your convenience:
Head to Toe Checklist: Walking or Running Outside
- Ballcap, ponytail holder
- Facial lotion with sunscreen
- Comfortable clothing
- Sport watch
- Road ID
- Waist pack
- house key
- water bottle
- credit card or some cash
- lip stuff