No matter what sport you do the gear you use becomes incredibly important. Some of it is so central like a bike to a cyclist that your love of the sport almost entirely depends on it. There are other items that while important are either less so or generally done pretty well. Finally there is a whole other category of stuff that for whatever reason is just so damn hard to get right. I’ll be talking about some of that stuff for the sports that I do but please leave your personal findings (and recommendations) in the comments too.
I do a few sports and dabble in a couple of other active hobbies too so this is NOT an exhaustive list! The other thing is … until your find the ‘right’ thing you might not even know how much your thing sucks. So I guess what I’m saying is I can’t know what I don’t know about all this stuff. I cycle, swim, run and do yoga pretty habitually. Other than that I’m not sure I do enough of anything else to have a well formed opinion, with one exception. I will be recommending what I’ve found but I’m afraid it’s all discontinued but also describing what makes everything magical.
Winter running pants
These are so hard to get right that I highly doubt that you have encountered a great pair yet. This year I ordered a pair of the ones I already had (some one can scoop up this pair) over retail with crazy high shipping and I would have paid more! Technically my mom bought them for me but I would do it again and pay even more. It’s kind of fair though because I have spent an equivalent number of hours looking for a pair (or one as good) for her and have come up empty handed. The perfect pair is windproof enough so that the breeze doesn’t chill you to the bone but breathable enough that you don’t end up with swamp crotch. They need to be warm enough but not so warm that they make you sweat in all but the coldest of days but warm enough that they are useful when the mercury drops to freezing.
There aren’t that many options from even the big players and most of them still fall short. Bad winter pants either leave you cold or sweating to the point you eventually are left drenched and probably cold again at that point. The ones I currently swear by are these Nike dry-fit element running tights. The material blocks the wind and only the upper half has a hint of extra bulk. I prefer (both pairs) thinner than bulky because I can always add a layer underneath.
I bought so many running jackets and even lusted after other terrible options. Yes I bought those too. If you’re working out outdoors and you haven’t found the perfect one yet you might think it necessary to own several. Some are very light and really are just to keep you dry in warm rain while others are only wearable in frigid weather for how much they make you sweat. Here’s the thing though the perfect running jacket is wearable in every condition out there. You can wear it in the summer heat and over a thick sweater in the dead of winter. My favorite one is pretty damn close to perfect since it’s windproof yet super breathable. It get’s bonus points for being a light color having lines of reflective material all over and I think it even glows in the dark if you charge it in the light first. It could use an extra pocket and larger zipper pulls though. The nice thing is once you find the perfect jacket it pretty much lasts forever!
Fingerless cycling gloves
Now onto the things that I don’t think I’ve found the best example of but not for lack of buying and trying. I’m a fair weather cyclist only which means I really like to wear fingerless gloves. But here’s the catch it’s my most forgotten item when I load up and go for a big ride. That means on at least half a dozen occasions I’ve swung by the bike shop and picked up a new pair. Plus I’ve bought a few pairs on purpose over the years too. Most road pairs have insufficient padding for even the most gentle of trails. The trail ones never seem to have either enough padding or the spaces to actually bend your hands. I have one pair that is clearly better than all the other pairs but they haven’t held up very well at all. If you are lucky enough to have found the perfect pair first share with the group and given the price of cycling gloves I would recommend you stock up given that they do eventually wear out and they are so easy to lose!
I’m on my third headlamp now and while none are perfect the one I have now is at least very near bright enough. It only has a head band style of band and if you get it tight enough to stay put then it does kinda squeeze your head which is less than ideal. Putting it on also dislodges the lamp from the strap. The first one had a 3 strap set up which was pretty secure once you had it set up right but god forbid if anything twisted it took the best part of an hour to get it sorted. It also had a feature where you could angle it up and down a setting which was pretty cool. However that angle didn’t usually stay where you set it and it was no where near bright enough. I’ve made the head lamps work largely by what I wear on my head. If you also haven’t found the perfect headlamp you could try the same. Wearing just the right headband underneath in the summer helps with the digging in to the forehead aspect. I usually wear it in the winter though and I added a crochet flower to the front of one of my hats for extra padding. If there is a really great one out there share it with the group!
Steel toed boots for women
This random exception is women’s steel toed boots. There are lots and lots of ladies out there that need their protective footwear to perform their jobs. If even one company took that seriously they would stand to make a killing. Go into your local work wear store and ask an employee to point out the section for women. Yup that’s all we’re dealing with. Most of the options are poorly made after thoughts and in some categories there are no real options at all. I wear (or at least would like to wear) real steel toed workbooks most of the year and steel toed rubber boots a lot of the year as well. I need the toe to be strong and protection in the shank as well. Most of the ladies options lack one or both and most of the options that do exist are loafers or sneakers. My work boots are alright but not very well made. I had a choice of exactly 2 pairs. The sizing is way off (they are a 6 and I take an 8!) And there is literally no cushioning in them at all so I added expensive gel insoles.
For rubber boots I have a well designed, well made pair and the difference is stark! They don’t fit me at all because I had to buy a men’s size. Even in the smallest size I can only drive the automatic work truck in them for the way they fit! I don’t think this is even close to the top of the pile of women’s issues that need to be dealt with right now but it’s on the list. I think in this category like many other lady specific items where the strategy of “just shrink it an pink it” does such a disservice to women!
I have found some gems in the hard to get right categories so I have high hopes that someday I will in the others too. What pieces of fitness gear do you think are more misses than hits? What is the one thing that seems impossible to get right in your sport? Any recommendations for all of us still searching out there? Leave it in the comments below!