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I never really thought of trail running as an expensive pastime.

In fact, one of the reasons that running has such a strong appeal to me is its simplicity. All a person really needs are comfortable shoes and clothing — which just about everyone is going to have somewhere in their closet. It’s the act of running, not the gear a person has, that makes them a “runner.”Wow... trail running IS expensive!

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the message that potential new runners hear. Case in point; an article I came across today on (although it was actually published quite a while ago).

I know that the media has space to fill and page views to generate, but sometimes the message that a particular article conveys could be harmful by discouraging some people from running.

The suggestion is that a new runner needs a $200 jacket, an $85 t-shirt, a $160 hydration pack, $35 gaiters, $110 trekking poles, and a host of other pieces of fairly specialized gear (which, all told, will set them back $670) is unfortunate. Most of us know that less expensive alternatives exist for all of these things, and that some are likely to be unnecessary altogether. For example, I never run in trail gaiters, and I’ve yet to use hiking poles during a run.

Unfortunately, using the word “essential” in the title might raise doubts in the minds of new or inexperienced trail runners as to whether they’re putting themselves at risk by not heading out the door for every single run with a expedition sized pack full of gear and equipment. (Well, at least the article doesn’t tell us that we need a new $130 pair of shoes to enjoy the trails.)

Spending tons of money on things to run just puts added pressure on a person (to get the most out of every run in order to justify their expenditures), and can create an expectation that spending more money will translate into a fuller or more complete running experience (which often leads to the thinking that any problems or challenges they experience with their running can be solved by upgrading to newer and shinier gear).

The most valuable thing I’ll ever spend running is my time. Isn’t that the case with most folks? All the other stuff is optional, and often unnecessary.

If you want to be a trail runner, skip the shopping trip and just go run on trails.