Summer Running & The Gear to Get You There

By Seamus Allardice

Long days, with early sunrises and late sunsets, make summer the perfect time to hit the trails in South Africa. But for different reasons, you need the right gear to maximise your trail fun. This is Seamus Allardice’s kit list for summer runs.

Summer Running & The Gear to Get you There - Seamus Allardice

 First things first… if you’re running in Cape Town this summer. Be safe out there. Practice good common sense safety measures like running in a group and being hyper-vigilant of your surroundings. Carrying mace is always a good idea, but practice using it too. My sister-in-law maced herself on Table Mountain Road, 3 kilometres from home, testing hers mid run. It’s a funny story, now, but stumbling home in tears isn’t the way anyone wants to end a run (it usually happens to me because I’ve bonked and need to drag myself home on zero energy).

On to happier things… and trail snacks too. Though only at the end.

X-Trail Running 5L Hydration Vest

The new First Ascent X-Trial Running 5L Hydration Vest is the thing you need to take yourself from 10-kilometre runs to longer distances. It gives you the ability to carry water/fluids in either soft flasks in the front pounces or in a hydration bladder in the pack itself. It also has separate pouches for sports nutrition, or your pepper spray, as well as a rear stow pocket for a lightweight rain jacket and a rear zippered pocket for things you need to keep extra securely, like your phone and car keys. The race-fit vest-style hydration pack is designed specifically for the bouncing and bounding of trail running, and it hugs your body. When properly fitted it won’t move and therefore won’t cause chafe either. If you’re stepping up in distance this summer, get an X-Trial Running 5L Hydration Vest.

X-Trail Running 5L Hydration Vest

X-Trail Running Tee

Shop: Men’s | Women’s

Available in men’s and women’s cuts the First Ascent X-Trail Running Tees are tried and tested winners. They are exceptionally comfortable, lightweight and moisture-wicking. Made with Polygiene, permanent odour fabric technology, they are developed to prevent bacterial growth too, so they won’t smell like you’ve run 1000 kilometres in them, even when you have.

First Ascent X-Trail Running Shirts

Men’s X-Trail Short Tights & Ladies’ Corefit 4 Inch Shorts

Shop: Men’s |Women’s

I prefer a full-length tight inside my shorts. The y-front style liner I find is more likely to cause than prevent chafe. This is why I like the X-Trail Shorts, with their mesh tights which are a centimetre or so longer than the shorts themselves. The Ladies’ Corfit 4 Inch Shorts have a similar design, with a built-in liner too. The X-Trail shorts also have waistband storage pockets, including one with a Shockcord loop to secure your keys, and pockets in the mesh liner for additional storage. Women you will probably have to don the X-Trail Running 5L Hydration Vest for longer runs to account for the Corefit 4 Inch Shorts’ lack of storage, while the guys will be able to get away with putting a gel in a pocket and hitting the trails. Provided there is water along your route…

First Ascent X-Trail Running Shorts

Hats & Caps

Shop: X-trail Running Bucket Hat | Limitless Running Cap

Personally, I’m a fan of either a trucker cap or the First Ascent Heritage Bucket Hat. The former isn’t lightweight or moisture-wicking enough for people who prefer more technical garments, which is where the First Ascent Limitless Running Cap comes to the party. It has a short peak, an adjustable elasticated back with a plastic buckle, and boasts a moisture management sweatband. Plus, it completes the “I run fast” look. If you take yourself less seriously and want sun protection for your ears, the X-Trail Running Bucket Hat is the answer. It is constructed from breathable four-way stretch fabric, has an adjustable shock cord 5-centimetre brim for a secure fit, and a moisture management sweatband.

First Ascent Running Caps & HatsSocks

Shop: First Ascent Element Socks

Complete your First Ascent running wardrobe with the First Ascent Element Socks. Though designed for cycling, I’ve run in mine and I can’t tell you if there’s much of a difference between running or cycling-specific socks. Unless you go for the toe socks in the hope of preventing blisters while running ultras.

First Ascent Element SocksShoes

This is a rabbit hole I’m not even going to dive down. Over the last decade, I’ve had probably 15 pairs of shoes from 10 different brands. Currently, I’m running in Saucony Peregrine 13 trail shoes, which I love. I had the Peregrine 12s before and really enjoy the form-fit feel, lightweight and 4mm drop. Shoes are highly personal though, because everyone’s gate and foot strike is different. If you know what you need buying online from Sportsmans Warehouse is perfect, if you don’t, rather go in-store and try shoes on. But remember, don’t go smash a long run in those new shoes right away. Not only will they need time to bed in but they could be slightly different to your old pair. While they might be comfortable in store, the slight change in fit or drop could cause you problems out on the trails. Ease into your new shoes, doing so is far cheaper than physiotherapy!


Because I run to burn calories I try not to eat or drink an energy-rich sports drink on the trails. I prefer a zero or low-calorie electrolyte mix rather. Recently I’ve been loving the flavour of DripDrop which has 35 calories per serving and packs three times the electrolytes of normal sports drinks into every serving. Just drop a sachet into your bottle and away you go. They are also great for post-run rehydration. In fact, if you aren’t taking fluids on a run, make sure you rehydrate with DripDrop or something similar after every summer run!

For longer runs, where sustenance is essential, I like Enduren Energy Gels or GU Chews. While I prefer bars on the bike, I find it hard to digest food while running. Gels are simply easier to digest when your blood is flowing to your muscles rather than your stomach. Enduren makes great – clean, non-GMO, artificial Ingredient free – products. Their gels are raw honey based too, which is really tasty. The GU Chews are easy to eat and are basically supercharged jelly sweets. Each packet contains 90 calories of energy-dense chews and provides the fuel for 45 minutes of endurance exercise. On a longer run, I’d mix it up by alternating between an Enduren Gel, a pack of GU Chews, a banana and maybe even a bar, to force down while speed walking if/when things go wrong. A bit of diversity in trail food can keep you eating on long runs.

Browse our full X-Trail Range.

Read about the benefits of trail running.

Read more about the Top 10 Trail Running Races in South Africa

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By Seamus Allardice