2017 Gear Of The Year!

We’ve reviewed plenty of shoes, apparel, eyewear, packs and tech in 2017. Here are the items we enjoyed the most – and a few we’ll probably still be using in 2018. – By Gear Editor, Ryan Scott

GEAR
Best Drone: DJI Spark, R7 999

The tiny Spark is a smaller version of the Mavic, also made by DJI. It tracks you while you run; and though it’s not advanced enough to track you for your entire run yet, it’s guaranteed to elevate your running selfies to a new level.

GET IT NOW:
wefix.co.za

Best Rehabilitation Tool: Hyperice Vyper, R4 000

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This next-level foam roller has built in motors to ease tired muscles. The lowest speed is more of a gentle vibration, intended to loosen up your muscles; while at a higher intensity, the soft, gridded foam targets the larger muscle groups of your back, quads and calves.

GET IT NOW: hyperice.co.za

BEST TECH

Best For Freedom: GOAL ZERO Nomad 9, R1 800

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Charge your smartphone by plugging it into a USB charger attached to a solar panel. The device weighs 363 grams; which means it’s light enough to be carried in your pack. Want to charge while you’re on the move? Simply attach it to the outside of your pack.

GET IT NOW: capeunionmart.co.za

Best Watch: Suunto Spartan Wrist HR, R8 999

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On the back of this must-have running watch is a built-in optical heart-rate monitor. We reviewed it last winter; what’s new is that now, it’s sold with a five-year warranty, which entitles the customer to a new or previously-owned watch if it breaks – at no extra cost.

GET IT NOW: suuntosa.co.za

Best Camera: GoPro HERO 6 Black, R8 289

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Quick, grab-and-shoot video footage, in 4K, 2.7K or 1080p HD resolution. It can record at 60 frames per second in all of these modes, which makes slow-motion editing easier. The camera is now rubberised and waterproof, and GoPro sells a variety of mounting options.

GET IT NOW:
takealot.com

Best Earphones: Skullcandy XT FREE BT Women’s IN-EAR, R1 599

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It took us a while to come round to the idea of Bluetooth in-ear headphones, but this pair changed our minds. The XT FREE BT is quick to set up, and can be used in all weather conditions. The cable between the buds sits on the back of the neck, and the earphones connect to your phone wirelessly. An intuitive dial behind your ear controls incoming phone calls and adjusts volume.

GET IT NOW: digicape.co.za

Most Helpful: DJI Osmo Mobile, R4 999

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Snapping running buddies and inspiring routes is fun, but photographs taken with a shaky hand while you’re running aren’t exactly Instagram-worthy. That’s when the Osmo comes in handy: it stabilises your phone, and enables you to record smooth, level video footage from all sorts of creative angles – even when you’re on the move.

GET IT NOW: wefix.co.za

Best New Brand Patagonia: Houdini Jacket R1 599, P6 Logo Trucker Cap R449

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Patagonia arrived in South Africa this year. It’s one of the most responsible leisure brands in the world: 1% of product sales support environmental organisations across the globe. The quality is outstanding, and our testers only had positive things to say about the performance of this jacket and cap. We received many envious looks from trail runners who recognised the iconic brand.

GET IT NOW: oneoutdoor.com

BEST GARMENTS


T-Shirt and Tank Top: Under Armour Threadborne, R549

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In the same year Under Armour opened its first large concept store on South African soil, stocked with an impressive array of running-specific gear, Threadborne fabric was launched. It feels smoother against the skin than any other fabric we’ve tested – and it looks great, too!

GET IT NOW: underarmour.com/en-za

Shorts: adidas Supernova Dual Shorts, R1 700

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It never ceases to amaze us how soft and light summer running gear has become – and these shorts are no exception. Chafing is often an issue for runners. Thankfully, these shorts mould to the shape of your legs and have an inner layer, which takes care of that nuisance.

GET IT NOW: adidas.co.za

Socks: SOX, R119

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There was an explosion of new and exciting socks in 2017, adding colour, class and comfort to every run. Originally intended for cyclists, SOX combine all three of the Cs, and were a firm favourite among our testers.

GET IT NOW: soxfootwear.com

Tights: Lorna Jane Nostalgic Core, R1 699

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We’ve seen more men wearing tights in 2017 than ever before, and women are still choosing tights over running shorts. Why wouldn’t they? These fashion-meets-function tights are fresh, bright and stylish. Testers praised the active core band for its secure fit and support around the waist.

GET IT NOW: lornajane.co.za

Best Jacket: K-Way Puffer Tundra Down, R1 700

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The down jacket has almost become a standard piece of running gear, worn before and after a training session. This fun, bold-coloured option from K-Way hit the spot; because 90% of the jacket is composed of down feathers, which are breathable in summer but will also keep you warm in winter.

GET IT NOW:
capeunionmart.co.za

Best Bra: Nike Pro Zip, R750

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The sports bra has become a more prominent component of the running outfit. Women are enjoying the freedom of being able to run in styles that complement form and contribute towards performance. Testers found this one felt soft and strong where it needed to be. A convenient zip has been worked into the design at the front.

GET IT NOW: sportsmanswarehouse.co.za

Best Design: Run adizero Nature Jacket by Stella McCartney, R3 299

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Never before has fashion been more visible in sport. Iconic fashion designer Stella McCartney has created the perfect piece to round off your layering process. But with this jacket, style doesn’t compromise the integrity of your sport: it’s made of Climalite material and there are ventilation slits on the upper back, which means it’s breathable, lightweight and water-repellent.

GET IT NOW: adidas.co.za

Best To Bag It All Sealand Duffle CHOOB, R1 545

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One of our favourite discoveries this year was this local brand, which makes bags from yacht sails and advertising vinyl. The bags are super-strong, simple, good-looking and spacious. Pack most of your gear into one large cavity, and save more specific items for the small external zipper pocket.

GET IT NOW: sealandgear.com

Best Pack Salomon ADV Skin 5 Set, R2 899

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Hydration packs are more nimble and less cumbersome than bladder packs. The Skin series of vests from Salomon hold water in 500ml flasks and have a stretchy array of pockets and pouches. They minimise bounce by taking the form of your body, moving in harmony with you.

GET IT NOW: salomonsports.co.za

BEST EYEWEAR

Lifestyle Crossover: adidas AD32 Protean, R2 199

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adidas do make highly technical race-ready eyewear, but we’ve enjoyed wearing the brand’s more leisurely look. This pair is lightweight, 100% UV-protective, has an adjustable nosepiece, and includes grippy inlays at the temples to keep the frames in place.

GET IT NOW:
Totalsports

Competing: Oakley EV Zero Stride Prizm Road, R2 690

It may feel like you’re wearing next to nothing on your face, but there’s an old saying that goes: dynamite comes in small packages. This pair has full UV protection, enhanced contrast and visibility for clarity on the road, and a secure fit. They’ll enrich every run.

GET IT NOW: Oakley 021 486 6100

BEST SHOES

Long-Range Road: ASICS Gel Nimbus 19, R2 599

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This popular distance shoe is even lighter this year. It has fewer overlays as well as seamless technology on the upper, which also means it fits more comfortably. In addition, more bubbles have been added to the Flytefoam in the midsole – again, to decrease weight. Kevlar chips ensure the strength of the sole isn’t compromised.

GET IT NOW: asics.co.za

Short Trail: adidas TERREX Agravic Speed Women’s, R1 799

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Though it isn’t as soft as the Boost technology we’ve come to enjoy in adidas’ road shoes, the Agravic does have a sturdy EVA foam and midsole that’s well-suited to trail running. A grippy outsole and overall light weight make this shoe a weapon of choice for fast, short-distance runners.

GET IT NOW: adidas.co.za

Versatile Road: Saucony Kinvara 8, R2 350

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The Kinvara is our favourite road-running shoe for those days when we don’t have a specific training session planned. Like the Nimbus, the upper has been stripped down to its simplest form, and yet it performs on every single run. EVA foam now runs along the full length of the top sole. The profile of the shoe is 4mm, from heel to toe.

GET IT NOW: sportsmanswarehouse.co.za

Best Debut: Reebok Floatride Run Ultraknit, R2 499

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Considering we haven’t tested many Reebok shoes in the past, in its debut year the Floatride turned out to be one of the most impressive running shoes of 2017. The distinctive knitted two-piece upper fits seamlessly around the mid- to forefoot area, and a foam heel cup extends from the back of the shoe to the midfoot. That’s all locked down with a solid overlay grid. From the outset, both the overall comfort and the ride impressed us.

GET IT NOW: reebok.co.za

Long Trail: Salomon S-LAB Sense Ultra, R3 199

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This shoe used to be the go-to for super-fast elites weighing under 70kg. Then heavier-than-average top trail runner Francois D’Haene came along, and inspired Salomon to cater for ‘beefier’ runners. The Ultra has all the tooling of the chic S-LAB Sense, but offers extra protection and longevity for those who tip the scales at over 80kg.

GET IT NOW: salomonsports.co.za

Short Road: NB Vazee Sonic, R2 200

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This gem of a fast running shoe has exceptional toe-off when running at speed, whether you’re chasing a PB or the runner in front of you. The disc lacing system shouldn’t be dismissed as a gimmick; it locks the foot down well – with just a couple of ‘clicky’ twists, you’re good to go!

GET IT NOW: newbalance.co.za

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