I thought I'd make a list of gift ideas for trail runners, partly for myself and partly as a resource for others. Often when people ask me what I want for birthdays or Christmas, I can't think of anything. Trail running doesn't require a lot of equipment, and usually, the things I need, I've already got. Maybe with a few prompts, next time I might be able to think of something.
These items are the kind of gift you can give without consultation, and they're reasonably cheap, so if you get it completely wrong, it's not the end of the world.
Books: Always welcome, and there are so many trail running and ultrarunning books to choose from. Just check whether they want physical books, digital books or audiobooks. I love listening to audiobooks when I'm doing treadmill workouts.
Socks: Receiving socks as a gift might be a bit of a joke for some, but they do wear out especially when you crank out the kilometres. I particularly like the Injinji toe socks as they stop my toes rubbing together.
Cap: I suppose you can only have a few caps, but a good one will be useful for years. Look for one that's lightweight, and has plenty of ventilation holes.
Gloves: Handy (pun intended) in winter, especially in colder climates. Check that the gloves allow you to operate a touch screen while you've got them on.
Gaiters: These little skirts for your ankles stop stones and dirt getting into your shoes. They're just the right price for a gift, and come in some pretty groovy colours.
Buff: Another item that is available in an infinite array of designs. Handy for soaking up sweat, keeping the sun off your neck, or your hair under control.
Resistance bands: A set of resistance bands of varying thicknesses are useful for strength workouts.
Foam roller: Not the most exciting gift, but useful nonetheless.
Soft flask: A soft flask to fit in an existing running vest is a nice little gift for a trail runner. They likely have soft flasks that came with their vest, but there are some available with better features.
OK, most of these items cost quite a bit more than $100, and they're the type of thing that you probably shouldn't buy for someone without consulting them first. Some even require fitting, so the person you're giving to really needs to be involved.
Trail shoes: Shoes are a bit pricey to give as a gift, and obviously they need to be fitted. So, maybe give a gift card instead.
GPS watch: Likewise, GPS running watches are generally a bit too expensive to give as a gift. And it's the kind of thing you don't want to get wrong. However, the number of models available isn't too confusing, so your friend should be able to tell you which one they want.
Running vest: Definitely not the type of thing you would buy for someone without talking to them first. They'll need to make sure they get the right size and the features they want.
Headlamp: Handy for running at night. Look for one specifically designed for running. Pay particular attention to weight (including batteries), brightness, and battery life.
Wireless headphones: If your trail running friend likes to listen to music while running, wireless headphones might be a nice gift. Look for running specific ones as they're sweat-proof and better at staying in the ears.