Mizuno WP Jacket
I got a wicked deal on this jacket last year around Christmas when Runningwarehouse.com (best running supply shop on the web BY FAR!) had their big clearout sale. I wanted a Brooks Utopia Softshell at the time, but it would have been way more money, the wrong color, and they sold out of my size before I could pull the trigger anyhow. Turns out I stumbled into the right decision anyway (the Utopia would have been too warm for mild Tennessee climes, methinks).
The Mizuno WP ("WP" stands for windproof) is probably the best looking running jacket on the market thanks to its minimal ornamentation and sleek taper at the midsection. The stretchy, perfectly-thin fabric makes it very versatile for layering, and its ventilation allows it to be used up in the 50s comfortably when the wind picks up.
Two complaints about the WP jacket: 1) The zipper is on the wrong side for dudes. This is admittedly a minor issue , but seriously, Japan? 2) The thumb holes - a major selling point for me because I don't like gloves unless they are an absolute necessity - are WAY too small for my thumbs. It's like they made them the appropriate size for a prepubescent girl. Again: seriously, Japan? Sidenote: since I purchased my jacket last year, Mizuno has changed the design to something significantly more vented. No word on if they put the zipper back on the correct side, though.
Regardless, I still love this jacket. It kicks the crap out of everything sold at the big-box retailers, and I got it for half of what anything comparable would have cost. Runningwarehouse rocks.
Reebok Run Gloves
Brooks Infinity Half-Zip
The Infinity Half-Zip is one of the most used items in my closet between October and April and for good reason. The thing is super comfy-soft, attractive, stretchy, and has held up beautifully while taking quite a beating. Brooks nails the perfect sleeve length and ideal thumb-hole cut, to boot! (In your face, Japan.) It's my cold-weather workhorse uniform.
Brooks Sherpa Short
C9 sport socks
Merrell Versa Band
It's a neckwarmer! No, it's a headband! No, it's a balaclava! No, it's all of the above and more including a do-rag, head wrap, and mask. This is the only piece of un-purchased gear on my humble list. I got in my swag bag for running the Merrell Naked Foot 5k in Nashville, and I absolutely adore it. There are probably over a hundred different companies that make and/or sell items similar to this, but this is the only one I have tried or owned and it's fantastic. No runner should be without one of these.
Garmin FR 305
"Yes I love technology, but not as much as you, you see.... but I still love technology. Always and forever." If you are a runner without a GPS watch, you fall into one of the following categories:
1. You are a "free runner" who hates having your spiritual connection with nature interrupted by having to fiddle with invasive techno-nonsense.
2. You think it's too expensive.
3. You are not very experienced in the world of running and don't know what this thing could possibly offer you.
If you fall into #2 or #3, you really should look into the Garmin 305. It's not the newest or the flashiest bit of innovative compudrama, but it's solid, proven technology that's getting less expensive every day. I got my 305 last year for Christmas and have worn it on well over 100 runs so far. It's awesome! I can't possibly explicate the myriad features this sucker has to offer here, but I can link you to someone who has:
So there it is, folks. My very Gear of the Year list, even if some of it is more than a year old. Happy New Year, and happy running!