Julian Carr isn’t just a big name in big air. He loves running up mountains as much as skiing down them. Here, we dig into his favorite gear choices for pounding the trail.
Pro skier Julian Carr caught the running bug a couple years ago after he began hiking mountains in the offseason. It didn’t take long for him to realize that getting to the top faster was more fun.
That’s why he launched the Cirque Series. A circuit of mountain foot races, Cirque Series focuses on short and fast courses instead of the usual combination of ultrarunning and mountain running. Fortunately for us, this pastime is nearly as gear-intensive as skiing (almost).
We spoke with Carr directly to find out what he uses for cross training.
Note: Julian Carr is a sponsored athlete, and some of the products may be from his sponsors. Check out his recommendations below.
Spyder Men’s Alps / Women’s Blytz Long Sleeve Tech Tee: $27-52
“I really like the long sleeve because it’s this stretchy, awesome material, and I like that it’s long-sleeve but not super thick. I can pull the sleeves down when it’s chilly but push the sleeves up when it’s warming up,” Carr said. “There’s also a great short-sleeve with a full mesh back — Spyder does a great job with those top layers.”
Plus, as Carr noted, Spyder’s gear tends to be mostly black. That’s great for those who are a little wary of the vibrant hues running gear can have.
This Swiss brand is “blowing up,” according to Carr. The Cloudventure Peak is a “lightweight trail competition shoe” created by mountain runners who grew up running around the Matterhorn.
“They’re lightweight but still comfortable, and I love these shoes,” Carr said. The soles of the shoes are different than any other running shoe on the market and have been sneaking their way into the U.S. running scene.
Designed for traction on the trails, plus a “springboard” effect to help you bounce from rock to rock, the shoes make you feel almost like a mountain goat. And the uppers are soft and stretchy enough that it feels like you’re running on — ahem — a cloud.
“Gordini makes great winter gloves, but what I really like is their super-light daywear glove,” said Carr.
With silk insulation, silicone grips, and touchscreen-compatible fingertips, the gloves are perfect for days that start chilly and warm up, or for mountain runs during warm days on scrambling terrain.
“In the Brighton race this year, there was a lot of scrambling up rocks,” added Carr. “Most of the hikes I do are high alpine, and you end up needing your hands a lot. I wore them in almost every race this year. They just give you a bit of extra grip, and if it gets chilly later in the day, they’re perfect.”
Like On Running’s running shoes, the run pants from the Swiss brand are just a little different than your average running tights or pants. Mesh knee inserts make them super mobile and a bit more stylish. And thoughtful details like zip pockets make them ideal for daylong mountain adventures.
“These running pants are amazing,” Carr told us. “They’re so lightweight in the upper, and the bottom is a bit stretchier, so I can pull them up so they end up being more like athletic capris. But if it’s cold and raining, I can pull them back down. I wear them for everything now, from mountains to errands. They kick major ass.”
A lightweight raincoat is key for mountain running, Carr explained, because the weather on the way up may be completely different than on the way down. This raincoat from Spyder is comfortable, breathable, and can be stuffed into his Black Diamond backpack when the rain stops. He carries it on every adventure, as it’s best to have an extra layer in case an adventure runs a little longer than you expected.
This rain jacket comes in four color schemes: black/black, cirrus/black, deep lichen green/fresh, and French blue/black.
Discrete Beanie: $18-32
Discrete is one of Carr’s many side projects. He created this simple fashion line because he was sick of trying to find the perfect basic beanie that worked well on the ski hill but didn’t stand out with neon colors or ugly patterns. (Hence the name Discrete.)
The beanies are all cozy as hell and bombproof but come in colors that are tastefully neutral — and Carr wears his products proudly. If you really love the neutral vibe from Discrete, it also has neck buffs in matching colors.
SP2 Spirulina Cubes: $90 per month
“It’s hard with my active lifestyle to find time to eat lots of good greens. But it’s really easy to make two smoothies a day with cubes of SP2 in it,” Carr said. “It’s packed with amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. And I found that my soreness level has gone way down after training, and I can do more big days in a row.”
Carr said he got into BCAAs in high school playing soccer.
“So it’s been on my radar for a long time, though it’s just now getting more popular in endurance sports. It’s great for recovery, and Gnarly has been a great brand with clean, organic options.”
Hiball Energy Cold Brew Coffee Beverage: $45 per 12 8-ounce cans
“An all-organic, fair trade energy drink: Sounds crazy, but it’s so good,” Carr told us. “The guy who founded it was so sick of making Red Bull cocktails in bars because it was so bad for people. He wanted to make a healthier energy drink pairing. So he started Hiball, and it’s become really big in the endurance sport world as cleaner fuel and energy.”
The cold brew provides caffeine, of course, but also 140 calories thanks to the combination of 100 percent Arabica organic fair trade cold brew coffee, milk, and sugar. It’s a great option for hikers and mountain runners who don’t want to handle another sip of sweet sports drink and want a more relaxing experience while still getting hydrated and energized.
Pressed by KIND Fruit Bars: $15 per 12-pack
In a world packed with on-the-go nutrition options, Carr called the Pressed bars from KIND his favorite. Made with only a few all-natural ingredients, the bars are “easy on the system and taste great.” He recommends mango and banana.
These trail-specific trekking poles are Carr’s favorite for trail running. “I mainly use them on uphills, but I’m starting to use them more on technical downhills so I can pivot by planting them and putting my weight on them,” he explained. “It’s more like downhill skiing. I think if I didn’t ski, there would be a huge learning curve to use poles for climbing.”
These LEKI poles collapse small enough to squeeze into a pack, so you can start a run with them and put them away if the trail gets less frantic. And at just over 2 pounds for the set, you’ll barely notice you’re carrying them.
“This is just an old-school compass. Silva is this cool heritage brand in Sweden that makes amazing compasses, and I like having one in my pack just in case — I keep it with my medical gear,” Carr said.
“I think a compass is a crucial emergency supply. I think having a compass is really important: If you’re out on a mountain you don’t know very well on this big adventure, it should be easy to navigate. But you never know what weather could roll in, or if your phone could die, so having a compass can save your life.”
When you’re out for a few hours of mountain run adventuring, having a bag for all of your supplies is key. Carr said he likes the lightweight Bbee 11 from Black Diamond along with water bottles so he can stash hydration, snacks, emergency supplies, extra layers, and his trekking poles all in his pack before hitting the trails.
Naawk SPF 50 Sunscreen: $11 per 6 ounces
Carr is based in Salt Lake City, so when he can buy local, he prefers that. And NAAWK sunscreen spray is both locally made and the ideal product for Carr, with water-resistant UVA/UVB protection.
“This portable charger is the size of a lighter. It’s perfect for when I’m out marking a course for one of the Cirque Series mountain run races and I have to answer a billion emails while I’m on the mountain,” Carr said.
A single charge of the Venture can actually recharge a phone five times, so even if you’re out for an overnight adventure, you’ll be able to keep your phone running the whole time.
Spy Optic Helm: $120
It gets sunny on top of mountains, so Carr never leaves home without Spy Optic glasses. Right now he’s into the Helm style, which features a more retro feel while still using Spy Optic’s Happy Lens technology and polarization. They’re not your dad’s 1970s glasses — but even he would give you style points for these.
“Post-run, I love a burger and a beer,” Carr said. He has a Traeger wood pellet grill on his back porch and regularly slaps a burger on the barbecue when he gets back from a full day on the road. Because it’s a wood pellet grill, there’s no open flame and it doubles as a smoker, it’s a do-it-all backyard machine. Sure, it’s not essential for every athlete, but we’ve also tried ’em out and agree they’re great for gourmet meals when you have the time.
Keeping drinks cold on the road or up the mountain is key in the summer. Just as important is keeping your coffee hot on the way up to the top of the mountain for skiing. Because Carr balances his time between summer and winter adventures, a cup like the YETI Rambler that can do both is the perfect accessory.
“The crazy screw on top makes it completely spillproof. That’s why I like it so much!” he said.
Bonus: The no-sweat design means you can keep it in your pack without stressing about getting your spare gear wet.
Molly Hurford is a coach and journalist in love with all things cycling, running, yoga, nutrition, and all else movement-related. She’s a USA Cycling and PMBI-certified coach and a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance. She’s raced cyclocross, road, and mountain bikes, as well as triathlons from sprint distance to Ironman and running races from 5Ks to 50Ks in the mountains.
Molly is obsessed with getting more women psyched on adventure and wellness, and hosts talks and coaches clinics and camps for cyclists. She’s also the author of multiple books on cycling and nutrition, runs TheOutdoorEdit.com, and co-hosts The Consummate Athlete Podcast. Her most recent project, Shred Girls, is a young adult fiction series focused on getting girls excited about bikes.