Gear can be as vital as your will to tackle the mountain, mole hill, sea or trail. The staff at these independent dealers can set you in the right direction for your outdoor needs; no compass necessary, just their expert insight on the best outdoor accouterments for your next adventure. Get the scoop on the Best Used Sporting Goods in Chicago, too.

(Photo Credit:

(Photo Credit:

Running Away Multisport
2219 N. Clybourn Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 395-2929

This specialty triathalon store will outfit you in the correct wetsuit for your swim, a bike that fits your body and the shoes of a happy champ. Whether Polar Vortex or Midwest monsoon, runners have to run and Running Away Multisport offers the gear to get you going. The staff, known for its expertise and honest assessments, will outfit you with “Lobster” gloves for winter and check the pressure points on your feet for the best shoes possible (then try ’em out on an in-store treadmill). RAM was the first bike shop in the world to use the Guru Dynamic Fit Unit which aides the specialist to analyze your power output and pedal stroke so you can pick the bike that loves your bod.

Roberts Cycle
7054 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60626
(773) 274-9281

Roberts has been selling and tuning up bikes since 1935, so to say there is experience behind the counter is like saying Lance Armstrong likes a little juice. The staff will tackle anything on two wheels – road, track, mountain, cross, hybrid, comfort, tandem, cruiser, three-speeds, BMX and kids bikes – whether it’s a flat tire or a total overhaul. With a selection of over 3,000 parts and accessories, Roberts covers cyclists’ needs from helmets and clothing to chains and forks. When it’s time for a whole new ride, the Rogers Park shop will help you with folding, tandem, BMX, cyclocross, electric, mountain, leisure and commuter bikes or go full hipster and snag yourself a mint green retro set of wheels.

Related: Best Places For Off-Roading Near Chicago

(Photo Credit: Shred Shop)

(Photo Credit: Shred Shop)

Shred Shop
3801 W. Oakton St.
Skokie, IL 60076
(847) 679-3060

If it’s done on a board (and we don’t mean ironing), you’ll find what you need at the Shred Shop. The largest snowboard, skateboard and surf shop in the Midwest offers a colossal collection of clothing, shoes, boards and all of the equipment and accessories you need to shred the gnar, kick flip and 50-50 grind or stand up paddle. Peruse a huge selection of kicks for men, women and kids and shades that will cut down on the glare of the sun on snow and rails or fans’ camera flashes.

Uncle Dan’s
901 W. Church St.
Evanston, IL 60201
(847) 475-7100

Celebrating 41 years of business in 2014, Uncle Dan‘s has evolved from an army-navy surplus store to one of the top outdoor industry retailers in the Midwest, all while maintaining close ties to the community. “We always strive to offer customers the best products with top-notch customer experience,” says Stephanie Weiss, “and our priority is to have a relationship with our customers, which is something that is lost in the modern self check-out culture.” Expect a chat with the knowledgeable staff who loves the outdoors and adventure travel as well as cutting-edge outdoor apparel and adventure travel gear for the urban outdoor enthusiast. Premium brands carried include The North Face, Patagonia, Arc’teryx, Canada Goose, Merrell, Keen, SmartWool, Icebreaker, Hunter, Sorel and UGG.

DJ’s Scuba Locker
9301 W. Ogden Ave.
Brookfield, IL 60513
(708) 442-4388

You can spend a few hours at Brookfield Zoo’s aquatic exhibits cooing at the penguins and seals, but then head over to DJ’s Scuba Locker for a complete line of scuba gear. The full-service dive center that services all of its products in-house, DJ’s became a Test Center for Fourth Element Arctic Underwear which offers high-insulation, low-bulk fabric and exceptional levels of thermal protection – a must for Midwest divers. In business since 1995, the shop, owned by Dan and Cindy Howard, is a Professional Instructor Development Center for SDI/TDI/ERDI and a PADI Dive Center, too.

Related: Ask An Expert: Best Bike Rides In Chicago

Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at