Sunday, October 23, 2016

adidas adizero Boston 6 Review: Truer to its Name. Versatile, Cushioned, Comfortable. Smooth as Silk.

The adidas adizero Boston 6 is a 8.8 oz/249 g Men's 9, 7.5 oz/ 213 g Women's 8  26mm heel/16mm stack $120 performance trainer.

It is relatively light, well cushioned, suited to both fast and slow speeds,responsive and energetic. It is especially comfortable, from road feel to upper, without compromising performance.
The Boston 6 contains 3 key adidas technologies
  • Boost midsole made of TPU pellets compressed with heat into a bouncy, energy returning, long lasting, less temperature sensitive midsole
  • between outsole and midsole adidas hard plastic Torsion System to stabilize the foot... and the Boost midsole for smooth and dynamic landings and transitions
  • a relatively soft but incredible durable Continental rubber outsole for great traction and a comfortable road feel
What's New?
Runners of the predecessor Boston 5 will likely at first blush say, so what's new? I certainly did having run the Boston 5 and found it not as race pleasing as the adios Boost racer or as useful as the Energy Boost. Well small changes make a huge positive difference here.
Photo Running Warehouse: Women's Boston 6
Compared to Boston 5
Gone is the stretchy, fairly stiff upper of the 5 with its many sewn front of the shoe overlays. The 6 has an incredibly comfortable knit mesh upper at the front of the shoe, one of the best if not the best pure road shoe upper I have run in this year.
The Continental rubber outsole appears slightly softer and slightly thicker with larger lugs and more space between them. This translates into considerably more flexibility while retaining a nice toe spring and a quieter more cushioned ride.
Finally, likely due to a combination of the two above, the 6 is lighter by about 0.5 oz
It is a far smoother running, quieter, and more comfortable shoe.

Upper and Fit
While Running Warehouse sent me a half size up, fine with thicker socks, I could have easily gone true to size. The last appears to be the same as in the Boston 5 but is now of a stretchier lighter mesh. Front volume is very adequate, the old stitched on suede toe bumper and last lace overlay is replaced by a denser mesh weave making them feel less pointy up front.  The front of the shoe comfort and foot hold is superb. Gone is the scratchy feel of the rougher feeling less dense old mesh.

The mid foot retains a saddle with now wider, thinner stitched on adidas 3 Bands which combines with the rear of the foot upper's single layer very small holed dense mesh. The mid foot is consistently held with no hot or tight areas. This is one very breathable, well draining upper.

The heel counter area has been reworked with no raised achilles notch. The heel area is decently held and noticeably more comfortable. The heel collar padding is about the same.  While more comfortable I missed the race secure heel hold of the 5 a bit. The tongue instead of being a re use of the mesh tongue materials has a more fabric like material and has thinner padding at the  lace up area. Not an issue.

The lighter salmon colored heel counter material is somewhat reflective for safety.

Midsole and Outsole

There are no visible changes to the midsole compared to the Boston Boost 5.  Same Boost layer with above a conventional Strobel board and  a collar of EVA to stabilize the foot over the soft Boost. The collar extends down to become side walls at the second to last lace hole on the medial side and at last lace hole on the lateral side to become full stabilizing sidewalls. Toe spring occurs just behind this stiffer material, exactly in the right spot for me.

The outsole is really a combination of the gray Torsion System and Continental outsole material. I call this the propulsion engine. On the medial side it extends towards the heel for a touch of stability. Beyond the mid foot, where the Torsion is exposed, the outer fingers extend bit further forward on the medial side under the outsole than on the lateral side, again for a touch of stability, here at transition to toe off. The center two gray Torsion wings extend under the very first lugs.

The outsole is that famous Continental rubber, soft feeling with great grip and durability. It passed my wet smooth wooden board walk test on my daily route. Some shoes don't. With larger deeper lugs and rubber, more spacing between them, and a bit softer rubber the forefoot feel under foot is sublime and noticeably more flexible than the Boston 5, yet is still responsive and snappy due to the toe spring created by the Torsion System.
Photo: Running Warehouse Men's Boston 6

Ride and Recommendations
The Boston 6 as the title says is cushioned and very smooth running. It has good mid foot stability and moderate spring effect from the Torsion System. I ran a half in them today and was pleased with the comfort and responsiveness. This said will it will be more of a marathon shoe than a half shoe for me. I will stick with the snappier and lighter adios Boost 3 and Salming Distance D4 for halves.

The title says "Truer to its Name" and shoe name name is after all... Boston. The Boston 6 is ideally suited to Boston's hills, and with its improved cushion and upper comfort for the later miles. It is a great marathon shoe for those of us in the 3:10 to 3:50 range. I ran the Boston 5,  at the Boston Marathon a few years ago. Boston 5 was considerably stiffer, its upper not very comfortable, the outsole firmer and slappy and I think putting all of this together less stable at the heel when I got tired and had a slower transition. I have also run Boston in the Energy Boost, in version 3 now an 11.5 oz monster, and the more relaxed Lunar Tempo.  My next Boston will be in the Boston but first I have to re qualify!

The title also says "Versatile'.  There is no question the Boston 6 is also a fabulous daily trainer: light enough, cushioned, and with a durable outsole. It runs well at slow and faster tempo paces.

My only qualms with the Boston 6 is that the heel and mid foot hold could be a bit better and while TPU Boost is heavier than conventional EVA midsoles I would love to see the weight come down. Maybe a more modern rear of the upper and saddle design and a bit less heel counter material?
Highly Recommended.

Careful readers of Road Trail Run will note my score of 4.9 out of 5, my highest score of 2016.

Sam's Score 4.9 out of 5
-0.05 for rear and mid foot upper support
-0.05 for weight. Come on adidas go to town on the upper and heel counter.

Adios Boost 3 (review here)
The Adios Boost is lighter, 4mm thinner in the forefoot and shares many of the upper characteristics of the older Boston 5. It is a racing machine and my choice for a half but not a marathon or training as the versatile Boston 6 is. Utility for mere mortals, versatility and overall comfort give the Boston 6 the nod.
Salming Distance D4 (review here)
More than an ounce lighter with a similar mid foot stability system, the D4 has equivalent forefoot cushion but as a 5mm drop shoe less heel cushion. It is a firmer somewhat more responsive shoe than the Boston. It is less versatile but a better choice for me for up to a half marathon
Nike Lunar Tempo 1 (review here)
Lighter by than more than an ounce, the Lunar Tempo has a very comfortable upper and via FlyWire slightly better mid foot hold and for my taste overly relaxed fore foot hold. It is more flexible and has equivalent soft cushion. For my sloppy running form it is a bit harder to tame. I prefer the directed ride of the Boston.
Saucony Freedom ISO (review here)
Just a touch heavier, the Freedom also has a TPU based midsole but has a completely different ride. Low slung, natural feeling with no heel counter, a soft upper, and single piece softer outsole it is fun to run in but softer, harder to tame. I love to train in them but to date have hesitated to race in them.
Brooks Launch 3 (review here)
With very similar stack stats but heavier,more ponderous to run, with a so so but improved upper, the Launch 3 is more trainer than racer for me and thus less versatile than the Boston.

The Boston 6 was provided to Road Trail Run by Running Warehouse and adidas at no charge. The opinions herein are entirely our own

The Boston 6 is available from Running Warehouse. 
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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Review Salming Distance D4: Light Performance Swedish Trainer Racer with Good Fast and Slow Pace Manners and A Lively Personality

Salming is a scrappy Swedish brand which is rapidly iterating and improving their run shoes. Their theme is "No Nonsense Shoes for No Nonsense Runners." Salming shoes are in fact no nonsense but are also well built and innovative. RoadTrailRun has reviewed the predecessor Distance D3, the Speed, and the Trail T2 All of our Salming and more than 45 other shoe reviews in 2016 alone can be found here 

The limited edition Salming Distance D4 gets
  • a dramatic drop in weight from its predecessors, a full ounce or 28 grams
  • a new Exo Skeleton design upper with fewer layers, 
  • a somewhat softer RunLite midsole
  • more flexibility, improving its trademark snappy Ballet Line transition to toe off.  
Salming Distance D4
At a very light 7.6 oz/  215 g US size 9 the D4  slots into the less an 8 oz heavier duty race flat light trainer category with shoes such as Adios Boost, Hoka Clayton or Tracer, New Balance 1400, Saucony Kinvara, or Nike Lunar Tempo.

With a 22mm heel 17 mm forefoot stack and 5mm drop, there is plenty of decent forefoot cushion, 4mm more than what I see as the closest comparison the Adios Boost.  It is also not a slipper like unstructured shoe such as the similar weight Nike Lunar Tempo.

The upper, while not a race flat fit, still has plenty of support and decent volume. And if used as a trainer, unlike more race oriented shoes, there is plenty of durable rubber outsole coverage although we have some concerns about wear The ride is equally comfortable at slow or fast paces.

At $150 this careful blending of features at a light weight comes at a cost, placing the D4 in the premium trainer racer category along with shoes such as the New Balance 2090 (review here), upcoming Saucony Freedom ISO (review here), adidas Adios Boost 3 (review here), and Hoka Clayton (review here)

My miles to date in the D4 have been fantastic at all paces from slow and easy to faster tempo and half marathon racing. It is rare that a light shoe can pull off such versatility. Don't be mistaken this is not a soft ride, it's quite firm, snappy with a bit of pop off the road and responsive but at the same time it is not a punishing ride.

Fit and Upper
The D4 fit me true to size. I did move to the rear lace to better lock the heel. The heel collar opening is fairly wide, wider than I like to see in a light performance trainer racer.  The fit is somewhat more relaxed than a typical race flat with fairly even, comfortable support throughout. 
Salming Distance D4
The upper is a conventional soft thin mesh with Salming's Exo Skeleton support as a single overlay on each side.  There is a conventional lightly padded tongue with a partial bootie inner sleeve starting near the 2nd red lace hole.
Salming Distance D4
The upper, while retaining the effective Exo-Skeleton approach, is completely different than prior models of the Distance. The Exo Skeleton is bonded to the outside of the mesh upper.  In prior versions the support overlays were bonded to the inner mesh next to the foot with a very fine but open fish net like outer mesh only attached at the laces and midsole, so free floating.
Top: Salming Distance D1 Bottom Salming Distance D4

Clearly the new approach saves a lot of weight. Gone is the "tubular" feel of the prior uppers, unique, but I prefer the new approach  The toe bumper is much softer material than the D1 and less extended than either D1 or D3.   
The softer and less extensive toe bumper, lighter upper, fewer Exo Skeleton overlays at the front of the shoe all contribute to much better flexibility and front of the shoe comfort and perception of volume. Gone is the noticeable sense  that the toe top of the bumper was pressing on the toes of the D1, improved but still there with softer toe bumper in D3. 
Left: Salming Distance D4 Right Salming Distance D1
The heel opening is wider than I like but heel hold was easily solved by going to the last lace hole 

It seems to have a similar last as its predecessors with it appears more width at the metatarsals as the D3 has. It it is literally, by the new construction, more "pulled together "over the foot for a more secure overall foot.  This is not a wide or very high volume shoe but I have no pressure points at mid foot or forefoot. It is also by no means a relaxed sloppy fit or a super snug one either, so a well executed happy medium suitable for training and racing and many kinds of feet.

The midsole is made of a single layer of Salming's proprietary injection molded RunLite EVA  but made a bit softer than prior versons. I welcome this change. The D3 was a bit on the firm side for my daily training.  

Shoe geeks will know that some midsoles are injected molded and others produced by compression molding. Examples of injection molded midsoles include Skechers 5Gen. Nike Lunar shoes, Hoka RMAT and Speedgoat, and others. I find that injection molded midsoles seem to bottom out to a feeling road shock less than compression molded ones. While they do not have the distinct bounce of adidas Boost or now Saucony Everun molded from TPU they do have some sense of rebound or pop, a more subtle one while at same time retaining responsive snap and stability. The D4 follows this pattern.


A big part of Salming's appeal for me is the execution of their outsole, in particular how they implement the transition to toe off and front of the shoe stability.  They call this approach Torsion Guide System TGS 62/75:
"The distance from heel to the ball of foot (62% of the shoe) has been designed with extra stability, which ends in the so-called “ballet” line, a 75° angle. In front of the 75° line, we have equipped the shoe with greater flexibility to stimulate the foot’s natural movements. The TGS 62/75° feature assures that the shoe bends in exactly the right places, stimulating the foot’s natural lateral and forward movements."

There are 2 key components to the approach and they work together as follows:
  • The Torsion Efficiency Unit of hard plastic under the midfoot between midsole and outsole is similar to adidas Torsion.  This element really stabilizes the foot. It is not a pronation control mechanism such as firmer foam further back.
  • The Ballet Line is where the Torsion Efficiency Unit ends. As it is slightly longer on the medial side (bottom of picture below) it creates the flex point at a 75 degree angle just in front of the first black triangle of outsole foam in the center or the shoe . There is a distinct sense of rolling off to toe off from this feature, yet with, as they say with lateral and forward stability. As the D4 is now more flexible the feature is more effective and noticeable, particularly  at slower speeds. It is a very pleasant and effective sense of forward efficient momentum that feels natural.

The outsole itself has 2 grades of rubber, a durable rubber at the heel and light weight rubber further forward. The outsole rubber appears to be softer than on the D1 which was among the firmest I have run recently.
Left: No wear Right: Accelerated Wear
Heel wear to date has been somewhat uneven between shoes as my left shoe is showing accelerated heel wear on the lateral side just ahead of the rear of the heel while the right heel has no wear.  I have about 30 miles on the Distance 4. The forefoot red rubber is showing practically no wear at all on either shoe. As I know I scuff my left heel more than my right due to a recent injury this tells me that abrasion resistance from scuffing may be an issue for some. There are always trade offs for such light weights. I will apply some Shoe Goo!
The Salming Distance D4 has a firm yet in no way harsh ride.  There is a touch of pop when compared to the D1 from the injection molded RunLite midsole and softer outsole, more felt in the forefoot than the heel.  Overall responsiveness is excellent without being painful and jarring. The transition to toe off is very smooth and well stabilized by the Torsion Guide System.  Similar to the Hoka Clayton, but unlike for example the Adios Boost or a New Balance 1400 or Zante I have no problem daily training or racing in the D4. In fact the ride at slower speeds is exceptionally goodsoftish for a performance type shoe while the ride at speed seems to firm up as it should. 

A more conventional lighter upper and softer cushioning make the D4 a significant upgrade to the D3. If you like your shoes light, decently cushioned, with some pop and want to simplify to a single shoe for race and most training miles the D4 is an excellent choice. 

Sam's Score: 4.85 out of 5
-0.10 for early outsole wear on one heel
-0.05 for a bit more secure mid foot and heel hold

D4 to Adios Boost
For me this is the closest comparison. The D4 upper is more similar to the Adios Boost 1 than the more relaxed forefoot of the Adios Boost 3 but on the ground forefoot feel of the D4 is closer to the Adios Boost 3. I do slightly prefer the heel feel of the Adios, a touch softer and bouncier and the forefoot feel of the Distance 4, the 4mm of extra stack even without Boost does make a difference in comfort. I easily daily train in the D4, the Adios just doesn't have enough in the forefoot for me. The longer the race, beyond a half, I would lean towards the D4 over Adios
D4 to Nike Lunar Tempo
Almost the same in weight the ride and fit are very different. The Lunar Tempo's super relaxed upper and 4mm of  softer additional heel stack is better suited to long runs and marathons for me, the D4 for shorter races and tempo. I would give the nod to the Lunar Tempo for overall comfort and the D4 for performance.
D4 to Hoka Clayton
The Clayton is slightly lighter and definitely more cushioned without being soft despite being of a higher stack all around. Overall the Clayton is a more versatile shoe but its transitions are more awkward due to its stiffness.  I would pick the D4, and did this past weekend, for a half marathon and the Clayton for hillier longer races and training.
D4 to Hoka Tracer
The Tracer is far firmer and for me is a pure race shoe and even for a 10K is at the edge of to firm for me.
D4 to New Balance 1400v2
Hands down the D4 for me. The 1400 Reslyte midsole is overly firm and harsh with lots of road shock the D4 just doesn't have.
D4 to Kinvara 7
Another close comparison. The Kinvara 7's upper is very snug over the instep and has a more dialed in race ready upper. The D4 overall is just more comfortable and versatile. The D4 is far more responsive and flexible at the front of the shoe, more fun. 

We have included a comparative table of running shoes in the D4's 7-8 oz range. The RTR Ratio listed: add forefoot and heel stack divide by weight for a measure of the cushion per ounce of shoe. Higher is better. Of course other factors apply. 
All stats courtesy of Running Warehouse

Reviews of all the shoes mentioned above and many others can be found here

The Salming Distance D4 was provided at no charge to Road Trail Run. The opinions herein are entirely the author's. 

The Salming Distance D4 is available from Salming via Amazon at the links below

Salming Distance D4 Men'sSalming Distance D4 Women's

Click Here 
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Over 45 in depth Road and Trail Shoes reviews so far in 2016!

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Skechers GoTrail - Cushion and Comfort for More Casual Trail Use

Article by Jeff Valliere

Skechers GoTrail
9.4 oz/226 g. Mens Size 9; 7.6 oz/215 g. Women's Size 8
24mm  heel/20mm forefoot
$105, available now

First Impressions:
Light and soft. Upon first putting the GoTrail on my feet, I was quite impressed with how light, well cushioned and comfortable they are.  Slipper like feel gets used often, but these truly feel that way, For a trail shoe, the upper appears to be a bit light on overlays and support, in my opinion, the GoTrail looks a bit more like a road shoe with a luggy outsole.  My only previous experience with Skechers trail shoes were a few years ago, where I tested the GoRun Ultra, which I found to be quite unstable on even moderately technical terrain.  However, despite the less than positive previous experience with the GoRun Ultra, I was eager to see how Skechers has improved their trail shoes over the past few years.

The fit of the mostly seamless H2GO upper is excellent, true to size, with a bit of toe room for some splay and swelling.  Skechers claims the H2GO as water resistant, but I found that it breathes and handles moisture like any other shoe.  The tongue is moderately padded and comfortable, laces are a good thickness, length and tighten effectively on the first try (aside from the need re-adjust on my first steep descent, but that is a separate issue is addressed below).
The toe bumper is flexible and though I did not find out first hand, would ward off minor rock kicks.

Volume is moderate in the midfoot, requiring me to work a bit to snug the laces to adequately wrap my low volume foot.  The heel counter is a good height, with adequate padding and good heel hold.

The GoTrail, with it's 5GEN cushioning, has one of the softer midsoles of any trail shoe that I have tested, which I initially figured could be an issue, but was pleasantly surprised that it offered a very reasonable blend of cushion and performance.  The GoTrail is not the most responsive shoe, but I felt that the rock plate (Dupont Hytrel™ dispersion Plate), combined with the low weight of the shoe made the GoTrail feel reasonably quick/nimble and the ride is notably smooth.  Shock absorption, rock protection and all day comfort are all excellent.


The moderately lugged outsole is one of the better aspects of this shoe, offering excellent grip on the majority of surfaces.  The triangular, directional lugs are well spaced, reasonably deep, durable and the rubber compound grabs very well on dry rock.  Performance in wet conditions is average under most circumstances.

The GoTrail is light, with a great blend of cushion, protection and performance at a very reasonable price.  From my experience, the sweet spot for the GoTrail is non technical, to lightly technical trails, doubletrack and fire roads that are not particularly steep.  The GoTrail also runs quite well on pavement (the lugs are low profile enough to not be a hindrance) and the ample cushion really helps take the edge off.  Ground feel and flexibility are good for a shoe this cushioned and protective. Though I found the upper to fit very well and be quite comfortable, it had a difficult time holding my foot in place on moderate to steep descents, off camber terrain and wavered a bit on technical, rocky terrain.  While descending steep trails, my foot, even after stopping to re-tie the laces tighter, would awkwardly slide far forward in the shoe.  I did not get any blisters, but I did get some hot spots on the soles of my feet after just 2 miles/2,300 vertical feet of descending.

Being a trail shoe, I feel as though that Skechers could greatly improve the GoTrail by creating an upper with more effective overlays and support.  Rumor has it that they are working on this for version 2 of this shoe.

Overall, the GoTrail is a great pick for somebody looking for a well priced, high quality, door to trail training shoe, or shoe for mostly smooth trails with the ability to handle short sections of moderately technical trail.

Score 4.2 out of 5
-.2 for soft midsole
-.5 for upper control/hold issues in technical terrain/steep gradients
-.1 for color choices/looks


GoTrail vs. Hoka Speed Instinct - Both are very light, well cushioned (similar stack/drop), have lower profile lugs, soft, somewhat flexible feel and are both quite versatile.  For day to day training on more casual terrain, I think it is a coin toss, but if looking to race or run technical terrain, I favor the Speed Instinct because of the more secure upper (ironically though, I find the GoTrail to have slightly better traction and protection, it is just limited by the upper in mountainous terrain).

GoTrail vs. Altra Lone Peak 3.0 - Both are light with a soft, well cushioned feel, all day comfort, good traction and protection.  Both struggle a bit in technical terrain and I personally had fit issues with the Lone Peak 3.0.  If not for the fit issues of the Lone Peak, it would probably be my pick, but the GoTrail has a more "normal" universal fit and I appreciated the extra 4mm of cushion in the heel.

The GoTrail was provided free of charge to Road Trail Run. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.

The GoTrail is available from Running Warehouse
Take 10% off by using Road Trail Run Coupon Code: RTR10
Men's GOTrail here
Women's GOTrail here

Click Here for RTR' 2017 Run Shoe Previews: New Balance, Brooks, Saucony, Salomon, Altra, adidas Outdoor, Hoka and More!

Click Here for RTR's Latest Running Shoe and Gear Reviews. 
Over 45 in depth Road and Trail Shoes reviews so far in 2016!

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Skechers GOTrail and GOTrail Ultra are also available from Amazon below

Monday, October 10, 2016

Vintage 1974 High School Cross Country Racing Movie. My Form was Bad then and is Worse now but at least I was Fast!

Way back in 1974 I was fortunate to be the co-captain of an outstandingly deep XC team while at Phillips Exeter Academy. After a summer of 100 mile weeks, I started the season "hot" winning several dual meets in a row, often in course record time, always going out crazy fast.
My team mates took the long approach, not training much during the summer, and peaking for the 2 big races: against arch rival Andover and for the Class A Prep Schools Interschols Championships. I hung on for dear life. We had huge depth and won both races in convincing fashion putting our entire team of 7 between 4th and 13th place in the 10 team field.

My father took sensational movies (below, expand to full screen) of these 2 races and we recently digitized them.  I am the character in red and white with big hair, glasses, a goofy stride, in 2nd or 3d place early in both races.
1974 Exeter Andover and Class A Interschols Meets

Many incredible memories of my teammates (John Rice, Chris Reich, Mark Hagler, John Weston, Dave Hanson, John Kermath and many others) and coaches (Ralph Lovshin, Bucky Bruce, Don Putnam) who are all featured in the movie.  The pace was furious on our flat course, well under 5 minute pace for the first 2 miles. Our JV team of Steve Owlett, Brian Cassidy, Mark Horton, Rick Samaha, and Ed Ernst was even more dominant taking the first 5 places and on time would have placed between 20th and 27th place in the varsity race.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Review WAA Ultra Carrier Shirt: Pack Free Carrying Capacity, All Temperature Comfort, Sun Protection

WAA Ultra Equipment distributed in the US by Rocky Mountain Ultra is a French company whose products were originally conceived to help runners through the 6 day Marathon des Sables across the Sahara in high heat, over sand dunes while carrying all food and sleeping equipment, water thankfully provided.

The Ultra Carrier Shirt  $89 (now $75 at Rocky Mountain Ultra is a form fitting, full zip shirt which provides

  • 100% SPF UVA UVB sun protection via a fabric treatment
  • IceFeel treatment for rapid evaporation for a cooling effect
  • 4 totally bounce free pockets: 2 in the front which can hold an iPhone 7 and up to 4 gels, 2 in the back each which can hold a 750ml water bottle, soft flasks or clothing.
I extensively tested the Ultra Carrier in high heat and humidity this summer and recently on a wet, cool, breezy day. In all conditions the shirt was incredibly comfortable. As readers of Road Trail Run know I often write about the latest in cooling fabrics and the Ultra Carrier's combination of sun protection and cooling effect is right up there if not the best I have tried to date.
In very bright mid day sun I noticed no heating of the skin through the fabric, no surprise as with 100% SPF essentially you are wearing the highest level of sun protection. The IceFeel and snug fit made things cool if a bit damp.