Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Summer Run Apparel Roundup: Patagonia, Rab, Dynafit, North Face

My mileage is up, the UT trails have been calling, and the heat is on. I tend to run hot so I am constantly looking for cool and comfortable. Sadly for my wallet the stuff keeps on getting better and better.


Patagonia Gamut Tee ($49) 
Patagonia Gamut Tee

I have long been a fan of Patagonia Silkweight tees and long sleeves. Super comfortable, UV protection, and quick drying. Last year they were one of my favorites.  This year Patagonia has launched a more run specific tee and sleeveless line called Gamut.  What's the difference? While the Silkweight is densely woven, the Gamut is variably knit and almost completely seamless. While the Silkweight is smooth to the touch the Gamut has a slight vertical texture which likely helps with moisture transfer.
Pros: Outstandingly comfortable in the heat.
Cons: the Gamut is not exactly as fashionable as Silkweight off the trail. it really looks like an old school undershirt in the off white I got. With a size medium  the sleeves are to tight to roll up into a sleeveless when it is really hot.

Rab Aeon Tee ($30)

Rab is a British mountaineering company which keeps their products simple, reasonably priced, streamlined and highly functional.  Their motto is " For the most extreme conditions in the world." They use outstanding technical fabrics.
Rab Aeon Tee

The Aeon Tee is made of fabric very similar to the Patagonia Silkweight but appears even lighter and with a tiny bit more texture for moisture transfer. I find it even more comfortable than the Patagonia Silkweight. Unlike the Gamut, the Rab's short sleeves fit loose and can be rolled up when the heat is on. You can wear it anywhere anytime on the trail or around town.

Pros: Smooth. Fashionable. Outstanding in the heat.  Roll up the sleeves. Priced right at $30.
Cons: None

Salomon EXO S-Lab Tank ($79.95)
EXO S-Lab Tank

Ok the Salomon EXO S-Lab Tank , also available in a tee, is far out there in design look but it sure does work. Unlike the Rab and Gamut this tank is designed to fit tight. Unlike most form fitting tri style tanks the EXO S-Lab has minimal stretch.
There are 3 weights of mesh. The mesh is 3D creates a tremendous amount of surface area for moisture evaporation:  

  • red mesh on shoulders is densest, has the least stretch, and protects from sun and pack straps, 
  • white mesh in mid body has a tiny bit more stretch but fits snug. 
  • gray laminated overlays in the mid body front and back do not stretch and are EXO Sensifit technology claimed to "help postural support chest and upper body muscles, improving oxygen intake while running." I find a bit of a boost to my slumping overall posture but not sure on the claim on oxygen intake yet
  • gray mesh on the sides is the lightest and stretchiest.
The tight fit and mesh combine to create a really comfortable micro climate over a wide range of temperatures. I have run in the heat and then hit a windy cool ridge and neither felt overheated or chilled. 

Pros: Suitable for a wide range of temperatures even during a single run. Some postural help
Cons: Cost and some may find design a bit much. 


I have run in two new shorts this summer the North Face's Better than Naked 5' and a fantastic new short  the Varial Loose from Dynafit a company well known for its ski mountaineering and ski running gear now entering the running market. Both shorts are made of a similar very light soft material. Both are extremely comfortable in the heat. I like to have pockets in my shorts and these 2  have differing but useful approaches to carrying a phone, gels, small water bottle.

Northface Better than Naked 5" Short
Northface Better than Naked Short ($55)

A bit longer than I prefer at 5" inseam the Better than Naked Short has a long side split making them in no way restrictive. The fabric is cool in heat. I particularly like the two side mesh pockets. They are not baggy but easily stretch to hold a smartphone, multiple gels, or a small water bottle (empty). There is also a small zippered pocket in back for a car key.  Can't exactly load up all the pockets and not expect the shorts to start to sag but all and all a great pocket set up.

Pros: Comfortable very light fabric. Pockets
Cons: Split is not for everyone

Dynafit Varial Loose Short ($59)
Dynafit Varial Loose Short

This is by far the most comfortable running short I have ever worn. Haven't tried Dynafit's other running clothes but this an outstanding first product.  Estimate the inseam at 3-4". A similar even lighter softer fabric than the Better than Naked short. A very slight split and wide leg openings, I guess the "loose" part of the name. One small zippered pocket good for a key and a gel. Anti odor treated.  

The key cool feature of this short which I had not seen before is the use of a shock cord, similar to what one might see on a parka for the waist band tighten. Unlike the usual flat fabric the shock cord will not stretch or loosen on the run.  I have run with a smartphone and gels tucked into the waist band and they will not move much at all. An empty or half full small water bottle could also be tucked in. I got mine at Black Diamond's retail store  in Salt Lake. Appears to be pretty much sold out everywhere else.

Pros: Super comfortable fit. Great waistband tighten system. Anti odor.  Style if you like a bit of a Euro look.
Cons: Price. Availability

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