Saturday, October 31, 2020

Tracksmith Off Roads Collection Review

Article by Sam Winebaum

I test three pieces from the Tracksmith Off Roads CollectionOff Roads Crew ($138), Off Roads Packable Jacket ($198), and Off Roads Shorts ($98)

Tracksmith (New England) based on chic Newbury Street right off the Boston Marathon course has taken the running apparel world by storm in recent years with their stylish, Ivy League/New England inspired running apparel based on the classic track looks of the 1960's and 1970's

With luxurious fabrics, superb comfort, classic old school track looks, gently modernized,  I immediately recognize the look on the run even when the runner is off in the distance!

I have been running in New England for 45 years and was back in the day a prep school and Ivy League runner and for sure recognized the look and even the type of fabrics (totally modernized) from my early days running in the 1970's. Yet it was all more campus and city in functionality and looks (an inner label says "Designed in Boston") than the off roads, trails and country roads of New England or targeted in design and materials at our wildly changing weather conditions and rough off roads.

With Off Roads Tracksmith takes square aim at the New England that is outside of Boston so our deep woods, fields, windy coastline, rugged mountains and trails, and wild weather.  I count 3 seasons in the picture below..

They all feature careful fabrication from materials and a design suitable to the 9 months that aren't summer and that's for sure in New England!

They all have a luxurious feel and a somewhat more modern than the traditional "sashed" Tracksmith yet have more classic muted colors than the usual screaming neons.

Two are home runs for me in terms of performance and one leaves me scratching my head a bit more..

Off Roads Crew ($138)

The Crew can be thought of in fit and look as a relaxed top as a classic "sweatshirt" with the weight of a mid layer. This means it is not a snug layer. My medium rests easy everywhere, so easy and comfortable (and fast drying) that after my runs I have left it on the rest of the day.

The fabric is a new one on me, and I have tested innumerable high performance fabrics over the years. I  immediately when I saw it was a blend of 60% Merino and 40% polypropylene.  

Wool and polypro was a staple of my 1970's run and hike kit but not Merino grade wool or this polypro. Polypro is as called out by Tracksmith here as great for wicking as it is highly hydrophobic and that it also has low thermal conductivity so holds heat well. The Merino offers warmth, breathability and odor resistance.  This last very important as old school polypro was notoriously "stinky" and quickly so. To really test I have worn the Crew for two runs, one hike and now 3 days of all day wear and it smells fine and fresh!

Enough tech stuff.  How does it fit and perform?  The long easy fit and non compressive nature of the fabric not only insulates and breathes but dries very fast. Pure merino often gets soggy and stays that way. 

Above after a run at around 50 F with a misty light rain and some wind I was amazed how dry the Crew stayed and how quickly it dried. Now the Jacket soaked through and came off part way to test the Crew stand alone.

During a hike in somewhat lower temps and dry conditions I was just as comfortable. 

A subsequent run in a hard rain did soak the Crew and unlike the sweat and light misty moisture of the first run as the Merino  became saturated, and all Merino "eventually" when really soaked absorb water and it  took overnight to fully dry. So the polypro in the fiber mix does a superb job in normal moderately sweaty or damp conditions in evacuating moisture but there is a limit. All in all this is a great fabric for most workout conditions. 

So here we have a piece with a super broad range of utility from any kind of cooler to colder weather runs or hikes standalone as it breathes so well or under a shell as a light insulating layer and.. when done you will not want to take it off as it is so comfortable, will dry quickly if not totally soaked and is so relaxed in fit. It can easily also dress you up for just about anything. Given this broad range of utility, wonderful styling, and performance it can take the place of many other pieces such as base layers, light run jackets, casual light sweaters, serve as a great travel option. As such it is a very solid value in a premium top.

Off Roads Shorts ($98)

I am very picky about my shorts and as with layers have tested or bought just about everything at the high end over the years. I prefer 5" shorts, check for the Off Roads, over long long or super short shorts and here we have my preferred length. And I can't stand over baggy or over tight shorts, and check again for the Off Roads as we have a relatively slim trim fit but with a very stretchy outer shell and very comfortable light compression inner short

The outer shell is a UV protective,  thin densely knit Italian stretch fabric. It is so densely knit that no light shines through providing, as I found out on windy cool runs some wind resistance in combination with the compressive inner short. yet on a warmer day's run (mid to high 60's) plenty of breathability and no clamminess.  

The inner compressive short made of "featherweight warp knit" is a thing of beauty and function. I generally stay away from compression 2-1 type shorts as inevitably they annoyingly ride up, stick to the outer short, are too hot and are just not matched in stretch to the shell. Here so such issues whatsoever  as they are just compressive enough to stay put with the inner and outer work together harmoniously in stretch characteristics as any good short should and it is yet trickier with a 2-1.  I just forgot I was wearing them. And both shell and inner short dry incredibly fast. Well done!

As I always take my phone for photography (not for calls or texts) on runs and hikes, I  look for solid pockets for my iPhone 11, keys, a few gels, maybe a hat or gloves. Let's just say it the Off Roads Short has superb pockets. 

The legs have two drop in deep pockets and in combination with the decently compressive inner shorts they easily carry bounce free any phone. What I really dig is how easy it is to reach and return whatever to them. with enough easy stretch to make reaching and returning super easy.

The rear of the shorts has two kind of baggy pockets  with small flaps. Again super easy to reach for a gel or whatever on the go. I can't stand over snug waist pockets where it is a struggle to reach for gels etc...

The shorts have a soft elastic adjustable belt. It is there and must help hold them up gently but is not and this is probably a good thing a webbing or compressive belt. It adds a nice "outdoorsy" or casual look to the shorts but I wonder how essential it is despite the call out that you can tuck a shirt or jacket through the exposed section of belt at the rear. It may also add some gentle structure to the waist so I will not question its actual functionality anymore!

Finally, the stink test.. now 4 runs and a hike and no washing. I would have to say very close to as fresh as new. That is truly amazing, and about if not the best "performance" I have ever seen in a short. No special treatments are called out but clearly something special is in the fabric mix here.

The Off Roads while not the whisper light so easy fitting shorts such as the Tracksmith Van Cortlandt the we reviewed with other Tracksmith for men and women earlier this year is a far more functional and practical short for longer runs, deeper into the cool seasons, the trail, as a hike and as stylish travel short and again as with the Crew a solid value. 

Off Roads Packable Jacket ($198)

The fabric is quite translucent. Note the Van Cortlandt Tee sash showing through

Clearly a spectacular looking take on the "boat house" jacket seen on Ivy campuses, the Jacket has a rear cape style venting with mesh panel behind the cape around the back.  

As with the Crew, it is a longer style with a very roomy fit at my usual medium. There is plenty of room underneath for maximum winter layers.  This is one classy looking run jacket if more tent like than cyclist tight as some are that is a fit I generally can't stand.  Here we have quite the opposite, kind of at the other extreme but with a welcome long drop tail.

The fabric is feather light 4 way stretch woven from Schoeller with a Nanosphere DWR treatment. Schoeller of Switzerland in my view is the leader in highly technical fabrics of all sorts for sports often with water repellency technologies. The feel of the jacket is super soft and easy, a bit slippery on the body which for running and movement is a good thing but I worry about snagging it on some trail branches.

We have two side non zip drop in pockets interestingly placed quite far back and with a bit hard to reach in rising sides. They are not the easiest pockets to rapidly reach into but you will not be losing stuff out of them and their more to the rear placement keeps the front look smooth and continuous. I tested with my phone in the pocket and while it had a touch of bounce it stayed secure and the carry was in no way annoying.  

There is also a rear zip pocket which the jacket can be stuff into with the trademark Tracksmith red and white band serving as an elastic hand holder. 

During my run in the rain I took the jacket off to test the Crew, stuffed into the pocket and then into the shorts waistband with no issues with the shorts still as comfortable as ever.

The sleeves have a somewhat flimsy elastic piece on the underside and for me are to loose and floppy.  The elastic could be stouter. I sometimes roll up jacket sleeves and here was able to do with the folded sleeves staying put on the more textured Crew underneath but barely. 

In comparison to the more rugged feeling Crew and Shorts,, the feel is whisper light and I would say a bit "fancy" and seemingly delicate in a bit of a disconnect from the other two pieces I tested.  This said it is a Schoeller fabric and Swiss engineered material and they don't t take changes, ever, on durability but here is it the right use for such a fabric?

The solid bigger toothed zipper, so easy to engage and zip and up zip unlike many run jackets with their undersized and often tight zips and pulls  even has a "gold plated" color, a classy touch. Zero issues with this zip as it is so solid and very easy to engage and pull up or down. I am sure the rest of the jacket is equally rugged despite its light light weight but time will tell.

During a run in mist and then a very light rain the water repellency was quickly overcome and the jacket became wet and soggy absorbing water.  Yet,, very uniquely in my experience the outer surface with its Nanosphere DWR water repellency still beaded water and did not completely soak through and looked "dry" on the outside and was still sharp looking.  This soak through is not unusual with this type of jacket but I was a bit surprised as the Crew below stayed amazingly dry absorbing almost no moisture from the light rain or sweat. 

Early in the run

On a second run in quite close to a driving rain there was some wet through  (dark in 2nd picture below) but still many areas on the sleeves beading, seemingly not wet appearing. 

Late in the run after much rain

Given how wet and saturated the inside and jacket was to the touch I would have expected it to be soaked through outside to inside but not so. Strange stuff the Nanosphere DWR and likely even more effective on a membrane waterproof breathable jacket which this is not but given Off Roads maybe should be..?

The Off Roads Packable Jacket for me fits more closely with the track and field vibe and function of more classic Tracksmith apparel than the rough and tumble of Off Roads and that is OK as it makes a great very light wind breaker with plenty of room and go anywhere after styling.  I see its super light weight and breathability as a great advantage is cold dry winter conditions in combination with the Crew as well as windy warmer conditions,, but less so in any kind of serious wet.  While a high performance Schoeller fabric I wonder about its durability for off roads rough and tumble conditions over time Strangely, I found no reflectivity on the jacket, a New England runner's must. A wonderful looking jacket it is a bit out of character with the other pieces and in my view not quite as Off Roads ready or as solid a value as the Shorts and Crew.


Tracksmith gets out of Boston and into the woods,, away from those classic runs along the Charles,, with the Off Roads Collection. More technical in materials and fabrication than their usual, the Shorts and Crew are truly outstanding in performance for any run on or off roads. The jacket seems more on campus than Off Roads but is a great option as a roomy windbreaker type piece for before and after workouts year round and as a stylish run jacket. 

Tester Profile

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 63 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 45 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah.

The Off Roads Collection is available from Tracksmith HERE

Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no charge for testing. The opinions herein are the authors'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

RoadTrailRun receives a commission on purchases at the stores below.
Your purchases help support RoadTrailRun. Thanks!

USA  Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
FREE 2 Day Shipping EASY No Sweat Returns
EUROPE Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
Free Shipping on most orders over $40

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
Join VIP Family, Get Free Shipping and 15% in VIP Benefits on every order, Details here

Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE


Please Like and Follow RoadTrailRun
Facebook:  Instagram: @roadtrailrun
Twitter: @RoadTrailRun You Tube: @RoadTrailRun

1 comment:

Jack from MN said...

Um, this is a trail collection with off-white as a primary color? No. Fabric, fit, nor magic pixie dust wouldn't move me to buy trail clothing that has white, especially the bottom body.