Saturday, January 30, 2021

Tracksmith Running NDO Jacket, NDO Tight & Run Commute Pants Reviews

Article by Sam Winebaum, Editor

Tracksmith NDO Jacket ($298) and NDO Tight ($198)

It’s now real (Tracksmith) New England weather. From the  mid 30’s to low teens and almost always windy on the New Hampshire Seacoast so it's Ideal weather for a test and review Tracksmith NDO “ No Days Off”  heavy duty collection.


Having reviewed Tracksmith summer Van Cortlandt Tee and Shorts this summer with the RTR tean , and more recently, the Off Roads Jacket. Crew and Shorts (RTR Review)  I was very curious to see how the No Days Off performed in its “ideal” environment. Tracksmith was kind enough to send me the NDO Jacket and Tight for testing at no cost.


Clearly these pieces represent a progression towards  all season functionality for Tracksmith. Starting with the original TS summer light classic “Ivy League” style race garb vibe, they then moved on to the somewhat more trails focused “boat house” styled Off Roads Jacket, trail worthy well pocketed Off Road Short and super versatile Off Roads Crew (my 2020 single best apparel of the year).


Now with NDO, and in particular the Jacket Tracksmith takes takes the design towards a classic “mechanic jacket” style, and construction, so apparel associated with ruggedness and in a dark dark blue simple clean design that says all work and no days off!   Of course the mechanic "style" is totally updated with state of the art fabrics, design, and fit.




In an update I also recently purchased and tested the Tracksmith Run Commute Pant and include it in the review. Does look like training gear, right? Well it surely is and much more!

Right away I was pleased to see the Tracksmith trademark “sashes” on both the Jacket and Tight are big reflective bands with the jacket cuffs also having reflective dark banding safety features lacking from the Off Roads and essential for our New England short winter days running.  Good sign!



Tracksmith NDO Jacket ($298)

I called the Jacket “mechanics” style above and I meant it. It looks like the classic mechanic’s jacket with a styling and color that easily takes it from running to day to day use, even in the city! The color is difficult to photograph consistently but it is a very very dark blue.


On the heavier side and more substantial and rugged feeling than a typical run jacket, t in my medium it has a decently generous fit and thankfully is less baggy and long than the more in between seasons Off Roads but also is not Euro cyclist snug either. 

It drapes the upper body decisively and squarely with plenty of 4 way stretch from the Schoeller Dryskin softshell material. The drape allows it to sit off the body just enough to create not only ventilation but an air gap for insulation and also so no stick when wet. The materials’ weight, drape, and fit make this a very silent jacket and one if unzipped most of the way, and even if the pockets are loaded, flapping in wind and also bounce free with a load. Kind of a first in my experience for a run jacket,


Dryskin is from Schoeller, an ancient (1868) highly technologically advanced Swiss textiles and textile treatments company focused on sustainable fabrics for sports, protective work, motor sports and public authorities, and yes outdoor fashion as well. When I see Schoeller in apparel I can assume it is as the Swiss say it is “Tip Top” in terms of technical performance, feel, and fit.


Dryskin is a double construction fabric designed for active sports. On the  outside it has a hard wearing, water repellent, highly breathable wind resistant stretch weave and on the inside functional fibres for moisture transport. In the NDO the inner layer is a thin, bonded merino “fuzz” for not only moisture transport but insulation. 


As such the Jacket is characterized as a soft shell as it is thicker, warmer, and should be more rugged than a windshell such as the Off Roads Jacket.  


The sides have a soft single layer stretch mesh for ventilation and mobility running from the hem to the armpits. 


The jacket has a total of 7 pockets. 

First we have two side front drop in pockets with partially closed rising sides to keep contents in place. The Off Roads Jacket also had these clever lips. I easily could put my phone in either pocket and due to the lips and heft of the jacket didn’t have to worry about either bounce or the phone falling out.  


One of the side pockets has a zip pocket inside which easily holds a wallet, keys, earphones, etc..but it is not big enough for a phone. 


At the very top of the chest on the inside (right below) we have a stretch mesh pocket for a phone. It fits but is not as easy to retrieve from as the drop in pockets. If you don’t touch your phone much it is effective but if you often reach for it, as I do to take pictures on the run not so much. Plenty of other pockets for phones in this jacket. 

Also on inside, behind the front outside pockets, we have giant drop in pockets for gloves, hats, etc..Phones can go in these too and won’t bounce


And last, and I only discovered this last pocket when turning the jacket inside out there is a vertical drop in pocket at the lower back hip next to one of the drop in pockets. Also good for a phone So many pockets here!

We also have very effectively executed thumb holes which unlike many weren’t overly tight between the thumb and first finger which is often the case. The cuff hems are also reflective, the only front reflective element in the jacket.

For night safety we of course have the big back gray reflective sash but also in the same color as the jacket reflective binding on the cuffs. The cuff reflectivity executed in the same color as the rest of the Jacket  keeps the sleek all of a piece front look but i might wish for a touch more front reflectivity higher up, especially if you run with the jacket only and don’t have the tights with their front leg sash.


Performance

The jacket performs extremely well over a wide range of temperatures. I tested it in temps from around 40 F down to the low teens. In the teens with a brisk wind and overcast weather, I wore the Tracksmith Off Roads Crew (RTR Review) and a 130 weight merino t-shirt and start to finish on a 7 mile run was never chilled, never overheated, and with layers never sticking to the Jacket. I didn’t need the t-shirt.


At freezing to mid 20’s even with wind I was very comfortable with either the Tracksmith Off Roads Crew or a very light merino long sleeve base layer. 


At warmer temperatures to around 40 F I wore a merino T shirt and was fine, noting that the merino fuzz on the inside of the jacket kept my arms from being clammy, sweaty and sticky, something often the case with technical shells as things heat up. Credit to the bonded merino layer.

A side note on the Off Roads Crew. This middleweight “sweatshirt” styled top was my 2020 apparel of the year. It features an unusual blend of merino and polypropylene which together are insulating, moisture wicking, fast drying, and stink resistant. It truly is a versatile high performance piece that as with the jacket transitions instantly to after run use. In fact I never feel the need to take it off after a run as it dries so quickly and looks great.


The jacket’s emperature regulation was always excellent as was breathability and wind resistance and surprisingly so at the warm end of the temps I tested in as I tend to run warm. I worried that in warmer temps the jacket would cause me to overheat and this was not the case at all. If I needed to unzip for a bit more ventilation the jacket with phone in any of the 7 pockets never flopped around as was the case with the much lighter Off Roads. 

Of note the zipper is easy to engage and use, big and rugged and has some fancy gold highlighting and which along with the Tracksmith logo adds some very subtle bling to an otherwise dark jacket


NDO Tight ($198)

Designed to pair with the jacket, the NDO tight are a yet stretchier elastic, almost rubbery in feel double sided material that is not called out as Dryskin as the jacket is.  They have a compressive fit with a very stout waistband with less stretch at the waist than below in the main part of the tight. The color is a dark dark gray almost black contrasting a touch with the dark blue of the jacket.


They absolutely stay up and secure no matter what with no sag at the back which often can make things cold. You do have to make sure they are pulled all the way up and I found I had to stretch the lower legs to get them set but once there everything stayed put. In the photo below I needed to stretch them up a bit further and did so before my run. 

I was worried when pulling them on that my usual medium, and at a few extra winter pounds at 170 lbs (34” waist or so and I am 5’9” tall)  that they were too small.  Yet once on they were just fine with a compressive elastic fit that is stretchy and a bit rubbery in feel.. 


The inner layer is not merino but has a bit of texture fuzz for insulation and moisture transmission. 


The front down to the knees has a hanging wind blocking lining which is inside the tight instead of as the outer layer as usually seen in winter pants.


The tight has 3 pockets:

A small stretch mesh front side zip pocket for keys, wallet etc,, You can put a phone in it  ( I have an iPhone 12 Pro)  but it will stick above and is not the most comfortable place for it.

The phone and quick grab items are better off in the two rear waistband stretch mesh pockets which have flaps over them. I would like to see tabs to better locate and find the pockets on the run as things are snug overall here but totally secure with no dreaded rear sag.

Performance

I was surprised that the compressive fit here did not lead to much of the usual for me in tights difficulty in driving the knees. While compressive if you will “at rest”,  there is a friendly effective stretch in motion if you don’t wear more than one layer underneath. 

The tights performed decently in terms of warmth, wind resistance, and breathability over the same wide range of temperatures as the Jacket but there is a but.. The interior wind panel is cold on the legs when strong cold wind hit it, say when wearing normal run underwear, as it is a sheer smooth fabric. I am not convinced it is a plus and I would get rid of it or incorporate, as other winter run pants and tights often do, the windproofing as the outer fabric. I also noticed that while warm in windless conditions when the wind picks up below freezing they feel colder, clammier, more plasticky and chilly than ideal. I wonder if the panel was an add on late in the process because of this.


On my coldest run at below 20 F with 15 mile per hour winds I wore the Tracksmith Off Roads short with its woven shell and inner compression liner and things improved but that is a lot of layers below a tight to deal with and impeded motion somewhat.


Their ideal run temperatures for me seemed  in the mid to higher 20’s to 40 F but not quite as good below that, especially in wind. 


I wonder how a more pant like bottom made of the same Dryskin as the Jacket would perform or increasing the inner fuzz in the tight to get more standoff and insulation and maybe relaxing the compression would do . 


Tracksmith Run Commute Pant ($198)


At the same price as the NDO Tight, the Run Commute Pant is more my "style". I prefer run pants to tights and a looser fit in winter. I also greatly value versatility in a premium piece of apparel.


The catalog calls out "Tailored Performance" and indeed the Run Commute pant can instantly go from run to work in style and performance (very rapid drying).


It is thin stretch merino (48%) nylon (32%) with also polyester ($14%) and spandex (8%) fabric. There is a touch of welcome fuzz feel on the skin on the inside. Given the properties of the merino and the rest of fibers I see them as also being comfortable in much warmer temps as well.


As a do anything run anything pant there are 2 drop in pockets, a real fly, and a small invisible rear zip pocket.  


Unlike the tights the fit is more relaxed at the waist with some stretch. I bought a medium and the fit is generous and very comfortable. If it gets very cold long underwear or even tights can go underneath.

I took them for a first run in temps in the upper 30's and a light wind with just run shorts underneath.Check out the Ural motorcycle with side car that somehow ended up in the picture! I forgot I had them on, unlike the tights. They accumulated no moisture at all and after my run I did some filming and walking and was perfectly comfortable and not chilled.


In addition to running I can easily see them of course stylishly "going to work", out on the town, etc..andI also see them as an ideal hiking, trekking, and travel pant in all seasons.


Conclusions

At $198 the NDO Tight is at the upper end of high performance run tights and pants pricing. While together with the Jacket iit makes a spectacular looking coordinated run outfit, and the stretch and mobility is admirable for any tight if not overly underlayered.


I will stick to run pants and the Run Commute Pants are exactly my jam  These types of pants have an easier more mobile fit and have an air gap between legs and outer fabric so tend to stick less and be warmer for me. If you're looking for any use versatility similar to the Jacket’s  and for potentially better deep winter performance with long underwear in the mix consider the stretch woven wool Run Commute Pants at the same price as tights. Spectacular "Tailored" styling and performance that will handle any run and the rest of the day, weekend hikes, and travel too.


The NDO Jacket is a versatile rough conditions run and general use jacket with subtle classy styling. It is up there, way up there at $298 but will fit, so to speak, many uses for me: running,and for sure also nordic skiing, hiking and travel and around town wear and it will do so without over shouting colors or saying this is only a sport jacket. 


The construction and top of the line Schoeller materials really proved themselves on the run as the ideal winter run jacket for those famous New England conditions and after for just about anything else. It should last many, many winters and shoulder seasons. It is a jacket worthy of New England’s changeable and often rough weather!

SHOP FOR TRACKSMITH AND THE NDO COLLECTION  HERE

Tested samples were provided at no charge for testing purposes. No other compensation was received for this review from Tracksmith . The opinions herein are entirely the authors.

RTR Team's Best of 2020 Articles

Road Running Shoes HERE
Trail Running Shoes HERE
RTR Contributors Best of Run 2020, Year in Review Articles

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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great review. I own several pieces of Tracksmith kit, but have not tried the NBO jacket / tights or the Off Roads Crew. You reference a merino t-shirt in your review; is this also Tracksmith or another brand? I am looking for merino in the 130 weight range. Thank you.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
Thanks for your kind words. The 130 merino is an upcomind Odlo. It is a merino Tencel blend and amazingly soft, thin, stretchy and effective. Review soon.
Sam, Editor

John Tynan said...

Thank you for the reply, Sam. I appreciate the information and look forward to your upcoming review. I am thrilled to see so many great merino options becoming available. I appreciate the performance benefits of polyester but for the majority of my running throughout the year I find merino more than up to the challenge of polyester and ahead with the odor management, fewer washes necessary, and a sustainable natural product. I will watch this space for your review. Keep up the great work on shoes and clothes. - John

Bubu said...

Thanks for the review ! Tracksmith looks interesting, unfortunately after calculating shipping and VAT it's almost impossible buy here in Europe. Hope they will somehow fix it in the future ...