Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Tracksmith Running Spring 21 Men's Collection Review

 Article by Cheng Chen

Cheng tests and reviews the Van Cortlandt Long Sleeve, Session Shorts, and Twilight Tee.

Van Cortlandt Long Sleeve, $75

Fit and Style

The Tracksmith stripe: a classic look that proudly signals an aesthetic deeply rooted in running culture . This is evident not only in the sharp style of the top but in its performance. Further separating Tracksmith gear from the crowd is the fit of its garments. That is, they actually fit true to size as expected from vintage clothing of decades past.

 I wear X-Small for nearly all brands—and that’s with some drape—and I was fascinatingly surprised by how the Small in this long sleeve fit similarly. There was room for drape with a comfortable, not snug, fit at the shoulders and arms. For reference, I am 5’7” with a size 35 chest.


The Van Cortlandt collection was Tracksmith’s first collection. These are training-oriented garments featuring the synonymous sash and Tracksmith's signature 2:09 Mesh. 

This material is a unique polyester blend that resolves many issues with traditional performance fabrics. Many “quick dry” fabrics are knit with a close weave that, while thin and wicking in the short term, can saturate with sweat during a longer workout or race. Fabrics such as Nike’s Dri-FIT and Adidas’ Climacool are among these. They feel great in store and during short, easy runs butt take them on any workout run past 6 miles and they’re sure to come back drenched. On the other hand, brands like Lululemon developed luxuriously feeling fabrics that, while ultra plush, quickly soak and hold sweat like a towel.

Tracksmith’s 2:09 Mesh combines plush with performance. The base material is a stiff, open-weave polyester mesh with significant pores for sweat evaporation. However, Tracksmith added 18% spandex to counter the stiff polyester, culminating in a strangely delightful combination of performance and luxury where sweat evaporates faster than it saturates. For reference, most 4-way stretch performance fabrics have no more than 12% spandex. Tracksmith’s higher proportion is rarely seen in modern mesh fabrics.


The key to performance fabric is in balancing performance with plushness. How a brand executes this reflects heavily on the niche that it targets. Nike/Adidas/etc.. are after that general recreational market with gear that wicks in the short term. Lululemon is after the athleisure consumers that prioritize feel over performance. Tracksmith, at least with its Van Cortlandt collection, is clearly hitting those looking for performance endurance with a touch of luxury.

Session Shorts ($68)

Fit and Style

Tracksmith’s Session line-up diverges from the Van Cortlandt with a bigger focus on comfort and everyday training. The Session Shorts come with that comfort inside and out. Internally, there’s a polyester based liner that does a great job of holding everything in place without being overly tight. Look ma, no underwear needed!

Externally, the base material is nylon, a great choice for moisture evaporation and durability. And while these materials may sound artificial or stiff, they’re anything but.

I was incredibly surprised to discover that neither the shorts nor its liner have any Cotton/Modal/Tencel yet produced a smoothness consistent with such materials. Once again, Tracksmith’s magic comes in the form of adding significant Elastane to the mix to create a cotton-like, luxurious feel. 

In tune with its running roots, Tracksmith does not do vanity sizing. My Session Shorts are sized as Small and I was able to wear them directly, only needing to tighten the drawcord during track workout sessions. For reference I am 5’7” and typically wear 28-29 waist size trousers in X-Small in almost all brands except a few.


Everyday running implies miles—miles upon miles of miles. To be frank, I initially had significant doubts on the durability and wicking performance of these shorts. I was not convinced that a pair of lux-feeling, shorts could hold up to daily training. However, after over 50 miles of track, tempo, and long runs, I’m convinced these are something special.

The most mind boggling performance feature of the material is in how it’s able to wick and evaporate sweat. Yes, the shorts do hold moisture more than the Van Cortlandt 2:09 Mesh material, but it’s nowhere near the saturation characteristics of similarly plush and stretchy comparables from the likes of Lululemon. During a tempo run, the shorts will steadily gain moisture, but are able to evaporate most of it after a cool-down. Tracksmith is offering the quick-dry characteristics of swim trunks without the uncomfortably stiff liners and pure-nylon fabrics.


Perhaps the most significant advantage of the Session Shorts is in their durability. At the time of this writing, I’ve yet to discover any significant fraying/pilling - something that, once again, boggles the mind given the soft and stretchy fabric. Take a similar feeling pair of athleisure shorts from most other brands and I’ll guarantee you at least pilling after 50 miles. These are a true do-it-all, daily training pair of shorts.

Twilight Tee

Fit and Style

There’s no false advertising in Tracksmith's claim of the shirt being constructed of “light-as-air Italian” fabric. The Twilight Tee is exactly that: an extremely lightweight t-shirt that functions across many environments and has many uses. The cut is similar to that of the Van Cortlandt Long Sleeve, with a Small fitting as how I’d expect other brands’ X-Smalls to fit. 

Ultimately, this was the piece that I ran the least in, but I did spend plenty of time wearing it for everyday settings, including some serious lounging!


For the little bit of running that I did do in it, the Twilight Tee held up its side of the bargain. It saturated with sweat faster than the Van Cortlandt’s 2:09 Mesh, but moisture quickly evaporated, so similar to the performance characteristics of the Session Shorts.

Looks-wise the t-shirt appears non-traditional with its front-facing panel (similar to the style of a 5-panel hat). This was actually purposely designed as an inverted yoke to allow for easier upper-body movement. T-shirts typically don’t have yokes or at most a single back panel piece, forcing an athlete to fight the fabric across a range of motions. You’ll find none of that with the Twilight Tee. Rather, the feeling of lighter-than-air persisted all the time, lounging or running.


I love garments that drape well, something that’s rarely attributed to performance fabrics, let alone a t-shirt. Tracksmith’s Twilight Tee flips this narrative with a silky-smooth fabric that performs as much as it lounges. Although the t-shirt will not evaporate sweat as the Van Cortlandt series does, it does a far better job than that of standard quick-dry materials and with far more panache!

Cheng is a CrossFitter turned runner. He lifts and base builds in the winter while racing in the summer with personal bests of 5:29 (Mile), 1:28 (Half), and 18:46 (5K). In Michigan, Cheng leads a local racing team and is also an ambassador for Gazelle Sports and the Detroit Free Press Marathon - use code CHENGROCKS for a discounted entry. Follow him on Instagram (@MrChengChen) for more.

Read our Tracksmith Spring 2021 Women's Collection Review HERE

Shop for the Tracksmith Men's Spring Collection at Tracksmith HERE

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. No other compensation was received by RTR or the authors for this review from Tracksmith . The opinions herein are entirely the author's.

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