Monday, November 01, 2021

Brooks Running Men's Run Visible Fall 2021 Carbonite Collection Review: Long Sleeve, 5" Shorts, Tights, Jacket, and Singlet

Article by Ryan Eiler, Beto Hughes, Michael Ellenberger, and Sam Winebaum

For several years Brooks has been perfecting its Run Visible collection of high day and night time visibility apparel and accessories in recent years in partnership with 3M which has done extensive research around how the human eye discerns people in broad daylight, low light and at night. 

All the pieces reviewed here feature:

  • 3M Carbon Black retro reflectivity in areas of motion that help identify you as a human and not a random sign. 

  • Each piece in the Run Visible Collection returns at least as much light as 300 candles burning in the same location.

  • Carbonite apparel uses a balanced use of fluorescence, contrast colors and patterns for daytime (and night time) visibility and to alert that you are a runner in motion.

  • The reflective elements in motion can be seen when lit by cars, and identified as a human form at up to 600 feet at 35mph. 

For more on the science behind Run Visible see the Brooks article here

Carbonite Long Sleeve ($100)

Ryan: The men’s long sleeve shirt features a bright white hexagonal waffle fabric, with hard to miss neon yellow epaulets, and several bits of 3M Scotchlite Carbon Black reflective tape both up high and and down low. While the weave of the recycled fabric makes it feel more robust and cozy than a traditional polyester sweat-wicking fabric, it doesn’t feel quite as refined as $100 tops from competing brands. 

The fit was true to size and I’d describe it as semi-fitted — not as slim as some other running specific shirts, but not baggy either. As an outermost layer, it works nicely with one or a couple thin layers beneath it. There are thumb holes for those who want them. The length is a touch on the short side, and sits right around waist height. While they’re no match for a headlamp or LEDs, the bits of reflective tape are fairly noticeable around ambient light on the roads, and make this shirt a viable choice for those who run pre/post work during the darker months.


I am surprised how breathable and low moisture absorbing the top is despite its grid like appearance ofvery thin mesh between raised profiles. 

It has lots of 3D surfaces for evaporation and I think under a winter layer for a touch of stand off insulation. I was surprised how breathable and comfortable the top was on a 70 F plus day. While it looks beefy and waffled, it is actually very airy between the raised grids. 

The fit in my medium is easy going and the sleeves are decently easy to roll up something I look for. 

As with the shorts, why not add safety to comfort. 

At $100 it is quite pricey even with the built in day and night safety features but you will never be caught at dusk or dawn or after dark, and really in the dark to vehicles, if timing doesn’t go quite as planned on a run.    

 Carbonite 5” 2-1 Short

Note even the lights in my kitchen and camera activated the Carbon Black reflectivity

Sam: The shorts are all about very soft and comfortable with the liner non compression and equally soft. The liner has a secure no bounce single thigh phone pocket. The waistband is also soft and broad with four quite baggy drop in pockets on the outside including one with a key loop. The pockets run from off center to the sides. 

Of course, the shorts are very visible day or night with Carbon Black reflective strips at the lower hems front and back with the inner short providing a high visibility optic yellow to highlight your legs in motion.

I like them so much and I am super fussy about race shorts that I wore them for my recent half marathon on a windless day with temps in the lower 40’s.  Perfect for the race and I appreciated the easy to reach pockets for my gels and the loop for my car key. I should have, and could have, worn the long sleeve top that day.

So, comfort and safety all in a single short with no compromises for either so while somewhat pricey at $75 I think it is an easy decision to consider them.

Carbonite 5” 2 in 1 Shorts:

The shorts have 4 Carbonite strips: 2 in the front and 2 in the back with a bright yellow inner lining short. T

The strips have good visibility and reflectivity at night when lit by headl lights, while the inner lining bright yellow short plays a strong role in that it is also very noticeable at night.

The short is true to size and feels light weight with a very comfortable inner lining which has no compression and it really stretches on the run yet doesn’t get loose. 

The short has a soft and fast wicking material with 2 baggy pockets on the sides for small things like gels and a hook for car or house keys.

The waist has a soft band that stays in place with a very soft feel material which I liked a lot making the shorts stay in place even if you are carrying things in the pockets or if you completely sweat through the shorts. 

I liked the shorts a lot, especially for those longer runs where you need to feel comfortable in your apparel and these have no issues and feel good for whatever you’re planning to run or do. 

The Carbonite Shorts are $75, a relatively so a high price but really worth it as the quality is excellent and they should last a very long time. I recommend it as a do it all short with built in safety features. 


Again, just adding on here. These shorts seem to run a little big for me.  I guess I’m just a Small in Brooks gear--but I’m generally more comfortable in Medium. The visibility is good and it’s nice to have a built-in liner--but it’s a fair amount of material. I wouldn’t choose to use these shorts in Texas Summer, but they are great now that the weather has chilled. It’s also nice to know that I can be seen from front and behind due to the excellent visibility. 

Carbonite Tights ($130)

Ryan: These tights fall into the medium-weight category for running in cool to cold weather, and are a form fitting blend of polyester and spandex. 3M Scotchlite Carbon Black stretch tape adorns the lateral parts of the knees and ankles, where it’s most likely to be seen, and the lowermost part of the ankle is finished with neon yellow trim to further heighten visibility.

My biggest gripe concerns the cut of the fabric — as compared to most other tights, these wrapped nicely around my calves and thighs, but were a bit loose around my ankle and knee. The inside of the fabric isn’t brushed or finished in any special way, but it’s comfortable enough to be of no concern.

I also wish there were zippers at the ankles to make taking them on/off a bit easier, but there is a fairly standard-sized zippered pocket at the rear which will snugly fit most smartphones. 

In a world of mostly all-black men’s tights, these definitely stand out. While not the most refined for their $130 price, if you prioritize visibility for running anywhere near traffic, there’s a case to be made for picking up a pair.

Michael: Might tights get by with a single reflective element, or maybe some front-and-back striping… here, Brooks has gone truly reflective. Overall, I agree with Ryan that there are some drawbacks, but I’ll also give my conclusion first - despite any shortcomings, these have become my go-to after-dark (or before-sunrise) tight. 

The negatives come mainly (as Ryan indicated) from the fit. Compared to my recent additions from Nike and New Balance, these tights just don’t quite feel tight enough. Curiously, I’ve noticed the same from previous Brooks tights before, so I don’t know if it’s an across-the-board product design, or just two instances of weird sizing. Regardless, my size small is snug enough for me to get over it, but I could also likely fit into an XS without issue. As Ryan also mentioned, the lack of ankle zipper is annoying, but that’s something I’ve come to live with on many tights (gone are the days of ripping the bottom 1” or so of pants when frantically taking off warmups while wearing spikes at the cross-country start line!). 

Fortunately, I think the functionality of the reflectiveness outweighs the sizing quirks, and make these worth considering… you just won’t often find me pulling these out during daylight hours.

Carbonite Jacket ($180)

Michael: Compared to the tight, I think the Carbonite Jacket is honestly a perfect fit. The sleeves are terrific - just long enough to cover your wrist and watch, but not so long that it gets in the way. The visibility elements are obvious and welcome - this is a jacket that will stand out not only in broad daylight, but after dark, as well.

On the run, I loved this jacket - it’s breathable, yet warm enough to handle the high-30s/low-40s we’ve been having with just a t-shirt underneath, even when it’s misting or raining. I won’t hesitate to layer it this winter, that’s for sure. 

The hood cinches well, and kept me dry even when I was just walking Waffles in some drizzle (which she absolutely hates, by the way).

I will say, for all the positive things I have to say - I don’t love the aesthetics of it… it sort of looks like you’re wearing a permanent hydration pack. My other annoyance? It doesn’t have a loop to hang it on a coat rack - which is a shame, because it’s become such a permanent part of my rotation that I keep it by my backdoor for whatever run, walk, or other excursion I may need to take. 

Between the tights and jacket, this is the superior piece, for sure!

Carbonite Vest ($130)

Peter:  I’ll jump in here with some thoughts on the vest. Let me first say that it runs on the big side. I initially received a medium as that’s generally my go to in apparel size--it was HUGE on me. Brooks graciously sent out a small and it fits great. It’s a perfectly fitting, somewhat slim fit piece of gear. I had no issues with the length. 

It's a very light material that adds a layer to hold back a little wind, keep in a little warmth and give a lot of visibility on a chilly morning. I love having a vest handy to handle the in-between weather and this is an excellent, and excellently visible one. I’m a fan. 

Carbonite Tank ($65)

Beto: I was surprised how breathable the Carbonite Tank is, it really helps move moisture away and keeps you fresh in high temperatures as I tested it in Mexico.  The material is really soft and stretchy which is good if you sweat a lot and the shirt sticks to your torso that soft and stretchy material helps to keep the posture and your natural movement. The Carbon Black 3M reflective strips really do reflect at night when cars are approaching. There are 6 reflective strips total: two strips in the front at the shoulders, two at the back and two on the sides which The white color really stands out when it gets lit by headlights.

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes others. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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