Monday, November 21, 2022

40 Apparel, Sock, and Hat Gift Ideas & Mini Reviews for Runners: Brooks, Nike, Tracksmith, Ultimate Direction, Darn Tough, Iniji, Salomon, adidas Terrex. ON, Maloja, Oiselle, Skida, La Sportiva, Sunday Afternoons, Lume and More!

Gift Guide by the RTR Test Team

After thousands of miles in all conditions the RTR test team brings you its annual Apparel Gift Guide for Runners with ideas from Brooks, Nike, Tracksmith, Ultimate Direction, Darn Tough, Iniji, Salomon, adidas Terrex. Sunday Afternoons, Lume  and More! Many currently on sale for the Holidays.

Ultimate Directions Schlarb Tee and Shorts ($80 now $59.96 at Moosejaw)

Jeff V: The Schlarb Tee is my favorite short sleeve in my drawer, with great fit, style, comfort, breathability and cool quick dry functionality.  Sam: Me too!

Sam: The Tee is made of a blend of 50% Merino / 50% Sorona fabric for temperature and moisture regulation, anti odor, durability, and anti-pilling. The Merino is responsibly sourced and cruelty free. Sorona® is 37% plant based, using 30% less energy and emitting 50% less GHG (greenhouse gas) as compared to the production of nylon from non-renewable resources. 

The Tee has proved comfortable in a wide variety of temperatures and conditions from Utah to New Hampshire. It only lags synthetics in high humidity and warm conditions in terms of performance. And the mountain design over the front is super attractive and is functional as it is reflective.

Jeff: The shorts are amazingly functional as well, most notably the best integrated waist pocket system I have seen, essentially a 360 degree uninterrupted elasticized dual layer pocket that can easily carry  along the essentials for a several hour run without having to add a vest or supplemental waist belt.

Sam: No need for a vest for most runs and hikes for me with the shorts. Deep, secure mesh band pockets in not one but two layers with the inner layer snugger and part of the support which keeps the load totally secure at all times. These inner pockets are best for small items such as gels, keys and such. The styling is a bit long and baggy, quite unlike the sleek beautiful look of the Tee but I will accept that for the functionality and utility here.

Ultimate Direction Schlarb Tee and Shorts RTR Review

Shop for the Schlarb Collection 

Ultimate Direction 

Limited Time 25 % Discount Site Wide



Schlarb Shorts  now $59.96


Tracksmith Fall 2022

Sam: We recently received and put items from Tracksmith Fall Collection to the test just as finally we got fall weather as it’s been summer, a really extended summer weather here in New Hampshire.  I have lived in New England Tracksmith’s home territory most of my life and have found, especially as the weather cools, that their fall and winter apparel protects, performs, and styles beautifully in our land of highly variable, often rough weather. Renee is in Nebraska out on the windy plains.

To give you a sense of fit in the photos and text,  I have a 32”-33” inch waist and am just under 5’ 10” (178 cm) tall and weighing about 164 lbs (74 kg). 

Tracksmith Wool Hat ($55)

Tracksmith calls the Wool Hat a classic version of a “dad hat”. I guess so but this baseball style hat made of dense almost felt like double sided thick recycled wool says more New England lumberjack or farmer to me. And bonus it is in my prep school colors! 

It sits high and secure, very secure yet kind of cozy on my larger size head. I took it out for several runs in breezy 40 F conditions and much as with the Downeaster Pants below never overheated and was just warm as can be. All the dense wool absorbs any moisture and for sure is heat regulating, I will use it for and after winter runs and nordic skis and around town. For sure warm but as ut us not over the ears it should ventilate very well on the go on cold days.

Brighton Base Layer $88 (pomegranate)

The Brighton Base Layer is, as described, a thin base layer to be worn under an outer layer or stand alone. I think it is so stylish in my pomegranate that I will wear it standalone outside of sport, maybe even under a blazer! Not that I have worn one in years. 

Semi  fitted, seamless, quite stretchy and decently long, it  is designed and wears as to not be too tight. I really like the slightly different tone Tracksmith sash across the chest. This  seamless layer   52% Wool, 28% Nylon, 20% Polyester with a fabric weight of

145gsm with the Merino at 16.5g, it is moderately light but not as thin as some super light wool and synthetic blends which can be fragile,

The Brighton Collection for men and women of Merino base layers includes this Long Sleeve, Tees, Tanks, Briefs, Neck and Arm Warmers with any item for sure an appreciated stylish run and everyday useful gift.

Downeaster Pants ($148)

Tracksmith says: In New England, “Downeast” denotes the “never-never land always east of where you are. I’ve been there and it is a land of beautiful coastlines and rough, changeable weather.  I am several hours South of Downeast but we get much of the same! 

The Downeaster Pants and Downeaster Collection is focused on the versatility required for that place.  Running pant, lounging around camp and house pants, or travel pants.  It combines casual classic styling, an easy comfortable stretchy fit, and high high performance fabric into a do it all package. 

With plenty of stretch but no bottom zippers you can pull them on and off over running shoes including trainers, for example before and after track workouts. 

The Pant is made of “a double knit blend of 60% Merino wool and 40% polypropylene. 

The natural properties of Merino offer warmth, breathability and odor-resistance, while polypropylene improves wicking and insulation. Not only does polypropylene have the lowest thermal conductivity of any fiber, which means it holds onto heat the longest, it’s also hydrophobic, quickly pulling moisture (i.e. sweat) to the surface where it can evaporate, rather than be absorbed into the Merino.” 

The Downeaster Pant will keep you stylish, warm, dry and comfortable through a myriad of activities both sporting and relaxed. I agree, and as Tracksmith says, they are “pragmatic” and practical as those Downeast Maine folks are. 

Renee:  I tested the Downeaster Pants and Fells Henley

The Downeaster pants are super comfortable. They walk the line between a lounge pant and a running pant. Like the men’s version, the women’s version has a relaxed fit, with plenty of length and volume. These are not a running tights or a running-specific fit. They don’t bunch, and I found them comfortable for easy running. The Downeaster will work well as warm-up pants before shedding to a pair of shorts. The deep front pockets mean that a cell phone won’t fall out when you plop down on the couch. For running, the pockets aren’t tight enough for heavier items, but fine to hold small items, like knit gloves. I don’t like heavy items in deep pockets, so unlike Sam, I won’t run with my phone in any of the pockets. I wore a women’s size small, my typical size. I think I could wear a size x-extra small if I wanted a tight fit, but for comfort I suggest true-to-size. If you like a tight fit and don’t have extra long legs, you could try a size down. 

Tracksmith Fells Henley ($118)

Renee: The Fells Henley is made “from a wicking and breathable Merino wool” blend, which is 65% Merino wool and 35% polyester. The fabric is very comfortable and exactly what you would expect from Merino wool and anything from Tracksmith. The shirt has a very lightweight feel and maintains temperature and repels odor just like any other Merino wool product. The shirt is made for running and casual use. For sizing, I wore a women’s size small. I’m normally between a Tracksmith small and medium because some of their shirts are a bit too short in length for me. The Fells Henley has a longer front and back length. I suggest true to size. If wearing as a layer with something underneath, you could size up. 

Of course, we rave about Tracksmith at RTR, but  it’s so expensive! For the “cheap” runners in your life, treat them to some Tracksmith. The Twilight Split ($62) and Session shorts ($68) are also two of my all-time favorites. 

Tracksmith Speed Crew Socks ($25)

Sam: Leaving Downeast, back to fast but still with a focus on versatility, the Speed Crew Sock is a very light zonally knit 5” run sock. It has a bit of heel and achilles padding, a more breathable top of foot area and a touch of compression. 

A great gift idea they can not only be a runner’s race day sock but dare I say in many of the colors their “dress up” more formal sock. 

 Tracksmith Harrier Long Sleeve ($84)

Steve: Merino Wool is the way to go for training during the bitter winter months in Chicago. The Harrier Long Sleeve is 89% or more Merino Wool, which varies depending on color and season according to Tracksmith’s website. It has been a long time favorite of mine and I have personally purchased a few of them. 

This long sleeve is moisture-wicking, quick-drying and odor-resistant. I’ve worn it on multiple runs (without washing) and even had my wife confirm it didn’t smell. It is very warm, and is the only layer I use in mid 30’s and low 40’s. Any cooler temps probably require an additional layer. It’s very comfortable, and I love the fit (I wear a medium, I’m 6’0, 175 lbs). You can tell right away that they use high quality materials and the craftsmanship is excellent.

Brooks Run Visible (RTR Round Up Review)

Give a Gift of Run Safety

Several of us tested men’s and women’s Brooks Run Visible Apparel this summer into fall.  With multiple high visibility, high reflectivity pieces from tops, to shorts to tights and accessories they performed well in the heat and can be used over other layers for critical winter low light visibility.  Please check out our review for all the details.



Many items 30% Off in Cart

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE


Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE

Maloja Beifussm Hybrid Alpine Jacket ($199)

Sam: This trim fitting, very stretchy multi sport jacket bridges between very light shell and mid layer. It features a Stormlight wind resistant front and very breathable and stretchy sleeves and back.  

The 3 layer windproof slightly water resistant front is also very stretchy and has a PFC free water repellent coating.  More stretch in the hood which is nicely head fitting and warm.  

Also included is a chest waterproof phone pocket. 

I have found the jacket ideal for breezy cooler days on the move and it can double as an around town jacket as it is conservatively but strikingly stylish in my green. 

This winter I plan on using it for nordic skiing where the front wind proofing and hood is key combined with the rear breathability. 

And Maloja of Germany knows Nordic skiing for sure as they are the official supplier of the US Biathlon team.  I am at my usual medium and sizing is correct with base or mid layer easily accommodated underneath given the stretch.

Maloja Beifussm Jacket is at Maloja Clothing


Skida Alpine Hat ($36)

Sally: I have long been a fan of the colorful Skida hats for winter running. Many prefer the lightweight Nordic hat for this purpose, but I like the fleece lined Alpine hat to keep my head warm on these cold New England mornings. I wear my Skida hats for everything, including paddle (platform) tennis games and nordic skiing. 

The unlined Nordic hat is great under a ski helmet, and for those who “run warmer” and don’t need as much insulation on their heads. Have fun with all the prints! Don’t tell my hubby, but I think I have 8 different Skida hats (and yet still want some of the new prints).

Skida Alpine and Nordic Hats

Backcountry SHOP HERE

On Running Insulator Jacket ($300)

Sally: My go-to winter running jacket has long  been the Arcteryx Gaea women’s jacket, purchased in 2015. It was just the right weight and kept me warm on even the coldest mornings, even though it felt weightless. BUT like a favorite shoe model, it has been discontinued, so I had to find a new jacket. I bought the Craft ADV SUBZ jacket from Heartbreak Hill Running Co., but I found it not as warm as the Arcteryx, especially in the arms. 

I was initially hesitant to make the purchase because of the steep price tag, but  I have landed on the On Running Insulator jacket and do not regret it. Sometimes you have to pay for quality, and I have long been a fan of On running quality, and style. This hooded jacket is warm but weightless, and is very breathable. There are two zippered inseam handwarmer pockets, as well as a bonus zipped interior pocket for valuables. 

On Running Insulator Jacket
On Running SHOP HERE

Oiselle Power Move Mittens ($42)

I might be weird, but I have always preferred mittens over gloves. Perhaps it is my Minnesota upbringing, where gloves were never warm enough for our winters? My favorite running mittens are the Oiselle power move mittens, made for women by women (sorry boys). They are warm enough without being too warm, and make you forget you are wearing them. I have worn the pair in the photos extensively for several years, and yet they are still good as new. Oiselle has lots of great products for the woman runner, hint hint Santa.

Power Move Mittens

Vuori Performance Joggers ($94)

If there was one item I wore every single day in the cooler WFH Covid months, it was my joggers from Vuori. I now own several pair, as they are my everyday go-to bottoms. The magic is in the combination of the incredibly soft fabric (Dreamknit) and the relaxed yet tapered fit with an elastic waistband and cuff above the ankle. All three of my daughters wear these Vuori joggers as well. Just don’t call them sweat pants - they are so much better than that. I would love them in every luscious color. 

Vuori Performance Joggers

Running Warehouse (women's and men's) SHOP HERE

REI (14 colors! SHOP HERE

Salomon S/Lab  NSO Half Tight ($180 now $98.88)

Sam: A real stretch at their retail pricing,  it seems Running Warehouse US secured a big supply of these outstanding super light, non compressive short tights with massive (and very comfortable) mesh storage around the waist and has them now at very fair $98.88 with sizes SM-XL available. 

They incorporate infrared reflecting NSO patches in key places said to help reduce muscle fatigue 

Incredibly comfortable and airy with a built brief they have been my shoulder season go to. I can also easily see wearing them in the summer heat as they are certainly light enough, high breathable and would provide some sun protection.  

Note sizing at Running Warehouse is off. I am usually medium with a 33” waist and initially ordered large (31-35 waist)  which was too big to hold up with a load in the mesh  I re ordered medium and likely could have even gone small for a bit more compression. 

Salomon S/Lab NSO Half Tight at Running Warehouse US

$180 $98.88


adidas Terrex Agravic Windweave Pro Wind Jacket 

($170, now on sale at Running Warehouse $119 HERE)

Jeff V:  The Pro Wind Jacket is a staple, a jacket that compresses so small and light (the size of my fist or smaller and just 73 grams), it is always in my gear bag at the ready for any run, whether I want a not too thick outer layer on a shoulder season or even winter run to protect a mid layer, or something thin and almost non existent to keep the sun off of me in the summer or protect from wind or minor squalls, this jacket is always up to the task.  

Fit is excellent, the hood is very good considering there is no cinch. It holds up to the wind and can fit in any run vest pocket or run shorts pocket and you hardly know you have it, until you need it.

Men’s Agravic Windweave Pro Wind Jacket 

On sale at Running Warehouse $119 SHOP HERE

Gore Drive Jacket ($220 now $88 at Gorewear)

Jeff V:  The Drive jacket is light, versatile and super functional, with an amazing warmth to weight ratio, quick drying, breathable and impervious to wind.  This is another piece that I am either wearing, or carrying along as a midlayer when it gets cold and windy.  Coupled with a sturdy shell, the Drive jacket works under just about any circumstance or season.

Mike P: Hands down the warmest winter running jacket I’ve ever had. I’ve typically thought of Gore only for their waterproof materials and products, but I’ll have to keep an eye out for any of their INFINIIUM items going forward. The Drive jacket is extremely lightweight - it almost feels like nothing in your hand. But in cold and dry temperatures, it practically radiates heat. 

My first run in the jacket (with Sam) - we were above 9,000 ft, below 20F, with howling winds. I had to actually zip and unzip the jacket throughout because I was overheating at times. 

For any type of mid-high output activities, I’d reserve this jacket for temps below 20F. For lower intensity stuff, I still wouldn’t consider it unless the temps are below 30F (and windy). Quite an extraordinary piece of gear to have for the winter months!  

Sam: As for Jeff and Mike my goto for just about any run in cool to colder conditions for its superb breathability and wind resistance thanks to the lightly water resistant Infinium Wind Stopper membrane, light weight, warmth from quick drying PolarTec Alpha insulation and its high visibility. The inner stitching is also reflective. A more insulated (at the back) version is also available.

Shop for Drive Jacket at Gore Wear

$220 now $88  



Nike Dri-FIT Woven Challenger Pants ($70)

Zack: The Nike Dri-Fit Challenger pants are a great piece of running gear that can definitely make a great gift. It is 100% recycled polyester and it performs as it is fairly lightweight yet still provides a good amount of warmth. 

It has three compartments for holding whatever it is you need it to, with two side pockets and a compartment on the backside, with all three having buttons to be able to keep your things secure. 

Another detail that I love about the Challenger is that it is tapered with zippers at the ankles, which is really nice when using these for warmups and cooldowns as they are very easy to put on and takeoff. 

Shop for Nike Dry-Fit Challenger Pants


Nike GORE-TEX INFINIUM -- Women’s Trail Running Jacket ($190)

Dominique: A fusion of trendy design and high performance mixed with a sustainable platform, the Nike GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ is a cutting-edge jacket with a minimalist look that conceals a load of functional design elements. 

This jacket will surely jazz up your style on the trails, yet all design elements are conducive to optimizing your comfort level and keep you moving.  


Made with GORE-TEX INFINIUM, a new product technology that is fully windproof and water resistant but designed for dryer conditions in comparison to its waterproof GORE-TEX counterpart.  It also allows for a  thinner, softer, more pliable overall feel as we have here.

The upshot is that GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ while being windproof and water resistant, is also highly  breathable (and more so than regular Gore-Tex or Gore-Tex Active), thereby keeping you drier inside your garment. 


The jacket is a pullover design that transforms into poncho style coverage when unzipping the two-side zippers.  No opening in the front means enhanced wind protection while ventilation is optimized to the max when unzipping the side zippers, which extend from the bottom hem up to the armpits.  

I am utterly pleased by the overall roomy feel in my usual medium, functional features, trendy design and high-performance level of this jacket, which will be more than fitting for the trails in Park City this winter on the run and nordic skiing. RTR Review

The Nike GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ -- Women’s Trail Running Jacket is available at Nike in my color and at

Running Warehouse US  HERE 

 on sale for $114.88 You Save: $75.12

in Enamel Green/Biocoastal/Green (XS, S, and M)

Nike Go – Women’s Firm-Support High Waisted 7/8 Leggings with Pockets  ($110) 

The Nike Go leggings are coming soon and are worth checking out.  They are available in a wide range of options, from high-rise to mid-rise, from full-length to capri, from extra small to plus sizes, and depending on the type of leggings, in at least six different colors. I received the high rise 7/8 leggings in my regular size small.  

Why are they worth checking out?   Firsthand, they are amazingly supportive thanks to the InfinaLock fabric, which provides just the right amount of stretch, support, and compression.   It is a compression fit with an uplifting feel all working to your advantage!  

The GO is equipped with maximum storage capacity with a total of 6 pockets!  The interior waistband has 3 openings for storage, the side legs have two wide pockets large enough for a phone with one of them doubling as a zippered pocket, for a card or keys. 

GO Tights are available now


Renee: Some surprise personal buys for me this year were also the Nike GORE-TEX INFINIUM Jacket and Storm-FIT ADV pants ($73 on sale). The jacket is great to keep out wind and rain (does run a bit hot, so ideal for those runs during freezing but not frigid temps because it’s not lined). The pants make a great outer layer during any temperature from cold to frigid. I wore the pants for the first 25K of a 50K race (during rain) and was able to somewhat quickly take them off at midpoint without removing my shoes (the bottoms unzip). The fit is baggy, but appropriate for its usage. 

Lume Six Cirra High Impact Sports Bra ($120)

As a runner, I gravitate towards high-end and supportive bras with the tendency to hop from one brand to another in search of the perfect sports bra.  I was really excited to try a new brand - and new breed of sports bras - after Margaux Elliot, the founder of Lume Six, offered to send me a sample.  

The Lume Six sports bras are available in two different styles: Cirra (high impact) and Alta (medium impact), in several attractive color choices with luminous effect and are offered in extended sizes, from XS to XXL along with different band size options.  

I received the Cirra High Impact sport bra in size medium (34D) with a small band, in color ocean.  The Cirra is available in both lightly lined, and unlined, the latter is only available in black and is even more breathable, though less supportive.  

A racer back style bra that requires no adjustment and fits just right, off the box, the Lume Six sports bras are distinctly lightweight - featherweight light - especially as high impact bras.  Incredibly sleek, in contrast to bulky supportive sports bras, the bras are made with “DreamSupport fabric,” a technical textured fabric that provides both compression and support.  

The Halo elastic band, which is available in different widths, is amazingly comfortable and keeps the bra in place.  A minimalist approach for a maximalist supportive bra and where less is more. 

I definitely noticed the difference in my runs, both in terms of support and comfort.  A a new addition to my activewear, I plan on wearing my Lume Six bra for a wide range of activity, including hiking and nordic skiing. 

The Lume Six sports bras are pricey, yet as per specs, they are supposedly more durable, and well worth it in my opinion.  

The Lume Six Cirra and all of Lume's Sports Bras are available

Darn Tough Hike/Trek Socks ($27)

Renee: RTR contributors receive a lot of free items for review, and equally important are the gear we buy because it’s so good. Darn Tough socks are my favorite and worth the cost. 

Merino wool contains a magical power and I highly recommend the mid-weight Darn Tough Hike/Trek socks ($25-$27 depending on crew or boot cut) as a gift, especially for high-mileage ultra runners in your life. Even in mild weather, the mid-weight socks remain cool and comfortable and they offer warmth for single digital (and below!) temperatures. 

Shop for Darn Tough Socks




Injinji Outdoor Midweight Wool Socks ($23)

Mike P: I love a good toesock, especially for a long trail run. My go-to ultra setup has been Injini liners + an ultralight over sock such as Wrightsock Ultrathin. I’ve tried Injinji’s regular socks in the past, but I never really liked the material - it feels a bit rough to me. Injinji sent me some samples of their new wool socks and they’re just great. The material is much softer and more comfortable than their standard socks - borderline luxurious in fact. 

The 75% Merino, 22% Nylon, 3% Lycra blend performs as advertised. I’ve found that they keep my feet very dry, both wicking sweat as well as repelling light moisture. Even with a thicker midweight, I’ve had dry feet after hot summer runs. I can also disclose that these are the only pair of socks that I’m comfortable using multiple times between washes.

Shop for Injini Socks





Altra 4-Point Trail Gaiter ($25)

Mike P: Nothing new here, but it surprises me that more runners don’t use gaiters - especially out here in the often dry, dusty American West. A small pebble (or many) or a little bit of dust and dirt can quickly torpedo your race and your feet. I like Altra’s 4 point gaiter because they’re lightweight, have a tight seal, and are adaptable to any shoe. The front attachment can be hooked to any part of the laces, and if your shoes don’t have a velcro tab at the heel, you can easily stick on a square of velcro. 

[Altra 4 point gaiter - 2 side “points” are not used or necessary here]

Shop for Altra Trail Gaiter


La Sportiva Medal Short ($65 now on sale $26)

John: A comfortable and baggy short that lends itself to versatility. The 8 inch inseam is perfect for a not-so-short-short look and is great for those who prefer a running short that keeps your thighs covered wherever you go before or after your run. Yet, the length doesn’t get in the way or feel constricting when running or ascending steep climbs. 

The boxer-brief liner is gusseted so it keeps you nimble during big steps, it actively wicks sweat away, and is seemingly unnoticeable. 

I love how lightweight these shorts are and I wear them for non-running activities or even casually around town, especially with a rear zipper pocket that can stash nutrition, keys, phone, or whatever else you need to access quickly. 

The reflective details are a nice added feature for visibility in dim lighting.

La Sportiva Swift Long Sleeve ($89)

John Tribbia: The Swift Long Sleeve is a quarter zip running shirt and base layer mock turtleneck that is ideal for chilly runs where a t-shirt isn’t enough or as a base layer for colder excursions. I love the higher neck and thumb holes + finger cover, which provides coverage and a little extra warmth on vulnerable locations. 

For dim lit running, there are shoulder reflective features. Not to mention, the Swift is made of recycled fabrics that are wicking and quick to dry and, like the Tech Hoody, there is a Polygiene® antibacterial/odor treatment applied to keep the shirt smelling fresh for the long haul.

La Sportiva Session Tech Hoody ($139)

John Tribbia: The La Sportiva Session Tech Hoody can be a mid or top-layer for active outdoor pursuits when cold weather threatens to keep you inside. This full-zip softshell fleece hoody offers a high range of motion with variable fleece fabric weights strategically placed for specific body zone heat retention and breathability. 

A cozy fleece on the arm and torso side ensures proper breathability when activity levels require some heat elimination, while the front torso and shoulders are overlaid with windproof protection. This is a great jacket to wear on cold and windy days. 

Spandex is used throughout the construction of this hoody, ensuring that your freedom of movement is unencumbered. 

For the crossover Skimo runners, there are two large, zippered Napolean front pockets suitable for skins storage. Since this is a jacket that beckons high activity, but cool enough looking to wear casually, it’s nice having a Polygiene® anti-bacterial/odor treatment that will keep you smelling fresh.

La Sportiva Alya Vest ($119 now $83.30 at Moosejaw)

John: By far, the best cold weather running vest I have ever worn. When cold weather requires an added layer or it is just brisk enough to warrant a vest, the Alya Vest combines warmth and comfort for a range of activities. There is a Primaloft® Thermoplume in the front body of the vest to keep you warm and a stretch back panel (with reflective accents for nighttime running) to wick moisture and ensure proper temperature control. 

The full zipper front is accompanied by a torso snap closure (in case you want it unzipped but need the vest to stay on).I think every running jacket or vest should come equipped with this subtle snap closure feature because it is so simple and effective. The vest has multiple pockets inside and zippered pockets on the outside. My favorite feature is the low cut neck - all too often, vests creep up on the neck and it is really uncomfortable for me. I really like the low profile and fit of this vest all around. 

Sunday Afternoons Hats

Sunday Afternoons Meridian Thermal Earband ($28) 

Peter Stuart: This is a great little piece of gear. It’s basically a head band with a nice warm thermal band that has little earflaps that you can flap down or flap back up when you get warm. This has been my go to hat for chilly mornings. It’s warm enough and keeps my ears warm, but I don’t overheat when things warm up. Love it. 

Sunday Afternoons Meridian Thermal Cap ($38)

Jeff V:  First I need to reiterate what an amazing company Sunday Afternoons is.  They offer such a wide variety of hats that suit just about any purpose, are highly functional, well designed, cleverly executed, top quality and are made from certified sustainable, socially and environmentally responsible, recycled fabrics.  Beyond all of that, the people I have interacted with at the company are all just really nice, caring people, from the very top on down. 

With that out of the way, the Meridian Thermal Cap comes in 3 colors, black, tan and blue and is made from their new lightweight, four way stretch breathable Italian fabric.  The Meridian Thermal Cap is soft and insulated and streamlined enough to fit well under a climbing or bike helmet.  What is so nice about the Meridian Thermal Cap is that it is so versatile and the best of both worlds between a warm (but not too warm) cap and a beanie.  This is especially handy this time of year because all of my early morning runs are cold enough to require a beanie, but none of my beanies have a bill to keep the rising, low on the horizon sun out of my eyes.  This is especially annoying for me, as I will run up a mountain in the dark, enjoy the sunrise, then fumble my way down with my hand up in their trying to block the sun so that I can see.  

The Meridian Thermal Cap completely solves this issue and I love that you can securely flip up the lower “ear flap” section when it warms up.  

On recent runs, I have flipped the flaps up/down many times depending on wind, shade, aspect and elevation.  The Meridian materials, while lightweight, have a very nice warmth to weight ratio and is exceptionally breathable, comfortable and quick drying.

Sunday Afternoons Meridian Thermal Beanie ($36)

Jeff V:  With the same colors, fabrics/materials as the Meridian Thermal Cap, the Meridian Thermal Beanie performs quite similarly to the cap, but without the bill and with added sunglass holder if you want to tuck the sunglass arms in to store your glasses on you head when not in use.  These are secure and easier to operate than some other hats I have reviewed.  I kind of wish this feature were included on every hat.

Sunday Afternoons Blazin’ Cap ($38)

Jeff V:  Very similar use case as the Meridian Thermal Cap, but is thicker, warmer and has wind protection, as the front panel and fold away earflaps are made from 100% windproof fleece to retain heat, while the top and sides are made from 100% breathable nylon fleece as to not get too hot.  Features such as a soft foam insert on the brim, wicking sweatband, UPF 50+ protection and water repellent brim finish makes the Blazin’ Cap a very smart choice in cold, windy, inclement weather.  While perhaps not the most stylish hat, I have certainly hit the age where I just want gear that works and the Blazin’ Cap certainly delivers.

Sunday Afternoons Breezblocker Mountain Reflection Beanie ($30)

Jeff V:  The Breezeblocker Mountain Reflection Beanie is a thick, warm beanie made for those really cold days, made of an ultra soft acrylic knit, double layer insulation, windproof fleece earband. 

It has a clever set of small holes in the headband to line up with the ears for better hearing (though will admit it made not difference to me, but my hearing is not the best either way).  

Ideal use for this hat would be cold days of low output snowshoeing, walking, apres ski, or just day to day as I typically do in the wintertime.

Shop for Sunday Afternoons Hats!

Sunday Afternoons 

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Nike Storm-FIT Run Division Men's Running Jacket ($350 Nike Member Access)

Zack: The Nike Storm-FIT Run Division Jacket is a very high quality 100% polyester running jacket  which has very much storm resistant features. 

Nike claims it is made to take on the elements, such as wind and water, so I decided to test that claim. I took it through runs, ranging from 6-12 miles, in temperatures ranging from 20 degrees (10 degrees real feel) to 35 degrees (25 degree real feel), with some being in 20 mph wind gusts and others in very snowy conditions. 

With those things in mind, Nike definitely made accurate claims, as this jacket allowed me to stay dry when it was snowing like crazy, as well as keep me warm when heading into a cold headwind of 20 mph winds. 

A common issue with jackets meant to stay warm like this is that the body sometimes heats up too much, so a few nice features Nike added was different zones of ventilation that can be opened up through the use of zippers when things get a little hot, and I can say that they serve their function well. 

Beyond that, the thing that this jacket has is a bunch of small yet effective and functional details that separates this from other jackets (as well as part of the reason that it is very pricey). 

Some of these features include a built-in bill on the hood, which helps keep the elements out of your eyes and face as well as built-in mittens to extend hand coverage as needed. It is also a packable garment, so if you decide mid run that you want to completely ditch the jacket, it can be turned into a bag that can be carried with its elastic strap with little issue. 

Thanks for reading! 

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Jeff Valliere said...


emf said...

Thanks, helpful article!

Mike P said...

WOW - if you can snag a Gore Drive jacket in your size for $88 - that's a no brainer.