Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Brooks Running High Point Men's 2023 Trail Running Apparel Round Up Review

Article by Mike Postaski

In the article, I review Brooks new High Point trail collection: the High Point Waterproof Jacket, High Point 2-in-1 short (7” mens), High Point Crew socks, and Atmosphere Short Sleeve 2.0

High Point Waterproof Jacket ($198)

Mike P: Out of the entire High Point Collection, I was most excited to try the WP jacket due to the front and rear vents. In general, I often wonder why running rain jackets don’t provide more mechanical venting options. Breathability ratings are good and all, but I can never tell the difference between any of the ratings when actually out on the run. With trail running especially, there can be a huge swing in temperature changes back and forth with changes in effort, grade, elevation, climate, etc. It’s often very difficult not to overheat in a rain shell unless temps are very cold. Anywhere comfortably clear of freezing, it’s a challenge to not sweat out from the inside on a big climb, then be very cold on the descent. 

I was surprised and quite happy to find that the HP WP also uses not 1, but 2 snap tabs on the inside of the jacket along the zipper. If you’ve never seen this feature in a running jacket yet - you need to look into it. 

It allows you to unzip the jacket to let some air in without having it falling off your shoulders or flapping around like crazy. I have a few jackets with a single snap tab, but this is the first time I’ve seen a jacket with two. My conclusion - why not? All the benefits of the snap tab, but there’s just 1 more a little further down which does an even better job of preventing unwanted flapping. 

I found the front and back vents also work extremely well to keep air flowing through. I have a similar jacket with front and back vents in a similar style, but the front vents are lower on the torso. The HP’s vents up around the upper chest seem to work better at scooping air in. The front vents are segmented into very small openings, which works well to avoid any parachute effect. I’ve tested the jacket in semi-cold conditions, with a base layer underneath, and also with a vest underneath. I’ve had no issues overheating, which is usually my main concern.

Rain testing - TBD, likely this week, haven’t been able to catch our sporadic rain for a run

Another notable feature for me is the hood. I usually have the problem that when not using a hood, it can tend to flop around in an annoying way. I’m a big fan of some type of built-in bungee to roll up the hood when not in use. This jacket does not have that feature, but when not in use - the hood folds down around the collar and sits in such a way that it doesn’t flap at all! I’m not sure if it was designed that way intentionally, but it works great and is awesome. One less thing to fiddle around with on the run.

Fit-wise - I went with a Medium, hoping to have a bit more space to accommodate a hydration vest underneath. I’m 5’10” with a thin torso, and long arms - I typically wear a Small in most running gear and apparel. I’d say that a Medium is just right for me, even without a vest. The arm length hits just right, and there’s space around the torso, so as not to be constricted when running. I’d venture to say that a Small would have been too tight for me.

High Point 2-in-1 short (7” mens) $78

Mike P: I love a good 2-in-1 short. Brief liners don’t work for me, I find that I need a bit more coverage to prevent chafing. My favorite and most comfortable short is the Patagonia Strider, but it only has a single rear pocket. They make a Strider Pro which has a similar 5 pocket set up to the Brooks High Point, but unfortunately that one has a brief liner. Essentially for me, I never find too much difference between running shorts in general - but it’s all about the liner. 

The Brooks High Point 2-in-1 features a decently long boxer liner. It’s a lightweight mesh, and not a heavier spandex-type material. The entire short is impressively light, with the lower portion of the front, and the entire rear being a very thin, super lightweight mesh. The main front panel is a regular poly blend material.

I went with a typical size Small for me - I’m 138 lbs, 30 in waist. The overall fit and sizing is good, but I found the upper area of the liner and waistband to be a bit loose - looser than any typical size Small. I have to use the drawcord to tighten them up, which bunches the material at the front of the waistband. It’s not noticeable in terms of comfort, but does make me wonder if a size XS may fit better. The lower leg portion of the inner liner fits very well though, so there is some type of disconnect between the lower and upper sections of the liner. But I’d say if you’re the same profile as me with a 32” waist, they’d be a perfect fit.

The shorts have 2 side/hip pockets on each side, plus one larger rear zip pocket. The zip pocket has a handy pull tab which is easy to locate and doesn’t rattle around. I typically don’t overload my shorts, but in my testing they worked great with no bounce. For testing, I loaded one gel on each side, plus a pair of gloves. When I was changing post-run, I had actually forgotten that I put stuff in there - so definitely no bounce, no fuss.

Another highly important note on styling. I think it’s a great looking short, the color really pops, and the brown accents look pretty cool. But I do typically wear only black shorts due to the sweat factor - I mean, crotch sweat just never looks cool. But I have to say I was extremely impressed with this short in that the front panel does evaporate moisture very well, avoiding the dreaded “peed my shorts” look. The two pics above and below are from right after a long treadmill workout. Definitely a color that can be run in public!

[Post treadmill run - no sweat (up front)!]

The High Point 2-in-1 is a great trail running short. It’s right at the top of my running shorts pile. I still need to see if the loose upper fit causes any issue on very long runs in warmer temps. But the overshort is amazingly light, comfortable on the run, stylish, and with pockets done well. A top pick for sure.

High Point Crew socks ($20)

Mike P: The High Point Crew is a merino-blend sock with reinforced cushioning areas underfoot, in the toebox, and around the heel. I’m a big fan of merino socks as they’re usually soft and comfortable and wick moisture very well, keeping your feet dry. The High Point Crew is no exception - the extra cushioned areas feel nice and soft underfoot, and the extra padding can also be helpful if you need to fill up some extra volume inside a shoe. I often use a sock with thicker heel padding to offset any heel slippage in a shoe. 

The High Point Crew has a thinner material layer over the top of the foot, so they don’t feel overly warm. I tested them during a 2 hour indoor workout. They were nice and comfortable, and after drying out, ready for another run (another benefit of merino wool). Key to the merino's performance is that the sock itself absorbs and wicks moisture. So post-run, the socks themselves were a bit damp, but my feet stayed relatively dry. I did not feel any scratchiness or irritation, which can sometimes come with wool socks. Overall it is a solid and comfy merino running sock , which I do recommend. 

Sizing-wise, I wear a US 9.5 or 10.0, the Large size fits perfectly. Also of note - they run a bit short in terms of a ‘crew’ height sock. The stock picture makes them look higher than they really are. You can see from my pics above and below that they’re a bit short -  I typically think of a crew sock covering most of the lower leg below the bottom of the calf. I’d say they’re more like a quarter(+) height.

Atmosphere Short Sleeve 2.0 ($48)

Mike P: I received the Atmosphere s/s in a size medium, which is a little bit oversized for me. I typically wear size small in most shirts. In general I find the fit of Brooks’ shirts to be a bit boxy in the torso for me. I tested a Brooks Carbonite s/s over the summer in size small which had a better fit, although still a bit spacious around the torso. But keep in mind, I did find the High Point WP jacket to be a good fit in size medium. 

The Atmosphere shirt is notably made of recycled fabric equal to 13 plastic water bottles. That’s pretty awesome. I don’t really have anything to cross-reference that number to, but it does sound like a lot. 

The material itself is not one of the lightest weight materials out there. I typically try to go with the lightest material possible in a t-shirt. The Atmosphere shirt seemed to hold quite a bit of moisture during my 2 hour indoor workout. Sweating that much while indoors is not much of a surprise, but with the material not being the lightest - the shirt did feel a bit on the heavy side when soaked through. 

The Atmosphere is not my top pick for a running shirt due to its somewhat heavier fabric. But it’s a nice shirt for general activities, especially if the usage of recycled materials is of importance to you. In general I find brooks apparel to be sized based on a relatively larger torso, which makes them a bit looser than the typical slim/athletic fit of some other brands.

The Brooks High Point Collection is available at Brooks and our partners below

Tester Profile

Mike Postaski currently focuses on long mountainous ultras - anywhere from 50K up to his favorite - 100M. 5'10", 138 lbs, midfoot/forefoot striker - he typically averages 70 mpw (mostly on trails), ramping up to nearly 100 mpw during race buildups. A recent 2:39 road marathoner, his easy running pace ranges from 7:30 - 9:00/mi. In 2022 Mike won both the Standhope 100M and IMTUF 100M trail ultras within a 7 week period - both extremely rugged Idaho mountain races. Mike's shoe preferences lean towards firmer, dense cushioning, and shoes with narrower profiles. He prefers extra forefoot space, especially for long ultras, and he strongly dislikes pointy toe boxes.

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

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