In late Fall 2017, TAUR partnered with several brands to test and review some of the coolest warm running clothes. Our testers are all ultra runners from around the country, testing gear in a variety of conditions.
Here’s what they had to say:
Patagonia Crosstrek 1/4 zip top and bottom
Constructed of Polartec Power Stretch fleece. The flat-seam stitching was awesome, letting me wear both top and bottom as a next-to-skin layer with no chafing. The thumb loop helped to cover my hands on mornings when it was too cold for bare hands but I️ didn’t need gloves.
They were used extensively on day-long hunting expeditions where I️ alternated between hiking steep hillsides and ridges at a sustained effort, then immediately spent long periods of time sitting on exposed areas with a pair of binoculars. They also worked well at night as a base-layer to add an extra 10-15 degrees of comfort to my sleeping bag. They are a great addition to my quiver of multi-sport clothing.
Kristin LS (Black)
The Kristin long sleeve makes for an excellent baselayer. It has vented mesh side panels and a longer than average half-zip making it warm but very breathable to maintain airflow. The sleeves have both thumbholes AND mitten pull-overs and can accommodate longer arms without any uncomfortable pulling.
This jacket is a fantastic outer layer for the colder months. It’s lightweight with quilting on the upper half and a brushed inside layer for added warmth without added weight. The outside layer isn’t fully waterproof, but it is water and wind resistant without a plastic feel. The sleeves also feature thumbholes to help keep your hands warm. The details are stylish and the fit is close and slimming without being too snug. The jacket does feature one small key pocket in the back, but what was really missed were side pockets. Overall an excellent lightweight outer layer. Sizing is consistent with similar products from many other brands.
These tights were a bit more challenging to test. The sizing of the tights seemed inconsistent with the sizing of the Toril jacket and Kristin long sleeve, and they were harder to put on than traditional tights, though this is likely exaggerated due to the sizing issues. They feature a dual-layer construction with a full brushed inside layer and a partial water and wind resistant outer layer on the front. The wind-proof layer on the front doesn’t stretch as well as the rest of the fabric, and the waistband doesn’t have as much give as many traditional waistbands do. That said, once they’re on, they’re comfortable, warm, and they stay put around the ankles with the help of rubber grip material around the inside of the ankle hem. The tights also feature a zipper at the back of each ankle that unzips to a stretchy layer of fabric which allows for extra room in the ankles without exposing skin to the cold. We recommend buying one size up in these tights. At the right size, these would likely end up in very frequent wardrobe rotation.
Like anything Arcteryx does, these items are worth every dollar. Plan to spend a bit more but the investment is going to pay off. We were really impressed with the attention to detail and precision with which the Arcteryx products were made. Whether you evaluate the stitching, features or material quality, plan to be amazed. We honestly wish they sent us more to test, so we could share more of their line with you.
Don’t be confused by the name, this is really a lightweight shell. In general, the fit of most Arcteryx products is athletic – almost European – so be sure to size appropriately. At only 125 grams, the hoody is heavier than other lightweight shells we have tested, but it does offer more versatility than the ultra lightweight competitors. While the jacket is not windproof or waterproof it does balance them both quite nicely for a long run when temperatures and conditions may fluctuate. We tested this on the Zion traverse where temperatures ranged from 0 to 45 and winds we strong enough to keep the hoody on during warmer parts of the day. The mesh underarms and light material made it very breathable for high energy runs.
Cerium LT Hoody
With the addition of the Cerium LT Hoody, those of us who struggle to maintain our core body temperatures now have an excellent lightweight and packable option for Ultras or before and after runs. The Cerium is one of our favorite Down Jackets we have tested. The chest pocket does include an internal stuff sack, but we were able to pack the whole jacket inside its pocket. Pretty impressive. A down jacket of that packs light would normally be of very little use in cold temperatures but we were super impressed with the 850 fill down, hem drawstring and tight hood that keep you snug as a bug inside. As with the Incendo, expect an athletic fit and immaculate construction.
I’ve happily worn the Arcteryx jacket running and out on the town and it is so good! Lightweight but warm, puffy that stays in place, tailored to look good, a hood that covers and stays in place and 3 well-made zipper pockets. I reach for this jacket most of the time, but especially when it’s bitter out. Breaths well with activity but looks good out and about. Perfect combo.
7/8 Spring Leggings ($95)
These Outdoor voices tights are quite versatile. They felt great to run in, staying in place with a nice wide waistband and no rubbing. Thick enough to be worn alone but thin enough to function in warmer temps too. They’re not a true winter tight but work great until probably 30 degrees. They look great in yoga or at the gym and could totally pass for a casual lunch date too.
The North Face
Flight Pack – Long-Sleeve ($130), 3/4 Tights ($120), Fuse Jacket ($250)
This outfit from TNF is my go-to for winter running. The Tights and LS shirt were perfectly fitted for an athletic fit. I loved the construction using nylon and FlashDry products. After more than 30 uses and washes, the fabrics have not shrunk or lost their elasticity. I was really impressed with the FlashDry fabric and its ability to perform initially when I got wet and over a long period of time to help evaporate water. I ran several times in very wet snow storms at 8,000 to 11,000 ft and had no problems maintaining and regulating my temperatures.
I loved the seam construction of the tights. These tights are my favorites bar none. I was honestly a little cynical about the ‘engineered venting’ in both the tights and LS shirt. However after testing in temperatures ranging from 0 degrees to 45 degrees. I was honestly impressed. During one 30 mile run, the temperatures ranged from below zero at an elevation of 10,000 ft in a snowstorm to nearly 45 at 6,000 ft. During the entire run, I was impressed that I was never really hot or cold during any part of the run.
The new Flight series jacket is very light and comfortable. The Dryvent material was great on many wet and snowy runs. I was very impressed with its wind protection, despite its light weight. Some of the changes to the jacket include lower larger pockets, to be honest, I was not a huge fan of these.
IFA Prowear was created by a professional skier who was tired of wearing his uncomfortable wool base-layers. Nicknamed “Nakedwear,” IFA clothing is made of bamboo fibers. For those looking for an extremely comfortable, soft option for tops or bottoms, or for something eco-friendly, then IFA is for you. The material is sustainable, hypo-allergenic, breathable, and moves well. The items are also versatile; fit for skiing the slopes, trekking the mountains, or running errands around town.
Women’s Long Sleeve ($40)
The shirt is loose-fitting but still feminine. It is incredibly soft and elastic but does not stretch out over time with multiple washes. The shirt would prove a decent base-layer during wintertime activities, but could also be a top layer on cool spring, summer, or fall mornings and evenings. The colors come in a neutral gray, as well as bright pink and aqua – so there is something for all.
The sleeves do run a bit short and don’t come with thumb holes. For women with long arms, this may not be the top for you.
Women’s Knickers ($65)
These ¾ length leggings, like the rest of IFA Prowear, are incredibly soft. However, the material is odd for a pair of form-fitting exercise pants. While the legs and waist are comfortable, the seams at the bottom of the leggings are overly snug. This brings to question how well the leggings would stay up in intense exercise.
Women with larger quads or calves may find these pants an odd fit, as they seem to cater to thinner-legged women. Best to stick with the tops, or use these knickers for lounging at home.
Montrail by Columbia Titan Ultra Half-Zip Running Shirt($70)
This ultralight shirt wicks away moisture from the skin, actually using the sweat to activate the “omniFREEZE ZERO” technology. This shirt moves with you as you run on the trail. It is completely unrestrictive and comfortable throughout the entire run. The reflective outer detailing is handy for low light situations and the thumb holes keep the sleeves from riding up if you are using the shirt as a bottom layer.
The ultra-light long sleeve shirt is an excellent piece of gear that can be taken on any adventure out on the trails. It offers a loose comfortable fit, excellent breathability that helps to regulate core temperature during those extensive long excursions. Pairs well as a layer for those colder days or by itself on much warmer days. Adjusting the half zipper allows just enough air to sip through the opening allowing the runner feel comfortable when the temps rise. The fabric is unbelievably thin, and hand washing is recommended but not necessary. Construction seems good – after several hand-washes, the Titan ultra shirt still looks and performs like new.
Women’s Trient Insulated Jacket ($140)
Super light and perfect for the trail on a cold winter day. This jacket uses Polartec’s Alpha insulation to keep the heat in and provides just enough warmth for those chilly morning runs. The Omni-shield water and stain repellant help keep out unwanted moisture. Stretchy material through the back side and the sleeves (long sleeves with thumb holes) proving excellent mobility to help you stay comfortable while running or hiking. The thumb holes are an added plus to keeping the jacket in place in addition to adding to the jacket’s fashionable appeal. Over a t-shirt, this jacket is perfect for a chilly day on the trail, especially if you’d rather wear shorts despite the colder temperatures. Packable and compact, it travels well in a running vest and can be used as a layer if temperatures drop below 50. Layer this jacket with the Columbia Titan Half Zip running shirt and you will be toasty on a day where other people don’t want to venture out. Downsides? No front or side pockets.
Caldorado Fleece Headband ($25)
Another item from the Montrail Columbia collection is the Caldorado Fleece Headband. This is a simple, easy to carry add on when the weather is unpredictable. Folded up, it will fit inside of a small pocket of a running jacket or vest without adding much weight. The fleece side keeps the ears warm and provides a comfortable fit and it will stay in place even if it is worn under a hoodie or a buff. Offered in black and dark raspberry colors.
Ultra Light Thermawrap Vest ($119)
Montbell’s Thermawrap pieces are part of their synthetic series, designed for active users. At 5.5oz it is meant to be easy to carry or wear while providing core warmth and breathability. The external fabric is made from Ballistic Airlight rip-stop nylon and includes two side pockets and a single chest pocket.
The overall experience with the Montbell UL Thermawrap vest was very positive. Not only was it stylish and could be worn casually with jeans, but it translated well to running. As a mid-layer insulator for really cold days (running days with the jacket were between 15-20 f). It initially felt bulky underneath a windbreaker, but within minutes there was no noticeable difference, except for warmth. The only downside to the jacket (which would be standard with any similar piece) is stowing it. While it is super light, it doesn’t pack down very small, requiring the wearer to have a running vest with a medium capacity to carry it in case it was to get warm. Other than that it is a fantastic piece and would be highly recommended.
Ultra Light Stretch Wind Parka ($89)
The UL Stretch Wind Parka is an incredibly light (4.1oz) windbreaker made for active wearers. Built of Ballistic Airlight rip-stop nylon, the fabric is fully wind resistant, packable, yet allows for breathability and solid protection. Fully featured, with two side zip pockets, drawcord hood, and drawcord waistband, the UL Stretch Wind Parka is a solid asset to any runners quiver of gear.
It should be noted, up front, that this jacket is not meant to be fully waterproof. While it has been treated with Polkatex water repellent, it is an outer coating and is only meant to shed light precipitation. Don’t expect to stay dry in a full downpour. It is also not a great insulator. Because of the stretch fabric, cold air does seep through. On a good note, it breathes well, which means that it reduces condensation inside the jacket, ultimately keeping the wearer warmer for longer (this was our experience). Ultimately, it’s a windbreaker and works well for that type of weather. It also stows into an inside pocket (that doesn’t have a zip closure, awesome) and can be carried easily in a shorts pocket or small running vest pocket. Considering the price stays under $100, this is a great option for anyone who is looking for a quality piece of technical running gear for poor, but not extreme weather.
The Adidas Response Tee is a great, simple piece. The fabric is consistent with most base layer (tech tee) pieces and performs well. It is great in cool weather alone or as a base layer. Reflective decoration on the upper arms is a nice safety element and looks good too. The thumb holes for tucking the hands into the sleeves are a thoughtful addition that has us grabbing this long sleeve over others. Like many tech tees, the material gets a snagged ribbed pattern to it if you don’t take care when washing it (don’t wash it with anything that might snag – like velcro).
TERREX Agravic Alpha Hooded Shield Windbreaker
The Adidas TERREX Agravic Alpha Hooded Shield Windbreaker sure has a long name but became a quick favorite. It is a double layered piece that performs extremely well in sub 35-degree temps and holds very well below freezing. The side pockets are a great addition, and this jacket could even be worn as a casual piece while you are out and about. The hood is useful for keeping the wind off the neck/head and has a high front zipper to lock in the warmth around the front of the neck. Packs fairly well, and has spent a good deal of time in and out of our packs.