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Review: Summer Apparel

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Our reviews are 100% organic. We do not accept payment for reviews or bundle with advertising budgets. In most cases, the brand is providing the product to our reviewers free of charge.

In the heat of summer, we’re always looking for apparel that is lightweight, fits well, wicks moisture and offers adequate ventilation. Now that we’ve entered the hottest months of the year, we’ve got our top picks when it comes to running in the heat and loving it.


rabbit

One of the most common shirts we’ve seen on ultrarunners while participating in extreme heat is rabbit’s long-sleeve, hooded UPF Deflector 2.0 that has UPF 50 skin protection for the entire upper body. This year, they offer the same material and construction in a short-sleeved UPF Tee ($55) for both men and women. The tees have the same UPF protection and use the same thin and super-breathable polyester/spandex blend with 67% post-consumer content. Laser cut perforations under the arms improve ventilation, and a V-notch at the hemline accentuates a slight drop tail design. A semi-relaxed fit through the torso accommodates a variety of body shapes without being restrictive, but also doesn’t feel too baggy when worn as a base layer. If you still want full arm coverage and increased versatility with this shirt, rabbit also released UPF sleeves for men and women ($35) that are easy to remove and store when not in use and cover the tops of the hands while offering a thumb hole as well as an opening for a watch face on each wrist.

Adding to the list of new models for rabbit this summer are the men’s and women’s High Country Shorts ($78), which are ostensibly designed for hiking (complete with a zipper fly on the men’s model) but are also well built for moderate distance and intensity running. They are ideally suited for rugged bushwhacking adventures when off-trail or adventure running. External panels consist of a durable 4-way stretch ripstop with a PFC-free durable water repellent finish, and six pockets provide an abundance of storage: two in the front with hidden zippers, two side zips and two back snaps with hidden zippers that can accommodate most cell phones. A Polartec Power Dry brief liner wicks moisture quickly, and perforated vents at the small of the back help ventilation capacity. High Country Shorts come in a relaxed fit with 6-inch inseam for men, and semi-relaxed fit with 3-inch inseam for women—and as of now, both are only offered in one color option. Rabbit apparel is available at www.runinrabbit.com.


Patagonia

Patagonia Women’s Capilene Cool Trail Tank

A primary mission of Patagonia is to consistently seek more responsible means of sourcing and producing their apparel. That process is evident with the new Capilene Cool Trail Shirt ($45) and Tank ($39), both Fair Trade Certified garments made with a combination of 70% recycled polyester and 30% Naia Renew, which is a blend of renewable wood pulp and post-consumer plastics, that has a soft feel. Another win for these tops is that men and women both have the option of shirts or tanks, and women also have a cropped tank style as a third option. The neck of the men’s tanks offers more coverage as well as wider coverage in back in comparison to the lower cut racerback women’s style. We found the torso cut for both gender shirts to be quite roomy, especially compared to other Capilene Cool tops, to the point where sizing down is recommended if you are between sizes. All Capilene Cool Trail shirts utilize a plant-based miDori bioSoft additive for improved softness and wicking ability, as well as a HeiQ silver-salt antimicrobial odor resistant treatment.

Last year, Patagonia started an entire product line redesign for their running shorts, and the updated Strider Pro Shorts ($89) have received a huge upgrade in both sustainability and performance compared to the original model. The body fabric is made with 90% OceanCycle-certified recycled polyester sourced from coastal communities and has excellent breathability as well as four-way stretch capability and a PFC-free DWR finish. Brief liners are made from 100% recycled double-knit polyester with the same miDori bioSoft and HeiQ treatments as the shirts above. A soft waistband has good elasticity to stay in place even when unsecured, with an external drawcord to cinch as needed. The men’s version of these shorts has five pockets—four stretchy envelopes and one zipper—while the women’s only has two stretchy pockets to go with a zipper pocket. The men’s version comes in two inseam options—5 or 7 inches—but the women’s only comes in a 3.5-inch length. All Patagonia items are available at www.patagonia.com.


Lululemon

The soft and supple fabrics are one of the main reasons Lululemon has become one of the up-and-coming brands to enter the trail and ultrarunning world. The women’s Swiftly Tech Short-Sleeve Shirt 2.0 ($68) and Racerback Tank ($58), are made from nylon and recycled polyester woven in a mesh construction to enhance breathability. The seamless design includes minimal spots for chafing and a sleek, lightweight fit that moves with the body. While running miles in the heat, the tank maintained its shape and offered us maximum ventilation and breathability, even while wearing a hydration vest. The hip length version of this shirt is long enough to tuck in under layers or keep our torso covered, as it stayed in place throughout longer runs. The shirt and tank come in 11 colors and range in sizes from 0-20.

The women’s Hotty Hot High-Rise Lined Short ($68) offers a roomy fit with a soft elastic band and mesh panels allowing for a full range of motion whether it’s during speed workouts on the track or mountain running. We tested these when the temperatures began to spike, and the soft exterior fabric made from recycled polyester kept chafing at bay and allowed maximal airflow due to the curved hems and wide openings around the legs. While this model doesn’t offer much storage beyond a small zippered pocket for essentials, the lightweight and flowy nature of this short ensured that we kept it in our rotation for short, tempo runs as well as longer distances. Available in both 2.5 and 4-inch lengths and 20 colors. Find Lululemon gear at lululemon.com.


PATH Projects

One of the newest fabrics in this year’s collection comes from PATH Projects, the menswear-specific company who first became known for their innovations in shorts (see below), but whose top garments have become equally reliable and comfortable for all manner of pursuits. Their newly developed Wadi Tee ($68) features the company’s most advanced fabric to date, made specifically for peak efforts on high-heat days. It uses a multi-level, multi-density knit structure called Fiedsensor Byokan which moves perspiration from your skin to the outer layer of the fabric, minimizing the surface area contact against your body. The fabric also has UPF 30+ protection, despite its ultralight weight, and antimicrobial protection to reduce odor buildup. Wadi tops come in tanks or hoodies in addition to tees, and all of them have a slim torso profile that is quite narrow, so if you have a larger body type or just like things loose, be sure to size up.

PATH distinguishes itself in the running shorts category with its component system of independent base liners and exterior shells. This is a highly effective method of not only eliminating friction, but allowing versatility from season to season by rotating different baseliners which are sold separately. Their Sykes PX Shorts ($58) have been our go-to model for a few ultras this year, ranging from cold and rainy weather to hot desert environments. Exterior panels made from PrimeFlex spiral yarn have 360-degree mechanical stretch capacity, strong abrasion resistance and breathability, plus DWR treatment. Storage on these shorts includes three secure zip pockets, one of which (in the center back) is large enough to hold almost any smartphone. Two small flank pouches and an internal front key pocket give you more storage options, and the combination of pockets around the entire garment allow equal weight distribution when needed. Sykes PX shorts are made in regular and relaxed fit versions, each with inseam options of 5 or 7 inches. For summer months, we recommend combining these with the Lynx PD base liner, which uses an ultralight PolarTec Power Dry fabric and comes in three different inseam options. PATH Projects apparel is available at www.pathprojects.com.


Salomon

The Sense Aero apparel series pulls from high-end technologies and design elements found in Salomon’s high-end S/Lab products, with an affordable price tag that makes them more accessible while delivering impressive comfort and performance. Their men’s and women’s Sense Aero Tee ($70) and Tank ($55) start with a very thin and soft lightweight Knit Flow polyester fabric that provides strong breathability and dries rapidly. The back panel uses a 3D weave that minimizes the surface area contact on your skin, and a technology called 37.5 manages humidity and regulates body temperature. The 37.5 (the body’s ideal exercise temperature in Celsius) incorporates ultra-porous volcanic minerals and coconut-derived activated carbon into fabrics, effectively increasing the surface area of fibers and enabling sweat removal at the vapor stage. This year’s Aero tops have a bio-based Ionic+ antimicrobial treatment that utilizes silver ions to inhibit odor. Aero tanks have low cut necklines, and the women’s back panel fits between the shoulder blades while the men’s is slightly wider, however, all of these tops have a slim torso cut and run slightly small in our comparison to other brand sizing.

From the same product line, Sense Aero Shorts ($70) are offered for men in 3, 5 and 7-inch inseams, and for women in 3 or 5-inch options. Material construction for all of them is similar, with exterior panels composed of a super thin and highly perforated AeroTech fabric that is made with 27% elastane for excellent stretch capacity. Like the tops, Aero shorts are classified as slim fit, but the fabric elasticity allows full range of motion. And because they are so lightweight, we love these shorts for high intensity workouts on hot days. An inner standard brief stays in place nicely and wicks moisture well, and a flat waistband generally stays secure even without the use of a drawstring. Four small stash pockets around the waistband provide storage for small items, with one in the front that is large enough to accommodate most phones. Salomon products are available at www.salomon.com.


Tracksmith

Tracksmith leans hard into the road and track running aesthetic, but the comfort and performance of their core lineup is equally suited for trail use. Case in point is the Session Tee ($80) and Tank ($75), which are built for high intensity track workouts, but are also great for long efforts in the dirt. Fabric construction consists of soft lightweight polyester mesh with 16% elastane for four-way stretch capability. Antimicrobial treatment is added for odor resistance, and micro perforations throughout the fabric provide effective ventilation on all sides. The tees have a relaxed fit through the torso, and the minimalist design accents make this a great shirt for moving directly between workouts and errands. One aspect of the tees we appreciate is that the stretch fabric combines with wide opening sleeves to make it easy wipe sweat as-needed on a hot summer run. Tanks are only offered for women and are more form-fitting with a relatively deep neckline in front and a broad, thin back panel.

We found Tracksmith’s Allston Adjustable Bra ($75) to be a great addition to our summer running, as the straps adjust from traditional over-the-shoulder style to racerback with just one clip, and the bottom band adjusts like a traditional bra. With these customizable additions, the bra maintained structured yet comfortable support that allowed for optimal breathability with the perfect amount of compression. With a power mesh that lines the front of the bra, we didn’t worry about chafing or airflow throughout our many sweaty miles in the heat.

The counterpart to these tops are the Session Shorts ($70 for men and women), which have a comparable degree of comfort and versatility. Men’s inseam options are 5 or 7 inches while women have a standard 3.5-inch version or 3-inch, split-leg “Session Speed” version to choose from. Session shorts feature a thin Veloce Italian fabric that has four-way stretch for mobility, and these are definitely the stretchiest shorts in our test group. They also have strong moisture-wicking ability. A heathered finish provides plush softness against the skin, and Polygiene liners add anti-odor and antimicrobial resistance. Since these are mainly intended for road and track shorts, there is limited storage available, with just a single internal drop-in pocket that is only large enough for a key or gel packet. Tracksmith items are available at www.tracksmith.com.