Solving runners’ winter woes: Brands boast do-it-all, lightweight endurance apparel

Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2013 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Jan. 23-26. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives. Today we take a look at winter running apparel.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2013 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Jan. 23-26. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives. Today we take a look at winter running apparel.

no runner wants to get cold, wet, chaffed or overly sore while on the road or trail. And they don’t want to look frumpy, either.

It’s a tall order, but running apparel brands say they have an answer to every woe, from clammy sweat to sore muscles.

“When you’re running or doing aerobic activity, you don’t want anything to distract from your activity,” said Keryn Francisco, Icebreaker’s product design director.

Providing comfort in winter weather poses a challenge. Companies try to balance warmth and protection with breathability, so runners stay dry inside and out. Premium running jackets are aplenty on the show floor, starting with Adidas Outdoor. The company offers three pieces with hybrid construction (including Cocona lining on stretch panels at the back, arms and sides) that keeps wearers warm and dry without overheating. The jackets, which Adidas Outdoor’s Greg Thomsen said are perfect for mountain running, are the Endosphere (MSRP $195), the men’s Skyclimb Jacket (MSRP $130) and the Windstopper Softshell Jacket (MSRP $195, photo below).

Also focusing on keeping runners dry is Brooks with its men’s Infiniti IV Jacket (MSRP $120), a waterproof-breathable piece with a comfortable fit; the Silver Bullet II (MSRP $170); and the Utopia Softshell II (MSRP $150).

Building on its footwear success, Inov-8 brings its first apparel line to Winter Market. The premium pieces are designed for the off-road distance runner. Some notable products include the women’s Race Elite 180 ThermoShell (MSRP $200), a reversible jacket with zoned PrimaLoft insulated spots. The reversibility isn’t just for show: One side provides 10 percent more warmth than the other. The men’s equivalent is the Race Elite 200 ThermoShell (MSRP $200).

Saucony’s Three-In-One Sonic Jacket (MSRP $140), as the name suggests, is three jackets in one made with Saucony’s proprietary Sonic fabric. Customers can wear it like a regular running jacket, or they can snap off the sleeves (which are secured by magnets) to turn it into a vest, or they can turn the high-visibility ViziPro-lined sleeves inside-out and snap them back on. Pat O’Malley, senior vice president of global product, called it “ViziPro on demand.” He added, “You don’t always have to have a bright orange jacket. You can just turn your sleeves inside out.”

Salomon’s men’s and women's Trail Runner Warm LS ZP Tee (MSRP $80) is somewhere between a midlayer and a T-shirt, and comes with bonuses like hand warmers. For women, Salomon’s Elite WS Jacket (MSRP $200, photo below) blocks wind and is designed for movement with a single-piece lower torso, eliminating seams — and therefore chaffing while wearing a hydration belt or waist back.

Two other pieces made to prevent chaffing on long runs are the Dart (MSRP $140, photo below) and the Drive (MSRP $140) from Icebreaker. The merino wool pieces are constructed with Icebreaker’s Free Seam technology, which places all seams on the outside, guarding skin so runners can pump arms without irritation. “Merino is miraculous on its own and we’ve added more technology to it,” Icebreaker’s Francisco said. The Dart and Drive use the company’s nanotechnology for increased water resistance.

Another no-chafe feature comes on Gore Running Wear’s Magnitude Compression SO Comp Shirt (MSRP $170). An offset zipper makes it so two zippers won’t overlap and create bulk on a tight-fitting shirt. The piece is made with Gore’s lightest weight Windstopper and fits like a combination shirt and jacket. It includes reflective strips for increased visibility.

Many companies are offering products that compress more than regular running apparel, but aren’t categorized as compression apparel, so runners aren’t distracted by bouncing. Saucony’s women’s Cha Cha Flex Pant (MSRP $65) and Cscoot LX Capri (MSRP $55) both contain 17 percent Spandex (last season's tights were at 12 percent). The benefit, in addition to keeping the body secure, is that it dries more quickly so it won’t get soggy and heavy with sweat. Plus, Lole brings a sexy flair to running tights in its Hurry Up Leggings (MSRP $85, photo below), which has easy to clean panels around the ankles so your customers don't have to wash their tights as often as they usually do.

LoleHurryUpLeggings.jpg

In addition to reducing bounce, apparel strives to weigh next to nothing. Take The North Face’s women’s Better Than Naked Capri running tights (photo below) and the men’s and women’s Apex Lite Jacket. The tights have a thicker waistband for increased comfort, body-mapped ventilation, reflective strips and logos and stitchless seams on the inside. The body of the jacket is 100 percent polyester knit with FlashDry and has a shaped collar, mesh ventilation, reflectivity, bodymapped ventilation, cuff articulation and MP3-compatible cord hole in the pocket.

Running apparel always will be technical, but companies are adding fun, flirty silhouettes to their catalogs. Angela Lindbo, U.S. category leader for Gore Running Wear, said more women are running in yoga pants and the company responded by offering its yoga-inspired Slim Pant (MSRP $90), part of its Sunlight family. To complement the piece is the Sunlight Softshell Hoody (MSRP $180, photo below), a fashionable jacket with articulated cuffs, two front pockets and a ponytail slit.

Stonewear Designs debuts a piece that looks like a yoga pant but is designed for runners with its Dash Performance Pant (MSRP $98). And for the more traditional runner, there’s the Sprinter Capri (MSRP $67), which has a flattering wide waistband and ruching at the hem for a fashionable finish.

Moving Comfort brings a complete women’s running outfit in its JustRight Track Pant (MSRP $85) and JustRight Half Zip (MSRP $95). Both have thermo-regulating fabric, reflective details and zip pockets.

--Ana Trujillo

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