Alpkit Running Gear
From her local fell race to the Lakes Sky Ultra, Bridget Glaister looks at a selection of women's running clothing from Alpkit
It's shorts and t-shirt season on the hills, at long last, so now seems a good chance to review one of each. The Aptin shorts and Phasic Evolution t-shirt are both new models in the 2017 Arc'teryx line-up; I got them in time for the spring heat wave, and have worn them since whenever the weather's allowed.
These are billed as a 'running short with cross-functional versatility', and having used them for jogging round the park, short hill runs and full hillwalking/scrambling days, I'd say that's fair. They are not obscenely short, and that longer, more casual styling makes them socially acceptable outside of fell running circles. I've even worn them down the shops without being arrested.
Sizing is on the spacious side in the Aptin, and I found I had to go down from my usual size Large to a Medium, which at 33" waist is spot on for me. For a running short they are long, coming down to just above knee height. However thanks to Arc'teryx's usual attention to articulated tailoring - including a gusseted panel in the crotch - this extra length doesn't remotely limit leg movement, and I can run as freely in these as in a super-skimpy pair of fell running shorts.
To keep things light and low-profile there's no fly or any kind of fastening - just a simple elasticated waist band and drawcord, with a soft inner fabric that's comfortable against the skin and absorbs sweat well. Seams are flat and unobtrusive throughout, and to eliminate chafing on the thigh the hems have been laminated rather than stitched - a really good touch.
One limitation of the Aptin Shorts is that the cut doesn't seem to work that well with a harness. You could climb in them, at a pinch, but you'd probably be better off with a pair of dedicated climbing shorts. For a very hot mountain rock day, for instance, I've worn them on the walk-in and walk-down, but switched to more harness-friendly trousers on the route itself.
The double weave 'Fortius' material blends nylon with elastane to give a light-but-tough fabric with tons of stretch. This stretch complements the cut to give you unrestricted movement. Having worn the Aptin Shorts on what passes for hot days in Scotland I've found the fabric airy and breathable too, so despite the shorts' extra length in the leg they don't get clammy when you're working hard on the uphills. Weight-wise, I make them just 161g for the pair, which suggests they'd be a good choice for backpacking, or for travel with a limited weight restriction.
A DWR finish works well in a light shower, but of course has its limits like all these things, and having run for 20 minutes in a heavy wind-bourne downpour I was soaked through. Luckily the fabric is also pretty quick drying, and after about 30mins in the car the shorts were largely dry again (more than can be said for my underwear). Though that's the only time I've had them out in the rain so far, I think the Aptins would be good shorts for wet weather days.
Unlike simpler running shorts you get two hand pockets in the Aptin, which helps boost their casual styling and multi-activity remit. These are mesh-lined for coolness. Inside one of the pockets is a little stretchy sleeve and a 'media port' (basically, a hole so you can run the headphone wire up under your waistband and t-shirt). The sleeve is too small for my phone, and I'd never use it anyway, but if you have a mini Ipod type thing and like to run with a soundtrack then I guess it's a worthwhile feature. An additional little zipped pocket runs towards the back of your leg: it's a good unobtrusive place to carry car keys without them flopping around too much; my one slight worry with its positioning is that when running downhill, if you lost your footing and ended up on your bum, you could get a key in the buttock.
Running shorts that aren't just for running, the Aptins cross over happily into hillwalking, warm weather backpacking, travel and all-round summer use. Casual styling makes these socially acceptable outside of fell races, while the active cut and quick-drying, stretchy fabric are superb. The price seems quite high, but it reflects the overall quality feel.
A trail running short with cross-functional versatility, the Aptin is lightweight, durable and comfortable on the move. The Fortius™ DW 1.0 double weave fabric delivers performance four-way stretch and has a DWR finish to help shed moisture. Articulation and a gusseted crotch improve mobility and ease of stride, the 10.5" inseam provides extended coverage, and laminated hems minimize irritation.
For more see arcteryx.com
A highly wicking top with an excellent active cut, the Phasic Evolution T-Shirt has a walking remit, but obvious crossover into both running and climbing too.
Again the sizing is on the roomy side, and though I stayed in size Large for the review I could probably have got away with a Medium. Relative to its size the Phasic Evolution has a fairly close, sculpted fit, which helps eliminate excess baggy material and makes for more comfortable layering. It's quite long in the hem too, which is a good thing, as when worn beneath a rucksack hipbelt or a harness it doesn't tend to lift out. The cut of the arms allows complete freedom of movement; I've been wearing this for climbing on warmer days, and it's great. There may be a lot of seams in evidence on this top, but they're stitched flat for maximum comfort, and offset from the top of the shoulders so that you don't get any chafing under rucksack straps.
The 100% polyester 'Phasic' fabric has a little stretch to aid freedom of movement, and it's so thin that a breeze cuts straight through - just what you want in hot weather. I'm not convinced that it is super tough, but in fairness this review has been too short term to draw conclusions. More importantly wicking performance feels excellent, and it dries extremely quickly too. In addition there's a UPF rating of 30+. Now surely all fabrics keep the sun off? Be that as it may, its light and cool feel makes the Phasic Evolution t-shirt particularly good for summer. And speaking of lightness, since it weighs only 105g (size L, on my kitchen scales) and squashes down to the size of an orange, it's a nice one to pack as a spare t-shirt if you're out with a backpack for a few days.
Although it's not mentioned in the sales blurb, the fabric has been treated with silver nitrate, a biocidal product that helps keep BO at bay. I pushed this to the limit with a long hot day's climbing in Glen Coe plus several hours in the car, followed a couple of days later by a sweaty run in the late May heatwave. I didn't wash the t-shirt between times, and while it definitely could not have been called fresh at the end of all this, it did not reek half as much as a non-treated synthetic top would have. I'd consider that a success. Though natural fibres such as merino might be better still at odour suppression, they tend to be heavier and slower to dry.
Evolution in action? Probably overselling things. Nevertheless, this is an excellent take on the synthetic wicking t-shirt: well cut, breathable, quick-drying and less smelly than many another. My one criticism is the price, which seems a little steep for a t-shirt, even one this good.
Combining exceptional moisture management with performance stretch and next-to-skin comfort, the Phasic Evolution Crew is perfect for backpacking and day hikes. The lightweight, quick drying Phasic™ FL-X bi-component fabric actively pulls away moisture and provides UPF 30+ sun protection. Gusseted underarms elevate freedom of movement, and the trim fit keeps the fibres close to the skin for improved wicking performance. A front graphic reflects the Arc'teryx design commitment: Evolution in Action.
For more see arcteryx.com