REVIEW: Alpkit Running Gear

I've always tried not to let first impressions get in the way but realistically they do, and when on the internet I saw Alpkit's multiple offer of Koulin Trail Vest, Koulin Trail Tee, Arro Windshell and Koulin Trail Tights my instant thoughts were along the lines of:

  1. A bit retro looking colour wise
  2. Could be basic at that price
  3. But it's Alpkit and their stuff is always worth looking at…

So as you can tell whilst I am already an Alpkit fan, I might not have got this deal but for the name behind it and the serious value for money if they were any good. I was not disappointed! This particular bundle deal is no longer available, but a slightly different one now is, and all the items can also be bought individually. They come in men's versions too.

On the Lakes Sky Ultra race in the Koulin Trail Vest, 181 kb
On the Lakes Sky Ultra race in the Koulin Trail Vest
© John Bamber

At the time I had just entered the Lakes Sky Ultra Race, a hard core ultra of 33 miles with exposed scrambling thrown in, running between Ambleside, Helvellyn, Patterdale, High Street, Red Screes and a bit more. So at worst the kit would be good for the training runs and hopefully I could give it a real test on race day. So the order was placed and a few days later a tiny bag turned up – it did really pack down tiny!

Topping out on Pinnacle Ridge in the Arro Windshell, 152 kb
Topping out on Pinnacle Ridge in the Arro Windshell
© Bridget Glaister collection

"Alpkit have done it again. For a very good price you have kit that can withstand a right beating"

Seeing the vest, t-shirt, windshell and tights for real was dramatically different from seeing it on the website; the pictures on the internet hadn't done them justice at all. The colours were great and the tailored body shape looked like they would fit just right. I couldn't wait to try them out whilst running.

Koulin Trail Tee £14

Koulin tee, 108 kb

Koulin Tee 2, 109 kb

First time out was around May for bit of a run with my mate Maria over Helvellyn from Patterdale. A muggy day, cold on getting out of the car, low cloud and generally looking uninspiring so I changed from the hopeful vest to warmer blue T Shirt and we set off up to Hole in the Wall before going over Striding Edge. Very soon on the hill I realised I'd misjudged the weather and it was going to be hot: luckily the t-shirt is designed to maximse breathability and I was also in shorts. By the start of the ridge it was cloudy, but once over Striding Edge the cloud disappeared and we were sweltering. We carried on and did a bit of a circuit from the summit over to Fairfield and St Sunday and then back to Patterdale. Whilst it was a very sweaty day the T shirt coped well, with its extra-breathable 'body mapped' mesh panels at the points you need them most. It was only wet where I'd worn my running sack and it remained comfortable throughout the day - and importantly it wasn't stinky even after five hours of so of sweating in it, so it gets a big thumbs up.

Alpkit say: Lightweight, high wicking technical baselayer with zoned fabric for fast moving activities.

  • Fabric: 100% polyester
  • Weight: 85g (size 8)
  • Moisture wicking, fast drying
  • Body mapped mesh panels
  • Discrete rear card/ key pocket
  • Flatlock seams
  • Reflective logos

Sizes: Women's 8-14 Men's S-XXL

For more info see:

Koulin Trail Tee prod shot, 122 kb

On Striding Edge in the Koulin Trail Tee, 153 kb
On Striding Edge in the Koulin Trail Tee
© Bridget Glaister collection

Arro Windshell £32

Arro windshell, 160 kb

Arro 2, 102 kb

I was then at a local midweek fell race "Aggi's Staircase" which goes up Darwin Tower near Blackburn. Just whilst registering I popped on the windshell to keep warm and I had to fight my running buddy Maria off it, she liked it that much! It scrunches up so small so I started putting it in my sack on longer runs "just in case" and then got to use it properly when I was again on a recci run for the Lakes Sky Ultra, this time on my first ascent of Pinnacle Ridge, St Sunday Crag. I had the blue T shirt on underneath because by then I was reaching for it as T shirt of choice for the long runs and the windproof complimented it well and let's face it, the colour was great for photos! The windshell is of a basic design with a well-fitting collar so nothing to annoy you with bits sticking in anywhere and importantly it doesn't rustle when you run in it. There's a pocket round the back towards the hem which also acts as a stuff sack for it. I think the pocket would be useful if you are cycling but otherwise heavy contents might jiggle about a bit and annoy you; I've used it for gloves a bit. I've also worn the windproof on a multi pitch route on Bosigran, Cornwall and it fitted under the harness just fine. I like the simple elastic cuffs that allow you to get to your watch easily, the front zip works well and the bit of reflective trim is always a good thing. It wicks well too. I've also worn it on the recent Tour of Pendle race in pretty Baltic conditions for November. During the first three hours I endured a sub zero blizzard so I can vouch for the water repellence even though I've put it through the wash every time I've worn it.

Alpkit say: Lightweight, packable and windproof, Arro is a jacket conceived for hard use with a soft touch, non-rustle fabric, anatomically cut for mobility, with classic styling that shows you are in great shape. Run like the wind rather than get blown about by the wind.

  • Fabric: 100% nylon windstop
  • Weight: 113g (size 8)
  • Full length YKK zip with reflective trim
  • Neat fitting collar
  • Lycra bound cuffs
  • Slim fit for minimal fabric flapping
  • Rear zipped pocket which doubles as stuff sack, with dual function hanging and carrying tape loop inside
  • Adjustable hem drawcord
  • Windproof
  • DWR for water repellency
  • Lightweight and packable

Sizes: Women's 8-14 Men's S-XXL

For more info see:

Arro windshirt prod shot, 112 kb

Koulin Trail Vest £12

Koulin vest, 108 kb

Koulin vest 2, 101 kb

So what about the running vest? Well whist I'm not someone with much luck with the weather, when the morning of my Ultra dawned in July it was clear it was going to be a warm one and despite me planning on being out around 12 hours, the vest was looking like all I'd need, and I didn't regret the choice. Again I had the running sack over the top so my back was always going to be wet but I was comfy and it felt good, in fact if Alpkit would offer to do these as my club vest I'd gladly swap to them as it's got a much comfier fit, nicer seems and much better technical wicking and smelling fabric. It fits so closely to your body that I've since worn it under the T shirt as an extra layer for core warmth and that worked well.

The race itself was a brilliant course, 33 miles, 4500 meters ascent with technical bits so you need to know you can rely on your kit. I was pleased to come in easily under 12 hours having really enjoyed the day. I've also tested the vest out locally with no running sack and it kept my whole upper body dry. The back has an aerated material for better wicking, which helps, and the T shirt has a different is similar with aeriated body panels.

Alpkit say: Womens technical baselayer vest with excellent moisture wicking properties, fast drying with handy key pocket and flat locked seams for comfort

  • Fabric: 100% polyester
  • Weight: 70g (size 8)
  • Moisture wicking, fast drying
  • Body mapped mesh panels
  • Discrete rear card/ key pocket
  • Flatlock seams
  • Reflective logos

Sizes: 8-14

For more info see:

Koulin Trail Vest prod shot, 89 kb

Koulin Trail Tights £19

Koulin tights, 193 kb

Koulin tights 2, 150 kb

Luckily for us sporty types it was a warm summer and so I've only started to wear the running tights now it's gone colder. The feel of the material is quite slinky to the point I keep mentioning it to my friends whilst running! They have a handy gel sized pocket on the side of each thigh plus a small amount of reflective trim near the useful ankle zip. They have sometimes slipped down my hips a bit and so doing up the drawstring is necessary. My only wish is that they had more reflective bits because I'm likely to use them on the colder night time runs more than other times.

Alpkit say: Womens technical trail leggings with excellent wicking and breathability; well thought out functional features makes these the complete tights

  • Fabric: 90% polyester, 10% spandex
  • Weight: 195g (size 8)
  • Breathable and insulating
  • Moisture wicking
  • Excellent stretch and recovery
  • Deep flattering waistband with drawcord
  • Body mapped mesh panels
  • Rear zipped pocket
  • Discrete thigh stash pockets
  • Lower leg zip
  • Reflective logo and trim

Sizes Women's: 8-14 Men's: S-XXL

For more info see:

Alpkit Koulin trail tights prod shot, 53 kb


It looks like Alpkit have done it again! For a very good price you can kit yourself out in a full outfit for running that can withstand a right beating. Then it washes well and comes out still looking good and smelling fresh. I've since been back on their website to have a look at what else is on offer. This precise bundle deal is no longer available on those items but they can still be bought separately, and it's still a good price. All bar the vest are also available in men's versions, so there's something here for every runner.

  • A current bundle deal covering very similar items is the Fast and Light Trail Clothing Pack - available either for Women or for Men (£75 - a bit of a bargain!)

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