For most of the year we are stuck pacing the same circuits round local parks, roads and footpaths. So the summer is an opportunity for the keen runner to explore new routes in uncharted territory. As temperatures rise and days grow longer many take to the trails to race across open fields, up steep mountain paths and through forgotten forests.
However finding the right kit is often a challenge. Garments must be ultra lightweight, hardwearing and quick drying. Nobody wants to be stuck with a pair of soggy shorts or a t-shirt that begins to fray on the first day.
We took some of the latest gear for women to the French trails to put to the test.
Odlo EBE running tights
I must admit I have rather puritan tastes when it comes to running gear. Anything that keeps me cool and comfortable will suffice. As a result I was initially hesitant about Odlo’s running leggings. They look fantastic so my immediate reaction was that they must be uncomfortable or impractical; in fact I searched for design flaws to support my assumption.
However these leggings proved apt for road and trail running. They kept my legs cold at higher altitude when the temperature dropped and were thin enough to keep air circulating when it was hotter. Though for anybody who gets hot quickly, I would not wear these at temperatures over 15OC.
They were also quick drying and within 15 minutes of being soaked by a thunderstorm most of the moisture had evaporated.
Their reversibility makes them quite fun as well. Each side has a different design, like two pairs of leggings for the price of one. However the Odlo logo is imprinted on both sides and becomes rather itchy when sweating.
Verdict: They look great and are extremely comfortable; good choice for cooler temperatures.
The North Face Women’s NSR wind Jacket
Weighing just 89.6g this is one of the lightest jackets I have ever used for running. It was also incredibly compact and took up minimal space in my bag. It was comfortable throughout my run and proved breathable. Despite my initial reservations about the colour, the bright green also came in useful in reduced visibility at the end of the day. (The jacket is also available in white)
Verdict: Incredibly light weight and packs down to almost no size at all!
Inov-8 Terra Claw 250 (Standard Fit)
The flexible structure of these shoes makes them apt for the trails and they proved great when running over uneven ground. The wide toe box allows the foot to spread out in its natural position. However, if like me you have narrow feet this can make the shoes slightly loose.
The lightweight outer material makes this trainer a perfect choice for hotter conditions. Where similar products have often caused my feet to sweat uncomfortably, the Innov-8’s kept me cooler for longer
Verdict: Flexibility provides lots of room for movement; however those with narrower feet may want to look for something with a tighter fit.
Odlo Yotta running tank
This top’s design appears rather odd at first. It has a slightly open back which took me a while to accustom myself with. However this feature makes it highly breathable and perfect for high temperature conditions; in fact it has become one of my favourite items of clothing!
It is extremely lightweight and allows for free movement while running. It is also incredibly quick drying
The orange colour is perhaps brighter than I would usually choose but like the NSR wind jacket it helped me stay visible in dimmer light.
Verdict: Good choice for hot temperatures and quick drying makes it perfect for travelling.
Osprey Rev 1.5 Backpack
I have used this pack whilst running for a long time now and it has become a treasured possession. At first £60 for a rucksack seemed quite steep to me, however it has been worth every penny. The combination of mesh and bungee materials makes it extremely stretchy and as a result the pack fits an astonishing quantity of stuff inside.
It sits comfortably on the upper back, with two chest straps securing it firmly to prevent movement. As a result there is no need for an additional lower strap, which makes this pack more comfortable than many other pack styles available.
Osprey’s pack has all the features necessary for trail running. The smaller front pocket is easily accessible and there are two pockets on the straps for storage. One flip up pocket is designed for GPS or mobile devices.
There is also a 1.5L hydraulic reservoir which can be installed or removed easily.
Verdict: Perfect pack for longer and shorter running routes with extensive storage capacity.