Amelia is one of our RE ambassadors for 2018/19. She is very active in the community and is one of the makers of the maps we all know and love, Cairn Cartography! We have some awesome New Balance apparel so we asked Amelia to review the Anticipate Half-zip. See her thoughts below! You can also follow her adventures on instagram @cairncarto, as well as on facebook.

A good half-zip top is an essential piece in a winter running wardrobe, but not all half-zips are created equal. I’ve owned my fair share of versions where the sleeves weren’t long enough, or the zipper made an annoying clink through my entire run, or a scratchy seam on the back of my neck made it hard to focus on a run. This month I tried out the “Novelty Anticipate” half-zip from New Balance, which is one of the best running shirts I’ve ever worn.

The first thing I noticed about this top was how soft it is! The material feels amazing on your skin. And I think the stripes are pretty sharp. As someone who doesn’t always keep my running clothes separate from my everyday clothes I appreciate that this top looks and feels just as good with jeans as it does with running tights.

The fit is relaxed. It fits a little longer on me which I really like, to avoid cold drafts on my lower back this time of year. The sleeves have plenty of length and thumbholes to keep my wrists warm. It’s roomy but not bulky and fits under other layers comfortably. It’s a bonus that the material feels super soft when you use the sleeve to wipe your nose, and it dries fast so you don’t end up with a big soggy spot on your wrist (you know what I’m talking about).

Not only is the material really soft, it stays comfortable and manages temperature fluctuations really well. I’m a person who runs cold when I’m not running, and then heats up into a sweaty mess about fifteen minutes into every run, no matter what I wear. I’ve used this top layered over a tank top or layered under a wind shell and this last week I’ve even worn it layered under an insulated running jacket and it stays comfortable through it all.

Finally, this top has well thought out details that were obviously designed with runners in mind. There is some reflective accents for visibility during those inevitable runs in the dark. The zipper locks down and stays put. There are mesh panels that look stylish and help with temperature management and there is a small pocket that sits right on my hip that is big enough for a key or a gel.

This top would make a great gift for a runner on your list this holiday season, or for yourself to help motivate to get out on these frigid days. Happy Running!

Craft Fuseknit Comfort Long Sleeve Base Layer

Lee Macholz is one of our 2018/2019 RErun ambassadors. She is a stud! After work and family time, she still manages to volunteer and/or run many events through Runners Edge and Run Wild Missoula. We asked her to review the Craft long sleeve and talk about the importance of baselayers in the winter. Here are her thoughts below…

Fit: The Craft Fuseknit Comfort Base Layer fits me very well. I have a long torso and long arms and many women’s shirts that fit me in the torso are too short in the sleeves. The trend in adding extra length to sleeves to include thumb holes and cover the hands has been hit-and-miss for me as most mean that the sleeves are comfortable but the holes are useless. This Craft base layer, however, is great in that I can comfortably wear it with my thumbs through the holes and cover part of my hands! I love this because my hands are perpetually cold. The body of the shirt is seamless and fits close to my body but is not skin-tight. It is very comfortable because there are no seams through the arms to have to twist to just the right place to avoid rubbing and chafing. This also means it is super comfortable layered under another shirt or close-fitting jacket. When layering, it almost feels like it disappears – no bunching or twisting or chafing. It is just long enough to tuck into my cold weather pants. My only complaint is that when worn
with tights and a running waist belt, the fabric is a little slick and the bottom hem rides up a little; but not any more than most other shirts. Also, I like that it does not have a hood attached.
Function: A good base layer is super important as we move through the unpredictability of fall weather and on to colder winter temperatures. A quality fabric is important because let’s face it, we’re a sweaty bunch of people! A base layer acts as insulation in the cold, helping to regulate your body temperature by wicking away moisture. Many people like wool base layers for their ability to keep you warm and dry but I am allergic to wool and so I rely on the magic of today’s performance fabrics. I like this Craft Fuseknit because it not only fits me well for a base layer but the fabric really works to move sweat away from my skin so that I don’t get wet and cold.
Performance: You can wear the Craft Fuseknit in a range of temperatures depending on your layering. As the weather started to cool down this fall, just the shirt on it’s own was good as long as the wind didn’t pick up. With a little wind and cooler temperatures, I added a wind-stopper jacket and it kept me warm but not too hot. As the winter temperatures start to drop, I plan to wear the Craft Fuseknit under a warmer running coat or a quarter-zip and I’m confident that it’ll be just right.
Bottom Line: Overall, I have been pretty impressed with the Craft brand. It is nice to have another brand choice for quality running gear. Craft seems to be a slightly lower price point than some of the other name running brands, which I appreciate. I have several Craft items and so far the quality has really held up to my active lifestyle between running, hiking, cross-training, and kids. If you are active through the fall, winter and spring in Montana, you definitely need a good base layer. I would recommend the Craft Fuseknit Comfort Long Sleeve!

Amelia is one of our RE ambassadors for 2018/19. She is very active in the community and is one of the makers of the maps we all know and love, Cairn Cartography! We began carrying the popular brand, Darn Tough, and we wanted Amelia to share her thoughts on the wool socks made in Vermont. You can also follow her adventures on instagram @cairncarto, as well as on facebook.

Darn Tough Vertex ¼ Sock Review

The week before every big race I do, I find my way down to Runner’s Edge and pick out a brand new pair of socks to wear on race day. I usually buy something I’ve worn before so I’m not trying something new on race day, but having new socks to put on gets me excited to run hard and feels like a nice gift to my feet for all the hard work they have put in leading up to race day.

I started to write that I’m not particularly picky about which socks I choose for my race-day present, but I realized that’s not true. I am pretty particular about my socks. I like them to be wool, or mostly wool, I like short no-show socks unless it’s brushy or snowy and then I like some of my ankle covered. I like my socks pretty thin, and I really dislike toe socks. Finally, I try to buy all my gear from companies with a conscience. All that means I was pretty excited to review both the light and ultra light version of the Darn Tough Vertex ¼ socks this month!

My first impression when I took the socks out of their packaging was that they were really soft and super cute. The days of a pack of 10 all-white cotton crew socks are long gone, and it takes some good design for socks to stand out on the wall in today’s market. These come in cheerful color options that I really like.

Darn Tough is a family owned business based in Vermont, close the where I grew up, and they still make all their socks at their mill in Northfield, Vermont. They offer a lifetime guarantee, on socks, and pride themselves on products that are built to last.

I have a confession to make: I love the idea behind Darn Tough but until recently I really didn’t like Darn Tough socks. They use a higher percentage of nylon than other wool sock brands which makes their socks much more durable, but it also makes some of their thicker hiking socks feel really thick and unbreathable. For years I’ve gotten a pair of their heavy-weight hiking socks every year for Christmas, and every time I wear them my shoes feel too tight and my feet end up a sweaty clammy mess.

In the last few years I’ve started coming around, and after trying these ¼ socks I’m a big fan. I’ve spent a lot of time running with wet feet lately and the ¼ sock height is perfect for cold, muddy, slushy conditions, and even when my feet are soaked they feel warm and comfortable. Another issue I’ve had with Darn Tough socks in the past is the ankle feeling too tight, but these feel soft and comfortable without being so loose they fall down. I didn’t have any issues with bunching or falling down or slipping or any other problems with the way they fit. Mostly I forgot I was even wearing them until I went to take them off and realized my feet were much wetter than I realized, which is a good sign I think. I’ve been known to get holes in the toes of my socks after just a few wears but these, like all Darn Toughs are built to last.

I highly recommend you try these out if you are looking for some new socks to add to your drawer. Especially if you haven’t always loved Darn Tough socks in the past. Thanks for reading!

Cory Soulliard is a Runner’s Edge Ambassador for the 2018/19 season. You can usually find him volunteering or running at almost all of our Runners Edge events! We asked him to review a jacket from a cool company, Cotopaxi, and his thoughts are below… You can follow his adventures with his pup on intagram @corysoulliard.

Fall is here. The mountains are dusted in snow, the mornings are frosty, and the views are amazing. It’s that great time of year when I want to be out on the trails as much as possible before they are covered in snow. A well timed run means I can still enjoy shorts and a t-shirt but heading back one of the the canyons in the bitterroot means I should not go without an extra layer. Do I take a layer for warmth? To stop the wind? To shelter me from the surprise
rain or snow? How about one that will take on all of those roles?

Quick notes:
Pros                                    Cons                                              Notes
– Light (4.6oz)                   – Pockets do not zipper                  – Bright, bold colors
– Packable                          – Elastic waist does not                  – Half-zip available
– Hood                                   cinch
– Collar protects neck
when zipped
– Vented back
– DWR finish
– Quiet

The Cotopaxi Teca jacket will only take up a little more space than a tennis ball and weighs a scant 4.6 oz so there are few reasons to bring it with you. I was able to shed the wind at the top of Trapper Peak and fend off a light rain around Lake Como while just wearing a light t-shirt underneath. Trapper was a classic fall trip that starts warm from the car but without some protection at the top there would be no way I could hang out and enjoy the view. My Teca jacket was basically nonexistent on the hike up but ready when I needed it at 10,157ft. The run around Lake Como started cool and damp so the jacket was in for a more thorough test.

The first thing I was noticing about the jacket was the noise. Many light jackets are more disruptive but I quickly realized that it was just the hood that I was hearing. The hood was not needed on this run so I tucked it in the collar and ran in almost silence. After a couple miles in 38 degree weather I started to heat up. There is an inch wide strip that runs the width of the back to ventilate while on the go and when I started overheating I just lowered the zipper a few inches to let some extra air in and ran on in comfort. Although the rain was minimal the DWR finish did keep me dry despite the efforts of all of the low hanging branches that were saving up their water for my passing. My legs and my socks did not remain so dry.

At 5’10” and roughly 140 lbs I decided on the men’s medium and I would say the fit is about right. The body is large enough I will be able to add a warm layer and wear this jacket through the winter but not so large that I feel like I am wearing a parachute. The sleeves are plenty long
so the elastic cuffs can actually meet my gloves. If needed the collar covers your neck when zipped up and the hood will wrap around your head to keep the heat in. My wife may have stolen the jacket for an early morning run and she approved of it. Although a size down would have been better fitting I get the impression that I might notice it missing again in the future.

Now I must be honest, I dress for function, not fashion. I would expect this Teca jacket to be worn by a stylish runner slipping through the crowds of NYC or on the cover of some running magazine instead of on minimally maintained trails. I don’t think I would have purchased the jacket because the 1990 style, bright, block coloring might be too bold for me. After wearing it a couple times I don’t feel as self-conscious as I expected. In fact on the dull grey days I think I like the addition of color to my world. As with all ultralight jackets I hope it can withstand the abuse on the trail. A recent run up Bear Creek Canyon did push the limits of the DWR as I was continually slapped with branches full of the previous night’s wet snow. Although I am not sure I stayed dry, I would say I was able to stay comfortable for the 2 hour adventure.

Anyone growing up in the late 80s-early 90s may feel right at home with the styling. Many companies tried their hand including The North Face seen here. If you miss the kangaroo pouch pocket be sure to check out the half-zip Teca. You will have plenty of room to bring along your sandwich, walkman, and a few slap bracelets for your friends.