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?
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
– Vented back
– DWR finish
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.
Sean Kiffe is a Runner’s Edge Ambassador for the 2018/19 season. He is very visible around town as he runs just about every Runner’s Edge race and Run Wild Missoula event each year. We asked him to review the Smartwool Mammoth T-shirt and talk about the benefits of wearing wool. You can also follow Sean’s adventures on instagram@seankiffe.
At first glance the Smartwool Mobile Mammoth t-shirt appears to be just a shirt with a clever graphic. This of course appealed to my inner child, having dug countless holes in various backyards and parks hoping to unearth a wooly mammoth or dinosaur skeleton. Furthermore, what kid, or adult for that matter, would not be ecstatic about the idea of having their very own Mammoth that doubled as an enviro-friendly, Paleo-RV? Once on, the shirt easily ranked as one of the most comfortable t-shirts I own, if not the most. Any prejudice one has toward wool being itchy and skratchy is quickly dispelled by this garment. The shirt fabric is light and extremely soft to the touch. I slipped this on after a chilly fall run and was instantly comforted by the warm and bulk-less shirt.
Properties of wool
The use of wool in clothing fabric dates back as far as 10,000 B.C. Wool used to be the industry standard when it came to anything outdoors. The earliest explorers donned wool garments as they pioneered through the uncharted wildernesses of our world. From Shackelton in his heavy wool gabardine icebound in Antarctica, to Hillary on the summit of Everest, wool was the explorer´s choice. Of course, the traditional wool garments were heavy and bulky. The advent of modern synthetics in the 20th century removed wool from center stage providing the consumer with a bevy of choices. However, the wool products of today are neither bulky, nor heavy as refinements in textile production and technology have helped to produce some remarkable products.
Unlike other non-synthetic fibers used in clothing, wool harbors some unique properties. These set wool apart from cotton and other natural fiber.
➢ Wool is extremely good at wicking moisture. The unique physical structure of the fabric
allows it to hold warmth even when it is wet. The coil-like structure does not matt down
➢ Wool fabric is naturally antimicrobial and antibacterial (due to the lanolin found in it).
Therefore, it does not require the harsh chemical treatments that some modern fabrics
➢ Wool is a renewable resource. In this age of petroleum based hi-tech fabrics, it's nice to
know that wool is sustainable and easy on the environment.
➢ Wool fabrics stand the test of time. While a wool garment might initially be a bit more
expensive, it´s durability and longevity pay off in the long run. Wool´s longevity far
outlasts that of cotton, silk and rayon.
➢ As an added bonus wool is naturally UV resistant and somewhat fire resistant.
Smartwool uses Merino wool which is obtained from a specific breed of sheep. The Merino sheep were originally found in Spain but are now bred all over the world. Merino wool has a finer, softer feel to it, and it has been prized for its superior texture since the 1700´s. The tight crimp of Merino wool is what makes it so fine and supple. In the world of wool, the finer the crimp the pricier the wool, such as Cashmere. The fine nature of Merino does make it less durable than other wool types, but it makes up for that in comfort. Some companies are using
Merino/synthetic hybrid fabrics to increase the durability of their products. While it is possible that early Bronze age inhabitants might have used mammoth wool for warmth, I think it reasonable to assume that Merino wool is much more comfortable.
Smartwool has been around for 20+ years, most notably for their socks. From hiking, to skiing to running to everyday wear the Smartwool name has become synonymous with quality. Their shirts and other garments are no exception to this. The Mobile Mammoth T-shirt is light and refined. The soft weave of the Merino wool make it a comfortable choice for running, backpacking, kicking back at home, or getting a burger with friends after a day of adventure. Make no mistake, this is not your great grandpa´s WWII era, inch thick heavy wool garment. As a casual t-shirt this product rises above others. I look forward to exploring more of Smartwool´s range of products in the future. There definitely more to this company that just socks.
Sean Kiffe is a Runner’s Edge Ambassador for the 2018/19 season. He is very visible around town as he runs just about every Runner’s Edge race and Run Wild Missoula event each year. We asked him to review the uCool Towel, and you can find his thoughts below. You can also follow Sean’s adventures on instagram@seankiffe.
When I was asked to review the uCool Ultra Cooling Towel I was initially a little doubtful. The concept seemed a like a gimmick marketed to the zealous gearhead who had to have everything in their arsenal. A little research revealed that the technology has been around for a while and that there are multiple brand options out there. So there must be something to it, right? Ever the skeptic I had to see for myself. As they say, the proof’s in the pudding.
The science of the uCool Ultra Cooling Towel and other similar brands is pretty simple. The concept is called adiabatic cooling, or evaporative cooling. In a nutshell, water takes energy to evaporate. Cold water takes more energy than hot water does. Putting a cold wet towel on your head or your neck uses the heat energy from your exercising body to help the water evaporate from the towel and thus drawing the heat away from your body. The concept is nothing new and does work. The question that remains is does the towel hold up to its claim of achieving this effect longer than a standard towel and achieving a 30 degree fahrenheit cooler surface temp.
I used this towel on two separate runs. The first run that I did was a 14 mile run from Missoula up into the Rattlesnake Recreation Area. While it wasn’t a crazy hot day, the temperature was in the high 80’s by mid-run. At mile 8 I stopped near the creek and soaked it for a minute, wrung it
out and snapped it (per the instructions). Wrapped around my neck the towels cooling effect was noticeable right away. The towel was comfortable and I barely noticed that I was wearing it. I checked back on it by hand about every 10 minutes to evaluate its coolness. The towel held up to it’s cooling promise for a good 30 minutes but after that I could no longer feel the coolness of the towel. However, the overall impact of cooling my body temperature was noticeable, and the last couple miles of the run felt great. While I lacked the technology to see if my body surface temp was 30 degrees cooler where the towel was applied, it was without a doubt cooler. *the small silver tag allows you to lace the opposite end through and securely fasten the towel. Makes a great ascot if that’s your thing!
The second test run was conducted in Wisconsin while visiting family. On a 20 mile run on a very humid day I pulled the towel out at mile 13 when I passed a city park. I soaked the towel in the sink and applied it in the same fashion. Of course, the towel felt cold to the touch initially, which felt nice. However, there was one significant difference. The cooling effect didn’t seem to be there. The towel warmed up but failed to move the heat from my body. This made sense to me. The humid day limited the evaporative potential for the towel to move heat away from the body due to the high amount of water vapor already in the air. So while the cold felt good the towel was not wicking the heat from my body as fast as before.
*could be worn as a dew rag if that’s how you roll…good for hot headed people!
❖ The uCool Ultra Cooling Towel is well constructed. The fabric is durable and super
lightweight and far less bulky than a standard towel. It was easy to fit in may waist pack,
vest or the side pocket of my shorts.
❖ On a hot day and a long run a cold towel is a welcomed asset and the cooling effects
might be the difference between quitting early or pushing a few extra miles.
❖ At $14.99 this towel is not going to break the bank.
❖ The cooling effect, in my opinion, does not last as long as I would have liked it to.
❖ Does not perform well in humid conditions.
The uCool Ultra Cooling Towel is an affordable and useful tool for managing heat on long runs in dry conditions. The technology works as promised just not for as long as one would like it to. While a damp dish rag might achieve the same cooling affect, the uCool Ultra Cooling Towel’s packable size, durable fabric and anti-odor technology make it a much better choice. I could see using this towel in a variety of situations from distance running, backpacking or even hot yoga.
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