Published on November 5, 2015
Winter Running Tops
Want to stay warmer on the run this winter? RunningMonkey takes a look at some of the latest winter running tops.
Tribesports Half-Zip Mid Layer
Tribesports certainly have a loyal following and it’s easy to see why as this young, but steadily growing company continues to produce solid apparel, which performs well and lasts the distance. This half-zip mid, available in men’s and women’s, perhaps isn’t the most aesthetically exciting top out there but it’s the kind of layer that could easily become the cornerstone of your winter training. If you opt to wear it alone the fabric is soft against the skin and breathes and wicks admirably with additional ventilation achieved with a little zip action – the zipper has a little ‘neck garage’ too, always a nice touch.
There’s a small key pocket to the rear, the sleeves are raglan cut for comfort and the seams are well finished and flatlocked; the fit is snug and it moves well against the body with a 92% nylon, 8% elastane mix. The sleeves are cut long, never a bad thing in a winter top, but do seem slightly excessive and the men’s version lacks thumb loops, which would have added validity to the design (oddly women get thumb loops though, go figure…) Despite being advertise as offering 360degree reflectivity this actually amounts to two small logos, one on the chest, one on the arm; bare minimum and an interesting definition of 360degrees, but better than nothing.
Retailing at £52 the Tribesports Half-Zip Mid Layer has black, grey, red and blue options in men’s and black, grey, coral and turquoise in women’s.
Further details at tribesports.com
Iffley Road Long Sleeved Half-Zip
You may want to take a deep breath before looking at the price of this winter wonder from Iffley Road. Ready? £110 – the kind of money you might think twice about shelling out on a new pair of shoes, but if you’re looking for premium quality this long-sleeve option could be a good investment. Made from 100% merino wool, which despite expectations isn’t the least itchy against the skin, and the more generous cut than the Half-Zip Tee alternative means that it can also be worn as a mid-layer on colder runs. It wicks and dries amazingly quickly and the curved back hem is both aesthetically pleasing and practical for winter workouts.
There’s a discreet valuables pocket big enough for keys (or perhaps a credit card in case you want to buy more Iffley Road apparel) and a subtle logo on the chest. Thumb-slits on the generous and comfortable cuffs stop the sleeves riding up and there’s the signature tri-stripe hanging loop at the rear so you won’t bag the hell out of it when you hang it up. There’s no reflective detailing anywhere, so take care on low-light runs.
Is it necessary to spend £110 on a running top? No, of course not, but it’s not necessary to own a Porsche. Nice though…
Available in ‘Midnight Black’ and ‘Damson’, further details at iffleyroad.com
New Balance Beacon Half Zip
From the Iffley Road top with zero attention to reflectives to the New Balance Beacon, which positively – and literally – glows. ‘Charge’ the Beacon Half Zip for as little as ten minutes under direct light and the glow-in-the-dark material, incorporated right in the yarn, will illuminate you on the darkest of winter runs. This could sound gimmicky, but it’s actually a massively practical approach to run safety (so long as you don’t mind looking a little bit Tron during your workout.) For added safety there are also reflective patches.
Even without the ‘glowability’, the Beacon is still an excellent winter running top. The 96% Polyester and 4% Spandex mix feels good and moves and breathes well, it wicks quickly when things heat up and you can, of course, unzip for further ventilation (like the Tribesports Mid Layer the Beacon has a neat ‘zip garage’ for added comfort.)
Thumb loops keep the arms in place and the hands that little bit warmer, the curved rear hem sits well and there’s a small pocket for keys, etc. Only available in what New Balance call Harbour Blue Heather – we’d call it grey – but that’s only until it starts glowing green of course…
£70 buys you a lot of safety peace of mind and a solid winter running top too. Full details at newbalance.co.uk
New Balance Windblocker Jacket
Staying with New Balance their Windblocker Jacket really steps things up a whole other level if you’re determined not to let even the foulest of winter weather stop your run. The three-layer knit fabric blocks the wind really effectively whilst the thermal layer keeps you warm and snug – if all that sounds like you could end up too toasty the Windblocker actually vents impressively (or you could of course just unzip it.)
The cuffs are an usual affair – a kind of double cuff / hand gator set up – with thumb loops covered by an outer layer that can be folded up when not required. It seems like overkill, but actually works incredibly well in practice. There’s a good sized pocket at either side and the amount of reflective detailing – numerous strips and logos, plus a huge swathe down the back and more on the cuffs – really impressed us. This is a comfortable winter running jacket that effortlessly stops the wind from cutting through, largely holds off moderate rain and comprehensively deals with low-light running safety.
Retailing at £95.00 with further details at newbalance.co.uk
Inov-8 RACE ELITE HOODIE LSZ
They’re tough those trail and mountain runners, so no need for reflectivity on this ninja-black mid layer from inov-8. This is minimalist merino apparel at its best – regulating temperature, breathing well and, with a 4% Lycra addition, fitting and moving excellently too. It’s the kind of running top that just quietly gets on with its job while you get on with the run.
The hoodie element adds some versatility to the top (and keeps your head and earls warm) and the thumb-looped cuffs have a neat trick in store as the ends fold back on themselves to form inbuilt mitts. Perhaps those trail runners aren’t so tough after all…
Seriously a little reflectivity does go a long way on a winter running top, but that aside the RACE ELITE HOODIE LSZ really does stack up and has quickly become a RunningMonkey favourite.
Ronhill Merino 200 Half Zip
At just £65 the Ronhill Merino 200 Half Zip is a relative bargain. Of course you’re not going to get 100% merino at this price but rather a 50/50 split with polyester, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this isn’t a pretty serious winter running solution.
The fabric split works hard at both regulating temperature and keeping wicking high and those with more sensitive skin who still want the merino magic at their disposal may appreciate the difference that a synthetic mix brings. Overall comfort is good with flatlock seams, a good basic fit and thumb loops to keep the arm cuffs where they are supposed to be. There’s a reflective dart to the rear, plus reflective detailing on the chest and sleeve, not exactly overkill but it does the trick.
The Ronhill Merino 200 Half Zip is available in grey or red for men and magenta or cornflower blue for women. Full details at ronhill.com
Falke Zip Shirt Performance
Like Iffley Road Falke could probably best be described as ‘reassuringly expensive.’ But that said we’ve never found fault with any of their products and have always been impressed by both form and function – the Zip Shirt Performance is no exception and a superb choice for seeing you right through the winter months.
The material – 89% Nylon, 6% Elastane, 5% Polypropylene – is highly elastic and initially feels a little odd to the touch, but once on you’ll appreciate the gentle hug it gives you. The aesthetic has a hint of Star Trek TNG about it and it lacks the niceties of some of the other tops we’ve covered (no thumb loops, no pockets) but there’s some reflective detailing both front and back and a helpful ‘L’ and ‘R’ on the arms in case you’re in the habit of putting your running apparel on back to front.
The Falke Zip Shirt Performance comes in a dark ‘brick’ red and black combo with full details and online purchase at falke.com
Falke Vest Insulation Comfort
Finally and also from Falke comes the Vest Insulation Comfort (RunningMonkey loves the way Falke throws words together with no regard for order to form their product names.) A good body-warmer or ‘puffy’ should be in every runner’s bag of tricks and this one’s great quality – as it should be at £140.00.
The main body is wind and water resistant, whilst the stretch fabric back and side seams deliver good ventilation. Deep, zipped pockets on both sides provide ample storage and in addition to reflective logo and detailing to the front and back there are subtle dayglo details running down the side vent too.
The Falke Vest Insulation Comfort is available on black and dark blue or, for those who might want to coordinate with the matching Zip Shirt Performance, ‘brick’ red.
Further details and online purchase at falke.com