Scott Running Apparel Test

©copyright .iancorless.com._1010719New apparel can really give your running mojo a boost. I have never known it not to work…  I think deep down we always like new kit to try out or new kit to give our running a boost. Running is a simple sport, you need a pair of shoes, socks, shorts (or skort) and away you go. Never quite works out like that though does it. New products arrive in the market place all the time; new colour ways, re designs, new cuts and completely new products.

Scott Sports are well established in the bike, winter sports and outdoor sector but less so in running. That is until recently. With some high level athlete sponsorship and a new range of products, the brand goes from strength to strength.

I have used and ‘loved’ the Scott T2 Kinabalu trail show for some time now (read my review here) and I used the eRide Grip 2 almost exclusively over Winter months and on the Transvulcania La Palma course in December 2012 (review here).

In March 2013 I received some of the new apparel range from Scott and I have been testing these products for a while now on local trails and when travelling. They have several ranges of clothing that crossover and coordinate with each other extremely well. However, Scott also have two distinct groups:

The Performance range (in my opinion) is geared towards road running and potential triathlon markets, whereas the Outdoor & Trail is far more ‘ultra’ specific or ideal for any general running. Outdoor & Trail has two distinct looks; the AMT range which is colourful, light and boasts some innovative fabrics and the more conventional and understated. For this review I am looking at the more conventional and understated.

  • Scott Windbreaker AMT
  • Scott Sardar long sleeve with 1/2 zip
  • Scott Crestone crew
  • Scott Somerset short
  • Scott T2 Kinabalu shoes
  • Accessory – Scott Race cap

Scott Apparel2It’s not often that you get to try out new kit and run with the brands main athlete (or at least one of the main athletes) but that is what happened in La Palma. Just a couple of days after Sage Canaday secured a stunning third place behind Kilian Jornet and Luis Alberto Hernando at the 2013 edition of the Transvulcania La Palma, we went out on the trails for a ‘play’ and a little sight seeing.

Sage Canaday 3rd place Transvulcania 2013

Sage Canaday 3rd place Transvulcania 2013

The CLOTHING

Crestone Crew

You may think at first touch that this garment is a ‘compression’ piece of clothing. It has a slightly ‘heavier’ feel to the fabric and panels on the back, front and under the arms look as though they would ‘compress’. Not so. The fit is ‘athletic’, so in real terms it is cut to the shape of your buddy but it does not fit really tight. It has just the right amount of freedom. I have to say that really ‘tight’ garments now don’t appeal to me. An element of loose fabric is nice. The ‘panels’ on the front, back and underarms allow key areas to release heat and sweat and they work extremely well.

Scott have used a fabric (Polyamide)  in conjunction with (Elastane) that provides an ‘elasticity’ to it. The garment stretches and adapts to body movement without pulling. Treated with Chitosante the fabric is odor resistant and I have to say that from repeated use and washing, the garment has retained no lasting door. Weighing in at 180g for a mens medium the Crestone is a real pleasure to wear and has become a great day-to-day product. Looks are understated with a simple one tone colour, a small logo in the middle of the chest and the word ‘Scott’ at the bottom front of the garment on the left hand side.

Sizing – I personally feel that the whole Scott Apparel range sizes a little small. I am a 38″ chest and would normally choose ‘small’, however, I have found that ‘medium’ is best across the board. In particular, the ‘elastic’ nature of the Crestone does mean that this garment will have a tighter fit in comparison to a ‘loose’ tee top such as the AMT s/s. It comes down to personal choice.

Crestone

Somerset Short

These shorts are long (9.5″ seam) and loose with three pockets. They are ideal for training runs and long days out providing no rubbing or irritation. The waist band is extremely comfortable and has a simple drawstring to adjust tension.

Branded with the Scott logo on the right hand leg, the shorts are simple and understated. They have a ‘V’ cut into the seam to allow some additional leg freedom and this works extremely well, particularly when climbing or stepping up.

Two side pockets are generous and will easily hold a mobile phone, camera or equally chunky item. On the rear in the middle and at the top is a zippered pocket that will hold keys or any other valuable item.

The inner brief is short and comfortable and they have a lightweight 2-way breathable fabric. They also include the Chitosante to keep door away and they have DUROshade to protect against the sun.

In use the shorts are hassle free, comfortable and ideal for long days on the trail. In addition, due to the understated look, longer length and pockets, they would also be ideal as a casual short.

In racing, you may require something more minimal? Weighing 220g for a mens medium they are not heavy but depending on how minimalist you like to go, the additional pockets in a racing short may well be an unnecessary addition.

Somerset

Sardar Long Sleeve with 1/2 zip

Made from lightweight Polyester with mesh inserts, this top is ideally for cold or chilly days on the trail. It has a 1/2 zip to help regulate temperature.

Mesh panels are on the elbow to allow additional movement and a mesh panel across the shoulders for breathability. On the rear is a zipperd pocket situated in the lower back. The pocket is ideal for money, phone and/or keys.

The top is not a garment that you can take off and run with (unless you tie it around your waist) should you become warm. It’s too bulky for that, so, it is definitely a garment when the external temperatures require something warmer. Having said that, the fabric is extremely smooth and comfortable. Without doubt you can use this layer on its own or as a second layer.

Made from 73% Polyester, 27% Polyamide it also has ‘Coolmax’ and Chitosante to reduce door . At 180g it really is a great lightweight warm layer.

Sardar

Winbreaker AMT

The AMT range is a breakthrough range for Scott. Designed to be extremely light weight and functional, they really do offer something fresh the the apparel market. The ‘Windbreaker’ is just 60g for a medium. It rolls up into a tiny ball (smaller than an apple) and it really is a jacket that can be taken on every run.

It has a hood, tailored fit and a 1/2 zip.

The hood although useful is a little loose with no option to adjust, so, if the wind is blowing it  an become a little irritating. However, this is very much an emergency layer and as such the hood may very well be welcome should conditions turn nasty.

The 1/2 zip provides an ability to regulate temperature and reassuringly, when zipped up it goes high and helps stop the wind blowing around your neck and going down your back.

Elastic hems promise a secure fit and a lower back adds some additional protection. The fabric is water repellant and abrasion resistant, this jacket is an ideal emergency layer in mild conditions.

AMT windbreaker

T2 Kinabalu

I have worn and reviewed the T2 Kinabalu before, so, please read HERE

In summary, they are currently my favourite every day shoe for trail. Extremely versatile, comfortable and great to look at. They adapt to all surfaces, including mud. The only time I would reach for another shoe is when conditions required a very aggressive grip.

Ultimately, if you could only purchase one pair of shoes that could do all jobs, the T2 Kinabalu would be it.

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Race cap

I guess a hat is a hat… but not all hats are the same! The Scott Race cap ticks all the boxes. It has mesh on the top to allow heat to escape, a terry band to keep sweat from dripping down your face, velcro adjustment at the rear for a precise fit and good looks.

Would I change anything? Yes! I like my hats (for summer use) to have the inside of the peak black… why? well it reduces glare and allows me to relax my eyes and squint less. Very few manufacturers do this but in my opinion it makes perfect sense. Am I being fussy?

It’s a great hat though, comfortable to wear, cool and the terry band works really well.

Race cap

SUMMARY

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Scott Sports really have stepped up the mark in the last twenty four months. The addition of Marco De Gasperi, Sage Canaday and Ian Sharman on the athlete team has most certainly influenced product development. The T2 Kinabalu has a great deal of Marco’s direct feedback into the shoe.

As time progresses the brand will develop even more. Currently, Scott have on offer some great apparel and shoes. It’s always a great sign for me when I go to my cupboards to get clothing for a run and I seek out a certain top or short instead of grabbing what is at hand. I do this with the Scott apparel all the time!

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LINKS:

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The North Face Hyper-Track Guide

Copyright Ian Corless

Copyright Ian Corless

The North Face have always had a mixed response in the ultra and trail world with it’s running shoes. Some people love them, others are indifferent. The original Single Track model had many features of merit and had a strong following (I was a fan). However, runners like Tsuyoshi Kaburaki and Seb Chaigneau wanted a lighter shoe. The Single Track Hayasa was born (Review here).

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The new Hyper-Track Guide in many respects combines aspects of both shoes in what is arguably, The North Faces’s best shoe yet. Read on.

The Hyper-Track Guide are lightweight and like other manufactures the shoe appeals to the market of door-to-trail.  In addition, these shoes may very well fit a gap in the market in terms of ‘drop’. The Hyper-Track Guide with an 8mm drop nicely fills a space in the market between other models such as the Salomon Sense Ultra (4mm) and Sense Mantra (6mm) but other manufacturers such as Scott, are still producing shoes with a conventional drop. I have to say, Scott currently have the T2 Kinabalu for trail and some road running and it is setting the bar by how I judge other shoes it performs so well.

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As the above image shows, a lower drop promotes a forefoot run style.

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The ‘Cradle Guide*‘ helps cushion the impact and canters the heel. The forefoot facilitates the natural supination phase and provides cushion through the force peak.

*The North Face Cradle Guide™ technology offers full Phase Impact Control, a system that guides the foot through all 3 stances of the gait cycle, impact, mid foot and Toe-off. This system is engineered to provide the perfect combination of cushioning, stability and protection for any foot on any terrain, letting the hiker or runner move swiftly and lightly over backcountry trails.

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Many conventional trail and road shoes have a drop of 11mm or 12mm and the current trend for improved ‘forefoot’ running is pushing manufacturers to address the need in the market for lower drop shoes. However, a lower drop isn’t for anybody and if you are a definite ‘heel strker’ you will want to ease your way into using any shoe with a lower drop. The Hyper-Track Guide may very well make that transition easier if that is what you require. At 8mm it offers a ‘middle ground’.

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The sole of the shoe certainly offers more grip in comparison to previous models. Is it enough? Well, if you are heading out in the mud; no!. When a shoe has a selling point as ‘road and trail’ use a compromise is going to be made. The Hyper-Track Guide will work perfectly on hard pack trail or rocks and of course, should you wish to run on the road, it can handle that too. But as soon as you get to mud, the sole has nothing to grip with and you slide.  The sole has strategically positioned rubber pods in the outsole to give excellent grip on slick terrain and resistance to abrasion. Certainly on wet road or rocks it does the job well.

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The upper is extremely breathable like other models in the The North Face range, on a cold or wet day the shoe can feel a little chilly. But that also means that should you be running in the heat, these shoes will be exceptionally cool. They are also great if you run through any water, they drain very quickly. Lightweight is a key feature and this has been maximised by having a ‘sandwich mesh’ upper. The shoes have no sewing or seams. That has to be a good thing as this reduces any potential rubbing. The upper also has TPU welded support overlays to hold the foot in place when in the shoe. This does provide added security to the foot and for such a minimal approach you can feel it work.

The sole has the key Cradle Guide feature as mentioned above. This helps or should I say ‘guides’ the foot through the three phases of the foot strike; impact, mid foot and toe off. Cushioning, stability and protection for ‘any’ foot on any terrain is what The North Face say but ultimately this shoe suits a neutral runner that is already a mid to forefoot striker OR it suits a neutral runner who wishes to progress from heel striking to mid foot striking. In use the shoe feels a little ‘stiff’ in comparison to other shoes and I put that down to the ‘Cradle’ working but also firm cushioning. IF you need that guidance the Cradle Guide may well be a good thing. If you are mechanically efficient, this may well be a little irritating at first. However, the longer you run and the more you feel the benefit of the cradle. So, ultra runners may find that as fatigue hits, the Cradle Guide may very well be a nice addition to help maintain good form. Cushioning is 16mm at the rear and 8mm at the front.

In Use

Copyright Ian Corless

Copyright Ian Corless

The shoe sizes a little large in my opinion. All my previous TNF shoes have been UK9.5 and the Hyper-Track Guide definitely has more room. The toe box has adequate room. But on a first run I did feel my foot move, particularly in the heel area. Laces are superb. They have an elastic stretchy feel and really do hold the foot in place and don’t come loose. The upper with no seams is spot on and breathability is excellent. Weight is 287g for a UK9.5 and this compares well to other comparable shoes.

On the road the shoes felt a little uninspiring. They lacked zip. However, if I started to lift the pace the feel and response certainly became far more pleasurable and responsive. But ultimately they felt hard and at slower speeds I felt as though I ‘slapped’ the ground. What it did encourage was light contact with the ground, so, I thought about my technique all the time while using them. On hard trail the feel was better providing the trail was hard, rocky or sandy. If I went to into mud then the sole offered next to no grip. But, the shoe is not designed for that type of trail. I am merely pointing out that this shoe has restrictions and if you are looking for one shoe to do all then this may well not be it.

So, my impressions are very much around this shoe being used for racing or faster sessions. Of course the term ‘racing’ is relative if we are looking at ultra running, so, if you plan to use this shoe for longer events, you may want to make sure that it will provide the comfort you need over extended periods. The Cradle Guide will certainly help with this.

Jez Bragg used this shoe extensively over the Te Araroa trail, so it does show that you can really run some long distances in them.

Quick rating:

The upper is form-fitting and flexible which made for a snug and comfortable fit in the fore and mid foot areas. The heel felt a little loose but it is possible to adjust the feel by adjusting the lace configuration. Laces are superb.

The Hyper Track is a stiff shoe. The stiffness of the sole almost makes this shoe uninspiring at times, particularly on pavement at lower speeds. Running fast in this shoe is when I felt most comfortable. The 8mm drop gets you on your mid to forefoot and you really think about technique.

The upper is light, breathable and holds the foot well. It has no seams and therefore reduces the possibility of rubbing.

In my opinion it sizes a little large so I would recommend trying the shoe on.

Weight is light at 287g for a UK9.5

Best use – Faster running on hard pack trail

Links:

The North Face HERE