INOV-8 AT/C STORM SHELL RACE JACKET and AT/C RACE PANT REVIEW

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The days are getting shorter and bad weather is just around the corner. Wet, wind, snow and ice are all part of the norm if you are going to keep training and racing outdoors through the months of November, December, January, February and if you (we) are lucky, the weather may start to improve with the arrival of March.

Getting outdoors when the days are dark and the weather is inclement can be difficult. But if you have the correct apparel, these days can actually provide some of the most inspiring experiences. Pretty sure you have heard the saying, ‘No such thing as bad weather, just bad equipment!’

Although this article is a review of two key items of apparel to keep you warm and dry while out on the trails or in the mountains. I should clarify first and foremost a couple of good protocols that will make any run in winter better.

Layering is key so that you can regulate temperature.

Start with a base layer that will keep you warm but also wick away sweat. Merino wool is a great fabric.

Use 3/4 or full length tights. Some runners like to continue running in shorts through winter. It all comes down to personal preference but keep in mind conditions. For example, snow and ice can burn.

Have gloves, hat and a buff like product and ideally use a specific run sock, again, Merino wool is best.

Depending on conditions, the length of run you are undertaking and how high (altitude) you will go, taking a mid-layer is probably a good idea.

Two options exist:

  1. A ‘down’ filled jacket that will pack small, weigh very little and provide excellent warmth. The main problem with down is that it must not get wet!
  2. A ‘Primaloft’ jacket (or similar) will pack a little larger than down and weigh a little more but the big advantage is that a product with a synthetic filling can get wet and retain warmth. For mountain, trail and fell runners this is a better choice.

With all the above boxes ticked. Any runner who ventures into the fells, mountains and any challenging environment should take a high quality waterproof jacket and over trousers. This is where inov-8 step in with the AT/C Racepant and AT/C Stormshell.

The current trend of moving fast and light has seen runners take less and less to the mountain. Light is great providing you can move fast, the two go hand in hand. I’ve often heard many a runner say, ‘Waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers… pfffff! I don’t need them to race. If I am using them then my race is over!’

And that is exactly the point. Warm layers, waterproof layers are there for when unpredictable conditions hit or when you (the runner) have an unexpected or unplanned incident. A sprained ankle for example can stop you running and result in a slow walk. One thing is guaranteed to happen and that is your core temperature will drop and hypothermia won’t be far away.

With the AT/C Racepant and Stormshell you can still travel light but have the luxury of two excellent products that will keep you dry, warm and protected from the wind.

AT/C RACE PANT

•Colour : BLACK

•Weight : 175g / 6.2oz

•Material : 55% PU / 45% Polyester

•Gender : Unisex

•Specification :

•4-way stretch, super micro soft hand touch.

•Knee length YKK Aquaguard zips with locking zip heads.

•Elasticated front, flat back waist band and hem.

•Ergonomic fit.

•Packs away into pocket.

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The RACE PANT weighs ****g rolls up small and will fit in any pack and pretty much any waist pack. They are simple in design with a thick waist band, an internal pocket with elastic loop so you don’t loose keys, a tapered leg and a lower leg zip on both legs that allows the pants to be added or removed without removing shoes. In regard to size, they are a streamlined and tapered product and therefore should you have a bigger leg, you may want to check on the appropriate size for you. For example, I wear medium in all inov-8 products but I chose large in the Race Pant.

These pants fit so well that they cause no discomfort or odd feeling when running. This is often a problem with any over trouser as the additional layer can feel claustrophobic. I used the Racepant with shorts, 3/4 tights and full length tights underneath. Without doubt, the Race Pant is more comfortable with 3/4 or full length tights underneath as a layer of fabric stops the Race Pant sticking to your leg.

The AT/C Race Pant is breathable and retains warmth very well. Of course, if conditions improve and the ambient temperature rises, it’s advisable to move the Racepant asap otherwise you will get hot quickly.

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The AT/C Race Pant is a quality product and is comparable to the TNF Storm Trouser (which is very lightweight) and in my opinion is a considerably better product than the OMM Kamleika Race Pant which I found too hot and a little heavier.

Recommended!

AT/C STORM SHELL RACE JACKET

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•Colour : RED

•Weight : 150g / 5.5oz

•Material : 100% Nylon ripstop face, PU Laminate

•Gender : MENS

•Specification :

•Deep centre front YKK Aquaguard 2 way front zip with internal storm flap and locking zip heads.

•Roll-away hood with wired peak and single hand adjustment.

•YKK Aquaguard chest pocket zip with fully taped seams.

•Lycra bound cuffs with integrated thumb hole.

•Includes stuffsac.

The Stormshell is a pullover product with a two-way zip that stops mid-chest. The hood is fully adjustable, zips high and has a peak to protect from wind and rain. The sleeves are longer in length and include a thumb hole, so, should you need extra hand warmth or protection, you call pull your hand inside the sleeve. At ***g it’s seriously lightweight and it also packs small. It’s a product that really personifies fast and light without a compromise on quality or protection from the elements.

The Race Jacket has become my ‘go to’ waterproof layer when running or working. It’s so light and small there really is no reason NOT to take it! The benefits it brings when the weather changes are huge and although looks shouldn’t come into the equation, it’s a fine looking jacket too!

It’s minimalist in design so you wont find many pockets. A chest pocket is the only addition.

Fully taped seams guarantee that the jacket remains waterproof. A pull cord around the waist allows you to adjust the fit. The hood has adjustment on the front  left and right sides and on the rear of the hood is a pull cord so you can tighten up any excess fabric. The peak has a flexible reinforced section that allows you to bend the peak to your preferred fit. This reinforcement also stops the hood collapsing. The hood can also be rolled up and secured inside the jacket by a fabric loop with velcro fastening. As mentioned, the zip is two-way which will allow you to have the jacket fastened under your chin but with the zip open should you require some ventilation. The zip goes up high, almost to nose height and if you have the hood adjusted correctly, you rally can protect yourself from the elements with just your eyes showing. The chest pocket is big enough for a phone or similar sized product and it also include a drawstring bag (the size of my hand) that the jacket can fold into.

Like the trousers, the jacket fits snugly and you may want to check sizing based on your intended use, particularly if you may want to use an insulating layer between the base layer and the outer layer.

The jacket for me is a real winner. I’d go as far as saying that it’s one of the best products of its type that I have tried and tested. The combination of weight, size and features is incredible. It has so many pluses that it’s difficult to find a negative. The only negative may well come in durability? However, I have nothing to base this question on. For 6-months this jacket has performed exceptionally well.

Highly recommended!

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In Summary

The AT/C Racepant and Stormshell work together like cheese and pickle, like gin and tonic; they are a match made in heaven. They may not be the cheapest products on the market but with lightweight and waterproof products, you get what you pay for! I have tested many different trouser/ jacket combinations and if you want to move fast and light with maximum protection, this duo is hard (impossible?) to beat. The only time I would exchange the AT/C Racepant and Stormshell for something more substantial, like a Gore-Tex Active product is if I knew that I was going to be spending many hours in a tough, cold and unpredictable environment and moving at a slower pace. The benefits of the AT/C Racepant and Stormshell is they are so light and small, you really have no reason not to take them with you. That’s a real plus! If you are racing in the mountains, nearly all races now require an ever increasing mandatory kit list. I can pretty much guarantee that at the top of that list will be: ‘waterproof jacket and trousers with taped seams’ – inov-8 have provided you with a perfect solution with no comprises; low weight, small size and 100% protection – what more could you want?

More detailed photographs and action photos to follow.

The North Face – AK Stormy Trail

A5YKJK33As the main sponsor of the TNFUTMB, The North Face fully understand the needs of every runner when embarking on the epic alpine journey. Irrespective of distance, the mountains can be a cruel and hard place.

Look at the history of the race. For several years the TNFUTMB has been hampered by bad weather. Just last year, 2012, the race was shortened at the last minute and ‘mandatory’ kit was increased to 4 layers to ensure the safety of every runner.

Two pieces of mandatory kit are a fully waterproof jacket with hood and taped seams but also over trousers. Now many runners, particularly the elite runners think… “I will never wear over trousers”. The 2012 edition of the TNFUTMB confirmed to many that mandatory kit, (although sometimes one may think it is over the top) is absolutely necessary,

To this end, The North Face have created two items that tick all the boxes. The AK STORMY TRAIL JACKET and AK STORMY TRAIL PANTS. Available in Black & Yellow

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Key Features

It’s simple really…. a tailored fit to reduces excess material and flapping. A reduction in ‘extras’ as these only add opportunities for onward problems or areas were leaks may appear. Lightweight and small pack size.

Box TICKED

The AK STORMY range do all the above and then some. Of course that doesn’t come cheap. At £160 for the jacket and £110 for the pants this is an investment. But you get what you pay for and I certainly wouldn’t want to compromise when I am several thousand feet up in the rain and snow.

SPECS

AK JACKET – The North Face® Men’s AK Stormy Trail Jacket is a waterproof, breathable, hooded running jacket for maximum protection in the foulest weather. Featuring The North Face® FlashDry™ technology, microporous particles improve and accelerate the removal of excess moisture from the skin, allowing drier and more comfortable performance for longer, in a range of weather conditions. Used and recommended for endurance races such as The Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc, the jacket is constructed with a reflective brimmed, stay-put hood, an adjustable hood cinch and a reflective drop-tail hem for increased coverage and weatherproofing. Easily stowed in a backpack and with a glued zip chest pocket for secure storage, follow the athletes in The North Face® Men’s AK Stormy Trail Jacket.

A5YKJK32

  • Reflective brimmed hood with stay
  • Adjustable hood cinch
  • Glued chest pocket
  • Reflective drop-tail hem
  • Stowable

available S,M,L,XL

AK PANTS – The North Face® Men’s AK Stormy Trail Pant is a waterproof, windproof, breathable running trouser for maximum protection in the foulest weather. Featuring The North Face® FlashDry™ technology, microporous particles improve and accelerate the removal of excess moisture from the skin, allowing drier and more comfortable performance for longer, in a range of weather conditions. Used and recommended for endurance races such as The Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc, these performance fit pants are constructed with an elasticized waist with adjustable drawcord and articulated knees for increased mobility. Easily stowed in a backpack and with reflective logos for increased security on night and low level visibility runs, follow the athletes in The North Face® Men’s AK Stormy Trail Pant.

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  • Elasticated waist with adjustable drawcord
  • Performance fit
  • Articulated knees, Ankle zips
  • Reflective logos
  • Packable

available S,M,L,XL

A full test of the AK range will follow soon. Initial impressions are superb. Fit is excellent. The attention to detail really is spot on and both garments are a real joy to wear but ultimately, they are a pleasure to run in… that is what counts!