For warm days, your running clothes should help wick away moisture, keep you cool and protect you from the sun’s rays. Key features to shop for:
Lightweight fabrics: Moisture-wicking polyester is marketed under a variety of names (e.g., Nike DriFit, The North Face FlashDry, Polartec Power Dry). Each has proprietary performance tweaks to enhance performance. Many tops are augmented with cooling mesh panels for high-heat areas such as your back, underarms and sides.
Chafe-free seams: Look for flat or welded seams placed away from areas that could impede your stride or natural running motion.
Sun protection: Items with UPF ratings provide tested protection from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. The higher the number, the better the protection. See the REI Expert Advice article, Sun Protection Clothing: How to Choose, for details.
Reflectivity: If you run at night or in the cool hours of dusk or dawn, you’ll want gear with reflective accents to be better seen by drivers.
Pockets: These can unobtrusively hold your ID card, debit card and keys. Common on shorts, concealed pockets are sometimes offered on shirts as well.
When the temperature drops, look for insulated versions of the warm-weather choices noted above. Differences include:
Running tights (many with windproof fronts are also good for cross-country skiing) provide light insulation and generous breathability in cold weather. Most feature a snug fit and stretchy fabric to allow unencumbered motion.
For seriously cold conditions, consider layering your clothing to keep your core body temperature consistent as you work out. Layering consists of 3 basic stages: an inner wicking layer, an insulating middle layer and a weatherproof outer layer. The key is to stay comfortable by peeling off layers as you heat up, and adding them when you slow down and cool off.
See the REI Expert Advice article, Layering Basics, for details.
Don't forget your head and extremities for overall comfort.
By Steve Tischler
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Last updated: 08/29/2013
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