Hilly Marathon Fresh Anklet. Lightweight at just 3.
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The movement mirroring material that comprises the body of the Tantrum II is exceptionally comfortable and allows for a full range of motion while never feeling restrictive or baggy. On the flip side, the Salomon Agile was restrictive; it was very tight in the armpits and had seams that were incredibly abrasive.
The Agile's flaws were noticeable when we first donned this garment and only became worse as the miles piled on. Eventually, restrictive garments start to feel like an ever-tightening straight jacket, especially when they become wet.
Comfort was given a lower percentage of the model's final score, as it leans toward a more subjective side of the metrics we use in our testing. However, there is a significant difference in the materials and styles used; overall, the jackets that had forgiving material, sewing where the stitches weren't visible, and cleverly designed closure systems offered superior comfort.
The Agile had panels joined together with abrasive, chunky sewing that scraped our arms as we struggled our way into the jacket whereas the OR Tantrum II was supple, forgiving, and felt like it was accepting us into its family with open arms. Other notably comfortable jackets included the Arc'teryx Incendo , and the new Patagonia Airshed. This review is all about aerobic movement. We want to make sure that the contenders we recommend don't impede movement, but rather aid in performance.
For portability, this means that the garment is easy to unpack, throw on, remove, and re-pack. Upon first viewing, one might think that two jackets, both said to pack into their own pockets, would be equal for portability, though this was not always the case. For portability, we considered how easily we could unpack each jacket and put it on while we were moving, weeding out jackets that are difficult to pack and unpack.
In other words, we wanted to identify which models required we stop and award them our full attention. The contenders that were equipped with single-sided zippers on their stuff pouches proved to be challenging to use while moving; nobody can rise to the top with that type of egocentric design, right? On the other side of the coin, we wanted to make sure we could remove the garment and pack it away while moving.
These factors, combined with the jacket's weight and system used to actually contain the jacket, produced its overall portability score. Montane solved a tricky problem when they designed the Featherlite 7. Typically a zipper is used, but the Featherlite 7 tucks into a hidden flap in the collar and stays in place when the pocket is turned inside out. When compared to the containment systems of jackets such as the Arc'teryx Incendo , there is a significant weight loss and a noticeable gain in how easily the Montane can be packed and unpacked.
While the past season of seemed to emphasize having a storage pouch that packed jackets into the smallest size space possible, the new host of jackets leaned a bit more toward how easily the garment could be packed into its carrying pouch. This resulted in models that packed easily and quickly but took up slightly more space in a pack. It should be noted that these loosely packed jackets could actually be compressed down further.
While we initially thought this would only take up extra space in our running vest, we were pleasantly surprised at how simple it was to zip the new jackets into their pouches and stuff them down into our pack. No OutdoorGearLab review is complete without busting out the scale and weighing things, and you'll find no exceptions here.
We ran all of the jackets through the dryer together, to ensure they were completely dry and put them through a series of tests on our scale. Most manufacturers estimate the weight of their products, and we found their estimations were typically spot on. While the portability rating doesn't have much to do with how each model performed while we were wearing them, it can make a big difference in overall satisfaction. If you're on a run and the rain clouds appear and wind kicks up, you don't want to have to struggle with a poorly designed zipper while trying to access your jacket.
Finally, our overall score of portability should give you an idea of how much of a burden each one would be to pack along with you.
The higher the score, the lower the burden as the score is an all-encompassing rating of how easy it is to pack, wear, take off, and repack. Running in the half-light of the morning or evening can prove to be a hazardous situation, not to mention drivers these days are more distracted than ever. With telephones, GPS units, food, and beverage, it seems as though people have less attention to spare looking for humans running along the roadway.
We wanted to figure out which of these jackets offered the most overall visibility on the roads and trails, as both situations demand high visibility for optimal safety. The contenders we tested range from near camouflage levels of visual distortion to "caution cone" brightness and reflectivity.
Our tests consisted of polling a group of five individuals judging each jacket in the day and night, providing a score of one to ten and then averaging the scores. Next, we administered the "Spicer Test" wherein we parked our Honda Element at the T intersection at the end of our street during the day and later at night, put a driver behind the wheel, and ran out from behind the bushes.
The driver gave their scores of visibility during this test in daylight and at night with the headlights on. We also set up a low light situation with a camera and set the level of light to get a real, standardized look at how reflective each jacket is. The past award winners Outdoor Research Boost and the Arc'teryx Incendo both offered degree visibility both day and night. This was a high mark for the round of testing.
The Ultimate Direction Breeze bested our expectations which were set from previous visibility award winners. Huge reflective logos down the arm gave optimal visibility.
Other jackets such as the Marmot DriClime neglected reflective material making subjects challenging to see in low light conditions. All kidding aside, visibility is an important issue. As we made our way through testing each contender, even those that are objectively incredibly bright could be difficult to see at times. Dusk and dawn seemed to be where most of the issues arose. We dug into some research on vision and discovered that the transitional periods where everything is cast in shadow, neither our rods or cones the photoreceptors in your eye are functioning at full capacity; rods are in full force in low light and cones in bright light.
We, like many, find that running at dusk and dawn are the most convenient times, and thus a highly visible jacket is necessary. Luckily some of the exceptionally bright models we tested in this review are incredibly functional and are stylish too. The Outdoor Research Tantrum II and Arc'teryx Incendo are both vibrant and provided added safety by offering excellent color and reflectivity in all light situations.
Although our review was weighted in favor of the jackets that proved to have the best performance around breathability, venting, and weather resistance, one should also make visibility a priority when they are shopping for a running jacket. All of the contenders we tested have several color schemes; if you're able to stand sporting a bright color, we prefer to do so. If you want extra credit in the safety category, get a jacket that has reflective material on the arms and wrists like the Ultimate Direction Breeze , Arc'teryx Incendo , or the OR Tantrum II.
It goes without saying that running is an aerobic exercise. Sometimes it's going to rain, and sometimes it will be windy, but it will always be a high output aerobic excursion. Whilst testing, we kept in mind that we always want breathability and venting to be a priority. Many jackets in our review are adequate for what most of us will use them for, and by the same token, there will probably be some that aren't suited to what you need.
The two jackets that are true "all-arounders" are the Outdoor Research Tantrum II and the Arc'teryx Incendo , as these jackets embody everything that we want out of an outer running layer. They can handle the excess moisture and heat produced when we set the bar high, as well as repel the cold and weather encroaching from the temperatures we experience outdoors. For a more in-depth examination of each model, check out each contender's individual review.
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