The article, “8 Favorite Pieces of Merino Wool Gear for Runners”, by Allison Pattillo for Competitor.com seemed like a quick GEAR LOVE item that could identify what was new on the market place. I am comfortable wearing wool all year. Wool socks are especially prized even in summer. This post seemed like a chance to introduce wool to others who thought it was too scratchy for winter-wear, and not a consideration for the warmer months of the summer season.
In going through the list, clicking on the links, and learning about the products, it became apparent that this was also going to be a story about innovation and new beginnings for some brands as well as continued quality work for others. Next to each item featured in Pattillo’s slideshow article is a blurb about the product and the company if it was NEW to me or I might be new to many runners and active exercisers.
-Adidas: Prime Knit Wool hooded tee (unavailable on the Adidas.com website). This men’s shirt has a stylish vibe. It will take some website searching to find a similar product from Adidas.
-BUFF: Merino Wool, Lime Dye (headwear)
These lightweight wool versions are several inches longer than the classic headwear made by this company. There’s a ¾ length wool buff that’s also available. I have several cotton BUFF pieces and plan to buy more. The cotton works well all year, but now that I know BUFF has some wool blends, I am likely to try them too. Did not know that BUFF is short for “bufanda” which means “scarf” in Spanish!
-Stance: Natural Crew (socks)
I could not find this exact sock on the company website or on Amazon.com. The website is very cool and has endorsements from famous people and companies. The description of the products doesn’t identify the material, although on amazon.com it did seem as if most socks were wool ‘fusions’. Wanting to learn more about the specifics of the apparel and the company itself, the website was disappointing.
-Smartwool PhD: Pattern Short (womens)
This company also sell various clothing items: tops including tanks and T-shirts, bottoms, underwear for men and women, bras, and SOCKS. The PhD Running collection incorporates “body-mapped’ mesh zones for “extra breathability and moisture management”. Presumably this means areas where bodies sweat. Under the category of “New Arrivals” there were some fun new Summer Socks; love the “Day Dreaming” style.
I was surprised. The company website had a good amount of information on: its origin, why clothes are wool, the sheep, where materials are sourced, guarantees, advocacy program participation, values, manufacturing and construction. Smartwool identifies itself as ZQ accredited, like ALLBIRDS shoe company. It has additional customer information on how to layer up with the various items of different wool weight.
This is a very consumer friendly website, which I had not visited prior to writing this post. I have heavily relied on the socks, shirts, and mid-layer layer clothing for several years. Because of this bit of research, I will be giving these products much more respect. I have loved the performance, now ‘love’ the company, and am sure to replace some worn-out gear with more Smartwool!
-Ibex Pulse Runner Shorts (mens)
The webpage on which the product appears has lots of descriptive information about it and wool as a material. The company website generally is on par with Smartwool in terms of the range of wool products offered specifically for running as well as other sport activities, and the background story about its origins, activities, and values. This is another brand I am likely to ‘stalk’!
-Pettett Endurance Project: The Bristol Tee (womens)
The styling of this one tee is quite distinctive; it merits a fitting room visit! The other men’s and women’s shirts are a bit plainer but seem more fitted than full-sized. The Colorado-based company is new, focuses on the needs of endurance athletes, and pays attention to environmental concerns. It strives to be ‘local’ and affordable. Currently the website sells a limited number of attractive tops. But their story is well told and is engaging; hopefully other fitting-room-visit-worthy items will be coming.
-Tracksmith: Harrier Tee
This New-England-based apparel company has been featured in other Earned Runs posts. Its prep-styled vintage look may not be for everyone, but certainly appeals to me. I would very much like to try the Harrier Tank and the Van Cortlandt Singlet, as well as the Harrier Tee. Perhaps the next time this company is mentioned on the BLOG, it will be a report on one of these item’s ‘wearability’! Check out the website; its old-school running magic to me.
-Farm to Feet: Raleigh Low-cut (socks)
Mt-Airy North Carolina is where this company calls home and it boasts of having a “100% U.S. Supply Chain”. Here’s another wonderful story, told on their website, that inspires a purchase just to be part of the movement. A commitment to quality, an ideal of environmental sustainability, and great looking products are other chapters in this entrepreneurial narrative.
Love the sock colors!
So grateful I decided to follow-up and find the specific items through the links. There’s an exciting world of young and established companies for runners to explore before purchasing gear. Simple clothing items, socks and t-shirts for example, are less like widgets to be bought and used and more like portals to a company’s ideas and ideals. In paying for a single piece of clothing we might well be buying stock in someone’s dream.
If you find that one of these wool products performs well, tell other runners, share with Earned Runs, and…
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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