Capsule Review: Inov-8 Race Elite 260 Thermoshell

Posted: 15/12/2013 in Review, Uncategorized, Vegan
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Over the summer I picked up one of these tops, it’s lightweight, quilted and designed for running in the cold. It’s also orange, which is pretty good in my book. As it was warmish over the summer I’ve not had the chance to try it out, but now the weather is a bit colder I’ve had it out a few times. I’ll be honest and say the colder the better – in less cold weather I’ve sweated a remarkable amount, but in the quest to bring my views to you, gentle reader, I’ve stuck with it. I bet you’re glad… 🙂

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The Thermoshell comes with it’s own fabulous wee stuff sac, it’s goes to about the size of a butternut squash (sorry, vegetable comparisons only), and weighs virtually nothing. Inov-8’s website says 260g, and I’m not one to argue.

The first thing you notice is it’s pretty thin – I thought maybe too thin, but then when you consider you generate heat while running it might just work out. As a larger framed chap I found that I fit into a medium pretty much spot on. I was a little surprised, as was the man in the shop who said he’d pegged me as a large. Thanks there. It peels off well, without needing to turn myself inside out, but I’d be worried about putting on much Christmas weight or it might get a bit snug around the middle (that’s the battle zone of my weight, too much fatty food and there it goes, like I had a sponsorship deal from Michelin*).

A nice long zip on the front, some nifty thumb loops on the arms (I’ll be honest, I think thumb loops are very cool, but I’ve only rarely ever actually used them) and a chest pocket big enough a few bits and bobs and you’re away.

Hang on, one more thing to think about – right way in or inside out?

What, I hear you ask, have you finally lost it?

Well, probably, but one of the genius things about this top is that it’s reversible. One (orange) side is smooth, with the other (black) side being quilted. If you have the quilt on the inside, it supposedly retains more heat (I’m not an engineer, so don’t ask me how). Does it work? Well, yes, I think it does – I ran some of the colder runs recently with the orange side out and I swear it was warmer than the other way around. Inov-8 say 10% warmer, so lets work on that basis. All I know is one side I’m the orange ninja of smooth warmth, and on the other I’m the black ninja or quilted warmth. Interestingly the black side also has reflective bits on it, so it’s bizarrely better to run in at night. The orange side is Pertex Quantum, so it should be pretty wind-proof. The black side is “air permeable”, so I guess that explains everything…?

For me, the fit is perfect, it’s like a glove. I’ve worn it on it’s own, with a Nathan VaporWrap and it’s done fine. It has very good wind resistance, and when I’ve been out in a shower it’s never felt wet any more than the amount of moisture I’ve built up. A word on that too – when I’ve worn it when the weather’s not been so cold, and when I’ve worn it with a pack especially, I’ve managed to build up a fair bit of moisture in the back. I’ve never noticed it while running, but when I take it off it’s sometimes shiny wet on the inside. I stick it on a chair by the fire and it dries off double quick time.

To be honest, I’m waiting for some truly shabby cold weather before I can report back on just how well it performs. As it’s small, I could just about fit it in my pack to put on over a running top if I stop or slow down. Another good thing is it’s a synthetic fill, Primaloft Sport, so not only does it cope well when wet (or sweaty) but it also doesn’t involve any animal products (I think, sent an e-mail to check, so will report back – update,  they came back super-quick, it’s totally animal free, so groovy if you’re a vegan runner – I also found out they’re just down the road from me in Crook, and they have a sale last Friday of the month… interesting!).

Price-wise, it wasn’t the cheapest thing I’ve bought, coming in at £108, but it compares favourably to the price of my Berghaus Ignite jacket, for example, which at £120 is a bit too insulated for running in. I’ve not seen anything quite similar to it, so I think it fills it’s niche very well. Teamed up with a waterproof shell I think it would be an ideal combination for deep winter running in the hills.

*Other tyre company jokes are available.

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