NEW YORK, August 2, 2013 — Oakley, New Balance, and Nike may be some of the biggest names in the sportswear market, but how does their women’s running apparel fare on a run? After wear testing and washing a selection of items, “Run, Karla, Run!” weighs in.
Breathe In Printed Bra
Oakley’s Breathe In Printed Bra is possibly the most stylish sports bra on the market. Featuring wide-band crossed straps made from a breathable mesh, it will make you want to run shirtless. As if beauty weren’t enough, it’s got brawn too.
Built for comfort, the longer straps don’t tug on shoulders, while proper band sizing and molded cups provide ample support. The four-way stretch fabric lets the bra move with you instead of simply constricting and wicks sweat away from your body. Plus, it comes out of the wash looking as fresh as it went in. The bra also scores bonus points for its UV+ 50 fabric to shield the little bit of you it covers from the sun.
Oakley says the Breathe In Printed Bra is a medium-coverage fit made for medium-impact sports like cycling and tennis. So it may not give enough support to bustier women on a run. But its perfect blend of comfort and flash make it this reviewer’s favorite new running bra. $44 in three colors.
Race Day Tank
Oakley’s Race Day Tank might be the softest running top you’ll ever put on your body. Its seamless construction makes it feel like second skin that hugs your curves and reduces the chance of chafing. The straps adjust for a perfect fit and the built-in bra makes it a one-piece top ready for your next run. The tank features three wide stripes in a variation on one tone to give a little pop to the single-color top. It’s this reviewer’s go-to running tank. $44 in eight colors.
The Extrovert Tank, with a built-in bra and removable pads, is made from a UV+ 50 fabric for sun protection. It has a fitted cut that hugs the curves of a woman’s body. The long straps, which aren’t adjustable, allow for a more comfortable fit than many tanks. They don’t dig into your shoulders like some tank and bra straps do. And their two-tone weave on the white tank makes for a stylish look. Throw in sweat-wicking fabric, laser cutouts in back and mesh panels for breathability and you’ve got a solid running tank. $54 in two colors.
Nadi Printed Shorts
Oakley’s Nadi Printed Shorts take a classic split-leg running short and amp it up with vibrant colors and patterns in bright reds, purples, pinks, yellows and blues. The shorts are built for maximum movement with a stretch fabric and two-piece construction that splits at the side. The zip pocket in back is large enough for a mobile phone and more. The built-in liner is soft, but the drawstring at the waist does have the potential to chafe. It’s the only drawback in an otherwise flawless pair of shorts. $48 in five colors.
These shorts place a premium on lightness. The vented hem and built-in liner with a Coolmax gusset make the shorts breathable. The 100 percent polyester fabric pulls moisture from your skin, and reflective seams line the shorts for pre-dawn and post-sunset runs.
The seams at the inner thigh chafe a bit, as does the drawstring cord at the waist. But it’s nothing a little anti-chafe stick can’t solve. The fit is flattering and feminine, making them a solid choice for a pair of basic running shorts. $36 in five colors.
When New Balance says their liner brief is cut for comfort, they aren’t kidding. These 100 percent polyester shorts are semi-fitted for optimal movement. With a flattering silhouette, mesh ventilation panels, and a back pocket, they are everything a woman could possibly want in a pair of running shorts. Added bonus: reflective panels for early morning or late-night runs. They’ve become this reviewer’s most reliable pair of running shorts. $29.99 in 13 colors.
For cool summer nights, this 100 percent polyester zip is reflective and has a large pocket in the back for a wallet, keys or whatever else you carry when you run. Thumbholes hook the sleeves in place and a mesh panel in back makes it breathable.
Bonus: it’s lightweight enough to wear on hot days too for skin types that like to stay covered under full sun. And the fabric is soft as silk and washes like a dream. $44.99 in two colors.
Legend 2.0 Tight Poly Women’s Training Capris
Nike’s Legend pant line deserves the moniker. Not only are they made from 10 recycled plastic bottles, they’re just about the most flattering and comfortable tights you could put on your body. A laser cut pocket in back fits a wad of cash or keys. The jersey wicks moisture away from your body. And the flat seams keep chafing at bay.
The material is thicker than the typical running tight, perhaps because the Legend isn’t made expressly for running. You won’t find mesh panels or reflective strips. But don’t let that stop you. These pants will make you wish fitness apparel was business casual. They’re this reviewer’s favorite pair of workout capris. $60 in three colors.
Nike Tempo Track Shorts
The Tempo Track Short has been a staple of the Nike running closet for ages. As a basic running short, it does the job with a small inside pocket, soft built-in briefs and sweat-wicking fabric. With a boxy profile that sometimes bubbles below the low-rise waist, they’re not the most flattering running shorts. But they’re comfortable with low-chafe draw cords at the waist that get the job done. $30 in five colors.
Karla Bruning is host of On The Run, New York Road Runners’ show about running. She has finished six marathons, three triathlons and trains with the New York Harriers. Follow Karla at RunKarlaRun.com, The Washington Times Communities, Facebook and Twitter@KBruning.