Run of the Month: Bolt Tail, South Devon
As part of our Wild Year of adventures we've spent the last couple of months…
When we were recently approached by new British sportswear brand, Castore, to test and a review a pair of their Marco shorts we were immediately intrigued. We’re always keen to champion brands that operate ethically and Castore, founded by brothers Tom and Phil Beahon earlier this year, make their products in Portugal from responsibly-sourced EU-made fabrics. Their specialist range of stylish sportswear for men is designed to be a premium product, with great design, durability and performance at its heart. But another thing that’s definitely premium is the cost; would the kit justify its price tag? After a month of rigorous testing here’s my review:
Castore Marco Shorts £95 170g Men’s medium www.castore.co.uk
Castore make a lot of claims about these shorts, about the careful design process and the rigorous testing that each product goes through before it reaches the customer. They also talk about the quality of the fabric and workmanship that actually goes into making each pair. At £95 they really do need to be something special.
Castore claim that these are “the perfect partner for your workouts in the gym, on the track or in the pool”, so they’re designed as multisport shorts rather than purely for running. My hopes for them were that they’d be good whether I was running up a mountain, swimming in the sea or shorter bike rides, so I made sure I tested them on all three, as well as general wear.
First impressions were good: the shorts arrived nicely wrapped with plenty of information about the brand. On closer inspection they are extremely well-made with neat stitching and dead-straight seams. Those in visible areas are bonded to create a super-clean, flat finish.
The main fabric is made by Eurojersey in Italy to strict environmental and humanitarian standards. It’s a polyamide (nylon)/Elastane mix, creating a comfortable, breathable, yet durable garment. The underside and liner are polyester, meaning they’re quick-drying, well-ventilated and comfy straight out of the pool – given the trouble Castore have gone to with their main fabric sourcing it’s hard to see why they haven’t used recycled polyester though. All of the fabric is treated with Bluesign-certified Polygiene to provide long-lasting odour resistance.
The Marcos look super stylish, with a clean, slim cut and classy branding. The medium (according to the size guide) fits me well, although the waist band feels a little large; this is easily sorted by tying the waist cord but does gather the shorts slightly which detracts a bit from the overall look. I would advise trying them before buying them if possible or ordering two sizes and returning the one doesn’t fit as well.
The shorts are well-featured with three zipped pockets including an internal card sleeve and key loop. There’s a towel/t-shirt loop on the waist band and reflective stripes on the back.
In use I found that the features that make them great multisport shorts detract slightly from the all-out running performance. The slim cut looks awesome and makes them good swimming shorts but feels slightly restrictive when running fast with a longer stride. All the pockets need zips to prevent drag in the pool and to keep the clean and stylish lines, but the zips add bulk and weight; pockets are useful but I think these shorts would be better with just the zipped rear pocket.
The £95 price is considerably more than I would normally consider paying for running shorts so I have been quite critical as it feels like they should be perfect. I would say though that they are very good swim shorts, so if you consider the price you would normally pay for separate running and swimming shorts that does go some way towards justifying the expense. If you would also get some gym shorts then they definitely feel like better value.
Overall my verdict is that Castore have created a pair of shorts that are brilliant in the pool, look stylish and practical in the gym and actually work pretty well to run in. You could get a better pair of running-specific shorts for considerably less, of course, but if you’re after something you can wear for all sorts of adventures, and look dapper in at the same time, these are for you. There’s no doubt that the fabrics and build quality are excellent and they should last a long time and maintain their good looks, which also makes them better value in the long run. Combined with Castore’s commitment to ethical sourcing and manufacture they’re definitely a good investment.