Race Report: Race to the Stones and the Threshold Trail Series
Leaving the final checkpoint and trying to muster an actual run across the last…
Slope Runner Endurance Vest 4L £120 160g – unisex
Outright winner in our recent packs review in Trail Running magazine, the Slope Runner Vest combines on-the-run comfort and practicality through its cleverly arranged storage. The lightweight, soft and supple 100% recycled polyester ripstop fabric has plenty of stretch so it’s body hugging and moves with you. Even on long runs and after many wears there’s no bounce, rub points or hard buckles to dig in; it’s just totally comfortable.
The back panel is a dimpled monofilament recycled Nylon mesh, lightly stiffened to maintain a cooling airflow. Overall the vest feels more like technical clothing than a pack, yet it’s tough and carries well, even when filled to capacity.
While it is without a doubt a super-minimalist pack, the storage is so well arranged it feels more than the stated 4 litres. Full-length stretch pockets on the front straps carry two full 500-litre HydraPak flasks (included) in comfort, while a good-sized zipped pocket easily fits a smartphone. There are also two pole attachment points and two lower mesh stash pockets on the straps, plus two more mesh pockets on the sides, giving you lots of options. On the back is a further, larger stretch pocket so you can stow (or retrieve) a jacket easily, without needing to take the pack off. The main compartment fits a reservoir or adds more space for carrying soft items such as spare clothing, and there’s a second zipped pocket for keeping valuables safe.
The Slope Runner Endurance Vest is available in four sizes, according to chest measurement, with adjustment through the simple yet effective front fastening system and additional side pulls, hidden within the side pockets, for a perfect fit.
This versatile zipped, long-sleeved top combines comfort and protection through a clever combination of fabric types. The body and shoulders are a tough, lightweight 45% recycled Nylon, while the arms and hood are stretchy and sweat-wicking Capilene Cool fabric, made from 100% recycled polyester. The whole garment is treated with HeiQ anti-odour control. During warmer conditions the sleeves roll up and the deep zip offers lots of ventilation. On colder days the full-length sleeves and snug, stretchy hood, which cinches around your ears for a protective and comfortable fit, offer a good level of warmth. The women’s model also has thumb loops and mitts for variable hand coverage – perfect for frosty morning runs. The double zip means it can be opened from the bottom for venting without flapping.
In the women’s version the zip was the only (very minor) negative point for this top, causing a bit of discomfort under the chin when fully done up. A slightly stiffer collar and improved chin guard would remedy this.
Despite this one niggle, the Airshed has, for both of us, become our go-to top for its comfort and versatility. Ideal as a light windshirt over a baselayer for cold morning runs, it’s also great as part of a layering system and feels comfortable under a pack or waterproof.
This ultra light and airy technical tee wicks sweat and dries fast. The solid colour versions are 100% recycled polyester while the marled colours are only 52% recycled, but both are bluesign approved and treated with HeiQ permanent odour control. The fit is slim but comfortable, adding a light and breathable layer that’s good to run in whether on its own or under a mid- or shell layer. The set-in sleeve construction allows for full freedom of movement while running and it’s finished with flat seams, which sit comfortably under a pack.
Personal preference dictates what you like to wear next to your skin – perhaps more than any other garment. In a layering system – like the High Endurance range – a Merino baselayer will always get our vote for its softness, absorbency, breathabilty and naturally antimicrobial properties. If you’re happy wearing polyester as a first layer, though, then this is a great choice. Otherwise it’s an excellent choice for summer running when light, airy and fast-drying is the priority.
Endless Run Shorts £70 – men’s tested
These great looking shorts combine a fitted and supportive 100% recycled polyester mix short with a looser, DWR-treated recycled Nylon front panel, all treated with HeiQ permanent odour control. The fit is skin-tight and these shorts are quite short, but the loose front panel offers just enough coverage and they are really comfortable and perfect for warmer weather.
While we didn’t test them out, the women’s version looks good but lacks the weatherproof front panel. This does give you the option of wearing them as they are or teaming them with a pair of overshorts or a skort should you wish.
The storage on these shorts is excellent and unlike anything else we’ve tested. Two large stretch pockets cover most of the side and back panel, and easily fit a phone, a couple of energy bars, a small jacket and even the dog’s lead comfortably and with almost no bounce. There’s also a small stretch pocket on the waistband at the back with a sewn-in key loop. There’s no zip pocket but this keeps them light and completely comfortable, and makes sense when used within a system that includes a pack. The drawstring and elasticated waist keeps everything in place, even with the pockets fully loaded.
Strider Pro Pants £100 – women’s tested
Super light and packable, the Strider Pro Pants are ideal for general winter training, chilly starts or for stashing in your pack in case the weather turns later on. Made from a quick-drying and breathable 100% recycled polyester, they offer a good level of protection for very little extra weight.
The stretch cuffs and poppers up the lower leg allow for easy putting on/taking off without the need to remove your running shoes – perfect when you need an extra layer quickly and with minimal faff when you start to get cold. They also add a layer of versatility to your running wardrobe, working well as a lightweight standalone for cool days or over a pair of running tights when it’s really cold. A men’s version is also available.
The final item in this exciting new HEK range is the fully redesigned Storm Racer jacket. We haven’t yet been able to get hold of a sample to test, but when/if we do we’ll add an update here.
This innovative, ultralight, 3-layer waterproof shell is made from 100% recycled ripstop Nylon. It features a double zipper designed to wear over a pack, allowing easy access to food, water and supplies, along with extra venting when you’re working hard. It stuffs into its own pocket for ease of stowing and is, like the rest of the range, Fair Trade certified sewn.
Having used and loved the previous version of the Storm Racer jacket for several years we have high hopes for this one.
Overall, we’ve been really impressed with the innovation and thoughtful running-specific features across this range. Time and effort has gone into choosing just the right fabrics and details for the job and this really shines through in use. So far durability has been excellent, as we’ve come to expect from Patagonia, and it’s good to know that the materials are recycled, recyclable, and made under Fair Trade certified conditions.