Best Running Gear for Layering: the next edition of Another Mother Runner Gears Up. We have #motherrunners—put key running gear to the test, then deliver the results so you can grab the gear that works best for your running and body.
By Allison Pattillo
The days are getting shorter and the temperatures cooler…. meaning it’s the perfect time to run. Especially when you have the right gear! So often, I add too many layers at the first seasonal cooldown and soon regret it. Instead of being a literal hot mess one-mile into our run, we decided to test the latest gear, all made for layering.
We know what you’re thinking, someone in Arizona will have different requirements than a runner in Massachusetts. Which is why we curated what we thought would be the ideal pieces for a variety of climates and sent them to testers across the country–literally from South Carolina to the Pacific Northwest. The result is a review in which everything tested was an absolute winner with high marks!
Since fall is fleeting, our testers also share how they’ll incorporate these pieces as the days get colder. Since we made it easy, all you have to do is read, shop, and run!
Review: Our PNW tester loved this wool shirt–truly, she bought it in two more colors after her first test run! –for its three-season versatility. From a sunny fall day in the mid-50s to a chilly downpour, the top kept her warm and comfortable without feeling clammy. In fact, she claimed that, “if this top had thumbholes, it would be absolute perfection.” That’s no small praise! The feather-weight wool is incredibly soft and seamless, meaning no uncomfortable rubbing. It’s crafted with a knit mesh that’s allows for more breathability for your core and high sweat zones and more warmth on your arms.
Perfect For: Running in cool or damp climates and layering under a vest or jacket as it gets colder.
Grab it here: tracksmith.com
Review: “I like that this shirt can be worn on its own when it’s warmer for sun protection and for layering when the temperature drops,” said our tester in South Carolina. In addition to having a dialed fit and being made of soft, 50% recycled content, this shirt easily goes from a run to Zoom call, with the quick addition of a scarf or a sweater. It also makes for an easy base layer and a versatile travel piece……. remember traveling? For the ultimate kid compliment, our tester’s 10-year old son told her the fabric is super soft and that she’s totally huggable in it!
Perfect For: A multi-functional base layer, that you can wear year round.
Grab it here: patagonia.com
Review: For those not in the know, autumn in Arizona is also known as second summer, but gearing up is still important! Our tester enjoyed this whisper weight, sheer running shirt on its own and also layered over a tank. It breathes well, providing just enough protection when it isn’t so hot, while remaining comfortable when it does warm up. Alas, it lost half a point overall due to no thumbholes!
Perfect For: The ideal autumnal running layer for warmer climates (we’re looking at you SoCal, Arizona, and Florida!).
Grab it here: saucony.com
Review: Talk about multi-tasking–our Iowa tester said the asymmetrical zipper on this butter soft top meant she could unzip, pop her arms out, and tie it around her waist, all while on the run! Ditto with going in reverse. For those of us (okay, me) who don’t feel quite so coordinated, it’s cozy as can be on cool and breezy days, plus the sleeves can be pushed up easily, and stay up, as your BTUs increase. It even has a roomy kangaroo pocket, perfect for stowing a hat or headphones. The fit is relaxed enough to have another layer or two under it, plus it looks good with jeans. Tester’s note: If it the zipper isn’t all the way up or down, the collar does flap a bit.
Perfect For: Cozy comfort to inspire you to get outside on those cold mornings.
Grab it here: oiselle.com
Review: Our tester shared that she’s been looking for the “right” vest for a few fall seasons, and this is finally it! This minimalist vest is well made, incredibly lightweight and works as a perfect layer for a cool weather run when you need an extra coverage, but not a full jacket. As you warm up, perforations on the back dump heat, plus it has two zip pockets to stash extras, like a pair of running gloves or your face mask.
Our Massachusetts tester not only likes this for running, but also as a layer for hanging out on the sidelines at her kids’ soccer and baseball games. Yes, this piece is a bit pricey, but our tester put it best when she said, “Start with the best and expect the best in return.” The only reason it didn’t get a perfect five is due to the fact that it has a slim fit, and, if you tend towards having generous hips, you may want to go up a size.
Perfect For: Feeling sleek and fast on cool days.
Grab it here: on-running.com
Review: According to our tester from Kansas City, MO, who tested on a breezy, cool morning, this high visibility, wind and water resistant jacket is warm yet breathable, and didn’t leave her feeling sweaty or sticky, even on a 13-mile run. She also appreciated the bold reflective strips, vent layer on the upper back, two zip pockets, and hanging loop.
While it fit her well, she did say there isn’t much in the way of extra room around her butt and hips and recommends going up a size if you plan to layer more than a long-sleeve under it. After running with two other Mother Runners and comparing windbreakers, this one was the clear winner due to its thoughtful design and breathability.
Perfect For: Being seen (in a good way) and not feeling clammy.
Grab it here: brooksrunning.com
Review: Our Denver-based tester said this is a great running piece for days in the 30s and 40s, that is also styled to make it good for hiking, biking (the hood is designed to fit under a helmet), skiing (the body skimming fit pairs nicely with a shell), lounging, traveling, and wearing with something other than Lycra tights.
Pros are the durability and quick drying warmth of wool, as well as the fact that it’s soft and light weight, has three pockets, a long torso, and, wait for it, thumb holes! It’s pricey, but is built to last, plus won’t stink, since it’s wool, leaving our tester to declare it feels good from both a budgetary and an ecological standpoint.
Perfect For: Cold weather outings in gear you know can take a beating and still look great.
Grab it here: icebreaker.com