For July’s Another Mother Runner Gears Up, we’re featuring gear that makes all of our busy lives better, more fun, or different this summer. For our reviews, #motherrunners put key gear to the test and then deliver the results so you can grab what works best for you. 

By Rachel Walker 

Is it just us, or has summer 2022 flown by? We might be in the “dog days” right now, but for those of us coordinating camp drop offs and pick-ups, working with drastically limited childcare, being on 24/7 kid duty and thus acting as logistician/nutritionist/camp counselor/nurse/librarian/cleaner, enjoying these so-called lazy summer days might be more aspirational than reality. Which is why we changed up our selection this month. Read on for a wide and diverse range of things—equipment, clothes, swimsuits, sunscreen, and more—that we and our testers think will somehow enhance the season. 

Note that for these reviews, we only showcase gear that scores 3.0 or higher with our testers.


Pearl Izumi Pro Bib Short



Tester Rating: 4.5

Review: The are the Ferrari of bike shorts—a highly engineered bib built for serious cyclists—with a corresponding price tag. We sent them to Dimity, who cycles almost every day, and she praised the design’s minimal seaming—”super important when you’re sitting on the most delicate parts of your body for hours”—and substantial-but-low-profile chamois, the cushioning in the shorts’ crotch. The fabric is like butter and the bibs have a clever drop tail, which facilitates going to the bathroom without having to remove your jersey. For those unfamiliar with bibs as opposed to regular shorts, the bibs rise over the belly and offer Spanx-like support. “FWIW, cycling gear does need more engineering and design overhead than running gear, and in my experience, quality gear does last for years,” says Dimity. She recommends these bibs for cyclists training for a long ride or who ride as their regular cardio exercise and want to invest in top-of-the-line gear. But those looking for similar features and design at a lower price point can look to the more affordable Expedition Bib Short ($125).

Sizing: Runs small/is designed for a sleek, slim fit. Size up.

Price: $225

Pearl Izumi Pro Mesh Jersey: Screaming Red



Tester Rating: 5

Review: Seriously, what is not to love on this mesh jersey? It’s like the perfect jersey for any summer ride above 70 degrees. The mesh fabric is so thin and lightweight—it breathes beautifully without feeling like the skin underneath is also being exposed to the elements. In addition, despite being thin, the fabric doesn’t feel delicate—like you could snag it on something easily. It feels like it could last for years. “I love three back pockets on a bike jersey, plus there is an easy-to-access zipped key/phone pocket, which I’ve never seen on a bike jersey before. Other features I liked: the grippy seam on the back to keep the jersey in place (don’t like flashing crack to the drivers going by) and the low-profile collar. Sleek.” Plus, the “GoFresh™” feature keeps the funk at bay and even allows this jersey to be worn multiple times between washes. 

Sizing: Runs small/is designed for a sleek, slim fit. Size up.

Price: $150

POC Axion Race MIPS Helmet

Tester Rating: 4.5 

Review: Extremely lightweight and with excellent ventilation, this helmet kept our tester safe (and her hair dry!) on a particularly hot and humid evening ride. MIPS stands for “multi-directional impact protection system.” The safety system features a low-friction layer inside a bike helmet that allows a multi-directional movement of 10-15mm on certain angled impacts, intended to help reduce rotational force to the head. Our tester liked the helmet’s coverage and adjustability, which made for an easy fit. “Though the helmet is geared toward mountain bikers, and I used it on a relatively flat crushed limestone/fine gravel ride, it is a versatile helmet that would work well in a variety of settings.”

Sizing: Fits true to size; POC’s sizing chart on the website is accurate.

Price: $170

Schwinn Marshall Step-Thru E-Bike

Tester Rating: 5

Review: An electric bike takes makes the choice of whether to ride or drive—to the pool, to the grocery store, to the post office, to work—easy. Our tester lives in Boulder, Colo., which is a very bike-friendly city with miles of designated bike paths, but she also took the bike down to Denver and navigated the city’s busier streets with confidence. “My kids are old enough to ride alongside on their non-electric bikes, which means that I become the gear schlepper and they get great exercise while we get around town together this summer.” The bike is easy to use, and the battery comes off the frame, which makes for easy charging (lock the bike outside and bring the battery in). “Honestly, this has been a complete game changer. Can it get me there as quickly as my minivan? Probably not. But it’s a heck of a lot faster than pedaling a non-motorized bike, and I show up feeling refreshed, not a sweaty mess.” There’s lots of electric bike companies out there right now; Schwinn has an Another Mother Runner-like ethos: everyone is a cyclist, no matter your experience, fitness, seriousness, or familiarity with the sport. 

Sizing: The company’s online size chart is great.

Price: $1099.99


Stio Glide Tech Shorts

Tester Rating: 4

Review: If leggings became the pandemic pants “uniform,” then these shorts, which fit and feel like a shorter version of your favorite legging, are summer’s choice. The soft and light fabric fit snugly without being tight, and the 9” inseam means the length—just above the knees—offered nice coverage for running, wearing under a dress, or just wearing with a shirt. “The length completely covered where my thighs tend to chafe on humid days. I wore them on two runs, an easy weekday run and my 14.5-mile weekend run, and the shorts were great for both.” Our tester liked the zippered side pocket that holds a phone, but wished there were pockets on both sides of the shorts. A stash pocket at the waist is the perfect size for GU.

Sizing: True to size.

Price: $48.30

Title Nine Waverider Short Romper

Tester Rating: 4.5

Review: The color/ pattern of the Blueberry Waverider Short Romper is super fun, and the fabric is light-weight and wrinkle free. The step-in-and-pull-up style means it goes on easily and makes it the perfect summer outfit, whether at home or away. “I wish I had had this with me when I vacationed in St. John last month because it would have been the perfect thing to wear on our beach trail hikes.” It is cool and easy to wear over a swimsuit and perfect with either hiking shoes or flip flops. It would even be great afterward headed out for a bite to eat. It’s a bit sassy with the short inseam. “…Even though I consider myself fit, I don’t necessarily love showing my inner thighs to everyone!”

Sizing: True to size.

Price: $89

Chaco Z/1 Classic Sandal

Tester Rating: 4.5

Review: These sandals offer excellent arch support, and the straps are adjustable, however it takes a few tries to figure out how to dial in the fit. Once they’re set, they are easy on and off. They’re great for gardening and spending time outside, easy to clean, and can get wet and dry quickly. They’re comfortable enough to take on a hike or walk around town, and though you won’t win any fashion contests, you can also wear socks with them (nice for a coffee shop pit stop, post-run after you’ve taken off your running shoes). “I love that these sandals can be worn out on the town, and they look pretty, but you can also wear them in the yard or on a hike. They’re so versatile!”

Sizing: True to size.

Price: $100

Nomadix Changing Poncho

Tester Rating: 4.5

Review: This product is wonderfully multi-purpose: Its main purpose is to allow you to change discretely pre- or post-workout, but it can also be used as an ersatz beach blanket or to get cozy after a rainy trail run. “I wore the poncho to change from my pickleball clothes (read: the same shorts/tank/Handful bra I run in!) into my swimsuit. Then, after my open-water swim, I pulled on the poncho and shimmied down the top half of my swimsuit. From the waist up, as I drove home, it just looked like I was wearing a hoody. I appreciated not having to fully change, while not fretting about getting the leather seats of our SUV wet.” The fabric is lightweight and super absorbent, akin to a car chamois with an adorable pattern. “The look of this poncho isn’t for everyone, but I like its surfer-dude, beachy vibe.” And when you’re not wearing it, the poncho folds into a compact bundle. As for potential improvements, our tester would have liked a slightly larger hood opening and also found removing her pull-on sports bra required some contortion—an issue easily solved with a back clasp or front zipper bra.

Sizing: True to size.

Price: $69.95


Title Nine Swim: Sporty Bikini Top and Holy Grail Bikini Bottom

Rating: 5

Review: “Can I tell you how much I LOVE a functional, cute bikini? Because I do. I bet they are hard to design, and so when I company gets it right, I have to give them praise.” Bottoms are hardest and this Holy Grail bikini bottom is aptly named. Our tester didn’t think it would cover her butt checks—and stay put!—as well as it did. She wasn’t self-conscious walking around the pool deck, and the bikini top, recommended for B-C cups, was just as solid. “I loved the adjustable, double-strapped back, the removable pads (I kept them in), and how much coverage it provided. No Janet Jackson-episodes possible!” The suit passed the diving board test and while it would work for lap swimming, our tester didn’t put it to the test since she prefers one-pieces for that.

Sizing: True to size

Price: $42 (top), $39 (bottom)

KINeSYS SPF 50 Fragrance Free Sunscreen

Rating: 4

Review: This sunscreen goes on light and feels terrific on the skin, and for our pale-skinned tester, it offered pretty good protection; she reapplied it regularly and in copious amounts. “Unlike with lotion or creams, it was harder to gauge how much sunscreen I was actually using.” The lack of scent was terrific, and the sunscreen did not run into her eyes when she sweat. The only reason she didn’t give it a 5 rating was because the screw top jostled loose in her bag. The first time some of the liquid leaked out but fortunately didn’t ruin anything. “I twisted it closed as tight as I could and didn’t have problems after that, but I also didn’t feel comfortable just tossing it into my purse or pool bag.”

Price: $24.99


Mountain Smith Cooler Cube

Rating: 4.5

Review: Easy to carry and featuring handles and a shoulder strap, this soft sided cooler holds more than it looks like it could. At $50, it’s not cheap, but it’s significantly less expensive than other similar sized, brand name coolers on the market. “The straps made it really easy to carry, even when it was jam-packed with drinks and food.” It’s also waterproof, which makes it an obvious choice for days fishing, boating, or paddle boarding.

Price: $49.95

Stio Basin Caryall Tote

Rating: 5

Review: If she could give it more points, our tester would. This tote has it all: pockets, zippered pockets, waterproof lining, and big enough to lug all of our stuff on a summer adventure and this is it! “I have spent way too much money on subpar bags over the years that have fallen apart. I recently took this bag to a swim meet for my three kids, and it held 5 towels, snacks (lots!), 3 books, and all the usual things that fit in my purse (wallet, phone, keys, toiletry bag). It’s amazing!” The bag’s designers thought of everything—and created a bag that can carry a bunch of stuff but not too much (your back thanks you). The price tag might raise eyebrows initially, but this tote is durable and well-made. Truly, it’s a one-and-done purchase…and you get to purge your coat closet of all the other subpar bags you’ve collected over the years.

Price: $99

Check out all of the AMR Gears Up columns here!

Did we miss your favorite summer activity item?
Let us know in the comments below!