Saturday, 4 May 2013

Odlo - the best kept secret in run clothing ?

I don't know about you but running clothing winds me up on an almost daily basis. Whether it is the uninspired block colouring, the absurd fit with arm/leg lengths out of all proportion to chest/waist or just the mediocrity of much of the construction which results in kit falling apart in no time you can practically be guaranteed disappointment. And over the years I've grown to tolerate this - running in a jacket that either leaks like a sieve or steams me like a sauna, zippered tights with broken zips, and shorts that are unspeakable.

I wonder if this problem stems from the fact that much of the clothing is produced by the shoes companies and as a result is just an after thought (and cash generator) to their main business ? There are a few specialists out there who stick to what they know, 1000mile socks are one brand that springs to mind which always performs. They know socks and do socks. And i've generally had good experiences with Helly Hansen thermals. Which brings me to Odlo.

With a background in nordic and alpine sports they can't afford poor design, cheap fabrics and shoddy construction. This winter I was lucky enough to get my hands on their top of the range Bjørndalen Cross Country Ski Jacket (pictured centre left) at a good price and what a piece of equipment it is !

Starting with the fit it almost feels tailored - correct proportions and constructed to allow proper movement. The fabric is just great. -10C and a wind and it keeps you warm, a warmer day and sun shining and there is enough ventilation to keep you comfortable, just omit the mid layer. And the attention to detail is great, whether it the stretchy lower arms and cuff to give a perfect seal, the flap over the top of the zip at the neck or the positioning of the reflective stips the design folks at Odlo have thought of everything.

So that is skiing, what about running ? Well I used the jacket on many of the cold running days we had this winter and it performed brilliantly, though for a normal spring/autumn day you would want to dip into the running collection. The same attention to detail and quality theme runs through the run clothing that I have seen though it can be difficult to get your hands on it in the UK. The one downside is price, this stuff is not cheap but you get what you pay for. Take a slightly longer term view of how long your important items of running kit are going to last you for and it starts to make sense.

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