Going by appearance alone, it’s almost impossible to compare one garment to another in terms of performance benefits. Only once you really dig into their makeup can you begin to understand the differences between quality and inferiority.
Here are the key things to look out for!
Athletes train year-round, in all sorts of conditions, and therefore require apparel that will keep them comfortable, which is where thermoregulation comes into play. When it’s cold you should want it to act as a second skin, to give you that extra layer of warmth without any infringements to your performance. When it’s hot, you should seek a high wicking and breathable fabric, with quick drying properties.
A good example would be ashmei, who opted for Merino wool due to its natural ability to respond to changes in the body’s temperature.
High-performance brands will focus on creating seamless apparel in order to prevent any avoidable and uncomfortable friction with your skin. This is predominantly relevant to base layers or any other piece that comes into direct contact with your skin.
Be careful with this though, as not all functionality is necessarily useful to you. There’s no need for excess zips where they don’t add anything or are unused, for example, as all it really does is add weight.
Consider a brand suspect if their products offer anything other than functionalities genuinely necessary for boosting your performance.
Optimal sportswear will find ways to adapt to the athlete. You also need to look at other factors like how stretchy it is, as you will probably want elasticity, but not too much. The weight of the garment is another crucial element, as the top products will promote their light load. However, you should be wary if it’s too light, as it might not have the durability you’re after.
When conditions force you into layering up, it’s essential that your layering system is able to work harmoniously. Meaning that, in an ideal world, little to none of the above benefits will be affected by the addition of another layer.
At the end of the day, everyone will have their own preference. Try and test various systems and materials until you find one that works best for you.
In any scenario, always ask yourself the same three questions!
Is this essential?
How will it improve me?
Is there a better option out there?