Winter is well and truly upon us, so it’s about time I brought you my pick of the top kit to invest in to see you through the cold snap (‘snap’ being an optimistic choice of word, I know). Look out for the ‘FP Winter Pick’ logo on coming posts for the AW14 gear that I rate and reckon is going to help you rock the season. First up, this Sweaty Betty Ultra Run Jacket (which has a surprise in its back pocket).
I’m going to be frank from the start, this little beauty will set you back £95, which is not to be sniffed at (even if you have a streaming cold). But I can confirm it’s got the feel of good quality – with a super-soft finish. Plus I love the reflective city lights design (very on trend, dontcha know?)
It’s made from breathable polyester with sweat-wicking side panels, a fold-away drawstring hood (as “modelled” by me above) and fitted arm cuffs to lock in warmth. I’ve tried it out on a light jog around my local park on a blustery Sunday and, more importantly, on a couple of 10ks after work, when the temperature has seriously dropped. For me, it gives the perfect amount of warmth. While it’s quite thin, it’s enough to just take the edge off the cold and cutting winds when you set out. But then, because it’s so lightweight, it doesn’t stifle you the minute you get going. I did find the hood didn’t stay up in the wind, which you might find irritating. But, to be honest, I’ve never found one that does. And, for me, the main thing with one is that it’s a “nice to have” to make you feel snug when you want to cry as you step outside (just me?) but you wouldn’t want to keep it up for a whole run. Just too claustrophobic.
Anyway, without a doubt, the best thing about this jacket is its back pocket. Not just because it’s a really decent size for carrying a phone and keys (and gels, and an Oyster card, and plasters and more). But because of something a whole heap more ingenious. You can fold the entire jacket away inside it and convert it into a bumbag to strap around your waist when you get to that inevitable point mid-run where you start to overheat. It’s not at all fiddly to do (see the video of me demonstrating below, which was done in my first take, with frozen hands). And it’s sheer genius because, no matter how cold it is outside, if you’re anything like me you always boil a few miles in.
Here’s my little vid so you can see it in action…
While this is definitely an investment piece, Sweaty Betty is a brand you can rely on for kit that lasts. And it’ll see you through the seasons as the bumbag feature will be a Godsend whenever the weather is unpredictable (which, in Britain, is basically all the time). It’s not going to be right for you if you’re after something seriously warm and fleecy for the coldest of days or that’ll keep you dry in heavy rain (it’s only shower proof). But what you lose in those respects you gain big time in breathability and foldability. And otherwise it does everything you could want from a run jacket and more. So it’s three cheers for bumbags being back in fashion. And a fourth for Sweaty Betty for turning them to the runner’s advantage.
VITALS: sweatybetty.com, @sweatybetty
p.s. What do you think of my first blog (cringe!) Do you find it handy to see the gear in action? Let me know in the comments below.