Monday, October 7, 2013

Product Review: Brooks Equilibrium Base Layer

The days are getting shorter here in New England so that means the cold weather is coming, and with the cold weather running takes on a new art form, that of "the layer". How do we keep from freezing but without having to cart around a lot of extra weight. At the same time you have to be cool enough not to over heat.

One of the new products out on the market is the Brooks Equilibrium Base Layer which they claim is good for both hot and cold weather.  I read about it in the September issue of Competitor and since I was ordering new shoes from Brooks anyways, I figured I'd throw it in my cart and give it a try.  At $75 it's not cheap but nothing in running seems to be.  They say to pair it with a shell, but I've seen their shells at the expo and I can't bring myself to pay $80 for that no matter how good the quality is, so my jacket will have to do.  There are only two sizes for men S/M and L/XL so it was easy to choose the right size for me.  I entered my credit card information and through the magic of Internet commerce my order was placed.

A few days later it arrived thanks to free expedited shipping (it pays to visit the expo booth) and I eagerly ripped into the packaging.  When I took it out of the bag the first thought that crossed my mind was "fishnet".  If this was around in 1975 I think Dr. Frank-N-Furter would have used it to round out his outfit in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show".  About 60% of the shirt is mesh (read holes) with the front of the shirt being solid, with solid strips running down the arms and back and the rest being mesh.  The mesh (holes) traps air to keep you warm, but also allows moisture to escape (says the little video below) but I didn't realize how big the mesh would be to allow for this.

L/XL Men's Equilibrium Base Layer

Not stretched so this gives you perspective on the size of the mesh
Assuming that brooks knows what it's doing I decided to try it on since I was a bit chilly sitting around my house in just a tee shirt.  Despite the strange look from my wife I liked it.  The fit was tight as described but not constricting, even for a bigger guy like me.  It's lightweight and soft adding the airy feeling (along with the "mesh").  I felt the length was good, but the sleeves were very long.  Perhaps a short version would be in order for vertically challenged.

Walking around the house put away laundry, I didn't feel as if I was warming up much (it is just a base layer), so I thew my tee-shirt back on over it.  The combination of the two seemed to do the trick at keeping me warm.  I will warn you that if you do wear the Equilibrium with nothing over it be careful.  I happened to lean back on a dining room chair and the feel of cold wood through the mesh (holes) was a shock!

The next morning I took it out for my first run.  I had been wearing a long sleeve tech shirt under my running jacket but I was still pretty cool (especially when starting out).  It was one of the warmer days of the week (55 vs the low forties we were getting), and I paired it with my running jacket and was off for a 5K.  The shirt definitely kept me warm and I didn't feel over hot. The mesh (holes) worked allowing for moisture to evaporate and I felt less moisture in the shirt when I was done.  The first impressions were good but like I said it was warmer so we'll need to wait for a colder day to come to really put it to the test.

The second test of the equilibrium base layer was at the Rock N' Roll Providence half marathon.  I used it underneath a short sleeve tech tee shirt to add some extra warmth on this cold 45 degree morning.  Standing and waiting for the start of the race my core felt warm but my arms with the mesh (holes) we cold.  Once we started moving I warmed up and I felt good throughout the race.  At the end of the race it had warmed up to the upper 50's and despite sweating for over two hours I didn't feel as if the shirt was very damp so I guess the mesh (they did their job I'll stop calling them holes) did their job.  Standing around at the beer garden there was a slight breeze and in the shade my arms again were cool with my core warm, but in the sun I was perfectly heated.

For the third test I wore the Equilibrium under a long sleeve tech shirt.  The temprature was 52 degrees and the combination of the two worked great at a keeping my core and arms warm.  I didn't feel too hot and the tech fabric worked to keep the moisture allowed through the mesh away from my skin.  I think I'll be using this often.

The final test was a run as intended, with the Equilibrium and a shell on a again on a 52 degree morning.  The shell wasn't designed for running specifically but had ventalation and was light weight.  The combination left me a bit clamy as made my way up and down the hills of Watertown, but provided plenty of warmth.

Overall I think the Equilibrium Base is a great running top, which is able to provide ample warmth without over heating.  It can be combined with vairous other garments to fine tune the level of warmth needed and allow you to make it to the strarting line without having to discard that old Mets sweatshirt.  Why you have a Mets sweatshirt is beyond me though?  I mean the Mets and Yankees are in the same city why would you pick the Mets?  It's like "No thanks I don't want that Fliet Migon I'm happy with my Taco Bell."  Sorry I digress. If you're looking for more information check out the video below and the link to the Brooks website above.

If you have a product that you'd like to provide me for an honest review feel free to contact me via my profile here on Kicking Asphalt.

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