TAYLOR: Getting into the wild can either be an incredible experience or a horrendous one based on the gear you bring with you. I’ve been there when I needed something. It straight-up sucks.
This winter, La Sportiva continues to lean into the running side of their brand with highly functional clothing explicitly made for the trails and dropping temperatures. This mountain-oriented company finds home in the Dolomites of Italy. So they know a thing or two about being active in the mountains. I’ve always noticed throughout their lines that quality is something they never skimp on.
TAYLOR: We’ve tested a lot of jackets over the years. This Zeal Jacket has to rank toward the top for cold weather running jackets because of fit and practicality. Technically, it’s a ski touring jacket. I will definitely be using it for that purpose, too, but it’s a great running jacket as well.
For starters, it’s not too heavy for those brisk mornings, but it is not too light for the frigid days of winter. The Zeal jacket hugs the body comfortably without being too slim for appropriate layers underneath. Even the hood is constructed thoughtfully with some structure to have minimal bounce and allow a little extra room for a hat and headlamp. It’s really a versatile jacket that spans usage.
The outer shell is weather resistant (note: NOT weatherproof)! The Zeal jacket is covered with a DWR finish. So, snow blowin’ days proved to be no match, though I’d be careful on cold drizzly days because the saturation will be too much at some point.
Temperature regulation is a massive bonus with the Zeal jacket. A durable mesh is used throughout. Even for a proper winter running jacket, breathability is an absolute key. The arms, sides, back, and part of the hood take on this single layer of relatively breathable mesh, whereas the rest of the jacket gets the full Primaloft treatment! This assures two layers of mesh with synthetic insulation for warmth. It’s beautifully mapped, hitting the high blood flow areas in the front of the torso, underarms, neck, and face with insulation.
The Zeal Jacket is setting a pretty high bar for winter running apparel as far as performance goes.
PRICE: $149Shop Zeal Jacket – Men
TAYLOR: Layers are a human’s best friend in winter running. Being the walking supernova I am (aka a roaming oven), it’s tough to find the right layerings that keep me in the comfortable zone. I’m either roasting hot or suffer frostbite from the lack of layers. La Sportiva’s Swift Long Sleeve must have my number because this might be one of the most personally appreciated layers of all time.
Let’s start with the fact that it is a simple, well-fitted, and thin quarter zip. They call this a “long sleeve” because it does feel a lot more like a shirt than it does an over-layer. I think it works very nicely as both. Being composed mainly of recycled polyester for moisture management with some soft Tencel and elastane for stretch, the Swift is uber lightweight, comfortable, and performance-oriented. Integrated thumb holes and mitts take the practicality of this garment to a whole new level.
See also: The Best Cold Weather Running Shirts
I believe it is one of the best garments for layering purposes. Put a wool base under the Swift Long Sleeve and a wind layer over for those frigid mid-winter days, and you’ll have no problem. Throw it over a t-shirt for the early summer alpine adventures. Or throw it on as-is for those shoulder seasons. The Swift Long Sleeve might just become your best friend by year’s end.
PRICE: $79Shop Swift Long Sleeve – Men Shop Swift Long Sleeve – Women
TAYLOR: Can I be honest? Of course I can! This is Believe in the Run, people! From one perspective, La Sportiva could be getting away with murder here. On the other, it’s such a ripe opportunity that the big brands have been missing!
If you have ever wanted to do the whole Courtney Dauwalter thang, these are your shorts! It’s a shocker to see that Salomon has not jumped on this yet! Whether or not that is the vibe La Sportiva is going for or not, I’m going to give kudos!
Despite the 8 inch inseam (double my typical short length), the Medal shorts were surprisingly light and flowy. It was easy to feel like Dauwalter or Anton Krupicka strolling down some singletrack. The short maintained its graceful profile and impressed me more and more with every run. Restriction is always an issue with longer shorts, but the Medal Short isn’t even close to as restrictive as most 8-inch shorts would be.
The outer garment is an uber light polyester. It wicks, stretches, and breathes like no other material. An inner short (aka gusseted brief) provides an excellent base to anchor the light outer short. It also helped in the comfort department — which was not hard to come across. A broad spandex waistband was one of my favorite aspects of the short as it provided yet another easy-on-the-skin feel for stress-free running all day.
As with any proper trail short, the rear zippered mesh pocket is perfect for a large phone, stuff some trail snacks, car keys with wallet essentials, or whatever-the-heck else you may want to stuff in that thing. Vertical reflective stripes on the legs are a bonus.
PRICE: $65Shop Medal Short – Men