31 July 2011

Unfinished Business

Sitting on my desk now for nearly a year is a note from a friendly and generous gent at Sport Science (www.sportsciencewear.com). That note came in a package with a pair of samples (read, free, always good, thanks!) of their product, that being clothing, in this case shirts, made from their super-double-secret fabric that feels like cotton but is said to perform like tech wicking material. All of this came about because I replied to their “targeted promotional email” (a.k.a. spam that is close enough to what you’re interested in so that you don’t get annoyed and don’t discard it immediately). Their email made a comment about having an ice cold Guinness after a race, and I reprimanded them on suggesting such an insult as putting a Guinness on ice. Apparently they were amused and got the point, one thing led to another, blog was mentioned which excited dreams of potential social media promotional opportunities (I cannot tell a lie, I fully disclosed the extent of my admirably non-massive readership), and said samples showed up for self and wife. I’d promised to give them fair shake and a potential mention here to my scads (scientific term that sounds large but barely breaks two digits) of readers.

Life got in the way, injuries interrupted training, next thing you know it was fall and long sleeve weather, and, well, said shirts didn’t get a fair testing until spring, at which point Sport Science pretty much forgot I existed (I don’t blame them) and my blog posting became so time challenged that spare column inches never appeared. My guilt has not exactly been overwhelming, but, well, it’s time to right that omission, or at least get that note off my desk. After all, they did send me free shirts.

So, are those shirts up to the task? Short answer: It depends. Longer answer: Sort of.

These togs are billed as the most comfortable shirt you’ll own while still being the best performing. On the comfort, utterly no argument. The fabric is so pleasantly soft you’d never mistake it for a tech shirt, and frankly, it beats most cotton shirts. On performance, a mixed bag. I’m a heavy sweater. I can’t help it, I’m half Italian, we sweat at the sight of a light bulb. On a hot, humid day, complete soak-through is the norm. Tech shirts can’t wick enough when the Army Corps of Engineers is needed to manage the flow. Nor, can I say, does the Sport Science shirt. My impression? It got sweaty wet like a cotton shirt. I will say that because of its soft consistency, when wet it wasn’t nearly as annoying as a cotton shirt. But it didn’t, to my judgment, wick like a wicking shirt, or dry out as quickly.

Nevertheless, any shirt is going to get wet, and if that’s going to happen, no big complaints if that shirt is still comfortable when wet, which this is. But there’s one bigger complaint I’ve got that has nothing to do with this garment’s performance: it looks like a cotton shirt. And any serious runner who sees someone running in a cotton shirt almost immediately makes an assessment, and that assessment typically isn’t good. That fool’s out in cotton. Amateur! I know there’s nothing scientific about this, and I’m the last person to worry about impressions or peer pressure, but it’s true, this just doesn’t look like a running shirt. Shame on me, but it has to be said.

All in all, for what it is, and for me it’s a good active-day shirt (read: big hikes and so on, but not really running), it’s not bad. And though it’s still a bit pricey, at $22 on their web site (pricey at least when compared with a drawer full of race tech tees, obtained for the price of admission), that price is, to my recollection, down from what I recall was the going rate last fall when they sent me the samples. So I say thanks to the Sport Science folks for the samples, and wish them well in their quest to make the world more comfortable.

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