Friday, March 27, 2015

Tested: Marmot Women's Jump Start Capri

This is an initial review since I've only run in them once, but since I can't find a single other review of these on teh interwebz I figured what the hell - I can always update later.

A bit of background: I strongly dig knickers/capris/whatever you want to call stretchy shorts-ish things that come down to the vicinity of your knee. They're my go-to kit for running in temperatures between 0-10c (32-50f), which seems like a pretty narrow range until you consider that a lot of spring & fall weather lies within that range...making them pretty damn useful for about half the freakin' year. Thus, I like to keep a few pairs on hand at all times.

I haz a problem with many of them, though. Something that made Tanker the Wonder Sherpa quite literally laugh out loud when I described it as The Dreaded Cantaloupe Crotch.

What it means is that, as I run, the abdominal portion of the knicks work their way down such that I could smuggle brunch buffet supplies between the tops of my thighs.

My friends will never eat any fruit I bring for brunch again.

Having had to ditch a couple of pairs of knicks that caused ceaseless bouts of mid-run contortions in a vain attempt to correct their positioning, I decided I'd give the Marmot Women's Jump Start Capri a shot.

** WARNING: doughiness ahead**

Based on the expedient of trying them on and standing there for a minute.

What it is: Calf-length lycra for athletic pursuits.

Why you want them: For those in-between days when shorts just aren't quite enough, but tights are too much.

Duration used: 1 run (will update further as needed)

Front view

Side view after tag removal

Price paid/purchased from: Price tag said $64.99 +tax; I paid $63 at Sail because they were having a 15% off sale.

Manufacturer's description: "Whether performing warm-up stretches or hitting the pavement or trail, the midweight Women’s Jump Start Capri is built with a stretchy knit fabric that wicks and dries to keep you comfortable. A gusseted crotch allows uninhibited movement; the COOLMAX® gusset liner ensures supreme moisture management."

  • Stretch, Midweight, Quick-Drying Performance Knit Fabric
  • Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) 50
  • Quick-Drying and Wicking
  • Inseam Gusset Panel for Increased Range of Motion
  • Flat-Locked Seams for Added Comfort
  • COOLMAX® Gusset Liner
  • Interior Drawcord for Custom Fit
  • Reflectivity
  • 19 Inseam
Main Materials: 88% Polyester, 12% Elastane Single Jersey 8.5 oz/yd
Fit: Athletic Fit
Weight: 0lbs 7.35oz (208.4g)

Sorry for exposing you to my winter insulation.

Wide yoga pants-style waistband with no drawcord.

What rawks: They're a decently flattering fit, and the fabric is lovely and soft. They're quite lightweight but don't feel too delicate. Having run in them once, I found that they did shift a bit, but not nearly as much as many other pairs - rather than The Dreaded Cantaloupe Crotch, I could only smuggle a kiwi at most (I am seriously not going to be welcome at brunch anymore). Once I started to sweat a bit, a final adjustment kept them in place for the rest of my run. The wide waistband is very comfortable and non-compressive, and even with my absurdly long legs the length seems pretty good. The rise is reasonable - not so high that short-waisted me has to pull them up to my ribs, but also not so low that people with normal size torsos will have their cheeks peeking out. The knicks are not restrictive at all, offering complete freedom of movement and the flatlock seams should limit chafing. There is a lovely, very soft binding around the bottom hem that is very pleasant against the skin, and they do include reflective elements both front and rear. There is a small pocket that could accommodate a car key, single gel packet or hotel key card/credit card in the left side of the waistband.

Back heat-laminate tag.
Tags at the left hip.

What sucks: If you're looking to purchase your regular size in athletic apparel, you will either be sorely disappointed or extremely flattered. I initially tried on a medium, as that's what I expected to wear, but the fabric was merely "fitted" rather than the slightly compressive skin-fit I prefer for running knicks. I sized down, which feels comfortable but seems a bit ridiculous - I'm a 5'8" slightly-over-150-fairly-athletic-but-still-a-bit-pudgy-pounds chick, and I wear about a size 10 right now. Unless I've got the intention of the cut of these completely wrong, the Small = size 6 shown on the tag above is bloody well absurd. Look at the photos above (if you can do so without permanent damage to your eyesight) - it's not like I'm straining the seams on these things, which should technically be 2 sizes too small, and the material is just snug; I have to put it in place and wrinkles appear when I bend at the hip or knee. These are not signs that say "too small" to me.

Pocket in the waistband - you're not getting much in there.

Soft binding around the bottom hem, but unnecessarily overlapped. 

There are a couple of other issues as well. While my sole run in them so far was fairly short, I felt a bit of irritation during the start of the run (while they were still shifting a bit) at the back of the knicks where the waistband meets the body (or booty) of the garment. There was also an inkling of some chafing from the stitching around the gusset, which leads me to believe the thread used may be the culprit - flatlock seams are all very well and good, but if the stitching is too stiff you're still going to chafe. Without taking them apart I can't tell if the gold standard "fluff" thread has been used, but right now I'm just hoping that time and washing will soften it.

My main beefs with these knicks are that they do still shift down on me (I honestly do own some that don't, but they haven't been made for years), and the placement of the reflective is pretty poor for actually providing visibility. While the former of these two is an individual problem based on body shape - I'm sure it's my giant thighs pulling the material down - the latter could be considered a safety issue.

Rear reflective is poorly placed

It's not just my short torso - any shirt would cover that tiny rear reflective patch.
Sorry to make you look at my bum.
It's like they used shy reflective transfers that just want to hide.

Now, not everyone will have the same problem with the reflective brand name below the left knee - I know that I have freakishly large calves for my size and other women will not have them ride up the same way. However, I do feel like having the reflective above the knee would be more visible, and that tiny spot on the rear seems to be completely useless.

What I'd like to see: Less abrasive thread used, ditch the fancy-schmancy v-cut at the back of the calf, improve the placement of the reflective on both front and rear, and make the sizing more realistic.

What I'm saying: I'm somewhat satisfied with these. The fit is better than my last 2 attempts at buying knicks that stay put, and the fabric really is lovely - if only the stitching lived up to the softness of the rest of them. Since they're a non-returnable item, I'm stuck with them anyway, so I can hope that with repeated washing the thread will soften. I will, however, be sure to use some lubrication in suspect chafing areas and will probably keep these for shorter-duration runs until I build more confidence in them. Basically, I don't hate them...yet.

Overwhelmed by meh.

For further edification: Well as I stated before, I couldn't find any other reviews online as of the end of March 2015. You can always watch this listing to see if anyone posts a review there.

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