Friday, October 21, 2011

Gear Box: New Balance 360 Degree Running Jacket

With the summer now long over, and cooler weather settling in, runners are digging deep into their closet to pull out their warmer gear. A recent cool front has brought some much needed, and appreciated, fall weather to my neighborhood, which has made longer runs much more bearable and served as a perfect testing ground for a new running jacket from New Balance.

The 360 Degree Jacket was designed to remove any excuses for not going for a run due to inclement weather. It is both wind and water resistant, helping to keep you warm and dry while on the move, but it is also lightweight and breathable, which goes a long way to extending your comfort even further. New Balance has conveniently included heat vents along the front and back of the jacket as well and an internal mp3 pocket was greatly appreciated, as I rarely hit the road without my iPod.

With its semi-fitted cut, the 360 Degree Jacket fits nicely without impeding movement, two things that always look for in my active wear. Drawcords along the waist allow you to adjust the fit further and an inner lining, that stretches down the sleeves, provide a nice buffering layer between your body and the outer layer of the jacket when you start to sweat. Zippered pockets help to keep important items, such as keys or a wallet, safe, and one of those pockets even includes a ribbon to record your emergency contact information, heaven forbid you should ever need it.

Put to the test in the real world, I found this jacket to be comfortable and performed well in a variety of weather conditions, just as advertised. I was a bit on the warm side however, even in the semi-cool weather that I tested it in. To be fair, I do tend to heat up easily when working out, and if your core temperature doesn't run as high, or you live in a place where there truly is cool weather, you'll be more than happy with the performance of the 360 Degree.

If performance in bad weather were the only thing this jacket had to offer, you'd still think it was a fantastic addition to your running wardrobe, but it turns out it has another trick up its sleeve. When designing the 360 Degree Jacket, New Balance incorporated a new version of the Scotchlite fabrics from 3M. Scotchlite was created to be highly reflective and this latest version is thin, lightweight, and designed for performance gear. It also happens to make that gear HIGHLY visible in low light conditions. In fact, the New Balance 360 Degree Jacket gets its name from the fact that the wearer can be seen from all angles, even while running in the dark.

The addition of the Scotchlite really does make a massive difference in visibility, extending the distance that you can be seen my several hundred meters. This feature of the jacket is also greatly appreciated in the fall, as not only are the days becoming cooler, but they're getting shorter as well. I won't speak for you, but before too long, I know I'll be running in the dark every night.

Taken as a complete package, this is one fantastic jacket for runners. It'll keep you warm and dry, without overheating, and provides great visibility in low light situations. If you're a dedicated runner, I think you'll appreciate all the little touches that went into making the 360 Degree Jacket. New Balance's legacy in the running world is well on display here. (MSRP: $89.99)

No comments: