Reviewed by Stuart “tighter than a duck’s ass” Leaney
Value for money is not about achieving the lowest price. It is about achieving the optimum combination of cost and quality.
I own 17 running tops, 16 of them were free, the other purchased by my wife for my birthday. My favourite running shorts cost £10, I’ve had my running backpack for 7 years and I only ever buy trainers in the sale. I don’t like spending money or, more accurately, I don’t like to spend money when I don’t need to, and I absolutely hate feeling like I’ve been ripped off.
When RunUltra asked me to test and review the Soar UTR top I was somewhat excited but also worried that I had nothing to compare it to. Cheap one sized polyester compared to a tailored multi fabric ultra-top.
Like comparing scrambled eggs to caviar.
The UTR top is Soars venture into Ultra running, specifically trail ultras, and they have certainly put a lot of thought into what us runners want/need; 2 years in the making. This, from their website, sums it up and gives a good insight into what Soar are trying to achieve.
“By utilizing our highly technical, smooth-surfaced French woven fabric on the upper torso and shoulders, compatibility and durability under a trail pack are guaranteed – this is anti-pilling and anti-abrasion, redefined.
Tailored for the trails, hours of movement come with ease thanks to its considered cut; note the minimal seams and taped hems to eliminate chafing, flyweight full-length zip for flexibility across temperatures and exertion levels, and built-in sun protection that’s augmented by the fitted sleeves.
Breathability is maximised through the use of our superlative 3D woven French fabric on the abdomen, back, and sleeves, which is proven to wick moisture, fast, when the heat is on and the trail goes up.”
There is a cool little video from the designer listed below.
Promptly delivered I opened the packaging excited like a kid at Christmas and the first thing I noticed was the full-length zip. What a blooming fantastic idea.
The fit, tailored to hug the body, the upper part has minimal seams to help with reducing friction and abrasion resistant fabric to protect the top. It’s also ridiculously light.
I don’t like the colour but that’s personal preference, but it does look better on. There’s a rather hansom chap modelling it on the website.
So, what’s it like Stu?
In short, it’s rather good.
Scenarios I’ve tested it in:
In the rain, well there’s been plenty of that during the most British of summers. Due to the materials used its not like a standard cotton or polyester top that absorbs rain and becomes heavy and can cause friction, the functionality of the top really doesn’t change.
In the heat, zip it down and let the fresh air cool you, it’s light and doesn’t hold on to sweat.
Long runs, zero chaffing, in fact due to it being so light and well fitted you completely forget you’re wearing it.
The only negative I have with this top is that when the top is part unzipped the top of the zip seems to rub under my chin; maybe there’s a need for the upper part of the zip to be built into the fabric a bit more.
Pockets; it has one small inner pocket big enough for a key and card, but your phone will need to go elsewhere, fortunately I only buy shorts that have pockets big enough for my phone.
The UTR top does what it says on the tin, it stays in place it doesn’t ride up and wrinkle under your hydration vest. I’ve tested it with varying weights with big heavy objects bouncing around with differing tightness of pack, and it always stays in place.
Picture this; you’re running up a long hill, the sun is beating down on you, you’re hot, the road seems never ending, unsure where the hill ends you unzip your Soar UTR top showing the world your Heart rate monitor chest strap (you’re wearing a chest strap because the wrist ones are absolutely rubbish) you pretend you’re in the Tour de France on the final steep climb to Ventoux, for this imagery alone the top is worth it.
Or, if unlike me you don’t have the daydreaming mind of an 8 year old, then buy it because it’s one less thing to worry about in a sport where pretty much anything can go wrong. It costs about the same as an entry to a single 100mile race and per mile will be far better value than some (most) running trainers.
SOAR Running Website
About the author: Stuart Leaney is the current course record holder at Centurion Wendover Woods 50 and 100 mile races and a regular winner at Centurion Running events.
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