If you’re a fan of Fit Bottomed Dude’s Week, you may have caught a mild sense from my last post that I might, just possibly, have an ingrained bias toward certain sports apparel brands. And that this slightly odd and possibly obsessive trait was nourished by the experiences of my adolescent years. You might then be suspicious of my ability to step outside of this brand box to experience new things, like say a completely tricked-out Brooks Running ensemble (the Pure Cadence II running shoe ($120), the Tienken II Jacket ($75), the Sherpa Short III ($40) and the Men’s Essential SS shirt ($45)—both shirt and short with Brooks Equilibrium Technology). Fear not. The Brooks Running brand is about one thing and one thing only—running. They eat, sleep and breathe running. Any adolescent phases I might have battled in my past will have no bearing on this aspiring 31-year-old athlete. I am interested in advancing the power and efficiency of my fitness and have in the last 10 or so years successfully left my trendy teenage self in the proverbial dust.
Brooks Men’s Essential SS
We’ll start from the top. The Brooks Men’s Essential SS shirt is simple, clean and to the point. It’s fitted while maintaining nice, loose comfort. It’s accented simply by a few stitching patterns and a few reflective tabs for early morning and late-night runs. There are also two understated Brooks logos, one over the right chest and one on the back (top middle). The shirt is tag-free and is sized with a slightly elongated torso. Altogether, this shirt is designed for a serious runner. Every aspect of it from the length and the fit to the reflective accents and the Equilibrium Technology was chosen with the run in mind. This isn’t much of a surprise; as I said before, Brooks exists to run.
Brooks Sherpa Short III
For the short, even though it will have little impact on your run, let’s just put this out there: it has the coolest sports apparel name I have ever heard—the Sherpa Short III. Wearing something with that level of catchy alliteration tells you how proud they are of this short. The short lives up to its name, too. Its design essence emulates from an apparent ruthless pursuit of utility. The short is light, cut classically at about mid-thigh and adorned simply with the same Brooks reflective logos and reflective tabs. Like the Essential SS, it is tag-less. It is equipped with two side/back pockets (with Velcro seals) and one small inner pocket with a fabric fold seal. Even the design of the drawstrings has a utilitarian twist beyond the typical. The drawstrings pull with, not against, the direction of tightening. You know how a typical drawstring will eventually recede into the waistline resulting in an irritating effort of pinching and cinching to uncover the little string? That won’t happen here, ever. The only break from this relentless adherence to the runner’s utility is the bright slash of orange at the sides. Apparently Brooks can take a break from the religion of running to look cool.
Brooks Pure Cadence II
In the shoe, Brooks’ obsession with detail and the performance of the runner is really allowed to shine. The Pure Cadence II design finds a nice balance between weight and support. At 9.3 ounces, it fits into the featherweight category. The sides and heel of the shoe hug the foot nicely, and the sole looks complicated. There are a lot of acronyms and techno babble that could be rattled off about sole construction, but in reality it goes over my head, and you’d have to work for Brooks to get really excited about it. Think like an internal system that helps protect against overpronation. My unscientific observation is that the sole of the shoe is beginning to look like a diagram of a tectonic plate system. The sole has been deconstructed and reassembled to reflect the actual shape of the human foot. For instance, there is no padding between my big toe and my second toe. This seems to allow the shoe to respond to my foot instead of the other way around. What I can tell you is that when I run in the shoe, I feel sturdy, steady and confident. The shoe feels like part of my foot and I just run well in them. They don’t ask me to heel strike or force me into a Chi Running pose if I don’t want to. They simply work and work well. Oh, and they look damn cool, too. Note the orange accent.
Brooks Tienken II Jacket
And last but not least, the Tienken II Jacket. I could go on and on about all of the reasons why it’s as awesome as all of the other pieces above, but suffice it to say that it’s part of my running apparel rotation. Even on off days like this. Fairly heavy for a jacket with a cool look and a strong construction, it’ll keep you warm on cold spring runs and looking pretty fly.
The Brooks Running way seems to be to investigate the actual function of running, follow that path wherever it leads and then make it look cool. This seems like an obvious approach, but judging by my experience with other sports apparel brands I’ve tried over the years, it is not so easy to execute. I guess that’s one of the benefits of Brooks’ running obsession. They get it.
Are you a runner? Love gear that’s designed just for you? —Ryan Walters