Tracksmith is an independent running brand that launched in 2014 out of Boston, Massachusetts, and quickly built a reputation for classic running gear that harkens back to the vintage styles of the 1960s to 1980s running boom in the United States.
For lovers of running history and culture, the stylish and classic look of their gear offers a romantic perspective of classic New England cross-country courses and a dedication to amateur athletics. This dedication to the unsponsored amateur was wholly on display for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, where all unsponsored qualifiers were given a Tracksmith kit if they wanted one. This resulted in nearly one third of the field of both the men’s and women’s races racing through the streets of Atlanta, Georgia, in a highly recognizable racing kit — definitely out-styling the major shoe brands.
I’ve had several pieces of Tracksmith gear over the years, which remain in high rotation due to their durability, toned-down fashion, and function. While experiencing the coldest and longest Colorado winter in memory, I tested several pieces of gear in Tracksmith’s No Days Off (NDO) line of winter running gear. Tracksmith designed their No Days Off line of winter running gear under the following mission:
“No Days Off is our annual call for consistency and a re-commitment to the process of being a runner. No season challenges our fortitude more than the deepest, coldest days of winter. Our No Days Off Collection is carefully designed to help you weather the worst.”
With this objective in mind, this former North Iowan/Minnesotan set out to see if the No Days Off Collection could truly keep my chronically-overdressed-for-winter-running self warm and motivated for dark and cold mornings. This review looks at the following gear items, the steep price tags on some of which will have to be a factor for consideration:
- Tracksmith NDO Jacket ($308)
- Tracksmith NDO Tights ($198)
- Tracksmith Brighton Base Layer ($88)
- Tracksmith NDO 2-in-1 Mittens ($58)
Tracksmith NDO Jacket
The Tracksmith NDO Jacket ($308) is billed as a “deep winter running jacket” that looks quite simple at first glance. However, the semi-stretchy Schoeller Dryskin softshell material is windproof and water repellent on the outside, and it is bonded to a merino wool inner liner. The collar of the jacket has a soft lining, which is comfortable against the neck, and the sleeves are gusseted at the wrist openings, which keeps cold air out. Two simple side pockets include a secret zippered pocket that fits a small wallet or key, and an ingenious interior sleeve holds a smart phone secure against the chest with minimal bouncing. A two-way zipper allows you to ventilate if you’re running hot, and the merino liner keeps the jacket from smelling. Subtle reflective details include the classic stripe on the back of the jacket, which looks great with the Tracksmith NDO Tights, which we review below.
This jacket is warm without becoming hot. Thinner material is used in the underarms to ventilate the body, and I found myself very comfortable running in single-digit Fahrenheit weather, with significant windchill, with only a thin merino base layer underneath. I would describe this jacket as confidence-inspiring when you run outside in frigid weather, and the understated look of the jacket works well to wear outside of running.
The jacket is available in both a men’s- and women’s-specific fit.
Tracksmith NDO Tights
How many of us have worn half tights or lighter tights under tights to stay warm? Or, splurging on wind boxer briefs to stave off frostbite and windburn? I’ve painfully defrosted a few too many times in the shower to mess around with cheap tights and too many layers. Enter the Tracksmith NDO Tights ($198), which are simply the best piece of running tights/pants that I’ve ever worn from a design, quality, and protection standpoint.
The construction and materials used in these tights is different than anything I’ve ever used. The NDO Tights feel like a single durable layer, but they’re actually double layered with a soft liner inside and a bonded water and windproof layer on the outside. The most wind protection is offered over the groin, hips, and quadriceps, which provides more than adequate protection without having any special layers underneath. Noticeably absent, the waistband does not have a drawstring to get destroyed in your washer, and instead uses a soft and secure 1.5-inch elastic band that, once secured, doesn’t require readjusting. This theme extends the length of the tights as they have a secure feel that, once you position correctly, stay in place and flex with your stride.
The NDO tights have two very subtle envelope pockets in the back, which can hold a phone, and there is a zippered key pocket on the right hip. A reflective stripe crosses the front of the right quad and continues behind the left calf for visibility. This tight has zippered leg openings as well.Shop the Men's Tracksmith NDO Tights
Tracksmith Brighton Base Layer
I am a huge fan of merino wool, and when done well a merino shirt is thin, form fitting, not scratchy, and durable. Poorly constructed or inferior merino garments lose their shape, collect salt, and get crusty after a wear or two. The Tracksmith Brighton Base Layer ($88) is the best merino garment I’ve ever worn. In fact, it’s the only shirt that I’ve worn running for several weeks, and no, I haven’t washed it yet and it barely smells.
The styling of the shirt is form fitting, very stretchy, with seamless construction, and it is available in both a men’s- and women’s-specific fit. The subtle off-color diagonal stripe harkens back to an early 1960s Peter Snell look, which I appreciate more than Tracksmith could imagine.
Tracksmith NDO 2-in-1 Mittens
The Tracksmith NDO 2-in-1 Mittens ($58) feature a lightweight nylon glove with a wind- and water-resistant outer layer. This gives you options to use depending on the weather. For runners who struggle with cold hands, I would recommend these mittens for the variability, but also the more formed fit of the outer mitten. The reflective stripe is bold and easy for pre-dawn traffic to see.Shop the Tracksmith NDO 2-in-1 Mittens
Tracksmith Cold Weather Apparel Overall Impressions
The thoughtfulness and design considerations of Tracksmith gear are what sets them apart from most of the other running gear I test and wear regularly. I have pieces of their gear that have held up to years of regular use and still look new, and when I tested the No Days Off Collection my thoughts were the same. While most of Tracksmith’s gear is not aimed directly at the trail running and ultrarunning crowd, I can confidently say that these pieces will hold up to the rigors of the trail.
Runners, on the whole, are typically pragmatists, efficiently thrift wise, and analytical — even obsessive — people. I realize that Tracksmith’s gear is exorbitantly expensive, and its styles may not be in line with whatever the current ultrarunning trends are. (What hat shape are we going with this year? How tall should my socks be?) However, from a quality and durability standpoint, their gear is unmatched in my opinion, and I appreciate the throwback styles to America’s competitive running zenith. These pieces are luxury-feeling and performing, and they are outstanding cold weather running gear.
Call for Comments
- Have you run in any of these Tracksmith pieces?
- How did you find them?
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]