Plenty of options in this category, no doubt. But few handle the miles, launder well and come back for more month after month. These do, and some double up for gym workouts as well.
Hylete Helix Flex-Knit Integrated Pocket Short (Men’s Long): Power on
Interval training to plyometrics to body-weight strength workouts. Testers have found few quiver-of-one training solutions that compare with this Hylete option. With enough flex and form to stay out of the way of chains, pulleys and belts, Pocket Short carries the day in large measure because of – pockets. Left and right angle pockets feature lock-and-rock zippers and sport enough volume to keep essentials secure when outside the gym on nearby running trails. Active Junky saw the merits of dual drawstrings to maintain fit without appearing overly cinched up. Built to handle saltwater, hotter conditions and repeated washings, Pocket Short joins the pantheon of training essentials and comes in three lengths. The boardshort-inspired look of this Short alone is worth the premium over basic training apparel as the contrasting swoosh keeps it from the obvious Death by Black colorway. Pair it with the Linear Tri-Blend Crew Tee for more technical performance hidden inside a well-tailored piece that’s suitable for adventure travel as well as gym gyrations.
Best For: Strength and endurance training, indoor and out
Swix Action Short Men’s 9”: Running for the podium
Read the abbreviated description of this short and you’re left wanting. The problem as Active Junky sees it? A lack of hubris, with a Collection that substitutes on-road and on-trail results for self-indulgent promotion. The Swix Nordic heritage that’s meant podiums, decade after decade, shows up in their Endurance Clothing Collection with rock-solid designs, sensible fabric selections and near-perfect sewing. Testers found the 9” short with a smooth Spandex liner sprinted ahead of the pack thanks to a flowing, non-binding liner. Legs didn’t ride up when running outside and working out inside. Non-zippered, dual side slash pockets fit gels and bars without ejecting them even during pushes, saving ID protection for the ample rear horizontal zipped pocket (along with an interior vertical elastic pocket). Among the most washable, hard-wearing shorts Active Junky’s tested, don’t ignore this new line because Swix is taking a quieter path. Because it’s one run by winners.
Best For: Daily outdoor and gym workouts, endurance training in tandem with the Cyclon Jacket that takes the lead in wind and spitting rain
La Sportiva Men’s Sonic Tee Shirt: Breathe deep, go long
Active Junky’s thrilled with the easy, breezy wear of this technical top that features a body-mapped venting system. One hold up to the light shows the reasons testers stayed cool even in a 92% polyester, 8% Spandex shirt. Despite the appearance of sheer fabric, the shirt doesn’t look or feel transparent while in motion. Raglan sleeve construction adds to a performance fit to free shoulders and arms during climbs and sprints. Polygiene, the proven anti-odor and anti-bacterial treatment, does the job even on longer, hotter runs. An unzipped left side pocket is of moderate utility while the ½ zipper front is of great value in temperature management. Though common to the brand’s look, the biggest challenge for runners may be the colorways and graphics that defy the morbid blacks and greys common to other running kits. Pair it with the 7”-inseam Aelous Short that’s among the softest, most comfortable testers have taken to task in the past two years.
Best For: Trail and ridge running, training and competition
Balega Blister Resist Quarter Socks: Start running an unstoppable
Testers get plenty of sock brands and models on their feet each year. Balega’s one that doesn’t have the biggest trade show booth or run full-page ads. Yet their attention to detail shows up in products like Blister Resist where friction blisters are fading. Fading memories, that is, even in warmer running conditions. The heel pocket’s depth keeps the sock in position while a hand-linked, seamless toe prevents abrasion up front. Mohair makes it all work in tandem with synthetic fibers. Plus, the mesh ventilation panel aids breathability without compromising the washability. In fact, this one took repeated pummelings without giving up form retention and elasticity where needed. Only a sock? Wrong. Better than the bunch? You are correct.
Best For: Daily speed and endurance trailing, longer miles without needing replacement