A closer look at Jordan Brand training gear

Full disclosure: Jordan Brand sent me all materials reviewed here, previously seen in this post.

I don’t consider myself much of a distance runner. If you catch me at the tail end of a five-mile run, you’re probably also catching me in the warmup for a really long nap. My workouts tend to be focused around a lot of sprints/squats/lunges/bodyweight drills/etc. Not that there isn’t running involved, but it’s just in totally different intervals. As a result, I’ve become much more interested in the “training” segment of footwear in apparel over the last two years or so.

The short version of my thoughts on Jordan Brand’s foray into this field: Love the shirts, love the shorts … but not sure Trunners are for me. More thoughts after the jump.

Read more of this post


First look: Jordan Brand goes into training market

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Trunner shoe line isn’t new to Jordan Brand, but as of this fall, Jordan Brand is making a more concerted push into the training market as of this fall, not only marketing shoes, but also apparel that is more fitted to your training needs — as opposed to what many consumers have come to know as an incredibly baggy line of hoops gear. (Seriously, those of us below 6-feet-tall have an incredibly difficult time wearing anything Jordan Brand. Finding a small is like finding a bald eagle hanging out in your neighborhood. Even on those, they’re pretty generous with the fabric.)

So Jordan Brand hit up a few folks like myself who have a focus on the training market with their latest push:

  • The Jordan Brand Get Ready S/S shirt ($32)
  • The Jordan Brand Get Ready shorts ($35)
  • The Jordan Brand Trunner 11 LX ($105)
  • Resistance bands and drawstring bag
  • Jordan Brand “Every Single Day” water bottle
  • iPod nano preloaded with workout routines
  • Beats by Dre earbuds
I’m particularly interested in how many hoops heads are interested in Jordan Brand training gear, given that they’ve already got some built-in brand loyalty probably, but I’d bet they’re currently training in regular Nike gear or maybe something like Under Armour at the moment. If Jordan Brand made the move to produce more training gear, and you were already someone who plays in Jordan Brand, would you make the switch for your exercise apparel and footwear?
I’ll be trying these out over the next few weeks and checking in with my thoughts afterward.

Review: adidas Recovery Sleeves

If you’re reading this, you know that I’m someone who’s always interested in the latest athletic gear. When adidas produced the various TechFit gear in advance of the 2008 Olympics, I was intrigued, if not mildly skeptical. After all, compression gear already existed, right? But the science was there and I have to admit that I’m a convert. I wear TechFit PowerWeb shorts during every workout I do. (This is not an exaggeration.)

But as the workouts intensify, sometimes it’s what happens afterward that’s just as important. So now adidas is pushing Recovery gear. Again, I found myself intrigued but skeptical.

I am, after all, someone who already wears compression gear during a workout, so am I supposed to peel out of that and then put this on right away? (The answer: yes.)

The big thing with these sleeves, I found in my various trial runs, was to wear them for a long period of time — even sleeping in them. Your mileage may vary on this type of use. Maybe it will bother you when you sleep. For me, a short-term use did little to help alleviate pain in most cases. But wearing the calf sleeves after a long two-hour hoops run or back-to-back conditioning classes at my Y netted results that at least felt like more than a placebo effect.

I tend to have issues in my right calf after a particularly long week of workouts, so these felt great on my push leg after an evening of sprints at the gym. I felt less of an impact from the arm sleeves, but I also tend to experience less soreness there.

This recovery product absolutely has its advantages, but I’ll say that it takes the niche market of compression apparel and really goes to the next level. This is something really geared at the serious athlete, and probably not someone who just goes for a few 30-minute jogs every week.

The adidas recovery collection is on Eastbay, ranging from $24.99 for the calf/arm sleeves reviewed here to $59.99 for larger pieces. Check it out here. I’d also love to hear in the comments what, if any, recovery routine you have after a particularly tough game/workout. Have you ever used anything like this apparel, or something along the lines of “The Stick” to relieve muscle soreness?

Full disclosure: adidas supplied me with the leg and arm sleeves that were reviewed in this space.

Sneakerheads’ Newest Obsession: Nike Elite Socks

As far as sneaker consumerism, I kind of feel like I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen people overpay in dollar amounts I could never imagine for shoes I’d never wear. I’ve seen fights and police at sneaker lineups. So it takes something special to make me do a double take. About a month ago when I was hunting a new hoops shoe, I was skimming my old stomping grounds NikeTalk for a new hoops shoe, I stumbled upon a message board thread title that caught my attention. “What’s good with Nike Elite Basketbal Crew socks? (SOCKS FTW!)”

Socks? Really?

But the thread had about 100 pages at the time, and actually started about a year ago when I discovered it. I found it totally fascinating and bizarre. I don’t pay a ton of attention to my socks. I don’t buy bottom-of-the-barrel stuff because I’ve just found that my habits tend to burn them up too quickly, but I’ve also never gone out of my way to find the ultra premium stuff either. And yet, it was tough to miss Elite socks this season in college basketball, whether you knew you saw them or not. They were those socks seemingly every school wore — most notably, Kentucky — with the marks down the back of the leg. They were generally crew length, another real departure from most times when people like to wear no-shows or lows.

Most fascinating about the thread wasn’t the obsession with the quality — although there was a fair amount of that — but it was the hunt. These socks had become the new thing to find before they disappeared from store shelves. Special editions of them were reaching profoundly insane prices on eBay.

$1,025 for a pair? (OK, probably someone who wound up not paying.) But more realistically, $250 for a pair of the limited edition Think Pink Breast Cancer ones? It was incredible to me. You can get yourself a quarter-cut pair of USA Basketball ones for just a shade under $100 after shipping. And how do you know when a Nike product has truly made it? When there are even fake versions floating around. (Not to disparage this seller, but the word on NT is that the pairs coming from Israel are fake.) Even other companies are making similar socks. And I don’t mean similar in tech. I mean similar in look and style. How else would you explain this offering from Under Armour with an awfully similar stripe down the back?

So I was at least curious. I went out on my own and started hunting for a pair of these socks to try. And that is no easy task. Finding the running version is a little more straightforward. I tracked those down on my first trip. But my first few tries out for the basketball version got a lot of the same replies from store workers that all sounded like this. “No, we are out. Yes, we usually carry them. They disappear immediately.” I sort of expected eye rolls and a lot of “Elite what?” responses, but every time I asked an employee, I didn’t get the impression I was the first person that day, nor would I be the last, to ask about them.

The socks run $12 when you find them for retail, although there is a special Kobe Bryant quarter-cut edition floating around at Foot Locker stores that is allegedly $15. (As an aside, I found the Bryant ones because I wanted quarter-cuts, but didn’t have time to make it to the store tonight. Will have to give it a try tomorrow or over the weekend.)

Finally, about a week ago, I found a pair of white/black elites — I also found some red ones, but didn’t want socks that loud, so I only grabbed one pair. The verdict, without having actually played in them yet: they’re comfortable, but are they $12/pair comfortable? Not sold. More than likely, I’m going to opt for the next step down and play these now that I’ve got Zoom Kobe VI lows.

But regardless of what I do, these Elite socks are a success by any measure Nike uses. They can’t keep the things on shelves at this point. What I’m most interested in now is how Nike has created this grass roots viral apparel hit. (Buzz words!) They don’t advertise socks like they do shoes, and as far as I know, there hasn’t been a transcendent moment featuring these socks that I can remember with a notable athlete. On some level, I’m sure it’s built in grass roots hoops. Nike-outfitted teams wearing the things create curiosity with players who go out and find them, but just the fact that a specific type of sock has enough branding that every employee I’ve spoken to knew them immediately speaks volumes to Nike’s branding power, yet again.

Have you tried the Nike Elite socks? Do you even pay attention to the kind of socks you usually wear? I’d be interested to hear from the peanut gallery on this one.

(Image via NikeTalk)

Editor’s note: Just an update to this. I asked Stevie Taylor, a high school senior headed to my alma mater about his experience with Elite Socks. It further solidifies my theory on these that young players are getting these in their hands and they’re being branded with them early the same way they are with the actual Nike shoes. He told me on Twitter he’s been playing in them since his junior year and that he’s got six pairs. I also had to laugh when I opened Facebook this morning and saw this photo from Megane Ann Wilson of Amir Johnson’s monster shoes … while also wearing Elite socks. These things are everywhere.

Point 3 Basketball breaks into competitive market of hoops gear

If you go into a sporting goods store or flip through an Eastbay catalog, there’s no shortage of basketball apparel options from all of your traditional powers. But just as APL has tried to do in the sneaker market, the folks at Point 3 Basketball have taken on the uphill battle against bigger names by trying to innovate with unique products in the hope that fans will be looking for an alternative.

Point 3 only makes a few items, as follows:

— Base: Snug fit sleeveless undershirt.

— Baller: Performance game shorts.

— Shooter: Shooting sleeve.

— Free: Loose fit sleelveless performance top.

— Hoodie: Cold-weather hooded top

— Sak: Basketball gear bag.

They’ve stuck to the basics, although maybe I’d argue we could use something with even short sleeves. But for my purposes, Point 3 Basketball was kind enough to send over two items from their line — Baller and Free — to check out when I hit the court.

How does Point 3 try to offer something different to its consumers? It’s in the details of each piece of apparel. The Baller shorts create a slightly curved line across the knee so when you get down in that defensive stance, those shorts that are sagging won’t catch on your knee. Also, the shorts feature what Point 3 calls “DRYV Moisture Control.” It feels like you’ve got patches of cloth towels on your shorts. The panels are perfect if you need to dry those hands for a critical shot. Then there’s the Free top, which also features DRYV in panels on the shoulders and what is described as anti-odor, moisture-wicking fiber.

Speaking purely from fit, if you order these products I can tell you they’ll fit like most other gear. I typically wear a small in tops and a medium in shorts. The same held here. Felt great on all accounts.

From a look perspective, I think the sharpest of the Free tops is the black/black version. To me, that shoulder panel section looks strange when it’s not the same color as the rest of the top, especially because it’s almost a bushy, plush towel kind of feel. I will say that the Baller shorts — which I got in a black/black colorway — are incredibly sharp. Great design work there all around.

Read more of this post

Quickie review: Eastbay cold weather gear

Because of such a drastic price difference, and what I’m betting is at least a little bit of curiosity on the part of consumers, I thought I’d throw together some brief thoughts on Eastbay’s answer to Nike Hyperwarm and Under Armour Cold Gear. It doesn’t have any fancy name, but what I ordered about a week ago was Eastbay’s Cold Weather Tight Mock and Cold Weather Tight to wear as a base layer for running outside. (We’ve somehow just about skipped fall and when I got up this morning to run at 8:00 — Thanks, time change! — it was still sub-40 out.)

I’d actually been investigating buying either Nike or UA’s version of this gear, but it’s just so expensive for a base layer when you consider that the shirts run $50 and the pants often run $60. Eastbay was (and still is) running a special where you can get the shirt and pants for $50 total. To pay less than half of what UA and Nike were charging, I had to give it a try. (Link to the Eastbay deal can be found here, if you’re interested.)

When I checked the temp this morning, it was actually 34 out. I’m not a big outdoor runner when it’s cold. It can just be hard to breathe and it’s so easy to be stiff the whole time. But this seemed like the perfect chance to try out the new gear. Having used some similar “moisture-wicking” gear from adidas, I can say the Eastbay stuff delivered in that department and I wasn’t soaked afterward or anything. I did actually wear this stuff under a light hooded sweatshirt and some light sweatpants. I can say that I would’ve been freezing and probably cut the run short had I not had the extra layer.

Now, I’ve got no basis for comparison here because I’ve never used either UA’s Cold Gear or Nike’s Hyperwarm apparel, but for the most part I stayed warm enough to tolerate a 3-mile run. Now, cold is cold, and I can tell you when I wasn’t in the sun, I could really feel how cold it was on my face, but my legs, arms, etc. never got that cold.

If you’ve already got the Nike or UA gear and you’ve got some sort of built-in brand loyalty, I totally get why you wouldn’t want to switch. I’m that way with other stuff, too, but I think for the savings if you’re open to something new, you’d be crazy to not at least throw down $50 and try a set of Eastbay’s stuff.

%d bloggers like this: