REVIEW: Ashmei gilet, rain jacket and beanie – in Iceland

If you hadn’t noticed – autumn is coming. While we still have the odd nice day making it’s appearance every now and again, more and more of our runs will involve enduring some grotty weather. More of our pre-run ritual is spent looking out of the window at the sky, studying online weather reports, changing our minds and going back to the wardrobe for a change of clothes.

If you’re looking at refreshing your running wardrobe for this autumn and winter, then you need look no further then some of the great kit from Ashmei. (Just as a disclaimer, I bought all of the kit reviewed here with my own cash).

To properly put the Ashmei kit through it’s paces I didn’t just try them out during a wet British spring, but I also had the chance to try them out on the cold, windswept paths of Iceland.

IMG_2437

Ashmei Men’s Softshell Running Gilet
The first thing that I picked up from Ashmei’s range was the softshell gilet. Previously I’d never used a gilet as a solution to layering on cold runs in winter – before for the coldest months I would layer up with a long sleeved running top, fleece layer, and then a rain jacket.

It’s no surprise that Iceland in March is bitterly cold – temperatures hovering around freezing kept the ice on the paths frozen, and once or twice the tread on my trail shoes didn’t prevent me from falling over. The main difference from running in winter back in the UK was the strong, cold winds that would sweep down down the coastal paths.

The Ashmei gilet was perfect for these conditions. Despite these type of strong block winds that would knock you back, my core stayed comfortably warm.

There are several other nice touches to the gilet. Simple things include an additional rear zip pocket, ideal for holding keys, a bank card, a small phone or a music player. There is also a small hook to loop the headphones through to keep the cables out of the way of your arms while running (you can see this just to the right of the main red stripe in the picture above).

Other small pieces of attention to detail include the the main zip sealing diagonally away from the usual main straight up zips of the layers underneath, and two side zips to regulate temperatures – in Iceland they stayed firmly closed, but even back in the UK at the start of April, a fleece layer and the gilet was perfect for my final long run before my spring marathon on a drizzly morning. Despite not being a rain jacket, it does a good job in drizzly conditions of making the rain bead off and keep your inner layers from getting wet.

ICELAND

So the price – at £130, the gilet isn’t cheap. However it’s the versatility that really makes it worth the money. It does the job in the coldest of weathers overseas and in wet drizzly weather, but it can basically be your go to top layer whatever the conditions (apart from in the height of summer). I’ve combined it with both long and short sleeve running tops without a fleece layer in weather where it seems like it could be fine and not cold, but overcast enough to rain a bit.

The gilet comes in two different colourways – black with red detailing (pictured), and white with red detailing. My only gripe is that ideally I would have liked it in red with white detailing like some of the other Ashmei items to match my club colours!

Rating: 4.5/5
Price: £130

Ashmei Men’s Ultimate Running Rain Jacket
Of course sometimes you need more than just a gilet to brave the weather. Sometimes it is properly chucking it down, but you still need or want to get out there and run.

The Ashmei rain jacket includes many of the same small touches, including a zip pocket (on the front on the rain jacket), side zips for regulating temperature, a diagonal front zip, and the same clip near the neck of the jacket to hook a headphone cable in to, and also comes with a drawstring elasticated waist. Additionally despite the rain jacket coming in a classy black, there is still a lot of reflective detailing on it for running through dark winter evenings, including the large reflective white stripe going down the spine – and you don’t end up looking like you are working on a construction site. This was perfect for dark pre-dawn runs in Iceland due to the short days, being unsure of what the still dark sky had in store – although it lacked the warmth that the gilet provided.

Reflective detailing on the back
Reflective detailing on the back

One of the neatest features of the jacket is that it folds up into itself with a small button to clip it close. This can be a bit fiddly, but once you’ve worked it out it’s really useful – the advantage is that there are no additional bags to pop it in to or anything still attached to the jacket to potentially annoy you when running. The small size is perfect for fitting in to a small running backpack or waist pouch if you like carrying them on runs, and perfect for any fell running.

Another great touch which differentiates this from your run of the mill running jacket are the thumb holes. Okay, it might seem like a small thing but one of my favourite rain jackets doesn’t have them, and wrapping my hands up into little fists with my thumbs looped through my top layer helps to keep my extremities warm – having them on the rain jacket means you don’t have to worry about a fleece or a long sleeved top having them.

The best bit is the small mitts that are tucked into the sleeves of the jacket. They are completely unobtrusive – you wouldn’t realise they were there if you didn’t know. You can slip the attached mitts over your hands and then through the thumb holes. This is perfect if you forget your gloves, or if you think it isn’t going to be that cold but realise a while in that it is. This might sound like a small thing, but this level of detail sets this item apart.

The claw!
The claw!

The only drawback with the rain jacket is the lack of a hood. While there are other heavier rain jackets in the range that come with a hood, it seems a bit of an oversight for a jacket like this not to have one. Of course in wet weather a buff or beanie can prevent the worst of the rain from spoiling your run, but on long runs with heavy persistent run these are unlikely to make the rain run off and it will eventually soak in and affect your enjoyment of the run. However the neck of the rain jacket does close very high up the neck to prevent rain from running down your neck and drenching you from the inside.

With that drawback it is a relatively expensive jacket. However if you want something for runs where you are unlikely to be out for a long time or for light to medium weather, and can make do with a beanie/buff combo to keep your head dry, this is a classy go to jacket.

Rating: 4/5
Price: £180

Ashmei Men’s Merino Running Beanie
The coming winter months of course don’t just bring rain, but also freezing temperatures, and as every person who’s ever run through winter knows, your ears will take the brunt of that. With Iceland in March simulating the worst of the British winter temperatures, the Ashmei beanie would be put through it’s paces.

The Ashmei merino beanie is near perfect for getting you though the cold weather. Utilising Ashmei’s signature blend of fabric including merino wool means that the merino running beanie is incredibly warm, but also means that it wicks sweat away quickly. This increases the temperature ‘sweet spot’ that you can comfortably wear the beanie at, preventing you from having to take it off and then put it back on again to regulate temperature.IMG_2513

There’s not much more to it than that – the only thing that would prevent me from giving it full marks is that if you’ve got a bit of hair and a big head the very bottom of your ears may poke out. That said, compared to a lot of running hats I’ve had it is by no means the worst offender, and the problem can be solved with the type of light buff which you occasionally pick up in race goodie bags. Like the gilet, this comes in three colourways (although it is out of stock online at the moment, I anticipate it will be available again soon for winter) – red with black detailing (pictured), black with red detailing, and grey with black detailing.

Rating: 4.5/5
Price: £25

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.