Ultrarunning Destination Wear
On a recent trip to Maribor, Slovenia I got caught in a cold rain with the sun going down and had to dig into my running backpack to get out a dry shirt. Fortunately, I only had to use my extra running gear to get warm and dry, but it gave me comfort knowing that I another layer of protection if it was necessary.
You may have seen the advertisements for the only shirt you need for a month-long trip. If not, the manufacturers claim that with just one Merino wool shirt you can work out, travel, and have dinner at a fine restaurant in just this one shirt. I think they are stretching the truth, but they have a point since I’ve found Merino wool is a versatile component of my clothing for an ultrarunning destination weekend.
On my running trips I either wear my running clothes, if I’m starting straight after landing at the airport, or I go with my Merino wool pants and shirt if traveling the night before my run. Either way, I want my clothes to serve two purposes since on most trips I’m carrying everything for the weekend in my running backpack.
I created my go to non-running outfit out of the following pieces:
I like the SmartWool brand because of their extra padding and I’ve found them to be durable in the wash. These wool socks are especially helpful since if your shoes got wet during the run, they keep your feet from being clammy dressed for dinner.
Makers and Riders has durable Merino wool pants. I believe they are the only manufacturer of such a versatile wool pant. Not only do I use them for my running weekends, but they are my go to pants for international redeye (overnight) flights because of their comfort. In addition to comfort, they wear well, so still look great going straight into the office from the plane if need be.
The Antoni Tee mercerized Merino wool shirt from Taylor Stich’s sub-brand Civic has an athletic fit and style that works in many situations. I prefer the blue, but it also comes in other colors to fit your style.
Civic makes form fitting boxers that pair well with the pants. These are easy to wash, just wring them out then dry over night.
Long Sleeve Shirt
If it’s cold and I need a layer I can wear out for dinner then I take the Civic Merino Jack. It’s dressier and also layers well over the tee so is good to go for any restaurant choice after your long run.
I mentioned above I chose these Merino wool pieces for two purposes. From my descriptions it may be clear that their casual style works for many occasions but they also resist odors, are easy to clean in the hotel sink, and dry quickly. Important attributes since I’ll wear this outfit 2-3 times over my running weekend.
The other reasons I like Merino wool is that its lightweight, packs tight in my Sea to Summit bags and is my last line of defense if I need an extra layer of warmth if things go wrong on a run. I always carry an extra set of running clothes since I typically run both days of my trip, but also in case I need a dry pair of clothes mid run. And if things really go bad, say sprain an ankle outside of cell range, and I have to spend a night in the woods, the Merino wool clothing makes an excellent additional layer to put on.
I’ve read before the comment that wool is “warm when wet”. If I’ve got a wet layer, whether synthetics or Marino wool, under my rain proof jacket and am moving at a good speed then I’m warm. However, I’ve found no matter the material, if you stop you will get unbearably cold if you still have a wet under-layer. If it’s cool out and might rain, then I also carry a lightweight fleece jacket. The fleece sheds water much more quickly and I find it insulates better than anything else because of its thick pile.
Whether you are running solo as I do on many of my trips, or running with friends, if you are in a remote area you need to be able to self rescue. This means having enough clothes to spend a night on the trail or keep warm if slowed to a walking pace. Since I carry everything on the run, I need each piece of clothing to serve multiple purposes. I find the combination of clothes I use lets me be comfortable while traveling and exploring a town, but also gives me extra protection if necessary on the trail. I encourage you to test your own combinations before getting out on a run to know how your gear performs in a worst-case scenario.