Is Tracksmith destined to become the next big activewear brand for runners?
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Tracksmith was founded in 2014 in Wellesley, Massachusetts, by Matt Taylor, who wanted to create a brand committed to the serious runner.
More than ten years later, Tracksmith is well known in the running community – you’d be hard-pressed to go for a jog in Central Park without spotting its apparel. Partnerships with Puma and J Crew have also made the brand more mainstream in recent years.
Athletech tested several apparel pieces as well as a new sneaker, the Eliot Runner, to see what Tracksmith is all about.
While many traditional running brands have expanded their focus to other sports or loungewear, Tracksmith has stayed the course. As a long-distance runner, I’m familiar with the realization, twelve miles into a training run or race, that a pair of leggings or a zip-up was not obsessively designed with intense mileage in mind. It’s the little design elements that matter: the perfectly sized key pocket, the right level of legging compression, and a balance of warmth and breathability for winter workouts.
Tracksmith considers the runner on this obsessive level while integrating fashionable design elements that can go from the trail to a coffee shop. Despite the brand’s soft, neutral colors and classic silhouettes, it means business. Tracksmith is not a fashion brand disguised as activewear, but a brand engineered for running that happens to be stylish.
Tracksmith’s overall aesthetic is classic New England preppy meets old-school track team. The apparel is elegant but not overdone. It uses high-quality fabrics and incorporates thoughtful design elements. Even its packaging has classic New England charm: its receipts come in a sleek envelope. Because the product colors are mostly nature-inspired neutrals, they all mix and match, effortlessly elevating one’s running style.
The Fells Waffle Layer is a base layer that insulates without overheating. Even after wearing it multiple days through workouts and daily errands, the base layer was odor-resistant and soft against the skin. The Brighton Base Layer is similarly made with a merino and polyester blend and is tighter around the extremities for warmth and looser around one’s core for comfort. Both layers work well underneath the Fens Fleece, which has thoughtful design elements like underarm ribbed panels for increased range of motion and ventilation.
For slightly warmer days (or nights), the NDO Jacket is wind-resistant and has light-reflective detailing that is large enough to make a difference. The jacket is technical but soft—perfect for early morning or late evening runs. It also has an interior sleeve that holds a phone with minimal bouncing.
Top off any outfit with the brand’s popular Inverno Gloves, which were made with a fabric blend from Italy. The gloves can do it all: the fabric is soft enough for necessary face-wiping during runs but also has viable phone pads on its fingers.
Tracksmith’s shorts and leggings are similarly well-crafted. I was initially hesitant about a loose-fit run short, as others have not been well-suited to serious workouts, but the Session Speed Shorts did not disappoint. They are lightweight, but still high-quality and high stretch. The elastic waistband is snug and supportive, and the side pockets can be big enough for a phone or multiple small items. One of my favorite products from Tracksmith was the Turnover Tights. They were buttery soft but wicked away moisture quickly while retaining warmth.
Tracksmith’s Eliot Runner has been a popular addition to the brand’s lineup of apparel. It is a neutral running shoe that, like the brand’s other pieces, could transition from a workout to errands seamlessly. The shoe uses PEBAX foam, which is usually associated with racing shoes. However, the Eliot Runner feels more like a training shoe, as it has a medium level of responsiveness. The shoe’s upper sole has mesh that is thick enough to retain warmth but provide breathability during outdoor runs. The Eliot Runner also has a soft sock liner for added comfort.
Although the heel counter is firm, it has enough padding to protect against blisters and discomfort. Through sprints, longer runs, and recovery workouts, the Eliot Runner proved versatile. I was pleasantly surprised by the shoe’s traction, as well—as someone who has had some recent negative experiences testing running shoes in slippery conditions, the Eliot Runner kept me feeling secure through rain and slush. For someone looking for a combination lifestyle running shoe, the Eliot Runner could be a perfect fit, as the shoe’s signature woven sash feels on-trend.
Tracksmith’s biggest downside is its price point. Like a true high-end brand, it rarely has sales and only offers free shipping for orders over $150. With its prices, free shipping might not be difficult to reach, however. The Eliot Runner retails for $198, the NDO Jacket for $308, and the Fells Waffle Layer for $128.
For serious runners, these products could be a long-term investment that lasts a decade (or more). Others might be worried about replacing their lower-priced running clothing with such high-end apparel. Tracksmith activewear can certainly withstand the elements but is best for the serious runner who needs gear for all types of weather.
Overall, I was impressed by Tracksmith’s high quality, durability, and thoughtful design elements. For the serious runner who is willing to spend a bit more to invest in a long-lasting running wardrobe that can withstand the elements, look no further.
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