At the Ashmei Ambassador Day (14th March), I was given a pair of trail socks to try and asked to review them. However all the other Ashmei kit that I have was purchased by me (or bought for me by my wife). I have a fair bit if it, because although it is not cheap, it performs really well.
This Saturday I ran the Endurace Life CTS Sussex race. I had entered the Ultra event, and would have to do the marathon route, and then a lap of the 10k route, all on trails over the South Downs, starting and finishing at Birling Gap.
The weather forecast was for overcast, but dry conditions, with temperatures peaking at 8C. However with an 8:30 start it would be much cooler for the first couple of hours.
As a result I chose the following kit, as pictured below.
Clockwise from top left:
- Ashmei gloves
- Ashmei beanie hat
- Ronhill trail shorts
- Ronhill arm warmers
- Ashmei merino + carbon trail socks
- Montane chief (not a buff!)
- Compresssport calf guards
- Ashmei merino short sleeve jersey
The Ashmei gloves and hat come out on just about every run if the weather is cool. They are thin and light, but keep me warm. However if it gets hot, they don’t feel sweaty and clammy. They are also small enough that I can stuff them in a pocket if I need to take them off.
The Ronhill shorts have plenty of pockets for gels, and more importantly don’t cause me any chaffing issues. The arm warmers are a relatively new addition of my running wardrobe but I find it much more comfortable to roll them down when I am warm, than wear a long sleeve top and roll the sleeves up.
The socks are made from from Ashmei’s merino + carbon fabric. They claim this performs 10x better then pure merino at displacing water. Another claimed benefit of merino is that unlike polyester ( the normal fabric used in technical running gear), it has natural anti-microbial properties. In short this means it doesn’t stink! I’ve tested this before, and it’s true. When I go on week long business trips I’ve been able to take a single merino top and run in it every day without gagging when I put on. The same can’t be said for my polyester shorts. I thought I’d really put this claim to the test though, so after getting the socks on the 14th, I wore them on every run. 9 runs and 44 miles without washing before the race. While they didn’t smell ‘shop fresh’, they didn’t smell. I managed to convince my 9yr old daughter that they were clean.
The buff Montane chief is always useful for a cool day, and after suffering terrible calf cramp the 1st time I ran the Beachy Head marathon, I always wear compresssport calf guards on hilly runs.
The Ashmei jersey is now a vintage bit of kit (2011). It’s the original pure merino, rather than the newer merino + carbon but for a cold dry day it is perfect. I wore this one on my first 100 mile race and ran in it from 6am until 10pm when cold weather and slowing progress forced me into a warmer long sleeved top.
So how did it all perform?
Perfectly. I like kit to be invisible. I don’t mean literally like the Emperor’s New Clothes, but I don’t want to notice it. It I can feel clothing rubbing and chaffing, or start getting hot spots and blisters on my feet then something is not working. On Saturday everything worked well. It was cold and windy at some points, but I was warm enough, and I never felt too hot and sweaty, even though the hat and gloves stayed on throughout the race.
The socks caused no problems – no rubbing or blisters. They are very short, and did let a little grit get into the shoe, but one stop to shake this out and I was fine. I’ll happily wear them again, but would probably buy the mid length sock.
One last point. The socks are now heading for the washing machine. They still look good despite over 75 miles of hard use in the week, as shown by the before and after photo, but great kit should be treated well. The picture at the top is ‘fresh from the packet’, while the below image is after the race.