One of the most popular names in triathlon, Zoot boasts an impressive line-up of shoes and wetsuits (many of which we’ve tested). But they also offer a ton in the way of everyday basics—just visiting their website can be overwhelming, there are so many styles and colors to pick from. Where does an endurance junkie begin?
We tried out a few of the brand’s triathlon and running-specific pieces to help you with your choices. Our conclusion? You can’t go wrong with Zoot. They’ve been at it long enough to know what fast chicks need, and their clothing is as appropriate to the race course as it is for the routes out your back door. If you’re looking for clothing that can multitask as good as you, go with Zoot.
Ah, the marathon. There’s really no better test for a piece of performance clothing. The sweat, the pain—the chafing. You can put on the most buttery-soft workout top you own, and yet by mile 16 it has morphed into a sheath of thorns. I tried on no less than 20 tops the evening before a recent marathon, and I ended up settling on this one—not even a part of Zoot’s running line. Yet it just felt right. (Full disclosure: the pretty pink and orange top also happened to match my shoes and hat, which may have swayed my decision a little!) Still, on race day I wasn’t disappointed. I saw a few girls with (gasp!) cotton T-shirts on out there, and I can only pray their skin is not as easily chafed as mine.
Besides the obvious color coordination (admit it ladies; it matters), this top had a few other functions that put it on top of my pre-race fashion show pile. Function number one included the two stash pockets on either side of the back. They’re open mesh for easy access to nutrition/salt tabs, yet the pocket lining at the top is snug enough to keep everything in place. Function number two: The internal bra construction, which offered enough heavy duty support to negate the need for an additional bra, and superior ventilation so I stayed cool and relatively dry. I’m not exactly a busty gal, so I would say anyone larger than a B-cup might need some additional reinforcement, but for me it kept everything nicely in place. Not having to wear a sports bra doesn’t just cut down on post-race laundry, it also cuts down on friction against the body and therefore unsightly rub marks under the arms and on your lady lumps. Function number three was Zoot’s patented SeamLink stitching. I wear Zoot clothing a lot in my triathlons, and you really can feel the difference, which is why I trusted a triathlon brand for my non-triathlon event. The technology basically creates one long seam throughout the garment instead of several, so it lays down nicely against the skin and molds to your body. It’s the difference between you wearing a technical top and a technical top wearing you. And finally, function number four was the top’s racerback and back hem drop. The racerback provided me with a fuller range of motion (which came in handy when my legs basically stopped working and I had to propel myself harder with my arms in order to stay on pace). The dropped hem is subtle; not as low as a cycling jersey. This top kept everything in place without having to make annoying adjustments after porta potty breaks. Every second counts, right? -SGL
Endurance Tri Top, $65
This top fits more loosely than the above racerback, providing a little more sun protection and coverage. I use it primarily for short rides on hot days where I don’t need a jersey to load up with nutrition, or where I want to work on my tan lines. The half-zipper on the front makes this a cooler option as well: A quick zip-down in the middle of a ride allows you to channel the breeze where you need it most. The rear hem is dropped slightly, making this the perfect option for the bike and a worthy running partner when your favorite run piece is in the wash. The side stash pockets fit gels perfectly, and the Endura fabric is cool, supportive, and comfortable without being flimsy. -JWB
Allegra Run Bra, $45.00
This bra quickly launched itself ahead of my Target and Costco staples, and is now a staple of my weekly workout wardrobe. At first I wondered what the “Swan Hook” clasp at the back was for, but whatever it does, it does it well. Light, comfortable, and remarkably cool thanks to Vellum fabric, this bra can be layered or worn alone in shorter races or workouts. The cutaway back lets you swing your arms to chug up hills and show off your swimmer’s arms.
One of my favorite things about this piece is that it looks more top-like than bra-like, great for those hot days or shorter runs where you need to pretend you’re at the beach. Its lower band seems to hold my heart rate monitor strap in place better than many other bras I own—an additional perk I never even considered before testing it. The support and compression make me feel compact, lean, and strong … surprising qualities in a bra, whether you hide it under a jersey or break it out on its own for a stride down the town strip. -JWB
Pulse Capris, $65
Capris in early August? Perhaps this isn’t the most seasonal review, but trust us, these sexy little tights from Zoot’s run line are an investment worth making any time of the year. Thanks to the Pulse fabric (micro-denier polyester yarn that wicks moisture and spandex for added muscle support) they’re light and soft. With articulation at the knee and hip to curve around a runner’s shape, these capris flaunt a low-rise style with yoga-esque detailing; in fact, I’ve used them on the street and at the studio. The vented mesh insets allow for great cooling, and there’s a tiny mesh pocket in the inside back for your house key. Take note that there are no external pockets for nutrition, so if you’re taking these long, pair them with a hydration belt, a top with pockets, or plenty of water fountain stops. -JWB
Ultra Run Shorts, $50
For my shorter weekly tempo or recovery runs, I turn to these babies. I wear them so much that I’ve taken to hand washing and hanging them so that they’re ready to go when I am. These pocket-free shorts are simple done right: Soft, swishy, barely-there comfort that will make you feel as close to naked as you’d want to be on a run. Made of Zoot’s DYNAsilk fabric, these shorts feel like sleepwear. The TekSheen liner has never chafed, and the waistband never itched. There’s a small, cloth pocket on the inside for a key (anything else would be uncomfortable), so for my longer runs I usually choose something with exterior pockets. -JWB
“Chicked” is written by SGL (Sixth Gear Lady) and JWB (Just Wanna Bike). The column gets its name from a slang term heard often in triathlons when a man gets passed by a woman. We know most of you guys don’t mind gettin’ chicked, but unfortunately this column still isn’t for you.