If you recall, I did a review of the Arc’teryx Atom SL Jacket last December; a product that I was pretty impressed with. Based on this experience, I decided to reach out to Arc’teryx to see if they had anything they wanted a review on ahead of the upcoming running season. They sent me over their newest Soleus shorts, which they updated for for 2016.
DISCLAIMER: Arc’teryx provided me with the product for the purposes of this review. As always, I do my best to maintain a non biased review for the benefit of my readers and the company itself.
I would describe the Soleus as a minimalist, light weight race short. Everything about these shorts screams long and fast. They have a couple of pretty slick features, outlined here and described in more detail further in the review.
- Lightweight materials, (weighing in at 4.9 oz for the Medium)
- Short length, with side splits for unobstructed movement
- Built-in liner for a secure fit
- 5-pockets for maximum storage to keep your hands free
- SPF 50 for sun protection
Price: $89 here on Amazon
To start, here is a picture of me with the shorts on to give you a feel for the overall length.
I ran in these a few times, with the primary test being a 16 mile trail run. I really loved these shorts, and will call out a few areas.
I don’t run in shorts with liners all that often; I generally opt for compression shorts beneath a regular pair of fitness shorts. One of the first things I noticed about the liner is that it provided more than enough support while being WAY more breathable. This kept sweat to a minimum, which I am sure contributed to the overall comfort and lack of chafing. The liner didn’t have any rough seam spots either, so no weird rubbing was present during the run.
The Soleus has three pockets on the back. The left hip is a zipper pocket; the middle pocket is the widest one with a smaller entrance to keep things from falling out; the right hip pocket is smaller, ideal for gels. I was worried about how these would feel (i.e., bounce) while running, which ended up being unwarranted for the most part. I ran with my keys in the zipper pocket, a Clif food pouch in the middle, and a couple of gels in the right. The bounce was there, but minimal to the point of being mostly unnoticeable. I wouldn’t recommend carrying much more than that, but what I did pack into the pockets was more than enough storage to get me through my long run and from aid station to aid station on race day. It was definitely nice having my hands free and being able to use a minimal hydration pack. I didn’t really use the two front pockets. They are pretty shallow and I kept stressing about things falling out.
While not the shortest I have seen, I usually run in shorts that are a bit longer than these. It took a little getting used to for me, but the length was a major factor in the breathability, non-chafing, and freedom of movement. Each leg has about a two-inch side split that makes movement more free flowing. I almost felt like I wasn’t wearing any shorts (although thankfully for those around me I was). So aside from getting used to a shorter short, I enjoyed the fit and found that it contributed to the overall performance.
Arc’teryx makes some of the the highest quality products in the space. They use top materials and the finest construction. Of course, you have to be willing to pay for a product of this quality. While I believe the cost versus longevity more than justifies the $89 price tag of these shorts, I can also understand why it might be a large pill to swallow when it comes to buying a pair of shorts to do your 6ish mile training runs in. For me, this is the perfect short for both long runs and on race day. In fact, I am buying a second pair to make sure that I always have a pair available. To summarize, here is a list of pro’s and con’s.
- The liner provided enough support that it basically eliminated the need to wear a pair of compression shorts. As it was more breathable too, it actually worked out better for me.
- The back pockets were super handy. While I was worried about bounce while running, I was able to put my keys in the zip pocket and my nutrition in the other two with no discomfort or fear of losing things.
- No chafing. With other shorts, I normally have problems with materials rubbing against my thighs and causing chafing after longer distances. I feel like the combination of the liner, length, and split legs eliminated this problem for me.
- The two front pockets are shallow. I was worried about putting anything in them for fear of stuff falling out. As such, I found them to be pointless. In the future, I would rather see them either make these pockets a little deeper or get rid of them all together.
- They rode up a little. I am not used to wearing shorter length shorts, so this may be normal. It didn’t cause any problems, but will take some getting used to.
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