Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Gear Review: INKnBURN

My love for INKnBURN's running clothes is no secret. (I'm a newly named ambassador for the company, but all the gear reviewed here was purchased by me, before I had any relationship with them). I initially encountered their clothing in early 2012 through reviews on a number of run blogs (notably Iris's now-defunct Stet That Run), joined their Facebook feed, and fell in love with their designs.

A quick aside here: I am a pathologist. My job, every day, is to look at complex pictures (tissue slides), and recognize patterns (make diagnoses). I love the visual aspect of my job. I love drinking in complexity with my eyes, and finding meaning in frenzied, multilayered, seemingly patternless information. At various times, I've been a quilter. When I was pregnant, I was a hazard in the fabric store -- somehow, I craved colors, not food.

So, you can see why I couldn't get enough of their clothing. This wasn't a screen print. This was an all-over, whole-garment work of art. And once I read enough reviews assuring me that the tech fabric was, uh, tech-y and the clothes fit well, all I had to do was pick out a pair of shorts and give 'em a try.

The purple Run or Die shorts pretty much rocked my world. I loved the slightly textured, woven-but-stretchy fabric. The wide, stretchy, soft waistband. The vivid colors, melting from violet to fucsia. The two slim but capacious side pockets. And I loved the glaring skull on the back of the waistband (Even if my kids think it's an owl, not a skull. Hey, owls are badass too).

After a year and a half of hard wear, they're holding up pretty well. There's a little pilling over one side panel (probably from a run through a field of burrs). One front seam binding is just beginning to loosen, but should be fixable with a needle and thread. Otherwise, they look as good as new. Not bad for shorts I wear on average twice a week and wash in the machine and throw in the dryer (when I don't just wash them by hand so I can wear them again sooner).

I've worn them in temperatures ranging from 27 to 95, downpours, torrential sweating, blackberry canes, and deep mud. They look good even when you're bleeding in them, they always clean up well, and they're basically bombproof.

Not long afterward, I bought a Sugar Skull T-shirt. I've never owned such a flashy piece of clothing (excluding my wedding dress?). I love it. I wear it when I need to feel invulnerable.

I wore it for a 25 mile trail run two weeks after I broke my arm:
"Would you take a picture of me? 'Cause otherwise, even I won't believe I did this."
No, you're not imagining it. That is a GLITTER CAST, people. Gold glitter pressed into the fiberglass while it set. Yow!
In fact, it worked so well that, aside from trading up from cast to robo-arm, I just wore the same thing on race day, at the Superior 50K:
Outbound at the aid station, and feeling great!
And, uh, apparently a few other times as well:
Predawn run start at Afton. Note the merino wool armwarmers - in July!
Endless Summer race at Lebanon Hills. But hey, variety! Check the Lust shorts!
With the arrival of serious summer weather this year, I branched out to sample the tank tops:
Flutter tank top at the Portland Old Port Half Marathon in July
... and camisoles:
Lotus camisole at Endless Summer Murphy Hanrehan trail race (my hottest race ever, by a long shot).
On vacation last week in North Carolina, we even had two generations of duelling INKnBURN:
My mom ROCKS the Drifting Petals tank top, and left me in the dust on the run.
The tank tops were a pleasant surprise -- long enough to cover my waist and hips (and I'm tall), really nice body-skimming cut, and a hint of a racerback to show off shoulders. I wish there were a few more designs available for the tank tops... but do check out the Lust top, which is awesome.

I love the way the camisole looks on other people, but it doesn't work quite as well for me -- I think I fall in between sizes small and medium. Still, I like the surprisingly soft and comfortable straps, the shelf bra with a secret gel-sized pocket, and the wide variety of styles.

Despite the flashy looks, all the gear performs like technical wear should. The tops wick, dry fast, and wash well. The fabric doesn't chafe, shrink, or fade (so far). These are my go-to gear in warm to cool weather and for anything indoors -- basically, anything that doesn't require merino wool baselayers.

Want to try some INKnBURN for yourself? Register on their site and use my discount code (RobynToldMe) to get 15% off your first purchase. It's good stuff!

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