Apparel Spotlight: Nike Tech Fleece Cape

Prose: Kim Nguyen (@317Kim)

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

One of the Fall’s most anticipated pieces from the Nike Tech Pack line of apparel is the Tech Fleece Collection. Nike’s objective for this release was to update classic styles with a revolutionary reinvention of fleece. NIke aimed to evolve the fit, feel, and function of some of their own most iconic sportswear silhouettes. This collection definitely represents the next generation of classic sport apparel.

When I first saw the Fall 2013 Lookbook for NIke Women in early August, the Nike Tech Fleece Cape immediately caught my attention. It was a must-cop for the upcoming season and I was stoked because it wasn’t a limited edition Nike Blackdoor piece, so I did not think availability would be a problem for me. I mean, who would buy a $110  Nike sweatshirt in August besides me? That did not worry me too much (even though the release date did not coincide with my pay day.)

Unfortunately for me, the grey cape that I wanted so badly sold out within a few days on Nike’s website. Finch told me it would be like that since professional athletes such as Maria Sharapova were seen wearing it. He also went to Niketown in Chicago in search of this cape for me, but it was too late; they didn’t have my size small available in stock.

But after having the Nike website as my homepage for a week and randomly refreshing the page throughout the day, I discovered a random restock and was finally able to order my grey, size small, Nike Tech Fleece Cape and received it in the mail two days later (Thank you, Nike!).

This fleece is just as beautiful in person as it is online and in the high gloss Tech Pack book.  The cape consists of slightly thinner fleece for an enhanced drape. It has a hood and thumbholes – I love thumbholes in my outerwear.

I also love asymmetry – the cape has an asymmetrical zipper for full functionality.

Needless to say, it’s perfect.

FIT
Because of the thinner fleece, style and cut, the cape fits loosely on the body. I am usually a size small in most of Nike’s sweatshirts, but for the tighter fitting apparel, I opt for mediums. I ordered a small for the cape and it fits true to size. It’s supposed to be looser and drape off the body, and I am pleased with how it fits on me. The lightweight and smooth jersey gives the garment a modern, streamlined look both inside and outside. The inner foam enhances the fleece’s functionality by providing sufficient warmth for colder weather.

130320_N_SH06_B-008_v1c_original

This cape is truly lighter, warmer, and more breathable than its predecessors. The comfort and mobility of the cape is remarkable! I just love that it looks as good as it performs! Very thankful for the cooler weather earlier last week so I could put the cape to the test.

MATERIALS/DURABILITY
The fabric used on the tech cape is lightweight, but offers warmth that responds to the natural motion of the person wearing it. This works by trapping the body heat that is generated. Nike puts foam in between the layers of cotton jersey for a unique tri-layer fabric that is super comfortable without weighing you down.

nikecape1

VERSATILITY
There is no doubt that I will be rockin’ the cape throughout the fall and winter this year whether it be after a workout, running around town, or for nice occasions. It is definitely one of my favorite pieces of clothing because of how comfortable and functional it is. I have always been a fan of wearing sports apparel for casual attire.  It’s comfy and can be a very refined look if you do it right.

At $110, it may sound pretty pricy, but this jacket is definitely worth it. Ladies, get your Nike Tech Fleece capes. Your friends will be so envious.

Processed with VSCOcam with m4 preset

Performance Review: Nike Free Flyknit

Prose: Kim Nguyen (@317Kim)

Ed. note: In case you missed her work before, Kim is back with her second performance review here at TGRR. She’s currently a Wellness Coach at an Indianapolis-area YMCA (and can put Finch and I to shame in the fitness department). You’ll find the bulk of her contributions to TGRR on our Instagram page, where you’ll find shots of her own impressive collection as well as her work with effects on Finch and I’s photos. As you’re about to see, she knows her stuff.

Colorway Tested: Neo Turquoise/Atomic Teal/Chlorine Blue/White
Weight: 5.5 oz
Test Size: 6
Price: $160

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

The Nike Free Flyknit was designed to flex with the foot in motion. Through scientific data and athlete insight, Nike branded this approach “Nature Amplified”.

After 6 weeks of running with this product, I have to agree with this Nature Amplified approach. I like to run on different types of terrain to keep my knees in good shape and more importantly, to keep me motivated and interested in my run! Something has got to entertain me on this early morning 5 milers. The Free Flyknit has proven to be a perfect shoe for that.

Fit: 9
While you’re going to get great fit out of a Flyknit-based shoe in general, the Free Flyknit fits more like a second skin than the Lunar Flyknit in my opinion. This is due to the sock liner and collar in the upper, which give it a close-to-the-foot, sock-like fit. I mean, as soon as I tried them on at Finish Line, I knew that these would be a great pair of shoes that I could run, lift, and go to work in from a fit standpoint.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

There is so much elasticity and the shoe is so tightly woven that the shoe actually curls up at both ends when it is not on your feet! The compressive fitting upper is snug, but it helped remedy my overpronation (the inward rolling of the ankles through the footstrike) a bit by keeping my feet secure and locked in during my runs. This was a huge plus since I originally did not think that I would be able to run in these Frees, since they are made primarily for those with immaculate gaits and high/normal arches. Being able to put heavy miles in the Free Flyknits without my feet hurting was a pleasant surprise.

Unfortunately, there is that saying that too much of a good thing can be bad. My runs usually do not exceed a full hour, so I am not bothered by these shoes. When I’m at work, it’s a completely different world. My 4-8 hour shifts become a bit painful. As a Wellness Coach, I am constantly on my feet with clients. After about 4 hours, my feet are aching for my shoes to come off. I found that, when laced tight, the Free Flyknits can begin to cut off circulation in my feet and leave some heavy markings on the back of my ankles towards my achilles. This is why I gave the fit a 9 overall.

The most important part to remember is that this shoe does what it was supposed to – even if that doesn’t universally work for everybody and every activity. It carries me through my runs with ease. It’s just not suitable to be in all day due to the tightness of that second-skin fit and lack of serious support.

Lastly, the great debate: Team Socks or Team No Socks?

Because the shoe is seamless, a lot of people talked about running without socks. I ran the first week without socks and noticed that my feet were feeling clammy without socks because of the heat and sweat that accumulated in the upper. Fortunately for me, I had two pairs of Nike Hyper-Lite Elite Running No-Show socks in my closet that I thought would be a good fit. That was a match made in heaven!

Those are the perfect socks to wear with the Free Flyknits, since they’re thin, lightweight, and still let your feet breathe. My favorite part is that the anti-blister collar on the socks adds some additional color to the sneakers to give it a different look every now and then. I am definitely Team Socks on this one. (As for laces or no laces, I prefer mine with laces since they just look like Kukini Frees without them and I have enough of those.)

Heel-Toe Transition: 9
The Nike Free midsole/outsole is one of the most popular technologies that Nike has ever created. It just works – especially for those desiring a minimalist feel. There are basically three midsole levels within the Free hierarchy, with the 3.0 being the most barefoot, 4.0 being slightly more substantial and the 5.0 providing maximum cushioning and support within the Free line. With that said, 5.0 is still flexible and retains that same “superbendy” sole that makes the shoes a joy to run in.

The articulated 5.0 sole consists of hot-knifed sipes, which are strategically-engineered flex grooves through the arch of the foot which help ensure natural movement in the mid-foot as the runner transitions stride. This is the flexible shoe that we all love with a minimal heel-to-toe drop that helps propel your feet forward to keep moving during your run.

Cushion: 8.5
Due to my overpronation, I require a great amount of responsiveness and support from the cushioning of my running shoes (I’m one of those people that mixes up my shoes as well – the Brooks Adrenaline 13 is another of my go-to’s). Although I prefer the Lunarlon system on my Nike runners, the Free Flyknit did a great job on providing sufficient cushioning on my runs. Due to my specific needs, I wouldn’t necessarily run a half marathon with these babies, but it works great for my 5Ks. It’s important to know your needs as a runner too; just because a shoe may not work for you doesn’t necessarily mean it’s trash.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

After accumulating over 50 miles on the Free Flyknits, the cushioning has not deteriorated and I am pretty confident that these will be in good shape for at least another year.

Traction: 7
The Free Flyknits do not offer a large amount of heavy-duty traction compared to the Lunarglides, Lunar Flyknits, etc. It’s a free bottom with some extra BRS 1000 carbon rubber on high-wear areas. The Frees did well on the track and on the treadmill, but I noticed significant wear on roads, sidewalks, and trails.

(If you’re doing a significant amount of outdoor running, check out these options.)

Materials/Durability: Upper 10/Sole 7
The Nike Flyknit upper features a unique zoned performance mapping patterns based on how pressure is exerted on the top of the foot. Nike Sport Research Lab scientists employed pressure-mapping technology to locate stress areas, and designers used that data to create the new upper. A exercise physiologist like myself finds this amazingly intriguing and I really appreciate the scientific side being demonstrated on the upper.

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

I noticed that zones on the top of the foot have more stretch built in it to enable that natural flex, while a tighter weave embodies the rest of the upper to stabilize the forefoot and heel. The awesome elasticized construction on the collar fits securely around the ankle without irritating the skin.

Another reason to love the Nike Free Flyknit is that it utilizes that knitted one-piece upper because it reduces Nike’s typical upper waste by an average of 88%. If you are ever interested in seeing what the designers at Nike use, check out the app called Nike Making – it’s a tool to inspire designers and creators to make better choices in the materials they use.

I have no doubt that the upper will hold up for years to come, and the upper on my old Lunar Flyknits still looks flawless! Underfoot, the actual Nike Free platform might be questionable since I have already done some trail running in them. If I keep alternating runners, then these will last a lot longer, but I am probably just too rough outdoors on those Free bottoms.

Overall, the Nike Free Flyknit is another amazing addition to my Nike Running collection. It performs well and looks fantastic in all of its colorways – I am loving all of the new innovations by the Swoosh. At $160, the price is steep, but just know that you are getting a great quality runner! My decision to cop was a no-brainer since I always have to have the newest creations from Nike.

I’m looking forward to trying out the Nike Hyperfeel Trail this week to spare my other runners from that rough terrain. #werundirty

9/5/13: Today in Performance Kicks

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

In order to get us some more consistent content, we’re testing out a new theme here at TGRR. It’s called Today in Performance Kicks, and I’ll basically be highlighting the top news of the day in performance sneakers. We’ll range from running to training to hoops shoes and will highlight more or less options depending on the news flow.

Nike Presents Three New Trail Running Options
As the fall season approaches, Nike is releasing three lightweight trail options for those outdoor running enthusiasts. The Zoom Terra Kiger, Zoom Wildhorse and Free Hyperfeel Trail each present high performance options in a lightweight package.

nikezoomterrakiger

The Zoom Terra Kiger boasts a lugged outsole with sticky rubber portions for grip in all conditions and is complimented by a responsive Zoom midsole unit. The heel-toe drop is a barefoot-like 4 mm and the heel is rounded off to provide a more natural midfoot stride. Dynamic Flywire is featured within a mesh upper for solid lockdown.

nikezoomwildhorse

The cousin to the Terra Kiger is the Zoom Wildhorse. Featuring a similar midsole/outsole setup (including a classic Waffle outsole, rounded heel and Zoom cushioning), the Wildhorse differs by employing a lightweight Dynamic Fit lockdown system under a single layer of mesh. The Wildhorse is probably considered a slight takedown model from the Terra Kiger as the upper materials aren’t quite as nice, but you’re still getting quality Zoom cushioning in a lightweight trail shoe for right around $100.

nikefreehyperfeeltrail1

The Nike Free Hyperfeel Run Trail takes Flyknit to another level, employing it on a trail shoe for the first time. The Hyperfeel uses a combination Flyknit and synthetic upper to provide a simultaneous sock-like fit and outdoor-worthy durability. The collar is where you’ll find the Flyknit hugging the ankle like a sock in order to provide the best fit as well as keeping out debris. The unique rear lacing system also plays a role in providing a snug fit. A Lunarlon midsole takes care of the cushioning while the outsole is finished off in a Nike Free-inspired Waffle pattern. The outsole lugs are heavier in higher-wear areas, as evidenced by the heat map graphic on the outsole.

news via Nike, Inc/images via Nike.com

Nike Sonic Flight
nikesonicflightred
For now all we have are a few images, but it appears we’ll have a new Nike Basketball hybrid model at some point in 2014. It’s being dubbed the Sonic Flight, and appears to be a mashup of the Nike Zoom GP and Afterburner Flight (the lateral vamp), the Zoom Garnett III (heel Air unit) and Gary Payton’s “Glove” model (the exposed monkey paw ankle structure). It’s an interesting hybrid of 90s Nike Basketball models, and it’s a shoe I haven’t fully formed an opinion of. Either way, it’s worth paying attention to in the future and we’ll relay more news to you as it comes in.
nikesonicflightpurple
nikesonicflightblue

via f_nike

Performance Review: Nike Flyknit Lunar1+

Prose: Kim Nguyen (@317Kim)

flyknit03

Weight: 5.5 oz
Test Size: Wmns 6
Colorway: Black/White/Light Charcoal

After accumulating over 600 miles on my Nike Lunarglide4+, I knew it would soon be time to pick up some new running shoes that incorporated the Lunarlon midsole (my favorite!). This was perfect timing because Nike had just launched the coveted Nike Flyknit Lunar1+ which is one beautiful sneaker. The clean silhouette is due to the combination of the precision-engineered and virtually seamless upper and an updated cushioning system to deliver the ideal blend of targeted support, breathability, and response. After two weeks of wear, I completely understand why Runner’s World® voted it “Editor’s Choice” in February 2013.

Fit
Whether I’m running, lifting or going to class, I need my shoes to fit like a second skin. This is exactly what the Nike Flyknit Lunar1+ felt like when I first put them on. Nike chose to use the ultra-lightweight knit upper to integrate areas of stretch, high breatheability, and support. I believe that this was done seamlessly and really gives the shoe a precise fit. After my first week of running, it even felt like a custom fit!

flyknit06

The overall fit is just like Nike wanted it to be when the advertised it as having a sock-like fit. After lacing up my sneakers, I did some jumping around to test the lockdown abilities. It didn’t take long for me to notice that my heel stayed in place. The Flywire cables also ensure no slippage or sliding of the heel which would cause a runner’s nightmare: blisters.

Heel – Toe Transition
When running, the dorsiflexion motion (planting your heel down so that your toes point towards your body) feels great due to the comfort of the BRS 1000 carbon rubber and the flex grooves which slightly enhance articulation. The Flyknit Lunars stay completely in place and creates a smooth heel-to-toe transition from stride to stride. As mentioned in my primer, the cushioning is thicker in the middle and gets thinner on both sides that lead to the toe and the heel. This creates a footbed that enables every foot motion and foot strike to feel extremely natural.

flyknit07

Cushion
I’m a runner that requires extreme responsiveness and support from the cushioning of my running shoes due to being an overpronator. Therefore, when I first experienced Lunarlon two years ago in the Nike Lunarglide3+ (thanks Finch!), I knew that I had graduated from Frees. Lunarlon is a very resilient foam carrier that provides plenty of support and plush cushioning. In addition to Lunarlon, there are blown rubber forefoot lugs for more cushioning and assist in creating a more efficient stride.

In my experience with Lunarlon (Nike Lunarglide3+. Nike Lunarglide4+), I have been able to run for several months accumulating well over 500 miles on each shoe and have the cushion still present. These have definitely proved to be durable runners which is why I have been a loyal consumer of shoes that incorporate Nike Lunarlon cushioning.

Traction
I mentioned the BRS 1000 Nike brand carbon rubber outsole earlier in the Heel – Toe Transition. I wanted to talk a little more about it though since it is such a crucial part of the performance. This durable outsole not only creates extra cushioning, but also provides excellent traction due its high carbon content. When walking or running in the Flyknit Lunar1+, it feels like the lugs on the outsole are working as fingers to grip the ground. The rubber is very effective for everyday runners because it provides more than sufficient traction and shouldn’t wear down very much over the coming months.

Materials/Durability
The Flyknit Lunar1+ utilizes a meticulous knitted construction process that minimizes weight and waste by using only what’s needed. The upper is entirely made of polyester yarn that’s fed into proprietary knitting machinery. This creates little to no waste, so the shoe is incredibly efficient to produce. I am all about being fit and going green so this was a bonus when purchasing the shoe.

flyknit05

The laces were something that I had not experienced yet. They are flat, but not like the ordinary flat laces. They resemble the ribbons from the Nike Free Powerlines+, another great shoe in my collection. My run has only been interrupted by the laces once since I have had them, and that was probably a manual error. Swoop, loop, pull, and repeat! I really do like that they stay secure and add to the stability of the shoe while also being lightweight.

Although I do run every day, I have not questioned the durability of the shoe. I know that time and mileage will do some damage to the aesthetics of the shoe, but I don’t plan on investing in another shoe until the end of fall or the beginning of winter. I will say though, my worst fear is the upper ripping or getting snagged on equipment in the weight room. Since the upper is composed solely of yarn, I can’t help but to be cautious when I’m down there. Aside from that, I am not too concerned about having to replace these babies early.

Other minuscule details such as 3M stripes on the pull tab, the durable paint which makes up the Swoosh, and the speckle/glitter combination on the midsole gives you aesthetics and attention to detail to appreciate.

Overall, the Nike Flyknit Lunar1+ is a great addition to my collection. It performs great and looks great too! I love that Nike has lived up to their innovative reputation and created a “green” shoe. Unfortunately, efficient production doesn’t always mean cost effectiveness. Priced at $160, I would never have bought these if I were not a Nike running shoe connoisseur and collector. Regardless, I am a strong believer of getting what you pay for. The Nike Flyknit Lunar1+ doesn’t just keep you cool (literally and figuratively) it also keeps you in front of you competition.

Fit: 10
Cushioning: 10
Transition: 9
Traction: 9
Materials: 8

Overall Score: 46/50 x 100 = 92