I was lucky enough to get a chance to test out some gear from a great UK running brand called ashmei. The folks at ashmei are developing awesome hi-tech running kit using an old school material – merino wool. Reading this, you might scoff at the idea of wearing wool shorts for running which is typically a rather warm affair. I know I couldn’t have imagined being comfortable on a summer run with a pair of wool compression shorts on, but I have seen the light! Think about it – sheep survive the summer covered in wool, so maybe ashmei is onto something!
I have been running in the ashmei 2 in 1 shorts over the past few weeks. These shorts use a merino wool blend (along with nylon and spandex) for the compression liner, and the outer short is a poly/spandex blend. The outer short has a cool laser cut ventilation pattern on the outside of the legs, and a pocket just under the rear waist band. As I would expect in a running short, the waist band and seams are nice and flat to minimize chafing potential. I found the quality of materials and manufacturing to be excellent – there were no issues with loose stitching or errant seams or material here.
The merino blend liner short had a very robust feel to it. It was designed as a compression liner and I found it thick and tight enough to feel like it was doing its job in this regard. The interesting thing that I found while running in these shorts was that while the liner felt thick (and thus one would assume hot) when I put it on, it was actually quite comfortable even on a hot summer day. The materials and fabric texture let my legs breathe, while still being “compressed.” I did find the opening of the leg to feel a bit tight around my thigh when I put them on, but this didn’t cause any problems while running. One other bonus with merino wool is that it is apparently anti-bacterial (read: non-smelly) by nature. This means that you, and those around you, don’t have to deal with nasty post-run shorts smell! I guess the merino sheep don’t like to smell!
The outer short was an excellent companion to the merino inner. It was made of a nice light poly fabric that covered up the inner short, while otherwise was barely noticeable. The short was loose enough to be very breathable, but didn’t flap in the wind. The laser cut ventilation pattern provided even more opportunity for air flow onto my legs. The outer and inner shorts came together at the waist band very effectively without making it feel too thick.
A couple of other nice features of the ashmei 2 in 1 shorts were the rear pocket, the reflective logo and the subdued color/style. The rear pocket was well designed with a nice zipper that parks in a zipper garage to keep it from self-opening as you run. The pocket was bigger than I have seen on other shorts, and would hold more than I would ever carry in a pocket while running. Also, if you are looking for the washing instructions (like I was!) you will find them printed inside the pocket. The overall look of the shorts was nice and conservative with a black on black logo embroidery and a few well placed reflective designs to make sure I was visible on the road at night.
Overall I was impressed with these shorts – they were cooler than I was expecting in the hot summer season, but they also felt like they would be great in the fall, heading into winter. The ashmei 2 in 1 short is a great choice if you like the feeling of a long compression short while running. I hope that ashmei will expand on the outer short with some different liner options. I felt like the outer short was wonderful, but hard to fully appreciate with the long compression liner short. For my North American readers, I have no doubt that we will see more of ashmei on this continent in the coming months, but for now you can order their wares from www.ashmei.com.