Anyone who is older than the age of consent will probably have heard of the Karrimor brand. Erstwhile stalwart of the walking community, it went to the wall and was bought up by a larger company a few years back. Since then, it’s become a bit like the French Rugby Union Team, in that if you’re lucky you’ll catch them on a brilliant day and get nothing but quality. Any other day, well I think you get the idea.
The problem being was that the brand, still having credibility, was being put on any old stuff under licence. The old Karrimor stuff, being indestructible (I’ve still got a pack I got cheaply when they went under that’s been around the world twice, on innumerable wild camps and still looks like new) and of a good reputation, reusing the name made perfect sense in order to sell store’s own brands.
So it was with a bit of trepidation that I decided to see if you can get all the gear you need to start running for under £50, excluding the shoes as that’s certainly not somewhere to cut corners / you don’t need shoes you can run barefoot as nature intended (and while we’re at it, who needs clothes? Certainly stop the overheating in the summer months)…. From a large online box-shifter that shall remain nameless unless they choose to pay for the publicity (but they did send me a lovely, huge mug with Sports Direct written on it that now helps fuel my shameless caffeine addiction), I managed to get what I’d consider a full beginner’s running kit. Though you’d need to get the gear rinsed out and dried on a radiator overnight and a second pair of shorts would probably be needed.
This is the rundown of the gear and a summary of how they performed:
Four pairs of socks – Enough for 4 runs a week. These are thinner than the alpkit ones I’ve been using, which are technically walking socks. This isn’t an issue as they’re perfectly thick enough for running, though due to injury I’m yet to test them on a proper long run (15k plus). They’re sculpted for the left and right feet and have, rather bizarrely, high viz panels on the soles that would be useful on the visible portion of the sock.
High Viz Jacket – I don’t like crinkly, thick material for a running jacket. If I need more protection, I don a Paramo Velez Adventure Light. Being polyester, this is much more substantial than my usal pertex windproofs, and unfortunately thicker than the Hilly HiViz it was replacing. It is not as thick as a Donnay gilet that was a replacement for the Hilly that’s so stiff and thick it feels like wearing a lifejacket. This will certainly do the job intended however, and as the Hilly failed after one winter (disintegrated zip) this may last a little longer. If you get it for the price, and you can live with the slight bulk, you can’t go far wrong. However, the full price is £46 – which is a tad expensive and I feel priced to make the ensuing discount more attractive.
Shorts – I’ve a number of expensive Underarmour and New Balance shorts that are excellent, but lack for a decent pocket. The Karrimor shorts have a huge pocket that’ll swallow your small phone, key and emergency money. There’s an internal pant as well, which you can always cut out if it isn’t your thing. More importantly, is it comfortable and is the fit decent? Basically, for the general well-being of all involved I don’t wear short shorts, and I feel that most shorts on the market are far too short for my liking. Even some 15cm ones i bought as long are too short(but my favourite Underarmour are only 12 and a perfect fit), so they had to pass this test before even getting out of the house. On the site they look at least an 18cm short, but turned out to be a little closely cut for my liking. The mesh pant is rather harsh too, but that might work to toughen you up.
High Viz 1/ 2 zip top and regular long sleeve top – Again, for the price, these are a bargain but not for the ‘full price’. They’re ‘just’ long enough in the body, but the arms are woefully short. If you like the idea of a long sleeve top that you can wrap your hand into, this isn’t the top for you. I tend to run with the sleeves up anyway (yes, I know that defeats the point of these!) and if I need the extra insulation provided by sleeves then I’d use a windproof. I considered that their sizing was rather miserly, but this is like as sack on Mark who takes a medium.
Overall, this set of gear would set anyone comfortably off on their running hobby. The main issue is with the sizing. For the tops you’d need to go a size up, though the windproof is bizarrely a perfect fit. Not only that, but this will be the ideal top for hi-viz winter runs. The socks are also a hit. They’re just thick enough for the purpose and I reckon I’ll be buying another 4 pairs!
Thanks to Mark P for helping with the pics! Not that he needed to use a fast shutter speed or owt..