What to wear for Hood to Coast: Oiselle for every occasion

I ran my first Hood to Coast relay last weekend. I have so much to say about that zany experience, but will start by documenting what I wore because it turned out that I had it down to perfection. If I were to do it again under the same weather variables, I wouldn’t change a thing.

I obsessively curated my H2C outfits. I tend to be picky about what I wear while running in the first place, because I dislike being constrained, pinched or uncomfortable in any way when I’m out there doing my thing. I am not the kind of person who can tune out the nagging itchy seam or the digging bra strap. Those types of things will get into my head and cause my entire workout to unravel. With H2C being an out-of-town race, my outfits needed to be dead on. Once I left my house for the airport there was no turning back. No chance of borrowing anything from a teammate, thanks to my lilliputian size. And no time to go buy something at a local store because of my Thursday evening arrival in Portland plus our team’s Friday morning start time.

Here are the 3 outfits I packed for the 3 legs. On top of this I had a hoodie, sweatpants, an extra shirt, a light shell, a fleece beanie and fleece gloves. Basically it was Oiselle apparel plus gear and accessories (#oisellelove):

Here is how it all played out:

Warm Up, Cool Down, Van Riding and Snoozing
1. Oiselle Green Lake Hoodie — This is an ultra comfy, easy-on-and-off, loose-fitting zip hoodie that was perfect for whenever I wasn’t running. The zip pockets were great for safekeeping things that I needed or picked up on the journey but did not want on me while running, like the Office Max temporary tattoo that I grabbed at the Start Line Expo, and cash for my morning coffee. And when it was time to tuck into my sleeping bag on the pasture, I added a down vest on top and was soon counting sheep.
2. Sweatpants — I had a pair that stayed on without tying any sort of drawstring. Again, easy on and off is key.
3. Oiselle Long Sleeve Run On Tee — This was my all-purpose extra shirt and that’s exactly how I ended up using it. It was the warm dry shirt I threw on after my night run. It was the shirt I slept in. It was also the shirt I tied around my waist at the beach in case the air got nippy.

LEG 11 — 4.84 miles flat, 5:30 PM, temps in the high 70’s
1. Oiselle Easy Run Cap Tee in Stripey — The light colored top deflected heat, and the cap sleeves protected my shoulders from the sun but was unobtrusive enough to ventilate the ole armpits (very important, you know).
2. Oiselle Stride Short — Simple and minimal. Given the short distance, there was no need to carry anything on me so the streamlined no-pocket design was ideal.
3. Cap and sunglasses — My doctors have made me neurotic about sun damage (to my skin and eyes), so I always cover up whenever there is even a hint of sunshine outside.
4. Feetures Elite Ultra Light Low Cut socks — These are my go-to socks except when temps fall below 50 degrees. They never bunch up, fit snug, feel smooth and comfortable, and do not interfere with ground sensation.

LEG 23 — 4.18 miles on gentle rolling hills, 3 AM, temps in the high 40’s
1. Oiselle Long Sleeve Renewable Tee — The pear green color increased visibility. Oiselle’s comfy cotton/poly blend kept me warm without causing me to overheat on this short jaunt. The cotton content was not a problem since I was done and out of the shirt within 35 minutes.
2. Oiselle Lesley Knickers — I do not wear shorts unless it is at least 50 degrees out, so these warm, wicking, compressive knee-length capris were the clear choice.
3. RoadNoise Vest — A reflective bib is a must-have during a night leg of H2C. This vest not only provides visibility, it discreetly pumps out tunes and securely holds your phone or iPod on your body…all in one sleek solution! The mesh body is thin and comfortable and allows moisture transfer. The velcro closures let you adjust the fit around your torso so that it sits just right. The flat thin slabs which are the speakers lie in place within earshot without poking your shoulder area or bouncing around. This vest was conceived as a solution to the no-headphones rule at H2C, but the visibility plus music feature makes it a must-have for all runners who like to rock out or listen to the radio while on the move, for the upcoming seasons of limited daylight.
4. Headlamp and fleece gloves
5. Smartwool PhD Run Light Micro socks — I needed the wool to keep my piggies warm.

LEG 35 — 7.2 miles on a seemingly never-ending ascent, 12 noon, temps in the mid 70’s
1. Oiselle Roga Short — I brought out the big gun for this arduous mid-day leg. The light-as-air stretch woven fabric always performs beautifully in the heat. The Roga does exactly what you want your running shorts to do on a hot day: wick and otherwise act like they don’t exist. I thought about stashing a gel in the back zip pocket but never ended up taking one along (I went with a handheld bottle of coconut water instead).
2. H2C Race Tshirt — This was a last-minute swap-out. I admit that wearing the race shirt at the race is a total dork maneuver, but it was the last leg and this was my first H2C and most of my van mates wore their race shirt…yadda yadda yadda. Anyway, it was made of a tech fabric and fit me decently so ’nuff said. My Oiselle race singlet graciously gave way.
3. RoadNoise Vest — This was a strategy solely to keep my motivation up. I needed tunes for my one-hour uphill journey. I can’t tell you how hilarious it was to come trucking along on an otherwise silent gravel fire road in the middle of Oregon’s Coastal Range and eke out Taylor Swift “You’re on the phone with your girlfriend she’s upset….” And I dare say my compadres on Leg 35 appreciated the comic relief. At one point this youngish, maybe late 20-something buff-looking guy (read: not the type to be a Taylor Swift fan) actually turned around as I came up on his tail and burst out in a chuckle because of my non-sequitor music choice. He kept smiling as I cruised past. I credit my RoadNoise vest for breaking the tension of a hot hilly run that nobody was enjoying with a dash of humor.
4. Feetures Elite Ultra Light Low Cut socks — Did I mention that the smooth dense knit of these socks was great for keeping fine dirt and sand off the skin of your feet while running? This feature came in handy on the gravelly path that we ran on for 2/3 of this leg.
5. Cap and sunglasses — Again, gotta protect from the sun.

There you have it: how to get through the Mother of All Relays on Oiselle and a shoestring. Kidding aside, we pretty much had ideal weather so it was easy to stay really pared down. Things like my light running shell and fleece beanie never got pulled out of the backpack. Had a rain storm or some cold front swept through, it surely would have been a different story. But this year, all we needed was the basics and I will definitely be using this formula as a baseline for future all-night running adventures.

Gear review: Oiselle Running Tee

The gear: Oiselle Start Line Run Tee, size XS

The verdict: Best 50/50 t-shirt you’ll find

Out-of-the-box assessment: Soft and ready to wear from moment one. Close-fitting and feminine but not tight (especially if you size up).  Average length (bucks the current trend of t-shirts being on long side). The clean, colorful, modern, and witty graphics truly capture the essence of runners’ pride.

Test conditions: A 5-mile tempo run on a breezy low 50’s day. I hate feeling cold, so for insurance I pulled on my Oiselle Arm Warmers. I also had on knee-length capris.

Detailed results: I have to admit, I was skeptical. The first thing I learned from my run team coach 3 years ago regarding clothing was “cotton is rotten,” and that adage has been etched in my brain ever since. I have categorically forsworn “normal shirts” in favor of light and limber technical tops . When I acquired my first Run Tee (the 13.1), I had no intention of wearing it for running. To me, it was the perfect runner’s badge of honor, as well as an “aahhhhh” piece of clothing to slip into after getting the job done.  It’s incredibly soft and instantly warming.  But Oiselle markets it as a shirt for running, so I decided to give it a try.

The short sleeve Run Tee held up totally fine. Given the windy day, I appreciated that it kept my core warm. It also kept the sweat off my skin, didn’t chafe, and didn’t constrict me in any way. I will probably still save my Run Tees for street wear. My running tops don’t stay on my body past the duration of the run. Cozy t-shirts like these I like to keep on all day and enjoy. But for those who prefer the old school simplicity of heading out with just a t-shirt, shorts, and pair of sneaks, the Oiselle Running Tees are for you.

By the way, bonus points to Oiselle’s Run Tees for being the only 50/50 t-shirts I know that don’t pill! Wash after wash they have stayed soft and smooth.  (Eat your heart out, American Apparel.)

Gear review: Oiselle Gilman Vest

The gear: Oiselle Gilman Vest, white, size XS

The verdict: A must-have

Out-of-the-box assessment: Light-as-a-feather 94% polyester 6% spandex ripstop fabric. Reflective details at chest graphic and zipper openings. Slim fit with elasticized arms holes to trap heat. Cropped length, hits at the waist. I would say best for slighter builds and smaller (A-B) chests.

Test conditions: A 10-mile run on a cool, damp, overcast 48-degree day that felt more like 40 degrees because of the dampness. Underneath the vest I wore a long sleeve technical top and the ueber-awesome cotton-polyester Oiselle Run On Long Sleeve Tee. I also had on knee length capris, a lightweight beanie, and microfleece gloves.

Detailed results: The Gilman Vest packs serious heat, protects beautifully against the wind, and stays nice and dry throughout the workout.

I was amazed how warm the vest kept me a considering its weight. Twenty minutes into the run I needed to shed the Run On Tee, which kept my arms perfectly toasty at first but proved too warm by mile 2. I hate being cold so much that I tend to err on the side of feeling cozy from the get-go, only to shed layers and tote things around my waist for the remainder of the run. But lately my distaste for clutter while I run has really grown. The Gilman Vest is the perfect solution to my dilemma. I just need to get better at ignoring that initial feedback from my body that it is freezing.

[Oiselle posted a great primer on dressing for cool-weather runs. Rule of thumb is to dress like it’s 20 degrees warmer and you are going to be standing around outside. I should have trusted their advice!]

A few words about the design. The vest is simple, compact, clean. The lack of bells and whistles might disappoint those looking for more of a pack mule of a vest. The Gilman features two small hand pockets – that’s it. If I could ask Oiselle to change anything, it might be to add a loop inside the collar so the vest can be hung on a hook. But I’m happy with the Gilman Vest as is. It is a great basic piece of outerwear that I will reach for again and again through the season of 35- to 50-degree running.