I get it, there are a ton of boutique running options out there. Some scoff at the higher price points, and true, it may seem weird that a whole segment of running is now bordering on haute couture.
That said, there’s an argument to be made for buying quality gear that lasts for years. Fast fashion hurts your wallet as much as it hurts the earth. And if you stock up on pieces that are timeless, you’ll never have to worry about the changing of the fashion seasons.
If those are qualities you’re looking for in your running gear, look no further than Iffley Road, a husband and wife team from England, on a mission “to produce as sustainably as possible, sourcing and manufacturing in small batches from ethically produced fabrics.” And do all of it in a classic and timeless style. (I mean, they’re literally named after the Oxford track where Roger Bannister ran the first sub-four-minute mile).
We hadn’t even heard of Iffley Road until last November when Thomas, Jarret, and Robbe reviewed their gear. We loved it then (hell, I even wore their merino turtleneck to a mod-themed Christmas party), and so they sent us some items from their spring collection to test out.
We’re happy to report that Iffley Road is now in our top tier of favorite running companies out there.
NOTE: While some of these items may be more inclined to a dreary spring run in the heart of England, we think they’ll be pretty versatile for most seasons.
Lancaster Striped Drirelease Vest (i.e. Singlet/Tank Top)
ROBBE: So this is called a vest across the pond, but it’s actually a singlet (or maybe a tank top?) in the states. The cut on the chest isn’t as low as your typical singlet, so if you have a Sherwood’s Forest of hair sprouting out, it’ll all be contained beneath the Lancaster.
It’s made from a “bespoke drirelease® micro-blend piqué” (I honestly have no idea what that means, but it sounds bourgie AF, so I’m down). In reality, it’s a bit heavier than your average polyester singlet. There were some concerns for me regarding chafing, although I did an 8-mile run with a hydration vest yesterday in warmer weather and had no issues. I was actually kind of shocked at how light and dry it stayed, because I was totally expecting it to be heavy and wet by the end. For me, the fit was perfect.
JARRETT: Like Robbe said, the Lancaster vest is made of a drirelease micro-blend, which is highly wicking, lightweight, and soft. The material looks a lot heavier than it feels. I got a few good runs in during some unusually warm April afternoons, and I was totally expecting the vest to be soaked and sagging. I was surprised to find only a few sweat marks and the shape maintained. Sorry for being so judgmental.
The fit is a little baggy. I’m obviously not sure how the medium would work, but a large is too much material for how I like a racing tank to fit.
PRICE: £53/$65Shop Iffley Road
Pembroke 5-inch Shorts
ROBBE: Look, I feel like this review comes off like we’re trying to sell you Iffley Road. Well, we are. We have zero vested interest in them (well, aside from the vests we reviewed, by definition that’s a vested interest), but we love good gear and spreading the love to our followers. Let me just say that the Pembroke 5-inch shorts in Dover White are tied with the Tracksmith Van Cortlandt Grand as my favorite running shorts right now.
When I first put them on, I was caught off-guard at how… ahem… good they felt. I mean, yeah I gave them permission, but it felt so right that it almost felt wrong. The soft mesh liner was something else, and it didn’t stop there. The cut of the Italian fabric is on point– the flat front makes these feel more like a 4” short, which IMO is the perfect cut. (I measured, the inseam was indeed still 5”). The shorts are further perfected by the two credit card/gel pockets inside the front waistband.
Also, I’m pretty sure you can get away with just wearing these as everyday shorts come summertime, which I fully intend to do almost any chance I get.
JARRETT: Last time we did our Iffley Road review, Thomas got the Pembroke shorts and he has been raving about them ever since. I had to see what the buzz was all about. I received the shorts in black and I went with a size medium which is what I wear in most running shorts.
For starters, the Italian fabric just gives them that high-quality feel. I prefer 5-inch shorts to run in because the world (and my neighbors) ain’t ready for Jarrett in 3-inch inseams. That said, I felt as if these were a bit shorter than some of my other 5-inch shorts. However, they never rode up to where I have to grab the bottom and pull them down, like with some of my other shorts (if this happens to you, you know exactly what I’m talking about).
Two tiny pockets are located in the front which I used to secure my house key. A few times while running, I actually had to check to make sure the key was still there because I didn’t notice it at all. The tri-stripe vents on each leg are a beautiful added touch.
I do have to admit something. Because of my #NoThighGap, I wear compression shorts under my running shorts to avoid chafing. I don’t like shorts with liners so I cut them out. I thought this was blasphemous (EDITOR’S NOTE: IT IS), but it turns out other people do this too. Once linerless, the shorts were good to go.
I’m really enjoying the Pembroke shorts. So much so that I’ve worn them 4 times in the past week (stay 6 feet away from me and you won’t smell it). If you’re looking for a classy and high quality running short, look no further.
PRICE: £60/$75Shop Iffley Road
ROBBE: When we first asked for the Marchmont as part of the spring collection, I was a little bit like ‘ehhh what’s the point of this.’ Boy, I’m glad my inner monologue can’t punch its way out of a wet paper bag.
I’m just gonna tell you, this is one of the best sweatshirts/clothing items I’ve ever owned. Finally, a f*cking sweatshirt that is cut properly for a thin person, but without being constrictive. The cuffs and hem are magical, the striping placement as aesthetically fire, and it’s just super comfortable. I’m not gonna lie that since we’re working from home I wear it almost every day.
And I actually did run in it too, on a windy, 50-degree day (actually on the way home from taking the above photos). I was ready to sweat my balls off, but oddly it didn’t happen (to be fair, I was running at a very chill pace).
Get it for yourself for those post-long run afternoons, or for someone else that you love cause they’ll love you back forever for it.
I received my typical size small and it fit perfectly (I’m 5’6”, 135 lb.).
JARRETT: The Marchmont sweatshirt has surpassed any and all expectations. Please trust me on this one.
Iffley Road advertises the Marchmont as a technical take on a classic sweatshirt. I wasn’t sure what this meant until I tried it on. While the inside is a soft lined microfleece, the outside has a silky smooth feel that has stretch to it. I didn’t even know something like this was possible as I’m so used to the cotton and heavy standard sweatshirt.
I never ran in it as I tend to overheat, but I wore it while working from home, going for walks, and navigating the grocery store at a socially acceptable distance (i.e. the only activities I’ve done in the past month.)
The fit is cut slim so going with a large was the right move for me. It’s not baggy and looks great. The wide elastic cuffs and hem have a thick and high-quality feel. I wasn’t sure how obnoxious the tri-stripe cuffs would be, but it actually makes it feel more sophisticated. I’m also liking the clean logo printed on the front.
The only downside I can think of is that there isn’t an option for the same sweatshirt but with a hood. I’ve worn this sweatshirt way more than I should. It’s that comfortable.
PRICE: £95/$118Shop Iffley Road
Sheen II Waterproof Gilet (i.e. Vest)
JARRETT: Listen up, Americans. If you’re wondering what a gilet is, it’s a vest. In the past, I’ve questioned vests. What’s the point? When will it ever be cold yet warm enough where I need a jacket without the sleeves!? I couldn’t have been more wrong. Vests are life.
Most mornings I look at the weather and debate if it’s cold enough for a light jacket or if I can do just long sleeves. My problems have been solved and I actually haven’t worn a jacket since getting this.
The Sheen II is made of a tri-layer Italian softshell for high wind and water resistance (but with no sleeves does this matter that much?). I’m loving the lightness of the Sheen II and how breathable it is. It keeps my core warm enough, but still allows my body to cool down when I start to overheat. I rocked this anywhere from 35F to 50F (0C to 10C) with comfort.
Previously, I reviewed the Marlow II jacket. The Sheen II is very similar (besides the lack of sleeves). The fit is the same, except this is a little bit longer in length. I think I prefer the length of the jacket, but otherwise, the large worked perfectly because of the slim cut.
The only pocket is located on the lower back. It has an added reflective stripe for runner visibility and can also pack in on itself for storage. On runs where I took gloves, once my hands warmed up, I tucked them away in the back pocket.
A lightweight and water-resistant gilet (vest) is a crucial piece of apparel for runners. It’s the middle ground between freezing and having to wear a jacket and soaking in sweat. What took me so long to figure this out??
PRICE: £135/$167Shop Iffley Road
Iffley Road Spring 2020 Conclusion
ROBBE: If you’re not on the Iffley Road, you need to check your Google Maps and get rerouted. For fans of Tracksmith or Path Projects, Iffley Road will not disappoint. Plus, they ship to the U.S. and their customer service is stellar. Claire and Bill (the husband and wife founders) work tirelessly to make sure their customers are completely satisfied. You don’t get that from you’re a major manufacturer running store.
JARRETT: While Iffley Road might cost more than your standard running apparel, you get what you pay for. Plus, all your friends will be asking you what you’re wearing as they are stuck in their race day tech shirt. This right here is high-quality, well-made running gear. Spice up your life with some Iffley Road.Shop Iffley Road
Robbe is the Senior Editor/Review Manager for BITR. He lives in Baltimore with his wife and two sons and runs with the Faster Bastards when he’s not MAF training. His favorite race distance is the marathon and his favorite beer is anything but Blue Moon.