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Photo credit: T8

T8 Performance Trail Running Gear Review

11-Dec-20

By Sarah Cooke

T8 is based in Hong Kong where conditions are often hot and humid. In high humidity, sweat can’t evaporate efficiently, making it even more important that running gear is lightweight, wicks away moisture, is breathable, doesn’t chafe and dries quickly.

This was T8’s goal – to produce kit that could stand up to humid conditions and ultra long distances. The products are designed by ultra runners, for ultra runners. It’s important to point out that the reviewers were only able to test the kit in North Yorkshire and Scotland in Winter. It definitely wasn’t hot and humid, but we put the items through some miles.

I tested the women’s items and experienced Scottish hill runner Johnny Logan reviewed the men’s versions for us.

Commandos

Features

  • Premium running underwear
  • Guaranteed chafe-free
  • Ultra lightweight, breathable and fast-drying
  • Super comfortable Italian fabric
  • Designed by runners
  • RRP: £14

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Women's

My first impression when I took these out of the packet was that they looked tiny. However, the material is a bit like that of a pair of 60 denier tights in that they stretch to fit (although clearly stronger than tights as they didn’t snag or ladder). Be warned though, unless you have the washboard stomach of the website model, these may not be the most flattering pants you’ve worn.

The waistband sits just above the hips and they are snug – think muffin top! It’s possible I might have been better with a bigger size, but I followed the sizing guidelines on the website which work on waist measurement. As very few people are going to see me in my pants, I wasn’t too concerned about appearance – they just need to be comfy.

Unfortunately, for me, these weren’t comfy. I never really got past the fact that they felt like a pair of cycling shorts made from tights material and that I was wearing these under my clothes but without pants.

I wore them for three medium length runs and some hikes but abandoned my plan to try them on a longer run as I was concerned about discomfort. To be clear, the underwear has a lot of positive reviews on the T8 website and many of the things I wasn’t keen on were things that some people liked, including the feeling that you aren’t wearing any pants.

On the plus side, I had no chafing. However, I was very aware that I could feel where the seams were whilst running and, given the tight fit, I think they might have started to rub on a longer or wetter run. The hem at the bottom did leave a slight mark on my thighs and I am just not used to wearing this kind of underwear. If you like a more boxer short style of briefs, then they could work for you.

I am probably lucky that I can run any distance in a pair of pants from the supermarket without chafing. Those pants can be chucked in with any wash and tumble dried. The T8 underwear can’t go in your dryer, so you would need a few pairs if you wanted to wear them daily. That said, they washed well and £14 compares well with other brands of running specific underwear. If cheaper underwear caused me to chafe, then I’d be willing to pay for an alternative. It may be that that would happen in a more humid climate and these would come into their own. However, I won’t be wearing them again.

Score  
Features 6
Design 4
Performance 5
Value 6
Overall 5.25

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Men’s

I normally run in ordinary underwear and have never had any chafing issues, so I wasn’t sure I needed these. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable they felt. They are on a par with my usual pants, or they would be if they were a little bigger. The sizing chart on the website suggested I needed Medium, but these were on the tight side.

I wore the Commandos for several runs without chafing. I would happily wear them again if I had them in Large. I do think you need these pants or similar ones if purchasing the Sherpa shorts (see below).

Score  
Features 10
Design 8
Performance 9
Value 6
Overall 8.25

 

Sherpa Shorts v2

Features

  • Lightweight fabric
  • Built-in waist belt with 4 pockets to carry essentials bounce-free
  • Bib holders and key holder
  • Reflective detailing
  • Women’s version specially tailored for women’s cut and fit
  • RRP: £48

Women’s

At first glance, these look like a pretty run of the mill pair of black shorts. However, they have some really clever features. I tested them during England’s second lockdown, so I wasn’t pinning on a number, but I like the idea of the bib holders. The shorts have little loops so you can easily pin your race bib to them without having to stick the safety pins through the material.

The main selling point of the shorts is the built-in waist belt. I’ll admit that I was initially sceptical about this. I have yet to find any kind of waist belt that I can comfortably run with. A lot of them aren’t designed for a female shape – they fall down to your hips and there’s a lot of jiggling.

I find my running pack very comfortable and would rather carry everything I need in that than have stuff around my waist. Even on a shorter run, I’m in the habit of carrying my phone and keys in my pack and I don’t really notice I’m wearing it. As most ultra runners own a pack, I did wonder what these shorts could offer.

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I was surprised by how well the built-in waist belt works. It is divided into four pockets and has a clip inside for attaching your keys. There is a lot less jiggling than with a separate belt and the hyper-stretch mesh design keeps your possessions safe.

Although the belt holds quite a lot, I was initially confused by the claim that it can hold everything you need, including a litre of water. There is no way that it has the capacity my pack does. On closer inspection of the photos on the website, I realised that the dedicated T8 Sherpa flasks (sold separately) are of a design narrow enough to fit into the shorts.

I don’t have the T8 flasks but I had a go at filling the belt with as much as it can hold. Whilst definitely more comfortable than a separate belt, I didn’t enjoy running with this much around my waist. This wasn’t helped by the waistband being quite tight – again, I think the sizing guidelines need work here. The size that is recommended for my waist measurement is on the small side. (Editor's note - Sarah is TINY!)

Regardless of the fit, I would much rather carry water in a pack than have it pressed into my stomach and sloshing about. That is just personal preference – having only a few items like my keys and phone was much more comfortable and I would happily wear these shorts for shorter runs if I had the next size up.

As to whether the shorts can carry everything you need depends on where you are racing. The shorts were designed for use in hot weather and you could probably get everything you need for a race in a warm climate into the belt. Clearly, they would be less appropriate for a race with a bigger kit list for cold conditions. 

A further note on the fit – the women’s shorts are very short. I like the fact that they are cut differently from the men’s version. However, they did seem to be shorter on me than on the website model. I think they are designed to be worn with the Commando underwear, which would be a similar combination to shorts with built-in hot pants underneath. I didn’t wear them with the T8 underwear because I prefer ordinary pants. On this basis, I felt like maybe more of my thighs were on display than the world needs to see – again, that’s a matter of personal preference.

Would I pay £48 for the Sherpa shorts? I would struggle to justify it when I am happy to run wearing my pack which I wouldn’t be parted from. However, I know plenty of runners that don’t wear a pack unless they are going to be running for several hours. Many use waist belts and/or handheld bottles. I definitely prefer these shorts to those items, so I think they could be a great addition to the wardrobe of a lot of ultra runners. If you live or race in a warm country and don’t need to carry extra clothing, then they are definitely worth considering as they are considerably cheaper than most of the popular running packs.

Score  
Features 7
Design 6
Performance 8
Value 7
Overall 7

 

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Men’s

I really liked these but, again, they were on the small side and I would’ve preferred the next size up. I run with a pack on longer distance, but for shorter runs, where I don’t need to carry water, I often wear a waist belt. I liked the idea of having one built into the shorts - it’s very convenient if I want to nip for a run at lunch time on a work day.

I wore the shorts for several runs and they have a lovely feel to them. In fact, the material is so thin that they have almost no feel at all. This does mean that, on a wet day, they can cling to your skin if you wear them with ordinary underwear. I think this could lead to chafing over a longer distance. Wearing them with the Commando pants underneath solves this problem by adding an extra layer.

The waist belt worked well and my phone and keys felt secure. I wouldn’t want to put water bottles into a waist belt but I would happily wear these shorts again for shorter runs. However, I don’t think I would be prepared to pay £48 for any pair of shorts.

Score  
Features 10
Design 8
Performance 9
Value 5
Overall 8

 

Conclusion

T8 gear is well made with some unique features designed to keep you comfortable on ultra distances. Johnny and I had quite different opinions on the Commando underwear, and I think they are one of those items that you will either really like or really not like. If you do suffer from chafing when running in ordinary underwear, they could be worth a try.

The Sherpa shorts are a great idea. If you usually use a waist belt or would like to do so, then they could be for you. However, with both the underwear and the shorts, you may need a size bigger than the website suggests.

Visit the T8 website

Sarah is RunUltra’s Event Listings and Social Community Manager and also a running coach. She can usually be found running on the North Yorkshire Moors.

Review T8 Performance Trail Running Gear Review

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