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What are Favorite Brands of Athletic Shoes & Apparel? Share Your Favorites Here!

Posted Oct 18 2008 2:34pm

I've got apparel on the brain, probably because I just wrote about JCrew's new yoga line & also, my friend & I will (hopefully!) soon be going to pick out running sneakers together.....

Anyhow, I thought it'd be fun to start a discussion about favorite brands of exercise apparel.

So which are your favorite brands of running sneakers & apparel? Care to share any favorites & why you like them best? Have any brands you've heard a lot of good things about & are curious to try? Also, have you recently discovered any new favorites? If so, I'd love to hear about them.....

Here are my personal favorites:

(Please note, I'm not being paid to endorse any of the below brands. I'm giving you only my straightforward, honest opinions!)

Sneakers: OK, this is probably no surprise, but I'm very partial to Nike. They just fit my feet the best & feel superb on, especially when I've been running for over an hour & my feet are beginning to feel it. I've yet to find another brand of running sneaker that works as well for me. And believe me, I've tried on almost every brand of running sneaker there is. If some brand can do better, I'd certainly try them, but so far, it's been only Nike for me!

Now, of course, I realize there are other very valid & equally excellent brands out there, but I'm saying that this is what works best for my feet. One's brand of sneakers are a very individual choice, & there are many deciding factors -- including fit/feel, style, shoe weight, one's individual stride/pronation & foot arch/dimensions, etc.

(For other sports, I've worn Adidas soccer cleats, & Prince tennis shoes, both of which I really like. And for hiking, I really like Merrell.)

Running Apparel: My current favorites include Champion C9 (for light-weight jackets, & exercise tops & bottoms), Nike, Adidas, SmartWool (especially for socks & tops for layering underneath!), Sugoi, Lowe Alpine (especially for seamless, non-cotton undergarments, which are also great for hiking!), & Shock Absorber (the best darn sportsbras ever!). That's the short-list.

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And, if you're looking for sports-specific apparel other than running (hey, a lot of us runners cross-train!), here are some additional recommendations:

Yoga/General Indoor Fitness Apparel: A few months ago, I discovered a shop called Lucy, which also sells their fitness wear online. They have stylish & mostly practical ladies sportswear, although I probably wouldn't wear it for running or heavy-duty, high-endurance outdoor sports. ;-) If I am recall correctly, I believe the company was started by 2 gals who were former execs at Nike, or something like that. (Feel free to correct that, if you happen to have more accurate or precise knowledge on that subject.)

I should probably add that while I've tried on a lot of their clothes & really liked their styles, I haven't yet bought anything from them. My impressions were based only upon my try-on experiences in the fitting room, & not long-term wear, so I can't speak to issues of garment construction, etc., etc.

But it's not due to lack of interest. I went in there to browse, more out of curiosity than an actual need to buy. Frankly, I've got so much workout wear right now that I can't really justify any additional purchases, atleast not for spring & summer. ;-)

But anyhow, they are worth checking out, if you are looking for stylish fitness or yoga wear.

Hiking: Lowe Alpine, REI, ExOfficio, & Merrell are some brands that I like. Of course, there are others I could recommend, but these are the current faves that spring to mind at the moment.

Biking: I really LOVE Pearl Izumi. I'm incredibly curious to try the Zoot Sports brand as well, which makes clothing not only for biking, but also for running & swimming. It appears they specialize in triathalon & ultra gear as well. Very nice! They look like they've got some rather high-tech, stylish gear. Anyone ever try this brand? Thoughts, opinions?

I see that this brand is also sold through Sierra Trading Post at a deep discount. Wow, select items are up to 69% off, plus new customers can take an additional 15% off their first order. Wow. Very nice!

Skiing/Winter Sports: North Face & Spyder are two favorites that spring to mind. ;-) I also highly recommend Columbia's ski pants & all-purpose, waterproof snow-boots (i.e., they're not for skiing though, just for trudging around outside in the snow!). They fit well & are très stylish too. And of course, Columbia jackets are nice too, although honestly I think that as of late, their jacket styles are not quite as hip or sportif -looking as some other brands out there (i.e., Spyder). Frankly, I'm finding their jackets to be a bit too boxy-looking these days, as I'd rather wear clothing which shows off my shape (especially since I put so much hard work into it!). But I do love the idea of having zip-out layers that you can wear separately or together. They are certainly quality jackets which can be worn for both for skiing & general, all-purpose winter wear.

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Some final footnotes: FYI, I'm extremely picky about my sports apparel & gear. If it's not the best, I don't want it. ;-) I don't mind spending a little bit extra for quality, but of course, am also perfectly happy to buy my favorites on sale. ;-) But I won't buy cheap junk just because it's cheap or on sale. My mantra is quality, quality, quality. After all, if you're wearing your apparel for high-endurance sports, you don't want it to fall apart on you!

Also, I really like multi-purpose apparel, so much of what I wear for running can be used for hiking & other sports, & vice versa. It's a very practical approach & of course, is also much easier on the wallet too!

For more specific recommendations & product details, feel free to browse the archives, or check the labels/categories section of this blog.

Hope you enjoyed this article! And as always, I welcome your constructive comments & opinions....
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