Mizuno WP Elixir Jacket Review
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Temps are dropping, but the Elixir Jacket’s just heating things up.
Here in Colorful Colorado, just about every serious runner has cold weather line up. I certainly have my favorite shirts and tights for just about every running occasion, and honestly, a jacket has just never entered the lineup. With fall in full swing, and winter just around the corner, I decided to take Mizuno up on their offer to test out some outerwear. One, I wanted to see if a jacket was going to “make it” into my running lineup. Two, even though it’s been years since I’ve run in a jacket, the wind stopping capabilities might be nice for those heart-stoppingly windy Colorado fall afternoons. If you live anywhere near here, you know what I’m talking about.
I’ll be the first to admit that running jackets have always annoyed me. I’ve found them to be loud, ill-fitting, and even in the best situations unreliable. They usually don’t breathe as well as a tight fitting microfiber, and become very quickly waterlogged. Nothing ruins a good run faster than stepping out your door in a light weight jacket, hitting a rain spell, and returning home with a 10lb wet dog of jacket wrapped around you. I’m sure with all of the negative feedback here, you’re wondering how any jacket could possibly make the grade. The answer is simple – here at AGR we’re equal opportunity testers, and will give anything a shot.
The answer to your musing is that I was very pleasantly surprised by this jacket; after a month of testing (consisting of a dozen or more 6am runs), I can safely say the Elixir will remain a staple in my running wardrobe. The primary reason for this is the sheer comfort of the jacket. Because it’s the feature I like most, I’ll save the tech talk for later in the review and jump right in. Simply put, it doesn’t fit at all like a jacket. From the moment I slipped it on, I had to readjust my standard for a how a jacket should fit. While it does run true to size (I’m a pretty even medium across the shoulders and through the chest), it’s tailored to the shape of your torso. If you are looking for a baggy fit (think track jacket), look elsewhere. The design is specifically made to fit close without restricting any sort of mobility.
The fit of this jacket is much more akin to a base layer, which was surprising to me – the bulky, baggy fit of running jackets in the past is specifically what turned me off of them. As I stated above, close fitting jackets tend to restrict mobility due to one reason; wind breaking material doesn’t stretch all that well. Typically, any sort of tailoring will restrict motion in the arms and upper chest, leaving you feeling confined to the limit of the fabric, and often altering the natural movement of your arms and torso throughout the run. Simply put, Mizuno’s design obliterates that notion completely. I not only didn’t feel confined, I felt very comfortable on even the longest runs, mainly because of three factors: The fit throughout the chest is snug without being restrictive, the sleeve length (with thumb holes) is adequately long with out being baggy, and the back gussets are placed with a running motion in mind. Quite possibly the best feature in terms of fit, however, is the addition of “underarm stretch fabric” – it keeps the jacket from binding up, and allows both of your arms full range of mobility.
This isn’t to say that the jacket isn’t full of tech. At a price point that’s fairly high (at first glance) for a lightweight running jacket (MSRP is 139.99), one would think that Mizuno would ensure the tech is plentiful, and useful. In this endeavor, Mizuno once again comes through with flying colors. The base material, advertised as being “100% Windlite Stretch Polyester Mesh” is both smooth feeling to the touch, and utilitarian in practice. It was very effective at keeping my temperature even on the windiest of days, and while appearing flat black at first, actually does reflect some light for nighttime visibility. While at first appearing unrelated, the source of both reflection and temperature control comes from the fact that the polyester mesh material is actually under woven throughout the jacket; it’s a nice touch that allows for the jacket to really perform under adverse conditions. The under weave appears to be slightly gray/reflective under direct lighting, which is a really neat trick; you don’t have to have huge inflexible patches of material to be seen.
I’d be amiss if I didn’t give another nod to the aforementioned back vent; in terms of placement and function, it’s also top notch. You’d think that this would be a simple feature to implement, but in terms of durability and function here a lot can go wrong – we’ve seen it time and time again. In terms of a back vent, it’s actually fairly simple; if you don’t notice it, it’s doing its job. As my attention was never drawn to it during a run, the conclusion here is easily reached. Two other features that shouldn’t miss a mention are the side zip pockets which are cleverly sewed in to create clean visual lines, and the low cut collar, which provides for maximum comfort when fully zipped up. A last caveat – it’s not a rain jacket, and wasn’t designed to be. It’ll bead up a bit when first hitting a storm, but quickly gets water logged during any length of exposure.
In closing, however, it’s obvious that while one gripe of mine about running jackets wasn’t satisfied, every other preconceived notion I had was changed. Mizuno put in the R&D needed to make this a quality addition to any running wardrobe, and I for one can’t seem to leave home without it. For the price point, it’s a nice piece, and is built to last for years to come.
For more info on the WP Elixir Jacket and other Mizuno gear, visit www.mizunousa.com.