Reviewed: Running in dark kit is surprisingly cool

An ODLO staffer takes the new Asphalt Collection out running in the heat.

By Mark Cohen

run 10.10.2021

ODLO is consistently pushing the boundaries of design innovation. But its latest capsule – The Asphalt Collection – flies in the face of running convention, which dictates that lighter colours work best for running in hot weather. As the temperature starts to creep in the Alps, everyday athlete Mark Cohen – our in-house copywriter – takes the Asphalt shorts and shirt on runs in the heat, rain, and sun to see how Asphalt product claims stand up.


It’s 10 degrees and raining – an unusually wet spring in Europe. These are not ideal conditions for running in Asphalt apparel, which has been designed to move heat away from the body on hot runs. Nonetheless we head out, looking for trails and some headspace.

The Asphalt short comes with an inner liner (non-compression, yet still snug) and a precise-cut mesh phone pocket found on the upper right thigh. A rear zipper pocket, draw-string waist, and an exceptionally lightweight mesh fabric round out the first set of product features.

Conversely, the outer short is a “barely-there” type lightweight fabric with iridescent side detailing and laser cut holes for venting. While not currently hot enough to validate the heat transfer claims on first use, I am pleasantly surprised that after 9k of running in the mist, my mobile is dry. (I wonder how water resistant the fabric would be in a real deluge?)

No post-run-rice-bowl for me (or my phone). Happy days.


The Asphalt shorts are now in the regular rotation, capable of a couple runs without the overwhelming need for a wash. Bonus. The iridescent detailing was a big help on this dusk run (seems reflective, which is great) and now that the thermostat is up, I’m looking forward to a couple runs in the heat.

The cut on both the shorts and shirt are regular fit – not too slim and loose enough to allow for adequate airflow, which is critical for the Chill-tec convection cooling to work. In direct sunlight and 24.5 degrees at 600m elevation, the t-shirt feels surprisingly cool (given the dark colour), as well. Both pieces seem to offer a great range of motion up hills and running on flats. 

REVIEWED: Running in dark kit is surprisingly cool


One of the main design goals of the Asphalt Collection was to create stealthy-looking apparel that functioned well in the summer heat – kit that would challenge the long-held notion that dark kit was better for colder runs, and lighter colours, better for summer.

While I can’t offer quantitative measurements on body temp, I will say that the combination of fit and functionality on Asphalt equals anything I’ve run in before, while slightly bettering many of the pieces in my running kit rotation on style from other brands.

The aesthetic is well executed and looks fast when the shorts and shirt are paired together. I also really like the shorts for several reasons: range of motion in the fabric; they are exceptionally lightweight; the inner phone pocket works well and as described. (iPhone users rejoice – there’s next to no play in the short when carrying my phone on each run.)

Is Chill-tec a miracle fabric when it comes to running in direct sunlight at high temperatures? It’s hard to say definitively – but it doesn’t make the run feel any hotter, which again, is a surprise given I’m running in all black, in the sun and in mid-20-degree heat.

In moments when running in the shade – on trails, for example – the fabric feels light and cool, even when soaked in effort from running up hills – and does a good job of wicking sweat and keeping me comfortable as I push longer distances. The added benefit of having SPF 20 fabric helps, too, especially in direct sunlight. 


As this Runners World article states, lots of people hate running in the summer specifically because of the heat and humidity. But if you must do it, the article goes on to say, you should do it in lightweight, light coloured fabrics.

After three weeks of running in Asphalt, I can’t say I still think that that long held maxim is true. With innovation comes change, and in the Asphalt Collection kit, I see plenty of it. This is running kit for runners who value both style and function.

Rest assured, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find both in these pieces.

Mark Cohen is more of a cyclist than a runner, but in a push to regain past running glory, he is currently gearing up to participate in the 20k, 1000m distance at the ODLO High Trail Vanoise. He is 185cm, 76kg and wears a size M.


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