The Battle Of The Black Caps: Essential Running Accessories
Those that know me well will know that I very seldom leave home without a hat. It’s a vicious cycle really; the persistent wearing of caps and beanies thins the hair and recedes the hairline, but the thinning and the receding of said harline simply causes one to turn to the hat… Baldness aside, I take my headwear pretty seriously – And that doesn’t mean I have a collection that stacks from floor to ceiling, either, but that it takes a lot for me to dish out some cash for a peak. Call me fussy, but if a cap isn’t nailing comfort and appearance simultaneously…
I had a bit of time in Vegas last week to test-drive some recent acquisitions and put them all under the microscope, including the ‘Rain Camo’ Adjustable 6-Panel from ICNY, the Nike AW84 ‘Tech Pack’ 5-Panel and the ‘Neon Green’ Sports Cap from Volt & Fast. If you’re in the market for some new headwear (after all they are Essential Running Accessories ) , then pause for thought first…
ICNY ‘Rain’ Adjustable 6-Panel ✰✰✰✰✰
Appearance: Reflective is big in the game right now, and it’s fair to say that ICNY have a bit of a monopoly when it comes to the sportswear-function-and-fashion-fusion. They broke the mould when the dot-sock hit the market, and their on-going success has allowed the brand to branch out and experiment with more challenging pieces like outerwear and headwear items like this one. Although this piece dropped last season, it’s taken me a little while to bring this one out on the road, but the reflective rain camo inspired pattern and the 3M Scotchlite on the rear strap made for an easy transition.
Performance: At first, the nylon construction seems like a burden, but surprisingly enough it’s the lightest of the three. Hold it up to the sun, even, and you’ll see that a lot of light breaks through the ripstop texture – Not necessarily a selling point when it comes to wet weather but a surprising observation nonetheless when you consider how well this thing holds it’s shape. The branding is minimal, but not entirely necessary with an all-over reflective print in the mix and the blocked 3M adjustable strap on the back is a nice signature.
Overall: While this ICNY number isn’t strictly built for performance, it certainly does a reasonable job of holding it’s own without compromising on it’s more contemporary aesthetic – Let’s face it. It’s never going to be easy to play the snapback game in an industry that still has pretty set standards when it comes to the appearance of performance accessories… You probably wouldn’t don this for a PB marathon effort anytime soon, but for a casual inner city 10-15KM run about, this would probably be your best bet in terms of combining visibility with breathability and getting a one-up on your mates.
Nike AW84 ‘Tech Pack’ ✰✰
Appearance: The swoosh is an automatic status stamp, especially in the running world right now, and the decision to introduce the fluid steez of the Tech Pack range into the accessory market was an absolute no-brainer business decision. The AW84 is a tried and trusted shape, and the black on black colourway combination is an easy win…
Performance: It’s pretty difficult to tell these days what is an isn’t a Nike performance piece… And sure, there will be people out there who tell me that the Tech Pack was always marketed as off-the-track attire… But look: comfort should be a given regardless of intent, OK? Whoever made the decision to introduce this amount of fused taping to headwear without realising the unnecessary amount of baggage it creates up front and didn’t pull it from production needs to have a word with themselves. Aside from the need to adjust this thing every couple of minutes, at least it looks good, right? Wrong. Those of you who wear 5-Panels will be familiar with the way that caps fold – A fold that, in this case, brings nothing but irreversible creases and dimples to the party.
Overall: Like communism, the AW84 ‘Tech Pack’ works on paper. Hell, it even looks incredible on CAD… But unfortunately, unlike it’s multiple fully-functional lightweight predecessors, this particular variation failed to deliver much other.
Volt & Fast ‘Neon Green’ Sports Cap ✰✰✰✰✰
Appearance: I must admit that when Volt & Fast started communicating the impending drop of their first range, I unknowingly assumed that it was, of course, a Nike project… So you can only imagine my confusion when the pieces started doing the Instagram rounds with the swooshes missing… Aside from the colourway confusion up-front, though, Volt & Fast seemed to be ticking most of the boxes.
Performance: Branding aside, the shape of the Sports Cap is streamline and sleek, seemingly built for speed; mesh-lined with smoothly layered inner seems and a lightly water resistant nylon shell. The lining is a soft blend of polyester and offers very little irritation over distance, and the dual branded reflective label on the rear is a nice touch. The fit is shallow and the peak dips slightly which bodes well when taking sharp corners into unexpected headwinds (we all know what it feels like to lose a cap on a main road, right..?).
Overall: For a brand that hasn’t yet hit the market, this is a pretty promising start. While the fabrics aren’t exactly groundbreaking, and the branding might strike some a little cheesy (I mean, it’s really hard to rock this if you A) aren’t wearing an item of volt green clothing or B) are having a recovery day and feel like sitting at the back of the pack…), if this is a toe-dip in the world of performance clothing from a brand built for runners by runners, then I’m sure there are plenty of exciting additions soon to come.