Review: Arc’teryx runner-friendly Endorphin women’s Solita short and Kapta shirt


Arc’teryx’s three-year-old Endorphin line is designed to be light, quick-drying and fast. But it’s on the spendy side — is it worth the price tag?

These run-specific products are designed with help from ultrarunners Adam Campbell and Joe Grant. The line includes product subcategories for training, performance and a not-yet-released race category.

I spent the summer sweating in — and testing out — the line’s Solita short and Kapta shirt. Here’s how they fared:

The Solita short

I hate buying shorts, I’ve spent years trying to find the perfect pair that fits me and my laundry list of nit-picky criteria: They can’t ride up, fall down, rub or chafe and the more pockets the better.

Mainly, when it comes to my running clothes, comfort and functionality are key — though it’s always nice to wear something with a flattering cut.

Arc’teryx’s Solita shorts come pretty close to fitting all those criteria.

The 4.1 oz shorts are made from the company’s Invigor LT (“Polyester weave with mechanical stretch”) and Suncore materials (“83 percent polyester, 17 percent spandex, 219 g/m². Stretchy, soft-to-the-touch terry knit fabric with a wicking finish”).

The most comfortable feature of these shorts is the wide stretch-woven waistband. The height of the band helps the shorts stay put without being to tight or restrictive (i.e. no unsightly muffin top).

Fit: These shorts come in five sizes — from XS to XL — so you don’t have to wish you had a size in-between.

Arc’teryx sent me both a small and medium for comparison, and the differences in size and cut are minute. I typically wear a medium in most brands, but both pairs fit to my liking, and I wear them interchangeably. The smalls — no surprise here — are slightly smaller and slightly shorter, with the mediums being just a bit more roomy. If you prefer a snug cut then you may want to size down.

It’s nice to have more than one size option depending on what kind of run I’m doing. For fast road runs I lean toward the smalls because they fit really close to the body, but for longer trail runs I go for the slightly longer mediums.

The drawcord on these is a solid loop, and not one you can tie easily. I haven’t bothered trying to use it on either pair, but I haven’t really needed it either.

Storage: The Solitas have two pockets: a rear zipper pocket and a small stash pocket on the front of the waistband.

The rear pocket is big enough to hold keys or a gel, but not big enough for a phone. That said, if you tried to put something as heavy as an iPhone in the back pocket, it would likely swing or tug down the back of your shorts. (I’d love to see Arc’terex add a vertical side pocket — a la Race Ready — big enough to carry a phone.)

I was initially weary to put anything important — hello, house keys — in the front stash pocket because there’s no closure. But the pocket is slightly tapered at the opening, keeping larger items, like my giant key fob and my Metro card, secure while running. I won’t promise that if you take a tumble your stuff will stay put so carry with caution. I compulsively check that anything I put in that pocket stays there.

Quality: Arc’terex has never let me down on quality, and these are no exception. There are no loose ends, the stitching is straight and nothing looks like the company cut corners. I’ve taken several good spills in these and they’ve survived unscathed.

Washing: I wash on cold and line dry. They come out of the wash almost dry anyway.

Verdict: These shorts are comfortable enough to wear all day — I wore them during my 70-miler in June. They didn’t ride up or slip down and gave me pockets to stash my electrolytes and a gel when I ditched my pack during the final nighttime miles. They didn’t leave marks, dried fast after a rain shower and were basically unnoticeable (the best quality in my opinion).

After wearing so many pairs of shorts with good storage options, I now find the tiny key pocket built into most running shorts to be almost useless and unreliable. When I need somewhere to stash more than just a key, I grab these shorts.

Are they worth $80? I’d buy one pair and wear them as much as possible. These are so high quality that you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.

Buy it: www.arcteryx.com; $79


The Kapta shirt

This is an ok hot-weather shirt, but the Kapta is pretty middle of the road when it comes to wear and features. I’m thinking I’ll like this one more when the weather turns colder.

It’s made from Arc’teryx’s Crystalis (“87 percent polyester, 13 percent spandex. Lightweight, breathable, four-way stretch textile.”) and Libro materials (“Polyester weave mesh fabric. A lightweight, breathable, stretchy mesh fabric with a wicking finish for enhanced moisture management”).

At 3.7 ounces, it’s not feather light — the Better than Naked short sleeve from North Face’s Flight Series is nearly an ounce lighter at 2.8 ounces. I wish the company had made this shirt entirely from the thinner mesh weave on back and underarms, which would have made the shirt lighter and more breathable, though likely less durable.

Fit: Like the Solitas, the Kapta shirt comes in sizes XS-XL, giving you more options than the standard small, medium, large range. I have broad shoulders and the small is just a smidge snug across the top of my back. Check at the picture at the top, you can see the material pulling slightly. I’d worry about sizing up though because the Kapta already fits loosely along the torso.

Gripes: Lay this shirt flat on the floor and you’ll see there’s no outward taper at the hips. For me, it either needs to be shorter so it doesn’t cover my hips, or be more of an A-line shape. As is, the hem of the shirt rides up and rolls under so that after three or four miles the hem is against my skin, and up as high as my belly button. I spent too much time tugging it back into place. Perhaps I just really need the medium instead of the small, but I think tweaking the cut could make this shirt fit better.

Quality: Same as the Solitas, solid and well made.

Washing: Wash on cold and line dry.

Verdict: Meh. Maybe snag this one when (and if) it ever goes on sale. I think this’ll be a good three-season shirt, but for summer, I have other options I’d rather wear.

Buy it: www.arcteryx.com; $49

Sara Davidson

Sara Davidson is an ultrarunner and contributor to PT365. She's run 7 marathons and 32 ultramarathons -- including her first 100-miler. This fall she is training for the Marine Corps Marathon using our PT365 Run Plan. Reach her at sdavidson@gannett.com .