Several people have asked for more reviews – particularly of cold weather gear. One of my trusty cold weather tops is the Nike Element Half Zip.
I bought my first Element Half Zip, a size small, at Fleet Feet because it came highly recommended as a versatile running top. It didn’t hurt that it came in a cute blue color. I’m a sucker for cute running gear. I got a size small. For reference, I usually wear either a small or a medium and am a size 4/6. The small Nike Element Half Zip fits perfectly. The body is long, and stays put when running, which makes it nice for layering over tights.
The top is made of Nike’s Dri-Fit fabric, a soft, cotton-like, wicking material. I love the feel of this top. It is so buttery soft that it doesn’t seem like it would be a wicking top. The Element Half Zip also features ergonomic seaming for ease of motion when running. I really notice the difference in the underarm seams. The seams do not meet directly under the arm. Instead, there is an ergonomic and chafe-free panel under the arm. This panel seems to make arm motion more natural and, for me, it has been quite comfortable. The whole garment has flat seams for chafe-free comfort. The top has reflective details at the back of the neck, zipper, and on each arm for low-light visibility. One of the odd details that I really like about the Element Half Zip is the length of the sleeve. The sleeves are a bit longer on the top of the sleeve than on the bottom of the sleeve.
Having a slightly longer top of the sleeve keeps the back of my hand warm and my palms uncovered. It has the benefits of a too-long sleeve, but without the fuss of having to grab a bunch of excess sleeve in your palm. The sleeve has enough stretch that it doesn’t shift under my Garmin strap and there’s no bunching despite the extra length. The one consideration I will share is that the Element Half Zip holds on to smells even after washing. If you get one, you’ll also want to get a sport detergent for washing. I find it helps to wash it in warm water, or with a laundry booster, too.
The Nike Element Half Zip is surprisingly warm given its weight. It is a fairly lightweight top, but I find it comfortable down to about 40-45 degrees. In colder temperatures the top makes a great layering piece. It is stretchy enough to accommodate a thermal top (even a thick one) underneath. The thermal top + half zip combination is comfortable for me at about 30 degrees, colder if it isn’t’ windy. The Nike Element Half Zip works well under my rain jacket and vests. Alone or as part of my many winter layers, it performs well no matter how I wear it.
Grade: A- (demotion from an A for the not so fresh smell issue, but that can be managed and it is otherwise an A garment)