Cold water testing

In the second of videos about clothing tips for winter obstacle races, Pete puts some Smartwool gear to the test at RockSolid Race's Exeter venue. Last week we investigated the near magical qualities of Merino wool in this article, so we wanted to put the theory to the test. Take a look:

The products on test were:

  • Smartwool short sleeve 195 base layer
  • Smartwool PHD run zip T
  • Smartwool PHD run tights
  • Smartwool Graduated Compression Socks

Smartwool layersAs we expected, this gear really handled the cold and wet conditions well. It regulated my body temperature when dry as well as wet, so it's a really good option for mud runs and obstacle races. For the majority of races you could probably stay very comfortable by just wearing merino legins and long sleeve top. Keep it next to the skin though, as that's where it works best.

There are downsides to Merino though. Firstly it can be quite expensive, so you'll want to look after it. Although wool is quite tough as a material, it is prone to snagging on barbed wire, brambles and rough ground. So, if you are planning on wearing it to obstacle races, it would be sensible to cover up the most vulnerable areas: knees, elbows, back and bum. Another minor downside is that it does absorb water, so can pick up a bit of weight. It's not a major issue and it does still keep you warm when it is soaking.

The final downside is that it is a little vulnerable to wind. For the majority of races that shouldn't be too much of an issue but if you're planning on being out in very cold wet conditions for several hours you might want to find a way to put another barrier ontop of it. A waterproof or windproof running jacket is an option, but probably more suited to mud and trail runs rather than obstacle races. The stronger alternative is a neoprene layer over the core (a vest should suffice). We'll be testing that out in the next few weeks, so stay tuned for that.

If you'd like to get some Smartwool, Rat Race have a really good range online, most of which seems to be on sale at the moment (and don’t forget you also get a 15% discount with Mudstacle Membership) plus you’ll also find it in

Thanks to RockSolid Race for having me along, it really is a great course down there in Exeter, even before they install their obstacles! Their upcoming boot camps sound great and are close to being fully booked, so check them out here.

For more news , tips and info about obstacle course races and mud runs. Follow Mudstacle on: Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.


    • Keep an eye on how fitted they are. I bought some regular merino long johns last year and, although they’d be great for wearing under trouser for skiing or whatever, they’d be no good for running in. Ideally you want something fitted that’s made for running in.


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