capsule review

Nike+ Featherweight Jacket (men's)

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At a Glance
  • Nike + Featherweight Jacket (men's)

When Nike released the Nike+iPod Sport Kit (also reviewed here on Playlist), the company also released a line of workout clothes specifically designed for use with the iPod nano (and, presumably, the Sport Kit transmitter that connects to the nano's dock-connector port). The Nike+ Featherweight Jacket is a lightweight, loose-fitting jacket designed specifically for use while running.

Nike has taken an interesting approach to iPod compatibility with the Featherweight. Instead of an internal pocket, like most "iPod-compatible" jackets we've seen, the Featherweight appears to have been designed specifically for use with an iPod nano. The jacket's nylon-shell sleeves fit loosely, as you would expect, but the forearm of the left sleeve includes a form-fitting, nylon-mesh, second sleeve -- extending from the elbow to the wrist -- with a pocket that fits an iPod nano and attached Sport Kit receiver; your iPod sits tight against the inside of your forearm and wrist with its headphone cable snaking out of a small, rubber-reinforced hole at the end of the pocket closest to your elbow.

Although you can control your nano by pulling the outer sleeve up a bit and then using the iPod's Click Wheel through the pocket's fabric, as with the other the Nike+ products we've tested, there's no window to view your iPod's screen while in the pocket -- you're controlling "blind" you can't see the Nike+iPod Sport Kit's workout feedback. The inner sleeve itself feels a bit odd, since you don't have the same form-fitting pressure on your right arm, and is too tight to be comfortably worn with long-sleeve shirts.

Your iPod's headphone cable emerges from the sleeve out of a hole near the left elbow, where it can be threaded through a handy hidden channel in the sleeve -- secured using a series of red, elastic loops -- to emerge near your left shoulder. This feature works well for keeping your headphone cable out of the way; excess cable can be "stored" in the space between the inner and outer sleeves near your elbow/forearm.

If you decide you don't like the inner sleeve, you can instead slide your nano into an elastic pouch inside the right hand-pocket; a headphone-plug hole lets you run your headphone cable inside the jacket -- between the outer and inner layers of the jacket -- and up to your ears. This pouch is much less secure than the one in the left sleeve, but it keeps your iPod from bouncing around in your pocket. If you choose this option for holding your iPod, or if you prefer to carry your iPod in your hand, in a case, or in another piece of iPod-ready apparel, the inner sleeve in the left arm can be unzipped and detached from the jacket; you can still take advantage of the left sleeve's cable management features, provided you carry the iPod in your left hand.

Although the jacket's iPod integration is a mixed bag, it's a pretty good running jacket. The outer shell of the jacket is wind- and water-resistant, but thanks to numerous features designed to promote breathability, it doesn't get too hot inside. A mesh inner liner keeps the jacket's shell away from your body, and a generous system of air vents -- down the back, under the arms, and on the collar -- provides ventilation. The collar is also mesh-lined for comfort, and the jacket features a zip-up front and collar along with zippered hand pockets. You also get reflective trim down the middle of the back and along the front zipper, as well as an elastic, adjustable waist. One complaint: on our sample, one set of stitching around the left wrist was coming undone; the cuff was double-stitched, so the problem didn't affect the fit of the jacket, but the defect is worth noting.

If you're OK with the somewhat odd sensation of the Featherweight Jacket's form-fitting inner sleeve, and don't mind not being able to see your nano's screen while running, this is actually a fairly innovative accessory for the active nano user; it's a good cool-weather running jacket, as well. However, it's not inexpensive, so if you're already got a good set of workout clothes, a decent case or nano-specific workout shirt or shorts may be a more economical approach.--Dan Frakes

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At a Glance
  • Running shorts with pouch for iPod nano.

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