Running shirt with iPod-specific features.
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+ Loose S/S Shirt is a loose-fitting, short-sleeve running shirt, available in four color combinations: dark green/light green, dark blue/light blue, gray/light green, and black/red. (Oddly enough, the sample we received is gray/gray, which doesn’t seem to be available from the Nike+ Web site.) Made of a Nike’s Dri-Fit polyester/nylon/spandex blend (91/7/2 percent, respectively), the shirt is quite comfortable and does an excellent job of wicking away sweat; mesh panels on the upper back, armpit areas, and sides keep you cool, even in very warm weather. (This isn’t a cold-weather shirt; it’s clearly designed for heat.) The company calls the shirt’s design “seamless,” but what that really means is that the seams are sewn in such a way that they’re non-irritating. And in this respect, the shirt is also very comfortable.
Where does the “iPod integration” come in? Oddly enough, unlike other iPod workout shirts we’ve tested, such as Malachi’s podwear, the Loose S/S Shirt doesn’t include a pouch or pocket for your nano. Instead, it’s designed to be used with either Nike’s own nano-holding running shorts or a waist pack or belt clip for the nano. The shirt’s sole iPod feature is a dual-eyelet, rubber-reinforced, cord management area on the upper-left chest area. There were no instructions included with the shirt, but this cord-management feature appears to be designed so that you put your earbuds in your ears with the cable going under the shirt’s collar; you then thread the headphone plug out the top eyelet and then back into the bottom eyelet, so that the cable continues to sit inside the shirt all the way down to your waist or shorts. The goal here appears to be that the cable is under your shirt so as not to get in the way while you’re running, and the cable-management eyelets simply keep the headphone cable in place so it doesn’t pull at your earbuds or bounce around. It actually works fairly well, although I personally didn’t like having the rubber headphone cable under my shirt when I ran.
One quirk: As I mentioned above, the Loose S/S Shirt is designed to be used with Nike+ running shorts. However, on the shorts Nike sent us for review, the iPod nano pocket is on the right side, whereas the Loose S/S Shirt’s cable eyelets are on the left side — meaning your headphone cable will have to be strung across your body. I don’t know if other Nike+ shorts have the pocket on the left, but that would seem to be a more logical position for use with this shirt (or, conversely, for the shirt to have its cable eyelets on the right).
If you’re OK with the way the Loose S/S Shirt routes your headphone cable under the shirt, this is a very nice running shirt. If not, $65 is a lot to pay; you can get similar shirts — even ones from Nike — without the iPod features for a lot less.–Dan Frakes