The toughest test – advertising feature

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We enlisted the help of a group of Trail Running readers to get the verdict on the latest kit from Higher State. The results are eye-opening!

There is no sterner test of an item of running gear’s performance than the very people it’s designed to convince to part with their hard-earned cash. To this end, we gave a selection of the latest range of men’s trail running kit from Higher State to a group of Trail Running readers. Their findings proved what many of us already knew – this dedicated trail-focussed kit from sportsshoes.com should be your first stop if you’re seeking high-quality kit that doesn’t break the bank. Here are the conclusions of our test panel...

Meet the testers

Gareth Evans
Like many of our panel, Gareth had never worn Higher State gear before this test.

Matthew Hewitt
Was aware of Higher State from his visits to sportsshoes.com. This was his first time wearing it.

Paul Rogers
Already the proud owner of a Higher State Lightweight Jacket and Long-sleeved Top.

Simon Congdon
Runs in previously purchased Higher State Race Shorts and Trail Waterproof Lite Jacket.

Tom Weller
This was Tom's first experience of Higher State's trail running range. It won't be his last.

Stephen Crabbe
With 15 years of trail running experience under his belt, Stephen knows his kit requirements!

MOUNTAIN STRETCH JACKET

Which features did you like most about this jacket?

GE: It’s very lightweight and comfortable, and it looks really good! It was a chilly morning when I first wore it and I couldn’t feel the cold.

MH: It doesn’t rustle
like some jackets tend
to and it’s incredibly soft, even when worn directly against
the skin.

PR: It feels and looks great, hasn’t leaked and I haven’t overheated.

SC: The fit is great, and the fabric has a good degree of stretch, moving well with the motion of the body, with no restriction. The hood fits well, too, and it’s very windproof.

TW: The stretch makes it genuinely comfortable to wear and stops it being too baggy. The hood fits securely and moves with your head. The two side pockets are really useful.

SC: I was really impressed with how well it kept out the wind, especially on long hill descents. I also thought it was super-lightweight and was comfortable on a 25-mile run.

SOIL SHAKER 2 SHOES

On what terrain did you test them and how did they perform?

GE: I did an 11-mile trail run along the coastline which included trail paths, mud and sand. There is really good grip on the base of the shoes yet they feel really light and comfy. Excellent value, too.

MH: I wore them on a mix of grassy, cross-country routes, and some stony trail paths. They felt most at home on softer ground, where the lug height and positioning were most effective. Trail shoes can take a beating, and often I question if I’m getting value for money,
but with these it’s a no-brainer.

PR: I tried them from the front door with fields, river bank, sand and towpath all featuring. The softer the terrain the better. They were light and comfortable.

SC: I tested the shoes on multiple
terrains, including gravel tracks, tarmac, grass, mud, rocky trails and boulders. The only time they felt slippy was on wet rock. They were surprisingly comfortable on the tarmac bits between trails, too. They come into their own on grass and mud. The Soil Shaker 2 kills all the competition in its price range, with superior fit, grip and comfort.

TW: I deliberately tested these on muddier terrain as they are clearly made for that. Traction in deep mud was as good as I have experienced in any shoe. They fit true to size and are great value.

SC: I tested them on dry, rooty, twisty woodland trails and hard, uneven farmland grass and mud, but they’re advertised as delivering “supreme grip on a variety of terrains, from deep mud to wet rock” so maybe they are more targeted for wet weather conditions. Really well built for only £39.99!

SEAMLESS RUNNING TOP

What did you think of its design and performance?

GE: Great, particularly the glitched stripe detail at the top of the chest.

MH: I like the fit and feel. It’s very soft to the touch, and a generous length on the arms.

PR: This felt a little tight on my shoulders to begin with, but I soon forgot and it turned out to
be fantastic.

SC: The design is great, very contemporary in its colour and smaller design details.

TW: I liked this. My medium was quite close fitting which I like. Very comfortable and supportive feeling and very useful on colder days as a base layer.

SC: I was genuinely impressed. It clung to the shape of my body well and provided good extra insulation on my 25-mile trail run when it was just 3°C with 25-30mph wind.

How do higher state products compare to others you’ve used?

GE: I was surprised at how comfortable each item was compared to other brands I’ve used. The Anklet socks were the most comfortable I’ve ever worn on a run. Overall, great quality, comfort and design.

MH: These items perform as well, and in some cases better, than many options of much higher cost.  I’m especially impressed with the Mountain Stretch Jacket, which keeps up with my very much more expensive Inov-8 lightweight jacket in almost all regards.

PR: On the whole, it was exceptional and just as good. I will definitely buy more – it’s great value.

SC: All the products are fantastic when compared with everything else within the same price point, and you would have to spend quite a bit more to get a shoe that is much better. It’s all great value for money without feeling cheap.

TW: I have been impressed and pleasantly surprised.

SC: I would recommend the Mountain Stretch Jacket and the Seamless Running Top as they both compare very favourably with much more expensive running jackets and tops.

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