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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > tasc Vital Training Short > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes

tasc Vital Training Short
Test series by Coy Starnes
Initial Report: April 7, 2012
Field Report: June 20, 2012
Long Term Report: August 28, 2012

author sporting tasc Vital Training Shorts

Tester Coy Starnes
Gender Male
Age 50
Weight 245 lb (111 kg)
Height 6 ft (1.8 m)
Location Grant, Alabama

Tester Biography
I live in Northeast Alabama.  I enjoy biking, hunting, fishing, canoeing/kayaking and most other outdoor activities, but backpacking is my favorite pastime.  I enjoy hiking with friends and family or solo.  I hike throughout the year and actually hike less in the hot humid months of summer.  My style is slow and steady and my gear is light.  However, I will sacrifice weight for comfort and durability.  A typical 3-season load for me is around 20 lb (9 kg) not counting food or water.
Initial Report: April 7, 2012
Product Information
Test Item tasc Vital Training Short
Manufacturer thriv NP, inc.
Year of Manufacture 2012
Manufacturer's Website
Materials 55% Organic Cotton, 40% Viscose from Bamboo and 5% Elastane.
Listed Weight N/A
Measured Weight 7 oz (198 g)
Colors Available 3; Black, Heather Gray and Gunmetal
Color I'm Testing Heather Gray
Sizes Available Small, Medium, Large, X-Large & XX-Large
Size I'm Testing Large
MSRP US$ 30.00

Product Description
The tasc Vital Training Shorts are basically a pair of gym shorts that benefit from the use of a specifically designed fabric called 200 GSM performance fabric and features what the manufacturer calls Bamboo Performance Technology.   According to the website there are seven key advantages to this Bamboo Performance Technology.  These would be light weight, moisture wicking, 4-way stretch, breathable, UPF 50+, comfortable and anti-odor. These shorts are not fancy.  They feature an elastic waist with a simple draw string around the top for securing them.  The care tag is located on the inside back, right below the waist band and just left of center.  The care instructions are to machine wash cold, do not bleach, tumble dry low and warm iron if needed. The shorts have two ventilated slash pockets (one on each side) but I'm not sure how they are ventilated. The pocket material appears to be the same as what the rest of the shorts are made of, only slightly darker.  The shorts have a small tasc logo on the outer lower left leg. I appreciate that the logo is not very noticeable like it was designed for a NASCAR team or TDF rider...not as a slam to NASCAR or bike racing, after all, I do like my racin', but they do go a little overboard with logos on the uniforms.

A fit guide card pinned on the Vital Training Shorts indicates that they are a compression garment for training and the word TRAINING is written in green. On another card I found this translates to BRISK, or level B, and is a mid-weight layer designed to adjust to unpredictable conditions.  The Large I'm testing fit me a little snug and are shorter on my legs than the pair pictured on the website's model.  However, they still fit well enough that I believe an XL might be a little big.

Initial Impressions
My shorts arrived just one day removed from a pretty hard crash on my mountain bike.  I had a little difficulty getting them on but with the help of my wife I managed.  They were much easier to put on than the tasc shirt I am also testing, but this is because my arm and not my leg is in a sling.  I did not have to tie the waist cord to keep them on which is good considering I am pretty much limited to using my left hand for the next couple of weeks.  And as with the shirt, I marveled at how soft the material these shorts are made of feels.

A little about the company
tasc is a relatively new company established in 2009.  tasc stands for "technical all season comfort", but, based on my examination of the Vital Training Shorts, if I tasc vital training shortwere naming the company I would have to go with "ssss&sc" (super soft, super stretchy and super comfortable).  From what I read on the tasc website, it appears that the goal of the company was to create a high performance line of athletic apparel that would incorporate the comfort of cotton and the wicking ability of synthetics while at the same time eliminating much of the odor associated with synthetics. That is a pretty tall order but my initial impression is that they nailed the comfort part.  Testing will reveal the wicking ability and stinky stop factor.   Another thing that I'm impressed with is the return policy.  Each package is shipped with a return label and no matter the reason, if you don't like something, tasc will reimburse the full cost of the order, including shipping both ways.  It might be a good idea to save the packaging (see photo) in order to return it in it, but there was no mention if this was required.

Summary so far
I still can not get over how soft the fabric feels.  They certainly feel a lot softer than any of my current gym shorts. The tasc Vital Training Shorts look to be just about perfect for the activities I have planned.  I hope my arm heals fast and I can get back out on my bike as well as hiking, kayaking and my other outdoor pursuits.

Field Report: June 20, 2012

Author cooling off during a hot afternoon hike

Test Locations and Conditions
I have worn the tasc Vital Training shorts about twice a week since getting them, all here in northeast Alabama.  Due to a broken collar bone I was limited to mostly day hiking for the first 6 weeks of testing but have since been wearing them on several recumbent bike rides and on my StreetStrider (an elliptical with wheels).  I also wore them on an overnight backpacking trip on June 14.  Conditions have gradually gotten warmer since receiving the shorts.  Most of my day hikes were either early in the morning or late in the afternoon but one was a mid afternoon hike of 4 miles (6 km) when temperatures rose to 91 F (33 C)) and the humidity was high.  I have managed to avoid rain on all my hikes and rides but have gotten the shorts wet from both sweat and splashing around under a small waterfall.  Last but not least, I have worn them doing some exercise at a play ground and at home.  This was standard stuff like pull-ups, push-ups and even a few yoga moves thrown in.

Field Test Results
The Performance Vital Training shorts are great!  I'm not sure if it is the stretchy fabric or the fact that they feel good next to my skin, but an even better reason is probably because that even when soaking wet, they do not stick to my skin.  For example, on a recent 4 mile (6 km) day hike I left the house with 70 oz (2 L) of water in my hydration vest. I drank about 2/3 of my water during the hike. It was 88 F (31 C) when I started and warmed to 91 F (33 C) by the time I got home.  I had weighed myself that morning and was 250 lb (113 kg).  When I got home I was soaking wet with sweat and had been drinking what felt like enough water, but after my shower I weighed myself again and was surprised to see I now weighed 247 lb (112 kg).

When riding my bikes I imagine I sweat as much as when hiking, but the constant movement of air seemed to keep me (and the shorts) a lot dryer, even though I was sitting on a large seat when riding my recumbent.   On the other hand, when I rode my StreetStrider I would completely soak the shorts if I rode long enough.  This was usually within 30 minutes.  Here I am after riding my recumbent 13.6 miles (22 km) in just under an hour.  It was around 82 F (28 C) but humid.  My ball cap was soaked but the Vital Trainers were fairly dry, much dryer than my cap.
tasc vital training short
Author on a mid-morning ride

On my overnight hike I left home pretty late in the afternoon but it was still fairly warm at 86 F (30 C). It felt a little cooler down at the creek but I did sweat quite a bit as I cooked my supper over an open fire.  My cook fire was not that big but I was moving around a lot.  It cooled down to 68 F (20 C) overnight and I headed home before it got very warm the next morning.  I wore the shorts the entire trip.  In other words on the hike down to the creek, then in my hammock for the night as well as on the hike home the next morning.  I did sweat some on the hike down to the creek and a little during the first part of the night. However, the shorts was very comfortable to sleep in. I carried a light fleece blanket but it stayed on my lower legs for most of the night.  I sweated the most on the hike back home the next morning.  This was one time that the shorts smelled even after hanging them out a few hours after getting home.  I guess the anti-odor properties are not designed for wood smoke.

The pockets on these shorts are good. I kept them empty on most of my hikes since I usually had at least a hydration vest on during my hikes but I did keep my phone in a pocket on a couple of bike rides.  The elastic waist and draw string are also performing as expected.

And now, a little about the wicking ability of the shorts. I noticed they would stay pretty wet on a hike once I got to sweating profusely so I kept them on after a hike a couple of times and they seemed to dry pretty fast.  I decided it would be a good idea to wash a few pairs of shorts made of different fabrics and see just how fast they dried hung outside.  I had a 100% polyester pair, a 100% cotton pair and a  55% Organic Cotton, 40% Viscose from Bamboo and 5% Elastane pair (the Vital Trainers).  I washed them and hung them out at 1 PM sharp. The temperature was around 86 F (30 C) and there was a slight breeze blowing.  I checked the shorts every 15 minutes and found that the 100% polyester pair dried the fastest but not by much.  The cotton pair took the longest but even they dried fairly fast. The poly shorts was dry in 45 minute, the Vital Trainers in an hour and the cotton pair in an hour and 20 minutes.  However, as I stated previously, the Vital Trainers felt great next to my skin even when wet and were definitely the most comfortable in all conditions.  Here are the three pairs of shorts shortly after I hung them out.  The tasc Vital Training shorts are in the middle.
tasc vital training short

Care and Durability
So far the Vital Trainers are holding up well.  They still fit just like they did when I got them. I don't think they have shrunk from washing or stretched from wearing. I have not done much bushwhacking but there are limbs across the trails I hike and I hike these trails at least twice a week and for at least a couple of hours each time.  I generally washed the shorts after ever other use and would hang them out on my deck a few hours after coming in from a sweaty hike or ride and also after each washing.  I washed them with towels a couple of times and was pleased to see that they do not pick up lint, or at least not enough to see.

Summary so far
Hopefully I'm not sounding like a broken record but I really like these shorts. They wick well, feels great even when wet and the anti-odor properties work well enough that the shorts do not have to be washed after every use.  The fabric seems like it would be fragile but so far they seems to be holding up to some fairly heavy duty use.

Long Term Report: August 28, 2012
canoeing in Mississsippi
Author canoeing in Mississippi

Test Locations and Conditions
cooking supper in tascI have continued to wear the tasc Vital Training shorts on bike rides and day hikes on local trails and roads in Northeast Alabama.  I also wore them on a 3-day, 3-night canoe trip in Southern Mississippi. July was brutally hot and I would hike or ride early or late to avoid the 100+ F (more than 38 C) temperatures.  August (and the canoe trip) was much nicer but still rather warm.  It was around 92 F (33 C) in the afternoon on all 3 days of the canoe trip. Lows were around 70 F (21 C) each night.

On the canoeing trip I wore the tasc shorts almost the entire time.  I paddled, cooked, swam, cut wood, built fires, cleared brush, set up/broke camp and slept in them. The first night (Thursday night) was really car camping.  I put on some sweat pants as soon as I arrived at the campsite, but after walking around it and a little down near the river they felt hot so I changed into the tasc shorts for the night.  I kept them on almost constantly for the next 3 days and nights until my shower and change for the ride home at 3:45 PM Sunday afternoon.  I did not pack a sleeping bag or blanket but did change into some long pants and a long sleeve shirt at 4 AM on Sunday morning because I woke up a little chilly.  I changed back into the tasc shorts around 8 AM when I started getting a little warm in the pants and shirt I had put on.

The shorts performed very well on the trip.  They were great while paddling but there were a few times around noon that I wished they were longer like sweat pants.  This is because they offer such good sun protection but are still nice and cool next to my skin.  This would also have been handy for sleeping.  However, I would prefer shorts while swimming and most of the time during the day. Speaking of swimming, the river current was usually swift but they stayed on perfectly.  I did notice they were slow to dry after a swim, especially around the elastic waist band. I usually took my last swim right before dark (around 7 PM) so without any sun the waist band would still be damp when I turned in each night around 10 PM.  However, they did finish drying each night while I slept, usually by around 2 or 3 AM.

I did find the limit on how long they stay fresh smelling.  Well, I'm not sure of the exact time frame as they gradually began to smell a little ripe during the trip.  I actually did not find the smell to be objectionable but the guys I was with did notice it about supper time on the second day and even more the last day.  Once I showered I could smell them a little as I packed them away for the ride home. Once home they had ripened a little more because they were put away damp and it took me 8 hours to get home. 

Care and Durability
The Vital Training shorts have been easy to keep clean.  I just threw them in the washer and line dried afterwards.  I have washed them several more times since the Field Report but they are still in good shape.  They may have faded a little but with the grey color it is hard to tell.  The material looks like it might be a wearing a little thin around the seat area, probably from riding my bike.

I really have enjoyed wearing these shorts.  They are cool and comfortable for just about any activity.  They don't dry out quite as fast as nylon shorts but I prefer the tasc over those.  

This concludes my reporting on these excellent shorts.  I would like to thank thriv NP, inc. and for the opportunity to test them.

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