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Winter is here, and though we’ve had some confusingly warm weather on the Front Range in Colorado where I live, I have good faith that the cold weather endurance kit from Stio is about to be front and center on my gear shelf once again.
I discovered Stio by chance a few years ago thanks to a well-timed catalog and a heads up from a fellow trail running pal. Founded about 10 years ago in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Stio blends high performance and technical function with versatility and mountain town comfort, doing so with a strong commitment to community, sustainability, and the environment.
The high quality of the brand’s pieces come at a premium price, but they stand by their products, and you can trust their clothing to last for miles and years of adventures. The Stio website explains many of the initiatives the company supports and describes their 2020 Stewardship Report, which provides transparency about their values and vision for the future.
One exciting new partner, The Renewal Workshop, is yet another way the company is striving to reduce its overall footprint while restoring apparel and maximizing the usage-life of our valuable and trusted outdoor wear.
The few pieces I’ve purchased in years past are my favorites for mountain adventures, particularly when the altitude is high or the air is chilly. I was excited to see that Stio now has three key pieces in its lineup that are perfect for fall and winter trail running — items that work well as layers for fat biking, uphill mountain fun, and about any other high-energy output activity.
I put the following pieces to the test with mountain running, low-country fat biking in inclement weather, and writing post-graduate papers on days when I couldn’t be bothered to change after my trail time and espresso:
- Stio Alpiner Hooded Jacket ($290) — a synthetic insulated jacket
- Stio Basis Power Wool Zip Neck ($120) — a lightweight midlayer long-sleeve shirt
- Stio Glide High Rise Tech Tight ($130) — full-length tights with pockets
Sizing can be a bit challenging to dial in when you order from a company for the first time. I’ve found Stio products to run fairly true to size as described on their chart, but to be less forgiving for large calves, thighs, and glutes. I may be the only person to ever size up because something is too tight on my calves and knee caps, but I digress.
I do find their model size descriptions alongside product pictures to be particularly helpful. In general, I tend to prefer small or medium for the tops and jackets (depending on whether I want to layer) and medium for the bottoms. I am about 5 feet, 5 inches tall, and wear sizes 4 and 6 in women’s clothing.
Stio Alpiner Hooded Jacket
If you live in a place where cold weather hurts your face, or perhaps you just like to be cozy, you need a lightweight, breathable, full-zip synthetic insulated hooded jacket in your life. The Stio Alpiner Hooded Jacket ($290) is one of my favorite options. At an advertised weight of only 11 ounces (312 grams), it feels light on the body during any activity.
There are slightly lighter jackets out there in this category, but what I really appreciate about Stio is the fact that they included zippered pockets! The chest pocket and two handwarmer pockets are voluminous and can easily stash an extra pair of gloves, ear band, snacks, and a phone in case you leave the running pack behind.
The zipper pull tabs are easy to use while wearing liner gloves, which is always a bonus, and I don’t have to stress about the security of my key fob during my run.
The 100% polyester, Polartec Alpha Active 60-gram insulation provides an exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio while remaining very breathable and providing excellent moisture management during cold-weather runs and bike rides.
I’ve run and biked in winds up to 35 miles per hour (with higher gusts) and temperatures from 15 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit thus far, and I’ve been very pleased with the performance, especially the breathability. Though I haven’t had the opportunity to snowshoe up a mountain in this jacket yet, it will be in my pack when the time comes later this season.
Thanks to the roomier “medium” cut and the smooth, stretchy Meridian AP Stretch Mini-Ripstop 100% nylon material, the Alpiner Hooded Jacket accommodates a few layers but still slides easily under a more protective hardshell with ease. Though the exterior is treated with DWR, it isn’t meant to shed more than very light precipitation, primarily in frozen form.
Another feature I absolutely love about this jacket is that there is complete freedom of movement, thanks to the stretchy material and gusseted underarms, which is exactly what you want in a jacket designed for active adventures. I have no trouble turning a tight corner on my bike or scrambling up some large boulders on a mountain where hands are helpful.
The sleeves are long, which enables me to run with my hands fully ensconced inside, yet the stretch-woven cuffs keep the cuff of my gloves inside and the weather out once I’ve warmed up enough to let my hands appear.
The low-profile hood has an elastic binding and a simple drawcord cinch in the back to dial in the fit on a windy day. And when combined with the full-length zipper, my chin and mouth can be completely protected by the soft, smooth zipper garage and backing material.
The adjustable drawcord at the hem allows for further customization of the fit against the elements. Lastly, reflective striping on either side of the front zipper and reflective Stio logos add a bit of night-running safety.
The Stio Alpiner Hooded Jacket is designed for high-output, occasionally stop-start, endurance pushes, but it’s easily at home in the casual après activity setting as well. In the matte Boundary Black color, I dare say it’s a “dressy” coat by my standards. Versatility, performance, and comfort all get five stars from me.
For the men in your life, there’s Stio Alpiner Hooded Jacket men’s version ($290).
Stio Basis Power Wool Zip Neck
The Stio Basis Power Wool Zip Neck ($120) is a light and breathable quarter-zip midlayer that I fell in love with a few years ago, and this newest version is fabulous as well. Constructed from an innovative bi-layer knit, the Polartec Power Wool utilizes a hybrid fabric of a 70% polyester exterior and a gridded 30% merino wool isolated to the interior to create a soft and comfortable garment that wicks moisture, breathes well, resists odor, dries fast, and is warm even when wet.
Flatlock seams and a zipper liner and garage near the face keep the midlayer soft against bare skin, but it’s easy to layer over the top of any base layer as well. The smooth hand of the exterior allows it to glide well beneath the Alpiner Hooded Jacket or any other outer layer without undue friction as well.
Happily, there’s not a bit of itch from the wool, and it doesn’t feel sticky beneath a pack even if I wear it a little too long as the temperatures warm up, which is easy to do because it’s so comfortable. The sleeves are long and the thumb hole is of ample size, perfectly placed to add extra warmth for the hands, yet doesn’t pull or tug even with gloves on.
Whoever is designing sleeve lengths at Stio deserves a large gold star. You’re the best! To me, this wool fleece combination is just perfect — it’s the first item I reach for when I grab my kit and head to the hills regardless of the season.
Men, you can celebrate, too, as there’s a Stio Basis Power Wool Zip Neck men’s version ($120).
Stio Glide High Rise Tech Tight
Perfect winter running tights are hard to find, despite the explosion of the athleisure industry. We really need technically sound fabrics that protect from the elements, dry quickly, and have that optimal stretch so as not to limit or resist hip motion on climbs.
Furthermore, they absolutely must not sag — no one has time for that. Upper lateral thigh pockets are almost required, but not at the expense of fit and comfort. Stio nailed these requirements in the Stio Glide High Rise Tech Tight ($130) and dialed the fit in this year as well. They are warmer than their weight suggests, and they breathe and wick moisture with the best of them.
These tights definitely have a high rise, which is not my preference, but I’m growing to appreciate it given we’ve had a windier autumn than usual. The waistband is wide, supple, and non-restrictive, which my belly appreciates, and I’m finding, while spending more time cross-training on my bike, avoiding a chilly low back is an added benefit as well.
In a pinch, they easily double as Pilates or yoga tights, but I’d switch to shorts if it was a heated class. Though there’s no drawstring, the waist easily conforms to my shape and stays in place. I’m not tall by any means, but these full-length tights fit over the top of my quarter-length socks and beneath my gaiters, which keeps my ankles protected and warm.
On days when I wear my shortest socks, the ankle opening is comfortable and non-abrasive. Taller women take note, these full-length tights shouldn’t end up mid-calf for you, but if they do, speak up. Stio takes customer comments seriously.
The light and stretchy tights are created from a soft, sueded Fortis Stretch Interlock fabric, which is 69% nylon and 31% spandex. It implements moisture management and an antimicrobial treatment to keep odors at bay even after several active pursuits.
The material is sturdy enough for occasional brush contact, and while I’m sure willow bashing and a rocky fall could create some abrasion, I’ve had no issue with pilling or signs of wear and tear.
The pocket game is strong with a long foldover pocket at the back of the waistband, which keeps a phone secure in the small of my back, and can accommodate bars, gels, or gloves. A low-profile zippered pocket sits on the upper lateral left thigh is large enough to secure a phone or keys and a card.
On the right lateral mid-thigh, another phone-sized long pocket lies flat with a foldover top for added security. I typically only use two of the pockets on any given run, and with a couple of cards, key fob, phone, and 300 calories of fuel, the tights perform flawlessly and stay in place even after a few hours.
The smooth outer face makes these tights ideal as a layer beneath wind pants or a hardshell for truly inclement weather. Their comfort also makes them ideal for my occasional day on the lift-served ski area. These Stio tights have finally given me a worthy alternative to my all-time favorite, 15-year-old winter running tights that are showing signs of their age.
For men, Stio offers a similar tight with a regular rise at the waist, the Stio Glide Tech Tight men’s version ($130).
Stio Women’s Apparel Overall Impressions
Without a doubt, Stio makes high-performing, technically innovative gear with a lot of thought and attention to the fine details that will keep you warm, dry, comfortable, and well-supplied — via their pockets! — while trail running.
Because of their heritage in the Teton Mountain Range of Wyoming, the pieces are versatile enough to function exceptionally well in any endurance-oriented outdoor adventure and look sharp afterward as you settle into your favorite recovery activities.
As stated, they do come at a premium price, but with the durability, function, and comfort I’ve experienced thus far, I suspect my cost per use to be pennies by the time I need to take advantage of The Renewal Workshop option.