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Gym+Coffee Women's Activate Vest review: a barely there running top that means you can focus on your feet

You will love the way this silky, lightweight racer back feels against your skin on long trail runs and during warm weather hikes

Women's activate vest in khaki
(Image: © Gym+Coffee)

Our Verdict

This ultra-lightweight, breathable and fast-drying racerback feels luxurious on your skin, goes easy on the wallet and moves with you whether you’re running trails or on the yoga mat

For

  • Lightweight
  • Stretchy fabric and designed for movement
  • Sweat-wicking
  • Budget friendly

Against

  • No natural or recycled materials used

Gym+Coffee Women's Activate Vest: first impressions 

On the rack, this ultra-lightweight, slinky racerback makes for a versatile top that you’ll be happy to wear for long trail runs, warm weather hikes and even on the yoga mat. As you’ll have guessed by the brand’s name, Gym+Coffee has lots of stylish athleisure wear and is great for gym goers, but this item definitely works as part of your trail kit too. Made from breathable fabric, it wicks away sweat on the trails and dries quickly to keep you cool and comfortable, and whatever you're doing in it, the T-shaped back means it moves with you with lots of stretch and no annoying seams or zips.

The silky synthetic fabric feels fabulous against your skin and the fit is classic racerback – high necked, slim and flattering without being skin tight. Reflective details on the left chest and low back offer protection for night runs. With a budget friendly pricing, there’s basically no reason not to add this to your running kit.

Specifications

• RRP: $37 (US) / £25 (UK)
• Sizes available:  S-XXL
Gender specification: Women’s
• Materials: Polyamide (87%), Elastane (13%)
• Colors: Black, Lilac, Baby blue, Khaki, Pastel pink
Weight: 103 g / 3.6 oz
• Best use: trail running, hiking 

Gym+Coffee Women's Activate Vest: on the trails 

Women's activate vest in black

This ultra-lightweight, slinky racerback makes for a versatile top that you’ll be happy to wear for long trail runs, warm weather hikes and even on the yoga mat (Image credit: Gym+Coffee)

Gym+Coffee makes stylish athleisure wear and I might have discounted their clothing as being purely for the gym – a place I tend to give a wide berth – but the Activate Vest is definitely tough enough for the trails and I’m actually excited to try out more gear from the Irish-based brand. As a yoga teacher and trail runner, I’m no stranger to the racerback top, and while it’s a very popular style, it’s not usually my favorite. This top, however, is definitely an exception.

While many racerbacks I’ve worn in the past have been too tight for my liking and the style seems to over-accentuate my shoulders, this classic style is ultra flattering on. Much more importantly, however, is how good it feels and how well it performs on the trails.

The fabric is extremely slinky (without being shiny, which I also dislike) and it creates this luxurious, barely there feel compared to the scratchiness of wool tops. It’s the perfect length –  these types of tops by other brands started getting weirdly long about ten years ago but this one is just long enough to tuck in without looking like you’re wearing a mini dress over your pants.

I’ve been wearing it non-stop on my trail runs lately, with a running jacket layered over it now the weather has turned colder, and it’s really noticeable how well it wicks away sweat and how quickly it dries. For a synthetic top, I’ve been consistently impressed with how many times I can wear it without washing it – I think this is down to the cut, because there’s a little space around the armpits and therefore less contact between the fabric and the places where I sweat the most. I’ve also worn it for yoga loads and it’s so stretchy and comfortable it’s really ideal. It still looks like new too after lots of wears and a few washes.

The price was a nice surprise too – I’m used to paying double that for tops like these. The only gripe I can think of is that while the gear is designed in Ireland, the top is made in China and I’d certainly love to see the production moved domestically, even if it means paying a higher price. To be fair to them, this is the case for most outdoor brands though. Other than that though, I can’t think of any reason why you won’t love this tank if you like running in racerbacks, being comfortable and looking good.

Here’s how it performed:

Sizing

True to size. 

Fit

Racerback style. It’s not a skin tight top, but a flattering slim fit. Long enough to tuck in. 

Comfort 

Silky, barely there feel to the fabric no rubbing seams. 

Temperature regulation 

Keeps you cool once you start sweating on a trail run. 

Breathability 

Ultra breathable, this shirt keeps you drier on the trail and dries quickly once you get back to the car. 

Durability 

Looks as good as new after lots of runs and washes.

Here’s where we tested the Gym+Coffee Women's Activate Vest: 

The Strathblane Pipe Track follows the water supply pipe from Loch Katrine along the foot of the Campsies near Dumgoyne and runs parallel to the start of the West Highland Way. Expect gentle rolling hills and spectacular views of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs in the distance.