A Review of the Brooks D’Lite Mesh Tank: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

I have just completed my second summer of running through the oppressive heat and humidity of central North Carolina. Summer running here in The Triangle has taught me much about self-discipline, perseverance through discomfort, and the importance of hydration and electrolyte replacement. It has also taught me that when it comes to summer running apparel less is more. That is why I was particularly excited to try the super-light, ultra-breathable D’Lite Mesh Tank from Brooks.

On paper this tank looked like the answer to all of my hot weather running woes, and I cannot deny that are several things that I really appreciate about the functionality of this piece. Unfortunately, there are considerably fewer things that I love and appreciate about the fit and fashion of this top. And so I invite you to join me in taking a closer look at the Brooks D’Lite Mesh Tank: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly…

The Good: Barely There

The glass is half full…

I certainly fancy myself to be a “glass-is-half-full” kind of gal, so let’s start with the good… First of all, it is true that the D’Lite Mesh Tank is made of extremely comfortable, light weight, feels-almost-like-you-aren’t-even-wearing-a-shirt fabric. I truly have nothing bad to say about this shirt with regard to comfort. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that it feels downright “d’liteful” against my skin. Furthermore, I honestly can’t think of another running top on the market that is more airy and breathable.  I mean the entire shirt is mesh for crying out loud! This piece certainly earns the title of coolest and most-breathable tank in my vast personal summer running collection, and that is pretty impressive considering that I own approximately one thousand million tanks and singlets.

And the title of Coolest, Most Breathable Top goes to… Drum roll… The Brooks D’Lite Mesh Tank!

Now don’t get me wrong, light weight and super-breathable can definitely earn a tank some serious brownie points in the eyes of the North Carolina summertime runner, but there are a few downsides to the D’Lite Mesh Tank that are worth noting…

The Bad: Sometimes Clingy, Always See Through

For starters, this top, or at least the  yellow  one that I own is totally see through…

Exhibit A: Undeniably See Through

Although this is not necessarily a deal breaker for me (on extra hot and steamy day stripping down to only my sports bra is certainly not out of the question), I would imagine the this could be a potential negative for more modest runners out there. The good news is that the D’Lite Mesh Tank comes in a vast array of colors, and I can only assume that the darker options are considerably less see through than my cheery light yellow one. To think that I have been running around all summer in a see through shirt and no one has so much as stopped me to invite me out to dinner. Pretty disappointing, but I digress…

Furthermore, in my online research of the D’Lite Mesh Tank, I have noticed that Brooks likes to promote this top as a layering piece. I am guessing that this is to offset its see through-ness to improve modesty ratings? With all due respect Brooks, doesn’t this seem a little counter-intuitive? I know that layering is pretty much the last thing I am thinking of as I make my hot weather running outfit selections. And correct me if my math is wrong here, but doesn’t layering one light-weight shirt over another light weight shirt equal a thicker, less cool and airy result? Just saying…

All this layering just doesn’t add up!

Another less-than-stellar property of this tank is that for all of its light weight meshiness, on a super hot and humid day it will inevitably reach  point of total saturation. I have found that on a 90 degrees plus, high humidity day this usually occurs  around 5 miles/ 45 minutes of running. When this saturation threshold is reached the D’Lite Mesh Tank then proceeds to cling to its wearer, and at least for me it does so in a most unflattering and unpleasant fashion. Then again, it is probably safe to say that eventual saturation and clinginess are characteristic of any and all technical garments in such extreme conditions as the heat and humidity of a Durham, NC summer. Also, it has been my personal experience that the Brooks D’Lite Mesh Tank does stay drier and cling-free longer than most other hot weather running tops. So maybe this isn’t a pitfall of this piece after all, as it just may be the least of  all the light weight clingy running top evils.

The Ugly: Fits Only Slightly Better Than the Average Plastic Grocery Bag

And now let’s move on to the ugly… I want to like this top and give it a lovely, glowing review.  I really do! And as I stated earlier, it absolutely does have its merits with regard to comfort and functionality. However, I just can’t get past the fact that it’s fit (at least on me anyway) is downright atrocious and totally unflattering. The pictures on the Brooks webpage (you know, the ones where the shirt is just kind of suspended in space as if it were being worn by an invisible busty woman) make it out to be a perfectly reasonable looking semi-fitted tank.

Totally unsuspecting pic from the Brooks website.

My unfortunate reality of wearing this shirt is that is nearly as long as, if not longer than all of my running shorts. In addition to looking ridiculous, this also limits mobility while running. Furthermore, as you can see from the photo below, I found this piece to be nowhere close to semi-fitted. I think this fit would better described as “boxy chic”. It was also particularly ill-fitting through the chest.

Come on Brooks… Where is the love???

Having said all of that, I know that we cannot place all the blame on Brooks  for this piece not fitting me like a glove. I have been blessed with an interesting little flat chest/ broad rib cage combo, and sometimes finding a shirt that fits well can be tricky. If you take a moment to check out the video below you will see that it actually looks pretty dang cute on the girl who is modeling it. Sadly, it just  did not make me feel my most fabulous when I was wearing it.

It is also worth noting that the top I was seeded to review is a size medium. I tend to teeter on the small/medium cusp (I’m a smedium , if you will), so it may be safe to say that my D’Lite Mesh Tank is just straight-up too big for me. Still, I would say that this piece runs a little big, and sizing down would probably be your safest bet.

Staying Optimistic for Next Season

All things considered, I think our friends at Brooks totally nailed the functionality components of the D’Lite Mesh Tank. They were just a little off the mark in terms of fit and fashion. But there is hope yet! My favorite local Brooks Guru assures me that the D’Lite Mesh Tank is making a come back next season with several new options in the fashion department!

First of all, the original tank will be available in Brooks’ classic hi-viz yellow Nightlife color (perfect for hot weather running after dark), and in both a lace print (ooh la la!) and a stripe print. Prints always make things more fun, and they should help combat see throughness.

In addition, Brooks will be offering two new tops made from the D’Lite Mesh fabric; a short sleeve and a second racer back option that promises all the flowy mobility of the original tank with a cleaner, more streamlined fit. Both of these new options will be reversible (always an exciting novelty feature in my opinion), with a solid color on one side and a pattern on the other. These new pieces will be available through your favorite Brooks retailer as of 1/15/2013.

Spring 2013 D’Lite Mesh Short Sleeve

Spring 2013 Reversible  Striped D’Lite Micro Mesh Racerback

So fear not Brooks apparel fans! If all goes according to plan, by this time next year we will all be sitting around raving about the amazing functionality AND fashion-forwardness of our reversible, reasonably un-transparent, legitimately semi-fitted  D’Lite Mesh Tanks! In the meantime, the current version of this piece is still a solid hot weather running choice for those of you out there who value function over fashion and don’t mind wearing a super-relaxed fit,  see through shirt!

Big thanks to Brooks for providing me with coolest, most breathable shirt of the summer, and to all of you for reading!

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