Back in the late 90s, I worked as the Team Sports Scientist for the Benetton and Renault Formula 1 racing teams.
Mark Webber was a young, up and coming F3 driver at that time and had moved to the UK from Australia to further his motorsport career.
He was regularly training with the drivers on the Renault driver programme, so I spent a lot of time riding bikes, running and training with him in our Human Performance Centre. Webber was one of the hardest working drivers I ever worked with and he got deeply into endurance sports as a key part of his preparation for motorsport.
Since retiring from competitive racing, Mark has set up apparel brand Aussie Grit, who make functional performance clothing for some of his favourite outdoor sports; namely trail running and biking.
As a racer and athlete Webber is famous for being a no bull$*it character focussed on performance, and his apparel range is like an extension of his personality in this respect.
I’ve used and tested various items from the range in the past but my current favourite is the Focus Jacket - a lightweight waterproof primarily aimed at trail runners.
The jacket is 100% waterproof but made from a material that's soft to the touch, quite stretchy and extremely quiet to move in. There's none of the typical rustling noise you get from most fully waterproof fabrics.
It has a semi-rigid peak on the hood that helps to keep water out of your eyes in really wet and windy conditions, as well as adjustable elastic pull chords in all of the right places to avoid the hood coming off or the jacket acting like a sail in the wind.
As waterproof jackets go, it's amongst the most breathable I’ve used to date and it has a really simple but useful feature that I love - a single button fastener in the upper middle of the chest so that you can completely undo the zip for ventilation when you do get a bit hot (a common issue when running in a waterproof) without having to leave it flapping in the breeze.
I actually used to do this same thing with a large safety pin on many of my old running jackets, but this is a way more elegant solution!
The Focus Jacket conforms to the minimum specifications of what most major trail running races require to count as an 'emergency' waterproof jacket and packs down small enough to fit in a waist pack or tiny rucksack, so it's good for racing as well as during training sessions.
At £160 (UK RRP) it’s also bloody good value as you can easily be paying upwards of £200 for similarly specced products from big name brands like Salomon or The North Face.
The rest of the Aussie Grit range is always well worth checking out. I’ve been using their long running tights and 2-in-1 trail shorts along with the jacket for quite a while now.
It’s the kind of kit that ends up at the top of the draw because it’s often the preferred option in my wardrobe despite having a vast enough collection of other training kit to make my wife despair...