Sweated & Vetted: Pettet Endurance Project

Early autumn means transitional weather, and Pettet Endurance Project’s lightweight, US-made merino wool gear is ideal for cool, dark mornings that turn into dazzling afternoons. I’ve covered PEP before, way back in Sweated & Vetted’s inaugural post, and I’m happy to report that Greg Poffenroth and his crew are still at it, producing high-quality, reasonably-priced running clothes at their Portland, OR home base.

PEP made some updates to their line based on feedback from runners, and the new generation of shirts fix all of the minor quibbles I had in my initial review. They’ve also expanded the core line with a new three-quarter sleeve shirt, as well as introduced new hi-viz and color-block options. This is smart, thoughtful development of a product line that was already one of my favorites. PEP sent me a Gaston tank, hi-viz three-quarter sleeve Fremont, and color-block long-sleeve Shevlin to wear-test, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend all three – especially at PEP’s almost alarmingly reasonable prices.

The Gaston Tank Top is one of PEP’s only products that’s not made from 100% Australian merino wool – it has a small percentage of elastane blended in for stretch. The resulting material is comfortable, lightweight, wicks sweat without getting soggy, and stays odor-free even after multiple runs. Out of curiosity, I ran in the Gaston tank for five straight days with temps over 80 degrees and high humidity. I didn’t wash or even rinse it between runs, just hung it to dry, and at the end of the week, it was completely odor-free.

The Gaston tank in size medium measures 19.5” across the chest and 30” in body length, which is slim and generously long. The straps are a good middle-ground width at 2.25”, and the body of the shirt has a slight taper down to an 18” waist. The arm openings also hit the Goldilocks point – neither too tight nor too large. The rear of the tank is sewn with a 14” segmented vent between the top and bottom center panels to improve airflow, but it’s hard to tell whether this had a large effect on how cool the shirt felt.

The long-sleeve Shevlin that I first reviewed back in April 2015 has been reintroduced with some updates to the design and cut. The body of the shirt is still slim and long (20” across the chest tapering to 18” at the waist, 28.25” body length, and 36” sleeves), but PEP improved the fit across the shoulders by shrinking the neck hole slightly. The first generation Shevlin fit a bit like a scoop-neck tee, but the revised version is much more standard crew shape. The other minor issue I had with the first-generation Shevlin was the care tag, which was a heat-pressed badge that crumpled after washing. The new one’s minimalist tag resolves that issue entirely. Everything else I loved about the first-generation Shevlin is still present in this version: the trim athletic fit, sturdy flat-lock seams, raglan shoulders, slightly curved hem, side-panel construction, and thumb holes at the end of the sleeves. I put the original Shevlin on my Best of 2015 list last year, and I honestly think this new one is even better.

Like the Shevlin, the brand new three-quarter sleeve Fremont is made in Oregon from 100% Australian merino wool. The fabric is 170gsm (grams per square meter), which is heavy enough to be warm on breezy mornings but not so heavy that it feels like an insulating layer. I’m planning to wear it alone down to around 40-45 degrees, and then as a heat-trapping base underneath a hardshell layer when winter gets more serious.

The three-quarter sleeve Fremont has the same body measurements as the long-sleeve Shevlin, but the 25” sleeves stop just below the elbow. The sleeves are slim (4.25” opening at the hem), which makes the Fremont a solid choice for layering. The version PEP sent me to review is made with their new hi-viz yellow fabric on the sleeves, which is just one more reason to pull it out for early-morning runs and dreary, overcast days.

Overall, Pettet Endurance Project has made some great updates to their already excellent collection of US-made athletic gear. And, they’re expanding their line incrementally, which seems wiser than overextending into a dozen new models and products. That said, I’d like to see what PEP could do with a pair of shorts or tights, because I have complete faith that they’d be well-designed, high quality, and affordable – just like everything else they make.

Jason Brozek is an ultramarathon runner, lapsed Ironman triathlete, and professor at a small liberal arts college, where he teaches courses on sustainability and international politics.