QALO headbank quick dry towel with boxer
(Photo/Kendra Smith)

Not Just Rings: QALO ‘Active’ Gear First Look

QALO has more than your fingers covered with its debut line of apparel and workout gear.

Walk around the crag, the gym, or the trails and you’ll see: Everybody who’s anybody has a silicone ring (you know, if they have somebody). These seemingly innocuous replacements for the standard gold wedding bands — and other metal rings — revolutionized how active outdoor couples and individuals think about their jewelry.

But one of the leaders in the silicone ring space, QALO, has taken its adventure-minded business to the next level — apparel and gear. Launched this summer, QALO Active adds athletic shirts, shorts, headbands, packable towels, and more.

We tried out some of the first pieces from the QALO Active line to see what they bring to the adventure table.

In short: QALO isn’t breaking the mold with its Active line, but it is coming correct with the construction and quality. The brand leans into its silicone roots to add some unique performance features. So, fans of the brand and those shopping for an outdoor-ready ring might fill their cart with a head-to-toe — er, finger — kit.

QALO Active Athletic Apparel

We tested a handful of products in our first look: the Athleisure Tee and Training Short, Sport Headband, Quick Dry Towel, and No-Tie Laces. The shirt and shorts were produced in collaboration with fitness brand Born Primitive.

No-Tie Laces

Unexpectedly, the star of the QALO Active show, for me, was the No-Tie Laces. These stretchy little suckers make a bold, set-it-and-forget-it claim. According to QALO, the combination of spandex stretch and silicone stick will free users from having to tie and untie their shoes.

The stretch part, I get. But the crux of this proposed breakthrough is the silicone accents dotting the laces (you can feel them as you run your fingers down them). It feels like, well, tiny chopped-up bits of silicone ring, actually.

qualo no-tie laces on altra lone peak shoes
(Photo/Adam Ruggiero)

QALO wouldn’t know it, but if these laces indeed removed knots from my footwear, I’d sing its praises far and wide. You see, sometime between kindergarten and age 40, I forgot how to untie my shoes without creating some heinously stubborn, knotted mess. I know I’m supposed to grab a rabbit by the ears, yank it around a tree, and shove it into a hole, or something horrific like that, but shoe-tying has increasingly turned into a daily headache.

What’s more, I’ve obsessed over different ways to lace my shoes to accommodate high arches. In fact, I wrote a whole story on the best way to lace your running shoes based on foot type. But if QALO’s No-Tie laces indeed stretched and held as they advertised, they might also negate the need for me to loop them up in unique and confounding ways.

So, does it work? I am pleased to say, sort of. I laced these up — the standard way — on a pair of old Altra Lone Peak trail shoes. The good news is that they sure do flex and I’m convinced I won’t have to worry about special lacing schemes.

What’s more, the silicone bits do their sticky job admirably. These laces did not come untied on their own. This is great news for anyone frustrated by stopping mid-run to retie or retighten their laces.

That said, while I could slip the shoes off without untying them, I simply could not slide back into them. Try as I might, I still have to untie the shoes to Cinderella my way back into my sneaks without a shoehorn.

While $8 may seem hefty for a pair of shoelaces, I’d argue it’s a pretty solid deal for reflective, stretchy laces that won’t come untied and will likely last longer than the shoes they’re in.

Check ‘Em Out

Sport Headband, Quick-Dry Towel

QALO gave similar treatment to its Sport Headband. Like the laces, it incorporates a mix of spandex stretch and silicone stick. As someone who now and again finds himself with longer hair on an even longer summer run, this headband is solid. It’s nothing revolutionary, but the silicone inlays will keep this in place no matter how much you sweat.

qalo headband and towel
(Photo/Kendra Smith)

And the Quick-Dry Towel, though not groundbreaking, is a perfect packable add-on to any workout. I took it along for a couple of heavy bag routines in dog days of Arkansas summer, and made good use of it. The towel is very soft and very stretchable. So you get more surface area for your buck, without having to drape a giant beach towel over a rack.

And, as advertised, both go from wet to dry in minutes. The headband runs $12 and the towel $16. But you can also snag the Active Bundles, which include the laces, headband, and towel for $28.

Check ‘Em Out

Athleisure Tee, Training Short

QALO’s apparel line results from a branded collaboration with Born Primitive. These are perfectly functional activewear pieces, but nothing we haven’t seen before. The construction is a mix of polyester and spandex. Both items are moisture-wicking and dry relatively quickly — it’s mostly no frills and only light branding.

QALO activewear stretching
(Photo/Kendra Smith)

The shorts run a 7-inch inseam with two open hand pockets and a rear zippered pocket on the left side. This is big enough to hold a modern smartphone, though that’s a polarizing preference while running for many.

If there’s a particular upside to the shirt/short combo here, it’s the price. It’s not the absolute lowest price on the market — at $45 for the tee and $55 for the shorts, they’re certainly not the most expensive options we’ve seen in technical activewear.

If you want to save money on shipping — or driving — you can toss these in with QALO’s more standout items and get it all in one big box.

Overall, I’d say if you’re in the market for rings — if you need suggestions, we’ve got you covered — you can poke around QALO’s site and add a few other outdoor essentials knowing they’re solidly built, and save yourself the extra shopping.

Check ‘Em Out

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Adam Ruggiero
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Adam Ruggiero is the editor-in-chief of GearJunkie and a fan of virtually all sports and activities. From biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming — if it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.