Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Swiftwick Aspire Socks Review

So I ran across an add on Facebook for Swiftwick socks.  It said, “We make the best socks you will ever wear…GUARANTEED!”  I thought to myself, that is a very bold statement.  I have been running in Injiji toe socks for over a year now and they have been my go to socks.  They let my toes splay (or spread out) allowing for greater stability, especially in my wide toe box shoes.  I contacted Swiftwick and they sent me a few pairs of their Aspire series socks to try.  I have given them a thorough testing and here are my thoughts.

When I opened the packaging, I could tell from the start that these socks were very well put together.  Swiftwick prides itself on using the best technology to make the best socks in the industry.  They utilize a 200 needle knitting process, which is the highest thread count in the sock business, resulting in a sock that has a tighter knit.  This prevents dirt and debris from coming through your socks, causing irritation.  The socks fit so well that it felt like they were a part of my foot.  There is no bunching or movement of the socks, even when running on trails where your feet slide around a little. 

Swiftwick produces every single sock in the United States.  They feel that it allows them to have better control on the quality of the materials that they use and the product that they produce.  They want to not only create a great product, but do so using environmentally friendly means.  Swiftwick also wants to make sure the customer is always happy.  They offer a guarantee that is better than most companies offer.  “We unconditionally guarantee every Swiftwick product to be the best performance product you have ever worn, or we invite you to mail us the laundered socks and a request for a competitor’s replacement pair of equal value.”  I like that they do ask for you to clean it and not send your smelly socks.

I received the Aspire Zero in black, which is a light weight, thin sock that stops below the ankle.  It uses managed compression to support all three arches (I only thought we had one arch, who knew) and their Linked-Toe design to eliminate bunching, which can cause hot spots and blisters.  They wick moisture better than any sock I have tried and even after months of testing, they look just as good as the day I first put them on.

I also received the Aspire Four in Razzle Red.  The Four stands for four inches of ankle support, where the Zero has no ankle support.  The Aspire Four utilizes Swiftwick’s double cuff rises, which prevent the sock from slipping down, ever.  It also has all of the same features as the Aspire Zero.  

Pros:
Very comfortable
Hot spot and blister free
Extremely durable
Made in the USA
Best guarantee in the business

Cons:
I only have 2 pairs.
They start at $12.99, so they are a little pricey.

Do Swiftwick socks live up to their claims of being the best socks I will ever wear?  Much to my surprise, they do.  I love these socks!  While they might be a little pricey, they are extremely durable and will last for quite a while (longer than cheaper socks).  They are made in the USA and use the best materials and technologies available to create a superior product.  I have no problem spending a few extra dollars to get such a great product.  I will definitely be buying me a few more pairs to add to my collection. 

Give them a try and let me know what you think.  What do you have to lose?  If you don’t like them, Swiftwick will buy you a pair of your favorite socks as a replacement.  You can buy them starting at $12.99 for the Aspire Zero and $16.99 for the Aspire Four.  They also have various other sizes and several colors to choose from.  Go to Swiftwick or Amazon to get yours today.


Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Altra Instinct 3 Review



Altra is one of the innovators of the wide toe box and utilizing zero heel drop in their shoes.  I love Altra from the shoes they put out to the company’s belief that its shoes can help people run better and help them realize that there are zero limits to what they can accomplish. 

 

I received a pair of the Altra Instinct 3 to review and couldn’t wait to put them on.  I have been running in the Instinct 2 for quite a while and love them (click here for my Instinct 2 review).  My one complaint after all this time with the Instinct 2 is that while they are extremely comfortable, I feel that they are a little squishy and could rob you of power.  That being said, they are perfect for training, just not ideal for speed workouts or race day.  Will the Instinct 3 solve that issue?  Let’s compare the Instinct 2 and Instinct 3.


Stack Height
25 mm.
24 mm.
Heel Drop
0 mm (as with all Altra shoes)
0 mm (as with all Altra shoes)
Weight
9.5 oz.
8.1 oz.
Midsole Material
Dual Layer EVA/A-Bound Blend
Ultralight EVA/A-Bound Blend w/ Innerflex
Outsole Material
Footpod Outsole
Footpod Outsole
Insole
5 mm. Contour Footbed
6 mm. Contour Footbed

The Instinct 3 has a redesigned midsole and outsole.  The upper material is more durable.  The midsole is more flexible and therefore is more responsive.  The biggest change though is that they shaved off 1.4 ounces and made the ride less squishy.  I would be willing to take the Instinct 3 out for speed workouts or utilizing them on race day with the changes that Altra made. 

I only found one negative thing about the Instinct 3, which was more user error than anything.  The bottom of the tongue on the inside of the shoe, right near my toes, folded under and irritated my foot. This is a different design than the Instinct 2 and once I figured out what felt weird, I was able to correct it quickly.  It has not been an issue since that point.

Pros:
Very comfortable
Zero heel drop
Very light
Plenty of cushion
Great price (As low as $110 at Altra)

Cons:
Weird tongue design.

I have to be completely honest.  I love these shoes.  These are awesome shoes for anything from running hills to speed workouts to your long training runs.  Altra continues to make amazing shoes and they definitely did not disappoint me with the Instinct 3.  Give them a try and let me know what you think.  If you are not used to zero drop shoes, there can be a small break in period, but I have become a stronger, more injury free runner since I primarily switched to zero drop shoes. You can pick up a pair for around $110 at Altra or Amazon.


Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Topo Athletic Fli-Lyte Review

The Fli-Lyte by Topo Athletic is a follow-up to the popular Runduro (click here for my pastreview of the Runduro).  The Runduro is a great shoe that offers the Boa lacing system, which they chose to not include with the Fli-Lyte.  It is a change that improved the overall fit of the shoe, in my opinion.  The first thing I noticed when trying on the Fli-Lyte was that it fit like a glove.    

TopoAthletic shoes fit snug in the heel and midfoot, while it they are loose in the toebox.  This wide toe box allows your toes to spread out.  This will not only help you be more stable, but will also reduce foot injuries commonly caused by shoes that compress your toes. The Fli-Lyte definitely follows the TopoAthletic model. 

The Fli-Lyte has a 3mm heel drop and weighs in at 8.2 ounces for a men’s size 9.  This shoe has plenty of cushion to protect your feet while allowing you to have a good connection, or feel, with the ground.  They use very light weight mesh and state of the art printing techniques to reduce the weight of the shoe without sacrificing durability.

The Fli-Lyte is a great looking shoe that comes in two color options, black and orange or green and black.  I feel that they made some great decisions with the changes since the Runduro and I can say that the Fli-Lyte has made its way into my permanent shoe rotation.  Not only is it great for running, but I love using it for cross training at the gym as well.  The price is great too at $100.  You can buy them at the Topo Athletic site or at Amazon.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 Review



I have been reading about how Skechers is putting out great performance running shoes for some time now and after testing two of their shoes, I have to agree.  The GOrun Ultra series has received some really good reviews as well.  I was excited when I got the news about testing the GOrun Ultra 2.  It is a more cushioned shoe, but I found that I could still feel the ground at foot strike, which I feel is an important part of keeping a good form.

The GOrun Ultra 2 uses Resalyte cushioning, which customers have reported holds up well, even after several hundred miles.  The bottom of the shoe has what Skechers calls GOimpulse sensors, or lugs that will provide great traction on different types of terrain.   

While many of my shoes have a more minimal heel drop (0-4 mm), I found the 4 mm (8 mm with the insole) heel drop in the GOrun Ultra 2 was still comfortable.  The shape of the shoe promotes a mid foot strike as well.  The shoe utilizes a combination of synthetic and mesh in its construction which I found to be easy to clean while still allowing the material to stretch for a great fit.  The 4-way stretch material really hugs your foot and feels great.

I have run both on the road and on trails with this shoe.  Many trail shoes are made with a thinner outsole which allows you to feel the sharp rocks under your feet, even with a rock plate.  The GOrun Ultra 2 has enough cushioning to eliminate that feeling.  I felt that it was very responsive and stable, never once feeling like my ankle was going to roll, which I can’t say for all shoes with maximal cushioning like Hoka’s.  On the road, the shoe preformed equally as well providing stability and cushioning to help you put in those long miles without beating up your body, as much.

This is a great shoe at a great price, costing a mere $90.  If you are looking for a great training or long distance shoe, give the GOrun Ultra 2 a try.


Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Topo Athletic Runventure Review



One of my favorite trail shoes has to be the Topo Athletic MT (Mountain Trainer).  I did a review of them on September 17, 2014 (Click here for the MT review).  The Runventure was released in 2015 and I was excited to see what changes they made.  It would be hard to top the MT, in my opinion.

The MT (8.2oz.) is about 0.7 ounces lighter than the Runventure (8.9 oz.).  I felt like the MT is great for trails without sharp rocks.  It was quick and agile, even up steep granite outcrops.  Both shoes have a 2mm drop, which I love.  Having a minimal drop puts your body in better alignment, which will help maintain a better running form and prevent injuries that higher heel drops can cause. 

The Runventure definitely feels like it has more protection from sharp rocks than the MT, but it still has plenty of flexibility.  As with all of the Topo Athletic shoes I have tried, you have an excellent connection with the ground, meaning that you feel when your foot connects to the ground.  I find that I pay more attention to my form when that connection is there.  Keep in mind that Topo Athletic shoes have less cushion than your typical shoe, but I personally find them to have plenty of cushioning.

The Runventure has a fully gusseted tongue, which means that it is sewn all the way up to the laces.  This will reduce the amount of dirt and rocks that make their way into your shoes.  This is an important feature in all trail shoes.  Another great feature of the Runventure is the dual layer tear resistant mesh, which will help your shoes endure mile after mile of the harsh trails.   

TopoAthletic shoes fit snug in the heel and midfoot, while it they are loose in the toebox.  This wide toe box allows your toes to spread out.  This will not only help you be more stable, but will also reduce foot injuries commonly caused by shoes that compress your toes. The Runventure fits like a glove.  I love the way it feels as it almost feels like it’s a part of my foot. 

The Runventure is a great looking shoe that feels great and performs even better.  The extra protection under your feet was a great addition and I can’t wait to put some more miles on these shoes.  The price is great too at $110.  You can buy them at the TopoAthletic site or at Amazon.

Instagram 

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Runningluv Towel Review

So I sweat a lot when I run, especially in the hot California Summers.  I used to take old wash cloths with me and just keep them in my pocket.  The problem is that they take up a lot of space and make my shorts feel weird.  Also, on more than one occasion, I have put my hand in my pocket to grab the wash cloth, only to find my pocket empty. 

I ran across a product called the Runningluv towel.  It is towel and so much more.  Their mottos are “catch what runs.” and “A Towel. A Tissue. It Solves The Issue.”  Runningluv was started in 2011 by Danielle Aiken who started running with her husband to change their lifestyle.  Danielle wanted to create a drop free tissue to tackle her runny nose.  The Runningluv towel was the end result.

The Runningluv towel is made up of a lightweight Lycra/spandex and nylon band.  It has a two sided towel that attaches to it.  One side is an absorbent, antimicrobial towel that will hold 4 times as much as a normal towel.  The other side is soft and gentle on your skin. 
The Runningluv towel can be wrapped around your wrist, palm, or just hang free.  I like wrapping it around the palm of my hand.  I used this towel in a complete downpour for 2 hours and it kept soaking up the water off of my face.  Amazing!  The materials are durable and continue to be soft after over 15 washes, it is still holding up.  The only downside is that I only have one.  I will be buying another in the near future.    
Let’s just say that my days of running with a nasty
old wash cloth are over, thanks to my new

Runningluv towel.  They start at $12 and come in over 35 color combinations to match your personality.  They can be purchased at http://www.runningluv.com/.



Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.