Thursday, July 30, 2015

XX2i Optics USA 1 Review

XX2i is committed to producing the best possible eyewear for outdoor enthusiasts and stand behind each product they produce with integrity and pride.  They want to insure that you are completely satisfied, no matter what.   XX2i sunglasses are not available in stores from what I could find, but they offer the best warranty that I have seen, anywhere.  You can try them for 365 days and if you don’t like them, you can return them and get your money back.  Also, they have a “no questions asked” lifetime warranty, even if you scratch or break the glasses.

I was very pleased with the France 2 sunglasses when I reviewed them on my blog in June (click here for the review).  They were a great pair of shades for a great price.  I got an email from the rep at XX2i about testing out the USA1 and was excited to test them out as well.

Again, the USA 1 sunglasses start at $59.99, but you could choose to purchase sets with additional lenses for $99.99.  They showed up with a hard case, soft microfiber bag, and a sunglass cord.  The hard case had spots for the sunglasses and separate spots for the lenses as well.  It is the same case setup that came with the France 2, which is one of the best cases that I have received to date.

They wanted to send me the Crystal Clear sunglasses with green temple tips and the Flash Green lenses.  While some people (including my wife) might not care for the color scheme, I really liked it.  If that color scheme doesn’t work for you, they have other colors to choose from.  The USA 1 has anti-fog cutouts, which the France 2 did not have. 

XX2i Optics calls their lenses 4k ultra high definition, a marketing term that refers to Advanced Chromatic Filtering, High Scratch Resistance, Impact Resilience, and Lifetime Warranty.  The lenses were great; clear and did not distort anything.  You can get polarized lenses as well.

Pros:
Very light weight material
Great Value (Starting at $59.99)
Great fit, doesn’t move around or bounce while running
Unbeatable warranty

Cons:
Not available in stores

The France 2 sunglasses fit really well, but the USA 1 fit even better.  These are a premium sunglass without the premium price.  They only cost $59.99, fit great, and have the best warranty in the business.  It doesn’t get any better than that.  Grab a pair today!

XX2i's Social Media Links


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, July 27, 2015

Hoka One One Clifton 2 Review


Hoka One One was the first company to release an oversized foam midsole running shoe in 2010 and the trend has been gaining popularity ever since.  Now most companies have some variation of a highly cushioned shoe.  The founders of Hoka One One wanted to create a larger sweet spot, much like on oversized tennis racquets or skies.  There have been statements both for and against these highly cushioned shoes. 

While they might not be for everyone, there some benefits that the shoe companies are claiming.  They claim that the extra cushion provides a softer ride, which you cannot disagree with.  They also claim that the extra cushion lessens the impact on your joints and can reduce the amount of recovery time needed after long or higher intensity runs.  Another claim is that the extra cushion provides an increase on energy return, meaning that the shoes will provide more of a spring than lesser cushioned shoes. 

I have reviewed the Hoka One One Huaka in 2014, which is still one of my favorite cushioned shoes (click here to view my review).  When I read about the Clifton 2 coming out, I knew I had to get my hands on them. The original Clifton has won multiple awards and despite only being out a month or so, the Clifton 2 has already won the Summer 2015 “Editor’s Choice for Best Ride” from Competitor.com. 

Let’s first look at what made the original Clifton so popular.  It provided tons of cushioning (24mm front and 29mm back) with a 5mm heel drop, which puts your foot and body in a better alignment than many of the shoes with larger heel drops.  It weighed in at a miniscule 7.7 ounces and Hoka claimed that it might quite possibly be the smoothest-riding shoe on the market.  It also had a no sew ultra-light weight upper.  Why am I talking about the original Clifton?  It’s because the Clifton 2 is very similar.

The Clifton 2 took everything people liked about the original Clifton and made changes based on people’s feedback.  They added padding to the tongue to help avoid foot pain and added more structural overlays to make the upper more durable.  While people said that the original Clifton was a little sloppy, the changes with the Clifton 2 took care of that problem.  The Clifton 2 is more stable, especially at higher speeds and going down hills.  They added about 0.6 ounces in the upgrade, but it is still amazingly light at 8.3 ounces. 

I really like this shoe.  I was really worried when I first got it because the toebox is a little narrow.  I have average to narrow feet, and my big toe was touching the side of the shoe.  My biggest concern was getting hotspots or blister from the rubbing.  I only felt this touching when I was standing in the shoe.  As soon as I started to run in it, my foot settled back in the shoes and it never even crossed my mind.  Many people describe running in Hoka shoes like running on clouds.  I definitely felt this way with the Clifton 2. The outsole is extremely durable and provides plenty of grip on the dirt and road.  This is one awesome shoe!

This will be one of the shoes I heavily rely upon when I start my first full marathon training next month.  It has plenty of cushion and I felt like I could just focus on my run.  I have had some heel issues lately and the extra cushion definitely came in handy.  I am really impressed with this shoe and definitely see why both the Clifton and Clifton 2 are winning awards.   I would definitely recommend this shoe, but as with all shoes, they will not work for everyone.  Check them out at your local running store and let me know what you think.   
Pros:
Winner of the Competitor.com Summer 2015 Editor’s Choice for Best Ride
5mm heel drop (still somewhat low)
Very light 8.3 ounces
Plenty of cushion for all types of runs
Great price ($130 Hoka One One website)

Cons:
They are a little narrow in the toebox

Hoka One One Social Media Links:





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, July 20, 2015

SLS3 Compression Socks and Tech Tee Review

The benefits for compression gear have been debated.  Some doctors say it can provide a benefit while some doctors say that using it after your run can aid in recovery.  There are some doctors that say you should use it during and after your runs and other doctors that say that there is no benefit.  I am not a doctor, but I am a huge fan of compression gear, both during and after my races.  I have personally felt the difference and it help me beat shin splints.  That alone is worth the price of admission.

It is said that wearing compression gear improves blood flow inside muscles and the surrounding tissue.  Proper blood flow is essential in performing at your peak and compression gear may really help.  Have you ever had that heavy leg feeling?  Compression gear can assist in getting the blood flowing and allowing the blood in your legs to make it back to your heart.  This process can help move out metabolic waste like Lactic Acid, which will help delay the onset of fatigue.  It also helps to keep you’re the muscles in your legs from vibrating when your feet impact the ground, which is great for people who suffer from shin splints.

Not all compression gear is created equally though.  You want to look for compression gear that says it has graduated compression.  This means that it has the greatest compression in the ankles, which will help send the blood back up your legs.  Many of the cheaper compression sleeves don’t provide true graduated compression.  The optimal pressure range for compression socks and tights is 20-30mmHg.

SLS3 was founded in 2004 by two German triathletes who fell in love and were both very passionate about being triathletes.  They started by making a triathlon suit, short, top and compression socks.    After all, that is all that was needed to do a triathlon and they didn’t have much money.  As they have grown, they started to branch out to cover what their customers wanted.  Now each item is custom designed from scratch and tested by them.  If it meets their high standards, then they put the item into production.  Most of their products are made in the USA.  They believe in keeping a small carbon footprint and partnering with smaller businesses. 

I got to test the Allrounder compression sock and the SLS3tech tee.  I have to admit that I have tried 3 different compression socks from other, well known, companies.  Each of those socks had little padding and the compression on my toes caused blisters, every time I ran in them.  I was very skeptical, but kept an open mind.  The Allrounder does have more padding than many of the compression socks that I have tried.  While they were difficult to put on, as with all compression socks, I felt that they fit very well.  I never felt like the top of the cuff was cutting off my circulation either, which I have had issues with in the past. 

The Allrounder is made with 20-30 mmHg of graduated compression, seamless TekWeb technology to prevent blisters, and premium materials which kept my legs feeling cool and energized during my last half marathon.  They come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee and cost $45.90 each ($27.54 with coupon code RWI40).
Pros:
True graduated compression (20-30 mmHg)
Great fit without causing blisters
May delay the onset of fatigue
May reduce recovery time
Great price ($45.90 at the SLS3 website)

I also got to test out the SLS3 tech tee.  While it is similar to most of the tech tees that I have in my collection, I did feel that the SLS3 tech tee did wick moisture away better than most of my tech tees and fit better as well.  It comes with the SLS3 logo on the front and back.  On the back it also says “Make your impact… swift lickety-split!”  The tech tee has a looser fit to not restrict range of motion and is hip length to provide full coverage.  I really like the tech tee, which you can buy for $34.90 ($20.94 with coupon code RWI40) at the SLS3 website.

I am very pleased with the Allrounder compression socks and SLS3 tech tee.  They are made with premium materials and I feel that you get a good product for a decent price.  I will definitely be buying more of the compression socks as these are the only compression socks that do not give me blisters.  They fit and feel great.  SLS3 is offering 40% of to my readers by using the offer code RWI40 at checkout.

SLS3 Social Media Links:





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.

Friday, July 17, 2015

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante Review


I have heard great things about New Balance shoes, but prior to testing the Fresh Foam Zante, I have never personally tried them.  My wife and several close friends run in NewBalance and love them.  The Fresh Foam Zante has had great reviews so my expectations were set pretty high before I even tried them on.

First of all, what is fresh foam?  It’s New Balance’s foam that provides a supportive, more natural feeling.  Don’t be confused though, it will not feel like you are running on a pair of maximal or minimal shoes but somewhat in between.  I would say that it has the right amount of cushion to tackle long training runs as well as shorter tempo or even speed runs.  The Zante is very responsive and felt great on my first 10 mile test run. 

This shoes has a 6mm heel drop, which I like because it allows you to run with a more natural gait.  It is extremely light at 7.6 ounces.  One of the other things that I really liked about the Zante is that it fit snug to my foot, but didn’t feel constrictive like some other snug fitting shoes. 

The Fresh Foam Zante has won multiple awards including:
Competitor Magazine’s “2015 Road Shoe of the Year”
Triathlete Magazine’s “Best in Class”
Running Network’s “Best Performance Shoe”

Pros:
Has won multiple awards
Great snug fit
6mm heel drop (still somewhat low)
Very light 7.6 ounces
Plenty of cushion for all types of runs
Great price ($100 at the New Balance website)

Cons:
They fit a little small, so I had to send them back for ½ size larger.

After my last race, I talked with the New Balance rep for about 30 minutes.  He talked about some of the features of the Zante like the fact that the fresh foam provides a more energetic feeling and how it returns some of the energy when you are running.  It feels like you are getting a little bit of a toe spring effect as well.  I felt what the rep was describing when I tested out the Zante.  It was easier to keep a higher cadence than with some other shoes that I have tested, which helps with running efficiency.  Overall this is a great shoe at a really good price.  I would expect this type of performance from a shoe that costs $50 more; New Balance definitely brought their A-Game with the Zante.  A little birdie told me that the shoe has some minor changes that will make it even better when the next version of the Zante is released.  This is one shoe that I will be utilizing a lot when my marathon training starts next month. 


New Balance Social Media Links:

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, July 13, 2015

Adventure Medical Kits Review


I am a strong believer in being prepared for anything.  When I go on trail runs, I like to have my hydration pack stocked with matches, a knife, bandages for sprains, and some extra snacks.  You never know if something will happen to you or you will come across someone who needs to be rescued.  My favorite place to trail run has no cell reception either, so being prepared is important.

I came across Adventure Medical Kits, which is a subsidiary of the Tender Corporation.  Tender was founded in 1973 in New Hampshire.  They own several companies that make first aid kits and other remedy products like bug bite and burn products.  Adventure Medical Kits makes great products.  They have everything from large kits that you would take on long backpacking trips to smaller packs like the one that I reviewed, that is good for 1-2 day trips. 

This is a great kit for trail running or hiking.  It comes in a silnylon bag with a DryFlex waterproof bag inside of it.  That way none of your supplies get wet.   It comes with everything you would need for minor medical issues.  Here is a list of what comes in this tiny bag that measures 5.5”x11”x1” and weighs a mere 3.68 ounces. 

Bandages & Dressings
2 - Bandage, Butterfly Closure
1 - Tape, ½” x 10 yards
3 - Easy Access Bandages, Adhesive Fabric, Knuckle
5 - Easy Access Bandages, Adhesive Fabric, 1” x 3”
1 - Bandage, Conforming Gauze, Non-Sterile, 2”
2 - Dressing Gauze, Sterile 3” x 3”, Pkg/2
2 - Dressing Gauze, Sterile 2” x 2”, Pkg/2
1 - Dressing, Non-Adherent, Sterile, 3” x 4”

Cleaning and Topicals
6 - Antiseptic Towelette
3 - Triple Antibiotic Ointment, 1/32 ounce
1 – Skin Tac Adhesive Wipe

Medication
2 - Ibuprofen (200 mg), 2 pk.
2 - Aspirin (325 mg), 2 pk.
2 - Antihistamine (Diphenhydramine 25mg.)
2 - After Bite Sting and Itch Relief Wipe
2 - Acetaminophen (500 mg), 2 pk.

Blister
11 - Moleskin, Pre-Cut and Shaped
2 - Alcohol Swab

Instruments
1 - Splinter Picker/Tick Remover Forceps
3 - Safety Pins

Yes, that is all included and fits in this tiny package.  I have to say that it is amazing that you can get all of this for $17.00 and it easily fits in my hydration pack.  For most minor injuries on the trail, this pack will be more than suitable.  I think this would be a great kit to keep in your gym bag as well for after your runs when you might need to attend to some battle scars. 

Another great product is the BlisterMedic.  It combines the tried and true protection of Moleskin and the advanced relief benefits of Glacier Gel, which stops the pain and starts the recovery process on contact.  The kit also comes with cleaning supplies to make sure you don’t have infection issues.  The kit comes in a bag that measures 4.25”x6.5”x0.5” and only weighs 1.9 ounces.  It comes with:

1 - GlacierGel 1.75”x3” Bandage
1 - GlacierGel 1”x1.25”Bandage
2 - Large Oval Moleskin – 1.75”x3”
4 - Medium Oval Moleskin – 1”x2”
4 - Medium Toe Moleskin – 1”x1.375”
6 - Small Toe Moleskin – 0.75”x1”
6 - Small Strip Moleskin – 0.5”x1.375”
6 - Antiseptic Towelette Pack
6 - Alcohol Wipe Pack

This is another great pack for trail running or your bag, especially on race day.  You never know when a hotspot or blister will occur and this would be great to have during your race or immediately after.  It is a great assortment and comes at a great price.

For those times when you are running on your lunch break or after a race, it is always nice to clean up a little.  I hate having that sweaty coating on my skin, especially if I have to drive an hour to get back home before I can jump in the shower.  Also, cleaning up a little is the nice thing to do prior to getting the free massages that are offered at some races.  Those poor massage therapist shouldn’t have to deal with your sweaty mess!  The travel sized wipes are 8”x5” and the regular sized wipes are 8”x8”.  I prefer the larger wipes because they are easier to use and can do a better job of cleaning.  The wipes come with a solution of vitamins, aloe, and moisturizers, which leave your skin clean and refreshed.  I have used baby wipes in the past and these wipes do a better job by far.  They are non-irritating and come in a resealable package.  Like the other two packs I tested, this would be great in your hydration pack on trail runs, or in your gym bag for after a race.

Pros:
Each product is well priced
Extremely durable packaging
Tons of value
Great assortment of supplies in a small package

I was extremely impressed by all three of the product that I tested and I think you will be too.  They are a great value and are small enough for you to take with you.  You can find Adventure Medical Kits products at REI, Eastern Mountain Sports, Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, Sports Authority, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Dick’s Sports or online at the Adventure Medical Kits’ Website.

Adventure Medical Kits Social Media Links:

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, July 6, 2015

Topo Athletic Halsa Review

I have tested 5 shoes from Topo Athletic and I have not been disappointed yet.  I first tested the Sante and was impressed with how stable it was when I was doing my cross training.  I really liked the Velcro strap that went across the top of my foot and the lateral stabilizer on the outside of the shoe, which help when you need to make quick changes in direction. This really helped with my High Intensity Interval Training.

TopoAthletic shoes come standard with a zero heel drop and wide toe box.  I am a huge advocate for these features because the zero drop puts your body in a more natural alignment, although it does take a few weeks to get used to if you have never run in a zero drop shoe.  It has helped me immensely.  The wide toe box lets your toes spread out when you impact the ground.  It allows for better balance, a more powerful toe off, and reduces the risk of long term foot pain that most shoes can cause because they squish your toes together. 

Topo Athletic introduced the Halsa and it is very similar to the Sante, but I feel it is much better (for me).  They got rid of the Boa lacing system, which was somewhat nice, but I feel that the laces on the Halsa provide a much better, glove like, fit.  I am not saying the Sante is bad shoe by any means.  I really liked the Sante.  For me, I felt that the Halsa is a better fit for my feet.

Pros:
Well priced at $110
Extremely durable
Responsive for lateral movements
Great glove like fit


Cons:
If you want to use these for Olympic style weight lifting, it might not have a wide enough base in the heel (from the feedback I received from a friend).

The Halsa is a great looking shoe that feels great and performs even better than its predecessor.  I feel that the changes that they made provided a better, more secure fit, which is important when you are cross training.  The price is great too at $110.  You can buy them at the TopoAthletic site, online, or at various running shops (click here for locations).

Topo Athletic Social Media Links:

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.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Mino FleX Review


I have been a fan of the Mino shoe life tracker for quite a while (click here for my review of the original Mino).  What first drew me to the Mino was that your shoes only have a life expectancy of 300-500 miles according to the various shoe companies out there.  The problem is that depending on what surface you run on, or if you are really rough on your shoes, they might wear out sooner.  When should you replace your shoes?

I recently read an article from Competitor.com, “4 Signs You Should Retire Your Running Shoes.”  It says that it’s time to replace your shoes when one or more of the following happens:

1) The tread is showing significant wear in one or more areas of the outsole.
2) The insole or sock liner is showing significant wear, which can lead to hotspots and blisters.
3) The midsole looks the good, but you feel like it is not providing the same amount of cushion as before.  (I have seen where the midsole collapses under the constant impact, making it look like a stack of pancakes).
4) If you wear out your laces or you are wearing a hole in the upper material

The article had some good points, although, just because you don’t notice those items, doesn’t mean that your shoes are still protecting your feet.  That is where the Mino comes in.  It is a thin foam insert that goes under your sock liner.  There is a sensor that measures your steps and can tell based upon an advanced algorithm when your shoe should be replaced. 

While the Mino was great, there was some room for improvements.  Introducing the Mino FleX.  It looks very similar to the original Mino in shape.  The colors are different and the indicator lights are labeled better.  The sensor inside the foam is smaller in the Mino FleX and the tape on the back is larger, which will do a better job of holding the Mino FleX in place under your sock liner. 

Pros:
Very light weight material
You don’t even know they are there
Let you know when your shoes need to be replace before you get injured
Inexpensive ($14.99 for one or 3 for $29.99)

Cons:
You will have no excuse to use your shoes longer than you should.

I love the concept of the Mino and the Mino FleX just improved upon the original.  It is lighter and the instructions on the device itself are clearer.  I have a Mino in every shoe I own.  I could have spreadsheets that track my mileage to tell when I hit the magic mileage number or look for wear on the shoes, but I would rather play it safe with the Mino FleX.  You can get yours at the www.runmino.com or at select running stores (Click here for locations) If you order from www.runmino.com, be sure to enter the coupon code "flex" to get free shipping and ensure you get the Mino FleX, not the original Mino. 

Mino Social Media Links: 

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.