Friday, August 28, 2015

Topo Athletic Magnifly Review

Topo Athletic is one of the companies that you might not have heard of yet.  You should probably check them out though.  I am a huge fan, not only of the products they produce, but the thoughts behind the design of their shoes. 

Topo Athletic was founded in 2012 by Tony Post.  Tony was the CEO of Vibram USA throughout the birth of the FiveFingers revolution and has over 30 years in the shoe industry.  Tony left his position at Vibram USA to start Topo Athletic with the desire to create a shoe company that would help you train smarter.  He didn’t like how most shoes squished your toes, which is where the wide toe box comes into play.  He wanted to make a shoe that was nimble and allowed you to stay connected with the ground (i.e. feel the ground as you run). 

Topo Athletic 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 wide toe box is also found in Altra and Skora shoes. 

I have tested 5 shoes from Topo Athletic and have been impressed with every one.  Here are some of my past reviews.

Topo Athletic has always produced zero drop shoes in the past.  They recently introduced the Magnifly, which comes with a 5mm heel drop.  If you are used to running in a higher heel drop shoe (if you don’t know what heel drop is, you are probably running in a higher heel drop) this would be a good shoe to start transitioning to a lower heel drop platform.  By running in a zero drop or low drop shoe, you allow your body to be in a better alignment, which will help reduce injuries.

I recently developed Achilles tendonitis in my right heel and I was instructed by my Podiatrist to wear a shoe with a little bit of heel drop (5-8mm) for a while to let my injury get better.  The Magnifly came just in time.  The look and feel of the Magnifly fell in line with the rest of Topo Athletic’s shoe line.  They were light weight at only 8.8 ounces and is very flexible.  The Mangifly has a dual density foam midsole that allows zoned response and plenty of cushioning without sacrificing that feeling that you are connected with the ground.

I love the Magnifly!  It took key features of the Topo Athletic shoe line that I have become accustomed to and added the 5mm heel drop instead 0mm.  The shoes allow for a fast, responsive ride.  I can just go out and enjoy my run.  I can’t ask for anything more from a shoe. 

Light weight (8.8 ounces)
Wide toe box allows toes to spread out
Dual density foam provides responsive ride
Low heel drop (5 mm)
Great price ($110 at the Topo Athletic website)

Topo Athletic’s Social Media Links:

I have not found a Topo Athletic shoe that I have not liked.  The Magnifly is no exception.  With its 5mm heel drop, dual density foam midsole and durable materials, this is a great shoe for the anyone, especially those who want to transition to a lower heel drop.  At $110, this is a shoe you should definitely put in your shoe rotation.  You can get your pair at the Topo Athletic website. 

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, August 14, 2015

Pearl Izumi E: Motion Road N2 Review

Pearl Izumi was started over 50 years ago in Tokyo, Japan by a father who wanted to make bicycle racing clothing for his son.  It has become one of the largest makers of cycling apparel in the world.  The name Pearl Izumi means “fountain of pearl” and was named after Izumi, which is an area of Japan known for its clear water and the gem, pearl.  They have been selling their gear in the United States since 1981 and have branched out into selling gear for running and triathlons as well.  

I have been using Pearl Izumi cycling products for over 15 years and have found that the quality of their gear is top notch.  The durability and design has never left me disappointed.  I was excited to give the N2 running shoe a try as I have several friends who run in Pearl Izumi shoes. 

I first got the Pearl Izumi E: Motion Road N2, Version 2 in the mail about a month ago.  The first thing that I noticed was that the upper material was a light weight mesh and the shoes had a lifted toe, which should help when you push off with your toes, much like the rocker design of other brands.  The shoes felt like they were a decent weight (9.6 ounces) and the materials seemed durable.  I did notice that the outsole seemed somewhat stiff, so I was eager to take it out for a test run.

I took the shoes out for a 5 mile test run to see how they felt.  I was very pleased right off the bat with how my feel felt in the shoes.  The upper material is made with a 3-D seamless upper which uses a light weight mesh that kept my feet cool and comfortable.  The upper should be beneficial for people with both wide and narrow feet. 

I felt like there was a decent amount of cushion.  Pearl Izumi used an energy foam for their cushioning and I felt like it gave back a decent amount of energy.  The front of the shoe has blown rubber for the outsole and the heel and crash pad has carbon rubber.  The result is a very durable outsole with plenty of traction and cushion. 

I did feel like the shoes were a little stiffer than some of the shoes I have run in.  I was concerned at first with how that would feel later in my run.  I was surprised that the shoes felt great for all five miles.  I decided to take it out for 10 mile run later that week to see how they would do on the hills and at a faster pace.  Again I was very pleased with the results.  My feet felt good and there was plenty of cushion, even going back down the hills, when I tend to put more pressure on my feet.  These shoes felt even better when I decided to pick up the pace. 
Decent price at $120
Not too heavy at 9.6 ounces.
The shoe felt great on short and long runs

The outsole was a little stiff, but I didn’t feel like it was an issue.

The first version of the Motion N2 was one of Pearl Izumi’s best selling shoes.  While I never tried the first version, the second version is great.  I love how airy they are and how they left my feet feeling great, even after a hard 10 mile hill run.  I would definitely buy these shoes again.  I had high hopes for Pearl Izumi shoes based on my experience with their cycling gear and I wasn’t disappointed.  Pick up your pair at your local running store (click here for locations) or at the Pearl Izumi Website.

Pearl Izumi’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.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Buddy Pouch H2O and Buddy Brite Review

The Running Buddy was created by Julie Bradfield.  Julie wanted to create a belt-free storage option that she could put more than one energy gel in.  After spending over two years and over 100 miles of testing, the RunningBuddy was created.  It uses powerful magnets to hold the pouch on your pants of shorts.  The Buddy Pouch H2O uses the same technology and securely holds the pouch in place. 

I found that the Buddy Pouch H2O has some definite benefits and one drawback.  For shorter runs, this is a great way to bring a little water without having to hold it.  The bottle holds 7 ounces, which isn’t that much, and is really my only big issue.  As with the other Running Buddy products, the magnetic system that holds this pouch in place does a great job.  If you wear shorts that are way too loose, the pouch might bounce around a little, but it will not break free.  Those magnets are awesome!  The bottle slides in and out of the pouch easily, but will not fall out on your run, unless you decide to take a cartwheel break or bust out some handstand pushups.  The Buddy Pouch H2O is $14.99 and you can purchase it from the Running Buddy website, at Amazon, or at select store (click here for a list of stores).

Magnets securely attach pouch to your shorts or pants
Holds water for shorter runs
You can use the pouch to store other items as well

The bottle only stores 7 ounces so this probably isn’t for long runs

The other product that I received to test was the BuddyBrite.  It is a light that simply clips onto your shoe using pressure and some little grippy spikes.  You can buy the Buddy Brite with either a green or red light.  When you press the button the first time, it provides a solid light.  If you press the button again, the light flashes for added visibility.  You can replace the batteries in this unit when the time comes (Running Buddy says the batteries will last 100 hours) as well. 

I am a huge advocate for running safety, especially at night when visibility is limited.  I think the Buddy Brite is a great product at a great price.  The light is very bright and the unit is light weight, so you shouldn’t even know that it’s attached to your shoe.  The way it attaches to your shoe will also not ruin your shoes, which is always a positive thing.  The Buddy Brite is $13.99 and you can purchase it from the Running Buddy website, at Amazon, or at select store (click here for a list of stores).

Long battery life
Improves safety with LED Lights
Attaches easily to most shoes

Running Buddy has come out with two more great products in the Buddy Pouch H2O and Buddy Brite.  If their use would fit your running needs, I would definitely recommend these products. They are made with premium materials should last for a very long time.  I still use my Running Buddy pouch and it works just as good as the day I got it (in December 2014).  Check them out and let me know what you think.

Running Buddy 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.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

2XU GHST Tech Tee Review

There are so many tech tees out there.  Some offer a cooling effect, while some offer compression, but most shirts out there are nothing special.  The rep from 2XU said that she was going to send me the GHST tech tee to test out.  She said “This is a great summer weight piece – The lightest piece we have ever made and one of the lightest on the market.  UPF 50 & moisture wicking, we are very proud of this top but would love to have you try!”  OK, that is a very bold statement.  I couldn’t wait to put it to the test.

2XU was founded in 2005 out of Melbourne, Australia.  2XU stands for “Two Times You” which symbolizes the multiplication of human performance.  They offer an extensive line of sports clothing for people out on the road, in the water, on the snow, or in the gym.  They offer compression gear, socks, hats, wetsuits, and much more.  2XU’s gear has been worn by some of the best athletes in the world. 

I got the Orange GHST tech tee in the mail and my first impression is that the 2XU rep was right, it was really light.  I know what you are thinking, how much difference does a few ounces make, right?  It wasn’t just the weight; the material was very airy.  I could tell that it would allow air to flow through the shirt, which would not only help to cool me down while I was running, but it would aid in evaporating the sweat and keeping the shirt dry.

I took it out for a hard 10 mile hilly run.  I was pushing a fairly hard pace and it was very hot out.  I could tell in the first 5 minutes how much I was going to love the GHST.  Like I said earlier, most tech tees are nothing special.  I have run across a few shirts that stand above the rest, but this shirt is amazing!  I didn’t feel restricted, it did not stick to my back when the sweat really started flowing, and I did feel the air flow through the shirt (keeping me cooler). 

There were only two negative things that I could point out.  The first being that because the material is so thin, it showed off my moobies (aka man boobs).  Not a big deal though.  The other thing is that the shirt is on sale at the 2XU website for $51.99 + shipping.  It is on the high side for running shirts and I don’t know if I would have paid for a shirt that expensive.  I can say that it is definitely worth every penny though. 

Uses X Lite Pro - the world’s lightest specialist running fabric (weighs 86 grams)
Minimal seams
Special fabric to keep you cool (can lower your skin temp by 5 degrees)
Contoured raglan sleeves provide a comfortable fit.
UPF 50 fabric protection from the sun

A tad bit pricey at $51.99 (but worth every penny)

I will just come out and say it now.  The 2XU GHST is the best tech tee on the market.  While I have not tried every shirt out there, the materials, fit and feel are amazing and I couldn’t imagine a better shirt.  This would be on my list for products of the year in 2015 for sure.  Grab the GHST for yourself at the 2XU website or at your local running shop and let me know what you think.

2XU 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.