Wednesday, September 30, 2015

CamelBak Marathoner Review


I have been using CamelBak hydration packs for about 15 years.  My first one was orange and I used it when cycling.  I still have it and other than the bladder looking pretty old, it still works great.  With my first full marathon coming up, I wanted to test out a few hydration packs.  CamelBak sent me the Marathoner Hydration Pack to try. 

CamelBak started in 1989 when Michael Eidson, who was an EMT by trade, took an IV bag filled with water and stuffed it in a tube sock.  Michael then put the contraption in his bike jersey pocket, put the hose over his shoulder and clamped it with a clothespin.  He wanted to have extra water during the “Hotter’N Hell 100.”  That was the first CamelBak. 


CamelBak feels strongly about “Giving Bak.” They started a program called "We Know Water".  It is designed to teach 4th and 5th graders the benefits of using a reusable bottle.  CamelBak also believes in being environmentally responsible in their day to day operations.  The CamelBak headquarters is located in Petaluma, California.    

I have tested out the CamelBak Marathoner for over a month now.  Hydration packs can get heavy, even before you put in any water.  Not the Marathoner, which weighs in at 11 ounces (pack only).  The included 2-liter reservoir has a quarter turn wide mouth opening for easy filling, which is an improvement over the first versions of the CamelBak.  The hose has a quick connect so you can disconnect the hose before pulling out the reservoir to fill.  It makes the filling process much quicker and easier. 

One of the best features of CamelBak packs is their Big Bite valve.  You get a decent flow of water.  Nothing bugs me more about a pack than having to work really hard to get a few drops of water.  When I am running hard, I don’t want to struggle to get a drink of water.  There are also arms that fold down to keep the reservoir open after you clean it out.  That way the inside of the reservoir can dry completely.

Other cool features of the Marathoner are the multiple pockets, 5 in all.  There are two pockets in the front that are big enough to hold bottles, although I use them to hold gels and my cell phone.  There is an envelope pocket, which is where I put my used gel packs.  You even have a sweat proof pocket for your phone.  I found that it felt better to have my Samsung Galaxy S5 and S6 in one of the front pockets instead of the sweat proof pocket.  Under the reservoir flap, there is another pocket to stash your keys and credit card. 

Pros:
Light Weight, Breathable Materials
Plenty of Storage
2-Liter Resivoir
Great price at $100

CamelBak’s Social Media Links:

The CamelBak Marathoner is an amazing hydration pack for runners.  It is extremely light weight, carries plenty of gear during a run, and holds up to 2 liters of water.  CamelBak has the best hydration bladders and bite valves in the industry and I couldn’t be more impressed by this pack.  You can get yours for $100 at Amazon or at the CamelBak website.  You can also find CamelBak products at your local retailer (click here for locations).  Do yourself a favor and pick one up 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.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The All New Dr. Cool Chemical-Free Cooling Shirt Review



I reviewed a chemical-free cooling shirt from Dr. Cool in May and recently was sent the second generation of the Dr. Cool Chemical-Free Cooling Shirt.   I loved my Dr. Cool Wraps (Click here for my review of their wraps) and the original version of the Dr. Cool Chemical-Free Cooling Shirt (Click here for my review).   Dr. Cool has always made great products and I was sure the new chemical-free cooling shirt would be great as well.

The Claims:
Dr. Cool claims that the shirt delivers three distinct functions to provide chemical free cooling.  It wicks sweat away, circulates moisture, and regulates evaporation.  They claim that by doing so, the fabric’s surface temperature is up to 30 degrees cooler.  They also claim that because they don’t use chemicals like most of their competitors, the cooling effect never washes out.

My Review:
I have been using the original Dr. Cool Chemical-Free Cooling Shirt since May and I do feel that it does keep me cooler than most running shirts. Even if the shirt is wet, you feel cool.  The new Dr. Cool Chemical-Free Cooling Shirt is no different.  It does keep you cooler.  I actually like the new version more because it is lighter and I felt like it did a better job of evaporating moisture.  The shirts are made of superior materials which provide excellent durability.  This shirt should last for quite a while.  My wife tested out the women’s v-neck version.  She usually isn't a fan of running shirts, but really liked this shirt for the same reasons I did.

Pros:
Keeps you cooler than normal running shirts
Great job of wicking away moisture and keeping you dry
Looks great!
Feels soft against your skin

Cons:
It fit a little large, so order one size down


Dr. Cool's Social Media Links
Dr. Cool Blog


The second generation of the Dr. Cool Chemical-Free Cooling Shirt is even better than the first.  I really like that it is chemical free and the cooling effect won’t wash away like other cooling products out there.  It fit well, looks great, and most importantly kept me cooler.  This is one of my go to shirts when I am running in the 80+ degree days here in California.  They have several colors in both men’s and women’s shirts.  Dr. Cool also has cooling hats, headbands, long sleeve shirts.  You can pick up your cooling shirt for $27.99 at the Dr. Cool website or at your local retailer (click here for locations).
   
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, September 23, 2015

Injinji Toe Socks Review


I hung out with a lot of band geeks in high school.  They sure loved their toe socks.  I saw Injinji socks a few years back and I was curious why you would use toe socks.    They offer the benefit of letting your toes splay (spread) while you run.  These are great for people who wear wide toe box shoes made by companies like Altra and Topo Athletic. These socks are funny looking and the first time you use them, they feel a little weird.  With that being said, the weird feeling went away after about 5 minutes and they are some of the most comfortable socks that I own.


There are several benefits of using the Injinji toe socks.  The socks are anatomically designed for your foot, covering each toe and allowing your toes to spread out as they naturally want to.  Normal socks keep your feet restricted.  While you might not feel that this is a big deal, give the toe socks a try and you will realize what I am talking about.  You will gain stability and feel more comfortable as your feet learn to spread out.

 They are great for people who get blisters.  By having no skin on skin contact between your toes, you eliminate that point of friction which can cause blistering.  Each sock is made of moisture wicking material and has seamless toes.  They have a mesh top for more breathability, an arch support band, and an enhanced cuff so your socks don’t slip down.
What are the different running socks Injinji offers?
Injinji offers shoes with different lengths and material types.  First I will talk about the materials.

COOLMAX Fiber is a special fiber that provides superior moisture control and comfort.  This is the most moisture wicking material that Injinji uses.  Most of the socks that I have tried from Injinji used the COOLMAX fibers and I really like it.  My feet never felt wet and I have never had a blister while wearing Injinji socks.

Nuwool is Injinji’s version of merino wool made from the finest wool Australia has to offer.  It is spun tight to provide superior durability and prevent itching.  Because it is merino wool, it provides maximum temperature control, keeps odors at bay, and keeps your feet dry.

Injinji offers 6 different sock lengths and a compression sock, although I have only tried 4.  They have PED, No Show, Micro, Mini-Crew, Crew, and Over the Calf.  I also tried the No show, Micro, Mini-Crew and the compression socks, which is an over the calf sock. 


It is always a personal preference on how much cushioning people like in their socks.  Here is more good news for you.  There are three sock thicknesses to choose from.

The Performance Lightweight sock is ultra-thin, featuring a light and breathable mesh top for maximum ventilation. This sock is ideal for those who want as much ground feel as possible.

The Performance Original weight sock is not too thin, not too thick. It is great for everyday use in any shoe, climate, or terrain. It’s a great go-to sock for sport and casual use, and I do use it for both.

The Performance Midweight sock provides additional padding from the heel to the toes. It features a honeycomb design on top of the foot for added breathability and a light compression for proper fit. If you have sensitive feet and prefer more sock protection you’d like the Midweight.

Pros:
Let’s your toes spread out
Keeps your feet dry and blister free
Very durable
Feel great even after months of washing

Cons:
As most running socks, they start at about $12


I love my Injinji socks.  My favorite ones are the Nuwool mini-crew.  They are so comfortable with the soft merino wool.  Injinji socks are in my top 3 for running socks and I probably have about 10 pair now.  I use them on runs as well as just running errands.  If you haven’t tried them, you definitely should.  Buy them at the Injinji website, Amazon, or click here for your local dealer.

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, September 16, 2015

Oofos Ooriginal Recovery Sandal Review


Many people know, recovery is as important as your training runs.  If you don’t allow yourself to recovery properly, you increase your risk of injury.  Run training builds off your previous runs and recovery.  When you don’t properly recover, your body is building off of stressed muscles, which is when the injury can happen.  There are a few things that I have implemented into my recovery plan that might help you too.

I started stretching every night.  My wife and I sit down to watch tv.  I lay on the ground and stretch for about 10-15 minutes.  I like the OPTP Stretch Out Strap.  I have been focusing mostly on my hamstrings and IT Band, because those are the areas that I need it the most.  The other thing that I have implemented is the use of a recovery sandal.  I have tried a few different brands, but there is one that is my favorite by far. 

Walking in my Oofos Ooriginal recovery sandal is like walking on clouds.  I use them whenever I am home, even if I didn’t run that day.  They are the most comfortable sandals that I have ever put on, by far.  The Ooriginal comes in 4 colors for men and 11 colors for women. 

Most foams that are used in running shoes are made to propel you forward.  The foam used in Oofos is designed to absorb the shock.  This in turn reduces the impact on your back, knees and feet.  This allows you to recover faster.  The one thing that took a little while to get used to was that the arch really comes up into your foot.  This is designed to cradle your arch and take the stress off of your joints.  After about 30 minutes, it felt natural.   It is also designed to flex with your foot, which allows you to walk with a more natural gait.

Oofos are not only awesome because they feel great and let you recover more quickly, but they provide other benefits as well.  They have a closed cell foam, which keeps bacteria and moisture out of your sandals.  You can use these in the shower or even throw them in the washing machine when they need a good cleaning.  The foam is durable and will last the life of the sandal without breaking down as well. 

Pros:
Most comfortable sandal I have ever tried
Great arch support
Many colors and styles to suit your fashion needs
Easy to clean
Foam will not break down over time

Cons:
More expensive than many sandals ($32.96-44.95 depending on where you buy them)

Oofos’ Social Media Links:






I am in love with my Oofos recovery sandals and I have no doubt that you will be too.  From the cushion to the arch support, this is the perfect items to add to your running gear stash.  It has made a huge difference in relieving my tired feet and legs after my long runs.   You should definitely give them a try.  You can buy them at the Oofos website, at Amazon, or at your local retailer (Click here to find a retailer near you).


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.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Topo Athletic Tribute Review


I tested the Topo Athletic Magnifly a few weeks back.  It is a great shoe and if you are thinking of dropping to a lower heel drop shoe, which I personally recommend.  With a 5mm drop, it would be a great transition shoe.  See below for a link to my review.  Topo Athletic also sent me the Tribute to test as well, but because of an injury, I was holding off on testing it.

My Achilles tendonitis finally is getting better, so I headed to the track for some 800 meter (1/2 mile) intervals.  I couldn’t wait to test out the Tribute.  It is a light weight shoe with a zero heel drop.  The temperature over 90 degrees when I hit the track and my feet were the only part of me that wasn’t overheating thanks to the breathable mesh upper on the Tribute. 

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 Tribute weighs in at only 7.2 ounces and it feels extremely light and nimble.  I still felt like I had a little protection under my feet though.  I have run in a few other shoes this light where I felt like I was running barefoot.  My fragile feet can’t handle running with no cushion.  It is a flexible shoe and it provides a stable ride while letting you really lay everything on the line. 

I have tested 6 shoes from Topo Athletic and have been impressed with every one.  Here are some of my past reviews.
 

Pros:
Light weight (7.2 ounces)
Wide toe box allows toes to spread out
Zero heel drop allows for better form and posture
Great price ($100 at the Topo Athletic website)

Topo Athletic’s Social Media Links:

Once again, Topo Athletic proved that it can compete with the big kids on the block.  This feather light shoe comes with a zero heel drop, ventilated mesh upper, flexible outsole, and is a great shoe for speed workouts and races.  It is hard to beat the $100 price tag either.  They are currently sold out of the Black/Green version (at the Topo Athletic website) that I tested, but have other colors available.  You can also get them on Amazon or check the Topo Athletic Store Locator to find a store near you. 

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, September 10, 2015

Skechers GOrun Ultra Road Review

I have been pleased with the Skechers that I have tested in the past.  The GOrun Ultra Road is the sister to the GOrun Ultra 2 (click here for my past review of the GOrun Ultra 2), but is made for running on pavement, hence the name.  I really liked the Ultra 2 for trail running and was curious about how the Ultra Road would measure up.

The first thing that I noticed was that the upper material was made of a breathable mesh.  The Ultra2 is not as breathable and can make my feet a little warm on hot days, but provides more protection on the trails.  The breathable mesh on the Ultra Road really helped to keep my feet cooler. 

The feel of the shoes was another big surprise for me.  The Ultra 2 has a squishy feeling, which is great for trails, but can rob you of energy on the road.  The Ultra Road is more firm, while still providing plenty of cushioning.  I think of it as a max cushion shoe that gives back.  As you toe off, you can feel some of the energy being given back.  It is a very comfortable shoe to run long distances in.

There is a 4mm heel drop, which is lower than many shoes out there and allows for a better posture and running form.  Higher heel drops tend to promote heel striking, which leads to shin splints.  The toe box has plenty of room so your feet can move around, but is not sloppy.  I really liked the way they felt from the moment I put them on.

Okay, so here is the down side…  They are a little on the heavy side, at least for my taste.  They weigh in at 10.4 ounces.  That is not terrible, but I have been running in the Hoka One One Clifton 2, which is extremely light at only 8.3 ounces.  For most people, this is not going to be a big deal though. 

Pros
Inexpensive at $115
Lower heel drop at 4mm
Tons of cushion
Plenty of space in the toebox

Cons
A little on the heavier side at 10.4 ounces

Skechers Social Media Links

Overall the Skechers GOrun Ultra Road is awesome and continues to be one of the shoes I run in weekly.  I was really impressed with the materials that they used and the feeling that the shoes had.  They are a very stable max cushion shoe that comes at great price (only $115 on Skechers.com).  This is another great shoe in the Skechers Performance shoe lineup and you should give these shoes 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.