Wednesday, August 30, 2017

MudGear Calf Sleeves and Race Jersey v3 Review

Since I started trail running, there have been situations that I had to get used to.  Running on the road, I rarely ended up with soggy feet other than a few months out of the year (I am blessed to live in Northern California).  Running on the trails though meant running through creeks or just stepping in a river to cool of my aching joints or swelling feet. 

I ran across MudGear late in 2016 when I was training for my first ultra-marathon, the Salmon Falls 50k (Folsom, CA). MudGear’s products are built in world-class manufacturing facilities and their gear has been designed by legends in the industry.  The idea began using the name F3, which was named after a group in Charlotte, NC that met to do outdoor, military-style boot camp workouts.  They started by making gear for that group.  The company grew to making apparel for people who did Obstacle Couse Racing (OCR).  Here is a link to my MudGear Trail Socks Review.  They were excellent at keeping my feet dry and comfortable, even after several creek crossings. 

They wanted to make strong gear that could hold up to the tremendous stress that OCR puts on clothing and other gear. Their first custom product was the MudGear Fitted Race Jersey.  It took several tries before getting the fit and feel right because they wanted a shirt that didn’t become saturated with water and mud.  They went into production in 2012 and their items started to hit the shelves in late 2013.   I was excited to test out some of the new products from MudGear including the Compression Calf Sleeves that were just released and the Fitted Race Jersey V3 Short Sleeve, which should be available any day now.

Compression Calf Sleeves

I have tested several compression socks and sleeves over the years and have a difficult time finding a pair that doesn’t make my feet blister or feel overly compressed.  I reviewed the Compression Obstacle Race Socks from MudGear in the same review as the trail socks.  They are not only comfortable, but they don’t overly-compress my feet and I have never got blisters or hot spots in them (a common problem when I trail run or run long distances on the road).  To be honest, I prefer calf sleeves to compression socks and typically only use compression gear for recovery after long runs or races.

The Compression Calf Sleeves have the same specs as the Compression Obstacle Race Socks, which are made with 168 needlepoint compression and use a tougher yarn for a superior compression that will help you perform at your best while being tough enough to handle whatever stands in your way.  There is a built in layer of padding on the lower leg and calf to protect OCR participants against rope burns and other injuries.  That extra layer could be beneficial for trail runners when a rock gets kicked in your direction, or in my case, when I get tired and kick my own leg.

I have been using the Compression Calf Sleeves after almost every long run and it is the most comfortable calf sleeve that I own.  It’s soft material and gradual compression really does feel great while I am wearing it, providing just the right amount of compression.  It really does allow me to recover more quickly so I can get the most out of my training.  You can get your pair of Compression Calf Sleeves for $37 at the MudGear website.

Awesome fit
Excellent breathability and moisture wicking
Graduated compression works to help fight fatigue and speed recovery
Soft, comfortable material
Great price at $37 per pair

Fitted Race Jersey v3 Short Sleeve

I also got the all new Fitted Race Jersey V3 Short Sleeve to review.  It’s a form fitting shirt, which has its advantages and disadvantages.  It does a great job of staying in place and looks awesome if you are fit.  If you are on the larger side though, it will make those love handles a little more apparent (I guess I should cut back on my sweets). 

The Fitted Race Jersey V3 Short Sleeve is made of a custom poly blend that makes the shirt extremely tough while not taking away from its breathability and moisture wicking capabilities.  They use a honeycomb 4-way stretch technology that will stay close to your skin while not being a compression top, which can be restrictive.  This shirt will allow you to perform at your best and not hinder you or get caught on an obstacle.

The shirt is made with heavy-duty, flat-lock stitching that not only adds durability, but also eliminates chaffing.  The Fitted Race Jersey V3 Short Sleeve was designed to be used on the OCR course but would be great for road and trail running as well as in the gym.  It protects you on the OCR course so you don’t get trashed as badly and can even be useful while trail running, since tree branches and thorns can leave you scraped up normally.

The version that I tested has a huge MudGear logo on the front and the American flag on the arm, both logos are grey in color.  This is the version that will be out in a few days.  The links in this post are for a version that does not have the same logos, but has the same technology.  I used this jersey in numerous runs from cool morning runs at 4:00am to lunch runs in 100 degree heat.  The one thing about this shirt is that it simply felt and performed great.  I also love the fact that this is their first version to be made 100% made in the USA, from the hang tags to the labels.  The construction and materials are definitely top notch.  You can get your Fitted Race Jersey V3 Short Sleeve for $39 at the MudGear website.

Awesome fit (for more athletic body types)
Excellent breathability and moisture wicking
Moisture wicking and breathable
Dries quickly
Great price at $39

If you have a muffin top like me, it well make it more apparent.

MudGear’s Social Media Links

I love both the Compression Calf Sleeves and Fitted Race Jersey V3 Short Sleeve from MudGear.  They not only are extremely durable, but comfortable as well.  I am always looking for great running gear that will help me preform at my best and help me to recover more efficiently.  These MudGear products, as with the socks that I reviewed in the past, sell for a decent price and are extremely durable.  My conclusion is that they are a great value.  Give them a try and let me know if you come to the same conclusion.

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 11, 2017

Hoka One One Speedgoat 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 increased energy return, meaning that the shoes will provide more of a spring than lesser cushioned shoes. 

I have reviewed several shoes from Hoka One One in the past.  Click the links below to read my reviews.

Hoka One One has been winning awards for many of their shoes.  The original Clifton won multiple awards while the Clifton 2 won the Summer 2015 “Editor’s Choice for Best Ride” from  The Clayton won the September 2016 “Editor’s Choice” award from Runner’s World and the Clifton 3 won the 2016 “Best Update” award from  Hoka One One has proven that they know how to make some killer shoes so I branched out and tested one of their trail shoes earlier this year, a month before my first 50k.  I wanted to see how they stacked up.  I loved the Challenger ATR 3’s so much that I’ve since run all three of my ultra-races this year with them.  The ATR3’s had the perfect mix of cushion, comfort, responsiveness, and they drain moisture better than any shoe I have run in.  This is important for trail races. 

I just finished testing my second trail shoe from Hoka One One, the Speedgoat 2, named after the master of 100-mile trail races (with the most wins at the 100 mile distance) Karl Meltzer.   Hoka One One designed this shoe to handle all types of technical trails and made huge improvements from the first version of the Speedgoat, which had some major flaws.  The new version saw improvements in fit, stability, and durability.  It’s built on a completely new last with a wider midsole, which I love, that helps create a more stable shoe.  Let’s get into the specs.

The Speedgoat 2 weighs in at 9.8 ounces in a men’s size 9 (8.2 ounces in a women’s size 8).  It has a 32mm stack height in the heel and 27.5 mm height in the forefoot giving it a 4.5mm heel drop, which is nice.  These shoes might look like your foot is really high off the ground, but your foot actually sits down inside the midsole rather than on top of it.  Why is this good you might ask?  You get a shoe with more stability for all types of runners without adding weight to try and stabilize your foot like some shoes that completely sit on top of the midsole.  I felt like I was able to really bomb down hills with more confidence and stability than with many other trail shoes that I have tested. 

Since I love the Challenger ATR 3 so much, I wanted to compare the specs with the Speedgoat 2.

9.5 ounces
9.8 ounces
Stack Height
29mm heel/24mm forefoot (5mm drop)
32mm heel/27.5mm forefoot (4.5mm drop)
Rubber and exposed midsole
Vibram® MegaGrip
4mm rubber tipped lugs
5mm multi-directional lugs
Moderate (more stable than ATR3)
Balanced (between responsive & Plush)
Balanced (between responsive & Plush)
Oversized EVA
Oversized EVA
Best draining trail shoe
Ok draining
Not as breathable as the ATR3

Challenger ATR3

Speedgoat 2

Both shoes include an Early Stage Meta-Rocker that is made to propel you forward while promoting a natural gait.  Your foot rolls smoothly from impact to off.  They both are well cushioned, have great traction and feel great mile after mile.  Areas where the Challenger ATR 3 excel are its excellent breathability and drainage, which I found particularly useful right after creek crossings and running through puddles.  They are also a little lighter than the Speedgoat 2 and are made to run both on the road and trail.  The Speedgoat 2 on the other hand have better traction, more cushion, and just feel a little faster and more stable than the Challenger ATR 3.  Different people will prefer one of these shoes over the other for their own personal reasons.  I think they are both really great shoes.

Stable and fast ride on any terrain
Excellent grip with a Vibram® MegaGrip outsole
5mm multi-directional lugs
Plenty of cushion for all types of runs and distances
4.5mm heel drop
Very light 9.8 ounces
Great price ($140 Hoka One One website)

Get a full size larger (fits small)

Hoka One One Social Media Links:

I was really pleased with the Speedgoat 2, especially after reading reviews of the original Speedgoat.  I have wider feet and having a shoe with a wide enough forefoot area is very important to me.  This was not a problem at all in the Speedgoat 2, although I had to get a size 11 (a full size up from my normal shoe) because of the length and fear of the dreaded “black toenails.”  I usually don’t run very fast downhill, mainly due to confidence in the grip of shoes and stability.  Both of those issues were non-existent in the Speedgoat 2 and it allowed me to really take on the downhills with confidence.  Check them out at your local running store (click here for locations), at the Hoka One One website, or at your favorite online retailer.  They are worth checking out and I would love to know what you think.

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.