Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Review New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2-Zante Killer—Killer Zante

Review by Peter Stuart

New Balance Zante V2

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2. Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

The New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2 is a 8.5 oz/241 gram  (men’s 9), 6mm drop neutral running shoe utilizing New Balance's“Fresh Foam” technology. It’s a nice update from the original Zante which, full disclosure, was one of my favorite shoes of last year. So, how did they do on the update? Did they take the magic out of the shoe? Did they ruin a good thing? Or did they improve upon an already great shoe and make it better?

First impressions
The Fresh Foam Zante V2—or the Z2 as I like to call it—is a nice, simple looking shoe. My pair are bright orange with a blue liner. First run in the shoes left me with the impression that the fine folks at NB had left all of the things I liked about the original intact while adding some tweaks that make it an even better—if slightly heavier—shoe.

Upper and Fit 
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2. Photo Credit: Peter Stuart
The upper features various densities of mesh with some welded overlays. The overlays are pretty minor, but hold the foot exceptionally well.
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2. Photo Credit: Peter Stuart
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2. Photo Credit: Peter Stuart
There is more material around the heel counter than there was in the original-and it seems to hold the heel in very nicely without being too stiff. There is a generous (but not too generous) amount of padding around the heel and achilles. 

Fresh Foam Zante v1 Heel Medial Side

Overall the step-in experience of the Z2 is nice and plush. The tongue is attached on the sides from about halfway down and stays nicely in place, despite the lack of a loop for laces to pass through.
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2. Photo Credit: Peter Stuart
The top of the tongue has a section of slightly padded material that both holds the laces in place and keeps away any pressure from the top of the foot—a problem I used to have with the 890.  Laces are flat and stay tied. Overall, the upper is of quality, plush materials and feels great. 

Good news on the fit: The bump under the arch (that seemed to go away with some miles, but was off-putting at first) from the original Zante is gone. So, too, is the slightly too snug mid-foot wrap. The Z2 feels a little wider at the mid-foot. Still a great fit, but it doesn’t have that same claustrophobic mid-foot. It’s a great fitting shoe. The tweaks on the materials and the fit are fairly minor, but make for a better fitting running shoe.
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2 Left, V1 Right
Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

Outsole and Midsole 

Changes in geometry are most evident on the bottom of the shoe. The shoes outsole is a full length piece of lightweight solid rubber that clearly has a different pattern of hexagons than the original Zante.
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V1 Left Zante V2 Right 
It seems the outsole provides a little more forefoot protection than the original. Notice that I said protection and not cushion. The outsole of the Z2 feels just a little bit firmer than the original—which has two noticeable results for me: the transition from ball of foot to toe off feels just a little snappier in the update, and I get a little less forefoot fatigue on long-runs.

Fresh Foam Zante v2
The midsole of the Zante V2 is Fresh Foam. From what I understand, they have changed up the geometry of the hexagons on the midsole, which may affect the overall ride of the shoe.

Editor's Note and Update: New Balance confirms the outsole,while in a different pattern, is the exact same rubber and thickness as V1. The main change in midsole hexagon geometry is a change from concave to convex hexagons in the front of the shoe on the medial (inside). The convex hexagons on the V2would tend to firm up the ride slightly but as the front convex hexagons are also widely separated may also be providing the more snap Peter is feeling. Concave hexagons in V1 would tend to compress more providing more of a cushion feel but also potentially contributing to the foot fatigue Peter felt in V1 as they might be a touch less supportive and protective on toe off.
Fresh Foam Zante v1
The Zante V2 runs like a dream. It’s a Goldilocks shoe for me, everything is just right. Transition is buttery smooth and long miles feel great, but if I want to put a few strides or intervals in they respond really well. They are, as previously mentioned, slightly firmer feeling than the original Zante. I don’t mind it at all—as it allows them to transition through the gait cycle just a little more efficiently. I’ve taken them out on short runs, tempo runs and a 20-miler with some tempo thrown in and they’ve felt great on all runs. They’re sort of a Massachusetts Army Knife—they can do whatever job I require. If I had to have only 1 pair of shoes to handle all of my different workouts, it would probably be the Fresh Foam Zante V2. That said, they wouldn’t be my first choice to race in.

They are a little heavier than the Original, and due to that and the firmness they move a little closer to everyday trainer territory for me.

Like the Original Zante, the Zante V2, is a terrific Jack of all trades. It’s a really nice upper sitting on a very smooth-riding mid and outsole. I have no qualms about taking the Z2 out for a quick jog, a tempo run or for long miles. The upper disappears on the foot and the ride is as smooth as can be. What the Z2 gains in weight seems to be worth it for the added durability, quicker turnover and better fit. The Zante 2 manages to retain almost all of the magic of the original while also making some nice, subtle tweaks. Overall a very fun and reliable shoe to run in.

Zante V2 vs. New Balance Zante
The Original Zante is a little bit softer. For me, the only downsides to the original were the tight mid-foot wrap, the arch bump (which disappeared pretty quickly) and the tendency for my forefoot to get sore. The slightly firmer, slightly more padded forefoot is a nice improvement. I’ve felt quick on quick runs and well-protected on long runs. The added weight puts this closer to the 890 or other daily trainers and puts some space between the Zante and the Vazee Pace in the NB lineup. (RoadTrail Run's review of the Zante V1 here)

Zante V2 vs. New Balance Vazee Pace
The Zante now feels like more of a daily trainer than it used to. It’s still fun to go fast in, but doesn’t feel like as much of a specialist as the Pace is. The Pace is a bit firmer, and feels great at speed. If I wanted a shoe that feels good at any speed, I’d go Zante V2, if I wanted a shoe that felt meh to ok at slow speeds but great when I go fast, I’d go with the Vazee Pace. (Peter's Vazee Pace review here)

Zante V2 vs. Skechers Go Run 4. 
The Zante is a heavier, more protective shoe than the Skechers. Skechers feels light and barely there—and feels faster than the Go Run 4. That said, I feel some forefoot fatigue on runs longer than 15 miles in the Skechers that I haven’t felt in the Zante. Ultimately they’re pretty different shoes.

Zante V2 vs. Skechers GoRide 5.
Similar shoes in lots of respects, but the Zante feels more comfortable, transitions quicker and doesn’t feel as clunky as the GoRide 5. The Zante, for me, is just much more fun to run in. (Peter's GoRide Run review here)

Zante v2 Score: 4.9 out of 5
-0.1 for the added weight from last version, leaving these feeling just a tiny, tiny bit less gravity defying.

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2 is available February 2016. $100.

The Fresh Foam Zante was provided at no charge to Road Trail Run. The opinions herein are entirely the author's

Peter Stuart's Running Bio
My running career got off to a slow start…in high school I was told I ran like a race walker and was thus relegated to race walking on the track team. I got back into running about 15 years ago and then into triathlon. Triathlon really rekindled my love for running, so about two years ago I hired a coach and really focused on the half and full marathons.  I broke a bad habit of putting in tons of moderately hard miles (and no easy or hard ones) and after plateauing at 3:25 (with some disastrous marathons in there), this past year I brought my marathon under 3:00 and my half under 1:25. Along the way I’ve developed a bit of a shoe problem.

Running Warehouse has the New Balance Zante v2
Use Coupon Code RTR10 for 10% off
New Balance Zante v2  Men's,  Women's in 5 great colors
Free 2 Day Shipping and "No Sweat" Easy Returns!

Zante v2 is also available from the Road Trail Run partners below

Monday, January 25, 2016

Reviews and Comparisons- Montrail Caldorado and Brooks Cascadia 11. Cascadia the Benchmark Trail Shoe that Keeps on Getting Better vs.the Speedy Newcomer Caldorado

By Jeff Valliere (see Jeff's Run Bio at the end of the review)

Montrail Caldorado: 
Speed, Protection, Agility
$120, Available Now from Montrail.
Montrail Caldorado. Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

First Impressions:
Montrail knocked it out of the park with the Caldorado.  I have run in just about every type of shoe over the past 6 years, from minimal to maximal and can make a case for either depending on the run, conditions or how I am feeling, but for the majority of my daily training, I gravitate to a shoe that is somewhere in the middle.
Montrail Caldorado. Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere
The Caldorado falls into that sweet spot for me and does a great job at combining performance, protection, all day comfort and durability.  At 11oz 312grams for a men’s size 9 (non Outdry), the Caldorado is no lightweight, but it feels much lighter than an 11oz shoe, both in the hand and most importantly, on the foot.  This shoe is surprisingly responsive, quick and agile, yet provides enough protection for the steep, rocky, technical trails that I run daily.

Montrail Caldorado. Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

The seamless upper is made of a lightweight, breathable mesh with strategically placed welded overlays that lock the foot solidly onto the midsole without feeling the least bit confining.  Because of the effectiveness of the overlays in keeping the foot in place, control is quite impressive when pushing this shoe to the limits in technical terrain.  The tongue is moderately padded, not overly puffy, but just enough to feel comfortable without feeling the laces or having to spend extra time positioning.  The laces are your typical/traditional round laces and I can achieve just the right fit on the first try (though runners with more voluminous feet may find that they are a little short). The heel cup is adequately padded, just enough for comfort, but with no extra bulk and is also well protected and keeps the heel solidly in place.  There are handy loops on the heel to aid in with putting on the shoe (though I never really needed them). The toe bumper is quite solid and protective, but integrates well with the shoe.
Montrail Caldorado. Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

Montrail Caldorado. Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

I have a lower volume - average size foot and found the fit to be spot on as far as length is concerned.  I don’t have much, if any, extra space in the forefoot, perhaps just enough for foot swell over the day, but I prefer that in favor of better control.  There is no extra room in the mid-foot, as fit is quite precise.

Montrail’s proprietary FluidFoam and FluidGuide technology really shine here.  The Fluidfoam provides a very well cushioned, yet firm, lively and responsive feel.  This shoe does great at any speed, but really shines when pushed hard and begs to go faster.  The Fluidguide gives a very stable feel on uneven terrain at any speed. The patented Fluid Guide is created by placing different, when heated and molded, densities of the same midsole material into the mold. The result is a smooth sense of stability at mid foot without the sometimes harsh transitions of glued in foam layers or posts of different densitites.
Montrail Fluid Guide gray is denser for more stability.Shoe illustrated is not the Caldorado
 I was able to push on steep, rocky technical downhills without the slightest bit of uneasiness or hesitation.  Additionally, Montrail’s Trailshield protection plate provides the highest level of rock protection, while offering enough flexibility to maintain an adequate sense of ground feel and forgiveness.  Stack height is 24mm in the heel and 16mm in the forefoot.  Though I have come to prefer offsets in the 4-6mm range, I hardly notice that this shoe is 8mm.

Montrail Caldorado. Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

The 5mm lugs also achieve that sweet spot of not being overly obtrusive, yet combined with the shape, configuration and rubber compound, the Caldorado provides remarkably good traction on a wide variety of terrain.  The Caldorado runs well on groomed gravel paths, as well as short sections of road, but truly excels on anything from steep rocky trails, talus hopping, steep dirt, off trail, mud, wet etc…  Grip is also good on packed snow.

Montrail Caldorado. Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

If one was to own just one trail shoe, the Caldorado would be a great candidate.  It is reasonably light, very quick and responsive, smooth, comfortable, supportive, well ventilated, agile, protective and can handle everything from roads to dirt paths to technical mountain terrain and just about any distance, from short runs to ultras.   Since the Caldorado even comes in an Outdry version for Winter use or wet days only adds to its potential.

Montrail Caldorado Score: 4.8 out of 5
-0.20 for potential long term durability issues  upper mesh

Brooks Cascadia 11: 
The Benchmark Trail Shoe Keeps Getting Better
$120, Available Now

First Impressions:
The Brooks Cascadia 11, the latest iteration in a long lineage of reliable benchmark trail shoes takes it up yet another notch.  With an improved (more durable) upper on an otherwise unchanged midsole and outsole, the Cascadia 11 continues to get the job done.  Though a touch on the heavier side at 11.8 oz/334 grams., the added weight is well worth the all day protection and rugged durability it provides. The new colorways are subtle and have somewhat of a retro look to them.
Brooks Cascadia 11. Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

Brooks Cascadia 11. Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

To address durability concerns that were of concern in the Cascadia 10, Brooks added, reconfigured and seemed to have beefed up critical areas where there were previously issues with tearing and delamination.  The most noticeable being a strip of durable, rubberized material along the middle ~60% of the medial side of the shoe.  Breathability remains excellent and the reconfiguration of overlays still provide a very precise and dialed fit.  I did however find that the toe box seems to be just slightly more voluminous and fits just a touch larger than the previous Cascadia 10.  Otherwise, midfoot fit is the same, snug and precise with excellent foothold and control.
The toe bumper/cap is quite protective and has good flexibility.  The heel counter is just the right height, padding is on the thick side, but is quite comfortable and protective with excellent heel hold.  As mentioned above, this Cascadia 11 feels just a touch longer than previous versions, which is evident when I try both the 10 and 11 on side by side, but it is minimal enough that I would call it true to size and likely not a consideration for the majority of users.

Brooks Cascadia 11. Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

Fit is somewhat on the narrow side and those with more voluminous feet, or those looking for more room for toe splay may want to carefully consider.

Brooks has found a very good formula with their BioMoGo DNA midsole and wisely have not deviated from this.  I find the midsole to be very well cushioned and supportive, great for all day outings in rough terrain, but it is not particularly plush in my opinion, nor is it very responsive.  Not necessarily a problem for me though, as I am aware of this ahead of time and choose this shoe not so much for fast performance, but for all day protection, comfort, traction, reliability and predictability.  The Ballistic Rock Shield does an impressive job at essentially eliminating any jabs from even the sharpest pointiest rocks, but does so at the expense of lateral flexibility.


The Cascadia 11 outsole is also unchanged and continues to do an impressive job of combining traction and durability, with an effective tread pattern and a somewhat hard, long lasting rubber compound.  This outsole excels on steep, rocky technical trails, loose dirt, off trail and packed snow.  It also does reasonably well in muddy conditions, but mud tends to stick and cake between the lugs.  The harder rubber compound is great for longevity, but can be a bit slick on wet rock and is not particularly forgiving.
Brooks Cascadia 11. Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

The Cascadia 11 is a great shoe for all day forays into the mountains, off trail, technical terrain, long distance training or an ultra shoe for the masses.  Though Brooks discourages this use on it’s website, the Cascadia 11 has even gained a following with thru hikers due to its durability, support and lower weight relative to a hiking boot.  I find the Cascadia to be ideal for moderate paced runs at best. The weight of the shoe when combined with the very stiff mid-sole and rock plate does not make it particularly responsive, quick or agile and it does not contour  uneven terrain very well due to its lateral stiffness.  The Cascadia 11 has a 10mm offset (27/17mm) which is a little more than I typically prefer, but is not a problem for this shoe and its typical use (moderate to slower speeds, rougher terrain).

Brooks Cascadia 11: 4.5 out of 5
-0.25 for weight
-0.25 for lateral stability

Comparisons Montrail Caldorado to Brooks Cascadia 11:

I initially made reference to the fact that the Montrail Caldorado would be in direct competition with the Brooks Cascadia 11 and thus was given the opportunity to test them both side by side.  They do indeed share many similarities, being similar weight, size, price and both shoes will certainly appeal to the same group of trail runners looking for a durable and reliable trail shoe for long distances.  They both have top level protection, firm cushioning, durability, traction, all day comfort and fit is quite similar.
Their differences though, however minor, may sway one's decision one way or the other.  The first and initially most noticeable difference is weight, 11.8 oz. for the Cascadia 11 vs. 11 oz. for the Caldorado.  Though .8 of an ounce does not sound like much, it is clearly evident when holding each shoe and more importantly, is evident when running.  The Caldorado feels lighter than 11 oz. and feels comparatively much quicker, agile and nimble than the Cascadia 11.  I attribute this to the lower stack height/offset (24/16mm vs. 27/17mm in the Cascadia 11) and a more flexible and forgiving outsole.  I found that with the Caldorado, I had much better trail feel in technical terrain, yet I found protection to be similar to the Cascadia 11 and is much more forgiving when contouring over rocks, roots and other imperfections in the trail and felt that I could push faster and with more confidence than I could with the Cascadia 11.
Toe Box Comparison: Caldorado Left, Cascadia Right Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

The Cascadia toe box is slightly more tapered than the Caldorado's and the Caldorado is slightly more rounded in the toe box. That said, they both feel about the same, a low volume, precise fit throughout and about the same in the toe box. I have a somewhat low volume foot and find both of them to be perfect, as I don't usually look for extra room since I run on technical, steep terrain almost exclusively and prefer control over room fro splay (within reason of course).

I also found that wet traction was a little bit better with the Caldorado.  None of this however is a knock on the Cascadia 11, as I would give it a slight advantage over the Caldorado in regards to all around traction (excluding wet rock), quality/durability and all day protection (thicker stack height and BioMoGo DNA).  The upper of the Cascadia 11 also seems more durable to me, as though it could withstand a bit more punishment over a longer period of time.

Either way, you could not go wrong with either shoe, it just depends on your preference.

The Caldorado and Cascadia 11 were provided at no charge to Road Trail Run. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.

Reviewer Bio

Jeff Valliere is a former pro cyclist who now runs and climbs the mountains of Colorado. He has been top 5 Masters, top 25 overall, at the Pike's Peak Marathon several times, finishing 3d Masters this year. Jeff loves vertical accumulating more than 500,000 vertical feet per year, has climbed all the 14's and 200 of the 13's and has held FKT on several.  He often runs and climbs at night. Passionate about the sport but also the gear he has reviewed hundred of shoes for various magazines and sites and participated in product testing for many brands.  Formerly a bike mechanic he now works in Satellite Imagery. He has twin 5 year old daughters who keep him ever busier yet.
The Cascadia 11 and 10 (at a great price) are available from 
Road Trail Run Partner 
Running Warehouse
Men's Here
Women's Here

Want to stick with the Cascadia 10?  Tri-Village has a great deal on them below

Save 36% on the Brooks Cascadia 10 Running Shoe - Was $119.95, Now $76.77!

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Asics Hyper Speed 7-A SIGH OF RELIEF

Article by Peter Stuart

A SIGH OF RELIEF—the Asics Hyper Speed 7.

Let me first say that I love the Asics Hyper Speed 6. Love. It may be my favorite shoe ever. I have my Marathon, 10k and Half Marathon PR in the Hyper Speed 6. It’s super light, fast and terrific feeling at any speed. Not super durable, but hey, not super expensive either. I grabbed a pair of newly released Asics Hyper Speed 7’s this week to see if they’re any good—or if I had to scour the internet to stockpile every pair of 6’s available. 
I’m happy to report that my initial reaction to them is that Asics not only kept the magic of the 6’s alive in the 7, but they just may have improved upon it. The feel is nearly identical, there’s a TINY bit more shoe in the Hyper speed 7. It’s gained about 1/2 an ounce, and according to Running Warehouse specs, the drop remains the same at 6mm, but the stack height is 1mm higher in the 7. While I’ve worn the Hyper Speed 6 in full marathons before, I’ve always thought it could use being just a little bit more shoe. the 7 accomplishes this without betraying the nature and vibe of the 6. The upper is very slightly more supportive and the new rubber on the bottom seems to be a little more durable. A great, great update. I’ll be racing in them this weekend and will report back. 

Hyper Speed 7:
Weight: 6.0 oz (size 9)
Stack Height: 22mm (Heel), 16mm (Forefoot)

Hyper Speed 6:
Weight: 5.6 oz (size 9)
Stack Height: 21mm (Heel), 15mm (Forefoot)


Peter Stuart's Running Bio
My running career got off to a slow start…in high school I was told I ran like a race walker and was thus relegated to race walking on the track team. I got back into running about 15 years ago and then into triathlon. Triathlon really rekindled my love for running, so about two years ago I hired a coach and really focused on the half and full marathons.  I broke a bad habit of putting in tons of moderately hard miles (and no easy or hard ones) and after plateauing at 3:25 (with some disastrous marathons in there), this past year I brought my marathon under 3:00 and my half under 1:25. Along the way I’ve developed a bit of a shoe problem.

Hyper Speed 6 & 7 ix available from Running Warehouse: $74.95 for the brand new Hyper Speed 7, $67.95 for Hyper Speed 6,  HERE 
Free 2 Day Shipping & Return Shipping     90 Day "No Sweat" Returns

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Ultraspire Velocity: Voluminous and Versatile Race Vest

Review by Jeff Valliere (see Jeff's Run Bio at the end of the review)

The Ultraspire Velocity ($128.99) is one of the latest models in Ultraspire's line of ultra race vests, designed for all day outings.  With 7 liters capacity, it is one of the larger vests I have run in and does a great job carrying a lot of gear.

Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere
The Velocity is built of sturdy mesh and nylon and has a high quality, full featured look and feel to it, yet is reasonably light weight.  Immediately noticeable are the 2 included unique 550ml semi-soft wide-ish mouth bottles.  
Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere
Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere
The bottles are actually flask shaped and have a mellow curve that, along with their semi soft flexibility, conform very well to the chest.  The mesh pockets are generous in size, which makes for easy access and the bottles remain firmly in place when cinched down.  The honeycomb mesh shoulder/chest straps are durable and breathable.  The zippers have handy pull tabs that are welcome when using gloves or in the dark and the cinch cords are easy to use.

Fit of this pack is one size fits all (most) and adjusts very easily with a relatively thick nylon strap on either side.  Though I can reach the adjustment straps, I found that it was necessary for me to adjust this pack ahead of time however, as I was unable to work the straps efficiently or effectively on the fly.  Size range is impressive, as I was almost able to make this pack work on my 5 year old, 37 lb daughter, adjusts perfectly for my 5'10"/145 build and can adjust significantly larger (I measured 8 additional inches of strap on either side when it was adjusted to fit me).

Storage is generous for a running vest, with a large main pocket and a smaller vertical zippered pocket on the outside of the main compartment for added capacity/organization.  These pockets easily accommodate a jacket, hat, headlamp, gloves, microspikes, food and other essentials.  Additionally, there are lower side wing pockets for smaller items, but I found them to be somewhat awkwardly shaped with a small opening and impossible to access on the go without removing the pack.

There are also a good number of loops on the back of the pack where I imagine one could secure folding poles or secure other items with some added stretch cord.

On the front, there are large mesh water bottle pockets on either side, each with a draw cord to secure the bottles in place.  The bottles conform nicely, hold in place very securely with little noticeable bounce when full, even when running technical descents at high speed.

Additionally, there are singular pockets above each bottle, one smaller zippered pocket for salt tabs, a key or maybe a gel and another larger cinch pocket to accommodate several gels or other essentials.

After the primary adjustment straps are dialed, there are two elasticized chest straps in the front to secure the vest in place with a unique cinching mechanism and a hook/loop clasp.  Ultraspire calls these the Dual Max 02 Sternum system.
These straps are easy to adjust and effectively hold the pack in place while allowing some flexibility for deep breathing.  I did however find it difficult to reattach the straps while wearing gloves and/or when on the move, as access to them is somewhat impaired by the positioning of the bottles.

As an option, this pack is designed to also accommodate a water bladder (not included).  Though I am less inclined to use a bladder under most circumstances, especially while running, some may favor a bladder over the bottles in order to add more room in the front pockets for easy access.  Or, for desert running or really hot days with little access to refills, bottles and bladder would be a great option.

Overall I found the vest to be quite comfortable and appreciate the quality, capacity, adjustability, innovative bottles and attention to detail.  It handles larger loads very well and is quite stable.  Ideally I prefer to have more space in the front and sides for easy access to items items I may frequently need on a longer run, but that is a matter of preference.

The Velocity was provided at no charge to Road Trail Run. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.

Reviewer Bio

Jeff Valliere is a former pro cyclist who now runs and climbs the mountains of Colorado. He has been top 5 Masters, top 25 overall, at the Pike's Peak Marathon several times, finishing 3d Masters this year. Jeff loves vertical accumulating more than 500,000 vertical feet per year, has climbed all the 14's and 200 of the 13's and has held FKT on several.  He often runs and climbs at night. Passionate about the sport but also the gear he has reviewed hundred of shoes for various magazines and sites and participated in product testing for many brands.  Formerly a bike mechanic he now works in Satellite Imagery. He has twin 5 year old daughters who keep him ever busier yet.
The Ultraspire Velocity is available from 
Road Trail Run Partner 
Running Warehouse

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Outdoor Retailer W16 Fun Stuff-Compressport, Julbo Zebra Light 1-3,Power Practical Luminoodle, Kilian's Atomic Ski, ProShot Case

Article by Sam Winebaum, Editor Road Trail Run 

After all the shoes and big companies (see our Outdoor Retailer summary page here)  there are always amazing products from smaller companies hiding in plain sight at Outdoor Retailer. Below a selection of some of the best we saw.

This Swiss company makes some of the most technical and certainly most colorful compression products out there. Compressport will cover and compress you from head to toe in soft, comfortable sleeves, socks, and apparel. Their On/Off top was ideal for my 2015 Boston Marathon in cold wet conditions but is equally comfortable in heat. I also use their calf sleeves and socks,-comfortable and effective. I wrote about Compressport in my "Supreme Performance Base Layers" article here. Compressport is very popular in Europe and with triathletes. 

The Compressport socks are not only super colorful but highly functional combining a very light mesh, almost like ladies stockings for maximum breathability and minimum moisture absorption, with knitted in 3D dots and other more resistant material in all the right places. We have several pairs and have been very impressed with their performance.
We were particularly interested in their On/Off fabric trail shirts. The weave is variable, very stretchy and soft providing light compression and mesh ventilation in all the right places.The lower portion has, if you will, a stretch belt hem with 6 pockets for gels, phone, etc.. The shoulders have slip resistant dots to keep a pack in place.

While difficult to see in my picture below the compression short below is covered by the liner-less Compressport Over Short for some..US preferences, "modesty".  Such a functional, liner less short is a great idea. 

We are not kidding when we say Compressport can cover you head to toe. I am looking forward to trying out the "full" outfit above.

Julbo Zebra Light 1-3
Julbo is a small French company long involved in making outstanding mountain focused sunglasses and ski goggles. In addition to famous extreme skier Glen Plake and  Swiss speed mountaineer Uli Steck, many outstanding mountain runners including Rob Krar and Stevie Kremer are Julbo athletes.
Julio was one of the first companies to introduce photochromic lenses, lenses which change darkness according to light conditions, say when going from bright sunny open condition into darker trees on the trails. I am a big fan of photochromic lenses but until now due to the chemical properties of the lenses their performance in cold weather has been poor. They change rapidly to the darkest tint and will only change back to light if warmed, literally inside in a warm room.

Well, Julbo has found a way to alleviate this issue with their Zebra Light lenses promising far faster all temperature changes in lens tint.  The 1 to 3 classification indicates that the lenses at 1 will be suitable in very low light conditions with the 3 appropriate protection for all but the brightest conditions, say water or high altitude glaciers where a 5 rating would be more appropriate.  The 1 to 3 range is ideal for road and trail running, Dawn to Dusk.  I look forward to testing the Aero model below.

Julbo Aero Sunglasses with Zebra Light Lenses $180
The Zebra Light Lenses are available in the frame styles below. 

Power Practical
Power Practical Luminoodle Light Rope and Lithium 4400 Battery Pack Latern
Sometimes when you are looking for something you find something else. Sometimes you find a product that truly has multiple practical uses. I was looking for a battery pack for my phone and iPad, a larger capacity one than what I had. I found Power Practical
In addition to a range of battery packs and a very clever cooking system that actually also charges batteries... with fire, the Luminoodle Light Rope and Lantern caught my eye. A 5' long waterproof 180 lumen cord of LED lights with a loop at the end, magnets and special yellow bungie cords.  It will plug into any USB connection for power. Here is what you can do with it:
  • Stuff in the bag turned on it and it becomes a lantern. 
  • String it across the inside of your tent.
  • Or drape it around your shoulders for a high visibility night running and walking solution. I combined it with their Lithium 4400 (mAh) battery pack which also has a 4 LED lantern built in.

Practical Power Luminoodle and Lithium 4400 battery lantern

Atomic Backland UL 65
Curious about what ski Kilian Jornet the world's best mountain runner and ski mountaineering racer used to ski up and down Mt Denali, a total of over 30 miles and 15,500 vertical feet in an unbelievable 11 hours 48 minutes?  Here they are ,a flavor of the Atomic Backland UL 65, 680 grams 1.5 lbs each. 

ProShot Case
Your phone is safe and you can take pictures literally anywhere, even scuba diving with this incredible iPhone case from ProShot. Works with the chest harness and all GoPro accessories.  It has insulating properties for extreme heat and cold. Multiple add on lenses are available.
The hook for running... ProShot repurposes your volume buttons adding hefty steel ones through the case tied into their app to let you press and snap pictures or make videos at will. Comes with 2 lids: one for scuba down to 100 feet and a second touch screen enabled lid that is waterproof down to 10 feet. Includes a wide angle lens. A flat lens is also currently included. The chest harness is $29.99. ProShot Case $99. www.proshotcase.com

Press the big button to take pictures

The wide angle lens is really wide angle.
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