Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Review Saucony Freedom ISO-Getting to the Essence. Low Slung, Energetic, Bouncy and Smooth. Best and Most Unique New Ride of 2016?

Article by Sam Winebaum and Peter Stuart

The Freedom ISO takes Saucony, and running shoes in general, in a new direction: low stack heights, a very smooth, continuous underfoot feel and ride, yet with plenty of cushion and bouncy response, topped off by a minimally structured but supportive upper, a new sort of "natural ride".

  • a low stack of 19mm heel/15mm forefoot made up of a single slab Everun TPU midsole, approximately 10% firmer than adidas Boost, and a slightly softer Everun top sole.
  • an outsole made of a single slab of a new translucent material called Crystal Rubber which also provides some underfoot structure. 
  • an ISOFit upper that is less structured than in other Saucony ISO models and with no heel counter.
The Freedom weighs men's 9.0 oz/255 g, women's  8.1 oz/ 230 g.
It is a premium shoe at $160. Available December 2016.
Saucony Freedom ISO
First Impressions
Sam: I don't usually comment on the look of shoes but the Freedom is striking.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

For Runners: Apple Watch Series 2 & Sunlight Visibility, iPhone 7 Hands On

Apple Watch
Apple Watch Nike+ Photo: Nike.com Apple.com
The Apple Watch Series 2 was eagerly awaited by this runner as it is supposedly 2X brighter and adds on board GPS and swim rated waterproofing.

Battery Life
Battery life does not improve, if at all, over the original Apple Watch, now named Series 1.
Apple's official tests claim 18 hours of use including a 30 minute workout. If the watch is fully charged in workout mode Apple claims the following:

Up to 8 hours
Testing conducted by Apple in August 2016 using preproduction Apple Watch Series 1, Apple    Watch Series 2, and Apple Watch Edition, each paired with an iPhone; all devices tested with prerelease software. Tested with workout session active, heart rate sensor on, with iPhone. Using the built-in GPS of the Apple Watch Series 2 without iPhone, workout time is up to 5 hours. Battery life varies by use, configuration, and many other factors; actual results will vary.

Not to bad, but no where near a dedicated GPS watch or even the Polar M600 which is rated at 8 hours  on the run with GPS and HR and it is unclear if one can listen to the built in music player for those 5 hours.

Screen Visibility
A big issue for me with the original Apple Watch was screen visibility in sunlight.
It was far less visible than dedicated GPS watches or even the new Android Wear Polar M600. The new Apple Watch has more than double the NIT brightness at 1000 of the original. So, curious I went to my local Apple store to see one in action...

The staff member helping me had a first generation Apple Watch. We set the brightness to identical levels, the Apple Watch 2 demo unit being locked at about 3/4 brightness. Both watches were the larger 42mm size, a 38 mm size is available. We first looked at the watches inside the fairly brightly lit store. The Apple Watch 2 on the right below was clearly brighter and crisper despite having the same resolution screen as the older model. The new model has what Apple calls a "Second Generation OLED Retina" display. More on this later... Both watches have an Ion-X glass screen cover.

Inside the Apple Store: LEFT Original Apple Watch RIGHT Apple Watch Series 2
Next we went out in the very very brightly sunlit mall atrium and started the built in run app.

In very bright sunlight: LEFT Original Apple Watch RIGHT Apple Watch Series 2
While the picture is a bit hard to see both watches were hard to read. We both agreed the older model was slightly easier to see. We were both very surprised. While this is a single test and we can't be positive the demo watch is fully up to speed,in bright sunlight , the new watch is clearly not as bright as the older one and certainly not 2X as bright in these conditions. You can see that there are 4 data fields and the most visible is the yellow color one. As with the new Fitbit Charge 2 having overly small fonts or to many data fields makes readability even more difficult in bright sun.

What may be going on? 
OLED displays unlike LCD's found say on most fitness GPS watches have less reflectance. All or most all of the light you see is generated by the electricity to the pixels in the display. LCD displays have a reflective element to boost what you see. I can only assume that this second generation OLED has even less reflectance but more brightness by spec. Outside there is no way the pixels generate enough visible light on their own. Interestingly the Polar M600 while not having quite the resolution of the Apple Watch, but still very sharp has a  color TFT LCD display and has been adequate in my testing in bright light.
Photo Apple.com Nike.com

There is hope for runners... The Apple Watch Nike+ while having exactly the same display technology as the watch shown above,will, within the Nike+ Run Clug watch app ,have a high contrast yellow on black scheme and will enlarge the fonts to feature one key stat per screen. This should help sunlight visibility.  I wonder if they will also auto adjust the brightness to maximum when in bright light.  I would recommend that if one of the main purposes for the purchase of an Apple Watch is running you should get the larger 42mm size. I should have a sample by early October and will report back the results as the demo watch may have been less than optimized for screen brightness.

iPhone 7



I received my iPhone 7 yesterday and of course took it out for a run today. I upgraded from a 6S and am giving it to my daughter. I updated hers to iOS 10 the day before I received my new phone and almost regretted getting the 7...
Everything seemed much faster and the new features make it like a new phone. Update: while not sure it is iOS 10,the iPhone 7, or the clean install of my back up but  battery life in day to day use is significantly longer than with my iPhone 6S.
The iPhone 7 features which seemed valuable for running were the increased water and sweat resistance, no swimming rated IPX 67 so sealed from dust and safe up to 30 minutes in 1 meter of water so even a fall into a pool as Apple showed in their keynote you're fine and of course the improved camera. While I cannot yet judge the water resistance which should mean no more zip lock bag, I did test the camera today and am very impressed with the improved quality of my pictures. While not a perfect test I even snapped a picture while running and bouncing around to test the new optical image stabilization. Here it is





An emerging issue for iPhone use in winter. The iPhone 7 no longer has a mechanical home button so it cannot be clicked with gloves on according to this Verge article. Some conductive gloves are even said not to work. A work around will surely emerge.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Review: 2 Innovative Soft Flask Run Bottles: UltrAspire Formula 250 & Raidlight EazyFlask

Increasingly bike style bottles and hydration bladders are given way to "soft flasks". Easy to stuff in pockets and even shorts, collapsible, and light they also offer the advantage of carrying multiple potions on  given run: water, electrolytes, gels, or even semi sold food.
I have increasingly gone to flasks and away from hard bottles or bladders for shorter adventures. More convenient, easier to clean, easier to grasp and store on the run when empty. I just stuff them, full or empty in one of the 4 bounce free pockets of the incredible WAA Ultra Carrier Shirt from Rocky Mountain Ultra (review soon).

I tried 2 innovative new soft flasks:
 UltraAspire Formula 250 (left) and Raidlight EazyFlask  350 (right).

Formula 250 from UltrAspire departs from the usual TPU construction of soft flasks as it is made of a soft silicone. There is no discernible taste to water in the flask, unusual. Ultraspire has been in the run hydration business since its beginning, their founder literally invented the first run vest. Completely seamless unlike conventional soft flasks, and with a tear drop shape, it is easy to use and clean. It features handy loops to dry or carry on your hydration pack. The Formula makes a great option for gels, thicker mixtures, semi solid foods, etc... It would be great for feeding apple sauce to small and not so small children as well!

The large flow valve has a secure snapping cap on top of a decently wide cap and rigid collar. It is super comfortable to hold with its soft thick material molding very well to the hand and stuffs  easily into pockets. Ultraspire gave us a very useful tip on how to drink water or electrolytes, non viscous stuff,  from the Formula as holding the body of the bottle when the cap is open sprays liquid. Just grasp the gray cap as you drink. Works well to reduce or eliminate the spray factor but if you use it with liquids you still need to pay attention. The 250 ml capacity is great for a decent amount of less viscous foods and potions.

Available now in one size 250 l. $12.95 Purchase from UltrAspire here
or from Running Warehouse here
Take 10% off by using Road Trail Run coupon code: RTR10

The Raidlight EazyFlask is from French company, Raidlight which is a long time pioneer in run hydration and packs. Little known in the US, Raidlight is now imported along with WAA Ultra, another innovative French brand by Rocky Mountain Ultra.

European love to sip their water from bottles with straws. I do to, especially if the flask is in a vest. Tip the head down and drink, no hands. The EazyFlask is Raidlight's first soft flask and is available in 150 ml $, 350ml, and 600ml sizes. Rocky Moutain Ultra sent us the 350 ml version.

The short straw is insulated with a thin neoprene sleeve. Iparticularly liked the valve flow mechanism. Instead of being on the valve subject dirty hands and clumsiness it is on the stem. Twist the stem and you can go from a strong flow to barely a trickle when sucked hard. It is not a complete shut off valve but close.  A second valve is included with the 350ml  and 600 ml sizes for those who prefer no straw and works a bit better with thicker liquids.The 150ml has the valve with no straw.The bottle, stem and valve are very easy to clean.
EazyFlask 150ml : $13.99
EazyFlask 350ml : $19.99
EazyFlask 600ml:  $24.99

EazyFlasks are available now from Rocky Mountain Ultra here.
Use discount code roadtrailrun10 for 10% off any purchase at Rocky Mountain Ultra
Plus get free shipping on all US orders!

Review: 2 Innovative Soft Flask Run Bottles: Ultraspire Formula 250 & Raidlight EazyFlask

Increasingly bike style bottles and hydration bladders are given way to "soft flasks". Easy to stuff in pockets and even shorts, collapsible, and light they also offer the advantage of carrying multiple potions on  given run: water, electrolytes, gels, or even semi sold food.
I have increasingly gone to flasks and away from hard bottles or bladders for shorter adventures. More convenient, easier to clean, easier to grasp and store on the run when empty. I just stuff them, full or empty in one of the 4 bounce free pockets of the incredible WAA Ultra Carrier Shirt from Rocky Mountain Ultra (review soon).

I tried 2 innovative new soft flasks:
 Ultaspire Formula 250 (left) and Raidlight EazyFlask  350 (right).

Formula 250 from Ultraspire departs from the usual TPU construction of soft flasks as it is made of a soft silicone. There is no discernible taste to water in the flask, unusual. Ultraspire has been in the run hydration business since the beginning, their founder literally invented the first run vest. Completely seamless unlike conventional soft flasks, and with a tear drop shape, it is easy to use and clean. It features handy loops to dry or carry on your hydration pack. The Formula makes a great option for gels, thicker mixtures, semi solid foods, etc... It would be great for feeding apple sauce to small and not so small children as well!

The large flow valve has a secure snapping cap on top of a decently wide cap and rigid collar. It is super comfortable to hold with its soft thick material molding very well to the hand and stuffs  easily into pockets. Ultraspire gave us a very useful tip on how to drink water or electrolytes, non viscous stuff,  from the Formula as holding the body of the bottle when the cap is open sprays liquid. Just grasp the gray cap as you drink. Works well to reduce or eliminate the spray factor but if you use it with liquids you still need to pay attention. The 250 ml capacity is great for a decent amount of less viscous foods and potions.

Available now in one size 250 l. $12.95 Purchase from Ultraspire here

or from Running Warehouse here
Take 10% off by using Road Trail Run coupon code: RTR10

The Raidlight EazyFlask is from French company, Raidlight which is a long time pioneer in run hydration and packs. Little known in the US, Raidlight is now imported along with WAA Ultra, another innovative French brand by Rocky Mountain Ultra.

European love to sip their water from bottles with straws. I do to, especially if the flask is in a vest. Tip the head down and drink, no hands. The EazyFlask is Raidlight's first soft flask and is available in 150 ml $, 350ml, and 600ml sizes. Rocky Moutain Ultra sent us the 350 ml version.

The short straw is insulated with a thin neoprene sleeve. We particularly liked the valve flow mechanism. Instead of being on the valve subject dirty hands and clumsiness it is on the stem. Twist the stem and you can go from a strong flow to barely a trickle when sucked hard. It is not a complete shut off valve but close.  A second valve is included with the 350ml  and 600 ml sizes for those who prefer no straw and works a bit better with thicker liquids.The 150ml has the valve with no straw.The bottle, stem and valve are very easy to clean.
EazyFlask 150ml : $13.99
EazyFlask 350ml : $19.99
EazyFlask 600ml:  $24.99

EazyFlasks are available now from Rocky Mountain Ultra here.
Use discount code roadtrailrun10 for 10% off any purchase at Rocky Mountain Ultra
Plus get free shipping on all US orders!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Review Saucony Triumph ISO 3, Comparison to ISO 2: Slightly- Softer, Bouncier, Heavier, More Flexible, More Comfortable

Saucony Triumph ISO 3
The Saucony Triumph ISO 3 is Saucony's premium neutral trainer. This third iteration of the Triumph ISO increases the Everun TPU heel insert size, fine tunes the ISO strap system by removing one strap, and increases flexibility by deepening the forefoot grooves. The result is a slightly softer under foot ride, noticeably more bounce off the heel, more flexibility, a more comfortable upper, and a minor 0.3 oz/8.5 g increase in weight.  Overall the ride and fit is refined and improved in smoothness but is a touch less responsive especially in the mid and forefoot. The Triumph ISO 3 is a great shoe for long easy miles in great comfort. Review of the Triumph ISO 2, my 2015 heavier duty trainer of the year here.

Stats
Men's 9: 10.5 oz /298 g; Women's 8: 9.2oz /26g
30mm/22mm, 8 mm drop
Available November 2017
$150

Upper
Saucony Triumph ISO-Left ISO 3 Right ISO 2
The upper moves from a conventional fairly stiff mesh upper with multiple solid overlays to an engineered mesh upper with fewer and more skeletal overlays at mid foot. Instead of three ISO bands there are now have two with the front band eliminated. The ISO 3 is slightly more breathable. The result is more room over the metatarsals and a bit less of a secure snug fit. Saucony sent me a half size up but I would have been fine if a bit better off at true to size.
Saucony Triumph ISO-Left ISO 3 Right ISO 2
Wider higher volume feet will be happier with the elimination of the 3d strap and its related overlays and more foot conforming, softer engineered mesh upper. Lower volume feet will have no problem finding a good fit but it will be a bit more relaxed, less snug fit than ISO 2.
Saucony Triumph ISO-Left ISO 3 Right ISO 2
The tongue is thinner, a good thing as the ISO 2 had a bulbous over padded tongue. The achilles collar is more sculpted and thinner. There is now a huge and welcome reflective band at the heel.
Saucony Triumph ISO-Left ISO 2 Right ISO 3
Midsole

The biggest change other than the upper is unseen. The Everun TPU heel insert is doubled in size from the ISO 2.  The result is a bouncier heel reminiscent for me of the adidas Energy Boost, with its own flavor or TPU midsole but more subtle here as the TPU in the Triumph is well encapsulated and doesn't rely on plastic piece to stabilize it as adidas does. As with ISO 2 there is also Everun top sole between sock liner and midsole.
Saucony Triumph ISO-Left ISO 2 Right ISO 3
There is different sculpting and design of the midsole side walls. The ISO 3 is not as stiff torsionally as ISO 2 was, again a more relaxed smoother transition being the result but maybe not quite as snappy as the ISO 2.
Saucony Triumph ISO-Left ISO 2 Right ISO 3
Outsole
The Triumph ISO 3 carries forward Saucony's excellent Tri-Flex design now found on pretty much all their shoes. The ISO 3 has wider forefoot landing rubber strips than ISO 2 with deeper flex grooves. 

The rubber up front is now slightly inset into the midsole and angled forward at the leading edge to assist toe off.  As before in ISO 2 there are 2 densities of rubber with harder rubber from heel to midfoot and at the toe with softer rubber under the forefoot.
Saucony Triumph ISO-Left ISO 2 Right ISO 3
The mid to rear of the foot outsole is narrower more carved out than ISO 2, with a deeper central carve out both contributing to a somewhat smoother if softer transition area. There is plenty of rubber for many miles of use. 

Ride and Recommendations
The Triumph ISO 3 is on the soft side but is plenty stable. The larger Everun heel insert provides a welcome, well tamed heel bounce towards transition and one more noticeable than in the ISO 2. At the transition to toe off things are not quite as snappy as ISO 2 for me, but the difference is subtle and only felt running one of each version on different feet. This slight lag in response could be due to the more substantial Everun as it extends into the mid foot and more the flexible deeper grooved forefoot, maybe in combination. The adidas Boost serious run shoes all feature some Torsion plastic in the mid foot to snap things forward and stabilize the foot. This or a shorter Everun insert might help the transition.
The new ISO Fit configuration is a distinct if a bit more relaxed improvement over the already excellent ISO 2. 
The somewhat softer more relaxed ride distances the ISO 3 from the snappier somewhat firmer Ride 9 (review here) and the firm heeled soft forefoot ride of the Zealot ISO 2 (review here) thus providing clearer choices for Saucony fans. We can't wait to see where the all Everun midsole Freedom ISO fits in (preview here).
The Triumph ISO 3 is one comfortable, capable shoe for long miles and recovery runs at slow to moderate pace. The larger Everun heel insert and upper changes are a distinct improvement over ISO 2 but the transition to toe off could use some snap. It is a great shoe for heel strikers (like me), heavier neutral runners, and anyone wanting a very durable, comfortable, well cushioned ride.

Sam's Score 4.7 out of 5
-0.15 for weight, at this point I notice weights above 10 oz and the ISO 3 gains 0.3 oz to 10.5 oz
-0.15 for somewhat sluggish and soft transition and toe off.

The Triumph ISO 3 was provided at no charge to Road Trail Run. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.

Click Here for RTR's other 2017 Run Shoe Previews: New Balance, Brooks, Saucony, Salomon, Altra, adidas Outdoor, Hoka and More!

Click Here for RTR's Latest Running Shoe and Gear Reviews. 
Over 45 in depth Road and Trail Shoes reviews so far in 2016!


2016 Road Trail Run Running Gift Guides
Apparel Click Here    Accessories Click Here  Run Tech, Music & GPS Click Here

Like & Follow Road Trail Run
Facebook:roadtrailrun.com Twitter: @roadtrailrun Instagram:roadtrailrun

The Saucony Triumph ISO 3 & 2 are available from 
Running Warehouse US 
Men's here
Women's here
Running Warehouse EU
Men's here
Women's here


Thursday, September 08, 2016

First Thoughts. What Apple Watch Series 2, Nike+Apple Watch, and iPhone 7 May Mean for Runners

I have been updating the new run tech gallery I wrote for Competitor all month. Yesterday I listened in to the "unveiling" of the Apple Watch Series 2 and iPhone 7.  The gallery is here with an update for the Apple announcements and also includes updates for new Garmin and TomTom GPS watches, Fitbit Charge 2 and more.

The addition of GPS, a 2X brighter screen and full swim rating helps the Apple Watch join the big boys of fitness.
It's key limitation still appears to be as before,  battery life as while there was no mention in the presentation I am reading elsewhere it is likely to remain unchanged, at least in every day wear about a day or so.
Also no mention of any changes to the wrist heart rate monitoring accuracy. I found Apple Watch 1 fine in day to day wear but not as accurate or reliable when running. Testing will tell on both of these key elements.

The iPhone 7 is now dust, splash and rain proof so far better protected as we run.  I may be able to do without my zip lock bag with this model.

Of great interest is the Apple Watch Nike+. Essentially the base $369 Apple Watch with Nike band and their Nike+Run Club app pre installed. I think the screen should be decently visible in bright light .but testing will tell


For some fun below screen shots of apps leveraging the GPS capabilities. The experience is clearly far richer and more dynamic than any other fitness watch. Many more run and fitness apps sure to come

View Ranger
This hiking app gives turn by turn directions, climb progress updates, off route alerts, and descriptions along the way(where available)





Pokemon GO
Easily play the popular game as you run or maybe more likely walk.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Review Altra Running Lone Peak 3.0: A Fine Update Yet With Room for More Improvements

Article by Jeff Valliere and Sam Winebaum

The Altra Running Lone Peak 3.0 is a relatively light weight, zero drop, moderately aggressively lugged trail runner. Its upper is considerably more reinforced, on a different slightly narrower last and is snugger in the Foot Shaped box than its predecessor, the Lone Peak 2.5. It is also available in Low and Mid height with a Neoshell breathable moisture resistant upper.

Stats per Running Warehouse
Weight: 10.4 oz/295 grams (Men's size 9), 9.4 oz/267 grams (Women's 8)
Stack Height: 20mm (Heel), 20mm (Forefoot)
Price $120. Available now.

Jeff: I had tested the Altra Lone Peak 2.0 two years ago and while I found it to be a comfortable shoe with good cushion, protection, plush padding and all day comfort, the fit was a bit off for me.  With an excessively wide toe box, ‘skateboard shoe’ heel and a less than snug midfoot hold, the 2.0 was a bit dicey on technical trails, especially descents.  Add some moisture and they could be downright scary. Learning of the updates to the 3.0, I was optimistic that the Lone Peak 3.0 would be a huge improvement.
Sam: I ran in both the Lone Peak 2.5 and its Neoshell cousin. While I found the Neoshell upper nicely supportive, I found the front of the 2.5 way to slipper like and unstructured for most trails.
The 3.0 clearly has a new last, still Foot Shaped, but more trail support worthy so I to was optimistic.

Upper and Fit


Jeff:  I was immediately taken aback by how short the 3.0 looked in my normal size 10.  When I put my foot in, my toes were right up against the front of the shoe and I wondered if a 10.5 might have been a better choice. Not wanting to bother Altra, I went on a quest, calling/visiting local Altra dealers trying to find a 10.5, where I eventually found a pair at a nearby running store.  The 10.5 was for sure a more appropriate length, but the bump in size had my feet swimming a bit.  I could have gone either way I think, but would just be trading one problem for another, so ultimately opted to stick with the 10.  Aside from the shortness of the shoe, fit otherwise felt much improved, a slightly more narrow toe box (while still being adequately roomy in classic Altra fashion), a more precise midfoot fit and a more narrow heel with better hold.

Sam: I found the forefoot and mid foot fit superb, a vast improvement over the Lone Peak 2.5. I fit true to size and had no issues with shortness Jeff found but did find noticeable inconsistencies in fit when I tried different pairs of the same size on.

The front of the shoe is clearly not as wide as the Lone Peak 2.5 as it is based on a completely different last. The upper has multiple well placed overlays which the 2.5 almost completely lacked. These changes definitely helps the foot hold up front. The addition of a metal loop for gaiter attachment to go with the heel Gaiter Trap is an excellent addition.

Performance:  
Jeff: My first run in these was uncharacteristically level, on smooth dirt for 4 or so miles, where I was very aware of my toes rubbing the front of the shoe.  Though this did not cause any blisters or true discomfort, I was focused on it and questioned whether or not I should continue testing, but figured I would give them another try, on my usual steep and technical mountain routes.  I worried that steep descents would really jam my toes, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it was never particularly problematic.  Over time, I think the upper stretched a bit, or at least became a bit more compliant and I got used to it more and more each day.

Heel hold is excellent, but I was surprised to find that on technical downhills, even at moderate to slower speeds, my feet were slopping around some inside the shoe.  I figured that I just may not have tightened the laces enough, or they had loosened a bit, but that was not the case.  I stopped to snug them up even more, which helped slightly, but the pressure on the top of my foot was too much, so I had to stop again to relieve some pressure.

I quickly learned that I would be better off sticking to smoother trails with a lesser gradient, at least on the descents and after doing so, came to have a newfound appreciation for the Lone Peak 3.0.

Sam: I concur with Jeff's performance comments. I loved the easy trail ride of these shoes. While everything in the front of the shoe back to the end of the laces is impeccable with great hold, rock protection from the Stone Guard  embedded between the  midsole and outsole  and very decent climbing agility,  at the back of the shoe I had some issues...


The heel collar and achilles tab are low and relatively unpadded and thus more mobile, I think contributing to a feeling of instability for me at the rear of shoe.  I concurrently ran the superb road Altra's Torin 2.5 (review here) on the same moderately easy Utah trails,and there was no comparison in overall trail stability. Torin the road shoe wins hands down for stability and with an even more supportive upper particularly in the area of the last lace holes. Understand that the Torin's traction, while excellent due to the very wide on the ground platform,  is not for the rough stuff.
Looking closely at the rear of the shoe the differences in heel collar and achilles tab height  are evident as is the more substantial rear strap on the Torin and its overall more substantial collar padding all the way to the first couple lace holes.


Sam: Again comparing to the Torin 2.5 I had far more of a sense that the Lone Peak was zero drop than the Torin, feeling more "flat footed" and awkward on the flats in particular. I was told the durometer (midsole firmness) is the same. I note more of a rear rocker on the Torin and Altra told us the Torin is more evenly balanced in weight than Lone Peak from heel to toe with a variable thickness Abound layer to achieve that. Could the lower stack of the Lone Peak and the lack of a rear rocker in the Lone Peak also contribute to the sensation of "missing the heel"?  Not sure but much prefer the Torin ride on any terrain.

Jeff: Cushion and protection are very good and though not particularly responsive, the 3.0 feels reasonably quick, light, agile and have a notably smooth transition.  At times, I would have liked a bit more cushion in the heel (but then it would not be an Altra zero drop) to take the edge off harder landings and soften heel strike when moving fast on rock and hardpack.

With a fairly deep and aggressive lug pattern, traction is very good on most surfaces, steep dirt, rock, off trail, etc….  I did not get to run in mud or snow, but assume that with the ample lugs, they would work well.  My usage of the 3.0 in the wet was very limited, but noted that wet traction has improved over previous versions and is average to slightly above average.

Construction:
Jeff: The Lone Peak 3.0 is a well constructed, quality shoe that I expect great longevity out of.  After my first run, I noticed a bit of wear in the forefoot lugs, but, did not progress at an excessive rate thereafter.  The upper has very little mesh and is primarily comprised of protective overlays and rands (increasing durability) though is surprisingly well ventilated.  I ran on days in the mid 90’s and my feet were not overly warm.

The heel counter is flexible, yet sturdy and protective, without too much extra padding (as was the case with the 2.0).  The toe bumper is ample and wraps generously over the toe of the shoe, yet is quite flexible, I would not want to stub a rock.

Recommendations:
Jeff: Though this shoe can handle just about any terrain, I found that it really shined on moderate to smoother singletrack.  Though it has enough protection for rocky trails and all mountain use, I found that foothold was a bit too loose for me to quickly and confidently bomb technical downhills, especially when hopping rock to rock.  I attribute some of that to my foot not particularly matching up perfectly with this shoe, so would recommend this for those with a bit of a shorter, wider, higher volume foot.  If you are used to zero drop, this shoe would be great for any distance, from short runs to ultras, as they certainly have all day cushion, comfort and protection.
Sam: Again I concur with Jeff. The Lone Peak 3.0, due to the somewhat unstable rear of the shoe, will be for more moderate smooth trails, for hiking and where I can't run the Torin due to traction requirements. For Altra zero drop fans, the Lone Peak 3.0 should offer improved durability and a more trail worthy upper than its predecessors so big improvements.

Jeff's Score 4.5 out of 5
-0.3 for awkward fit
-0.2 for foot hold
Sam's Score 4.6 out of 5
-0.2 for heel area stability
-0.2 for comparatively high sense of the zero drop and a"missing heel", compared to Torin 2.5

The Lone Peak 3.0 was provided at no charge to Road Trail Run. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'. 
Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere and Sam Winebaum

Shop Altra Running at Running Warehouse
Men's here
Women's here
Use Road Trail Run Coupon Code: RTR10 for 10% off!

Also available directly from Altra here

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Topo Athletic ST-2 Review -Stuck in the Middle with You

Article by Peter Stuart
The Topo Athletic ST-2 is a 6.9 ounce, zero drop, road running and cross training shoe. It’s extremely flexible, the heel collapses and the stack height is 16mm (comprised of a 4mm outsole, 7mm midsole and a 5mm footbed). $90. Available now.




Upper and Fit:
The upper on the ST-2 is fairly soft and would definitely be classified as “sock-like”. The collapsible heel makes it particularly inconspicuous on the foot. The shape of the shoe is more ‘foot like’ than a traditional trainer, but less so than brands such as Altra. I don’t mind putting these on to walk around in them. Running in them, unfortunately, has been less enjoyable.
While there seems to be ample room in the toe box, I wind up with nasty blisters on the outside of both pinky toes in these shoes. I don’t feel it rubbing initially, and I’m not sure that it’s the shape of the toe box that’s the culprit. I think what may be happening is that the shoe is so flexible that it’s creasing and causing a sharp crease just at the top of the toes. Haven’t been able to figure it out, but I’ve gotten pretty bad blisters on every run.

Midsole and Outsole:
The midsole, which Topo says is 7mm thick, seems to be made of EVA and has sections on the ball of the foot, the toe and the heel with thicker blown rubber. Traction is decent. There’s no drop and fairly little cushioning. The good news is that you feel pretty connected to the road without it feeling too harsh. Traction seems to be fine.  


Ride:
The ride of the ST-2 is sort of in the middle for me. Though they’re light they don’t feel like a race flat—they just don’t have that snap. They aren’t cushioned enough for me to want to take them out on long runs. Road feel can be a little harsh at first, but it kind of reminds me of running in Vibram 5 fingers. It feels harsh and then you adjust your running style a bit to make it work. If they didn’t give me such bad blisters I might keep them around for moderate runs when I feel like wearing a light shoe.

Conclusions and comparisons:
The Topo St-2, with its lycra and mesh upper is a pretty comfortable lightweight shoe. I might wear them casually or stash them in a backpack if I want a pair of shoes that travels easily (due to that collapsible heel). Unfortunately I neither love the ride nor the fit. I get significant blisters on the outside of pinky toes every time I go for a run in these. They are super flexible and light, but unfortunately not a great running shoe for me. As a shoe to wear around or to wear to cross train at the gym they may be a bit more useful.

Comparisons:

ST-2 vs. NB 1400 V4
The ST-2 is lighter and firmer than the NB. NB feels like a race flat and fits great, while the ST-2 doesn’t feel particularly snappy

ST-2 vs. Asics Hyperspeed 7
Hyperspeed is more cushioned than the ST-2 and fits better. Both are super light.

ST-2 vs. Skechers GoMeb 3
The ST-2 is a lot less shoe. It’s far more flexible, but may not be as forgiving over the longer miles.

 ST-2 vs. Adidas Adios Boost 3
 No comparison.

Running shoe score 2.5 out of 5

-1.0 for upper issues causing blisters
-1.0 meh ride

-0.5 for uninspiring looks.

Score as a cross-trainer/lifestyle/travel shoe 4.0 out of 5
-.5 for aesthetics
-.5 for blister potential

The ST-2 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.





Click Here for RTR's other 2017 Run Shoe Previews: New Balance, Brooks, Saucony, Salomon, Altra, adidas Outdoor, Hoka and More!

Click Here for RTR's Latest Running Shoe and Gear Reviews. 
Over 45 in depth Road and Trail Shoes reviews so far in 2016!

Like & Follow Road Trail Run
Facebook:roadtrailrun.com 
Twitter: @roadtrailrun 
Instagram:roadtrailrun