Friday, September 14, 2007

OR-GoMotion Chest Mounted Trail Light Vest/Pack

Missed GoMotion at OR Show among the thousands there. And a New England innovator no less!

GoMotion has introduced a 3W LED headlight embedded at chest level in a reflective vest/pack. The vest also features pockets, is hydration compatible, and has LED tail lights. This approach seems very promising for trail running, nordic skiing at night (one of my big favorites)aw well as walking and running on roads at night.

I believe a reflective vest alone when running roads at night is clearly not sufficient from a safety standpoint to attract attention at a distance, particularly when the oncoming car is also facing headlights from other vehicles. They just don't see the reflectors far enough out. I always run with a headlamp and struggle with the tail light to accompany and thus would welcome an all in one solution.

A very neat concept and one I want to try, soon, as shorter days rapidly approach.

back view of pack

I have a 3W Black Diamond Icon headlamp. At 3W I find that finally I am able to run safely at night, even on fairly rough UT trails. Nonetheless, the headlamp beam bounces when running and you have to deal with a fairly substantial battery pack on your head. Mounting the light at chest level in a stable position with the batteries in the pack as GoMotion does seems a far better solution. The beam is pointed down the 6-8' in front of you where you really need to see the terrain. I would also imagine less light is lost given the lower height. A trail level Dark Sky initiative!

I am curious to see what the light pattern looks like as often headlamps either provide a spot or a diffuse light with a "hole in the middle" just where the trail detail needs to be sharpest.

A very neat concept and one I want to try, soon, as shorter days rapidly approach.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Beyond the Hyrdation Pack

Camelback pioneered the hydration bladder and pack. Extensively used by our soldiers in Iraq and outdoor folks everywhere the bladder and pack in its various forms has redefined how we drink on the go. I have used various generations of the product as it has evolved.

For longer runs/hikes 4 hours plus I use a Patagonia Endurance Pack with a 70 oz. Camelback Unbottle inside.

For 1-3 hour runs I have been using a Camelback FlashFlo belt pack with a 45 oz bladder inside. I find that the excellently stable Patagonia Endurance is not much fun on the back when running fast.

Performance Bottle (left) Flashflo (right)

After trying belt packs with bottles I find the no bounce FlashFlo to be an excellent way to carry water, and a few supplies in the two back zippered pockets, without ever noticing it is even there. The two side/back straps allow you to cinch down the pack as you draw down the water without tightening the waist belt. An over tight belt can constrict breathing, especially going uphill. Never any bounce even when full. The bladder is easy to remove and put back in, helped by an elastic port on both sides. The drinking tube clips to the very breathable soft mesh belt on either side. The only thing lacking are pockets on the belt for energy gels, GPS, etc...I used the pack on a 50 mile road bike ride and found it very comfortable there too.

Camelback also makes the Better Bottle which I have had for a year now. This polycarbonate bottle has a flip up drinking nipple of the same material as the those on the bladders. Flipping up the nipple activates the flow. A straw below the cap allows drinking without tipping the bottle back. The Better Bottle is relatively heavy and of course stiff. Great for work or travel.

In my Camelbacks I have been using their Elixer electrolyte tablets. Not too sweet or sticky. Nice taste and a toss up in terms of preference with the Nunn tablets I previously wrote about.

At OR Camelback introduced a 22 oz Performance version made of soft, light polypropylene (see picture above). Most bike bottles are made of LDPE which imparts a taste to water. Camelback claims, and my initial testing confirms, there is less taste with the polypro. Same nipple as the Better Bottle but the spout doesn't fold down onto the bottle. Flow is started by an easy twist of the lid. This is a great bike bottle, soon to followed by an even lighter Podium version.

OR-The Smallest Elete Electrolyte Drops

Elete comes in two forms: tablets and a Visine sized dropper bottle. Elete is a water add-in electrolyte which dispenses with sugars, sticky mess clean up, and anything other the essential electrolytes.

The dropper sized bottle can make up to 10 32oz servings of electrolyte drink, at $4.99 per dropper bottle with larger refill bottles available.

The taste in water in neutral if a bit mineral but very potable in my opinion during exercise when compared to more traditional electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade. The compact nature of the product makes this a great solution for industry, backpacking and in the gym bag. In hydration packs no special cleaning is required after use.

Elete claims a cost per gallon half that of Gatorade, unclear from their materials if this is powder of liquid Gatorade. Elete can also be added to other drinks

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Outdoor Retailer Summer 2007-Largest and Smallest Finds

The 2007 Outdoor Retailer Show just ended and I have lots to write about. I will start with the largest and smallest size finds and likely products at the show. Both speak to doing more, much more, with less.

The Largest

The Sylvan Sport Go "the backpack on wheels" was the largest sized product I saw.

Call it a spacious pop-up camping trailer which can be towed by a Prius (it weighs 750 pounds).

Or a backpack which can haul not only a place to sleep and eat but bikes, kayaks, skis, or a cargo trailer when the tent is folded into its pod to take your brush and recycling to the dump (we do that here in NH) You can even pick up full size sheets of plywood at the home store. The Go is one neat and very practical toy.

With rising gas prices, smaller cars, boats and bikes accompanying us on adventures, growth in the "RV" market, and a trend away from backpacking towards front range adventures the Go is right and right sized for the times.

Suggested retail $7500. First shipments to distributors Fall 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

My favorite Trips (Trails, Runs, Races) on

I have been using my Garmin 205 to capture races and favorite runs. I then easily upload to where they are overlaid automatically on not only Google maps and satellite but topo maps. You can upload your photos, see their blog on how to synch with the map, and/or they will automatically overlay photographs from the area, also geocoded, from Panoramio a company just acquired by Google.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Organized Adventure vs. Sponteneous Adventure

"The disorganized, spontaneous search for beauty is the only justifiable and honest way of seeking it," Stiles preaches in his new book, Brave New West, subtitled "Morphing Moab at the Speed of Greed."
"The search for solitude, beauty, and all things remote and mysterious must be random. To be more organized is to risk commodifying beauty itself."

This quote from a new book Brave New West, subtitled "Morphing Moab at the Speed of Greed." by Jim Stiles the publisher of the Canyon County Zephyer caught my eye in an online article in the Salt Lake City Tribune

Stiles is criticizing the organized "adventure" tours by foot, by mountain bike, and by jeep which have taken over Moab, UT. While Stiles is quite extreme I do agree that guiding those beyond what they are capable on their own or with knowlegable friends is not the best way to experience nature or adventure. Just think of the folks dragged up Everest by their guides. They can say they "did it" but did they really? And should they have?

Be it trail running, hiking, or ski touring I much prefer to be well prepared and explore within my capabilities, and at random. I share this knowledge and experience with friends. Over time, experience, be it in a particular area or in terms of skills, takes one further. And the spontaneous discoveries and challenges are all the sweeter.

I visited Moab on a whim this fall and with no more than a bit of advice from the tourist info center I hiked a spectacular canyon with stream running through white sand and bamboo, on my own. I saw the guides and their clients. Sure they may have gotten more "information" about the history, geology, and nature of the canyon but I am sure precious little random discovery.

Friday, March 16, 2007

One of my favorite trail runs-Bradley Palmer State Park Appleton Grass Rides MA

Spectacular 9.3 mile trail run through North Shore MA horse and estate country.

See the Google map here. Click "View Details" to access the map and use features such as elevation profile. The default view is Google Satellite. Make sure to try the topo view in the drop down on the top right of the map.

Everytrail lets you embed pictures into your trips and I am looking forward to trying this feature. Combining GPS mapping, geo located pictures, and story/trip report is a big part of the future of travel/activity storytelling and sharing.

I used a Garmin Forerunner 205 GPS watch to map the run then uploaded to Everytrail. I had the last generation Forerunner 201 and the 205 is vastly improved in usability and most importantly maintaining a satelite signal in heavy tree cover areas such as New England or deep canyons areas such as in Utah . The leaves are not out yet so testing under the full canopy comes next.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Nordic Ski Racing

Not familiar with the best winter cross training for runners, cyclists, and rowers? Check out this YouTube video I shot at the UNH Winter Carnival 10K Classic Race . All the top Eastern college racers were there. There are two forms of racing: classic which you see here, and skate. Racers have to master both. It's my favorite sport: great core workout, low impact, thrills and spills, and incredible aerobic base building.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Inov-8 Trail and Mountain Running Shoes-Long Term Test

I have been running NH and Utah trails in Inov-8 trail and mountain shoes for almost a year. A previous post gives some background on what I think is a shoe company with its feet firmly on the terrains trail runners, and now I think all runners including road, actually experience. Inov-8 elegantly melds true biomechanical knowledge of the foot in action with grip, support, and cushion, for differing terrain, with corresponding models for race and training on varied terrain all into a comprehensive and coherent line for off road running.

My first model was the FlyRoc 310 which I found stable and nimble on all manner of trails, if a bit difficult to get on and keep laced snugly.

Lately I have been running in the RocLite 315. REI carries them The 315 cancan be considered the succesor to the FlyRoc 310. Note that at Inov-8 numbers correspond to weight in grams and model names correspond to terrain type-Roc, Mud, etc.. If you are gram challenged Inov-8's are far lighter than conventional trail runners with at least as much if not way more support and protection.

The 315 is a most worthwhile succesor indeed. I now have well over 250 miles of all sorts of terrain on the 315. I have jetisonned my Asics Kayano "boat" road shoes and now run everything in the 315's.

As the picture illustrates there is minimal wear to the soles. The upper around the midfoot is snug and supportive in the trademark Inov-8 style and has not collapsed or stretched as the 310's did somewhat over time. The upper is a very fine mesh of the same material as the 280 described below which breathes very well and drains fast and in my beach sand runs does not collect as much fine stuff as typical mesh shoes. The shoes are far easier to put on, tighten as you want and once laced stay as you chose.

RocLite 315

So, at least for me, and I suspect many others this is one shoe equally superb on rough trails and cushioned and responsive for long road runs, all in a very light package. I believe the concept of light and flexible, close to the ground when combined with the snug Meta Cradle design of the upper and the light protective and supportive Meta-Flex plate not only prevents ankle turns on the trail but also strengthens feet for the road thus preventing injuries.
Meta-Flex tm Plate inside RocLite 315
Note how plate fingers follow foot metatarsels

Next I will try the F-Lite 300 which is actually designed for hard pack trails and some roads as my road shoe. I also look forward to a new series of Inov-8's with "4 arrows" of cushion. The 315 having 3 arrows.

While on the light and fast subject. I also recently ran a 10 mile trail race in torrential rain and wind in the MudRoc 280 essentially the racing version of the 310 and 315 and found them surefooted and fast in very mucky conditions. Even had comments from fellow racers: "What are you wearing? You're not slipping. I am." The Mudroc would be a superb shoe for high school and college cross country racing The Mudroc is to the left in the picture below.

MudRoc 280 (left) RocLite 315 (right)