Sunday, January 29, 2012

OR-Brooks PureFlow Explained, PureFlow 2

The Brooks PureFlow was my favorite running shoe in 2011. I have run over 300 miles in my first pair and find the combination of just right cushion, aligned gait cycle, strike point further forward without effort or mechanical gimmicks, wide toe box, light weight, and durability a pleasure to run in. I now have a pair of the PureGrit trail runner and am finding them equally fine,with the added advantage they can be comfortably used on road and trail. 

I stopped by the Brooks booth to find out more about what makes the PureFlow so special. My notes from a conversation with a product person from Brooks.

  • The Ideal Heel moves the point of contact further forward. I can really feel that. Ideal Heel maintain the foot landing in a forward position, instead of causing a"heel brake" effect. 
  • Ideal Heel prevents over striding and helps alignment of the foot ( I agree!). This leads to potential fewer injuries-not sure on this claim but I have never been sore since I started running in PureFlow.
  • I wanted to know what the purpose of the "caterpillar" crash pods on the outer edge of the midsole were. I was told they smooth foot laydown in transitions. Larger the pods=more cushion. 
  • I asked about the yellow outsole pod (see picture above). I was told it was a neutral stability element. For me this pod is a key element of why the PureFlow is a great shoe. Given the more forward landing point my sense is my first point of contact to the road is right on this pod. The added stability there helps align the rest of the foot lay down. 
  • Why does the road feel seem to combine decent cushion yet is also highly responsive? I was told that blending the DNA material, (usually the forefoot and heel strike pads inserted into a conventional midsole) with the BioGoMo midsole all into one material provides a combination of responsiveness (DNA stiffens based on relative impact forces) and durable cushion throughout the entire midsole. 
  • All the Brooks PureProject shoes include this combination of DNA and BioMoGo blended in different combinations. I feel  this combination also contributes to the overall durability of the shoe. With 300 plus miles in most other shoes I would be feeling aches and pains,  yet with the PureFlow as the material packs out I am still running strong in my first pair. I also believe my stride has adapted to a mid foot landing. So, the shoe has become more minimal and I think my stride has become more natural adapting to less cushion along the way. 

PureFlow 2: No changes to outer or midsole. Upper will be modernized and potentially lightened a bit. 

OR Discovery-Eucalptex Base Layer: Super Comfort, Natural, Quick Dry, No Smell, No Chemicals

Outdoor Retailer never disappoints. Among all the glitzy big booths and flashy products and technologies small innovative gems hide in the side aisles.

Modrobes eucalyptus based Eucalyptex based layers was one such find. Steven Debus the CEO gave me a long sleeve sample to try.

I gave it the Sam test: multiple days of use for multiple activities. I did a full day of alpine skiing, then under my work clothes, then an indoor hour plus run in warm temperatures with no washing between.

1) Unlike synthetics or my usual winter favorite wool the Eucalyptex is extremely soft and comfortable on the skin.
2) I was never chilled (down hill skiing) or overheated ( running indoors at about 65 F).
3) While it did not dry as quickly as my Patagonia Silk weight it dried about at the same rate as light wool such as Icebreaker 150 or Patagonia Wool 1 and when wet was not clammy.
4) Stink test: smelled fresh after 2 full days of use.
5) Made in Canada from sustainably forested eucalyptus using a closed loop process which is certified to be environmentally safe.

My only concern is durability and care over time. It needs to be washed cold and line dried much as many of the newer base layers,  It may pill when abraded.

Friday, January 20, 2012

OR Introduction- Saucony Adventerra GTX 4 mm drop Light Hiker

Most summers my wife and I head out on a 7-10 day trek across the Alps. Last summer we did the Walker's Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt. I wore the Salomon XA Pro Mid GTX essentially a higher version of the Salomon XA Pro trail runners. They were a bit light for the rocky terrain.

Saucony introduced the Adventerra GTX at Outdoor Retailer and it immediately caught my eye as a candidate for our next trek. Not only a 4mm drop from heel to toe to enhance the hiking gait cycle but a very burly yet light Vibram sole and very supportive waterproof GoreTex upper.  All of this in a 15 oz shoe/boot, not much more weight than a trail runner.

Weight: 15 oz. men's size 9
Heel/Toe Drop: 4mm
MSRP: $170
Available: Now

OR Introduction- Saucony Kinvara 3 and Kinvara TR

Saucony introduced an update to the popular Kinvara, the Kinvara 3 and a new Kinvara family member, the Kinvara TR or Kinvara trail. Both of these shoes share FlexFilm tm technology in the upper "to secure the foot on the platform throughout the gait cycle." They also share a 4mm heel to toe drop.

Kinvara 3 and TR. Click to see details.

Kinvara 3 
I have had 2 pairs of the Kinvara 1 and they were my first low drop (4mm) trainer and racer. I liked them a lot but found the upper became somewhat sloppy over time and the road feel was a bit mushy due to the raised soft rubber lugs. Kinvara 3 appears to resolve both these issues.

Upper: From what I could see the FlexFilm is used extensively in thin strips to secure the upper to the midsole. With this improvement I believe the overall shoe will track better and over time the upper will stay secure on the midsole platform.

Outer Sole: Earlier versions of Kinvara exhibited  accelerated wear in the toe off area and on the lateral side of the mid foot for me. In the photo below the red arrows indicate the addition of harder more wear resistant outer sole materials. These patches are broader than the black lugs and look ideally placed. I believe the mid foot patches will also provide a more stable landing point in that key area enhancing the stability of the gait cycle.

Kinvara 3 -harder outsole materials at red arrows

New heel outer sole design: The heel is now beveled to reduce heel striking and move the gait cycle forward onto the mid foot. Hard rubber was removed from the medial side of the heel area.

Weight: 7.7 oz men's size 9
Heel/Toe Drop: 4mm
MSRP: $100
Available: 5/1/2012 and 7/1/2012 different colors available different dates

Kinvara TR
This new trail member of the Kinvara family shares the use of FlexFilm technology in the upper with the Kinvara 3 as well as the 4mm heel to toe drop. It weighs 8.5 oz men's size 9 and has forefoot stack(midsole and outer sole) height of 12.5mm and heel of 16.5mm. It has a rock plate running from the forefoot almost to the mid foot.  I imagine this shoe will have a quite firm stable ride over varied terrain. Kinvara TR is a strong new contender in the light (<10 oz) , low drop, yet protective trail runner category

The lugs look effective on most all surfaces and are less pronounced than the Saucony Peregrine's . The outer sole includes protruding small studs in addition to the wave shaped lugs.  I might worry about mud accumulation given overall tight spacing of outer sole traction.
Kinvara TR

Kinvara TR

Weight: 8.5 oz men's size 9
Stack heights: 12.5mm forefoot 16.5 mm heel.
MSRP: $100
Available: 7/1/2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Headed to Outdoor Retailer (OR) Winter Market 2012

Starts Thursday 1/19. Will be reporting on trail and road running, hydration, and nordic ski finds. Should be fun, as always.

If there is a product or up coming product you want me to find out more about please post your questions in the comments below.

While products introduced at OR are for winter 2012-2013 typically the running companies are also displaying spring and summer releases for the current year.