Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus Initial Testing Review: Trendline Popularity Route Mapping, Climb Pro, On Board Music, and Battery Life

Article by Sam Winebaum

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus Sapphire ($800)

UPDATE: See our full review of the Fenix 5 Plus here

We like to see battery life on the watch face so changed to the Garmin Titanium face, one of dozens available.  Pardon the sweaty watch face. It was hot on the trails here in New Hampshire!

The mighty Fenix 5 series goes Plus. This multi-sport, fully featured, rugged GPS and wrist heart rate watch series has every sport feature and performance and physiology metric imaginable. The Plus  series has three significant upgrades over the original Fenix 5 series:
  • All three Fenix 5 get color topo and road routable map capability on 1.2"/30.4mm displays. Previously only the Fenix 5X had color maps.
  • All three get an on board music player with up to a 500 song capacity
  • Garmin Pay for contactless payments is included.

Titanium Bezel Fenix 5 Plus

There are three Fenix Plus models distinguished by size of case, battery life and in the case of the Fenix 5 Plus the addition of a pulse oximeter sensor for altitude acclimatization. In a nutshell the bigger the watch the longer the battery life.

Fenix 5s Plus: ($700 and up)
  Case Dimensions: 42 x 42 mm x 15.4 mm 
  Weight: 65 g
  Battery life: up to 11  hours GPS
Fenix 5 Plus: ($700 and up)
 Case Dimensions: 47 x 47 mm x 15.7 mm 
 Weight: 86 g, 76 g Titanium. 
 Battery life: up to 18 hours GPS. Our initial testing indicates close to 14-17 hours GPS+HR, up to 9       hours GPS+Music+HR
Fenix 5X Plus: ($850 and up) 
  Case Dimensions: 51 x 51  mm x 15.7 mm 
  Weight: 96 g, 87 g Titanium 
  Battery life: up to hours 32 hours GPS 
All can extend battery life via UltraTrac mode with up to 70 hours GPS with the 5X. 

Monday, June 25, 2018

Sunday Afternoon Hats Review - Style, Versatility and Attention to Detail. For running or any activity, and for the whole family!

by Jeff Valliere

Living in Colorado, hiking, running and spending time in the mountains, we have become a hat wearing family.  Having worn the Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat for quite a few years, I was familiar with the brand, but after visiting their booth at Winter Outdoor Retailer this year,

I was very impressed with the wide variety of full coverage sunhats for both adults and kids, along with a wide array of lightweight, breathable running/everyday caps and visors.  When presented with the opportunity to review, I immediately jumped at the chance and was eager to see what Sunday afternoons had to offer beyond the one hat from them I was familiar with.

The Adventure Hat has been my go to for long mountain hikes, days at fairs, festivals, farmers markets, the beach, the pool or wherever I know I will have the sun beating down on me for a long period of time.  Coverage is extensive, providing neck protection and a wide shadow that keeps me from getting cooked.  For running however, the Adventure Hat is a bit too thick, bulky, heavy and keeping the sun off of my head becomes secondary to staying cool and ventilated.

Enter the Ultra Adventure Hat, which is not quite as airy and vented as a ball cap or visor, but provides an excellent balance of the wide brimmed sun protection that I have come to appreciate along with breathibility for those long runs in the hot summer sun.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Salomon Ultra Pro Review: Versatile and Roomy. All Day, Any Trail Comfort and Performance

by Jeff Valliere and Sam Winebaum

Salomon Ultra Pro 
The Ultra Pro joins Salomon's excellent fleet of trail runners as a secure yet widest fitting, well and relatively softly cushioned option with the longest easiest flex. It shares features with new S/Lab Ultra but also differs slightly:
  • both have the new Energy Save forefoot insert but here it is TPU instead of a PU insert as in the S/Lab,
  • both have two external Sensi Fit wings tied to a new tongue design and vertical loading lace garage. The S/Lab's are a dense pliable rubber like material the Ultra Pro's a combination of mesh and a sewn on overlay type material, 
  • both have a dual density midsole whose heel layer is somewhat softer in the Ultra Pro
  • both have excellent Contagrip rubber with 5mm lugs on the Ultra Pro and 4mm on the S/Lab, with the Ultra Pro having what seems to be slightly softer black rubber and a slightly wider forefoot ground platform. 
The design of the Ultra Pro is clearly intended for Ultra racing and really any trail run's comfort and security while not sacrificing performance. So how do they run? Jeff and Sam ran them in Colorado, Utah, and New Hampshire to find out.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Skechers Performance GO Run Max Trail 5 Ultra Review: Radically Different & Awesome Riding...On the Right Kind of Trails!

Article by Jeff Valliere, David Henry, Dave Ames, and Sam Winebaum

Skechers Go Run Max Trail 5 Ultra
Sam: I wear tested previous Skechers Performance trail shoes and found the trail side lagging the brand’s clear progress in road shoes over the last couple of years. I also wear tested the Max Trail 5. This is one truly radical new shoe. 

The original design did not change of a super cushioned and soft shoe with big lugs, a super comfortable sock like upper and a very lively dynamic ride helped along by a rock protecting stabilizing Hytrel plate, something did change big time along the way to production. The midsole foam changed from FlightGen to UltraFlight resulting in a whopping 2 oz drop in weight to 10 oz The change to UltraFlight also led to a yet more lively ride and a vibe that increasingly reminded me 
in many ways as the weight dropped of the road...Nike VaporFly 4%. Or as Jeff put it combine a race car engine and undercarriage with a luxury sedan cabin for an incredibly dynamic ride and speed with easy going up top cushy comfort that feels like it might struggle to hold on around the race track curves. The question to be answered in our test was: can a super cushioned, high stack, super light shoe with such a sock like upper support and hold up to the rigors of trail running on all kinds of terrain? Our testers in New Hampshire, Oregon, Colorado, and Southern California set out to find out.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Brooks Levitate 2 Initial Review: Yet More Solid Goodness!

Article by Sam Winebaum

Brooks Running Levitate 2 ($150)
Read our Full Review here
Don't let the considerable 11.7 oz weight scare you off! By far the heaviest roads shoe I have run in for years and gaining a bit over Levitate 1, the Brooks Levitate 2 with its innovative DNA AMP PU midsole skinned with a supportive sliver TPU skin is all smooth power. I ran the Levitate 1 and was surprised by its smooth almost pneumatic cushion and measured yet noticeable "energy return". Amply cushioned, well shod with a full smoothly and quietly transitioning durable outsole it is a shoe I reach for when I want to save the legs and still move along at a decent pace. If you were a Leviate 1 fan not to worry the ride is the same. The changes here are to the upper. We will have a full multi tester review shortly but here are my initial impressions after 20 or so miles at various moderate paces.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Saucony Freedom ISO 2 Review: Great New Upper. Improved Foot Hold and Stability. Same Ride.

Article by Sally Reiley, Dave Ames, and Sam Winebaum

Saucony Freedom ISO 2

The Saucony Freedom ISO 2 comes to the training table with changes focused on more secure support and stability for what in version 1 was a pretty wild and hard to tame ride for many. A low slung, "natural riding", 4mm drop shoe with an unstructured upper and a midsole made entirely of Everun TPU midsole, the ISO 1 was an intriguing ride (RTR review) capturing many fans but faded here at RTR as newer lighter dynamic midsoles such as Nike’s React, Reebok Floatride, Skechers FlightGen and even Saucony’s own Kinvara 9’s with EVA+ emerged after the Freedom ISO 1 came out. Does Freedom ISO 2 refresh the magic? We tested to find out.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Brooks Glycerin 16 Review: Finally Delivering on the Promise! Always Plush. Now Any Pace Lively

Article by Jeff Beck
Brooks Running Glycerin 16

The Brooks Glycerin 16 is a quantum leap forward for a shoe line that I have wanted to love for a long time. While the upper and overall fit and finish of this shoe has always been dialed in (leading to an immediate response of “This feels nice”), the 16 is the first version that puts it all together for me. This feels like Stockholm Syndrome is finally paying off.
My first Glycerin was the 8, and I have run in every version since (I skipped the 13 and 14), and ultimately every single shoe has been a disappointment in some way. Typically too sluggish, not responsive enough, or what felt great in the first few runs gave way to feeling just okay on the foot. That said, the 16 killed it. It's the first version that delivers on all the marketing promises of "balanced soft cushioning, plush transitions, and plush fit". This is a great all-around shoe, and none of its many predecessors were great all-around shoes. They were fine to good and mostly for long slow days, or heavier runners. The 16 breaks the mold to become an everyday monster.

Garmin Fenix 5/5S/5X Plus Series and Suunto 9 GPS Watch Previews

by Jeff Valliere

Recently Suunto announced the July release of the Suunto 9 Multisport GPS watch and today, not to be upstaged, Garmin released the updated version of the Fenix series with the 5S Plus, 5 Plus and 5X Plus, which all now include maps, which were previously exclusive to the 5X, as well as a slew of additional features.

Update: See our full in depth review of the Suunto 9 Baro here
Update: See our full review of the Fenix 5 Plus here

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus Series (5S Plus, 5 Plus, 5X Plus)
$699-$1149 depending on model and options.
Available June 2018
Fenix 5 S Plus Sapphire/Titanium

Saturday, June 16, 2018

7 Best Run and Multi-Sport Sunglasses of 2018

Article by Jeff Valliere with Sam Winebaum

RoadTrailRun tested a wide range of run and sport sunglasses in Utah, Colorado, and New Hampshire in all sorts of conditions through the winter and into spring. We selected these top models first for their high performance and secondarily for their style. Each has particular strengths, some are focused on a specific light conditions while others are photochromic, rapidly changing their light transmission as light conditions vary.  We highlight each below and invite you to read our linked in-depth reviews of each.

Friday, June 15, 2018

adidas Zonyk Aero Midcut Pro Sunglasses Review

by Jeff Valliere

The adidas Zonyk Aero Midcut Pro is a half frame version of the Zonyk, which with its lighter design and greater sense of unobstructed vision is being marketed toward running as well as cycling, being well represented in the pro peleton by the Movistar team.

The Zonyk Aero Midcut Pro, at 32 grams is not the lightest pair of shades we have tested, but on the face they feel light and secure.

We tested the Zonyk Aero Midcut Pro in the Cargo color with Shiny Chrome lens option.  The Shiny Chrome lens is rated at 12% VLT (visual light transmission), which makes it excellent in bright, sunny conditions. It works well for me when I am running out in the open in brilliant blinding snow, or above treeline.  I did however struggle running in even moderately dim shade, as the combination of the darker and grey tint does little to bring out contrast and detail.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon Review: Truly Fresh, the "Kinzante" is a Joy to Run!

Article by Sam Winebaum, Dave Ames, David Henry, and Peter Stuart

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon
Peter: I did not see this coming! I’ve been digging the NB 1400 V6 for fast stuff and rediscovering my love for the 890 series with the v6, but I had no idea that the NB Fresh Foam Beacon was coming down the pike. Maybe it’s due to my lack of expectations, but the Beacon has been a really surprising and delightful arrival. What a fun shoe!
Sam:  I totally agree with Peter. Beacon is a huge smiles shoe for me: very well cushioned, super light, flexible, stable, and best of all with a smooth ride with just enough response.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Brooks Running Ghost 11 Review: Top to Bottom, Effective Detailing and Tuning of a Classic Daily Trainer

Article by Sam Winebaum
Brooks Running Ghost 11

The Ghost reaches version 11 retaining its cushioned 12mm drop ride, accommodating fit, and durable long lasting outsole. Always a solid daily trainer, the Ghost 11 fine tunes and modernizes its tried and true formula, top to bottom. The updates include: 
  • a better fitting but in many ways similar engineered mesh upper, 
  • a new softer yet responsive foam DNA Loft midsole foam insert located only in the lateral heel crash pad while the rest of the midsole retains the same firmness of BioGoMo DNA foam as the Ghost 10 with tweaked midsole side wall geometries,
  • a tuning of the outsole lugs surface areas flattening them and focused on increased contract and smoothness.
Women's Ghost 11