Thursday, August 30, 2018

Mack Weldon Stratus Active Short and AIRKNITx T Review: All Day, Any Activity, Stylish, Highly Functional Performance and Always Fresh (Smelling) !

Article by Sam Winebaum

Mack Weldon is a New York City brand on a mission to reinvent Men's Basics: underwear, socks, shirts, and now athletic shorts. They do this through  smart design, premium fabrics, and simple shopping. We had heard of the brand and seen their ads appear on our pages. We were curious when they reached out to RoadTrailRun to test their Stratus Short, their first athletic short ,and an AirKnitX T shirt. Of course we were a bit skeptical and are always picky when it comes to run shorts as what could essentially is an underwear company do to improve on this run essential? 

We knew Mack Weldon focuses heavily on the comfort of their fabrics, sourcing unique materials always of interest here at RoadTrailRun, so we said yes. Our interest really perked up when we learned the fabric of the Stratus short was treated with 37.5 Technology which we have also tested and appreciated for its comfortable temperature and humidity regulating properties in top of the line Salomon S/Lab apparel and race vests. 37.5 is described as follows:
     "37.5® Technology helps keep your body at the ideal core temperature of 37.5° Celsius and helps  keep the microclimate next to your skin at the ideal relative humidity of 37.5%. When you’re hot, patented active particles embedded in the material remove sweat in the vapor stage before liquid sweat forms, cooling you down. When you’re cold, those same active particles trap your energy to help warm you up."

Stratus Active Short ($88)
  • 37.5® technology regulates body temperature, eliminates sweat, and fights odor
  • Silver XT2® brief liner fights odor (and leaves room for optional underwear)   
  • 7” inseam
  • Zip side pockets and hidden back pocket securely hold phone, wallet, keys
  • Laser-cut side perforations for targeted breathability
  • Elastic waistband with drawcord for customizable fit
  • Reflective side detail for nighttime visibility
  • 43% Polyester, 43% 37.5® Polyester, 14% Spandex
The Stratus has a 7" inseam short. Generally, and especially in super humid run weather we steer clear of longer inseams as the legs tend to stick, they get heavy with moisture and in the way. Not so here as the leg openings are sufficiently wide and that 37.5 tech really works compared to any short we have tested. It seemed to draw the moisture and heat out with a distinct feeling of thermoregulation. The outer fabric is very lightly textured, somewhat stretchy but not plasticky feeling,  drapes well and never noticeably sticks anywhere. The inner brief is soft and stretchy.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

UA Horizon BPF Trail Runner Initial Review: Race Tested at UA Mountain Series 25K!

Article by Sam Winebaum

UA Horizon BPF ($130)
The UA Horizon BPF is a lightweight (9.4 oz/266 g) trail runner with a molded soft and supportive upper, a relatively firm, responsive but forgiving and protective ride with great stability over uneven terrain. They are shod with what proved to be a very versatile all terrain Michelin rubber outsole. The BPF in the product name stands for Bullet Proof Feather, a cool name which more testing will have to validate but so far so good!
I took a pair straight of the box to run, well more like mostly hike ,at  the Under Armour Mountain Series 25K at the Killington Resort in Vermont this weekend. They did not disappoint as I clambered up and down 4500 vertical feet of very  steep grassy ski slopes navigating lots of mud, rocky jeep roads, and single track. RoadTrailRun will have a full multi tester review soon but here are my initial impressions but I can say the Horizon BPF puts UA on the trail running map with an innovative and effective shoe.
Above my wife's women’s version all fresh, clean and ready to get muddy! My pair did not make it in time for the race so UA loaned me a pair from their demo fleet.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

La Sportiva Unika Review:A Unique & Futuristic Trail Shoe It Is!

Article by Sam Winebaum and Jeff Valliere
La Sportiva Unika ($199)

The La Sportiva Unika is aptly named. This is one unique shoe! It packs an innovative soft, forgiving yet quite stable Infinitoo polyurethane foam (PU) midsole, an elaborate sock like upper supported by an outer harness with a bulbous toe protector, and one of the grippiest outsoles we have ever tested.  It is also unique as according to La Sportiva it is the first trail shoe manufactured in Europe, Romania to be specific.
The relatively heavy 12.2 oz /347 g Unika is a puzzler. Is it a trail runner, a fast packer, a through hiking shoe, or the ideal slow terrain Ultra shoe for the masses? Jeff and I tested on a variety of terrain including fast technical runs above Boulder, mellow road and trail on the Seacoast of New Hampshire and took them for a two day hike on the never ending steeps and boulders of the Northern Presidentials of New Hampshire. Read on for our test conclusions.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Mystery Ranch Huckberry Edition 1000 D Urban Assault 21 L Pack Review: Seriously Rugged Streamlined Day Pack

Article by Sam Winebaum
Mystery Ranch Huckberry Edition 1000 D Urban Assault 21 L Pack ($139)
Mystery Ranch of Bozeman, Montana founded in 2000 by Dana Gleason, previously co-founder of the iconic Dana Designs pack company, was approached in 2004 by the Navy Seals to design and build special packs for their needs. Since then Mystery Ranch has expanded its offering beyond traditional backpacking and mountaineering to military and Special Forces, woodland fire and upland hiking packs.

With a focus on user centric design, Mystery Ranch packs are known for their function first focus, durability and comfort-regardless of the load. I have often seen their packs on display at Outdoor Retailer with always a crowd of outdoors people and those special military people flocking the booth but  have never owned one.

I have been in the market for a day pack that I could use for hiking, nordic skiing and carrying the weekly work laptop. An advertisement from Huckberry for a special edition Mystery Ranch caught my eye as the specs met my needs to a T.

The Huckberry version of the Urban Assault 21 L differs from the regular Urban Assault in being made of forest service Hot Shots grade super rugged Cordura 1000D vs. the almost as rugged 500D in regular version, having a Velcro patch removable logo, and a special Dusky Green color.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Reebok Floatride Run Fast Pro Full Review: Amazing Substance, Minuscule 4 oz Weight! Best Race "Flat" Ever?

Article by Derek Li, Michael Ellenberger, Dave Ames and Sam Winebaum

Reebok Floatride Fast Run Pro
The Reebok Floatride Fast Run Pro is an impossibly light (3.6 oz/102 g in my US M8.5 so sub 4 oz in a US M9) road racing flat with an atmospheric $250 price tag, more than $60 per ounce so literally caviar pricing!

Sam: Designed for Reebok's elite athletes including their Zap Fitness team, this shoe took Nicole DiMercurio to a stellar 6th place at the Boston Marathon this year.  I sure scratched my head hearing that news, Boston hills and all... Was there more to this shoe than meets the scale? In the day of the super cushioned Vapor Fly what was Reebok thinking here? Let's just say real, real good thoughts and superbly executed!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Reebok Sweet Road 2 Review: Easy Riding. Easy Fitting Faster Trainer

Article by Sam Winebaum

Reebok is on a focused tear in 2018. The race Floatride Run Fast (RTR review) and Floatride Run Fast Pro (RTR review) are superb racing shoes among, if not the very best and most innovative of 2018 with their Floatride Foam PEBA midsoles, minimal uppers, and new approaches to integration of midsole materials and outsole.
Left to Right: Sweet Road 2, Floatride Run Fast, Floatride Run Fast Pro
What then is the fast training partner for these more race oriented shoes? Not the Grasse Road a fine somewhat more stability oriented and heavily cushioned shoe we recently tested (RTR review) and for me due to its 10.8 oz weight not the similar but more cushioned neutral oriented Harmony Road 2. Enter the Sweet Road 2.

At a very fair price of $100, this approx. 9.6 oz // 278 g US men's 9, 8 mm drop trainer seems to us the product of very, very careful consideration of and laser focused improvements area by area of the competitors in the class such as the Brooks Ghost, Saucony Ride ISO, Nike Pegasus 35, Asics Dynaflyte 3, Skechers Ride 7, adidas Solar Boost, even we would venture to say the lighter Kinvara.

To sum it up, and upfront, the Sweet Road 2 is flexible and transitions very easily and smoothly, has a relatively soft forefoot to go with a stable heel with its softer KooshRide TPU insert, has plenty of durable rubber well matched in firmness to the midsole, and is topped off with an unstructured buttery soft (I run them barefoot daily) engineered mesh upper with only one strategically placed medial overlay/insert, an upper that is most comfortable and decently supportive at the same time. Read on for the details.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Mammut 2019 Previews: 156 Years Young! Saentis Trail Runner/Hiker, Sertig Shorts, Masao Light Jacket. New Mammut Delta X Collection Brings Mountain Function & Modern Urban Style.

Article by Sam Winebaum

That's right Mammut started in 1862 as a rope maker and since then internally and through acquisitions has grown to cover all aspects of mountaineering and hiking. The catalog with tiny images is almost 300 pages long and includes everything from climbing gear to backpacks to apparel and a vast array of footwear. I have owned Mammut apparel, several bright red checked short sleeve shirts over the years. Swiss colors, Swiss quality.

At Outdoor Retailer Mammut, knowing our interest in trail running focused on three products out of the literally thousands: The Saentis trail runner fast packer shoe, The Masao light waterproof and highly breathable jacket, and the Sertig short a beautifully crafted all mountain activities short.

Available in March 2019 in Low ($129), Knit Low($179) and  Low GTX ($159), the Saentis bridges running and hiking.
The Saentis Knit Low has a rear knit upper stabilized to the rear by straps connected to the lacing.  The front is conventional breathable mesh. The women's version shown above weighs  9.9 oz/280 g in a US women's 7.5.  The men's US 9 weighs about 11 oz.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Topo Athletic 2019 Previews: Hydroventure 2, Terraventure 2, and New Ultraventure

Article by Sam Winebaum
Topo Athletic updates its Hydroventure and Terraventure trail runners with Vibram outsoles, Ortholite insoles and improved uppers while retaining their agile 3mm drop geometries. The new Ultraventure ups the cushioning with a 30mm heel, 25mm overall stack and a 3 piece multi density midsole. All Topo shoes share a roomy toe box and heel to toe drops between 0 mm and 5 mm. All of the updates we saw at Outdoor Retailer were to trail shoes.

Weight: 11.2 oz/ 317 g M9, 9.1 oz 257 g W7
Update: Final Production Weight will be approx. 10.2 oz /289 g US M9 (we are testing a production sample US M8.5 at 9.9 oz
Stack: 30 mm heel/ 25mm forefoot (incl. 5mm Ortholite insole and 6mm Vibram XS Trek rubber)
$130. Available October 2019 REI, elsewhere November.
Update: Full multi tester Ultraventure review here
The new Ultraventure can be thought of as the trail cousin of the Ultrafly, Topo's most cushioned road shoe. They share similar midsole stack heights and a 3 piece multi density midsoles with the Ultraventure adding more support to the upper, drainage gills, gaiter attachment points for the Topo Stretch gaiter and a very stout Vibram XS Trek outsole. There is no rock plate.

Revant Optics Custom Prescription Sunglasses Lenses Review - High Quality, Replacement Lenses At An Affordable Price!

by Jeff Valliere

Revant Prescription Sport Lenses – Custom Cut

Single Vision Custom Prescription Midnight Sun Mirrorshield

Revant Optics was founded in 2009, soon after founder and CEO Jason Bolt crashed while mountain biking and damaged his sunglasses.  When he tried to buy replacement lenses, he found that they were no longer available, so he ordered a batch of 200 lenses from the manufacturing company, kept a few pairs and sold the rest.  The idea was born to make custom cut replacement lenses for sunglasses, new and old, prescription and non prescription, at a fair price and with great customer service.
The process is real simple:
  • Get a recent prescription. if needed. Revant will also replace non prescription lenses.
  • Select lens type for your frame -there are some limits to the strength of prescription given original frame and lens shape
  • Send your old frames to Revant in the mailing box they will provide
  • Within a few weeks your favorite frames come back with new performance lenses
Last year we reviewed Titanium Mirrorshield replacement  lenses for the much more common Oakley Flak Jacket with great results.  It was impossible to tell the difference between the original Oakley prescription lenses and the Revant replacements.  After a year of use, I don’t have a scratch on them after daily every day use, as well as some running and biking.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Hoka One One EVO Mafate 100 Plus Mile Updated Review: Maximal Cushion, Highly Responsive, All Terrain Racer and Trainer

Article by Sam Winebaum, Jeff Valliere, and Dom Layfield

Update: Our review is updated at approximately at 100 plus miles with comments on upper fit, outsole wear, and more general comments. 
Jeff now has 115 miles of often very technical, rocky Boulder running in the EVO Mafate and says: "When not reviewing other shoes (which has been in a bit of a lull for me this summer), I almost always find myself reaching for the EVO Mafate, even over the Torrent which is also a favorite for 2018." 
Dom now has150 miles on his and concludes: 
"I think this is a highly significant shoe for Hoka One One.  Hoka have long been a dominant force in the ultrarunning world, and I have worn their shoes to race several 100-mile races.  But until recently nothing in their line up has really stood out for me as a well-rounded trail shoe, or enticed me a daily trainer.  The Mafate EVO has a sublime, super-cushioned ride (particularly in the forefoot) and is absolutely a shoe I would select for both high-volume training and on race day."

Hoka One One EVO Mafate
Sam: The Mafate was Hoka’s original shoe way back in 2009. Remember those years? Running was in the throes of Born to Run, minimalism, and Vibram Five Fingers. Well Hoka, founded by two ex Salomon guys with a deep knowledge of running shoe and ski design, and mountain biking had a different idea. Their Mafate was designed to be the running equivalent of a well suspended mountain bike or fat ski with maximum cushion and broad foot print on the ground for fast downhill running. Well we know how the story ends now a decade later with Hoka growing rapidly on essentially their initial formula with a broad line of shoes, some even not so maximal.

I first ran the original Mafate in 2010 and also used it to hike around the Mt Blanc in a bit more than five days.
2010 Cruising Park City Trails in the original Mafate
For sure it was well cushioned and leg friendly on downhills but it was hard to move along uphill or on the road as it was so stiff and massive. Rolling forward to 2018 the new EVO Mafate maintains its max cushion and vibe in a thoroughly modern dynamic shoe. Under development for a considerably time, very near production versions were run to great success by Tim Tollefson (3rd) and Jim Walmsley (5th) at the 2017 UTMB on a course ideally suited for a shoe where lots of vertical, technical terrain and smoother fast running are all in the mix.
The EVO Mafate uses 2 flavors of cushioning in its midsole: Hoka’s EVA and below that R-Bound a successor to Hoka’s dynamic RMAT, now 9% lighter and more durable. It is shod with a versatile any terrain Vibram MegaGrip outsole, has some flexibility and is very decently responsive, even on the road.  I has a very commendable lightweight of 10.5 oz for a trail and for that matter road shoe with this much going on underfoot. We did not run its predecessor the Mafate Speed but Hoka tells us the main difference is the upper and the substitution of R-Bound for RMAT.
And what an upper the EVO Mafate has! It is made a single piece of engineered mesh with patented new MATRYX tech where the structure and support does not come from varying the weaving pattern of a single material but from varying densities of Kevlar thread woven in with the other more conventional threads. The resulting combination is non wicking while also having high abrasion resistance. Read on to see what our testers thought. They ran on a variety of surfaces in Colorado, Utah, and New Hampshire. 

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Brooks Running 2019 Previews: The Evolution of Support. Firm Medial Posts are No More! Guide Rails in Ravenna 10, Adrenaline GTS 19, Transcend 6. Launch 6, Glycerin 17, and Caldera 3

Article by Sam Winebaum

Brooks surprised with a major paradigm shift in how their Spring 2019 "support, pronation control, stability" shoes will be constructed. Gone will be firm medial posts and other contraptions in the Ravenna 10 and Adrenaline 19, two of their major franchise support shoes with the Adrenaline their top seller in the category

The concept is to not "outsmart" the foot at the arch and underfoot but to guide motion at the calcaneal bone using Guide Rails on both wrapping from near the top of the midsole under foot then up the side of the upper.  The metaphor used is that Guide Rails are the bumpers in a bowling alley and the foot is the ball. The Guide Rails will come into play, as needed, for both support oriented and neutral runners (as their stride falls out of place).
According to Brooks a more substantial medial Guide Rail will stabilize calcaneal eversion on the medial inner side

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Salomon Spring 2019 Previews: Speedcross 5, Adv Skin 8 Set Women's Vest, Sonic RA 2, Sense Ride 2, Odyssey Triple Crown Thru Hiker

Article by Sam Winebaum

Speedcross 5
MSRP: $130
Weight: 11.6 oz (US 9M) / 9.9oz (US 7W)
Stack Height: 30mm/20mm (10mm drop)
Available: February 1, 2019. Gore-Tex and wide versions Fall 2019

The Speedcross, the top selling trail shoe worldwide, gets significant upgrades centered on stability and upper comfort. Focused on loose surfaces including mud, snow, and sand the Speedcross is also an “around town” favorite and will be available in many colors.

The upper in the toe box moves away from scratchy stiff rip stop and stitching to softer materials and is assembled with a new vacuum forming technology to make the toe box more supple and accommodating.

The front on the ground platform is widened slightly again to provide more comfort and a wider grip on the ground.

To enhance stability and ground contact the lugs are widened.

Altra Running Lone Peak 4.0 Review Top Selling Trail Run and Thru Hike Shoe Upgrades with Improved Upper Support and Grip, and More Flexibility

Article by Dominick Layfield, David Henry and Sam Winebaum

Altra Lone Peak 4.0
Sam: The Lone Peak is Altra’s best selling trail running shoe. It is also the best selling trail shoe in run speciality stores, and the best selling non Salomon shoe in outdoor stores. It is the most popular shoe for thru hikers on the Applachian and Pacific Crest Trails according to Altra and this preview article by Andrew Skurka here.  Our  reviewers have run previous versions of the Lone Peak (RTR review of the Lone Peak 3.5 here) and have noted that with each version Altra has carefully attempted to improve durability and lock down the sometimes loose fit, while retaining the distinctive soft, excellent trail feel. Read on to see what our testers thought of this new version.