Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Monday, November 19, 2018

Salming Miles Lite Review: Sweden Strikes Back!

Article by Michael Ellenberger and Kathleen Valadez

Salming Miles Lite ($130)


Joining me for this review is my fiancĂ©e, Kathleen, a former collegiate distance runner with PRs of 18:03 for 5,000m and 37:52 for 10,000m. While she still races from time-to-time, she's scaled back the milage nowadays, and values a comfortable ride rather than a racing-oriented trainer.
* * * * *

Salming, hailing from Sweden, is a brand that's been on the periphery here in the United States. Certainly you can spot a pair or two at your next road race, but you'd be hard-pressed to find them at your local running store, and the other sports they manufacture equipment for - squash and handball - aren't exactly your "mainstream" options. Not to disparage the brand - they've certainly been manufacturing shoes a long time - but just to provide clarity if you opened this review thinking Salomon had yet another new shoe. Despite relative obscurity, we've seen these shoes before here at RTR: the EnRoute received overall praise from our team in February 2017, and the Speed 6, more of a predecessor or ancestor to today's Miles Lite, received mixed reviews. Excited about the possibility of a new lightweight trainer, Salming sent us out a couple test pairs of the Miles Lite to try out.

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v9 Initial Review: A Major Update. Getting the lead out and smoothing the ride!

Article by Sam Winebaum

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v9 ($150)


New Balance fans have stayed patient with the 1080, New Balance's premium neutral trainer, and for 9 versions now! While they gradually improved, getting somewhat less stiff and heavy, the model remained ponderous and overly stiff especially upfront and quite frankly not much fun to run. With three runs in including a short run with v8 on one foot and v9 on the other it is clear New Balance has: 
  • gotten the lead out, dropping the weight more than half an ounce to below 10 oz, about 280 grams, 
  • softened the Fresh Foam a bit, finally getting some lively well cushioned easier transitioning movement out a now clearly more flexible forefoot, 
  • given the 1080 a superb Jacquard mesh with one piece molded rear heel unit modern upper. 
So much of am improvement so that I cut my side by side test with v8 short as the contrast was so striking and the v8 (RTR review) so ponderous and stiff in comparison that I turned around and put two v9 on my feet to carry on! Much improved the v9 is a major update.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Kogalla RA Adventure Light Review - Portable Daylight To Revolutionize Your Night Running and Other Nocturnal Adventures!

by Jeff Valliere and Sam Winebaum

Kogalla RA Adventure Light
800 max lumens
Weights: RA Light/Cord plus detachable USB BatPaks
Total 350 grams with BatPak II (251 grams)
Total 228 g with BatPak I (129 grams)
Light/Cord = 99 grams

Bundle Starting at $99.97 for RA  Light/Cord,  a 6700mAh BatPak1 and Accessory Kit


The Kogalla lighting systems are unique in their design, with 5 LED's interconnected to a "light strip", providing up to 800 lumens and a near infinite amount of mounting options for just about any night outdoor sport or activity.  The Kogalla RA provides a large and deep swath of warm light that gives a so far unparalelled sense of definition and balance, even while running on the most technical trails on the darkest nights.

Garmin Instinct Review: Run and Outdoor Focused GPS/HR Smart Watch. A Rugged Value!

Article by Sam Winebaum with Jeff Beck

Garmin Instinct ($300)

With the new Instinct Garmin heads in a new direction. Garmin has a broad and sometimes confusing array of GPS/HR sport watches given their seemingly infinite variations of features and specs.
The Instinct slots into the Outdoor category as a rugged, lower cost smart watch alternative to the Fenix 5 and 5 Plus. It incorporates a multitude of features for training on land and water, including all the run training features of its Forerunner siblings except the deeper physiology and recovery insights. It includes basic breadcrumb course following and not one but two compass screens, plenty of vertical tracking as well all the usual Garmin features to follow daily activity, sleep, heart rate, stress, while also providing phone notifications and music control

The Look
The overall look is rugged but playful at the same time. We really like the very light sand color Tundra White with black highlighting of our samples. Vaguely military and not the usual black, white or fluo colors, although Black and a cool Flame Red are also available. The watch faces highlighted by the circle window and its data, and with my selected and customized watch face with the HR graph and current HR displayed as well as sunset is a modern take on the classic digital watch of yore.

A key new feature, unique to the Instinct  is a “two window design” screen layout.

A circular window at top right is on all screens: watch faces, activity and otherwise, provides customizable key data and serve up graphic tips for interaction with the watch.

The Instinct does not include the deeper training and recovery physiology insights and multi-sport features of the Forerunners such as the 645 ($400) Forerunner 935 ($500 ) RTR review, or Fenix 5 Plus series ($700 and up but now on sale for $550 and up) RTR review, or the sleek metal bezel styling, color touch screen, on board music option and Garmin Pay of the more lifestyle oriented vivoactive 3 ($270 and up). And no Golf as an activity here as in the Vivoactive, Fenix, and Forerunner. Go out and run, swim, hike, ski, work in the outdoors the message!

34 grams lighter than the Fenix 5 Plus and a minimum of $250 less at Fenix 5 Plus current sale price no less, it weighs about 10 grams more than the 645 and vicoactive 3. I has a lower resolution 128 x 128 monochrome non color and smaller screen than any of its siblings but an incredibly readable one in all light conditions. The case and prominent raised bezel is all fiber reinforced polymer with a well protected, by the bezel, chemically strengthened glass lens, as the Fenix has. Watch faces are limited but customizable, Garmin's Connect IQ store customization of watch faces, widgets, and apps is not available, but you do get that playful and very effective configurable additional circle screen not available on any other Garmin.

We tested the Instinct, and as is almost always the case with new Garmin watches, performance was excellent, bugs few, and all features promoted as far as we could tell working as intended. Read on for the details

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 Review - Same Great Ride and Traction, Improved Upper

Article by Jeff Valliere, Dom Layfield, Dave Ames, and Cheyne Inman

Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 ($140)
Editor’s Note: Our reviewers include Jeff Valliere who is daily and fast on the steeps of the Flatirons above Boulder, Colorado, Dom Layfield an accomplished and speedy ultra runner based in Southern California, Dave Ames a run coach in SoCal who stays in sub 3 shape and who is training for his first Ultras, and Cheyne Inman also in SoCal who is a 1:07 half marathoner mainly focused on the roads. Their full run bios can be found here.

Jeff:  The Speedgoat 2 (RTR review) was one of my top 2 shoes of 2017, top pick if I wanted max cushion and my choice for all of the trail races I ran, including the Pikes Peak Marathon.  The light weight, max cushion, good traction and good response was a winning combination and a marked improvement over the first version of the Speedgoat.  The Speedgoat 3 retains all of the good qualities and improves upon what were really my only minor concerns, the fit and durability of the upper. These two concerns came to the fore long after my SpeedGoat 2 review was published and I will elaborate further on them below.

Dom:  I was never as enthusiastic as Jeff about the Speedgoat 2, but nevertheless selected it several times to run 100-milers (including twice for UTMB).  The forefoot was too narrow for my taste, and the sole stack was so thick and stiff that I could barely feel the ground underfoot. For daily running, it was the antithesis of what I was looking for.  However, for epic race efforts like UTMB, this was an absolutely bulletproof and extremely competent shoe at a really competitive weight.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 5 Review: An intriguing contrast of maximal cushioning and minimal everything else

Article by Dominick Layfield, Jeff Valliere, and Dave Ames

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 5 ($130)
Editor’s Note: Our reviewers include Jeff Valliere who is daily and fast on the steeps of the Flatirons above Boulder, Colorado, Dom Layfield an accomplished and speedy ultra runner based in Southern California, and Dave Ames, also in SoCal, is a running coach who stays in sub 3 shape and who is training for his first Ultras. Their full run bios can be found here.
Note that none of our reviewers ran in the ATR 4 but Jeff ran in 1-3.

Official Weight: 9.4 oz / 266 g US M9,  7.7 oz / 218 g US W7
Dave’s Size US M9:  9.7 oz / 275 g / / / 9.1 oz / 259 g (without sockliner)
Dom’s Size US M10:  10.3 oz / 293 g
Official Stack Height: 29 mm / 24 mm, 5 mm drop;  (27 mm / 22 mm for Women’s version)
$130. Available Nov 2018 at REI. and Hoka  January 2019 general release. Available in Wide.

First Impressions and Fit
Dave:  I haven’t been the biggest fan of Hoka’s road shoes over the years (just way too soft and beat my legs up), but man, whatever is coming out of the trail department is really, really nice. It’s almost like the trail team is on another planet.  Or at least another level! They came strong earlier this year with the Torrent, which I absolutely love for trail racing, and then backed that up with the EVO Mafate, which is a solid go to trainer / racer for those long days in the dirt!

Dave: Why do I like Hoka trail shoes?  They don’t feel like a Hoka. So...say hello to the Challenger ATR 5 (All Terrain). Note: I did not run in previous versions, but when you take a look at the ATR 5, there is really nothing special about it in terms of looks. It supposedly was softened up a tad from versions 3 and 4 and gained just a tad over 0.5 oz from the 4.  However, It’s plain and simple, rides well on road and trails, and honestly, without a Hoka label slapped on it, one would think it may be a knockoff. But step in is real nice and my size 9 is spot on for my narrower foot, with some width in the toe box and plenty of room for cruising downhills without toe jamming.  It laces up quite nicely and through the use of the last eyelet, I am locked and loaded with no slippage. For those with wider feet it is available in wide.

Dom: Like Dave, I haven’t run in previous iterations of the Challenger ATR.  Long ago, I briefly wore a pair of an early version (1st or 2nd gen) at a Hoka shoe demo.  Then I tried on v. 3 in a running store. Both times, I came away disappointed. Plenty of people were excited and positive about the shoes, but to me they seemed narrow and just not foot-shaped.  Certainly not shaped anything like my feet, anyway! From what I can gather, the ATR got wider with version 4. Or maybe my feet just got used to the Hoka last, as I started running regularly in the Clayton 2 and then the Mach, Speedgoat 2 and EVO Mafate.

Dom: Whatever happened, putting on the ATR 5 was a very happy surprise.  Although far from an Altra/Topo wide forefoot, the shoe now feels much more comfortable and less restricting.  I’ve always preferred my shoes soft and neutral-feeling. In this regard, the ATR is a delight. The sole is full-on Hoka maximalism, with bottomless marshmallow cushioning.  The upper is uncomplicated and functional.

Jeff:  I have a long history with the Challenger ATR having run in versions 1-3.  I have always appreciated the lighter weight of the shoe, given how well cushioned, responsive and reasonably secure the upper has been.  My number one complaint however was with outsole durability issues, where the rubber sections of outsole would peel off from the shoe. This would begin for me after about 15 miles and continue to steadily degrade.  This only seemed to be a serious concern for those who run steep and rocky trails, given the rough surfaces and shear forces associated with running fast on such terrain. I know others who use the Challenger ATR and experienced the same issues on mountainous terrain, but I think was less of a problem for those who run on more moderate trails.  Given the issues I have had with outsole durability in prior versions, I was most excited to test the new revised outsole, the first improvement of it thus far in the Challenger lineage.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Salomon Running Winter 2019 Preview: X Alpine Pro, Supercross, Spikecross 5 GTX, Snowspike CS WP, Advanced Skin Set Vests

Article by Jeff Valliere

X Alpine Pro ($160)
Weight:  10.6 oz //300 g (US M9), 9.5 oz // 270 g (US W7)
Stack: 24mm/18mm, 6 mm drop

Having had a deep love affair with my now well abused (but still hanging tough) and 2017 trail shoe of the year, the Salomon XA Elevate (RTR review here), I nearly blew a gasket when introduced to the upcoming Salomon Alpine Pro. The X Alpine Pro is a hybrid of the waterproof winter shoe, the S/Lab XA Alpine (RTR review here) and the XA Elevate.  The X Alpine Pro at first glance looks like the XA Elevate in a new colorway, with very similar styling and outsole, but dig deeper and there are a few differences.
Styling is similar with the internal Sensi Fit underlays remain for clean lines and what I expect will be an impeccably secure and precise fit for pushing hard in mountainous terrain.  The toe bumper had been expanded and beefed up a bit, though I never had protection issues with the Elevate. The quicklace is similar, however the XA Alpine has none of the hard plastic lace grommets that can be found in other models and sometimes create a pressure point.  

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus and Fenix 5 Sale Sale at Running Warehouse USA: $150-$200 Off!

Running Warehouse USA is having a big Garmin Fenix sale right now, while supplies last. 
Deals include the new Fenix 5 Plus series watches $150 off and Fenix 5 series $200 off!

Review of the Fenix 5 Plus is HERE
Reviews of the Fenix 5X are HERE and HERE

Shopping via the link below to Running Warehouse also helps support RoadTrailRun!  Thanks!

Friday, November 09, 2018

Jaybird Sport Ear Buds Review: New Run Focused Tarah, X4, and Tarah Pro

Article by Sam Winebaum

Over the last few years in a crowded market for earbuds Jaybird Sport, a Park City, UT company owned by electronics accessories giant Logitech has staked out a focus in running and endurance sports for its line of earbuds, sponsoring athletes such as Tim Olson and Rory Bosio and creating the wonderfully inspiring Run Wild series of short films exploring the future of global running culture through people places and music. 

Quite frankly while the marketing and sound quality have been excellent, run specific functionality especially secure easy to tune fit, adequate but not ultra worthy battery life, and water resistance for all run conditions and over time were somewhat lacking in prior seasons.

Not so in 2019 as Jaybird introduced its spot on new wireless buds X4 ($130), Tarah ($100), and Tarah Pro ($160)  at a wonderful event in Brooklyn complete with night run with the famous Black Roses run crew, a panel discussion led by Scott Jurek and screening of new Run Wild films. In our initial testing we have been delighted with the new line and its attention to what runners need.
The 2019 line includes left to right below:  X4, Tarah, and Tarah Pro.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Reebok Sweet Road 2 Multi-Tester Review: A Simply Delightful & Well Executed Daily Trainer, Fairly Priced

Article by Sam Winebaum, Derek Li, Peter Stuart, and Dave Ames

Reebok Sweet Road 2 ($100)

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 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) or 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. 9.5 oz // 269 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, over competitors in its class.

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 shock reduced with a KooshRide TPU insert, has plenty of durable rubber well matched in firmness to the midsole, and is topped off with an unstructured buttery soft 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.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Topo Ultraventure Multi Tester Review: Accommodating, Softly Cushioned & Versatile Trail Cruiser

Article by Dominck Layfield, Jeff Beck, David Henry, and Sam Winebaum
Topo Athletic Ultraventure ($130)
The Ultraventure represents Topo's first trail oriented more maximally and softly cushioned shoe. It adds 2mm front and back stack to the road focused Ultrafly 1 (RTR review) and like the Ultrafly features a tri density midsole. The midsole of the Ultraventure combines higher rebound injected EVA for the main body of the shoe with a softer compression molded heel insert to ease transitions and a firmer medial side compression molded area for a touch of guidance.  The Ultrafly 1 was all compression molded foam.
The upper is a simple, fairly dense and thin engineered mesh with a multitude of pliable overlays. The outsole is Vibram XS Trek rubber, a tacky, fairly soft all terrain outsole material. And of course we have Topo's roomy yet secure wider toe box.

Friday, November 02, 2018

The (Made-in-Kenya) Enda Sportswear Iten Review: The Anti-Pegasus Turbo

By Michael Ellenberger

Author's Note: I spoke with Enda, and received some updates. First and foremost, new colors (potentially those from the Kickstarter, below) are on the way. Presumably they're a variation on the Kenyan green, red, and black - but we'll wait and see! Second, I have received some questions about the materials and production of the Iten. The Enda team directed me towards a video, showcasing some of the production, and noted that they're moving towards an all-Kenyan production, inclusive of materials and labor. Just another step towards delivering Kenyan running to runners around the world, while driving development in Kenya!

Finally, next in the pipeline is a more cushioned trainer - undoubtedly RoadTrailRun will have it covered once we know more!

* * * * *
The Enda Iten in green. My kind of shoe.
Enda Sportswear is a company based in Nairobi, Kenya. Besides making some kick-ass running shoes (more on that below), Enda promotes a strong social program: furthering economic development by creating manufacturing and marketing jobs in Kenya, supporting local communities through the Enda Community Foundation (Enda commits 2% of each purchase to "social good initiatives" in Kenya), and "changing the way the world sees Kenya."
"Proudly Made in Kenya" - and worn worldwide.
This third point is particularly interesting - any reader of Road Trail Run knows that some of the world's greatest runners are Kenyans, and for many, the extent of what we know about Kenya at all is that it's home to runners - but there's more, of course. Enda wants to highlight the creativity and skill of Kenyans, saying that when you see that 'Made in Kenya' tag, "it should automatically mean quality and contemporary style." Looking at the Enda Iten sitting on my desk, I think they're off to a good start.

Enda started on Kickstarter, where they raised $128,187, more than $50,000 above the set goal. One of the things promised in the Kickstarter campaign was an alternate, "special edition" colorway if the project reached $150,000. Unfortunately it finished short, but I hope we see the special edition colors in the future, because they do look sharp (see below). Even so, I'm a fan of the solid, simple look they went with. Hard to go wrong. The colors offered used even have special meaning: "black represents the indigenous people of Kenya, Red for the blood that was shed fighting for Kenyan independence and green for the rich agricultural landscape of Kenya. The white on the sole is for peace."
Special edition shoes from Enda's Kickstarter campaign.
Enda didn't tell me this, directly, but it almost feels like an anti-Nike. There's no hype here, no flashy technology or carbon fiber plates - just a straightforward, lightweight trainer. Three colors. A simple outsole design. Something about that simplicity, in the era of 4%, Boost, and DNA AMP, really appeals to me. Of course, what really matters is how it runs, not what it proposes to do....
Notice all the little details and patterns on the upper and midsole - really slick. The logo mimics the arrow from the Kenyan flag.

Ultimate Direction Mountain Vest 4.0 Review: More Versatility, Comfort, and Capacity. Lighter Too!

by Jeff Valliere

Ultimate Direction Mountain Vest 4.0
Capacity: 810ci or 13.27 liters
12.7 oz. with included body bottles
9.24 oz. without bottles
Sizing - Sm/Md/Lg
Introduction/What's New

The Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0 (RTR review) has been my go to running vest for long days in the high mountains, or for the local peaks during the colder months when I need to carry more warm clothes, lighting and other gear.  Not only does it carry a lot of gear, it carries it securely and firmly, without excess bounce or worry that items are going to fall out, as almost all of the pockets are zippered or at least have cinch straps.  Front and side pockets are cleverly arranged and it is easy to access essentials needed while running such as water, food, phone, gloves, beanies, tablets, chap stick, headlamp or any other small to mid sized essentials, while there is ample room in the back for larger items.

Improvements to the Mountain Vest 4.0 include:
  •  Added nearly 2 liters of capacity
  •  Dropped nearly 2 ounces in weight
  •  Added comfort cinch technology for easy on the fly adjustments
  •  Improved trekking pole straps
  •  Higher quality soft flasks
  •  A much softer, lighter, more breathable mesh material that feels more like clothing than a   backpack.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Saucony Kinvara 10 Review: It's a TKO! The real OG is back!

Article by Peter Stuart, Sally Reiley, Hope Wilkes, Shannon Payne, Cheyne Inman and Sam Winebaum

The original KInvara was the first low drop light trainer racer from a major company. Always at a 4mm drop and light with a well cushioned 19mm forefoot, over the versions the Kinvara went from being a flexible, fairly easy and fitting shoe to a stiffer more supportive one, top to bottom and as such a good option for runners seeking a long race shoe with a touch of stability. The upper became more structured at mid foot with for the 7, 8, 9 a new more stability oriented midsole geometry and for some controversial a Pro-Lock strap which really locked down the midfoot. The KInvara 9 toned down the increasingly race fit type upper somewhat and included a softer stretchier forefoot upper and got closer to the originals,
With the Kinvara 10, in its first release in the original color of the first K shoe, Saucony brings the shoe back further towards its origins as a do it all light trainer racer with more flexibility, a smoother ride and a less constrained upper. Weighing in at 8.1 oz or so so a few tenths of an ounce more than the K9, it remains a fast, responsive low drop option for training and longer racing with more under foot support than the very first K shoe and many others in its category. It retains a more “traditional” EVA+ midsole in an age of exotic new bouncy and springy foams for a distinctively well cushioned, responsive and somewhat firm ride.