Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Inside the Hoka One One Project Carbon X: World Record Setting 10 x 10 K Race Report and Carbon X Review

Article by Jamie Hershfang

Editor's Note: We are thrilled to bring you Jamie's Carbon X Project insider's look and race report.  Her mixed gender team, made up of retail run store staff from the central part of the US set an unofficial world 10 x 10 K record. Jamie also shares her review of the Carbon X she raced in and now trains in.   

Our multi tester Carbon X Review is here

Jamie's Run Bio: 26 years old. 1:19 half marathon PR. I have run 3 marathons, current PR is 2:49, and training to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials (2:45) will attempt at Grandmas Marathon next month. Typically run 90-100 miles per week and works at Fleet Feet in Chicago.  She trains in the Nike Pegasus Turbo and usually races in the Vaporfly 4%. 

Race Report
On May 4th, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to run in Sacramento, CA as a part of HOKA’s Project Carbon X. I ran on a leg of the 100k relay attempting to break the mixed gender 10x10k world record, and 6 hour barrier, alongside ultramarathon runners attempting to break the individual 100k record. Teams were composed of HOKA athletes, as well as individuals from running retail stores across the country. I was a member of the Central team, competing alongside the East, West, and Coastal, as well as HOKA’s Carbon and X teams. It was a unique opportunity to test out the shoes before they were released.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Salomon Sense Ride 2 Review: Road to Trail Masterpiece

Article by Hope Wilkes and Sam Winebaum

Salomon Sense Ride 2 ($120)

The second edition of the Sense Ride improves on Salomon’s road trail hybrid and moderate terrain trail runner with a slightly more relaxed fit, a more flexible forefoot, and a slightly softer feel from its Vibe tech combination of Energy Cell+ foam and an shock reducing Opal insert at the heel. 

Watch out for labels here! Equally adept on moderate terrain trails and harder surfaces, including pavement, it now leans ever so slightly further towards the “road” side of things and is mighty, mighty fine on road for a "trail" shoe. And that is a good thing as Salomon has plenty of more technical trail specific models, This said as it loses close to half an ounce in weight to about 9.5 oz it now becomes a better yet moderate dry terrain trail racing option due to its cushion, flexibility for climbing and decent enough protection from the ProFeel film upfront.

Hope/Sam: Comfortable, smooth and quiet ride even on pavement
Sam: Improved comfort, more relaxed yet still secure upper
Sam: Slightly softer feel with a more distinct further forward flex point smoothes transition and toe offs.

Hope: lace garage is underneath the top row of laces, speed laces have to be cut to adjust the number of eyelets used, no conventional laces included
Sam: the more relaxed upper has a touch less mid foot to rear of shoe support leaning the shoe more towards road.

Ultimate Direction Running Apparel Review: Hydrolight Series Shorts, Ultra Jacket & Pants V2

Article by Sam Winebaum, Jeff Valliere, and Hope Wilkes
Ultimate Direction is well known for its race vests and hydration systems. Not until now known for apparel this year UD launches its new Hydrolight collection of running shorts a line true to their DNA of thoroughly athlete tested functionality and carrying capacity.  UD also updates its Ultra (and ultra light) Ultra Pant and Ultra Jacket with a very high performance 30K/30K membrane which, as far as we know, is the highest rating for waterproofing and breathability available today and which exceeds the UTMB's required standards by at least 2x at very light weights.

Tester Profiles
Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He runs roads and trail in New Hampshire, Utah and most recently trekked across Switzerland to test the UD apparel in this article.
Hope is in her 20’s and after several ultras is now more on the road. She has a marathon PR of 3:47. She trains about 50 miles per week with many of her runs in the (broad) 8:00-10:00/mile range. She is happy to hit 7:30 miles on tempo days.
Jeff Valliere runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's.

Ultra Pant  V2 & Ultra Jacket V2

Monday, May 27, 2019

Top Ten, All Time, Most Read RoadTrailRun Running Review Articles

Article by Sam Winebaum, Editor

The most read article of all time was a comparison of the Garmin Forerunner 735XT,  Vivoactive HR, and Fenix 3 HR.

The other Garmin article in position 6 was a comparison of the Forerunner 35, Vivosmart HR, and Vivoactive HR.

Note how far up the Hoka ONE ONE Carbon X review already and for a shoe not generally available yet. RTR was fortunate to have the earliest full review of this shoe. And we will be updating our review with additional insights from new testers soon.

It is clear that Nike models have powerful appeal to readers.

I always have been surprised at how much interest the adidas Terrex Boost received. Not a big splash shoe as the others here were.

The Salomon preview included several new models which generated a lot of interest:

Ultra Pro, Sense Pro 3, S/Lab Sense 7 & S/Lab Ultra.

Comments and Questions  
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Sunday, May 26, 2019

2019 Running Vest Reviews - From Minimal to Maximal: Naked Running Vest, Salomon Advanced Skin 5 Set, Ultimate Direction FKT Vest

Article by Jeff Valliere with Sam Winebaum

LEFT TO RIGHT: Naked Running Vest, Salomon Advanced Skin 5 Set, Ultimate Direction FKT Vest

For your upcoming summer running adventures, be it longer all day forays in the mountains, or shorter runs on hot days where carrying along water is a must, we have reviewed and rigorously tested 3 different packs of varying size/utility to cover all of your bases from the minimal yet high fluid capacity Naked Running Vest, to the solid fully featured all around Salomon Advanced Skin 5 Set to the high capacity Ultimate Direction FKT.  We could easily make a case for owning all of them. We will cover the pros/cons, features and best use of each pack to help readers make an informed decision.

Tester Profiles
Jeff Valliere runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

ASICS GEL-Cumulus 21 Multi Tester Review

Article by Mac Jeffries, Michael Ellenberger, and Sam Winebaum

ASICS GEL-Cumulus 21  ($120)
Sam: Nothing fancy or really new here beyond a great new upper, just continuous gradual improvement for the GEL-Cumulus 21. I have run the 19 and 20 (RTR Review) and with each iteration the upper has gotten to be less of a straight jacket. In the 21, the upper goes as plush as any daily trainer out there yet still with that great (maybe to great for some) rear of the shoe hold and stability as the extensive heel counter appears unchanged. The weight also remains unchanged at 10.1 oz / 286 oz so similar to classic daily trainers such as the Pegasus, Saucony Ride ISO, and NB 1080v9. Underfoot, Flytefoam Lyte is substituted for Flytefoam and we see a new EVA sockliner with, as in the 20, a layer of Flytefoam Propel as the first layer under foot for some bounce. The outsole appears unchanged although rear landing grooves are deepened for a softer landing. The overall result of the these minor underfoot changes for me is a very slightly springier and softer ride and a touch smoother transitions.

Altra Running Torin 4 and Torin 4 Plush: First Impressions Video and Differences Details

Article by Sam Winebaum

Altra Running Torin 4 ($120)  Torin 4 Plush ($140)
LEFT: Torin 4                                       RIGHT Torin 4 Plush
Just now releasing, the Torin 4 and Torin 4 Plush offer two distinct options. Our full multi tester review is coming soon but we wanted to share some stats and a first impressions video.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Inov-8 Parkclaw 275 GTX: Lightweight, Responsive, Wide Toebox, and Completely Waterproof. Yes, please.

Article by Mac Jeffries

Inov-8 Parkclaw 275 GTX ($150)
I have been looking for a waterproof shoe for some time now, more to combat the dew of early morning XC meets I coach at than for running in super-wet conditions. Here in the Deep South, if you are running for any distance, your feet will sweat enough that they will be equally wet: rain or shine, GTX or not. That being said, I DO want that waterproof shoe to be a running shoe and not a boot, because, one I will be doing at least SOME running in it, and two. boots and shorts aren't my thing. The Parkclaw 275 GTX was promising because of its weight and wide last, and the promise of a nearly complete barrier to water. How'd they do? Better than expected, actually.
Note: there is a non Gore Tex version as well that is slightly lighter and less expensive

From Inov-8: The PARKCLAW 275 GTX men's running shoe will keep your feet dry and comfortable in the foulest of road-to-trail running conditions. This versatile shoe is perfect for runners wanting to run on paths and trails, or those looking to make a transition from road running to trail running. It performs superbly on both terrains, and features an aggressive outsole for increased grip. With all-new GORE® Invisible Fit you can enjoy all the benefits of protective footwear technology with the fit and feel of regular running shoes. The GORE-TEX® membrane is engineered to bond directly to the shoe upper in the most discreet manner yet, creating protective footwear that keeps feet dry and comfortable in the harshest of running conditions.

Pros: Lightweight (for a fully waterproof trail shoe), plenty of room in toebox, good mix of ground feel and protection

Cons: Width, Upper can fold into top of foot (at least at first)

Tester Profile
Mac is a former collegiate defensive lineman who runs to fill the competitive void left after school and to stay in shape. He is in his late 30s, runs 50-80 mpw, and at 6’3”, has come down from his playing weight of 275 lbs to a steady 205 lbs for the last 10 years. Jeff’s PRs are 19:30, 1:33:xx, and 3:23:xx; he also teaches and coaches XC & T&F.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Arc’Teryx Norvan SL Review: Feathery Light, Fast Climbing Trail Runner

Article by Jeff Valliere

Arc’Teryx Norvan SL ($150)
Arc’Teryx Norvan SL men's color
  • LIGHT!
  • Responsive
  • Ground feel
  • Vibram Outsole
  • Airy and Ventilated
  • Quality
  • Style

  • A bit thin for rocky trails
  • Minimal cushioning
  • Niche shoe, lacking versatility

Estimated Weight US M9: 6.4 oz / 181 g
W8:   6.0 oz /171 g
M 10 6.75 oz./193 grams
Stack Height: 22mm heel / 15 mm forefoot, 7 mm drop
Arc’Teryx Norvan SL women's color

Monday, May 20, 2019

Petzl Nao+ Headlamp Review - Brighter, Longer Battery Life and Easy App Based Customization

Article by Jeff Valliere

Petzl Nao+
750 Lumens
6.6 oz./190 grams


  • Very bright at 750 lumens
  • High quality construction
  • Reactive lighting
  • Battery life up to 18 hours
  • Easy customization of light settings
  • IP X4 Water resistant
  • Stable on the head/lightweight for the output
  • Battery stow options
  • Ability to change out batteries (if you buy an extra battery pack)
  • White light hue
  • Price

Sunday, May 19, 2019

UPDATED Hoka ONE ONE Carbon X Nine Tester In Depth Review: Carbon Dating—the next shoe with a carbon plate. How does it stack up?

Article by Sam Winebaum, Derek Li, Jamie Hershfang, Jeff Beck, Peter Stuart, Dom Layfield, Mac Jeffries, Michael Ellenberger and Hope Wilkes

Hoka ONE ONE Carbon X ($180)
Update: Derek Li and Jamie Hershfang offer their Carbon X perspectives in this update to our earlier review. Derek is a 2:41 marathoner from Singapore. Jamie participated in the Project Carbon X record attempts and was on the team that set an unofficial mixed gender 10 x 10 km world record.  Her full race report is here
Sam: The Hoka Carbon X was “introduced” on May 4th at a special race in California. Several Hoka elite athletes chased world road records in the X with Jim Walmsley setting a new world 50 mile record. 

And the Carbon X was a totally appropriate running shoe for the quest. It is a light (8.5 oz / 241 g), maximally cushioned (32mm heel / 27 mm forefoot) long racer and trainer with a propulsive carbon fiber plate. 

Ten of us here at RoadTrailRun have now tested the Carbon X and offer our varied perspectives on this unique new shoe in our multi tester review here.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Reebok "Bolton Track Club" Gear Review: The Success Continues

By Michael Ellenberger

Bolton Track Club Apparel is the official apparel of the Reebok Boston Track Club!
  • Bolton Track Club Singlet: $40.00
  • Bolton Track Club 3" Shorts: $35.00
  • Bolton Track Club Jacket: $70.00

Reebok has recently made a strong resurgence in the running community; we're collectively huge fans of their recent shoe offerings, including the Run Fast Pro, Sweet Road, and Forever Floatride Energy, and their apparel is a natural extension of that line. Designed specifically for the elite athletes on the Reebok Boston Track Club (formerly the Bolton Track Club), Reebok has put forth high-end race-day gear to match their footwear offerings. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

13 Day Via Jacobi Trek Across Switzerland: Photo Album and Initial Gear Review

Article by Sam Winebaum and Dominique Winebaum
Dominique and I just completed a 13 day trek across Switzerland from Lake Constance (Bodensee) to Romont where we first met through a running club when we both worked there in the 1980's.

The trek was 200 miles (320km) across the center of the country through magnificent meadows, forests, and lots of miles of narrow tarred roads with views of the mountains (when weather permitted).

We tested gear from Mammut (a Swiss brand), Hoka One One, REI, Smartwool, Salomon, and Oofos.
Watch a brief (and scenic) description/review of the
Mammut Trion and Trea Spine packs and Masao Light shells we used

We will be preparing our gear reviews and full trip report in the next few days.
In the meantime a link to an extensive photo album is HERE with a few selected photos below.

Reebok Forever Floatride Energy Multi Tester Review: A Near Perfect Goldilocks Combo of Performance and Value

Article by Mac Jeffries, Derek Li, and Peter Stuart

Reebok  Forever Floatride Energy ($100)
Mac: The battle of midsole foams continues, as does the resurrection of Reebok as a serious contestant in the running market. After the Floatride’s debut with a fantastic Pebax midsole but iffy upper, Reebok hit back to back home runs with their Floatride Fast and Floatride Fast Pro models. The Forever Energy uses a NEW midsole technology - that they simply call Forever Energy - that is a new TPU/TPE (think “Boost” or “Everrun”) based midsole that manages to be lighter than the norm for TPU midsoles. What they ended up with is a fantastic shoe for Easy to Tempo efforts for only $100. Shoe Market: take notice.

Mac:  The midsole is cush with great energy return, the upper is simple (in a good way), weight is among the best on the market for a TPE midsole, and did I mention it is only $100?
Derek: Excellent quality shoe for this price point. Lively bouncy ride.

Mac:  shoe laces are too short, sizing is big (definitely order a half size smaller), and insole is non-removable (you can still remove it quite easily), and collar may come up a bit too high for some.  
Derek: Agree laces are on the short side. Heel volume was a little big for me. But these are all minor points.

Tester Profiles
Derek is in his 30’s and trains 70-80 miles per week at 7 to 8 minute pace in mostly tropical conditions in Singapore. He has a 2:41 marathon PR.
Mac is a former collegiate defensive lineman who runs to fill the competitive void left after school and to stay in shape. He is in his late 30s, runs 50-80 mpw, and at 6’3”, has come down from his playing weight of 275 lbs to a steady 205 lbs for the last 10 years. Jeff’s PRs are 19:30, 1:33:xx, and 3:23:xx; he also teaches and coaches XC & T&F.
Peter lives in Austin, Texas and is a sub 3 hour in the marathon in recent years as well as a 1:25 half marathoner.

Topo Athletic Phantom Multi Tester Review: Maximal, Soft Cushioned, Easy Miles Cruiser

Article by Jeff Beck, Hope Wilkes, and Michael Ellenberger

Topo Athletic Phantom ($130)

Jeff: Topo Athletic’s latest release, the Phantom, is their most cushioned road shoe to date. Introducing a new midsole material, Zipfoam, that is supposed to be lighter weight and have a springier ride than standard EVA. The Phantom has a very breathable engineered mesh upper with a number of flexible and non-obtrusive printed overlays to give the shoe some extra structure before getting into the firm heel counter.
Hope: The first pair of Topos I ever ran in was the OG Magnifly back in 2015. I thought of them as “Altras for the rest of us” -- foot-shaped toe box, confidently styled as NOT for athleisure, and surprisingly lightweight, but a little bit of heel-toe offset to save our calves. The OG Magnifly is a sneaky fast shoe, so fast and forgiving that when I was coming back from yet another ankle injury a couple of years ago, I raced close to my half marathon PR pain-free and almost effortlessly.

Fast forward to 2019 and Topo’s offerings are even more refined. The Phantom is built for performance, comfort, and good looks.

Michael: There are two ways to introduce the 2019 Topo Phantom. I could begin by saying that the Phantom isn’t the prettiest, the lightest, nor the most versatile shoe to come across my desk/feet in the first few months of the year. But I could also begin by introducing the Phantom as an exciting offering that somehow blends strong performances in all of these classifications without taking the top spot in any. It looks fine, it feels reasonably light on-foot, and, with the stripped-back upper and springier midsole, can handle a variety of paces. Jack of all trades, master of none, perhaps? The Phantom ultimately has me somewhere in the middle - uninspired, but not unimpressed.

Jeff: Soft & supple upper that holds the foot well, Topo shape gives tons of room up front without a sloppy fit elsewhere, plenty of rubber & durable foam outsole, eats up easy miles
Hope: incredibly flexible midsole, especially at that stack height, forgiving ride, comfort, classy good looks
Michael: Supportive upper on a bouncy midsole; surprisingly light on-foot for the weight

Jeff: Midsole was too soft for long runs or faster paces
Hope: too heavy (upper in particular is overbuilt), midsole feels ponderous at times
Michael: As with the Fli-Lyte 3, I had trouble getting sufficient lockdown; still a chunky trainer; styling makes it look like a walking shoe.
Sam's Initial Run Video Review

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Hoka ONE ONE Carbon X Review: Maximal Cushion with Carbon Propulsion

Article by Sam Winebaum

Update: Read our nine tester full in depth review of Carbon X HERE

Hoka ONE ONE Carbon X ($180)
Initial release color. I tested an all white prototype
The Hoka Carbon X will be “introduced” on May 4th at a special race in California. Several Hoka elite athletes will be chasing world road 100K records in the X. 

Update: Jim Walmsley breaks the world 50 mile record in the Carbon X with a 4:50:08, 43 seconds better than the prior 1984 record by Bruce Fordyce, 

And the Carbon X was a totally appropriate running shoe for the quest.  It is a light 8.5 oz / 241 g, maximally cushioned (32mm heel / 27 mm heel) long racer and trainer with a propulsive carbon fiber plate. I have extensively tested the X, running over 70 miles and two long races in them.

“The Carbon X embodies everything that has made HOKA such a popular and quickly-growing brand,” said Gretchen Weimer, Vice President of Product at HOKA ONE ONE. “Combining premium performance engineering, an extraordinary weight-to-cushion ratio, and a user-friendly geometry and ride, this shoe is designed to empower athletes the world over, and to help them feel like they can fly.” ​
The  carbon fiber plate is embedded above the thick rubberized foam outsole (the first line up from the bottom in the picture above where the blue midsole starts). In addition to the carbon plate, it features an aggressive Metarocker and Hoka’s active foot frame construction which embeds the foot in the midsole.

The Carbon X will be available at May 15th with other select retailers coming June 1st. My pair was an all white pre production prototype. The first release color, the same for both women’s and men’s sizing, is below with more colors to drop in July and August 2019.

Many will immediately seek to compare it to the Nike Vapor Fly.  While they share carbon plates and lots of cushion for a racing shoe, they are very different beasts. Whereas the Vapor Fly can be thought of racing shoe that can be trained in, the Carbon X for most of us will be a training shoe that can be raced. Incredibly well cushioned, in a softer and slightly bouncy way with in the mix the carbon fiber plate pop, it is very broad and stable on the ground. It has a very thin and comfortable overlay free upper. Its  thick rubberized foam outsole has proved exceptionally durable with over 75 miles on the counter to date.
Its stiff carbon chassis provides stability, an easy going rocker powered ride and a fairly gentle non harsh propulsive feel at all paces, except maybe very fast paces for me given the high stack of soft foam and the rubberized foam outsole. 
 I have been testing a Carbon X prototype, top to bottom all white, for more than a month. Nobody, literally nobody, has noticed them or asked a single question about them. Cool camouflage!

I have run more than 70 miles in my prototype, including a 20 mile Boston tune up race, easily done at 8:04/mile pace with minimal soreness the next day. and none during, and the marathon itself, a disaster for me due to allergies and in no way due to the shoe.  

Several of us at RoadTrailRun will be testing for our multi-tester but here is my take.

  • The most runnable and comfortable maximally cushioned road shoe I have tested to date.
  • Ultimate, long run, heavy mileage softer shoe, and for many (including me) an ideal most paces daily trainer. All paces from very slow to tempo are easily and smoothly accommodated in a bouncy soft yet smooth and steady steady way.
  • In no way a mushy chore to run despite the supreme cushion.
  • Very stable platform for such a big stack height, or for any shoe for that matter 
  • Very comfortable, breathable, super light and roomy upper with surprising hold, if it fits.
  • Noticeable carbon plate pop and stability, especially at the forefoot, although muted by the cushion above and below 
  • Very durable outsole; very minimal wear from the rubberized foam outsole at 70 plus miles.
  • Very ow volume and narrow feet may be challenged by the fit, especially at midfoot and heel.
  • Heel hold down low could be improved via a more effective sockliner, hopefully to come with production.  
  • Not as dynamic and responsive as I would like at faster than marathon to half pace racing, but then again Hoka has the Carbon Rocket for that.
  • There is a lot of substance in cushion stack and platform width but weight is up there for the racing game due to the use of an EVA foam and not an exotic super foam, albeit a light lively flavor of EVA

ON Running Cloudswift Review: Rock and Roller!

Article by Jeff Beck, Michael Ellenberger and Sam Winebaum

ON Running Cloudswift ($150)


Sam: The ON Cloudswift introduces a new softer midsole Helion to the ON repertory. The upper is higher volume than the typical ON seen to date.  All ON shoes have distinctive CloudTec elements which deflect on impact and lock on push off rebounding independently of each other. Above the Cloudtec Elements ON shoes have quite rigid Speedboard plate to accentuate the rolling motion of the foot. It is for sure a unique sensation and on in prior ON I found firm especially at the heel and overly rigid in shoes such as the earlier Cloudsurfer, Cloudflow, and Cloudflyer The Cloudswift tunes the formula with the softer higher rebound foam, a somewhat less rigid Speedboard and especially a more pronounced front and back rocker.  On first seeing them at The Running Event last December I guessed that finally I might find an ON that was fun to run and not a rigid firm chore. As always the Swiss Engineered ON products have impeccable craftsmanship and especially superb looking uppers and the Cloudswift with its distinctive silicone saddle was no exception. I was eager to run them.

Michael: Comfortable upper; impressive “rocker”; handsome shoe; improved outsole
Jeff: World class upper, comfortable below foot, solid traction.
Sam: Very effective rocker. Another great upper from ON, this time favoring higher volume feet

Michael & Sam : Expensive; questionable lockdown for lower volume feet; a little hefty.
Jeff: Expensive, on the chubby side of the scale, not clear what this shoe should be used for, runs smoothly but takes some effort to get there.

Tester Profiles

Michael is his 20’s and is a 1:07 half marathoner. He runs 50-60 miles per week, generally in lightweight trainers or racing flats at around 6:00-6:30 minutes/mile.

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 62 with a 3:40 Boston 2018. Sam has been running for over 45 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the 1:35-1:41 range and trains 40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces in the 9 minute range. He is 5'10" tall and weighs about 165 lbs.
Jeff Beck is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less.  Jeff runs 30 miles per week, both roads and desert trails in North Phoenix, Arizona. He has a PR's of 4:07 marathon and 5K at 23:39.

Official Weight US9: 10.2 oz /  289 g
Sample US M8.5: 10 oz / 283 g
Sample US M10.5: 11.1 oz/ 315 g
Offset: 7mm
Available now. $150.