Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Quick Strides 16: Deckers X Lab NVRSTP 19-25 Pack, Jeremy’s 360km Ride around Paris , Craft Race Rebel, Michael: RC Elite 2 Skechers Speed Freek, ASICS Fuji Lite 2, Cascadia 16 GTX, Mammut Trion 18, Hoka Kaha Low.

Article by Jeremy Marie, Michael Ellenberger, Dominique and Sam Winebaum

Deckers X Lab NVRSTP 19-25 Pack, Jeremy’s 360km ride around Paris, Craft Race Rebel, RC Elite 2 Skechers Speed Freek, ASICS Fuji Lite 2, Caldera 16 GTX, Mammut Trion 18, Hoka Kaha Low. 

Sam (New Hampshire)

Dominique and I  hiked Mount Carrigan on Sunday, one of the classic big vert quick New Hampshire 4000 footers with its mellow old railroad grade start along the Sawyer River followed by the steep rocky ascent to Signal Ridge, 360 degree views on the way to the summit along the ridge and the observation tower which was formerly a forest fire watch station. 

Perfect terrain for me to test the Deckers X Lab NVRSTP 19-25 pack and Brooks Cascadia 16 GTX while Dominique tested the Mammut Trion 18 pack and Hoka Kaha Low on rougher terrain than Utah’s more mellow trails where she initially tested it for our review.  

Race Vest? Large Day Pack? Both!

Deckers X Lab NVRSTP 19-25 Pack ($275)

Deckers X Lab is the skunk works/ innovation lab for Hoka, Sanuk, Teva, and UGG all Deckers brands.  Directed by the founder of Hoka, Jean Luc Diard, and we remember what he upended in run shoes with maximal Hoka in a time of minimal in the late 2000’s,  the Lab can be counted on to stretch the envelope with wild concepts, until now mostly in footwear such as sandals and lifestyle shoes.

Now it is clear Jean Luc, a long time and accomplished ultrarunner is tackling run and other carry solutions with the NVRSTP vest/pack with 19 total pockets (9 on the front, 10 on the back) and expandable capacity from 25L to up to 40L through a top roll top pocket. 

Those familiar with typical “race vests” will know they generally have a capacity between 5L and 10L  capacity so we have far more capacity here.  Made of ultra light materials, the NVRSTP is over the top in storage capabilities and versatility and one must say in price at $275.

The Deckers takes a different approach, moving away from a day pack with front pockets, a big rear compartment, outer mesh pockets and a waist belt to a giant capacity, high sitting race vest with highly adaptable pockets front and back . 

I tested it on our hike and it passed with flying colors but with some idiosyncrasies and features I still need to explore and test further. 

I loaded it with way more than I needed to see how it would perform; namely full 1.5L bladder, 2 v full 500 ML flasks, a puffy, an insulated vest, a mountain type shell, phone, wallet, keys, battery, first aid kit and snacks and I had no sense i was carrying anything at all.

The fit can be thought of as high and essentially wrapping each side of the body with the load. The top roll top, unlike most such compartments, is separated from the lower pack completely while integral, so a good place for layers, wet clothes, etc… 

The fit and security are near perfect for hiking. No motion whatsoever side to side or up and down with the 3 laddered front straps securing the “hump” of a pack just right.  

More fully loaded it can be a great option for fast winter trail runs and snowshoes where extra summit gear is in order or for very light trekking and potentially fast packing as well.

During a second test, this time a road run. I loaded with just 2 soft flasks and my phone and found everything secure and largely bounce free especially with the bottles in the lower of the 4 front drop in pockets.

On my feet for all those rocks the Brooks Cascadia 16 GTX  for its first hike. Its smooth, well rockered smooth flowing protective trail running prowess was well documented and appreciated by our test team in our review.

We hiked the day after I ran a fairly fast 10K in the Craft Race Rebel. My legs were surprisingly fresh all the way up. I did notice the GTX upper in the toe area is broad and not particularly pliable so I felt some twisting on the climb as the underfoot platform is so stable and rock plate protected  but not particularly terrain conforming. The downhill hike was handled with confidence on the endless rocks.

Yet, the next day my legs were considerably more tired than after last week’s hike of similar distance and terrain in the max max cushioned (and heavier), softer as well more ground conforming Inov-8 Trailfly G 300 Max (RTR Review). 

So for now run the Cascadia, hike the Whites in the Inov-8. Interesting as last year the comparatively more minimal zero drop Inov-8 Terraultra Ultra G 270  (RTR Review) was also a  favorite and always fresh legs after White Mountains hikes choice, not to speak of its shorter distance fast trail run prowess which made it our team’s trail shoe of the year. 

Dominique tested the Mammut Trion 18 ($99.95), a compact alpine backpack designed more specifically for day touring than hiking, on our Carrigan hike, along with the Hoka One One Kaha Low GTX.


The Trion 18 L is a mountaineering day pack, however, it functions well as a day pack -- despite the lack of exterior pockets. It is specifically designed for climbing with anatomically shaped shoulder straps for freedom of movement, dual load transfer construction to keep the backpack in position, and plenty of outside features to attach gear.  It is  lightweight -- 530 g/1.17 lbs.  Used as a hiker, many of the backpack’s features translate well.  A hydration system-compatible pocket held my 2-liter hydration bladder, but does not come with a designated opening for the tube.  At first, I missed not having a waist belt , however, I was amazed how well the pack stayed on my back. 

In fact, I felt like I was hiking without a backpack as the weight is well distributed and the pack is so lightweight.  The internal zipped compartment is quite roomy; everything fits into one pocket.  It comes in 4 different colors.  It is super cute in my Ocean!  

Dominique (New Hampshire)

After testing and hiking in the Hoka Anacapa (RTR Review) early in the summer while in Utah, finding them ultra comfortable and fast on the uphill and great on smoother cruiser terrain, I gave my Anacapa a few tries hiking in the White Mountains.  

However, I found the Anacapa were too soft and did not provide enough protection on rough terrain and my senior feet would take days to recover from a hike.  On my third hike, I went back to wearing my Hoka Kaha Low GTX (RTR Review), which proved to be a smart move.  No post-hike soreness in my feet after a 10 mile hike on rough terrain! 

Of all the Hoka hikers including the softer leather high top version of the Kaha (RTR Review) the Kaha Low is the burliest and most stable choice.  

I tested and completed an Initial review of the Craft CTM Ultra Carbon Race Rebel. 

This super light (barely 7 oz / 200g) has a friendly, forgiving well cushioned ride with a mellow carbon plate impulse making it ideal for most paces and longer distances both racing and training. Very stable with a big 11mm drop, it is a good choice for heel strikers seeking a top notch super shoe that is versatile and not overly aggressive in required form or harsh in ride. 

We also completed and posted our initial review of the ASICS Fuji Lite (RTR Review)  a light trails and road leaning shoe with a flexible platform,  energetic, softer and bouncy Flyte Foam midsole and a stout full coverage 4mm lugs ASICS Grip outsole. Super fine on roads and moderate trails I can’t wait for the snow covered roads and trails of winter to run it some more.  A full multi tester review will be coming later this week,

Michael (Chicago)

Race week here - fellow RTR tester Jamie Hershfang and I are racing the Hidden Gem Half Marathon in the Chicagoland area. It’s a very competitive race - it took 64:17 to win in 2019, more than 3 minutes faster than my PR - but I’m not in personal best shape, anyway. Instead, it’s a definite rust buster for me, and I’d like to just go have fun, progress throughout the race, and set myself up for a decent fall racing season.

So how about shoes? I’ll be racing in the RC Elite v2. I’m part of a New Balance-sponsored racing team, but I think the NB would be my choice this time anyway - I want something springy and soft, especially since my mileage hasn’t been so much (about 55-65/week, over the past month) that 13.1 is necessarily “short” for me yet.

Regarding trainers - I’ve been trying out several options lately (including mixing back in the FuelCell Rebel v2, one of the best of the year!), but keep coming back to the Atreyu Base Model  v2 and the Skechers Speed Freek. The Skechers in particular is notable because my first couple wears were not fully positive - it gave me a nasty toenail after the first 10 miler, and took several wears to really get the fit right, but now we’re rolling together. I don’t think it’s as fast-feeling or capable as an RC Elite, Adios Pro, Vaporfly, etc. - but it’s still a fast and propulsive shoe, and one that I like wearing for shorter, faster workouts.

Jeremy (France)

Working with Stryd power meter - integrating a new tool in your running environment

It’s been almost two months now that I’ve finally taken the plunge and bought a Stryd power meter...albeit a used one, as the price for a new sensor still held me back. I’ve already wrote about it in a previous Quick Strides. I now wanted to emphasize how much time I think I need to really use it efficiently.

I’ve been running since...2013 I think. I mean, seriously running, with structured training, race objectives (not for , just races I want to do). And no, it does not take the fun away, for me at least). 

During those 8 years I’ve learned a lot while running, how a tempo run should feel, how an easy run should feel, how I breathe when I’m pushing hard, or taking things easy...all of this correlated with HR, pace, metrics that evolved over the course of my own progression...I can now tell my HR with a 3-5BPM margin, just by feel.

Despite two months of use, I still need to get to landmarks with this tool. I think I have  a good view for my easy/endurance runs (~250W for the former, around 280-290W for the latter), as for my long tempo intervals (~330W)..on flat terrain. I still feel there are some discrepancies when running uphill...and that’s one of the things I wanted to use the pod for.

The immediate improvement in data Stryd can give is an accurate, responsive pace no matter the conditions, and...this alone is already fine (but not at the full price :) )

As I’ve figured out with my bike power meter two years ago, these are not magic tools. I think they are valuable ones, useful ones, but efficiently using a new tool demands time. And I’m still not there yet with Stryd!

The tale of a 350km ride around Paris- How cycling has made my passion for running grow yet more.

Bike riding has taken up a growing space in my activities since 2014. At first, it was purely as a cross training tool for trail running, allowing me to compensate for the lack of hills around home (turbo trainer my friend :) ), and to add some volume without overloading  the limbs.

But since 2019, it has become a second main activity, as I’ve gravitated more around triathlons and...just trying new things.

The idea of “trying new things” pushed me to register for a big ride around Paris, Gravelman Series, which was 350kms/3000mD+. The idea was to ride this in one day.

That’s a pretty big loop

Long story short, it was a cool day. Like….a very cool day, shared with a friend.

Fully loaded - pack light, just like I do with running.

Some nice paths under tree cover

A castle in the city of Provins - clearly a nice stop for a touristic trip around Paris

And...what’s the link with running you might ask? Well...I’ve figured out that I can find in riding some of the things that I love when running: discovering places, moving outside, powered by your own body...and also that I can push hard as hell on some interval sessions in my pain cave (attic, precisely). So I guess this duality in sports relationships (the pleasure of moving/the pleasure found in hard training) is really a part of me, as it is  for running.

And moreover, by changing sports, discovering new places while riding, I’ve felt my will to run and go back to the mountains growing yet more. The fact that my last mountain race, the Mont-Blanc Marathon, occured in June 2019 is probably no stranger to that feeling. 

Just add the scent of the pines here, as we’ve had, and you really feel like being without (much) motion

Be it on the bike, hiking like some of my fellows RTR teammates, I encourage you to add some variety in activities. Being non-professional runners, it won’t do any harm to our “running level”, and it can bring so much mental relief, which is necessary to recover some grit.

Equipment wise, the common thing between riding and long-distance running is nutrition. And just as I do for running, I keep on using products from Endur’activ. This small French company has focused on creating simple, effective, organic, well-thought energetic products. Ingredients list contains usually 4-5 items, simple ones, without any additives or high glycemic index sugars. The fact that it has a socially responsible approach (employing partially disabled people for instance) tells a lot about the spirit of this firm.

And just like during my ultras, their products prove very effective on the 15h bike ride. No stomach issues, no bonking…

Here’s what I’ve brought along for the ride: 

On the right is a kind of Gingerbread, using Rapadura as sugar, SunFlower flour, a special protein loaded ingredient, and some classic ones (almonds, egg whites…). The bars contain either fruit paste, or almonds (fat, protein...long distance oriented) and once again, not a lot more…

Simple, effective, tasteful….

And now that this challenge is done...I’m heading towards my first LD triathlon in 3 weeks….always trying new things ;-)

But damn...I’m eager to race on the trails, hopefully before year’s end.

 Some tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes others were personal purchases. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content

The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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