Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Quick Strides 30: Garmin epix 2 & Fenix 7, Brooks Glycerin 20 & Caldera 6, Nike ZoomX Streakfly & Nike Kiger 8, Altra Mont Blanc, Saucony Guide 15, Chargel, Terrex Speed Ultra

Article by Sam & Dominique Winebaum, Jeff Beck, Jermey Marie, and Mike Postaski

Quick Strides 30: Garmin Epix 2 & Fenix 7, Brooks Glycerin 20 & Caldera 6, ZoomX Streakfly, Nike Kiger 8, Altra Mont Blanc, Saucony Guide 15, Chargel, Terrex Speed Ultra.

The Road Trail Run test team's latest test and training notes and mini reviews.

Sam Winebaum (Utah and New Hampshire)

I have been testing the Brooks Caldera 6 & Glycerin GTS 20.  These upcoming (July) giants both have DNA Loft v3 supercritical nitrogen process foam midsoles.  

v3, now having run them both, means for me that we have a 3d generation of supercritical foam. It is a foam with a soft enough feel which is highly energetic with a pneumatic distinct return but without a crazy and unstable bounce requiring plates. 

The urge is to want to run all day in both as they are incredibly leg friendly, not mushy and easy to turn over- at moderate paces as intended. Great long slow run and recovery rides and that applies to the Caldera 6 on the road as well as of course trail.

Bye bye Brooks DNA AMP that is for sure as far as I am concerned and I also hope over time BioMoGo DNA as wel in the near futurel.

I measured a 35mm heel for both with the Glycerin having a 10mm drop and conventional long flex and roll while Caldera 6 has a 6mm drop and a rigid profile and clearly felt final front rocker.

My Glycerin is the Go-To-Support version, not noticed by this neutral shoe fan and a benefit given soft foam and high stack.

Of the two, and I think so far this also applies to some road use, I prefer the Caldera 6 as its upper, while not quite as plush,  is considerably more secure than Glycerin’s and this even with the GTS Guide Rails in play. Caldera’s high vertical side walls of the same foam as the midsole really set the foot into the platform. While a bit heavier, and with a door to trail type outsole, the Caldera 6’s effective rocker roll vs. long flex of the Glycerin is a bit smoother and also more to my liking.

Weights (US9 men’s samples): 

Caldera 6  11.15 oz /316g, Glycerin GTS 20 10.9 oz  / 309g . 

The GTS 20 Stealthfit upper version should weigh 0.8 oz less with non GTS weighomg 10.1 oz in Regular upper and 9.4 oz Stealthfit.

Glycerin 20’s  $160  Caldera 6: $150

Release date for both: July 2022

Saucony Guide 15

I completed testing and posted my review of the Saucony Guide 15. Considerably lighter than before with softer, lighter PWRRUN foam, 3mm more stack, a redesigned midsole geometry and especially as a support type shoe a new curved medial support element that is pretty much unnoticed (yet for sure there and effective) with the added bonus of seeming on its downward curve to roll the foot forward to a somewhat flexible forefoot.  The Ride 15 (RTR Review) leaves out the plastic support piece and has a bit less medial outsole coverage but otherwise is identical 

Nike ZoomX Streakfly

One run and I am quite sure… The Streakfly is less a “5K-10K” racer as Nike says and right on the shoe  but for me an incredibly light, well cushioned, ZoomX fun to run light trainer. 

All of 6 oz / 170g US9 it has a 32/26 stack height and a small midfoot plate.  So it is unlike a fully plated Vaporfly and more like an adidas Adios of old as it has snappy front flex. Please watch my video review at the end of Ryan Eiler’s RTR Review

Garmin epix (Gen 2) Titanium White ($1000, $900 Stainless Steel)

I have been testing Epix 2 which Garmin sent RTR for review. Take a Garmin Fenix, give it a AMOLED high resolution screen similar to say an Apple or Google Wear OS watch (Suunto 7 for example), somehow figure out how to get dramatically more battery life in everyday and GPS use than other AMOLED watches, load it with every sport feature of the Fenix along with higher resolution viewed topo and other maps and voila we have the Epix 2.

The key advantage over any other GPS watch I have ever tested is that you get consistent legibility regardless of light conditions. 

Of course, inside, legibility is great as is the case with all AMOLED displays as they are essentially fully lit by “bulbs” and do not rely on reflecting ambient light, easily outperforming transflective displays such as Fenix and COROS Vertix with their dim backlights in dim and dark light. 

It is outside where things get interesting. With bright sun at my back (bottom two pictures), good luck reading a transflective screen unless titled just right and even then as I found out not that great.  In the top two pictures with sun to the front  to catch rays, the Coros required a very deliberate tilt towards the sun, not required for the Epix. Note in the bottom two pictures the Epix has 4 fields of data while the Coros only two. Epix’s display is easily seen in all bright conditions and is only challenged with very dark sunglasses on as all watches are. 

How about dusk and dawn? Same story.  The Epix display is bright and visible with the LCD’s questionable. It is only very bright full at you sun where the LCD’s can be more visible as long again as you tilt them just right. The only tilt with the Epix is a slight up to look at it as in every case it lights-even if you turn the Always On (essentially a dimmer) off  as I have which saves some battery.  The activation is flawless and easy with a mere slight turn towards you and almost instant light up. I have kept Always On off with no issues as the light up is so quick.

There is also a nifty Sleep watch face that kicks in based on your preferred sleep times. It can only be activated by the touch screen and not by your tossing and turning in bed!

My Sapphire lens model also is far less murky and cloudy to see through than other sapphire lenses I have tried including the Vertix 2.  I have been wearing them concurrently in all conditions. The power of the Epix “bulbs” to really get light through vs the LCD trying to reflect light that has to make it through the sapphire lens first or the type of sapphire I don’t know but always clear as can be viewing through the Epix’s lens.

Battery Life

The knock on AMOLED and  “platform” watches such as Apple Watch and Google Wear is their weak battery life in everyday and GPS training use.  My Epix testing indicates 16-17 days in everyday use with notifications etc.. but without workouts in the mix  vs.18 hours spec for Apple Watch 7 with a 60 minute GPS workout and various other app uses. Not quite apples and apples but still a huge difference and big advantage for Epix. 

My testing so far indicates using the new All Satellites capability of the Epix and wrist HR monitoring, I get about between 25-30 hours of multi satellite network use (not quite the Garmin spec. of 32 hours but the tech is new) vs. a max of about 7 hours for the latest Apple Watch and with longer battery life yet for Epix if I shift to GPS single network only.  The analogous All Satellites Fenix 7 battery life spec with its LCD screen is 40 hours so not nearly as significant a difference as to other AMOLED display watches. 

The sports focused Wear OS Suunto 7 (RTR Review) also with a high (and higher) resolution AMOLED display and great topo mapping has about 8.5 hours of GPS training in its analogous Best mode and a mere 2 days in Everyday use.  

The bottom line here is that Garmin has clearly cracked the legibility issues for sports watches regardless of light conditions and the battery life challenges of high resolution AMOLED. And while we talk about resolution our Epix has a 416 x 416 resolution vs. 260 x 260 for the latest Fenix 7 and 240 x 240, so everything is crisp including the Topo Active maps.

Worth $1000 in my Titanium sample which weighs a mere 70g and is light on the wrist even sleeping?  Of course it depends on your needs and budget but this is one heck of a beautiful and classy watch with hundreds of sport and everyday use features.

Much more in our full review including from testing this weekend in a 25K trail race where I will load the course and follow the map 

Use Climb Pro 

And see if the new Stamina features help me pace myself better!

Garmin official comparison: epix (Gen 2), Fenix 7, Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar, Forerunner 945

Can’t wait for the full review? Please consider purchasing the epix 2 at one of RoadTrailRun’s partners below where purchases help support our site and review efforts.

Garmin epix (Gen 2)

Running Warehouse US HERE


Backcountry HERE

Chargel – Gel Drink

Sam: The whole family has been testing Chargel Gel Drink on the ski slopes and before runs. I really like its solid 180 calories per pack and non overly sugary taste. It has small “bubble tea” type pieces which makes drinking palatable and for sure not as syrupy as gels can be.  

I really sat up when I noticed via his Facebook just before his amazing latest 2:08:49 marathon that Yuki Kawauchi  of 2018 Boston fame and with over 100 sub 2:20 marathons and counting is a big fan of Morinaga the Japanese company that makes Chargel and other performance gel drinks as well as lots of candy.  

He uses a different formula Gel Drink and when I asked him how he fuels he replied: “I use honey , orange,lemon,water, salt, amino value(or amino vital).”Turns out Morinaga Japan’s in-Jelly Brand officially supports him by providing products and advice on training. The relationship started because he voluntarily liked and consumed Morinaga’s in-Jelly Gel Drink before being sponsored. It is said that he loves their Gel Drinks and the energy it provides.

Dominique: Chargel is a gel drink in a pouch that is surprisingly refreshing providing 180 calories in the form of rapidly absorbed carbohydrates – dextrin and sugar – while also  including five essential B vitamins providing 20% of daily requirements.   

Recently launched by Morinaga America Inc, a confection company and actually the oldest such company in Japan dating to the 1800’s, Chargel is a new gel drink that is “half snack and half beverage,” caffeine free, contains no artificial sweeteners, and is also gluten free.  


I like the texture of the gel drink which is similar to the experience of drinking bubble tea.  There is nothing gooey about it, unlike many energy gels, while you can hydrate at the same time.  Chargel comes in three flavors: white grape, green apple, and strawberry, in a pouch with a twisted cap that can be resealed.  


The company describes Chargel as a “pre-workout energy” gel drink.  The pouch weighs 6.35 oz (180 g) and is substantially bigger than an energy gel packet, which means it won’t fit in the zippered pocket of your tight or running shorts.  However, in terms of nutrition, it is perfect to boost your energy level during your workout; it is just a matter of carrying the pouch and unscrewing the cap during certain types of workout.   When downhill skiing, it is a great way of staying energized while getting some fluid, especially as I try to maximize my time on skis during a half day session.  


In comparison to many other energy gels, Chargel is caffeine free and contains five essential B vitamins providing 20% of daily requirements.  Chargel Gel Drink  is sold  in packs of 6 pouches retailing for $20.94, or individual pack retailing for $3.49.  

Jeff Beck (Colorado) 

Brooks Glycerin 20

With my Diadora Vigore review complete, I’ve been able to turn my focus primarily to the Glycerin 20 releasing in July. And it’s been worth it as with more than 25 miles my initial enthusiasm is only building. I’m going to put together some video comparisons with the Glycerin 19, Aurora-BL, and a few others, but the short version is that one of my most anticipated shoes of 2022 has absolutely lived up to, and even blown past, what I had hoped for. I know some runners get hung up on weight, but considering how massive (but not unwieldy) the midsole is, I wouldn’t sacrifice any of it to hit some arbitrary number on the scale. It’s ~3mm higher stacked than the Glycerin 19 or Aurora-BL, and it splits the difference between the two in performance. The Aurora-BL is much bouncier (possibly to a fault) while the Glycerin 19 is soft, but doesn’t give much oomph when you’re running. 

It isn’t just stack height, overall stack volume has increased too. I noticed it while driving in the G20 the other day, part of the forefoot kept getting caught underneath the brake pedal, something that’s never happened with the Glycerin 19.

I’m not sure of the timing of the full review, but something tells me this one is going to be in my rotation for quite some time.

Altra Mont Blanc

I haven’t been able to get too many quality miles in the Mont Blanc due to weather. We’ve had a pretty consistent pattern of a day or two of snow followed by a series of days in the sixties to seventies (yay Denver unpredictability!) which mean the roads have been just fine for Glycerin testing, but the trails have been somewhere between “incredibly muddy” to “full on bog”. 

And while they don’t close trails around here for those conditions, and just ask folks to stay on the trail and deal with it rather than artificially widening them, it’s hard to really get a feel for a shoe when it’s got two pounds of mud caked on them and every step is a roll of the dice. What I have experienced has been an incredible midsole (I think Ego MAX is the best midsole material Altra has ever had, and it isn’t close), and pretty solid outsole, and an upper that’s super comfortable in the front and incredibly problematic around the heel. But more testing required before getting too deep into that. 

Sam has an Altra Mont Blanc initial video review here

Garmin Fenix 7X

This was a personal purchase that I’m almost ready to write about, and fair warning when I do, it’s going to be glowing. I came to the 7X from the Fenix 5 Plus, and most of the watch acts just like my old one did. 

There are a few things that stood out as minor improvements going in, and after a month and a half of use, I’m enamored with them. The battery life is incredible, and I’ve only gotten the alert a couple times, but I can’t help but laugh when the watch alerts me that I’ve hit low battery mode, and “would I like to enable battery saver mode?” - because I only have five days left of charge! The flashlight is another aspect that I thought might be kind of cool, but I’ve had a dozen uses that were incredible. It’s not all that bright, just about what an iPhone camera flash/flashlight has, but it’s the convenience that blows me away. 

Lastly, the new stamina metric mid run seems like it could have real value, especially for ultra runners. My lungs are still feeling the effects of covid, so a long run for me is now more like six to eight miles - and the Stamina Meter seems to agree. 

On my longest run, about 8.5 miles, I finished feeling pretty spent, and my watch was telling me I only had a half mile left in the tank. I wouldn't disagree a bit.

Mike Postaksi  (Idaho)

Brooks Caldera 6

[Big springy cushion + effective toe rocker]

I’m 30 miles into my testing of the Brooks Caldera 6.  I’ve been mostly taking them out on moderate elevation gain trail loops, mostly dry with some mud sections, and mostly non-technical.  I’ve run in them enough to have a good feel for them, but I’d definitely like to take them out on some steeper, technical terrain before I give my complete analysis. 

My first impression is that this is a really WIDE platform shoe.  The base is really broad from all the way up front through the midfoot and especially in the rear.  I checked and they are even quite wider than my Speedgoat 4’s - and the lugs on the Caldera 6 extend right up to the edge of the rubber in the rear, so they feel even wider.  It took me a couple of runs to really get used to this, and even had a couple of mini-ankle rolls initially.  I was unexpectedly catching the outer edges on uneven spots.  I find that really wide platforms do take some getting used to, especially if you typically run in more streamlined shoes.  But your body does somehow subconsciously get used to the necessary foot placements which at first feel a bit precarious.

[Heel rubber is de-coupled into two segments - likely to help mitigate the very wide platform]

My test pair US 9.5 weighs 11.3 oz, 320g, but I’m pretty sure our other reviewers will also agree that they feel much lighter on the run.  The DNA Loft V3 midsole is quite springy, and combined with a nice toe rocker up front, they seem to move along quite efficiently.  I’m loving the feel on more moderate terrain.  I do suspect that’s where they will work best - very long distances on moderate terrain.  I still need to test how much technical stuff they can handle.

The upper is really well done - the well-padded tongue wraps snugly over the top of the foot, and the lacing system is integrated into some supporting straps which hug the foot.  Fit-wise it seems to be a big improvement over previous versions, especially in the forefoot/toe box.  There’s ample room for splay/swelling, and I’m a stickler about tight toe boxes.  Stay tuned for our full review.

Upcoming Event - Behind the Rocks 50M

My first event of the season is coming up in less than 3 weeks.  I’ll be heading down to Moab, Utah for Mad Moose Events’ Behind the Rocks 50M.  (We’re also stopping along the way in Park City and I’m excited to meet up with Sam for a run).  I’ve had a pretty solid, un-interrupted 4 month block of training so far.  I’ve integrated more strength training into my program, as well as re-integrating speedwork, and a bit more volume.  Everything has been going well, I’ve been seeing fitness improvements, and haven’t had any injuries (knock on wood).

As far as gear, I’m pretty much set on my shoe choice - I’ll be running the Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra.  Honestly, it’s probably one of the top, if not the top trail shoe I’ve run in.  I did a final race-prep run in them last week - 29+ miles with 5.5k ft gain (the race will be 50M, 7k ft).  My feet and ankles felt perfect afterwards - not a single blister, hotspot, or soreness.  And did I mention they just feel so fast - actually I did mention that in our RTR Review.  

[Planned race day setup - including Altra 4-pt gaiter]

I did purchase an additional pair for the race at ½ size up (I’ll be racing in US 10.0 and reviewed 9.5).  I feel like for the 50M, I’d like the extra wiggle room, and I’d also like to wear my preferred Injinji liner/Darn Tough ultralight sock combo.  I’ve been very happy with the ½ size up in my testing for the longer distance.  I find the fit of the Speed Ultra so perfect for me - it’s a no-brainer, especially with the added toe sock liner.  I’m looking forward to a solid start to the year, then on to Canyons 100K in California, before shifting focus to big mountain 100 milers over the summer. 

Jeremy Marie (France) 

Nike Terra Kiger 8 First impressions

I’ve just received the Nike Terra Kiger 8 from Top4Running in its black colorway (the other being a blazing red one) and had a first quick dog-run with them.

First impressions are really good. I  ran in the TK3 and TK4, so it’s quite a comeback for me, and chances are that what I’ve experienced here was already true for the 7th iteration. 

According to Nike, changes in the upper are the main differences versus the TK7.

The fit is more accommodating than those oldies the 3rd and 4th versions, especially in the toe box which offers a decent amount of space and  where I felt a bit constrained in the TK3 and TK4.

The midfoot is hugging thanks to a gusseted tongue and a inner sleeve that is attached to the eyelets: 

Compared to the Flyknit upper and flywire of the oldies, this construction seems much more effective and will for sure be more durable.

The mesh is very light, airy, and doubled with an inner layer to limit debris entrance.

The lugs should be efficient on a variety of terrain and I really hope that they’ve modified the compound as the Kigers have a bad reputation of being slippery on wet ground.

First impressions of the React midsole coupled with a Zoom Air unit at the front are really nice. There’s a firm rebound from the midsole that seems to ensure stability and efficient push-off during the stride.

I’m really looking forward to getting more miles in them as they’ll be perfect for the more tamed trails I have around home.

Terra Kiger 8 are available from our partner Top4 Running Europe HERE

Use RTR code RTRTOP4 for 5% off all products, even sale products

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 in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'

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1 comment:

Al said...

Hi Sam, Great reviews as usual! The new Brooks Caldera 6 vs the new Hoka Speed Goat 5 ? Both seem to be max cush trail shoes. I’m looking for a durable shoe to run Canadian Shield granite ridges and rocky forested trails . I also like a bouncy propulsive ride.
Which of these shoes would work best for me do you think? Or does the Hoka Tecton fit the bill?
Al Stewart