Friday, June 10, 2022

Quick Strides 34: Shannon podiums DekaFit, Polar Pacer Pro, Ultimate Direction Apparel, Buff Hats, OOFOS OOcandoo, Craft Pro Endur, SkySky, Hydrapak SkyFlask

Article by Shannon Payne, Ivan Luca Corda, Peter Stuart and Sam Winebaum

Shannon podiums DekaFit, Polar Pacer Pro, Ultimate Direction Apparel, Buff Hats, OOFOS OOcandoo,  Craft Pro Endur, SkySky, Hydrapak SkyFlask

Shannon (Northern California)

Last week I once again strayed from the trails and into the gym as I took on a second DekaFit competition in Anaheim, California. My trusty Kinvara 12’s and I took 50 seconds off of my previous best time by 1) not falling off of the rower in Zone 3, 2) running instead of walking through the Zone 6 Farmer’s Carry with 40 lbs. in each hand 3) pushing and pulling the weighted sled with much more gusto than in my previous attempt, and finally 4) having spent the preceding 6 weeks doing rage-fueled burpees as promised, the 10th and final zone with the weighted burpees got considerably faster. I still got edged out of second place in that final stage again, but this time I made it onto the podium with third place, won some prize money, and squeaked my new mark to 7th on the world leaderboard. If I can stay in the top 12 times, the DekaFit World Championship is in November. Fingers crossed and here’s to more rage-fueled  burpees till then! 

Photo by Spartan DekaFit

But I was not the only vertically-inclined runner at the race this time! I got to watch and cheer on many-time Mt. Baldy winner Jon Clark as he notched a world-leading time for his age group and 9th place in hotly-contested elite men’s heat. Naturally I took a close look at his shoes, and he appeared to be wearing the Saucony Type A9 road racing flat. 

Following that I went to the Bolder Boulder. Not to run, no, but rather to the work OOfos booth, bringing the OO to race participants far and wide! Stopping by the booth was none other than RTR contributor Jeff Valliere, who had a great race in the Asics Metaspeed Sky. 

Upcoming in just less than two  weeks is the famous Mt. Washington Road Race ! While it took considerable deliberation as that race is near and dear to my heart, this year it falls on the same day as the Broken Arrow Skyrace, and I opted to stay out west and do that one instead. More specifically the Vertical Kilometer. My plan is to race in my much-loved Terra Kiger 8. Stay tuned for a (hopefully epic) race report!

Sam (Utah for now)

We have been in Park City for the last few weeks with a variety of weather in the mix from snow and freezing to into the 80’s Farenheit. I was pleased to clock two 40 mile weeks in a row here at 6900 feet / 2000 meters with legs feeling great and maybe ready for the Round Valley Rambler Trail Half.

I am sure to rock the Endorphin Edge from Saucony, a barely 9 oz, 36 mm heel / 30 mm forefoot carbon plated (Carbitex AFX asymmetrically flexible) and what feels like a new softer bouncier flavor of PWRRUN PB beaded foam. My first run and hike in them have been eye openers as there is an amazing cushion here and the carbon plate compromises nothing in stability while providing rock protection and stability. RTR Contributor Jeff Valliere has an done  an initial video review. He too has been delighted.  Several of us are testing so stay tuned for the multi tester review. 

Along with Ivan below and Matt in the UK,  I also completed testing of the Craft Pro Endur Distance with its TPE beaded foam midsole which delivered a wonderful road and light trails ride in my testing up here in Park City. Our multi tester review is here.

I also completed initial reviews of the Salomon Pulsar Trail (RTR Review) , Nike Zoom Pegasus 39 (RTR Initial Video Review) and a very interesting new light stability shoe from Saucony the Tempus which relies on its geometry and a PWRRUN foam frame with a central (and heel) PWRRUN PB core. (Initial Multi Tester Initial Impressions Review)

Buff Pack Speed Cap ($30) and Buff Booney ($39)

I have been wearing both in the high altitude sun here in Park City. 

I really like the Booney as it provides not only broad brimmed sun protection but, as it has vent slots all around the brim, it is super breathable and ventilated as well. The sweat band is excellent. The hat can easily be cinched to keep sweat away and the hat securely planted Despite its “wings” it has never flown off my head.

A long adjustable cord is also included and the hat can be stuffed into a two sided pocket under the crown. I really like and  unlike the cap the brim can be easily curved and in fact does so  on its own so that it is not seen above the eyes, something I don’t like much. 

I have had no hesitation wearing it for all kinds of run and more than the Cap it has been my go to for the last few weeks.  

I wish the National Geographic themed graphics were a bit less colorful and over the top but…over time the look has grown on me!

The Pack Speed Cap is also excellent. Made of a stretchy soft material it perches nicely. The brim is a bit acute and sometimes in the way but all one has to do is push the skull cap like main part of the hat a bit to perch it further back. 

Sweat absorption is fine but as it is  thin it can at times get overwhelmed. Easily stuffed into the smallest pocket, the Speed Cap is light and very practical.

Ultimate Direction Velum Short and Nimbus T

Now both of these are super fine by me! I have worn them almost every day for runs and the last few weeks in Park City.

Velum Short ($60)

The Velum Short is a bit shorter than usual 4” short with a deep split. I am showing more leg that is for sure,  and I need a longer tan! 

The outer shell is very light and airy with 4 way stretch and a deep split. The key feature is the all around the waist storage in the mesh waistband, broken into 4 equal size compartments. I have easily carried an iPhone 13, tripod, and stuffed a light jacket,  all secure and out of the way while running. Unfortunately due to the relatively short length of the compartments neither UD’s 500ml soft flask or a Salomon flask can be stuffed in a compartment. A 350ml flask should be good.

This small oversight aside, the Nimbus short is very comfortable. I completely forget I am wearing them, as the bonded anti chafe hem in the snug brief is very effective and the deep split and outer shell give complete freedom of movement,  yet I also know that around the waist I am carrying quite a load of gear, also unnoticed.

Nimbus Tee ($70)

The Nimbus Tee is another functional marvel. It’s made of Polartec Delta fabric and when Polartec goes Greek alphabet you know it is a fabric developed for special military forces. My first alphabet fabric was Polartec Alpha, an incredibly light, quick drying breathable insulation.  

Here we have a very airy stretchy radiating and patent pending knit fabric with both hydrophobic and hydrophilic properties to cool by increasing airflow to dissipate heat. 

It works brilliantly as I have worn the Nimbus (and the Velum) just about every day since I received it for review. In heat, it is notable for being very, very cling free and for sure it dissipates heat and moisture  very well and dries quickly.


I also wore it under the UD Ultra v2 waterproof breathable jacket in drizzle and a bit of snow near freezing and was equally as comfortable. The Polygiene stink resistance is moderately good. The sustainability picture is also quite strong as it is made with 47% recycled polyester and is bluesign® and OEKO-TEX® certified fabric 

The fit in my usual medium is generous to allow for airflow. Highly recommended.

OOFOS OOcandoo ($100)

We have been big OOFOS fans at RTR since their very beginning. Their very light soft and energetic foam which absorbs 37% more impact than traditional foams sure feels good for recovery or any time but there was a big but for me and also a factor in helping with recovery, stability and hold. Here with the OOcandoo we get a full closed sandal wrap of the magic foam with a short velcro strap to lock things down. 

Pardon the tree pollen! OOFOS sandals are closed cell foam so are machine washable and resist odors. 

I have had them on since receiving for review whenever I don’t have run shoes on. Still with all that soft comfortable foam underfoot but now in what is really a very walkable and practical shoe with plenty of support. 

Dominique will take her pair on her trek around Mt Blanc soon as the other than when hiking boot hut and around town shoe as they are so light and practical with plenty of heel hold and toe protection.  

While it has not been super warm yet, the texture of the foot bed and the many ventilations slots keeps things from getting clammy and the full coverage over the toes protects from bumps and hides my nasty toenails while the heel coverage also protects and secures the fit.


SaySky of Copenhagen Denmark sent several of us at RTR outfits to test. I received the 2-1 Shorts in Olive ($90) and the Clean Pace T in Light Grey Melange ($60). 

I also received the Reverse Cap ($42) Blue to Flower which my ultra running daughter immediately took and which in that color is now sold out. 

Whereas the Ultimate Direction apparel is all serious just run business, the more versatile styled SaySky apparel will go anywhere including casual and hiking yet is totally high performance on the run.

The 2-1 Shorts have a reasonable 5” inseam. The fit is regular with narrow legs so no flapping outer shell here.

My medium fit correctly and as described narrow legs so if you have big thighs this short may not be ideal for you at true to size. The broad waistband with drawstring is particularly comfortable and effective. The thin outer shell is 4 way stretch but only moderately so keeping that look trim. The inner long short tight liner is very soft and stretchy with minimal compression. Pockets..there are many and all discreetly arrayed. The left liner leg has a phone pocket. At the rear we have a zip key card pocket with a full moisture resistant lining. It is too small for a phone. Finally there are 2 gel size pockets at the rear on the inner side of the liner. So very decent storage that won’t make you look like a..trail runner but for sure can hold its own.

Functional, classy, good storage, and of course comfortable the versatile 2-1 is a fine multi uses option that skimps on nothing as far as run performance.

The Clean Pace T Shirt  is a unisex regular fit and made of 46% recycled polyester. 

It is very soft, almost jersey like, stretchy and lightly brushed on the inside. Comfort and wicking abilities are very strong but this is not a mesh type shirt so there are better fabrics in high heat although it wicks extremely well and is non clingy. It is more a classy thin and soft t-shirt with versatile look and fit that can go anywhere and do anything. The fit is true to size for me at a few pounds over an ideal run now weighing 162 lbs with a moderately slim fit.  

SaySky 2-1 Shorts,Clean Pace Tee & more SaySky available from our partner 
Running Warehouse HERE

Polar Pacer Pro ($300)

I am a huge fan of Polar watches for their really insightful Nightly Recharge overview with at the push of a button, no synching to any app required,  deep ANS (HRV, Beat to Beat Interval, Resting HR, Breathing) and quality sleep insights right on the watch. 

Hill Splitter no hill here but if there was the watch would indicate distance of the climb or descent, vertical or descent. Each hill detected automatically

The Pacer Pro includes breadcrumb navigation, hill splitter, performance tests for various sports, power on the wrist, and a barometric altimeter, features the M series did not have and which are seen in the Vantage V. 

It does not have a few of the higher end chest strap required tests of the Vantage but I have never used them. In addition a new very small magnetic charger doesn’t require lining up to a red dot as with prior Polar, a big convenience and a practical improvement

What this next generation Polar does have is a very fast processor as views and actions are noticeably quicker than other Polar and my sense quicker than just about any watch I have tested.

Also highly significant and noted on the run is that the transflective pixel in pixel display is 3 mm closer to the outer Gorilla Glass 3 lens. This leads, without increasing the 240 x 240 resolution to a view that  is very crisp and sharp in almost all light conditions except when the sun is bright and at the back where almost all watches except the Garmin Epix 2 struggle.

The Pacer Pro slims things down with a 40g watch that is only 11.5mm thick and with a metal bezel. A few watches get below 40 g, many are 60g or more and much thicker. So comfort on the wrist and a sense of no watch at all here is noticeable. I have been wearing a Garmin Fenix 6S with a smaller display diameter and thicker body on the other wrist and the difference is noticeable.

I am continuing my testing with a focus on battery life as GPS accuracy has, as with all recent watches from all brands proved to be just fine as they all use much more modern chips than if one has a 4 year old watch.

Battery Life Testing to Date

Everyday use: 8.5 days with continuous wrist heart rate monitoring

GPS in Best Mode (1 sec.), no notifications: about 20 hours (spec is up to 35 hours with less frequent GPS sampling).

Wrist HR Testing

Wrist HR has been very solid as well. No cadence locks (high spikes over an extended period of time) seen so far. Above a 5K wind up on the Park City Rail Trail

I will continue to test for our full review but to date I have been very pleased with this thin, light watch that leaves out no essential any sport training and recovery features, has a great display and is reasonably priced at $300. 

Ivan (Copenhagen, Denmark)

I received the Craft Pro Endur Distance and went for a 32 km run straight out the box. The Craft CTM Ultra was one of my favorites in 2021 and in general I’ve been very pleased with the Craft lineup these last few years. 

Doing a lot of long distance running at various paces, I find that Craft running shoes have been very suited for my needs and offer a ride, fit and overall sensation somewhat different from the more traditional well known brands. 

My first run in the Craft Pro Endur Distance was done just 10 days after an all out marathon here  Copenhagen, so my expectations were not that high due to a bit of fatigue beforehand. 

The course was on both tarmac and also some light gravel and boy did that just go surprisingly well. I was even able to do some shorter semi-fast tempo segments and the shoe just delivered and felt extremely versatile. It’s fairly light compared to the overall level of cushion and still provides a lot of really pleasant bounce due to a well balanced beaded TPE midsole, similar to PEBA. 

I have since put in more miles in this new model from Craft and my full review alongside some of my fellow RTR contributors is here

Peter (Austin TX)

Hydrapak SkyFlask™ IT Speed 300 ML

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it deserves another mention. This soft flask is the best water bottle solution I’ve found. Period. It’s comfortable, easy to carry and lightning fast to refill. I just ran a 30k trail race with this one bottle and it was perfect. Flawless. Aside from being incredibly comfortable to carry, the speed top makes it really, really fast and easy to fill. No unscrewing bottle tops when exhausted. It just flips open, fills up, and you’re back out on the trail. There’s a new and slightly larger version that I just ordered. What a great piece of gear!

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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