Chasing 42

Life, the Universe, & Running

Gear Reviews

My love of technology and gadgets spills over into my running life pretty regularly. The result is many drawers full of running-related implements, from water bottles to pouches to packs to cold weather gear. Below is a listing of the various products I own continue to experiment with in my quest for the perfect running configuration (luckily, it doesn’t exist, so I can keep buying new products 🙂 ).

Patagonia Houdini

This incredibly light-weight and packable windbreaker continues to be my go-to shell for some protection from the wind, light rain, and as a light insulating layer. The hood cinches up really well, and it’s surprisingly breathable as well. At 113 grams, it’s easy to toss it in a pack or even in your pocket just in case the need might arise. I highly recommend this wind shell.

The Houdini has an athletic fit and doesn't constrict my movements, even mid-race!

The Houdini has an athletic fit and doesn’t constrict my movements, even mid-race!

UnderArmor Coldgear Infrared Hood

This balaclava is my go-to winter weather accessory! Forget your wicking stocking caps and go straight for all-around coverage and warmth. I’ll bust this out beginning at about 10 degrees, especially when the wind is picking up!

Multiple wearing options.

Multiple wearing options.

Compact Water Bottle Reviews

In my quest for the perfect handheld water bottle, I’ve tried out numerous products. In the compact category (12 oz. or less), these four are currently in my collection. Ultimately, the Nathan Quickdraw Thermal came out on top, but all four of them have their perks. Check out my full review!

So many choices.

So many choices.

Ultimate Direction SJ Vest vs. Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 5 Set

My search for the perfect ultrarunning pack boiled down to these two packs. You can read my full review for the pros and cons to each. In the end, I went with the Salomon pack, but both packs are high quality, and certainly worth taking a look at if you are in the market for a race-worthy hydration pack.

Race Vest 4Race Vest 3

Nathan HPL #028 Race Vest

I really wanted this vest to be my new shorter distance storage solution. Alas, the fit just didn’t work, and I wasn’t convinced that a bottle on one side only was ideal for balance. I may try to make some more alterations, however, as others have had much more positive experiences. It definitely has an ideal amount of storage in relation to weight for races/runs less than 20 miles or so, depending on how you prefer to hydrate. You can check out my full review at the link above!

Nathan HPL #028 Race Vest, with additional sternum strap added.

Nathan HPL #028 Race Vest, with additional sternum strap added.

CEP Arm Coolers

Are you struggling with the heat on longer runs? Are you looking for a way to cool down your body, in addition to hydration? You may want to check out these handy arm coolers!

armcoolers-2

Garmin 910xt

You can read my full post with the link above. The 910xt is my second GPS watch, replacing my Garmin 405. The 405 was also a solid watch, although I never enjoyed the touch bezel as much as I thought I would.

The inaugural run :)

The inaugural run 🙂

The Clean Bottle & The Runner

This bottle and accompanying pack attachment work great for staying hydrated on the go. The pack fits a smartphone (although not larger phones) or the nutrition you carry, and the bottle is a bit larger than some, which is nice for not having to refill as much. You can click on the link above for a full review!

The Clean Bottle, w/ The Runner attached

The Clean Bottle, w/ The Runner attached

Stabilicers Ice Cleats 

Although winter this year in Iowa has been uncharacteristically devoid of snow and ice, it was only a matter of time before I had to break out the “spikes” and tromp through some snow and ice- today was that day. I’ve used YakTrax in the past, but the circular wires that provide traction seem to snap and become tangled with each other quite easily. I’ve even managed to get them tangled in each other, causing me to trip and face plant on the ground. This is not something I enjoy! So, I was looking for an alternative and came across the Stabilicer sport ice cleats. They offer the flexibility that comes with Yaktrax, but with a different “cleat” system that actually more closely resembles some of the more permanent sheet metal screw methods I have seen on sites such as Runners World.

I found these ice cleats to fit relatively snugly on my feet, although they didn’t hug the soles of my feet quite as well as I would like due to the shape of my shoes. Once you have them on, you really don’t notice them all that much, and they offered a relatively high degree of traction when running through snow and on ice/snow combination surfaces (which you typically see more on roads after cars have driven on the surfaces). They added some weight, but not enough that I didn’t get accustomed to it pretty quickly.

However, the shape of the soles of my shoes did mean that there was a small gap between the rubber surface of the ice cleats and my shoes, and I did notice snow mildly accumulate in between, although not enough that it significantly hindered my running. Snow also built up on the toes, in between the cleats and my shoes, so you’ll want to be aware of moisture when running through snow drifts/ un-shoveled driveways. They aren’t meant for cleaner concrete or asphalt surfaces but when you do occassionally hit them, you can certainly keep running, as long as you don’t mind the mild clicking noises.

Overall, they performed better than Yaktrax in my opinion, and I would recommend them if you are planning some winter running on the snow. As with most cleats, they aren’t as affective on ice, and you should certainly still watch your footing. Neither these ice cleats or any other pair will save you from a large sheet of ice if you aren’t careful!  You can find them on amazon.com for around $35.

Overall rating: 3.75/5

Photo Credit: Stabilicers

Seirus Neosocks (2/13/12)

I’ve always had problems keeping my fingers and toes warm during cold weather running. Thus, the quest for the best gloves, mittens, and socks is high on my running gear checklist. So, when a friend recommended these socks as a perfect solution to my toe blues, I needed to find out for myself. Unlike most socks, these are made of a neoprene blend. As a result, they are a bit thicker, and very tight to put on at first. As I was squeezing them onto my feet, I felt like I was suiting up for a scuba lesson. I chose to wear a thin pair of smart wool socks underneath these, and then to wear my shoes directly over them.

The fit was very snug, and aside from not being able to lace my shoes quite as tight, they fit great. I felt no noticeable rubbing or chafing. At first, my toes still experienced a bit of cold, but I’m guessing that had something to do with the combination of extreme cold outside and the thin mesh on my shoes, which let moisture and cold in quicker. After about 30 minutes, however, the cold went away, and that’s when I began to fall in love with these socks. My feet stayed toasty warm for a 3+ hour run in single-digit temperatures, despite the thin mesh of my running shoes. Although they don’t breath and wick like other athletic socks, I didn’t seem to mind due to the extreme cold, and the added insulation was just what I needed.

I picked these up on sale online for around $15, but even at the retail price of $20-$24, these are a solid choice for extreme winter runners looking for some added warmth on their feet!

Overall rating: 4/5

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3 thoughts on “Gear Reviews

  1. Pingback: The Snowflakes Turn Into Snot…I Swear! « Chasing 42

  2. Pingback: Winter Etiquette’s Running Connection | Chasing 42

  3. Pingback: Sub-Zero Treadmill Avoidance | Chasing 42

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