Review: OMM Adventure Light 20 Backpack

The Best Run Commuting Backpack Ever?

OMM (standing for Original Mountain Marathon) is a brand well-known to UK and Euro trail runners, but it has yet to become popular in the US, which is a pity. I would go so far as to say this is a ‘best-kept secret’ of running packs. The OMM 20L may be the best run commuting backpack ever, and for those so inclined, it doubles as the best multi-day trail running pack ever, too! It is relatively cheap, hugely comfortable, robust, thoughtfully designed, and has tons of storage room.

For these reasons, no doubt, it has been the backpack of choice for the winners of some epic races: this year alone Eion Keith was wearing it when he won the notoriously grueling Spine Race in England – 268 miles non-stop over snowy English high country in mid-winter. Elspeth Luke wore it to run 1100k over Scottish mountains in record time. And it’s not just for cold-weather conditions: Aussie pro racer Samantha Gash wore it to run the 4 Deserts races across –as the name implies–four of the world’s serious deserts. Many athletes use this pack at the 6-days, 250km stage-race in the Moroccan desert, the Marathon des Sables.

So, how does such a hardcore pack work for everyday run commuters who just want to run an hour to work through suburban streets? Brilliantly, that’s how!

 

 

Test Model

OMM Adventure Light 20

Size: One size fits all

Carrying Capacity: 20L, 1220.5 cu. in.

Cost: US $70.19, GBP54, EU78.95

Add-on: Dry-bag, 20L

Best for:

  • Run commuters who carry larger loads on most run commutes

  • One backpack for both a daily run commute pack in the city and for epic runs/races such as the Marathon des Sables!

  • Run commuters with shorter torsos

Performance and Evaluation

Outstanding performance in a wide range of conditions. The OMM 20L is very comfortable, and performs brilliantly as a daily run commuting backpack when carrying medium to large loads. Also performs at the extreme level when used as an adventure racing pack on multi-day or stage races such as the Marathon des Sables. It says something about the versatility of this pack that many runners have used it in stage-races in the climates of both the Sahara Desert in temperatures up to 50C, and in the British winter in high mountain snow in temperatures that drop to -10C. Clearly, the OMM Adventure Light can handle extremes.  It will easily handle whatever you can throw at it on a daily run commute.

For those who often run commute with a very small load, such as a shirt and thin slacks, it is possible to cinch down the OMM Adventure Light 20 tightly by running a thin elastic cord through the eyelets on the front designed for that purpose. There is no cinching cord included for this purpose, however. The front buckle strap does pull the pack quite tightly together on a vertical axis, but not horizontally.

While this pack is certainly one of the least obtrusive full-size packs to use even when carrying a small load (ie. it is not ‘too much’ pack as others would be), I’d go for a smaller pack if you really aren’t going to carry much ever. A mostly-empty pack is just unnecessary now that there are so many smaller packs on the market which are designed to be comfortable with smaller loads. I have not tested the smaller OMM packs (13, 10 and 8Ls), but if their quality is similar to that of the Adventure Light, it would definitely be worth giving them a try.

Sometimes, it rains. We run commuters have to run in rain at times, as Kyle discusses in his classic ‘How to RAIN commute’ post.

To guard against sweat seepage or sudden unexpected rainstorms, a precaution is to always put your clothes into a dry bag — which will also compress them — before loading them into the main compartment. Or, there is the option of a small, external rain-cover instead.  

As mentioned above, the main compartment and the waist-belt pockets of the OMM 20L are made from a very light material that appears to be water repellent. This makes sense, given that it is designed to be used in adventure/nature races, where rain and water are common. This material does work. A few times when I thought it wasn’t going to rain I didn’t bother to use a dry bag and got caught in brief showers. My clothes remained dry. However, in prolonged rain or heavy downpours, water would soak through onto the contents. 

 

 

 

What I Liked

Comfort

Lightness

Size

Pocket distribution/design

Thoughtful overall design

Price

 

 

What I Didn’t Like

The location of the closing clip for the main compartment

 

Backpack Details

Front

The closing clip for the main compartment is at the bottom edge of the front of the pack, vertically. This is unusual. It took me ages to get used to, and for weeks I kept trying to open the pack using the plastic buckle that is situated on the top lid of the pack, where the clip is found on most bags. I’m still not convinced the bottom edge is a great location for the opening clip.

Sides

On the lower half of each side of the main compartment is a mesh pocket with elasticized top edge. They are water-bottle pockets, and have been designed with great consideration for the needs of adventure runners, for whom hydration is essential.  The pockets are deep, each amply holding a 600mL bottle. This is true even when the main compartment of the pack is full. The other brilliant thing about their design is that they are angled slightly backwards, so that the top of the water bottle is tilted fractionally towards the direction you are facing. This makes it easier to pull the bottles out and put them back in, while running. The bottles don’t jump out of these pockets even when there isn’t much in the main compartment of the pack. Overall, excellent design and performance.

Main Compartment and Top Access Pouch

The main compartment is basically a cylindrical sack with a drawstring closure. Over this fits a hood that buckles down with a strap that runs vertically down the front of the backpack and clips to the lower quarter of the front of the pack (the ‘weird’ strap described above). The main compartment holds a LOT of stuff. You could easily get a medium-thickness winter coat in here along with shoes, clothes and lunch.  

As you can see in the photo above, there is a zipped pocket on the top of the hood that covers the main drawstring compartment of the pack. This zipped pocket is almost the same width across as the hood itself, so it can hold a wallet and phone, or even a small Tupperware container, easily.

Back, shoulder straps and waist belt

The padding on the OMM Adventure Light 20 is generous, light and comfortable. It is also positioned where you need it and not where you don’t. The back is kept firm and self-supporting by a removable foam pad that sits inside the main compartment in its own sleeve. This pad is so light, and helps keep the overall structure of the pack so comfortable, that after I tried running once with the pad removed I resolved never to do so again — it’s simply more of a gain to have the foam pad in there.

There are two identical pockets on either side of the waist belt. Both pockets close with zips. They are large enough to fit a smartphone, and there is some flexibility as the lower half of each pocket is made of a mesh that stretches slightly. I found these pockets to be very useful for carrying my phone, food snacks, and accessories like gloves, hat or headlamp.

 

Hydration System

The OMM Adventure Light  20 does not come with a hydration bladder or bottles. As discussed above, the side bottle pockets are perfectly designed and executed for their purpose. With both bottle pockets carrying 600ml — or 750ml at a pinch — bottles, this would give you 1.2L – 1.5L fluid. You could also remove the foam back pad from its dedicated sleeve and put your hydration pouch in there. There is no other pocket in the main compartment to hold a hydration bladder, and unless you had a completely full load it would slosh around a bit if in the main area.

Conclusion

A top-drawer backpack for adventure running AND run commuting!

Additional Pictures

In the News: Nine reasons why running to work beats the train

Here’s a nice, concise piece about run commuting that recently ran in the UK’s Telegraph. One of the best parts: 

6. You’ll avoid talking to strangers on the train

Let’s be honest: no one wants to hear about their fellow commuter’s bunion surgery while travelling on the 7.53.

 

Aside from the fact that your legs are unlikely to go on strike as often as National Rail, run commuting boasts a number of key benefits

Source: Nine reasons why running to work beats the train

By | May 31st, 2015|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on In the News: Nine reasons why running to work beats the train

Review: Deuter Futura 22 Backpack

All of us down here at The Run Commuter’s Atlanta, GA headquarters decided it was time to get some new packs to test out, so over the next few months, we’ll have some in-depth insight and detailed field test results from a handful of running backpacks. First up, the Deuter Futura 22.

Performance and Evaluation

Blinkie lights will fit in between the zippers on the top and bottom of the pack.

I ran approximately 50 miles with the Deuter during rainstorms, extreme cold weather, and mild-to-warm days over several weeks.

When I first put the pack on, I immediately noticed how much more comfortable it was than the Osprey Manta 20. That was entirely a result of the thick padding within both the shoulder and waist straps, as well as a small patch of cushioning that rests between your shoulder blades.

The lower portion of the frame felt like two fists gently pushing into my kidneys. It was strange, and normally something you’d experience in an external-frame hiking backpack.

The break-in period for the pack ranged from 10 – 15 miles. What happened during that time was two-fold – One, the straps loosened slightly from their stiff out-of-the-box feel; and two, the waist strap cushioning softened. These two things together allowed the pack to adjust and fit the individual shape of my body much better than it had when brand new, leading to a more comfortable run (Note: this is normal for all packs, with some variability in the length of time it takes.) The “two-fists-pushing-into-my-kidneys” feel gradually lessened, with a bit more use, changing from slightly uncomfortable to unnoticeable.

The rain cover is tucked away in the standard location at the base of the pack and stays on without using a plastic toggle spring like Osprey rain covers, which tend to drift in between your back and the pack while moving, creating some discomfort. I used the rain cover during my first test run with the Futura. It deployed and went on quickly, and kept the pack, and the items inside, secure and dry.

I experienced absolutely no hot spots or abrasion areas. None. Some days I used the pack while wearing full winter gear, with several layers between my body and the pack; some days it was just a single tech shirt. No chafing, whatsoever.

There are no attachments for lights on the back of the pack, but I found that blinking lights could be added in between the dual zippers on the top and bottom of the pack.

In addition, the hiking poles attachment (seen on the left side of the pack) works quite well for carrying a long-handled umbrella to or from work.

Overall, the Deuter Futura 22 is a great pack for run commuting and I would put it in a tie for first place with the Osprey Manta 20, followed closely by the Osprey Stratos 24.

What I Liked

Volume: Very roomy; enough space for work clothes, lunch, and a winter jacket

Strap Padding: Very thick and comfortable

Bottom Pouch with main compartment access

Raincover is effective and does not use a plastic toggle spring

What I Didn’t Like

No pouches on waist strap

Cannot access side pouches while running

No blinkie/light attachments on back of pack (I use Amphipod Vizlets in between the dual zippers for low-light conditions)

It should be noted that these certainly wouldn’t keep me from purchasing this pack.

Let’s Get Down to Details

 Volume

22 Liters

Weight

2.5 pounds

Material

60% polyester

40% nylon

Color

Papaya/Stone

Price

Buy It Now

Amazon.com

Front

The front of the Deuter Futura 22 includes a large, fold-down zippered accessories pouch at the top, and a rounded, dual-zippered compartment at the bottom. Inside the accessories compartment are several standard mesh pouches and key clips for keeping your small items organized and in-place while moving.

The front of the Futura 22 includes two compartments and four small areas of reflective material.

The accessories pouch is large and will easily hold all of your personal items, like cell phone, wallet, and keys.

Sides

Both sides of the pack feature elastic-topped pouches which are crossed over by the packs lower set of external compression straps. Each pouch is partially-covered by reflective material that wraps around to the front of the pack.

Each side includes an elastic pouch and both a lower and upper set of external compression straps.

Main Compartment

The main compartment, while very basic, is extremely roomy. It easily fits my Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter, winter jacket, lunch, and extra running gear, with space to spare. The Futura is hydration compatible, and includes a hydration sleeve and velcro attachment (shown below,) as well as a tube slot at the top of the pack.

The spacious main compartment, with hydration sleeve and attachment

Bottom Compartment

The bottom compartment, open.

The bottom compartment is not a normal feature of run commuting packs. Standard packs generally have a large main compartment and one or two smaller accessories pouches near the top.

Inside view, showing the zippered access to the bottom of the main compartment.

Back/Suspension

The Deuter Futura 22’s suspension system.

Deuter’s breathable suspension system, called AirComfort, is very similar in concept to the AirSpeed frames that Osprey manufactures. The one noticeable difference is that the Futura’s wire frame forms an “X,” whereas Osprey’s lightwire frame forms a rectangle. This gives the Futura a little more malleability at the sides, allowing it to contour to your shape a little better than the Osprey.

Rain Cover

In my opinion, a rain cover should be a feature on any pack you use for run commuting. If you get caught in a rainstorm, you only have to stop for a few seconds to unzip and cover your pack, keeping nay electronics and dress clothing dry and out of the weather. Deuter even added a reflective logo to the cover, so when it is on and covering up the pack’s standard reflective fabric areas, you still have a little extra something to keep you visible to drivers.

The Futura’s rain cover is found at the very bottom of the pack.

The rain cover on the pack.

By | March 3rd, 2015|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , , , , , |6 Comments

The New Run Commuters – February 2015

This month we’re featuring Tom Fischer, a firefighter in St. Louis, Missouri. Even though he has an unusual work schedule and did not have all the latest and best running gear in the beginning, Tom decided to start run commuting anyway. And, he’s sticking with it. He makes a great point about a great target audience for run commuting, too. Fire, EMS, and police usually have many facilities available at their workplace already (showers, laundry) that could make them the perfect jobs for which to run commute.

As always, if you are interested in being featured on The New Run Commuters, fill out and submit the form at the end of the post.

Runner Basics

Name: Tom Fischer
Age: 35
City/State: St. Louis, MO
Profession/Employer: Firefighter/Paramedic for the Kirkwood Fire Dept.
Number of years running: 6
# of races you participate in a year: 0
Do you prefer road or trail? Trails are better for the knees. Humans weren’t designed to run on concrete.

Run Commuting Gear

Backpack: REI Stoke 9 backpack. I recently switched over from using a cheap drawstring-type bag. I would use a black cord to make my own sternum strap to keep it from swinging.
Shoes: My Trusty old Asics (GT-2130). I plan to get minimalist shoes to mimic barefoot.
Clothing: Sweat pants with hooded sweatshirt. Knit gloves (it’s really cold outside.)
Outerwear: Same as clothing
Headgear: Knit cap
Lights: None
Hydration: None. I drink 2 cups of water as soon as I wake up.

Tom Fischer

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

My New Year’s resolution this year was to run more. Lately, I’ve only been running on the treadmill at work (with socks only; I don’t like shoes). I figured that if I convinced myself to run to work, I would then be forced to run again to get home, and I was right, because I like going home. This, plus the treadmill seems to be a good fit for now.

How often do you run commute?

I only go to work 5 times per month (I work 48 hours straight and then have 96 hours off). I just started, but I plan to run commute every day that the temperature isn’t too uncomfortable. The coldest I’ve ran to work was 13 degrees F. I’m going to call that my limit until I get more appropriate clothing.

How far is your commute?

2.9 miles

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

Both. I work a 48-hour shift, so I pack oatmeal for breakfast and something healthy for the first day’s lunch. While at work, I go to the grocery store and get the rest of the food that I need.

What do you like most about run commuting?

I get to work totally awake instead of stumbling in half asleep and I feel great the rest of the day.

Do you know of anyone else in your area that runs to work?

Not a soul.

When not run commuting, how do you get to work?

By driving my fantastic Jeep Liberty, of course.

If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who was considering run commuting, what would it be?

Just start doing it while you’re thinking of doing it…with the gear that you already have. There’s plenty of time to research and acquire better equipment later, but your desire to try it won’t last forever. Get started now, so that you gain experience and make it a habit.

Anything more about you that would like to include?

Your coworkers might think you’re crazy. Mine already thought that, but now some think I’m even crazier. I would encourage other firefighters, EMS, police, etc. to take advantage of the convenient facilities that exist at your work places (showers, laundry, lockers, pantries). Take full advantage of them by running to work. One’s own health is important enough to run more, but if you may need to drag a victim or another firefighter out of a house fire, or chase a suspect for a further distance than you would prefer, then it becomes imperative to run more (and lift more, as well). It takes me 10 minutes to drive to work or 25 to run to work, so for just an extra 15-minute investment per day, I get almost 3 miles of running in.

And lastly, because PE class doesn’t teach this, never land on your heels. Humans were designed to run, but only with a front or mid-foot strike. Landing on your heels is the best way to become an elliptical machine user, because you will lose your ability to run. You have to build up your distance slowly though, because your calves will ache as you switch to landing on the balls of your feet.

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The New Run Commuters – January 2015

In our first edition of The New Run Commuters for 2015, we meet Kate Livett from Sydney, Australia. Kate is a recent and die-hard convert to run commuting and though her job contracts and office locations often change, she’s determined to make the run to or from work no matter the circumstances. Rock on, Kate!

If you are interested in being featured in The New Run Commuters, simply fill out the form at the bottom of the post and we’ll get started on your profile. We look forward to hearing your stories! 

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Runner Basics

image

New Run Commuter Kate Livett

  • Name: Kate Livett
  • Age: 36
  • Hometown: Sydney, Australia
  • Profession/Employer: Academic (English Literature), various universities around Sydney (currently UNSW)
  • Number of years running: 7 years
  • Number of races per year: None. I went in a couple of road races and was not a huge fan of the crowds, but I’m planning to do some trail ultras in 2015.
  • Do you prefer road or trail? Trails are my passion (Whenever I can I run on trails.) I’m very lucky to live 40 minutes’ drive from a massive national park of native forest with very technical, rocky and rootsy singletrack, loads of mini-waterfalls, giant goannas, echidnas, kangaroos, poisonous snakes (!), unspoiled coastline and generally all-round amazing natural beauty. I try to run in the national park at least once a week. Running in the city, I enjoy looking at people’s gardens and meeting cats and dogs or watching birds in trees, etc., but I hate the aggressive drivers in Sydney, and constantly having to be ‘on my guard’ against crazy cars.

Gear

  • Backpack: I have several…*ahem*. Depending on weather and load, I switch between the Deuter SpeedLite 10, Osprey Stratos 24, Salomon Advanced Skin Set 12 (2013 version) on the road, and Ultimate Direction Wasp and Nathan Intensity for trails. For me, backpacks are as important to get right as shoes.
  • Shoes: Altra Torin for road, Altra Superior and Lone Peak 1.5 for trails, Inov-8 Trailroc 235 for super-technical trails and hills (though,they are too narrow and give me blisters), and flip-flops with shoelaces around the heels for homemade huaraches when it’s hot (see photo). I love zero-drop and wide toeboxes.
  • Clothing: I try to buy from brands that respect at least one of the following ethical criteria: vegan/environmentally sustainable/workers’ rights. This is very limiting; for example, I won’t buy Salomon or Nathan from now on. I know, I know, I have packs by both those brands. They’re awesome packs, too. But, I made the decision to try to “buy ethically” just after I got the Advanced Skin Set and starting sometime is better than never, right? I am hoping they will get some specific policies on ethical issues soon, so I can buy their stuff again! I just bought a long-sleeved Patagonia capilene tee with UPF50+ sun protection. It’s made of 60% recycled plastic bottles. I’ve worn it twice in 90 minute runs in 30-degrees Celsius, and it’s totally awesome — cool and light and protective. Moving Comfort bras. Basic running shorts.
  • Outerwear: Puma PE windbreaker jacket for trail and when I’m not commuting. For run commuting in winter a huge yellow neon cycling windbreaker, which i wear with my pack underneath. It makes me look pretty silly, but ‘safety first’…
  • Headgear: I always wear a cap and Polaroid sunglasses.
  • Lighting: Two bicycle froglights on my pack and reflective clothing.
  • Hydration: None in winter. In summer, I will drink up to a litre of water on the exact same run. I recently bought two Ultimate Direction soft-flasks (see them in the front pockets of my pack in the photo). They’re pricey, but i cannot recommend them highly enough — best investment ever, for trail and road. You don’t have to run with half-empty or empty bottles all the time. They are much better suited to the female anatomy as well.

General Questions

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

I have been obsessed with running since I took it up in my late 20s. Since that time I’ve been employed all over the place at different things, often working from home. I didn’t know there was such a thing as ‘run commuting’, and always did my running before/after work. Looking back, even if I had heard about it, I’m pretty sure I would have thought it was impossible for me to run commute, as I lacked general ‘running knowledge’ and wouldn’t have felt confident running with a backpack, timing my meals etc.

Last year, though, (having accumulated 6 years’ running experience) I got a contract to work regular 9-5 hours in the Sydney CBD, and about a month before I started, I stumbled on The Run Commuter website. The universe aligned, and I decided I wasn’t going to let my running be sacrificed to employment! I read every post on this site and successfully run commuted for that whole 6 months. I’m about to start another contract with regular hours. My New Year’s Resolution is to embrace the changing GPS coordinates of my employment, and to adapt to run commuting wherever the location of my latest workplace. I’m lucky that my partner is very supportive of my run commuting and doesn’t mind if dinner time is delayed a bit because I’m run commuting home.

image_1

Mishi, checking out Kate’s homemade running sandals

How often do you run commute?

Usually four days a week either to or from (mostly to). I would love to do both ways every day, but it would kill me!

How far is your run commute?

Last year’s 6-month stint was 12-14 km one way, depending on the route. The job I’m just about to start is almost the identical distance.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I try to pack a sandwich and apple. I admire the runners profiled on this site who run with frozen soup, strawberries, etc.! I’m not sure I’d be successful with that…

What do you like most about run commuting?

Chris Van Dyke, one of the first run commuters profiled on this site, says it best when he says: “How often can you straight up trade something you hate for something you love?” Similarly to Chris, I have loved swapping the peak hour public transport experience (cranky sardines in a slow-moving can…) for exercise and personal room to breathe, and I feel physically and mentally invigorated all day after running to work. When I’m run commuting i’m actually excited to go to work. Like most things in life, once you’ve done it the better way it’s hard to go back. Now I get cranky with myself if I don’t get to run commute because I’ve slept in.

Do you know of anyone else in your area that runs to work?

Runners, no. Quite a few of my colleagues bicycle commute.

When not run commuting, how do you get to work?

Train and then bus (unfortunately). Sometimes drive, but parking is impossible and the aggression of other drivers stresses me out.

If you could give one piece of advice to people considering run commuting, what would it be?

If you’re lucky enough to have showers at work, before you start run commuting try to ascertain what the unofficial “shower schedule” is — if you’re going to be rocking up at the same time each morning you don’t want to find that the shower is “pre-booked” every 15 minutes until lunchtime.

Specifically for the ladies — backpacks are generally made for men’s bodies. It can be discouraging trying to find one that doesn’t bounce, look stupid or feel wrong. Spend extra time researching this key piece of gear, and possibly spend extra cash on it, too. I’ve found it’s worth spending more at the beginning for a superior product– you will save money in the long run by not giving up run commuting due to an uncomfortable pack. (Happily, this logic also justifies my backpack fetish…) At least you’re not shelling out as much as you would for a sport like cycling/golf/triathlon. Also, don’t forget clean socks.

Anything else that you would like to include?

I know some people are put off trying a run commute by the thought that other commuters driving or walking past are ‘judging’ them or staring. But, if you feel self-conscious, just remind yourself: “They are probably very jealous that I am enjoying my commute and they are not.” The other confidence booster I like is the haughty self-question-and-answer: “Are THEY running 12 km to work? No, they aren’t!”

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Review: Salomon Snowcross CS

Salomon Snowcross CS

Salomon Snowcross CS

Running on ice can be treacherous, and sometimes even dangerous. For many years, I have been carrying a set of Yaktrax for those days where the paths were just too icy to run comfortably. However, I never felt I had stable and solid footing while running with these on, and most of the time, I ended up running much slower than desired. Running intervals with these on was simply just out of the question.

Since running on icy and snowy surfaces north of the 49th parallel is frequent, I started looking for other options. Among them are the IceSpikes. Unfortunately, I was never able to test them since they are, at least in my area, only available through online purchase.

Last Spring, as I was resigned to keep doing my best with my Yaktrax for many more years, I stumbled on a very good deal for a pair of Salomon Snowcross CS.  I had known about these shoes for over two years, but their price tag ($200) was, at least back then, just too high for the family budget. This time though (under 100$), I did not hesitate.

 These shoes stayed in my closet until this past November, where Ottawa started having some relatively inclement weather, which left us with quite a bit of snow, lots of ice and some cold temperature, but still not enough to get the cross country skis out, for about a month.

Not expecting much, I took the Snowcross out for many spins over that month… and I don’t think I will be able to live without them ever again.

On the ice, the nine carbide spikes on each shoes offered unprecedented grip, to a point where my brain actually had problems adjusting to it  (“lots of ice. Should be slippery. Very slippery, but… not slippery. Not at all… can’t compute.”)  Honestly, it took me about four or five runs over a week to understand that these would keep me going on the ice as fast as if I was on clear roads.

Ice-covered trails are part of my everyday commute

Icy trails are part of my everyday commute

In the snow, the aggressive cleat pattern also got me going pretty fast.  The integrated gate design, borrowed from the cross country ski world, also kept the snow out while keeping me warm and cozy.

Frankly, I am now in love with these shoes.  If you have to run on icy and snowy roads on your way to work, they offer amazing grip while keeping you warm.

Since I have to keep a minimum of critical sense, the low points of these shoes are:

  • the integrated gate is water resistant, but not waterproof.  It will keep you dry through snow, but not through puddle of slushy water.
  • the white lines are not reflective.  For shoes of that price, this would be expected.

 Last, but not least; with the carbide spikes*, make sure you do not walk on wooden floors.

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*The Salomon Snowcross CS share their soles with carbide spikes with the Salomon Spikecross. The latest are basically the same shoes as the Snowcross, but without the integrated gate. Therefore, a clever alternative to the Snowcross would be a pair of Spikecross combined with a set of short gators. The company Inov-8 also has two models with integrated carbide spikes (Oroc 280 and Oroc 340), which could also be used in conjunction with a short set of gators for similar results.

By | January 5th, 2015|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

2014 International Survey of Run Commuters

We’re pleased to release the findings of our first International Survey of Run Commuters!

The survey results can be viewed here, and the raw data is available for public use here. Please acknowledge The Run Commuter if using for a publication/blog/paper/etc.

If you would like to provide any feedback or have any questions, please email us at info@theruncommuter.com.

Here are some of the highlights of the survey:

We received a total of 145 responses from 22 different countries.

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Responses
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Countries

Run commuters are more likely to be:

Nearly half of the respondents (49%) have been run commuting less than a year.

57% of run commuters run both ways in the same day.

When not commuting by running, the preferred method of transportation is the bicycle, with 55% choosing cycling over other forms of travel.

On average, respondents live 7.47 miles (12 km) away from their workplace.

The average run commute is between 3 – 7 miles (4.8 – 11.2 km).

93% of run commuters have run with a backpack at some time in the past, while 77% continue to do so regularly.

11 respondents run with laptops.

A majority of respondents keep hygiene items (72%), and an extra set of work clothes, including shoes, at the office (~65%).

More than two-thirds of run commuters have access to a shower at their office, but nearly the same amount say that they would still run if none were available.

Aside from running to work, nearly one-fifth of respondents use running to pick up groceries and run errands. 14% occasionally run to meet friends.

An equal number of respondents have run to the pub as have run to the library.

A New Starting Line

I run commute to work. I like it very, very much. To some extent, it even defines me. I cannot think of a better way to start my day. To me, each one of my run commuting legs is a small adventure. Admittedly, once in a while, I bike to work. I like it, but not as much as run commuting. And biking in winter in Ottawa, Canada can be treacherous, to say the least. Call me a wimp, but in the middle of a snowstorm, I would rather be running than biking.

Start - 04

Gatineau Park’s main entrance

The Ottawa area, which is also known as Canada’s National Capital Region, includes an amazing conservation area: Gatineau Park. For the past 10 years, our family has lived within walking distance of that park. This summer, we went a step further – we bought a house right in the middle of it.

There are very few houses in the park, and those that do exist are allowed to stand because they were mostly all there before the park was created. They don’t come up for sale very often, especially in a price range that we could afford. This spring, the stars lined up in our favour. My wife immediately fell in love with the house. I eventually came to the same conclusion as my wife: this was the opportunity of a lifetime, one that could not be passed up. It just took me a few more weeks longer than her to realize it (I must confess: I have always been a creature of habit.) One thing was bugging me about this new house: would I be able to run to work from there? The answer was not obvious at first. The distance between the new house and work is 17 km right now and soon will be 21 km after workplace relocation (due within the next few months.) A marathon a day… I even pronounced out loud the words “car” and “park and ride”… I was not sure any more about the new house. I lost sleep on it; I even started looking for “a car”.

Start - 01

Into the land of mountain lions and bears

Fast forward a few weeks, and we are now in our new house. I am happy to report that, with the collaboration and help of my better half, I did not have to purchase a new vehicle (well, at least not yet.) While chatting with the new neighbours, I also found out about a maze of unmarked trails that connects to the official trails network, which makes crossing the park much easier and faster than originally anticipated. All things considered, our new house is turning out to be the little paradise my wife had told me about. However, I had to adjust my run commute habits.

Start - 06

Multi-use trail in Gatineau Park

Since I have to cross a relatively large and unlit section of the park (5 km) very early in the morning, I had to purchase a powerful headlamp (Petzl Tika R+; USB rechargeable; can also accept AAA batteries for operations in remote areas.) Running in the dark also meant that, at least for this portion, I would not be running intervals. I easily adapted to this one.

Designated as a conservation area, Gatineau Park is full of wildlife, including black bears and, notably, cougars. I have encountered one of each in the recent years in the park, and suffice to say that I prefer to see them from afar, especially the cougar. My rule of thumb, particularly through the darkness: be noisy, either by clapping my hands, singing or huffing and puffing as if I was about to pass out. I will also start carrying a bear spray can in my backpack, just to feel safer. I have vaguely asked myself how fast I would be able to take this thing out in the advent of a violent bear encounter, but as mentioned previously, it is meant to make me FEEL safer.

Start - 02

Ski trails in the fall

Up until recently, I was amongst the few who were still resisting the smart phone temptation. Not anymore: in case of injury in the middle of the park, I’ll be able to phone for some help. Alternatively, it could also be used to fend off wild animal attacks if the bear spray fails.

Start - 03

Ottawa, Canada, on the early morning’s horizon

Winter will be a challenge, as the park roads and trails will be groomed for cross-country skiing, and be out of bounds to everything else (otherwise, I would have gone for a Budnitz FTB.) I may have to start cross-country-ski commute to work, at least across the park, and then hop on a bus with my skis, or leave them somewhere safe, put my running shoes and run all the way to work. I am not sure yet. But one thing is sure: going to work will remain a small adventure, just as before.

By | October 17th, 2014|Categories: General|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

The New Run Commuters – October 2014

We’ve been a bit busy around here lately prepping for ultras, raising kids, and meeting the demands of our non-running day jobs (ugh), but we’re picking back up again and have a some great new stories and articles to share with you. To kick it off, we’re starting with an overdue edition of The New Run Commuters.

In this month’s edition, we feature Seth Leon, a UCLA Statistician from Los Angeles, CA, and Lori Corpuz, a data analyst living in New York City.

If you are interested in being featured in The New Run Commuters, please fill out the form at the end of the post and we’ll be in touch.

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Runner Basics

Seth L. - 02

New Run Commuter Seth Leon

  • Name: Seth Leon
  • Age: 51
  • City/State: Los Angeles, CA
  • Profession/Employer: Statistician, UCLA
  • Number of years running: 4
  • # of races you participate in a year: 2
  • Do you prefer road or trail? I guess I prefer the trails as we have some beautiful trails here in Socal, but 90% of my miles are on the road.

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: Osprey Daylite
  • Shoes: Hoka One Cliftons
  • Clothing:  The usual, but I wear Shock Doctor Knee braces and spandex to prevent chafing
  • Outerwear:
  • Headgear: Usually a hat
  • Lights: I attach some blinkers to my backpack
  • Hydration: None, I’m basically a camel and only need to hydrate on 20+ milers

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

About 1 ½ years ago, partly out of necessity as I had a bike I was commuting with stolen. I didn’t think I could handle the mileage as I had been injury prone in the past, but was surprised how I responded to running doubles with a gradual buildup.

Seth, when he's not running

Seth, when he’s not running

How often do you run commute?

5 days a week

How far is your commute?

Typical week of round trips:

  • 2 days, 15 miles each
  • 2 days, 5 miles each
  • 1 day, 4 miles

I drive part way to work so I have go to street parking spots depending on my schedule.

I have done the full 21-mile round trip a few times. I like to do the 15-milers back-to-back (along with a Saturday long run with my group The LA Leggers) on Tuesday/Wednesday, as it seems to help my endurance.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

Buy

What do you like most about run commuting?

  • Turns the worst part of most days in LA (the commute) into a productive healthy, consistent activity
  • Better for the environment & reduces traffic
  • The morning/evening doubles are great for base building
  • Don’t have to pay for parking, pay less for gas

Do you know of anyone else in your area that runs to work?

I see a few folks, but don’t know them personally.

When not run commuting, how do you get to work?

On rare occasions, say, when I need to wear a suit for an important meeting I drive.

If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who was considering run commuting, what would it be?

Do it, but start slow and gradually increase miles or days.

Anything else that you would like to include?

I am fortunate working at UCLA. I have showers and a locker waiting for me when I get to campus. Run commuting (along with those knee braces) allowed me to overcome injuries that were limiting me to 20 miles a week running. Now in large part to the recovery that the doubles allow I am running 65-70 miles a week.

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Runner Basics

New Run Commuter Lori Corpuz

New Run Commuter Lori Corpuz

  • Name: Lori Corpuz
  • Age: 23
  • Location: New York City
  • Profession: Data Analyst in the Financial Services Industry
  • Number of years running: 10
  • # of races you participate in a year: 3+ Half Marathons
  • Do you prefer road or trail? Trail is better for my knees, but I live in a concrete jungle.
  • Preferred Running Application: Nike+
 

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: Nathan Vapor Shape
  • Shoes: Any Nike Stability shoe, looking into Hoka
  • Clothing: Various articles from Nike and Lululemon
  • Outerwear: Various Nike and Lululemon jackets
  • Headgear: Nike Cap, Lululemon beanie
  • Lights: Petzl headlamp
  • Hydration: small glass of Cytomax before the run
 

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?
I first learned of run commuting from my Executive Director who runs into work everyday. After beginning work in NYC, initially I would do a loop in Central Park or meet-up with various running groups; however, when I began studying for the CFA Designation, I fell off due to time constraints. I realized run-commuting would integrate well by displacing my morning subway ride and keeping me accountable to managing my studies and workouts around my work schedule.
 
Lori C. - 02

Sunrise in Brooklyn, NY

How often do you run commute?

Each morning of the workweek
 
How far is your commute?
5.5+ miles
 
Do you pack or buy a lunch?
Buy at a grocery store upon arrival, or during lunch
 
What do you like most about run commuting?
Waking up to an adventure and amazing sunrise every morning, while tackling many responsibilities at once (i.e. commuting, working out, planning my intentions for the day, photojournalism by way of social media, reading/podcasting, jamming to new music, etc.)
 
Do you know of anyone else in your area that run commutes?
I will soon enough.
 

When not run commuting, how do you get to work?

Lori C. - 03

Scenes from Lori’s run commute

Subway, or I’ll bike.
 
If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who was considering run commuting, what would it be?
Run a few trial runs before the real deal so you can learn from your mistakes beforehand. Otherwise, Concede Nothing and Just Do It.
 
Anything else you would like to include?
In the words of Robert Frost, I strive to take the road “less traveled by, and that has made all the difference”.
 
 
 
 
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Interested in being featured on The Run Commuter? Fill out the form below and you could be in next month’s edition of The New Run Commuters!
 

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Tell us a little about your run commute! (required)

 

By | October 16th, 2014|Categories: General, News, People|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Corridaamiga Founder Silvia Cruz on Brazil’s “Friendly Running” Initiative

We’re very excited to introduce you to Sylvia Cruz, an inspiring run commuter and passionate active transportation advocate from São Paulo, Brazil. The 29-year-old environmental manager only began running three years ago, but it had a major impact on how she sees the cityand interacts with others around her. Further, it inspired her to educate and encourage others to join the ranks of those who not only run, but run as a form of urban mobility.

She started Corridaamiga, or “running friends,” as a way to connect experienced run commuters with those interested in using running to get around the city, with the overall goal of promoting active transportation throughout the country. We asked her about Corridaamiga, about running in France, Brazil, and South America, and how she got started. We hope what she is doing in Brazil can be replicated by run commuters in other cities around the world!  

About Sylvia Cruz

How long have you been run commuting?

I’ve been running since 2011, and started run commuting in 2012.

After your first run commute, how did you feel?

Free, strong, and even smarter!

Corridaamiga founder Sylvia Cruz.
(Sign reads “Respect: One Less Car”)

What other forms of transportation do you use to get around São Paulo?

If I am not running, I ride a bike.  Sometimes, I need to take a bus or the subway, and less frequently, I take a cab.

In your video, you mention using running as a form of transportation while living in France – were there certain things that made running for transportation easier or harder in France compared to São Paulo?   

In France, they have good quality pavements, the public places are cleaner, and the air is less polluted than São Paulo. This is obvious if we compare the urban statistics between Lille (France) and São Paulo (an unfair comparison). In São Paulo, and in Brazil in general, people are afraid to walk or run for several reasons.

First, we have a “syndrome” of insecurity. I know that we have high level of violence, etc., but I think that part of this “panic” arises from our television/newspaper that reinforces this issue too much. And, I am sorry, but according to the statistics, if you are in a car, you are not safer than me!

Second, our pavements are not of good quality, which makes it difficult – if not impossible – to safely run commute. Our public places are underutilized and badly-designed, not favoring conviviality and social interactions. We need to improve our city planning; after all, we all want to live in a better city.

Run Commuting in Brazil

What is the state of run commuting in Brazil?

In Brazil, most of the initiatives that involve running are not related to urban mobility, but rather with running as a sport. For instance, most of big companies are used to providing running instructors as an employee benefit. Still it does not work exactly like run commuting. As far as we know, Corridaamiga is officially the first run commuting initiative in Brazil.

On the other hand, initiatives for other kinds of active commuting – such as Bike Anjo – are steadily increasing in all 5 regions and different states of Brazil. I believe this reflects a time of people power, i.e., a time where most of the more important solutions for megacity problems are being done by ordinary citizens, who utilize individual willpower and personal initiative to make something change, rather than waiting for the government to do something about it. An integration of all these solutions – individual and institutional – will give us a better scenario in the future.

How many run commuters do you know of in your city?  

We don’t have this number for the city of São Paulo. Since we started the network 4 months ago, we have had 48 volunteer runners (run commuters), and 54 people that requested Corridaamiga to help in their first routes, showing the best ways and sharing instructions and information about how to run in the streets.

What factors make run commuting appealing to you or others in your city? For instance, is automobile traffic terrible, or public transportation overcrowded?

Although Corridaamiga aims to have volunteers registered all over Brazil, it is based in São Paulo. São Paulo is known for its intense traffic, the incredible use of automobiles (people even use it for going to the bakery and we have bakeries in every corner of the city), and overcrowded, expensive, and inefficient public transportation. Because of this, different initiatives of different natures have come along over the last decade, aiming to be innovative solutions. Mobility is not the only focus – it is also about designing cities for people.

There are days in São Paulo where the traffic jams exceed 300 kilometers. Also, 4,000 people die annually due to problems caused by air pollution. The city already has more than 7 million vehicles circulating and Brazilians’ weight has been increasing in the last years.

50.1% of men and 48% of women are overweight. We have seen a lot of initiatives in São Paulo that are geared towards increasing quality of life, while improving the individual mobility. Among these are Corridaamiga, Bike Anjo, Cidade Ativa, Colab.Re, SampaPé, Cidadera, Mobilize, Hortelões Urbanos and all of them talk about empowering people to bring innovative solutions for creating a city designed for people.

They are definitely essential, but the overall solution will come about as a result of discussions and collaboration between civil society and the public and private sector. This is what happened during the First Brazilian Run to Work Day (inspired by the Run2work day in UK): we invited people to take pictures of sidewalks in terrible conditions, so we could deliver this information to the governmental organizations responsible for fixing them, because broken, deteriorated sidewalks are also a mobility problem.

To the best of your knowledge, which cities in Brazil have the most run commuters? In South America?

I don’t know of other initiatives, but in the “Corridaamiga” network, most of the run commuters are from São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Curitiba. In South America, I really don’t know.

corridaamiga_onde estamos

Requests for Corridaamigas and volunteer submissions have been coming in from all across Brazil over the past 4 months

Do employers or government programs provide incentives for employees who use alternative transportation, such as bicycling or walking, to commute to work?

In Brazil, some employers already stimulate the use of alternative transportation. Nevertheless, companies are usually only reactive (as opposed to proactive) and afraid of incentivizing people to use alternative – and possibly unsafe – modals.

I’ll give a successful example: Riding a bike is seen as a really dangerous way of transportation in the city. However, given the context and great effort of bicycle activists, more and more people are riding their bikes to work. This is creating structural changes within companies, and sometimes the advocates even consult the employers on policies that could improve and make their life more comfortable. Some companies even try to increase the number of people who ride bikes through programs that teach cycling safety techniques. Even so, neither the government nor the private sector has made notable policies, such as tax-free incentives for alternative transportation that have been extremely successful in other countries. On the contrary, buying a car is getting even easier and cheaper in Brazil.

Corridaamiga

Why did you start Corridaamiga?

I started Corridaamiga because I wish more people would discover other transportation alternatives. I want to show them that it is possible to change their lives. We do not need to suffer stuck in the traffic, suffer for the lack of time to exercise, or lack of time to be with our friends and family.

In 2013, I did an interchange program in Lille, France. While there, I used to run as a way of moving around the city and benefited a lot from it. I got to know places and people, and saved a lot of money on subway tickets. It also helped to fight loneliness. I was thinking how I could make more people feel the same way I felt when I used running as a way of getting around.

Inspired by Bike Anjo (a volunteer group of urban cyclists that assists people who wish to learn to ride a bicycle in their city), the idea of “Corridaamiga” emerged, with the intention of helping and inspiring runners who want to use running as a means of transportation. In short, Corridaamiga is a voluntary initiative that emerged in early 2014, as a result of the idea of “Brazilian run commuters” that aims to assist and inspire individuals to use running for urban mobility.

It stimulates a low-CO2 form of transportation, as well, which is also responsible for increasing people’s quality life, therefore making people happier. While running, the person has a totally different and (we believe) more pleasurable experience in the city. It is healthier, too. It is worth saying that Brazilians are getting fatter and more sedentary. Thus, our main purpose is to act as multiplying agents; spreading the practice of running as urban mobility, and passing on the complementary benefits (time optimization, reducing costs, improving quality of life, etc.) to other citizens.

How has the running community reacted to your initiative?

So far they have been very positive and curious about the initiative. It has been only several months since we started the network and already more than 3 magazines related to the sport and other organizations related to urban mobility have contacted us to promote the initiative.

What is the general background of the expert runners that pair up with beginner runners? Are they mainly current run commuters? Professional running coaches? Weekly group run leaders?

I got it!! In one hour I did the route from work to my home! It is great for self-esteem! That’s amazing! While I was running, all cars stuck in the traffic … I felt very smart, too. Thanks Corridaamiga! – Larissa Tega

Right now, the runners are not professional running coaches. Our volunteers are common people that run and decided to help other people. In order to guarantee the best running habits possible, Corridaamiga is in contact with a nutritionist and some coaches that give weekly tips, voluntarily, for our website and Facebook page. In addition to general health tips, we also give tips about how to run to work, what to carry on our bags, which bags are appropriate for runners to use, and even the best routes for the runner.

Where do you see CorridaAmiga in 5 years? What does it look like? What does your city and/or country look like?

I always wanted to learn how to run on the streets! This is totally crazy (for me) because the route work-home has 7.5 km. During the trip many thoughts came to my mind “oh my Gosh, [it] is still far away from home”, “should I have started with a shorter distance?”, “I need to breathe calmer and slower”, etc… Finally 7.5 km and 1h05m after, the challenge was completed. And I’m very proud of myself – Naomi Kawasaki

Around the world, we have seen a tendency to use running, walking, and cycling as a means of transportation, due in no small part to the large waste of time in the journey, increased personal risks, and detrimental health effects caused by the use of individual motorized transportation in big cities. Experts worldwide are beginning to discuss and recognize the role of “active transportation” as a healthy alternative to a sedentary lifestyle and its ability to improve the quality of life of the population.

Therefore, it is essential to expand the “Corridaamiga” network, so that more and more runners are willing to use running as urban mobility. In Brazil, this activity is still in the embryonic stage, so it is vital to encourage and spread the idea of run commuting, as well as recognize and minimize the barriers that still hinder running as a viable and healthy choice of transportation for all individuals.

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