Run Commuting Story Roundup – February 17, 2017

Here’s a quick roundup of interesting run commuting stories I found recently. I’ll try and do a similar post monthly if enough content can be found.

If you have written a post about run commuting on your blog, or have read a news article or post about run commuting that you want us to know about, send us an email and it may show up in a future Run Commuting Story Roundup.

 


 

Stories from the run commute: “I bring snowshoes on my Montreal route”

How 7 Busy Washingtonians Find Time to Train for Marathons

Cost Analysis of Run Commuting – Do I Save Money Jan 2-6

I Guess I’m Gonna Have To Run Commute Today

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Review: IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro

Finally – a backpack specifically made for run commuters!

The company that brought us our favorite garment carrier, IAMRUNBOX, released a series of run commuting backpacks after a very successful Kickstarter campaign, and we were extremely excited to get our hands on one recently. The IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro is a stylish and extremely practical backpack for everyday commuters who run with a change of clothes, a laptop, and a few personal items. Best of all, this pack won’t bounce! 

Test Model

IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro

Size: One size fit all

Carrying Capacity: 10L, 610 cu. in.

Cost: US $170

Performance and Evaluation

I logged approximately 40 miles with the IAMRUNBOX under a variety of conditions and temperatures. Unfortunately, I have yet to test it during a good rainstorm. I wore it a few times when there was a light sprinkle, but I didn’t feel that was a good test of the pack’s water resistant features.

While I expected it to feel a little awkward on the run, since the construction is markedly different than a standard pack, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it runs. The four foam pads that make contact with your back are comfortable and almost unnoticeable. Since the main compartment is rigid, there is no pack flop that you tend to get from a soft pack, so I expected loose items inside the pack to bounce around. However, that was not the case – everything remained firmly fixed.

The carrying capacity of the IAMRUNBOX works well for those run commuters who only run with their work clothes and a few personal items. I had trouble packing larger lunches and weekly supplies into it after packing clothing and accessories. It worked fine for a light lunch, like a sandwich and some mandarin oranges, for example, however larger bags of crackers/chips/crisps would get crushed when zipping the main compartment shut and deeper containers of leftovers were out of the question. This specific issue probably won’t affect a majority of run commuters, though, since most prefer to pack as minimal and light as possible.

One additional note regarding the pack’s volume; the back face of the pack is crisscrossed with an adjustable elastic cord. Since I tested the pack in the winter, I needed to carry a jacket with me for any out-of-office excursions. The cord system easily secured my jacket, and even retained additional room to carry more.

 

The laptop carrying feature works quite well. It’s a simple, two-strap holder that rides close to your back, but it does what it is designed to do. Smaller laptops or tablets may need additional padding around them to keep them from bouncing up and down in the pack.

The deep and wide zippered waist belt pouches are a fantastic feature. Most backpacks that have these usually tend towards smaller, stretchier styles that work for carrying, at most, a few gels, a thin beanie, or a pair of gloves. The IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro’s waist pockets, in contrast, can hold large smartphones, thick wool hats, sunglasses, and more. I normally carry my Nexus 6P (which is 6 ½” long and 3 ¼” wide) in the main compartment or in inaccessible side pouches of other packs, so it is awesome to have it right in front of me and be able to pull it out to take a picture or check a text message.

You notice the weight of the pack just forward of your shoulders and at the small of your back. I couldn’t identify any potential chafing locations – the fit and feel of everything was perfect.

Waist and sternum strap with whistle

Waist strap has openings on both sides to hide excess strap

What I Liked

Overall comfort and feel

Zippered clothing compartment

Laptop carrying feature

Large waistbelt pouches

Rigid structure of the pack

What I Didn’t Like

Limited carrying capacity

Velcro strap location

Cost

Backpack Details

Overall Construction

Both the pack and the zippers are made from weather/water-resistant materials. The exterior consists of a black nylon fabric with a polyurethane coating while the interior is lined with black velvet fabric.

Front

The front of the pack is mostly unremarkable, save for an elastic band system for holding larger, non-packable items like a jacket or a pair of shoes (an optional shoe bag is available, as well). For added visibility during low-light conditions, I add Amphipod flashing lights to the strings and strap.

The velcro strap pictured here functions as an additional hold-down for the large items on the front and can be rerouted to the back of the pack to secure the shoulder/waist straps together if you want to carry it by the carrying handle. If the strap is connected to the front of the pack however (as shown in the picture below), you must first disconnect it in order to open the pack, as it covers the zipper.

Sides

The sides do not include any additional storage or features.

Top and Bottom

The top and bottom of the pack include reflective strips. No additional features are present.

Main Compartment

When open, the right side of the pack is where you store your clothing. To hold all the clothing together, the Backpack Pro has a zippered, breathable cover, which makes it very easy to close the pack once everything is inside.  

The left side of the Backpack Pro is used for securely storing up to a 15″ laptop. It can also hold a tablet, a book, or a few magazines quite well, or any other items that you may need at work (small lunch, belt, packable raincoat, etc.).

Open and empty

Fully packed with a light lunch

Back and Waist Strap

The back of the IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro is rigid, with four palm-sized cushions strategically placed to allow the pack to rest comfortably against your back while walking or running. When the pack is on the body and cinched down, the cushions rest at the base of the scapulae and on both sides of the lower back.

The waist strap is wide and lightly-padded and a simple plastic buckle secures it to your waist. There is a large zippered pouch on each side that is big enough to hold large smartphones and plenty of additional gear (see notes at end of review regarding the metal zippers). A unique feature of the waist strap is that each side facing the buckle opens to reveal a pocket that can be used for storing excess straps. 

 

Four cushioned pads make for a comfortable ride

The waist strap pockets hold large phones and more

Suspension

Compared to most packs I’ve used, the shoulder straps on the Backpack Pro are wide, coming in right at 3 inches (7.62 cm) and there is very little narrowing of the straps along the length. There is some very thin padding on the inside of the straps, and I found it to be adequate for running with heavier weight.

The front of the right side strap features a reflective loop and a zippered, crescent-shaped pouch. The pouch holds a pair of gloves or a few gels when closed, or – when opened – a water bottle. This is a neat feature and works best with shorter bottles.

The left side strap includes a reflective loop, as well, and an elastic expandable top loading pouch that holds smaller smartphones (iPhone 5, etc.) securely.

Sternum Strap

There is one sternum strap on this pack. It is made of nylon and includes a piece of elastic that stretches an inch and a half that enables the strap to move when the wearer inhales and exhales. The sternum strap can be adjusted 9 inches vertically, so that it can placed in a comfortable location on the wearer’s chest.

Suspension system. Right strap opens to hold a small water bottle

Fully loaded with a winter jacket secured to the front with straps

Additional Notes

The metal zippers shown in this pre-production pack will be replaced with string pullers to avoid clanging sounds and the water-resistant zip will be upgraded to ensure softer opening.

Bottom Line

The IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro is a fantastic pack for run commuters; especially those that need to transport a laptop and keep their office clothing looking good.

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Disclaimer

IAMRUNBOX provided us with the IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro for review, however this did not influence my opinion regarding this product. The thoughts and pictures contained in this review are my own.

By | 2017-03-13T13:25:52+00:00 February 2nd, 2017|Categories: General|Tags: , , , , , , |2 Comments

The New Run Commuters – January 2017

Our first runcommuter profile for 2017 is Bon Crowder, who also heralds another first for TRC, as she is the only runcommuter featured on this site to hail from Texas. Bon is a teacher who runs to work every day of the week. Through her That’sMath startup company Bon is educating the youth. But she is also an example to her own children in her active lifestyle. Bon shows that it is possible to be a mom, a businesswoman, an educator and also maintain a daily fitness routine — by runcommuting. Keep up the brilliant work in 2017, Bon, and we look forward to seeing your giant chicken impression on Youtube sometime soon….!

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Runner Basics

  • Name: Bon Crowder

  • Age: 45

  • City/State: Houston, Texas

  • Profession/Employer: Educator & Founder, That’s Math LLC

  • Number of years running: 11

  • Number of races you participate in a year: 2 or 3

  • Do you prefer road or trail? Road – although trail is fun, when you’re in Houston it’s kinda dangerous to get too far off the beaten path. 

 

Bon Crowder

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: Pink Osprey Tempest 20 (with the backpack “raincoat” thing for those not-so-dry days)

  • Shoes: Brooks Ghost

  • Clothing: Cheap spandex shorts and Duluth Trading Company No-Yank Tank

  • Outerwear: Nike warm stuff (that fuzzy-inside stuff that Nike makes)

  • Headgear: Cap most of the time, but when it’s cold I wear something over my ears 

  • Lights: Headlamp – some cheap kind but it seems to keep going, so I’m running with it #pardonthepun

  • Hydration: Water with lemon juice in a small Osprey reservoir

Runcommute arrival at the halls of learning!

Bon loves running in the rain.

When it gets cold in Texas…..

Bon running on her birthday….to the donut store!

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

I just couldn’t find time to run. It made me nuts. So I thought, “Well, dog-gone-it, I’ll just run TO WORK!”

Since the school I was teaching at was only 2.3 miles away, it seemed ideal!

How often do you run commute?

I try to run commute everyday. I don’t buy the parking pass for the garage, so if I don’t run, I’m stuck paying parking.

That’s less of a motivator for me and more of the ideal excuse when others want me to drive and I want to run!

How far is your commute?

Well, theoretically, it’s 17 miles, but I take the bus some of the way. On a good day, I get in about 2.8 miles before the bus and then about 0.9 miles after the bus.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I pack a lunch. It’s always challenging figuring out the volumes of food and clothing I can carry. If I need a blazer and fancy shoes that aren’t at the office, then it’s likely my lunch is a protein bar.

On casual Friday I can go with a giant salad!

What do you like most about run commuting?

I look cool. Okay, “look” may not be the word. But you definitely gain points with people when you tell them you run to work.

For different people, it’s different reasons. Some people like that I’m not driving so there’re lower car emissions. Some are impressed with my healthier lifestyle. And then some just look at me and think, “She’s out of her mind!”

Oh, and there’re the long races. I ran a half marathon once with no official training. Turns out 10-15 pounds + 2 x day runs in ALL weather really gets you ready for just about anything!

I’m also running the Houston Marathon this weekend. My first!

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

Sadly, no.

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

I’m in Texas, so I have a car. My SUV or pickup truck gets me anywhere my feet can’t get me.

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

Make a list. Laminate it. And check it off every morning. You DO NOT want to get half way to work and think, “Oh, crap, I forgot….”

Anything else that you would like to include?

I’m a mom, wife, math teacher, and founder of a startup. I also blog at MathFour.com and tweet at @MathFour.

And, I can do an amazing impression of a giant chicken…

Are you interested in being featured on The New Run Commuters? If so, fill out the form below and we’ll send you more details.

The New Run Commuters Submission Form

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

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

By | 2017-01-12T09:48:29+00:00 January 12th, 2017|Categories: General, News, People|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Review: SunWarrior Sol Good Protein Bars

We’re big fans of SunWarrior here at The Run Commuter, so we were excited when they sent us a sample from their new line of products – Sōl Good Protein Bars. I tested them out after a few of my morning 5-mile run commutes, instead of my usual post-run Clif bar.

 

Here are the main takeaways

  • High protein (70% – 90% more protein than a Clif bar)

  • Low carb (27% – 37 % less carbs than a Clif bar)

  • Low sugar (67% – 86% less sugar than a Clif bar) 

  • No leftover sticky residue

  • Easy to chew and dissolve easily in mouth

  • Not too sweet

  • Vegan

Additional Notes

The Sōl Good bars are pretty dense, therefore heavy. I recommend carrying 6 at a time to the office, which is right around 1 pound (0.45 kg). One pound doesn’t seem like much, but if you carry work clothes, lunch, and additional outerwear in your run commuting pack, the weight adds up quickly. 

They store really well in narrow, quick-access areas of the pack, such as shoulder strap pouches.

The low sugar content and easily dissolvable/digestible composition of the Sōl Good bars make them a great nutritional supplement for ultra running.

Cinnamon Roll

Smell: Like a cinnamon roll candle; sweet

Texture: Doughy, grainy, with some crunchy bits; not sticky

Taste: Like cinnamon-flavored dough; not overpowering; not too sweet

Rating: 6 out of 10

Blueberry Blast

Smell: Like a berry-flavored cookie or fruit cereal bar

Texture: Doughy, slightly grainy, dense; some crunchy bits

Taste: Like a cereal bar; not too sweet

Rating: 8 out of 10

Salted Caramel

Smell: Like a caramel candy

Texture: Doughy, slightly grainy, dissolves quickly

Taste: Just like a Brach’s milk caramel (from what I can remember, anyway); not too sweet; salty on top

Rating: 9 out of 10

Coconut Cashew

Smell: Like coconut, but not overpowering; sort of like a Girl Scout Samoa cookie

Texture: Doughy, dry, and not sticky; some flakes of coconut

Taste: Like toasted coconut cookie dough

Rating: 9 out of 10

Where to Buy

Review: Hoka One One Huaka

About four years ago, in the midst of my transition from conventional running shoes to more minimalist ones, I was offered a quick glimpse of what I thought were the ugliest shoes ever made on this planet: the Hoka One One. I just could not picture myself run commuting in them without becoming the laughing stock of the Ottawa running community.

Then, in the past months, The Run Commuter published a few (serious) articles about using them for run commuting. At about the same time, I started having some troubling leg pains, which forced me to cut back on my run commuting habits (I also turned the big 4-0 around the same time). This was not a good thing, and I started looking for ways to be able to get back to a normal run commuting regime. I tried many things (physio, osteo, massage, sports medicine, etc), but none of them really solved my problems.

At the end of February of this year, being a bit despaired to see my weekly run commuting mileage go down in such dramatic fashion, I tried something bold: I bought a pair of Hoka One One Huaka. This turned out to be a very good decision.

Within days, I was able to run distances that I could only dream of running a few days before. My run commuter partner made lots of fun of my shoes, going as far as telling me, jokingly, to run a few feet in front of him to avoid him the embarrassment. I did not pay any attention to him: these shoes were getting me back on the roads and it felt great. To this day, running in my Huakas is still the same treat that it was the first time.

Hoka One One shoes are a great addition to the toolkit of serious run commuters that have entered the master zone. They are a great shoes to wear at the end of the week, when your legs are tired and the pain is uncomfortably increasing.

Running with a pair of Hoka One One is like running on soft packed ground all the time. Despite their thickness, the stability is OK, and weight is similar to any normal running shoes. Their only downside is that the increased volume of foam tends to wear off faster than in a normal pair of shoes. Despite that, I intend to keep a pair in my run commuting rotation at all times, even if I have to buy them more often than other shoes.

By | 2016-10-22T20:26:27+00:00 August 30th, 2016|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

The New Run Commuters – July 2016

Run commuting is catching on all around the world. Just ask Claudia Cruz, this month’s featured New Run Commuter. Over the past several years, Claudia and her sister, Silvia (founders of Corridaamiga), have been working on developing run commuting as a more popular form of active transportation in Brazil. In addition to that, the group also works on local advocacy and public safety issues, such as sidewalk repair/replacement. Claudia is currently abroad helping to expand Corridaamiga in Sydney, Australia.

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Runner Basics

  • Name: Claudia Stuchi Cruz

  • Age: 31

  • City/State: Sydney/NSW

  • Profession/Employer: Compliance Analyst

  • Number of years running: 7

  • Number of races you participate in a year: 3

  • Do you prefer road or trail? I prefer to run on the trail because it is easier.

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: For my backpack, I don’t care about brands. I just use one that is comfortable.

  • Shoes: Mizuno

  • Clothing: Comfortable clothes

  • Headgear: Just a visor when it is really sunny 

  • Lights: I usually work out during the morning and don’t carry lights with me

  • Hydration: I don’t usually drink water if I’m running up to 10K. Above 10K, I will carry a bottle of water in my hands.

Claudia Stuchi Cruz

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

I have always been active and enjoyed exercise. In 2013, my twin sister studied in France, and she started run commuting there – to save money, to see the city, and to stay active. From there, she got inspired to spread this idea, and created an initiative in Brazil called Corridaamiga (“Running friends”), which inspires and supports people to run commute.

I was influenced by her to get started, and I assisted her in developing this movement of Corridaamiga in Brazil. Now I’m introducing the idea of Corridaamiga in Sydney, and I’m finding that a lot of people here are interested.

How often do you run commute?

Twice a week.

How far is your commute?

7km each way.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I pack my lunch. I’m vegetarian – during the day I take foods that fit with my diet and a healthy lifestyle: fruits, nuts, rice cakes, etc.

What do you like most about run commuting?

It makes me feel better about my health. I’m living a healthy lifestyle and at the same time inspiring others to do the same by my example. And at the same time, I know I’m contributing in a positive way to the environment.

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

I see a lot of people in the streets in Sydney running to work. But it’s still growing! A lot of people get surprised at work when they realize that I have run or cycled to work, and they ask a lot of questions. People get really interested to know more, and it has inspired some people to get started.

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

A lot of the time I cycle to work, to get there a little quicker. My last resort is to travel by bus.

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

If we really want something, we can do it. Excuses are just that – excuses. If you want to run commute, you just have to decide to do it, don’t think too much. You can do it and I am certain that you will feel all the benefits from it.

Anything else that you would like to include?

Encourage others to run commute, tell people what you are doing. If you want a concrete way in which to spread the idea, you can help other by volunteering with an organization like Corridaamiga, where you can support other people to run commute, just by sharing your experiences.

Are you interested in being featured on The New Run Commuters? If so, fill out the form below and we’ll send you more details.

The New Run Commuters Submission Form

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

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

Review: Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest 3.0

While not technically a backpack, the Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest 3.0 has all the features you would expect on a pack, and a whole lot more. It’s great for the run commuter who doesn’t carry much with them to work, and is perfect if you also want something light and comfortable for carrying gear and water on long road/trail runs.

Test Model

UD PB Adventure Vest 3.0

Size: Large

Carrying Capacity: 16L, 977 cu. in.

Cost: US $169.95

Add-on: UD 20oz. Water Bottle

Performance and Evaluation

I tested the Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest 3.0 during 35 miles of run commuting. 

I was worried the Large might be a little big at first, but after adjusting the numerous straps (hidden and otherwise) it felt secure and form-fitting. With a water bottle added in the shoulder strap pocket, it was even more snug. I don’t normally run with water, though, so for most test runs I left the bottle out.

This thing is extremely lightweight – if you put it on while empty, you almost don’t even notice you are wearing it. The reason for that is the almost completely see-thru material from which most of the vest is made. Not only is thin…some of it’s compartments are waterproof, too! Or are they?

I was skeptical, so I ran a test. I placed several folded-up paper towels inside each of the small pockets on the shoulder straps, and then placed a rolled up pair of pants and shirt in the main compartment. All three pouches are made from “SilNylon/66: Silicone-Impregnated 30D nylon with a polyurethane face” which “creates a permanently waterproof fabric.” I was hoping to test it while running in a heavy downpour, but the rains never came. So I did the next best thing I could of…

Waterproof Testing

Result – Everything got wet

The water most likely seeped in through the zippers and not the material, but, still…lesson learned.

Wrap everything you need to stay dry in something waterproof (plastic grocery bag, drybag) before packing it into the vest.

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For most runs, here is what I carried: 

  • A set of work-appropriate clothing, rolled up and placed in a plastic bag (not garment carrier compatible) 

  • Small lunch

  • Cell phones, wallet, work ID

  • Clif bar, and a couple of gels

  • Packable rainjacket

  • Sunglasses

That was a lot to carry in this vest. My regular run commuting pack is a 24L and I usually pack it almost entirely full. The UD PB Adventure Vest’s carrying capacity is only 16L, and while it does have additional external pockets and compartments to stash gear, I had to leave some things out that I would normally carry – namely, my sizeable lunch. However, that is often leftovers in glass containers and race vests aren’t meant to carry that in the first place.  A simple sandwich, with crackers and fruit fit fine.

On the run, the full vest ran extremely well. It felt really good to not have to wear a tightly-fastened waist strap, and the two sternum straps served very well as overall stabilizers of the pack’s load. One thing I noticed that is different than running with a traditional running pack – the weight of the pack is carried quite differently. On a standard pack (waist strap, sternum strap(s), frame or no frame) the full weight of the backpack is pulled against your back and becomes an extension of your body, rather than a bouncy, separate accessory. The UD vest’s weight is carried down lower on your body and pulls at your shoulders, straightening up your back slightly. It was a nice change and similar to how other waist-strapless hydration packs like the Nathan HPL-020 carries it’s weight.

Side view, showing water bottle in shoulder strap pocket

Back of the vest, showing elastic cord lockdown on sides of pack

Front of vest with water bottle

What I Liked

An abundance of run-accessible pouches

Comfortable and carries weight differently than a backpack

Extremely lightweight

Hydration system compatible and accepts additional water bottle

Double sternum straps

What I Didn’t Like

Low carrying capacity

Not waterproof

High cost

Backpack Details

Back

The back of the vest consists of two large, stretchable pouches, with the tops being held together with the blue elastic cord shown in the picture. These pockets are of decent size and can hold a jacket or hat and gloves with ease. The criss-crossed elastic cord area is excellent for holding wet clothing or shed layers.

Once the main compartment of the vest is loaded, the blue cord can be cinched tightly and then connects to a loop at the top of the pack to ensure the contents remain contained. For additional security, the elastic cord may be stretched to the sides and snapped in to gray cord fasteners on the sides and top of the vest (8 in total; 3 per side, 2 on top). These function very similarly to external compression straps found in good running packs.

On the left side of the main compartment is another zippered pouch. Like the main compartment, it is not run accessible, so store things here you won’t need until you are done running.It contains a key clip and (in addition to keys) can hold a wallet and a couple of other small items.

At the bottom of the pack are two reflective, non-stretchable loops. I think these are for carrying an ice axe, so yeah – not really useful for run commuting. 

Elastic cord hooks for extra compression

 Keys and valuables pouch

Main Compartment

The main compartment of the vest is made entirely of water-resistant material, and is closed with a zipper that runs up one side and across the top. It won’t hold much, as it is quite small by normal run commuter pack standards. I fit my clothing in there, but not much else. 

You can easily secure the contents in order to keep things from bouncing by using the elaborate elastic tie-down system.

 Almost full with a pair of pants and a shirt

Sides

The sides of the Adventure Vest are the defining characteristic of vest-style packs. Each side of the vest forms one unbroken loop from the waist all the way to the top of the shoulder. In a backpack the shoulder straps have thinner straps that connect to the bottom of the pack and can be shortened and lengthened to tighten the bag to your shoulder area. With the vest you put your arms through each loop and buckle the sternum straps at the front.

On each side of the vest at hip level, there are large zippered pouches, made of the same soft, stretchy material found on the front of the pack. These are great for storing hats, gloves, sunglasses, etc. Softer things would probably work best though, as this area presses directly against you hips.

Behind each large pouch is a small piece of velcro that, when opened, reveals an adjustable strap that tightens the vest to your waist. It took me a while to realize that this important feature was here, so be sure to make note of it’s location if you plan on buying one.

In front of the large pouches are smaller ones that are ideal for energy bars, gels, a wallet, or other small items that need to be accessed quickly and easily.

 Left side of the vest

Right side of the vest

Shoulder Straps

Working our way up from the bottom on the right side, you will find a pouch that holds a water bottle. It can hold anything really, but was designed to hold a bottle and includes a cinch strap at the top to hold the bottle in place. On the outside of this pouch, you’ll find another small, stretchy pouch that is good for holding one or two gels or a Clif bar.

At the top of the shoulder strap on both the left and right sides, is a narrow, long, zippered pouch that (like the previous pouch) will hold a couple of gels or an energy bar.

On the left side shoulder strap, you will see a large, stretchy, open-top pocket that will hold a hat and/or gloves, camera case, or similar-sized items. Above this is a pouch similar in size and location as the water bottle holder, but zippered on two sides. This is great for a large smartphone, sunglasses, or additional clothing, such as a t-shirt. It will also fit another water bottle!

Sternum Straps

The UD PB Adventure Vest has two sternum straps attached to long, sliding rails allowing for a wide range of adjustment. The straps themselves are thin and unpadded, and connect using small buckles. There are no excess strap holders, so to keep them from flopping around, try securing them with small pieces of Velcro tape.

 Closeup of sternum straps

Zippered pouch on left side holds an additional water bottle

Hydration Pouch

The Adventure Vest does not come with a bladder, but will accommodate most bladders with capacities up to 70 oz. (2L).

The hydration pocket can be found within the zipper located at the top of the vest. Inside is a velcro strap that holds the bladder and keeps it from slipping down and bunching up. The drinking hose can be routed out either the top left or top right side through holes that bring it out and down the shoulder straps. The hose can also be passed underneath the narrow, white, zippered pouches in the shoulder straps to keep the end of the drinking tube from bouncing around while running.

Additional Pictures

Disclaimer

Ultimate Direction provided us with the PB Adventure Vest 3.0 for review, however this did not influence my opinion regarding this product. The thoughts and pictures contained in this review are my own.

The No-Shower Clean Up: Women’s Edition

“Hair is a woman’s crowning glory”, according to my grandma. Granted, she’s 95 years old, and we might hope that nowadays women are appreciated for more than their hair, but to an extent my nan is still right: for many women, long, flowing locks are still the go. When they’re styled-up or blow-dried they’re magic. But what about post-runcommute sweaty, frizzy, out-of-control long hair? I would hazard a guess that long hair is the reason that many females who are potential runcommuters baulk at giving it a try.

If you are just such a female — contemplating run-commuting but put off by the ‘long hair problem’– trust the women who have runcommuted before you when they say: it can be negotiated successfully.

Here is both the Good News and the Bad News from the perspective of the female no-shower runcommuter.

The Bad News:

  • Long hair that has been sweaty can become dry and feels disgusting for the wearer.
  • Due to this, you have to commit. Always fully wet your head—scalp and hair—with fresh water, no matter how inconvenient this may initially seem.

The Good News:

  • Once you have done this a few times (wetting your hair and scalp thoroughly) it simply becomes a part of the general run-commuting routine, and is no more of a hassle than anything else.
  • Shampoo is not necessary (unless you don’t use hairspray or other product on your hair, in which case you may need to use a tiny bit of shampoo just to avoid the ‘earthy’ smell of hair washed in water only).
  • As both Josh and Kyle suggest, have a proper shower before leaving home. This will mitigate all sweaty-hair problems somewhat.
A few gals with long hair who haven’t let it slow them down…..

Products Used

Hair Towel:

  • Long hair necessitates one additional product for female no-shower run-commuting and it is…..the extra towel. In the name of successful hair management, a sufficiently absorbent, sufficiently large extra towel is the key piece of equipment. It needs to be able to absorb as much water as possible if you want your hair to be as dry as possible. It also needs to be large enough to be securely tied up. Not the same kind of miniscule stamp-sized micro-towel that might be perfect to dry your body with, as it won’t be long enough to wrap up your hair and tuck back into itself. Specific ‘towel-turban’ products exist (see below). Crucial here is pre-run practice: wrapping your hair in the towel before using it on a real life runcommute, to make sure it’s long enough.

 

Some specific towel-turbans:

(Click on all images to open product page in Amazon.com). This one looks chunky, but purports to do all kinds of super-technical hair-drying. Claims it is: “Super Absorbent Will Suck The Moisture Right Out Of Your Hair.” Gosh!

This one is less chunky, and it’s patterned:

Other towels: 

You may need either one or two towels to wash and dry your body, depending on whether or not you embrace wetwipes. If you do, then you may need only one towel, probably a micro-towel such as those reviewed by Josh in his ‘Destinkify’  post, to dry your skin after you have wetwiped it. If you prefer soap and water, or plain water, you can use a face-washer sized micro-cloth and wet it to clean your skin. Then you’ll need another, probably slightly larger, towel or cloth to dry your skin.

The fluffy cotton basics (I just love the brand name of these ones!):

Some super cute ones….

And some high-tech functionality ones, which claim to remove makeup with warm water only! 

Finally, the ‘cheap and cheerful’ 24-pack:

Hair products:

  • Hairspray, styling gel or mousse or other hair product

OR

  • a little bit of shampoo

Makeup:

Whatever your usual makeup products. See ‘methods’ for further advice.

Optional Changing Robe:

This can be either a home-made job, a basic store-bought beach product, or a full-on, warmth-focused professional outdoor sports DryRobe. If you run-commute in really cold conditions, you might want to check out DryRobe’s range of robes that you can change underneath. Their robes are used by pro surfers and so on, to stay warm or when changing on a cold beach. The inside of the robe is synthetic lambs’ wool. Check it out here:

This DryRobe is fairly heavy (in the weight-conscious world of runcommuting) though, so probably only good if you have somewhere at work to keep it stored.

This looks like a nice terry-towelling one, by Northcore:

Hair-wetting container:

Can be anything from your soap container to a vessel you have specially designated your ‘hair washing’ container – your choice! I use a very small, soap-bar sized clip-lock tupperware container that also holds my soap. I put the soap on the basin and then use the container to wet my hair and scalp. (See pic)

Flip-flops:

You’ll need flip-flops to allow you to get out of your running shoes and socks, but without exposing your bare feet to the germ-party that is a public bathroom floor. Theoretically, you could take off your running shoes and put your work shoes on immediately, but you can’t put your clean underwear/tights on until you’ve wiped down your legs and ‘business’ areas, and it’s hard to get them over your work shoes. The issue of balancing on high-heels might also come into play if you wear heels.

Step 1. Post-run-commute: Claiming a ‘clean up’ space 

  • Pick up your makeup/towels/flip-flops/changing robe from their storage place (See Note 1 at end).
  • Proceed to the bathroom.
  • Go into one of the toilet cubicles and hang your pack on the back of the door. (See Note 2).
  • Go back out to the washbasins, whilst still in your running gear, and wash/rinse your hair and scalp under the tap or by tipping water over your head from your container.
  • Once you have sufficiently rinsed the sweat off your scalp and hair, wrap your hair up in your ‘towel turban’.
  • You can now proceed back into the toilet cubicle for Step 2: Gettin’ Naked!

Step 2. Gettin’ naked! (and then washing and getting dressed again)

  • In the cubicle, strip off your running clothes, leaving your towel turban on.
  • Use your wash/dry towel to wipe your limbs, torso, and private areas down, and then to dry them. The method for this last directive changes depending on your choice of ‘washing’ equipment.

Chemical-covered wet-wipes are technically supposed to be safe to use on your ‘lady parts’, given that they are used on babies’ bottoms, which are surely some of the most sensitive skin around. However, everyone’s skin is different, and some women may find it more pleasant to stick with plain water.

If so, this may require a thinking-through of method.

The wet-wipes method:

  • Go back into your cubicle
  • Get naked
  • Wipe down your body with wet-wipes
  • Dry your skin thoroughly with your dry towel.
  • Apply body powder if desired.

If you eschew wet-wipes, there are two methods you can adopt for the body wash:

No wet-wipes method 1:

  • Whilst still dressed in your running clothes, but having wet your hair and tied it up in your ‘towel turban’, wet your ‘washing’ cloth/microtowel thoroughly under the tap. Squeeze it out until most, but not all, of the water is out.
  • Take it back into your cubicle. Shut the door (!)
  • Hang the wet cloth on the hook over the top of your pack
  • Get undressed
  • Wash your whole body bit by bit (except your face).
  • Hang the wet cloth back on the hook.
  • Use your dry towel to dry your whole body
  • Get dressed
  • Exit the cubicle. Wash out your wet cloth, refresh the water it is holding, and wash your face and neck at the basin.
  • Dry your face and neck with your dry cloth.

Some people may feel that there is insufficient refreshing of the water in the wet cloth when using this method. For example, you may feel like you want to wash sweatier areas in a separate ‘go’. If so, the second method is the one for you.

Method 2: (Start off in the same way as per Method 1 up to and including “Get undressed”.)

  • Put on your ‘changing robe’ (take a moment to feel smug that you have a ‘changing robe’…).
  • Using your cloth underneath your robe, wash the sweatiest (or least sweatiest, your choice) areas on your body with the wet cloth.
  • Still wearing your changing robe, exit the cubicle, rinse wet cloth under tap, refresh with water, and either return to cubicle to wash remaining areas, or wash them in public, underneath your robe. Your colleagues cannot complain you are being indecent, because your nakedness is hidden under your robe!
  • Once washed go to cubicle, shut door,
  • take off changing robe so you are completely nude, and use your dry cloth/microtowel to dry off your body.
  • Get dressed in work clothes. At this point you should be dressed, but still wearing your towel turban on your wet hair.
  • You are now ready for Step 3. Hair Management.

*Remember though, if you go with the wet wipes option, throw them in the bin, don’t flush them down the toilet! See here for why (but not if you’re eating whilst reading this post).

Step 3. Hair Management

There are a few options here. The easiest is to wear your hair up for the day somehow. This reduces the need for product, though a full head of wet hair sitting there all day can feel ‘heavy’ and cold in winter or cold workplaces.

If you want to leave your hair down, you can either blow-dry some of your hair before applying product, or just apply product straight to your wet hair. (See Note 3).

Step 4. Makeup

  • Apply makeup….
  • Sparkle!!

 

Conclusion

Female-specific ‘no shower’ runcommuting is the same as runcommuting in general. It is all about planning and organisation. As with many things that require planning and organisation, the payoffs are totally worth it. Try it tomorrow.

 

Notes

Note 1: If you don’t have a private filing cabinet or drawer or any other place to permanently store your makeup, you may need to adopt Kyle’s ‘secret ceiling panel’ method as detailed in his ‘From Sweaty to Office-Ready’ post.

Note 2: Most toilet doors have hooks on the back. If your workplace has toilet doors without hooks, you have a problem! My advice in such a case would be to either: ask management to install them, or install one yourself, without asking.

Note 3: Some workplaces will now have those blow-driers for hands that are designed to blow upwards, from waist-height, in a narrow slot in which you lower and raise your hands to dry them “in ten seconds”. This is an unfortunate development for the long-haired female runcommuter, as it is impossible (though some have tried) to stick your head in a five-centimetre slot. Technology: always changing, often for the worse. If your workplace has invested in such machines….I have no advice. Suggestions welcome in the comments below!

Note 4: Personally, I don’t use a huge range of makeup products, so I’ve been able to adopt the method of simply buying a duplicate set of products. This may be more of a hassle for women who have an extensive or expensive set of makeup products costing hundreds of dollars. But think of it this way: you’d have to buy another set eventually anyway, for runcommuting you’ve had to buy two at the same time but they will last double the time.

 

 

 

 

 

Xena, X-Men and Rapunzel Image Sources: Official Xena Facebook Fanpage; imbd–X-Men The Last Stand page; Disney Princess Gallery (click on names to open source sites).

Run Commuting Tights Fit to Face a Canadian Winter

If you run commute year-round above the 49th parallel, you most likely have a variety of thermal tights. Up until this year, finding a pair that performed well below -20°C/-4°F proved to be tricky (at least for me) unless I was ready to spend lots of money. However, Mountain Equipment Co-op came out with a great new set of tights this year that solves my dilemma: the MEC Flyer Tight.

Source: Mountain Equipment Co-op

The front panel is made of wind-blocking nylon, polyester, spandex, and blended with polyurethane. The back is slightly different, composed of nylon and spandex, with a soft-brushed fleece interior.

Having now used these for the past 2 weeks, I am extremely pleased with the way they keep me warm, even in the coldest weather (-22°C/-8°F). Despite being thicker than most thermal tights, they did not impede my range of motion. That said, the idea behind these tights (front and back panel made of different materials) is not new, but their price make them a real steal: $82 CAD (about $58 USD).

In the same category: Sugoi Firewall 180 Zap tights, $209 CAD ($148 USD)

Modified Running Gloves

A friend, with whom I often run commute, owns a pair of Nike running gloves, which also have a mitt cover for colder days. I have been trying to get a pair of these for many years and just recently found a similar product at MEC. Reviews were not good for the product though, but they were at a discount, so I went for them. I quickly found out why: the mitt cover seams let go after the second day.

I could have taken them back to MEC for a refund, but I decided to go another way: I went to my local shoe repair shop. For a minimal cost, they readily fixed them, and they will be good for many run commuting years to come.

My local shoe repair shop, Cordonnerie Chez Gerry.

Salomon Fast Wing Hoodie

For the past 10 years, I swore by soft shell jackets for winter running. However, last fall was very mild, so I kept my Salomon Fast Wing Hoodie around longer than usual, which led to trying it out in cold temperatures. With the proper base and mid-layers, it turned out to be a very good fit, even in temperatures as cold as -20°C/-4°F. Not only does it work well, but it is half the weight of my soft shell.

Source: www.salomon.com

Review: Night Runner 270 Shoe Lights

Headlights for your shoes? Sure! Why not?

Night Runner 270s were made to light your way while running, walking, or hiking. In darkness and low-light conditions, you want to be sure you can see every hazard and obstacle in front of you, and headlamps and hand-held flashlights can be annoying and irritating. Doug and Renata Storer came up with the idea for the Night Runners and tested out several prototypes – including taping flashlights to their shoes – before finally settling on the current Night Runner 270 design.

Sounds great to us. But how well do they work? 

Specifications

Night Runner 270

Water resistant

4 – 8 hour battery life

USB Rechargeable

150 Lumens

15m forward beam distance

Cost: US $59.95

Performance and Evaluation

I took the Night Runner 270s out for several night runs in the city. Sometimes my way was partially lit by streetlight, but I actively sought out dark streets, woodsy trails, and wide-open parks for a thorough test.

Even when on the highest setting, the beams didn’t hit the advertised 15m distance. 5m, yes, but 15m…not quite. I could still see the road in front of me, but only small sections for fractions of a second. It was a bit like running with a strobe light.

They weren’t great for running at any pace faster than about a 10-minute mile on roads, sidewalks, or trails. The low-lying beams of light created funky shadows on every small obstacle in front of me (leaves, sticks, rocks, etc.) and caused me to slow way down and step carefully for fear of tripping.

They worked fantastic for walking, but once my cadence increased, things get a little trippy. For someone running a 10 – 14 minute mile on newer, less-variable (cleaner, more even) sidewalks, I think they’d work fine.

I think they were especially eye-catching to drivers, which is great for a runner’s safety. 

All things considered, I would probably stick with a headlamp over the Night Runners for a night/low-light run where illuminating the path in front of me was essential.

Best for

Slower Runners (10+ min. mile)

Walkers

Runners who want to increase their chances of being seen by drivers

* Disclosure: We were provided with a free set of Night Runner 270s for this review.

By | 2016-10-22T20:26:29+00:00 November 11th, 2015|Categories: General|Tags: , , , , , , , , |3 Comments
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