Come meet the TRC crew at the Kirkwood Spring Fling 5K!

Attention Atlanta-area runners and run commuters: The TRC team will be at this year’s Kirkwood Spring Fling 5K on Saturday, May 14th!

Not only will several of us be racing the 5K, we’ll also be emceeing parts of the event with our friend Jim Hodgson of The Atlanta Banana.

Sign up for the race and stop by our booth afterwards to say hi to Kyle, Hall, Meghann, and Josh, as we answer your questions and help you learn more about run commuting and active transportation. We’ll have a variety of running backpacks that you can try out as well, including a couple women-specific packs.

We hope to see you there!

Click here to register!

2016 International Run Commuter Survey

The survey is now closed.

Thank you to everyone who participated! Stay tuned for the results…

Welcome to our 2016 International Run Commuter Survey!

Your responses will help the world have a better idea of how many run commuters there are out there, where they run, what gear they use, and how long they’ve been running. Since this is our second survey (the first was in 2014 and you can read about it here) we’re excited to see not only what has changed since we last collected data, but also what trends are emerging from run commuting as a whole.

It doesn’t matter if you stopped run commuting last year, are considering starting, or you are a life-long run commuter, please take the survey and share it wherever you can!

The survey is available in three languages this year! Thanks to Nick Pedneault we have a French version, and the super-cool people at Corridaamiga created a Portuguese version! If you would like to help with the survey by translating it into another language, please send an email to info@theruncommuter.com and let us know. 

 

English Version

Version française

Versão Português

The New Run Commuters – February 2016

Efficiency is the watchword for Julien Delange, our first run commuter profile for 2016. Running to and from his workplace in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Julien favours maximalist shoes, and structures his run commuting — in both principles and pragmatics — for greatest efficiency. In his profile, Julien also highlights the positive environmental, financial and training benefits of running to work. With his routine sorted, Julien run commutes high-mileage weeks as training for the trail races he enters. His commitment to leaving the car at home (“the car is simply not an option during the week“) is an inspiration to all run commuters. As if all this wasn’t enough, Julien maintains an active blog, complete with his own posts on run commuting – check it out after you read his profile! 

As always, if you are interested in being featured in The New Run Commuters, contact us using the form at the end of this post. The only criteria we have is that you started run commuting sometime in the last year or so. 

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Runner Basics

  • Name: Julien Delange

  • Age: 32

  • City/State: Pittsburgh, PA

  • Profession/Employer: Researcher in Computer Science

  • Number of years running: 7

  • Number of races you participate in a year: stopped counting (list on my blog, here) 

  • Do you prefer road or trail? Definitely trails. With a weekly mileage between 50 and 120 miles, long runs on flat and paved roads increase the likelihood to get an injury, so I prefer to stay on trails.

New Run Commuter Julien Delange

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: I mostly use two backpacks: the Ultraspire Ultraviz Spry when I do not have to bring anything or REI Stoke 9 when I take clothes or food. 

  • Shoes: Hoka Huaka were the best! Unfortunately, Hoka One One discontinued them and my attempt to convince them to keep these shoes in their catalog was a miserable failure. So, I just use any Hoka One One shoe (special kudos to the Stinson Lite) 

  • Lights: A Black Diamond Revolt headlamp that I can charge on a mini-USB port. Very useful during winter, when days are short and it is dark when you leave home and come back at night: you can charge it at work when you arrive in the morning at work, so that you are sure you have enough batteries for both trips.

  • Hydration: I used to take a bottle, but over the last year my body has become used to commuting without drinking. Otherwise, when running more than 20 miles, I use a Nathan backpack with a bladder.

  • Clothing: Nothing special or fancy: a pair of shorts, a tech t-shirt, some tech socks (Smartwool or Injini) and that’s about it. I also have a protective shell (for when it rains), headband (to protect my ears from freezing during winter). It is useless to overdress: after 10 minutes, my body is warm enough to run under the snow. And even having Raynaud syndrome that reduces blood flow in my extremities, I keep clothing as minimal as possible. The most difficult part is remembering to keep going for the first 10 minutes when it’s freezing cold outside! 

  • Outerwear: Salomon Agile ½ Zip and Salomon Trail Runner Warm LS Zip Tee. Only when it is really cold!

  • Headgear: A hat when it is really hot, but otherwise, nothing. I also always wear protective goggles or sunglasses when going on trails – to protect my eyes from potential obstacles.

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

Efficiency, sustainability, and financial reasons. Two years ago, I was taking my car to go to work (one hour per day), running one hour a day, and going to the gym. All these activities took two to three hours every day.

It was not time-efficient. I decided to run to work (45 min. each way) so that I could have more time to do other things I enjoy (reading, programming, playing, meeting friends!) and save money (no gas or parking). In addition, I would not be increasing the pollution (fumes and noise) in my community. I realized there were only benefits and suddenly became a run commuter the morning after.

How often do you run commute?

Every day! And I still do my long runs during the weekend :-)

I am very lucky that we have a shower at work: I bring soap, clean clothes and towels every two weeks to work, so that I do not have to carry them in my backpack.

How far is your commute?

The commute is between 4.5 (shortest route) to 10 miles (scenic view along a river). I have many routes I can take, so that I can adapt my commute according to my training needs (elevation, distance, mileage, etc.) I usually run between 10 to 13 miles a day with some days at more than 20 (when training for very long distances). It really is a fantastic way to train!

The sun rising over the river during Julien’s run to work

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I already have all my lunches prepared at work. Every two or three weeks, I drop a lot of clothes and packaged food. I eat the same thing almost every day: NuGo bars for snack and Tasty Bite Madras Lentils packages for lunches. Tasty Bites are easy to prepare (one minute in a microwave), are acceptable from a nutrition point of view (has some carbs, protein, etc.). It is very efficient from both time and financial perspectives. And, sometimes, I still go out for lunch with some colleagues.

What do you like most about run commuting?

This is a very efficient way to train: you can adapt your route according to what you really need to do (hill repeats, fartleks, etc.) and give yourself extra time for other activities. This is actually the best way I have found to train for long distances without impacting my social life too much. Also, you cannot miss a run!

Another underrated aspect is the predictability. Drive-commute times depend on many variables (traffic, issues with your car, etc.) and you do not have control over them. By running and choosing your route, you know exactly how long it is going to take to go to work.

But overall, I just do not like driving! To me, running is more natural than driving and the idea of sitting in traffic for hours is just not appealing. I prefer to be outside enjoying nature.

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

Actually, there are some people that recently started commuting in Pittsburgh (special kudos to Alyssa and Sarah!). Pittsburgh is becoming more biker and runner friendly. We now have bike lanes, some dedicated fitness events for bikers and runners, and plenty of local running groups. The biggest running group in the city (Steel City Road Runner) started 3 or 4 years ago and today has more than 2000 members. Only a few of us run to work, but more people are getting involved and being active, this is what matters!

Beyond the decision to run to work, what matters to me is how we, as a society, use our resources (time, land, money, etc). Today, more than 76% of the US population go to work alone in their cars. In 2012, less than 3% of the population walked to work. Transportation impacts so many aspects of our community: schedule (time to commute and stay in traffic), health (pollution, noise, risks related to inactivity), even architecture (organization of the city with more roads). Choosing the least efficient solutions has a huge impact: does it make sense to take our car to work for a couple of miles when we can just bike/walk/run there? Especially considering the impact of the lack of activity in our developed societies.

Run commuting is just a means to change the way we usually commute, and there are other alternatives if you would prefer not to run (bike, public transportation, carpool, etc.), It is a good thing to see that some cities (such as Pittsburgh) are developing and promoting other ways of commuting.

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

I only stop running to work when I am injured. In that case, I commute either by bike or (last resort) bus. The car is simply not an option during the week.

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

Start easy and do it progressively. It takes a while to build the endurance to commute every day, but it is very convenient. Have fun, enjoy it. Stop half way to the pub, meet some friends, grab a beer. (re)Discover your city, its trails, and just have fun!

Anything else that you would like to include?

I maintain a blog about running and had several articles on run commuting. Readers might be interested by the introduction to run commuting! http://julien.gunnm.org/2015/02/05/running-as-a-transportation-alternative-the-introductory-guide/

Interested in being featured on The New Run Commuters? Submit your info in the form below and we’ll send you more details.

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The New Run Commuters Submission Form

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

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

The No-Shower Clean Up: Men’s Edition

The No-Shower Cleanup is – for some – almost as controversial as wearing shorts over running tights, or the correct pronunciation of “gif” files (is it “JIF” or “GIF”?) So, do you scrap the morning run commute because your office lacks a shower? You shouldn’t. Here’s a detailed post on how to cool down, clean up, and smell good at the office after your run.

Note: We cover cleaning up after your morning run commute in our Getting Started series (Part 5: Sweaty to Office-Ready), but we wanted to go into a bit more detail so that you would understand – specifically – how it works.

Step 1: Pre-Run Commute Preparation

  • Take a shower at home

  • Pack any refills of cleanup items (baby wipes, deodorant) into your pack

  • Pack any freshly laundered cleanup items (towel, washcloth) into your pack

  • Pack extra running gear for run commute home, if needed

Step 2: Post-Run Commute – Outside the Office

  • Stop a block or two short of your office and walk

  • If necessary, shed clothing on the way to your building to speed up the cool down process

  • If you have extra time, do a few static stretches to aid in muscle recovery

  • Don’t forget to turn off any blinkie lights on your pack!

Step 3: Post-Run Commute – Inside the Office

The first 5 – 10 minutes (Goal: Stop Sweating)

  • Drop your gear; turn a fan on yourself, login to your computer, read emails

  • Use a couple paper towels to dry off your entire head

  • Go fill a water bottle and add ice if available; drink to cool down and rehydrate

  • Eat to replenish carbs and protein (Clif bar, shake, etc.); read more emails; mark any follow-ups as needed (alternatively, you can do this after finishing cleanup)

  • Continue until you are cooled down and no longer sweating

The next 10 minutes (Goal: Clean Yourself Up)

  • Take your wet running gear off, place in a bag (if washing) or hang to dry as-is

  • Wipe down your body with baby wipes

    • 2 wipes for head and neck

    • 1 for underarms

    • 1 for chest and stomach

    •  1 for groin

    •  1-2 for legs and feet

  • Or, wipe down your body with a athletic/sport wipe

    • Open package and unfold

    • Wipe from your head to your feet, top to bottom

  • Dry off by using the fan

  • Apply deodorant or antiperspirant

  • Apply body powder to groin area

    • Put underwear on

  • Apply foot powder to feet

    • Put socks on

  • Put pants on

  • Apply body spray to chest area

  • Finish getting dressed

Cleanup Supplies (l to r): Deodorant, body spray, body powder, foot powder, baby wipes, athletic wipe

Size comparison between Action Wipe and standard baby wipe

The final 5 minutes (Goal: Finishing Touches)

  • Head to the restroom

  • Bring a towel, washcloth, soap, and hair products

  •  Stick your head over the sink and run/scoop water over your head; wash with soap, if needed, and dry your head off

  • Fix your hair

  • You’re done!

Notes:

  • Your cleanup routine will be easier if you have short (or no) hair

  • Unscented baby wipes are better than scented

  • Microfiber towels and washcloths seem to work better than cotton for absorption and cleaning

  • You will be fine without using powder at all, but it helps to absorb moisture and odors that arise during the day

  • You can wash your running gear in the bathroom sink after you’ve cleaned up – “camp soap” works great as a detergent.

Advanced Cleanup Technique

Clean your running gear in the bathroom sink!

Get your clothes wet, and wring the sweaty water out

Add some soap, squish and scrub until adequately soapy, then rinse and wring out again

Hang them in front of a fan in your office

By the end of the day, you’ll have fresh, clean running gear to put on for the run commute home

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-toweling 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.

No wet-wipes 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: Osprey Rev 24

We’ve had our eyes on the Osprey Rev since we first heard about it in 2013, and I finally broke down and bought one to try it out. Though it falls under Osprey’s cycling category on their website, it is intended for trail runners and endurance athletes whose running needs include easy access to storage space and ample hydration.

Test Model

Osprey Rev 24

Size: Small/Medium

Carrying Capacity: 22L, 1,343 cu. in.

Cost: US $130

Add-on: Hi-Vis Rain Cover (X-Small)

Performance and Evaluation

I  ran over 100 miles with the Osprey Rev 24, carrying my clothing in the IAMRUNBOX garment carrier or the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter, lunch, rain jacket, hat, and an occasional book. The average weight for the entire setup was 7.0 pounds.

On the run, it felt great! The Rev’s fit is snug and secure against the torso when properly adjusted. I was a little concerned that the thin shoulder straps might rub, but aside from a little discomfort against my clavicle once or twice (which stopped after I readjusted the straps), it was comfortable, light, and chafe-free. The shoulder straps run close to the sternum, and then veer off towards the hips at the bottom. This provided my arms with a lot more freedom of movement than I’ve found in other packs.

Another initial worry I had was that there are no external compression straps on the sides. There is, however, a cinch strap/buckle at the top of the pack, and it pulls together the zippered areas at the top of the pack. It did not appear that it would do much for bounce though. The pack itself is made of thin material, making it floppy, and I thought the lack of compression straps would have made it overly bouncy while running. Surprisingly, it runs extremely well with very little bounce. I think that having a garment carrier inside helped the pack hold its shape and minimize up and down bouncing, and the waist/sternum straps eliminate any potential side-to-side movement.

When it comes to having items and storage at the ready, the Rev dominates its field of competitors. I loved having quick, on-the-run access to a hat, wallet, gels/bars, rain jacket, camera, and headlamp. In addition, the flip-down phone holster on the shoulder strap was great for checking emails/texts while waiting at long traffic signals. On one or two occasions, though, I found that the clear vinyl inside of the pocket fogs up, most likely due to the sweat emanating from my torso.

I don’t run with a hydration system unless I’m going long (10 miles+) so I only tried it out for one commute. I like the entire setup of the system, and found it runs extremely well. The quick-disconnect hose allows the bladder to go in and out of the pack with ease, and is ideal for trail races when you want to spend as little time as possible at aid stations. Though it is designed to reduce movement and noise, I still found I needed to burp the bladder before running to reduce sloshing

One thing missing from the Rev is a rain cover. I run commute year-round in whatever weather is occurring when I step out the door, so a rain cover is a necessity (and additional purchase). Osprey’s Hi-Vis Rain Cover in X-Small fits the Rev 24 perfectly. It has reflective markings, a light attachment, and it performs as advertised in wet weather.

What I Liked

Shoulder strap media pouch

Multiple run-accessible storage areas

Very lightweight

Advanced hydration system

No pouches on waist strap

Double sternum straps

Strap placement allows arms to move freely

What I Didn’t Like

Back heats up quickly

No rain cover

No pouches on waist strap

Heavy items in side pouches tend to bounce around

Backpack Details

Front

The front of the pack contains no pouches or light attachment points, however it does have an elastic band tie-down system that can hold many items of different sizes and shapes. It is ideal for holding a damp jacket or a pair of shoes. At the top of the pack is a triangular, black flap with a buckle and cinch strap that sort of pulls together everything at the top of the pack (zippers, pouches, and hydration pocket).

Sides

One of the things I like most about the Rev is that it has so many different quick-access pouches. I love to be able to run without carrying things in my hands, but also be able to access certain items without loosening straps and removing my pack. The Rev has two different styles of side access pouches.

On the right side (while wearing the pack) is a medium-sized pouch made of stretchy material that expands as you put something into it, and contracts back down to look like a small flap when empty. This is an open-ended pocket with no closure, but the elastic does retract to keep things from falling out. It is perfect for holding sunglasses, a camera, or packable rain jacket.

On the left side is a nearly identical pocket. The only difference is that it has a zippered opening so that nothing will fall out.

Main Compartment and Top Access Pouch

Despite looking like a small, low-capacity pack due to the Rev’s somewhat floppy, softer construction materials, the main compartment holds an exceptional amount of gear. It easily fits a set of work clothes in a garment carrier, lunch, additional clothing, and even a pair of shoes, and the single top strap holds everything in place quite well.

The top access pouch (the gray area of the main compartment in the pic below) is reserved for smaller items which need a little more protection, and that aren’t needed during the run, like a wallet, identification badge, checkbook, keys, etc.

Back and Waist Strap

The back of the pack consists of tightly-woven mesh covering 1/8of flexible, padded, breathable material. That’s it. Unlike the Manta and Stratos with their AirSpeed back panels that separate the pack from your back, the Rev comes in direct contact with your back. While still extremely comfortable, it does heat your back up quite fast.

The waist straps have wide, padded “wings” on each side where they attach to the pack. The connecting strap is narrow, non-stretchy, and the plastic buckle is small. On the outside of each wing, and within easy reach while running, are medium-sized, zippered pouches, capable of carrying a wallet, gels, energy bars, or any combination thereof. The whole setup is quite comfortable and I never once experienced any chafing or irritation in this particular area.

Suspension

The shoulder straps are made from the same material as the back of the pack; waffle-like padding covered with a durable mesh material. One of the unique aspects of their design can be seen where the straps attach at the top of the pack. Rather than just have the medium-width straps rest on your shoulders, Osprey added some additional material that makes the top of the straps nearly as wide as the pack, making the pack rest very comfortably in an area that is prone to chafe and irritation, especially when carrying heavier loads.

On the left strap is Osprey’s DigiFlip™ media pocket. It holds smartphones up to 5 ½” long and 3” wide. It fit my HTC One M7 nicely, though without its Otterbox Commuter case. The pouch flips down and your phone is touch-accessible through a clear vinyl cover and the outside of the case is made from water-resistant material, as well, so the phone is completely enclosed and weather-resistant. On the outside of the DigiFlip pocket is another stretchy, storage pouch.

The right strap has two narrow, overlapping stretchy pouches which can hold anything from a flashlight, to gels, bars, or pens and markers. Each strap has two attachment loops above the pouches for routing the hydration hose, or attaching items such as blinking lights.

Connecting both shoulder straps horizontally are two stretchy, adjustable sternum straps. Both can not only be adjusted left and right, but can also be slid up or down along the straps. The topmost chest strap has a magnet on the buckle, and is used to hold the mouthpiece of the hydration hose while in use.

Hydration System

The Rev comes with a 2.5L Hydraulics™ LT bladder that is designed to keep the water from annoyingly sloshing around, as well as to keep the bag flat and from balling up in the bottom of the pack.

The hose has a cool quick-release feature, which allows it to disconnect from the top of the bladder, and end of the hose contains a magnet that attaches to the upper sternum strap buckle, which keeps the bite valve close to your mouth while running.

The backpack has a designated hydration storage section within it that is zippered at the top and rides close to your back when secured. The bladder slips easily in and out and since you can disconnect the hose, it makes for quick refueling stops along the trail. 

Additional Pictures

Review: Altra Torin 1.5, Superior 1.5, and Lone Peak 1.5 Minimal Shoes

Keen to try minimalist running? Interested in the latest biomechanical theories about how our bodies run? Want to get a sense of the range of contemporary running shoes that are out there and popular, but don’t want to blow the budget on a possible dud? Well, here’s how you can try out contemporary shoe ‘ideas’ without breaking the bank: it’s the eleventh hour for the old range of Altra shoes, with their 2013/2014 updates well and truly in the shops. But you may see the old range selling at bargain-basement prices at your local running store, and if you do, here’s a review that tells you why you should give them a try.

Altra Torin 1.5

Altra Torin 1.5

Available in several online stores including:

Altra Running

Amazon

Zappos

Campsaver

One of the best shoes for run commuters is the Altra Torin. Why? Because it combines ‘zero drop’ with major cushioning to protect your bones from the repetitive jarring of running on concrete and asphalt.

Many minimalist and barefoot shoes from the early years of the movement had very little rubber between your tootsies and the ground. This is not such a big deal if you always run on grass (though even then, the too-sudden substitution of conventional running shoes to FiveFingers etc. caused injuries in thousands of runners and the subsequent infamous lawsuit.) But when you’re running on pavements and roads all the time, ‘natural’ running can be a painful experience. Hence, the ‘second generation’ of ‘barefoot’ shoes, which some wag dubbed “maximalist shoes” – lots of cushioning, but not necessarily huge ‘heels’.

Quick Facts

23 mm Sole

Zero Drop

Wide Toebox

Uppers Keep Out Water

Cushioning

23mm stack height (cushioning/sole). Zero drop, meaning there is no height difference between the forefoot and the heel when your foot is in the shoe. The cushioning is superb. You feel like you’re running on top of it. The Torin are comparable to Brooks’ Pure Flows in ‘instant comfort’ factor, but happily (in my opinion) their underfoot cushioning feels somehow both more substantial as well as not as ‘marshmallowy’ as the pillows of the Pure Flows.

The Torin’s level of cushioning is protective for distances up to (and beyond, probably!) marathon distances on road. The cushioning in these babies is also very durable, seemingly unsquashable even after miles and miles of run commuting.

Shape and Fit

A wide toe box is the other ‘feature’ of all Altra shoes. The Torin and the Superior are two of the three reviewed here that have, in my view, genuinely ‘wide’ toe boxes. The (female) Torin model is wider than my Brooks Pure Flows men’s version, which are a ‘standard’ men’s D-width (as opposed to the women’s ‘standard’ B-width, which is narrower). The Torin is also ‘straighter’ across the toes than ‘normal’ running shoes, which reflects the wider toe box. On ‘normal’ shoes the toe box is curved more aggressively from the big-toe around the other toes and to meet the lateral edge of the shoe. The drastic curve of normal shoes is what causes the squashing of the toes together and prevents the natural splaying tendency of bare feet in motion. The toe box feels like it was custom-carved to gently cradle my toes and forefoot, with no pressure or squeezing at any point around the coastline of my foot. I’ve never had a blister from these shoes. This may be a happy miracle matching of my foot and the shoes, however. The shape may not be as perfect for everyone, even the wide-footers.

Shape and Fit of Sole 

The bottom ‘edges’ of the Torin—the edge and the back and front ends of the sole—seem to round jauntily upwards, for a turned-up feeling and a rolling of the foot forward when you land square on the middle of the shoe. This is a pleasant—even heady—sensation of swiftness. Turbo-charged in the Torin.

In regards to flexibility, I have read other reviews on the web that comment on the inflexible nature of the Torin. It is true that this shoe does not bend much in the middle when you try to squash the toes and heels of the upper together. Having high arches and normally landing on my forefoot, I personally need and prefer a highly-flexible shoe. However, the Torin seem to encourage me to land square on the midfoot, which feels like the most protective landing position on hard concrete, and it also means my foot doesn’t bend much. I’ve never had any problems with the flexibility of the Torin.

Styling

The confident black and beautiful aqua blue of this shoe is complimented by a dash of white on the edges of the sole rubber and in the Altra label. The female Torin also comes in a magenta, yellow and white colourway.

Summary

Fresh and strong. Cheeky, full of zest, but profoundly capable. Stubborn long-livers. A joy to wear as a daily run commuting shoe for the mean city streets of the modern metropolis.  

Possible Criticisms

If you have a ‘fat’ foot—by which I don’t mean that your foot has been hitting the pizza and ice cream, but that you have a high volume foot/high arches, etc. —you may find the laces too short. I have just such a bulky, well-muscled foot, and I can only just double-tie the bows in the laces.

The upper isn’t made from the softest material…. It’s a kind of rubbery material that is flexible, but I wouldn’t call it actually soft against the skin etc. I wouldn’t wear these without socks, for example. However, turning the negative into a positive (!), the rubbery uppers keep out rain and puddle-splash from wet roads extremely well in my experience.

Run Commuting Potential?

Maximum run commuting joy!

Altra Superior 1.5

Altra Superior 1.5

Available in several online stores including:

Altra Running

Amazon

Moosejaw

Nolashoes

These are the perfect shoe for run commuters who traverse sections of grass, trail, dirt track or road, rocks, fields, paddocks etc. as well as pavement and concrete on their way to work. The grip is definitely trail grip. It’s not going to stick you to the side of wet grass hills as you bomb down them at top speed, and you might experience the occasional slippage on wet rock. But I’ve worn these a lot on highly technical, steep and (dry) rocky single-track, and their grip performs really well. More than adequate for city parks on the way to work. They have the added benefit, unlike other trail shoes, of feeling like ‘normal’ road running shoes when you’re wearing them to run on road.

Like the Torins, the Superiors feature Altra’s wide toe box, zero drop, and enough cushioning to protect your tender footsies.

Quick Facts

18 mm Sole

Sizing Issues

Extremely Wide Toebox

Quickly Wear Out

Cushioning

They are light, very flexible, and initially have a pillowy cushioning that is soft but protective. However, the cushioning on these gets flattened very quickly, and feels like a racing flat after about 100 miles. (see the ‘pancake’ effect on the cushioning in the photo). In my opinion, the metaphorical and literal flexibility of the Superiors makes them worth the quicker wear-out time. Especially for that AU$60 sale price…

They do have a thin plastic ‘rock plate’ underneath the innersole, and they certainly guard against most pointy rock pain, but they don’t allow the same level of ‘ignoring what you’re treading on’ that you can get away with in the Lone Peaks.

Shape and Fit

The toe box is as generous as or even more so than the toe box on the Torins. The review in Trail Runner Magazine described them as “like running in comfy slippers”, which is spot on, though they are not as bulky as slippers!

Sizing

Problematic. I ordered them online without trying them on, and, following the advice of the website, ordered a full size larger than my normal running shoe size, only to be swimming in them with nearly two inches at the end of my toes. Swapped for my regular size, they are still pretty big, and for my next pair I’m ordering down at least half a size.

I think the problem with Altra sizing and the weird phenomenon of my need for a smaller size while many people on the internet report having had to size up, stems from the difference in people’s individual toe lengths. People with very long big toes or second toes need a size bigger than ‘normal’ in Altras, because the Altra toe boxes have the almost horizontal end shape. This means that any toe that is substantially longer than the others is going to be rammed against the end of the shoe. All of my toes are of an almost scaled decreasing size that forms a curve very similar to that of the horizontality and width of the Altra toe box (I hesitate to imply that my toes are perfect, but, well, they are!). Perhaps that’s why I love the Superiors so very very much.

Run Commuting Potential?

Absolutely…just take the alternative route to work along the river bank/through empty lots/across sports fields.

Altra Lone Peak 1.5

Altra Lone Peak 1.5

Limited availability online at:

Altra Running

Amazon

For run commuters who also run trails or those who are curious about beginning trail running, try the Altra Lone Peak 1.5s while they’re on sale.

If you don’t want to shell out the big bucks for the Lone Peak 2.0s, the 1.5s will give you a (cheap) sense of what it’s like to run in trail shoes capable of handling heavy-duty terrain.

Quick Facts

22 mm Sole

Superb Traction

Excellent Durability

Great Water Resistance

Sizing

I had the same issue with the Lone Peak 1.5s as I did with the Superiors, which I ordered half a size bigger (hedging my bets), but which I had to swap for size US9s. These still have ample room at the end of the toes even when I am wearing Injinji toe-socks, which fill the space out. In regular, thinner socks the size 9s are almost too big. So I don’t know what the hell is going on with Altra sizing, basically.

Shape and Fit

Toe box is not big enough! More craziness! Despite the wide toe box being a stated feature of Altra shoes, I find the women’s Lone Peak 1.5s not wide enough. Having got used to the Superiors and the Torins (and having previously worn through three pairs of FiveFingers) my toes like to go their own ways. So, for my second pair of Lone Peak 1.5s—purchased on sale for nearly 1/3 of the price they were on debut—I ordered the men’s model (size US7). The toe box is perfect, and the same width as the women’s Superior toe box. Happy days. For AU$60 you can afford to make an educated guess as to the sizing (after reading this review, of course!).

The Lone Peak 1.5s are much less flexible than the Superiors, but they have greater cushioning and a higher overall level of ‘hardiness’ than the Superiors. They also have deeper lugs (little claws on the sole) for better grip on the trails. In my experience the soles of the Lone Peak 1.5 are more effective in the wet than the soles of the Superior. The Lone Peak’s lugs are still not as grippy as the almost-gecko-like lugs of shoes like the Inov-8 Roc-lites, but then the Lone Peak soles are more protective. Only at the end of a six-hour trail run on hard rocky trail have I felt that I needed more shoe between me and the ground (though by then I felt like my feet never wanted to touch the ground again anyway, so it’s kind of irrelevant!)  One day I hope to run longer than six hours, maybe in the Lone Peak 2.0s, which apparently have even more cushioning. Now I just need to get a complimentary ‘review’ pair from Altra…

Run Commuting Potential

Only for lucky b*%$#rds whose run to work is mostly on trails. They last longer than the Superiors, and like the Superiors, the lugs aren’t really super evident when you’re running short distances on concrete.

Safety Note

For best results, combine the information in this review with Josh’s awesome article on his journey from (running shoe) stilettoes to (running shoe) ballet flats. Snap up a cheap pair of Altras and wear them once or twice a week instead of your existing shoes to transition safely to zero-drop shoes.   

By |2018-02-27T15:01:15-04:00April 13th, 2015|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

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.