Pack Comfort Evaluation: Extended Ultramarathon Edition

Though we use them nearly daily on roads, our run commute packs are all designed for trails, for hikers, through-hikers, fastpackers. One can see in our reviews how well they serve their purposes and meet our run commuting needs; however, perhaps readers still wonder about their comfort and ability during those 3-6 mile runs. How about 65 miles in varied temps, wind, and sun? We are now able to offer better perspective on said service, after humping these packs over several mountains, for 20 hours, during the inaugural Georgia Death Race.

www.georgiadeathrace.com

You will forever afterward see in this “professionally designed” race logo a man farting streams of flame. Not a wholly inaccurate take on the race’s pains.

Hall, Josh, and Kyle lit out from Atlanta with crew chief Laura on Friday, March 15, to tackle this course up in the north Georgia mountains. We had all run ultras before; however, this one would be twice as far as the 50Ks we’d done, with 30,000 feet of elevation change: it was no joke.

The race was first billed as 55 miles; then 60-ish; but it turned out to be closer to 65 miles, and temperature fluctuations between elevations (sometimes 20°F difference, with wind and shade) would make for an extremely challenging race. The race began at 4 a.m. Saturday, March 16, and was open for 28 hours, allowing everyone some chance to finish. We’ll get up a race report if you want it, but for now we want to offer insight as to the run commuting/ultramarathon connection.

One: up to 50 percent of our training miles came from running to work, or from it. The remainder came from long road runs, hill and stair training, shorter ultras, and mountain training weekends.

Two: racers had a mandatory gear list to carry during the race. Part of it was due to the backcountry requirements of Vogel State Park and the U.S. Forest Service; and the rest was deemed necessary in case of injury; or if you could no longer run/walk/hobble, and were too far from an aid station. Here’s the list:

Mandatory:

  • 1 Space blanket

  • 1 Thermal top

  • 1 Warm hat (beanie)

  • 1 Pair of warm gloves

  • 1 Waterproof jacket (poncho not acceptable)

  • 1 Whistle

  • 1 Map (provided)

  • 1 22 oz (or greater) capacity for water.

  • 1 Food ration

Recommended:

  • 1 Working cell phone

  • 1 Extra set of batteries for your head lamp

  • 1 Thermal bottom

GDR-Packs2

Off to the pre-race meeting the night before, and for mandatory gear check. L to R: Osprey Stratos 24 (Hall), Osprey Manta 20 (Josh), REI Stoke 19 (Kyle)

And, three, while a lot of ultramarathoners wear hydration packs, like the Nathan Endurance Race Vest, Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 5, or the increasingly-popular UltrAspire Omega Hydration Vest, we would need to carry more than just water and gels for this race. But owing to our run commuting, we were already accustomed to running with full backpacks.

Would packs we use for run commuting perform well during this race? Here are our thoughts, in brief:

Tester:  Josh

Pack:  Osprey Manta 20

Comfort: None of the straps chafed at all.  I normally wear a short or long-sleeve compression shirt to reduce any possibility of chafing (usually underarms, or around my waist). With the Manta 20, however, the straps were adequately padded, positioned properly, and secured with non-irritating buckles, making it fantastic no matter what clothing was underneath. The weight of the pack was distributed very well, too.

Storage: With 17L (1,037 cu. in.) of internal storage, I had plenty of room for all the required gear, plus changes of socks and shirts, with additional space leftover. There are many outside pockets that are easily accessible as well, including dual waist strap pouches. These were perfect for gels, Clif bars, and other snacks. I could grab them on the fly, eat, and continue running without stopping.

Hydration: A unique 3L hydration bladder was standard on the S/M model.  This was more than enough to supply adequate hydration from one aid station to another.

User Notes: I love everything about this pack. In fact, I would choose this over my previous favorite, the Osprey Stratos 24. The hydration system features were ridiculously handy, the pack was super-comfortable, and I felt like if I were to changeover to another crazy sport – fastpacking, for instance – it would be a fantastic piece of gear for the job. I can’t say enough good things about the Manta 20. Seriously.

3:50 am - Race Day

3:50 am – Race Day

Tester:  Hall

Pack: Osprey Stratos 24

Comfort: Starting at 2lbs without any gear, or even a hydration bladder, this backpack was surprisingly comfortable over the 44 miles I covered before my eventual exit from the race (see Editor’s Note below). Due to a former injury, a broken collar bone to be exact, I am always wary of carrying anything on my shoulders for long periods of time. Especially with standard backpack straps. But the Osprey Stratos 24’s numerous options for cinching down the straps prevented any irritation. The large amount of straps and different ways to secure the gear and prevent any shifting or unnecessary movement helped keep it quiet as well. Once the temperatures warmed up and the sun rose above the North Georgia mountains, the stretched mesh back panel allowed my back to breathe.

Storage: At times I lost track of where certain items were in my pack due to the plethora of harness pockets, hipbelt pockets, and other compartments. It’s a good problem to have, and though I ended up having to wash out some of them due to carrying used gel packets, I was glad to be able to have most of what I needed constantly accessible.

Hydration: My Osprey Hydraulics 2 Liter Reservoir was a great purchase. The handle and rigid structure didn’t add much weight, but certainly made it a lot easier to fill at aid stations and even at home under the sink.

Editor’s Note: Hall neglected to mention that his reason for exiting the race at mile 44 was that his tendons were about to ‘splode. This is for real. He’d just finished a course of antibiotics, amongst the serious warnings for which was listed severe likelihood of tendons rupturing from exercise and strain. But from mile 44, without missing a beat or dropping a smile, Hall became crew lieutenant, and we were joyed to see him with Laura at the final crew station, and again at the finish! –KT

Twenty-five miles into the race, over the Duncan Ridge Trail, and onto Forest Service roads. Photo: Hall's mom

Twenty-five miles into the race, over the Duncan Ridge Trail, and onto Forest Service roads. The mountains we scaled and descended paled compared to Kyle’s forehead. Photo: Hall’s mom

Tester:  Kyle

Pack:  REI Stoke 19

Comfort: As mentioned in my previous review, the Stoke 19 lacks any kind of ventilation for your back. Lack of air flow yields plenty of sweat, and mid-race my shorts had an inch-wide salt band; however, my pack remained wonderfully cushy, and all the straps are wide and plush, so nothing cuts or saws into your torso. From the chilly morning to the mid-day roasting sun, I experienced no discomfort. I had one small chafe spot when I took stock of my ravaged body the next day: the right shoulder strap rubbed my collar bone, but that almost certainly owes to said clavicle’s odd shape.

Storage: So many pockets, filled with GUs, Clif bars, at one point an entire sweet potato. There was ample room for my required gear (and a safety whistle is built into the chest strap) and leftover space for fuel, though never did anything feel unsecured: all remained perfectly in place. The race offered a $100 bonus to whomever brought in the most trash from the trail; we retrieved multiple wrappers, spent GU packets, some beer cans, and more, and mashed them all into my pack’s side pockets. (The bonus went to a guy who dropped off at an aid station a 12-pack box he stuffed with garbage, and a freaking car tire, with which he’d run two miles — while then in third place: well-earned.)

Hydration: I’ve been using a Camelbak Omega 100oz. bladder for years now. By about mile 20, the hook by which it is secured at its top had twisted off, but, like I said: years old, so some failure is to be expected. It stayed put despite this. It was difficult getting the full bladder back into the Stoke 19 with all my gear inside. Often, I would have to pull it all out, slide the bladder back in place, then replace my gear inside.

User Notes: The Stoke 19’s biggest drawback was the difficulty replacing the bladder, and subsequently the time necessary to do so. Speaking with someone before the race about her Ultimate Direction SJ Race Vest, which in lieu of a bladder touts twin 22-ounce bottles, holstered on the shoulder straps. It was, she said, “the difference between a 30-second aid station stop and three minutes.” That was a prescient statement, I came to find. But the Stoke 19 allows you to maintain a higher center of gravity. Look again at the photo of the three of us above: note that mine (on the right) rides much higher and tighter than do Josh’s or Hall’s. That was on the trail, as it is on my run commute, an asset.

By |2018-02-27T15:01:11-04:00April 29th, 2013|Categories: Gear, General|Tags: , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Review: Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder 15

We each have our own little tricks for getting our clothes to the office in the best condition possible.  Considering all the jostling your pack can do while run commuting, what goes in looking nice one minute, can come out looking terrible the next.

Kyle is a an iron-and-roller.  Hall rolls-and-stows.  I am an iron-and-folder.  All those techniques work for us in our respective jobs, but sometimes, no matter how well they’re packed, your clothes might come out a little wrinkly, wonky, or looking like you just pulled them out of the dirty clothes pile before you put them on.

Enter the Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder 15

Packit - Main pic

Closed and empty.

Eagle Creek makes fantastic travel gear. They have a unique four-step system that shows how best to pack for a trip and, of course, which of their products will be most useful for each step. The Pack-It Folder is part of their “packing solutions” category, and most useful to us as run commuters.

Construction is simple, consisting of 300-D poly weave materials, velcro closures, mesh, and a handle. There are five color options available, from black to red to zebra print.

Packit - Open

When open. Hmm. Looks familiar…

I knew I'd seen this somewhere before!

I knew I’d seen it somewhere before!

This is a very simple and reasonable solution to keep your clothes wrinkle-free while transporting them in your pack (the Pack-It 15 – not the manta…)

Packit - Instructions

That plastic card that you see inside the Pack-It doubles as folding instructions and a bag/clothing stiffener.  The easy-to-follow guide makes your clothes look like they just came off the shelf at the Gap.

Saturday Night Live – when it was good. (David Spade, Adam Sandler, and Chris Farley as SNL’s “Gap Girls”)

You fold your shirt(s), fold your pants, add your underthings and socks, and then compress it altogether into a neat, little package that’s ready to slip into your run commuting pack. If you want to take two days worth of clothing, the Pack-It Folder 15 can handle that, too (holds up to 7 items).

A one-day supply of clothing: Pants, dress shirt, undershirt, underthings, and socks.

A one-day supply of clothing: Pants, dress shirt, undershirt, underthings, and socks.

The Pack-It folder 15 inside the Osprey Manta 20.

The Pack-It folder 15 inside the Osprey Manta 20.

It worked amazingly well!  My clothes were ready to go when I arrived and looked like they just came off the shelf.

The only thing I would have done differently is used a larger pack, like the Osprey Manta 25.  It was a bit tough to fit my lunch inside on top of the Folder, but I do make a big lunch, so maybe it’s just me.

Thankfully, I keep my shoes at work, so those didn’t have to go in my pack on top of everything else (but a coworker recently saw my shoe collection, which I keep on a bookshelf, and stared at it admiringly?, saying she was going to come back and take a picture.  Is there an office equivalent of a cat lady?  That’s probably me.)

Recommended for run commuting?

Hell, yes.

Specs

Sizes:  15, 18, and 20

Dimensions: 

Warranty:

  • Lifetime – Defects in workmanship and materials.

  • 5-Year – Functional damage.

Colors:

  • Aqua/Lime

  • Black

  • Pacific Blue

  • Torch Red

  • Zambia

Special thanks to Patrick H. and Soog for suggesting these cool pieces of gear!

Note: This gear was purchased for use by the author.

By |2016-10-22T20:26:45-04:00April 25th, 2013|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , |3 Comments

Book Report: Eat & Run by Scott Jurek

Scott Jurek and Arnulfo Quimare

Scott Jurek and Arnulfo Quimare

I’ve been following Scott Jurek’s progress on the ultra racing scene for the past few years with great interest.   I first learned of him – as did many, many others – while reading Chris McDougal’s bestselling book, Born to Run.

Jurek took the ultramarathon scene by storm, winning race after race, breaking records, and continuing to push himself harder and faster with each new year.  Eat & Run fills in the backstory of this legendary runner, his transition to veganism and ultramarathons, his early years at home in rural Minnesota, and his recent successes in racing. More importantly, and of great relevance to us here, Jurek used to run to work – 6 miles each way – to his job in Seattle!

Eat and Run, Jurek

Eat & Run by Scott Jurek

I had a similar upbringing as Scott.  We’re about the same age, we grew up in the Midwest hunting and fishing, tried track in high school without much success, and then began running long and far while making the transition to veganism (not to mention, we’re both Polacks).  But at one point in our lives, we diverged.  He ran mountains, killed the ultra scene, and made healthy, competitive running his profession.  I ran short, local races, had (and continue to have) great running adventures, and I’m more than happy just to finish a 50K.

It’s hard not to over-promote yourself as a professional runner.  Your whole career revolves around running, winning, looking good, and marketing yourself.  Do you know who Dean Karnazes is?  If you even follow running just a little bit, you probably do.  He is the king of self-promotion.  But that’s his job, and he does it well.

Similarly, Jurek spends most of the book talking about himself – not only filling in the history of his running career, but also about how awesome he is.  Don’t get me wrong – I think Jurek is an amazing ultra runner and his race times and records are phenomenal.  But, the book reads more like a curriculum vitae with recipes, than a story about the connection between food and running.

I was expecting to hear more about being vegan and why people choose to become one – not just “I ate vegan and felt better,” and “Is being vegan going to hurt my running?”  The book is called Eat & Run after all.  Sure he talks a bit here and there about Hippie Dan and others who gradually changed his mind about eating meat, but I was hoping to see something beyond,

“What we eat is a matter of life and death.  Food is who we are.”

Scott Jurek, Eat & Run, pg. 57

That line in particular, could have been expanded into an ongoing lesson, interspersed throughout the book, about the animals themselves and the short, torturous lives they live before a piece of them finds their way to our plates.

Instead, Jurek says that the “…healthier he

[I] had eaten, the faster and stronger he [I] had become.”  Sure, but what about the other part of that seemingly simple equation?  He had been running and training his ass off for a long time!  Dude, I’m vegan, too.  And yes – I feel better since becoming one, but I can’t discount the effect that solid training has had in making me a better runner overall.  It cheapens training by saying otherwise.

Aside from that, there is the big unanswered question:  What the hell really happened between Jurek and Dusty?  Friends don’t text you out of the blue after a couple of years, saying, “You fucking loser” (pg. 204).   They were close.  And then – suddenly – they weren’t.

There’s more to that story, dammit.  Hopefully, Dusty will write a book about it someday.  If so, you’ll hear all about it here.

By |2016-10-22T20:26:46-04:00February 19th, 2013|Categories: General|Tags: , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Review: LatLock E70 Running Backpack

LatLock-Front-on-Ground-2Specs

Make: LatLock
Model: E70
Available Colors: Black/Yellow, Black/Blue, Black/Pink, Black/Green
Sizes: One size fits all
Volume: 1428 cu. in.
Maximum Load: 40 pounds
Year Manufactured: 2011
MSRP: $62.95
Website:

1 – Shoulder Straps. 2 – LatLock Strap. 3 – Upper Chest Strap.

While similar to the old version of the U.S. Army’s Assault Pack, the LatLock has a very unique set of straps that do a great job of keeping your load from bouncing. First, lets look at the shoulder straps.

Unlike shoulder straps on most backpacks, the LatLock’s straps are short, with the bottom of the strap attached higher up than usual.  This, by itself, considerably minimizes the amount of vertical movement that occurs while running.  The strap wraps around the shoulder under the armpit and can be cinched down tightly on even the skinniest runner.

The second strap is the LatLock strap.  This strap secures the pack firmly to your back and reduces side-to-side movement.  Where traditional packs have a waist strap, that buckles and cinch just below your bellybutton, the LatLock’s padded strap tightens around the upper torso.

 

The LatLock on the Official Run Commuter Headless Mannequin, Josh

The third strap is the Upper Chest Strap and is used to completely meld the LatLock to your body.  It tends to ride up a bit high; sometimes making contact with your neck.  I normally run without using this strap at all.  However, if carrying larger loads, it would probably help take some strain off your shoulders.

The bag’s square construction allows for a varied arrangements of typical, or atypical, items to carry: shoes; slacks; lunches; tomahawks; video games; bags of lettuce; or whatever. You are able to place them where you want, how you want, rather than work within the tapered confines of other packs suitable to run commuting or fastpacking.

The multi-directional compression straps on the outside of the pack are a nice touch. Kind of like making a hobo bindle: arrange your things how you want, tighten it up, make everything nice and snug from the sides and above, and it will stay put.

Running Feel

The pack runs fairly well.  Overall body movement is less constricted than running with frame packs like the Osprey Stratos 24, therefore allowing you to run faster with the same amount of payload.  It keeps gear high on your back, while nearly eliminating all bouncing.  Items packed inside the bag are very secure.

The tightness of the straps tends to push ones arms out to the sides more than normal, giving you a similar style of running to downhill trails, where your arms are more outstretched to maintain balance.  On two of our reviewers, the shoulder straps chafed enough for them to stop using it within a mile or so.

Pros

  • No bouncing.

  • No waist strap = no lower back or hip chafing.

  • Compression straps do an excellent job of securing gear inside pack.

  • Padded laptop sleeve.

Cons

  • Underarm chafing.  All three reviewers had issues with underarm chafing.

  • Zippers will open if zipped close at the top of the pack (we recommend zipping both down one side).  Also, adding pulls would help with access.

Recommended

Yes and No.  One reviewer thought this was an amazing pack while the others did not like it.  It has to be adjusted just right in order to prevent a chafe-free run and it does take some getting used to.  To adjust it properly, follow the instructions listed on LatLock’s website.

Changes in the next generation pack (available soon)

  1. Front pockets or holders for cell phone, wallet, keys, ipod, MP3 player, water bottles.

  2. Bigger, more rugged zipper.

  3. Zipper Design Change, Easier to get into pack and not have to completely un-zip to get to contents in the lowest area of the Pack.

  4. Added External Sleeve for hydration bladder.

  5. Added Internal Sleeve for papers, so you can place loose paper in the bag and not crumple it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: We received a LatLock E70  for free from LatLock, LLC in consideration for review publication.

By |2018-02-27T15:01:11-04:00December 12th, 2012|Categories: Gear, General|Tags: , , , , |7 Comments

Review: REI Stoke 19 Backpack

Image

The transition from runner to run commuter mandates a method of transport, and so, a bag of some kind becomes necessary, be it a cloth drawstring bag the likes of which are given out at job fairs and to elementary schoolers; your mom’s old fanny pack or your dad’s new fanny pack; or, for me, the REI Stoke 19. In my two years with the Stoke 19, I have used it on a near-daily basis, and battered it with various injuries, including rain, sleet, hail, dark of night, sweat and its corrosive salt, the stink of unwashed wool, and hemorrhaging strawberries. It has withstood and served, and continues to endure, under all stresses, remains comfortable, and retains the quality with which it was originally imbued.

BASICS
The Stoke 19 is a frameless daypack made of ripstop nylon, prices around $80, weighs in at a meager 1 lb. 4 oz., and has a 19-liter cargo capacity. Mine is the 2010 model. As such, I have two years’ perspective on it; however, I have inspected the 2012 models and they are compatible, with a few minor upgrades to the latter. The panel-loading pack features one main interior pocket, with two internal sleeves along the sides; a rear mesh pocket; a rear zippered pocket, with two interior mesh sleeves and a key clip; two exterior mesh pockets along the pack’s sides; and two zippered waist strap pockets. Consequently, I never want to type the word “pocket” again, yet I will sally forth for you, as there is one more: a zippered compartment on the pack’s backing, which accommodates a 70-ounce hydration bladder.
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COMFORT
The Stoke 19 has a soft, waffled backing, which rests comfortably on the back, but also prohibits two things: air flow, and sweat drainage. Often in my endeavors, I have bagged my interior goods because I know that the bag will soak a great deal of sweat on my commute, particularly in summer. This, for me, is inevitable, as I am a profuse sweater. Yet I am able to say the ripstop nylon dries quickly: after running to work, it is dry within a few hours, and quicker still if I have my fan trained on it. Still, some might favor a pack with an airflow system, like the comparable Osprey Talon. The Stoke 19’s shoulder and waist straps are ventilated and padded, respectively, and several inches wide. I have yet to experience any chafing, pinching, or cutting.

FIT
The Stoke 19 sits high and tight on my back, its bottom nesting near the small of my back: I like this. It keeps my center of gravity from dropping too low, particularly when running with a full sack. It features two horizontal straps: a chest strap (with safety whistle, help, help!) with a minor elastic band, to accommodate jouncing on runs and hikes; and a thicker, middle-buckling waist strap. The chest strap is adjustable, sliding vertically on a six-inch curve. I prefer mine toward the middle of that curve, but I find my left slider has difficulty staying put. It often slides up, requiring frequent adjustment on the go. The waist strap’s pockets have come in handy for carting gels, Clif bars, keys, ID, pepper spray, a fistful of pecans found during a run, and other sundry flotsam; however, I find I need to cinch them very tightly.

The Stoke 19 might fit a bit loosely for thin folks. At 6’4″ and 170 pounds, I need to pull the chest strap fully tight, and the hip straps nearly so, otherwise it fits loosely and bounces around, a sensation I detest. This fit improves with the amount of cargo you stuff in the bag, as the ends of the shoulder straps pull not from the rear, but the front. This is important, as it helps compress your cargo and secure it.
Image
CARGO
I might carry on a typical day: my lunch box; pants; socks; underpants; undershirt; work shirt; belt; wallet; small notebook; phone; keys; and perhaps a Clif bar. But most days also see the inclusion of any of these things: a book, parcels of mail, a sweet potato, a second pair of shoes; yet I have also transported: a tomahawk; a Kindle; a stack of CDs; a thermos of coffee; and a four-pound flat of strawberries. This last was more good intent than good idea, as the motion of my running mashed the strawberries and bled them into the bag’s bottom. (Side note on DURABILITY: it washes clean of strawberry muck, and the stink of salt and wool.) I have been surprised by how much I am able to fit inside this bag, and have only once been unable to accommodate all my items (on that occasion, I ran with another bundle tucked under my arm).

SUMMARY
The Stoke 19 has more than amply met my needs for running to work; long training runs; trail runs; hiking; and cycling. It does not look large — in fact, smaller than most school kids’ backpacks — yet its capacity has surprised me, as has its durability. It washes clean of grime, sweat, and salt (and fruit) stains without problems. It sits tight and high, though this negates air flow, resulting in a snug, albeit sweaty, fit. As a bonus: REI Members are able to exchange it if not completely satisfied. If they endeavor to abuse REI’s extremely liberal returns policy, it’s probably possible to exchange it after two years’ use.

Note: This backpack was purchased for use by the author.

By |2016-10-22T20:26:47-04:00November 30th, 2012|Categories: Gear, General|Tags: , , , , |2 Comments

Review: New Balance 730 Shoes

I have been using New Balance MR10’s over the last year and love them.  However, there is one thing I don’t like about them – how fast the sole wears out.  A New Balance employee at my local store told me that they should be replaced after 250 miles.  I was already at 450, the heels and soles were worn down, and my toes and feet were starting to really feel the ground.  250 sounds like the right replacement mileage, but running 1000+ miles a year would require me to buy 4 or more pairs of these per year at $100 a pop.  So, I was excited to hear about the thicker sole and similar style of the New Balance 730’s  and ordered a pair from Running Warehouse to try out.

The New Balance 730’s are the perfect mix of minimal shoe:  They’re light, breathable, roomy, durable, inexpensive, have more cushioning than a traditional minimal, and have a small heel-toe drop.  Here’s how they ran:

Initial Run (4.75 miles)

– Firm, stiff soles.  They became comfortably flexible after 2 miles into my run.

– Lightweight.  7.3 oz.

– Breathable.  I could feel wind blowing through the shoe.

– Ample toebox.  I could easily splay my toes and still not touch either side.

– My calves were sore after the initial run.  With just a slight change in heel-toe drop – from 4mm in the New Balance MR10’s to the 3mm drop of the 730’s – I could feel the difference afterwards.  That’s why we recommend a slow transition from traditional to minimal shoes.  No one wants to suffer an unnecessary injury that will keep you from running…

Adjustment Phase (2 Days)

Due to the calf stiffness I was experiencing, I decided to wear the shoes around for a couple of days so my legs could get used to them while walking.  This worked surprisingly well and I was soon ready to crank out some more running miles.

Additional Mileage (16.25 miles)

– Soles are solid (though flexible) – not a lot of shock absorption.

– Tongue drifts to the sides under the laces.  There is no lace guide on the tongue, which would help to hold it in place.

– A lot of ground feel.  I tried them out on some small-medium gravel and you can definitely feel it on your feet.  I was also surprised I could feel the smooth, rounded edges of paver stones on the sidewalk.

No lace guide on tongue…

…leads to some drifting after a few miles


So, should you buy them?

Yes – but only if you are already comfortable with a minimal heel-toe drop, or you have some time to get used to them in training.  They’re ridiculously inexpensive compared to similar shoes of it’s kind (as low as $50 a pair!) and you’ll get a fair amount more mileage out of them, too.

Note: These shoes were purchased for use by the author.

 

By |2018-02-27T15:01:11-04:00November 30th, 2012|Categories: Gear, General|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Review: Osprey Stratos 24

I finally picked up a new pack and retired my Osprey Revo after 2 1/2 years.  The Revo worked just fine as a simple run commuting backpack, but I was in the market for something a bit larger that had a chest strap for additional motion-control.This past summer when I was sweating more on my runs, I started to get some chafing action on my lower back from the Revo’s slight side-to-side motion.  Just a little bit of irritation can turn into a larger, more painful issue when you run twice a day, everyday, so it kept me from running a few times.

In addition, I couldn’t quite fit my work clothes, lunch and a pair of shoes in the pack, which I occasionally need to bring in when I need a different pair.  Also, every once in a while I will stop and pick up a few groceries on my way home and 1300 cu in. was just a bit too small.  And so began a long obsession with finding the perfect run commuting backpack…

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By |2019-03-11T09:47:15-04:00October 21st, 2011|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , , , , |21 Comments

Review: REI Stoke 9 Pack

Even though I have been run commuting for a while now, I had yet to invest in a pack specifically made for running. This is what I’d been using thus far:

String-tastic

The Old “Pack”

It was free, and I made it work. I used two hairbands to secure the drawstrings mid-chest, tight enough that the bag wouldn’t bounce around.

Apparently, I am too cheap to invest in something to make my life a bit easier.

Finally though, I decided it was time for a new pack. Those drawstring straps aren’t really the most comfortable, if you can believe it. After looking at a few packs online, I headed to REI to scope out more options in person. I spent some time trying on different packs and investigating the various features offered. Ultimately, I decided to go for the REI Stoke 9 Pack.

Read on for my review!

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By |2016-10-22T20:26:58-04:00August 3rd, 2011|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , |4 Comments

Review: Nuun Electrolyte Enhanced Drink Tabs

As you can see from some of our previous posts, it’s hot down here.  And while beer occasionally does the trick, I need something to use on a more regular basis after finishing my sweltering summer runs.

I picked up a tube of Citrus Fruit flavored Nuun from Big Peach Running Co. in Decatur about a month ago and decided to give it a try.

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By |2018-02-27T15:01:07-04:00July 19th, 2011|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

Review: Sport-Tek Competitor Tee

I have a LOT of running shirts –  either store-bought tech shirts or race shirts, the composition of which ranges from 100% cotton to poly blends. I tend to wear short-sleeve, mesh-like wicking fabric tees in the summer months, but lately this has been causing me some problems.

I start running in the morning around 7:00 am, heading out just as the sun is climbing up over the treetops. The temperature is usually around 75°F and the humidity is high (80%+). It’s a fairly typical Atlanta summer and by the time I reach work, I have sweat a lot; as in my shirt is drenched. That’s normally fine, but when that is combined with a backpack that moves just a little, chafing can become a problem if you are running a longer distance. And it has affected me for the first time this year.


 

I figure that it’s not just the tiny amount of pack movement, but also the type of fabric and weave style of my shirt. After running a while and building up a good sweat, I found that a more open, rough weave acts like sandpaper on your skin. So to attempt to remedy this issue (since sweating can’t be corrected), I tried out a shirt from a recent 5K race. (more…)

By |2018-02-27T15:01:07-04:00July 6th, 2011|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , |1 Comment