Review: Alpine Dam’s “The Shoreline” Trucker Hat

If a Goldilocks exists in my modest collection of running caps, it is Alpine Dam’s Shoreline model. The sweet spot especially is its brim.

That is no small praise. There is a glut of trucker caps proffered to the running community these days. They have grown increasingly popular since Anton Krupicka wore a trucker cap in his Leadville 100 victory. They espouse, perhaps embody, the simplicity and care-free attitude self-proclaimed dirtbag runners seek to claim – yet that counter culture cap, once de novo, has become de rigueur.

Salt-crusted hats are where it’s at.

Short of blocking sun, containing hair, or concealing a bald spot, choice of such caps really comes down to brand. They are, like bread, permutations of only a few ingredients assembled in different manners and amounts.

I have several, some of which were race takeaways, others I’ve purchased since my wife encouraged me to wear sun protection during Atlanta’s immolating summers. The reasons that have led to my abandoning some are precisely why I have grown enamored of Alpine Dam’s cap in the several weeks since they provided it for review. My disdain and disappointment in most are enumerated thus:

  1. Brim too long

  2. Dome too high

  3. Material destroyed by my incessant and salt-heavy sweat

There is a little room in the Shoreline’s crown, so air can move through and hair isn’t plastered to my scalp, yet not so tall that it looks absurd. Same with the brim: not a stub, as on bicycle caps (Krupicka’s current favorite, by the way), nor so long that it juts above your vision like the Star Destroyer in Star Wars’ opening scene, or that you feel you’re wearing a Goofy cap from Disney World. Even Beyonce looks a fool in a Goofy hat. You want to look good on your commute: you want to feel you look good, too.

The hat also wears well for hard-style poses amongst a trucker’s wasteland.

Here’s what really sealed it for me about the Shoreline: those long brims also obscure headlamp beams. That is important when you are run commuting in early or late hours, or running ultra distances. One shadow is enough to grab a toe and send you sprawling, leaving your flank scraped by Supermanning down a sidewalk, or your sternum marred by trail Braille.

The Shoreline cap is royal blue, with a mesh back and a foam front panel, sporting a flashy sherbet-hued logo: big, bold, and satisfying, like a glimpse of Atari, and absent the glaring day-glo safety colors so prevalent in active wear of late. So the cap is attractive, if unobtrusive.

You’ll notice it is choked with salt. As The Run Commuter founder (and my best friend) Josh can with a sneer of revulsion attest, my sweat is so salty that it appears I’ve been laboring the live-long day in the mines of Syracuse, New York, rather than enjoying an eight-mile run. It has honestly ruined cotton caps by destroying and warping the fabric. So far, the Shoreline’s foam has stood firm and shown no discoloration.

The logo is reminiscent of a mountain elevation profile, and wondered whether it was that of Mt. Tamalpais, located near Alpine Dam HQ in Marin County, California. Company founder Adam Melenkivitz clarified it is intended as the former (his daughter chimed it looked like their maps), and not actually Mt. Tamalpais. Rather, something with which anyone familiar with such profiles could identify.

He continued, “Specifically, the sharp end of the logo is how I imagined the climb from the Alpine Dam years ago … well prior to Strava. I always saw this as a winding, sharp climb in my mind. At the time, I had to work up to this ride, so ‘Alpine Dam’ was big goal for me. Alpine Dam for me wasn’t just the dam, or lake and the trails, but the entire experience of the loop.”

That’s a noble goal. It appeals to me, as certainly it will to others. It’s my Thunder Rock, or someone’s Iron Man, or another’s 15K. It might be your run commute.

The one detriment I’d note in the cap again comes back to sweat. Alpine Dam sent two models: the Shoreline, which I tested, and the BoFax, which my wife claimed. Hilary commented that she would like an integrated sweat-wicking band inside the BoFax. Neither model carried one, but it wasn’t much of an issue to me. The Shoreline did just fine, drawing sweat up into the cap’s body and brim.

One last thing I appreciate about the brand, which might be a deciding factor to some, is that Melenkivitz in his correspondence, and in Alpine Dam’s media, consistently references his kids. They are heavily involved in the products – selecting logo colors; doodling mountains on the patio; reviewing design ideas. Alpine Dam offers a few kids’ models, too. So though dirtbag runners seem to lean toward lone wolf branding, Alpine Dam might position itself across a variety of pursuits and social activities, as well as with active families.

That’s a rich market, neither too big, nor too small: just right.

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To see more of Alpine Dam’s products (currently with a 30% off code on the homepage!) visit their website.

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Disclaimer

Alpine Dam provided us with the trucker hats for review, however this did not influence my opinion regarding this product. The thoughts and pictures contained in this review are my own.

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 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)

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+00:00April 13th, 2015|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Review: Salomon Snowcross CS

Salomon Snowcross CS

Salomon Snowcross CS

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ice-covered trails are part of my everyday commute

Icy trails are part of my everyday commute

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

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

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

  • the integrated gate is water resistant, but not waterproof.  It will keep you dry through snow, but not through puddle of slushy water.

  • the white lines are not reflective.  For shoes of that price, this would be expected.

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

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

By |2017-12-11T11:04:42+00:00January 5th, 2015|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , , , |3 Comments

A New Starting Line

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

Start - 04

Gatineau Park’s main entrance

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

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

Start - 01

Into the land of mountain lions and bears

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

Start - 06

Multi-use trail in Gatineau Park

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

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

Start - 02

Ski trails in the fall

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

Start - 03

Ottawa, Canada, on the early morning’s horizon

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

By |2016-10-22T20:26:34+00:00October 17th, 2014|Categories: General|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

The New Run Commuters – March 2014

This month on The New Run Commuters, we hear from Becky from Portland, Oregon, and Anna, hailing form Washington D.C. Both work in professional office environments and make run commuting a part of their day – even while living a considerable distance from the office! Becky combines driving and run commuting; Anna, running and pubic transit. 

Read up on how run commuting has helped these runners train for long-distance and ultra races, watch for a great tip on transporting food, and if you are interested in women-specific running gear, you won’t want to miss Becky’s gear list!

———————————————————-

 

Runner Basics

  • Name: Becky Leung
    run commuter, run commuting, running to work, alternative commute, Becky Leung, Portland runner

    New Run Commuter Becky Leung

  • Age: 30
  • City/State: Portland, Oregon
  • Profession/Employer: Public Relations at The New Group
  • Number of years running: 7
  • # of races you participate in a year: In the last couple years, I’ve been running 12-15 races a year!
  • Do you prefer road or trail (and a little about why)? I really enjoy both, but I fell in love with trail running after consistently training on Forest Park trails last summer. For years, I was strictly road running and tried to beat my PR in every road race distance. I loved getting faster on the pavement but wanted a change of scenery.

Outside of my obsession with running, I started getting into hiking and even experimented with some entry level mountain biking, but realized I could run those same trails! One day, I decided “that’s it, I WANT to be a trail runner.” I started running in Forest Park a few days a week and now I’m currently training for my first ultramarathon, the Gorge Waterfalls 50k!

Run Commuting Gear

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

I live in the suburbs outside of Portland which unfortunately happens to be pretty far away from my work. As I was beginning to ramp up on my 50k training in late January (of this year), I realized I didn’t have the energy to: get all my scheduled runs in, drive to work and sit in traffic for nearly 2 hours a day, work a full day, and cook and clean…among all the other important things I have to do each day.

As I drove to work one day, sitting in traffic for over an hour, I saw that there were plenty of safe, runnable sidewalks all along the way to work. I mapped out my route via Google Maps and found that if I drove 11 miles close to work and park 3.5 miles away, I could run 7 miles round-trip on each run commute day. Because the route I usually go to has traffic due to ongoing construction, I drive another longer route to avoid congestion which is an additional 14 miles each day. After doing some math, I realized if I run commute 5 days a week, I could save 100 miles each week on gas! And on top of that, I could get my runs in for my ultra and marathon distance training.

run commuter, run commuting, running to work, alternative commute, Becky Leung, Portland runner

Wearing the Osprey Sirrus 24

I would love to run 5 days a week, but sticking to 2-3 days a week as I nail down a consistent routine and schedule.

How far is your commute?

Each run commute is 6.6-7 miles round-trip, depending on where I park my car. I love being able to pick my distance by parking closer or further away from work.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I have been sticking to a solid routine in which I bring my lunch every day to work. I usually drive in on Monday and bring in all my breakfasts, lunches, and snacks to work. That way, I know I won’t have to worry about packing food in my backpack and accidentally spilling them all over my clothes. By Friday, all my food will have been consumed and I can pack up all my containers in my car to bring them back home.

What do you like most about run commuting?

What I love the most about run commuting is how great I feel when I come into work and when I’m coming back home. I NEVER regret a run even if I felt crappy during the run.

I also feel happy knowing I’m creating a better environment by reducing my car commutes with running. Other reasons why I love run commuting are because I can fit in a run for my ultra marathon training, stay fit, and compete with my Fitbit friends (another great motivator :)).

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

I heard that Portland is one of the top bike commuter cities in the nation, but I only know of a few run commuters personally. I definitely see a lot of runners around the city, but not sure if they’re running to work. I want to help change that and hopefully motivate other Portlanders run to work!

run commuter, run commuting, running to work, alternative commute, Becky Leung, Portland runner

A scene from Becky’s run commute

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

Driving my car the entire way to work since I live far away in the suburbs.

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

Don’t overthink it, just try it out. That includes not overthinking the logistics and not thinking about what co-workers might think of you (if you’re worried about how you look after a run). Just map out your route, throw some clothes in a backpack, and run. Then through trial and error, figure out a run commute routine that works best for you! Theruncommuter.com is a GREAT resource for any questions you may have.

Anything more about yourself that would like to include?

I have been running for the Oiselle team for the last two years.. We have several ladies on the team from all over the country who run commute including another TRC contributor, Stephanie Devlin! They’re my inspiration and have been cheering for me in this run commute journey. I also plan to start a website around run commuting in Portland, Oregon specifically so I can inspire locals to run commute in real time!

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Runner Basics

  • Name: Anna Coffey
    run commuter, run commuting, running to work, alternative commute, Anna Coffey, DC runner, Washington DC runner

    New Run Commuter Anna Coffey

  • Age: 28
  • City/State: Washington, DC
  • Profession/Employer: Georgetown University Lombardi Cancer Center– Histopathology and Tissue Shared Resource Lab
  • Number of years running: 4
  • # of races you participate in a year: 3-4
  • Do you prefer road or trail? I prefer trail, but mostly end up on road because it’s the most prevalent thing around these parts.

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: REI Flash 18 Pack
  • Shoes: Brooks PureFlow 3
  • Clothing: Tights, base layer long-sleeved tee and sweatshirt, beanie, gloves
  • Outerwear: Lightweight jacket (when it’s < 20)
  • Headgear: None
  • Lights: None
  • Hydration: None for this winter, but I may add a Camelbak bladder to my pack for the sweltering DC summer.

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

After I finished training for the Marine Corps Marathon in October, I wanted to find a way to get back to a regular running routine. At the same time, I was frustrated with the nearly 3 hours a day I spent commuting on the Metro and Georgetown shuttle bus system. When I considered how much time the run commute would save, it was a no-brainer.

How often do you run commute?

Right now I run commute about 3 days a week, but I’m hoping to ramp up to all 5 days soon.

How far is your commute?

It’s a little over 3 miles each way, 6 miles total. I enjoy the option of being able to easily lengthen the runs if the weather is particularly nice or I just feel like swinging by the White House, Washington Monument, and Lincoln Memorial some mornings. One great thing about DC is that things really are not too far apart. It’s easy to get off at one Metro stop and run pretty much anywhere you want to go.

run commuter, run commuting, running to work, alternative commute, Anna Coffey, DC runner, Washington DC runner

Early morning view of the Washington Monument

I usually pack my breakfast and lunch. The easiest things to carry are sandwiches or wraps with carrot sticks or another veggie for lunch and oatmeal with possibly a boiled egg or 2 for breakfast. I’ve had a bad experience with a container of soup leaking all over my clothes, so now if I take soup, I make sure to freeze it before throwing it in my pack. It’s definitely heavier, but some soup is just worth it. Salad also makes for an easy lunch.

What do you like most about run commuting?

I absolutely love that it saves me at least an hour a day. Who doesn’t want more time every day? Even though my commute is still about the same amount of time, it combines my commute and running time, killing 2 birds with one stone. My old commute involved driving to the Metro station, taking 1 Metro line, transferring to another line, and then getting on a shuttle bus to get to Georgetown and then I would go to the gym. It was awful – crowded trains, hectic transfers, and lots of standing around and waiting for one form of transportation or another. The new commute allows me to avoid the crowds, transfers, and standing around.

Another thing that I’ve always enjoyed about morning runs in DC is that you get to experience the city when it’s still waking up. It’s quiet, traffic hasn’t gotten too bad at this point, tourists aren’t yet crowding the sidewalks, and you’ve got the best views basically all to yourself. We moved from DC to Maryland about a year ago and I thought I wouldn’t be able to enjoy these morning runs in the city anymore, until I started run commuting.

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

run commuter, run commuting, running to work, alternative commute, Anna Coffey, DC runner, Washington DC runner

Anna’s clothes drying system

I don’t know anyone else that runs to work, though I’m trying to convince all the runners I know to give it a try.

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

When I’m not run commuting, I’ll normally take just one Metro line and walk to the shuttle bus stop. My run commute has even helped me find better routes to walk when I’m not running! Once the weather gets warmer, and there’s more light early in the morning, I’m planning to bike to the Metro station instead of driving and then continue with my regular run commute from there. This will save me about $4.00 a day in parking fees, which I’m definitely looking forward to.

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

The thing that has really made my run commute more enjoyable was finding a great pack that can easily fit everything I need and straps down securely to keep it from wiggling too much. The first few runs I tried with a pack that had way too much side-to-side movement. I felt some pain and tightness in my knee and had to back off for a few days, which was a bit frustrating. I think the key thing is that you want a pack that allows you to carry everything you need, but doesn’t change your form too much so that you can run as normally as possible.

run commuter, run commuting, running to work, alternative commute, Anna Coffey, DC runner, Washington DC runner

The Lincoln Memorial from afar

One thing I’ve noticed recently is that my pace for my weekend fun runs is actually improving. I think the twice a day running and the additional few pounds in my pack is helping me improve my time, and what runner wouldn’t want to do that? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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By |2018-02-27T15:01:12+00:00March 17th, 2014|Categories: General, News, People|Tags: , , , , , , |4 Comments
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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+00:00April 29th, 2013|Categories: Gear, General|Tags: , , , , , , , |0 Comments