Archives for Reviews category
Posted on May 18, 2014 under Reviews |
This review is a guest review written by Miriam “Wombat” Kaufman, a personal friend, running enthusiast, and all-around neat person. She has several stories currently in the works for Alameda Runners, so hope you enjoy.
I was excited to have the opportunity to try out the Bracketron TruRunner belt for two reasons:
1. I’ve had my current belt for almost five years and it’s just about lost all of its elasticity
2. I’m still on the hunt for the perfect no-bounce belt.
I really dislike carrying stuff while I run, and I think I’m extra sensitive to every little bounce, slosh or jingle that drives me crazy. I prefer to run minimally, free of gear that weighs me down or is distracting, but sometimes it’s not only convenient but necessary to carry my cell phone. So, when a gear company comes around saying they’ve got a new belt that stays put, I get excited. Skeptical, but excited.
Rest of the review available after the jump: Read more… »
Posted on Feb 14, 2014 under Reviews |
I did a review on Purist water bottles, by Specialized, a couple of years ago. The review can be found here. Since that review, I have used nothing but Purist and Camelback water bottles. If I had more Purist bottles, I would use them exclusively. Just like the last review, I was not very enthused about reviewing insulated bottles. Every insulated bottle that I have owned was very hard to squeeze which caused a lot of frustration. I took a Camelback insulated bottle to a triathlon to jettison at a water stop. The bottle was so hard to squeeze, I did not get much water on that section of the race. I was glad to be rid of the thing but the drama that I created during a race had me avoid insulated water bottles for a while.
The Purist insulated bottle is easy to squeeze! It is so easy to squeeze that I had to examine the bottle after I tried it for the first time. I could tell that it was insulated but I could not really feel the insulation barrier. The volume of insulation makes the bottle one ounce smaller than the standard 24 ounce bottle but that is okay. I filled the water bottle up with ice water at work one day and still had cold water when I got home 90 minutes later. Every time I rode home from work with a standard bottle, my water was warm when I got home. We had a very warm winter here with temperatures typically reaching the upper 50’s or low 60’s (14c-18c) in the afternoons.
In addition to the insulation the bottle has the standard Purist interior and cap. I can’t say enough good things about the “Purist silicon infusion”. I thought tea bags infused water with tea flavor. I can’t imagine how Purist infuses silicon dioxide into or onto plastic. It does not matter if I know how they do it, as long as it works. My bottles are always clean. The only time there is a left over flavor is when I don’t clean the cap properly. The cap is advertised to pop off with a tug and a twist but that does not work for me.
What I like about the bottle:
- It is easy to squeeze
- The smooth interior that is easy to clean and does not hold odor
- The cool cap that does not let water leak out. You squeeze the cap to open a diaphragm to let the water out. It works great.
- The insulation works very well. I have not tried it on a 100 degree day yet but time will tell.
- The bottles are BPA free
What I don’t like:
- The cap is hard to take apart for cleaning
- The price is too high to build up a good collection
I really like this water bottle. The standard plastic bottles always have me wondering about the plastic leaching into the water that I drink. I don’t get that impression from the Purist bottle.
Posted on Dec 31, 2013 under Articles, Reviews |
When I stumbled upon the advertisement from jollyoutdoor.com I was really nervous about buying something from an unknown company but I did need some long pants for my morning commute to work. I poked around the site and found some Mysenian fleece pants to order. I placed my order for about $50 with free shipping. A couple of hours later, I received an email telling me the pants that I ordered were out of stock. I responded to the email with a request for a different pair of pants that were $3 cheaper. Jollyoutdoor responded back with an order confirmation and a note saying my paypal account was credited the $3 difference. It was incredibly easy to deal with jollyoutdoor. My package arrived less than two weeks after my order was placed. That is pretty good, considering the order came from China during the Christmas rush with free shipping.
The Santic pants are pretty nice. They don’t have the high end feel like a pair of Rapha pants but they do feel good when you put them on. They have some nice stitching patterns to make them feel better around the legs. The padding is nice and comfortable and stays in place while riding. The pants run a size small. I typically wear a small to medium pants. With the Santic pants, I wear a large size. I am 5’7” tall. The typical American and European medium pants are really long for me. They seem to be designed for people who are taller than 6’. The Chinese pants seem to be designed for people who are my height. The rear pocket is also nice. On days that are cold enough for me to wear long pants, I usually wear a sweat shirt or something warm under a jacket. The warm shirts don’t have pockets so the pocket on the pants comes in handy.
Jollyoutdoor.com is a legitimate business. I bought a pair of long cycling pants. The pants are not top quality but I don’t need them to be top quality. I plan on wearing them for 1,000 to 2,000 miles. The pants cost about $45 and they should last beyond the 2,000 miles that I want. I am happy enough with the process that I will buy from them again. When I do, I will post my satisfaction with the next purchase as well.
A note on security: When you place an order with a company that you are not comfortable with, send your credit card company or PayPal an email about your purchase and your concerns. The financial companies are good a keeping you protected from fraud. They are better at protecting you from fraud if you help them.
Posted on Dec 20, 2013 under Reviews |
Image Compliments of Amazon.com
The stick is one of those items you run into at a marathon registration expo and buy or want to buy. I first saw the stick around 10 years ago at the CIM expo and often wished that I had one. I finally decided to buy one when I was shopping at the Sports Basement a couple of months ago and I love it. I am a triathlete who is always doing some type of physical activity to stay in shape for the summer triathlons. The various workouts always cause something to be sore. It does not help that I am always changing my workout routine in the winter.
I usually use the stick on my legs. When I am massaging the smaller muscles at the bottom of my calves, I use the middle of the stick. When I am on the larger muscles like the quads, I use the edge of the stick to really push into the muscle to relieve the tension. For sore hamstrings I will lie down on my back, place my calf on a chair then roll out the hamstring or I will use the foam roller. It does take some practice to find the sore spot and roll it out properly but it is worth the effort. Take the time to learn how to roll out your sore muscles and you will recover faster and learn where the sore muscles are located. When you find the sore muscles, is it up to you to figure out why they are sore. It helps to do a Google search for muscles of the leg to find out what muscles you hurt. After you figure out what the sore muscles are, you can ask a trainer or do a search on how that muscle works. With practice, it gets easy to differentiate between stress soreness and injury soreness. I don’t recommend practicing how to get injured so stay in the injury prevention phase.
The stick is basically a flexible rolling pin that is made of PVC. I look at thing and marvel at how I move it around on my skin at varying angles and pressures without pinching myself. I have the Marathon Stick at home, it goes for about $32.00 on Amazon. I am thinking about getting the The Stick Little Stick for work. It cost about $24.00 at Amazon.
Posted on Dec 18, 2013 under Reviews |
I bought the Cygolite 350 for my 20 mile commute to work after daylight savings time ended. Eight of the 20 miles are on coastal trails that are really dark. They would not be dark miles if the sun was up but my work schedule dictates when I make the commute.
I tried a lot of different lights before I decided to spend $70 on the Cyoglite. It was and is worth every dollar that I spent. I think the brightest mode is brighter than the head lights on an old Volkswagen. When I first bought the light, I had to read the instructions to figure out how to turn the thing on. You have to hold the power button down for about 3 seconds to get it to turn on or off. I never realized how bright 350 Lumens could be! Now that the Cygolite Expilion 350 has been replaced by the 680, I am looking for an excuse to buy the 680.
Here are some specifications about the 350 that I copied from Cygolite and reworded for my convenience while keeping the original intent.
• One LED bulb with 350 lumens
• Five-hour charge time
• 130-gram weight
• Run times:
o Two hours on “boost” – I love this setting. It is great for the dark trails. I can even see people who are out walking on dark trails dressed in black.
o Three hours on high – I usually skip this level and run on either medium or boost.
o Six hours on medium
o 13.5 hours on low
o 24 hours on flash – Flash can be a life saver when the battery is dying.
• Quick-release lithium ion battery stick for swapping out the battery on the fly – I did not understand this option so I did not buy a spare battery when I purchased the light. It is a great idea and I recommend carrying a spare battery and a spare light when riding on dark roads.
• Control button with built-in power indicators – The control button does more than expected and it is nice to have some type of indicator to let you know when the battery is charged. It says there is a low battery indicator but my experience is that the indicator may indicate something; it did not indicate a low battery to me. The battery died on me once because I did not charge it properly and went out for a ride without checking the battery. When the battery was just about dead it went into flash mode and survived for about an hour on flash. It was not the best option but it got me home.
• Precision optics – the beam spread is incredible.
• USB charging – It has a USB charger but the instructions tell you to use the wall charger.
• The USB charging port has a water tight rubber cover that is a bit tight to keep the water out of the electronic charging circuitry. The cover is tight for people like me who commute along the water front. The cover for my Garmin broke and I have clean the USB contacts regularly. It is quite challenging and it is nerve wracking to think about the eminent demise of an expensive piece of equipment.
When I bought my light, I could not find one at the local bike shops so I bought from Amazon. You can still find them on Amazon for about $55.00. You can also find the 680 for about $85.00. I want a 680. If you want to save the $30.00, there is nothing wrong with the 350. It is a great light. It is such a good light that I have no regrets about buying it after and a better light came out for about the same price.
Note: the picture is an image of the 680 from the Cygolite website because I did not feel like taking a picture of the 350.
Posted on Dec 18, 2013 under Reviews |
Braaap is another entry into an already crowded market for sports nutrition. I believe that every new entry into the sports nutrition market helps raise the bar for all of us. The Braaap is certified gluten free but they do not advertise as certified organic. I am more concerned about the organic nature of things than I am about Gluten but the bars are organic enough to make me happy. The bars go for about $3.00 per bar on amazon when purchased in boxes of 12.
The bars go down really well. The name of the game is digestion so this is a big deal for me. I prefer mine with chocolate milk or coffee. If you read my articles, you know I am big on balance. When I stop at a coffee shop, during a long bike ride, I am apt to eat just about anything that looks good. The Braaap bar is a healthy alternative. Anything that I carry has to be able to compete with the Bovine bakery. It does not have compete outright, it just has to be good enough for me to accept.
On to the bar; as I mentioned, they are certified gluten free. I don’t care about gluten. I think we are just switching our flour types from one type of empty calories to another. I may be wrong but I feel that people who are going gluten free to lose weight have to worry about gluten free calories just as much as people who are watching regular calories. A calorie is an energy measurement after all. I digress! The bar is nice and simple with about 10 ingredients. It is tough to make a simple product that has a long shelf life.
- The Braap bars taste pretty good. I like the blueberry and cranberry ones the best.
- They do not upset my stomach
- The marketing – Are the Braaap bars for athletes or sick people?
- The price – $3.00 per bar is a bit steep for something that does not advertise the vanilla extract as pure.
- The wrapper is not environmentally friendly.
The Braaap bar gets an okay rating from me. The marketing moves the Braaap bar from good to okay. When I see a product with “gluten free” and “natural ingredients” on the front of a package, I am cautious.
Posted on Dec 17, 2013 under Reviews |
The Kling wire clip, officially known as the Klingg – Magnetic Earphone Cord Holder is a nice little head phone wire holder. It is primarily designed for athletes and earbuds but I assume it is handy for the weightlifters among us. The Klingg is nice because it has a magnetic back piece to hold the front piece on your shirt and a great wire gripper on the front. The Kling can be found on Amazon for about $20.
The wire grip section is different from any wire cord holder that I have seen. Most of the clips that I have used require some serious folding of the headphone cord to squeeze the wire through a small opening to lock the cord in place. The Kling has a straight holder that is made out of some siliconized, plastic stuff that acts like rubber. I have no idea what it is but it holds wires well. It takes a little practice to slide the wire into the holder but once you get the touch, you can feed single cords for one ear, both cords or the full cord without much effort. Once the cord is in place, it is easy to move the cord around to set the length.
When I first got the Klinggon, I wondered what I would do with the thing. I don’t like the idea of putting a magnet in the pouch with Ipod and earbuds so I put it on the side of my gym bag. I am a little too old and conservative to hang decorations from my gym bag but I like it there.
- The magnet works great for clipping to thin surfaces without damaging the material
- They look good
- I love the colors
- It is easy to slide the clip around on any surface where it will stay
- It works on swim goggle straps
- The ability to position the head phone cord just about any place there is material just about eliminates the cord from sticking to my neck.
- The packaging is obscene but necessary for a borderline novelty item
- The price is a bit high
- It takes practice to get the wire into the holder. (this may not be fair as the cord has to be tight to stay in place)
The $20 price tag would normally put this into the upper edge of my price range for something like this but the ability to swim with it and keep my swim cord in place makes this a keeper that is well worth the money. It would make a great gift for the athlete who has everything.
Posted on Dec 08, 2013 under Articles, Reviews, Training |
The Mizuno Wave EVO running shoes have a flat sole that is designed for a midfoot or forefoot strike. I have the Levitas style. Let me start out by saying that I love to take long strides and strike with my heel first. Although I am a neutral runner, by toes point out slightly. Striking on the outside of the heel wears out the heel quickly and creates a lot of stress on the outside of the leg. Between the stressed out legs and my capacity for over doing things, I am always injured. I took a chi running class that changed my running technique from leaning back to leaning forward. It seems to help. But I still want to strike with my heels. I was browsing around The Sports Basement one day when I stumbled on the EVO running shoes. I tried them on and they were very comfortable. They were so comfortable that I bought a pair.
My new shoes were nice and comfortable for my first run. I did notice that they seem to be about ½ size large. I am not sure if they are big or they feel that way because they are vastly different from regular running shoes. Without the heel padding, I tend to land more on the center of the foot. I did not alter my stride intentionally. It happened because there was no structure to encourage me to strike heel first. I don’t know if it is good or bad to land mid foot as opposed to landing on my heel. I do know that landing on my heel causes stress on the shin and outside of my leg where landing mid sole causes stress on the calf and inside of my knee. My non-scientific reasoning says it is better to work the calf because it is a larger muscle.
If you noticed my comment about landing on a different part of your foot works different muscles, you may be prepared for the consequences of working new muscles. I took my new shoes out for an easy 3 mile jog. About an hour after my run, my calves started to show their displeasure. Wow! I had a lot of sore muscles. I had sore muscles that I did not know existed. There are a lot of muscles below the calf and around the ankle.
I have been wearing the EVO’s for about two months now with no injuries and no worse for the wear. I am used to the long feel of the shoe and wonder if the shoes run big or it is the way I am accustomed to running shoes. My runs have been between 3 and 5 miles with no pain. I did push the pace on a 3 mile run with no adverse effects.
Things to note:
- I am a neutral runner with high arches
- I do triathlons and run the occasional marathon
- I injure myself 2 out of 3 times that I train for a marathon
- I replace my running shoes every 300-500 miles
- Most of my injuries are running related
- EVO’s are cheaper than regular running shoes
- EVO’s are light
- I love shopping at Sports Basement
- If you try minimal shoes, start with easy runs
- So far, I like the EVO’s and consider them a success. That may change when I get up to the 15 mile runs but I will remain optimistic.
I ordered a new pair of minimalist shoes to try out. They are still sealed in the garage. I forgot who made them but that is part of the fun for reviewing things. I hope they are close to Mizuno shoes for comfort and better for fit. Amazon has them for about $110 but you can find them for $80 at Road Runner sports. If you have not been to a running only store, I highly recommend it.
Posted on Dec 06, 2013 under Reviews |
A friend recently purchased a 2014 Specialized Sirrus Sport Disc hybrid bike from the Mike’s Bikes of Berkeley store – and that enjoyable experience will come in a separate blog post. I wanted to briefly discuss the “Mike’s Bikes 5-Year Service Policy” that is available to customers purchasing a bike from Mike’s Bikes.
The 5-year service policy costs $150 and customers need to enroll in the program within 90 days of bike purchase.
There is a wide list of services covered, including a ‘Comp’ tune up (gear adjustments, brake adjustments, wheel truing, etc.), along with changing a flat tire, derailleur adjustments, brake pad labor replacement, and so on. It’s nice that labor charge for chain replacement, brake pad replacement, and other adjustments also is included in
Take a look at the full list of the benefits available here.
Some people will look at the program and not show any interest, while many of you probably would be interested in this type of service. If you are in the market for a new bike, I highly recommend inquiring if your local shop offer some type of similar program.
These are the types of programs that separate good bike shops from great bike shops – Mike’s Bikes, Sports Basement, and other reputable bike dealers should provide some type of follow-up support new customers can enjoy in the future.
Posted on Nov 27, 2013 under Reviews, Uncategorized |
There are a few different companies that make neat products but fly under the radar among athletes and people with stinky, moist shoes. One of those companies very well could be Stuffitts, a company that specializes in portable drying solutions for shoes, helmets, gloves, and gear – something that we often don’t think about buying, but could probably use.
The Stuffitts For Shoes Pro product is the company’s top product, with a $24.99 MSRP, and is available through major online retailers and from select sports retailers.
Full thoughts available after the jump: Read more… »