Naked? Running Band

Perfect design made simple … a Running Band which you would use even when you would like to run … Naked 🙂

IMG_20180707_075817Maybe when you first read or hear of the Naked Running Band you get all kind of imaginary visions of … a Band playing music whilst Running around Naked or … Runners who are Running Naked with a Band around their waist?

However, I need to disappoint you. It is all less ‘strange’ than you might think but that said the Naked Running Band is a great piece of Running stuff!

I really like trailrunning, I also really like using and writing about trailrunning ‘stuff’ and especially when it is by design simple but efficient, it does the job you want it to do and also looks ‘cool’.

So what is it?

The Naked Running Band is a specially designed waist band for (trail, ultra, marathon, commuting to work) runners to carry a lot of ‘stuff’ without having it bouncing up and down or falling out. With some ingenuity and minimising it has enough room to carry the needed, or sometimes mandatory gear for a mountain or ultra trailrun which than by definition also allows you to take the things you need for your morning or evening run to and from the office or your own (multiple) day trailrun.

To be honest, I feel really lucky that I stumbled over this Running Band. In an earlier blog I wrote about my experiences with different trail waist bands or belts and trailpacks. Given the choice I would like to carry as little as possible in a waistband allowing my back to ‘breath the fresh air’ so to speak. And the Naked Running Band allows me to go a long way before needing to use a trailpack.

So why am I so enthusiastic about the Naked Running Band?

Smart design to keep everything inside.

A few clever design features makes sure nothing fall out. For example: (1) the outside layer is just a littler higher than the inside layer creating an ‘automatic’ covering; (2) the band is divided in three pockets creating enough stretch power to keep ‘stuff’ inside; (3) each pocket has an easy to find tab to quickly open the mesh to get stuff out or put it back in; (4) a hook allows you to secure your  keys safely; (5) a wide range of twelve different sizes allow you to really choose the best fit for both your body size and the way to want to use the band, i.e. up high on your waist, on your hips, or low over your butt.

Smart design to add things.

(1) Two built-in race number shock cord attachments at the front; (2) two silicone backed elastic straps at the back allow you to add additional gear. Naked Running provide as examples a set of foldable running poles or a rain jacket.

However, I found it rather cumbersome to get my running poles securely fastened in the straps. You either need to take your time or train this whilst on the run. It obviously helps that you can easily turn the band around your waist so you can see what you are doing. Also when you add your poles you cannot use the pockets between the straps to their maximum content. I ended up holding my poles in my hands during a day long trailrun when I needed a the pockets for other ‘stuff’.

Smart design to keep your cool.

The mesh is open enough to leave sweat through whilst it also repels rain or sweat, and maybe the best thing … the mesh does not create any chaff after miles of running and sweating. At least not with me and although I am not hyper sensitive to chaff I do need to take for example the usual precautions of putting anti-chaff on my nipples when going for a long run.

Smart design of softflasks.

IMG_20180715_100932Obviously you can use any type of (soft)flask to carry your fluids. But that said, I found that the Naked Running Band softflasks are for me the first which have large enough opening at the top to allow easy cleaning with a normal cleaning brush. If you not already have you own set I would definitely advice you to consider these.

Is the Naked Running Band worth the money?

Everybody has it preferences so I will give my opinion which may help you to decide what your final choice will be.

Yes, if you compare this running band with for example another high performance brand running band: the Compressport Free Belt Pro which you can buy for almost the same price. I would argue (having used the ‘normal’ Free Belt extensively) that the breathability, easy access and twelve versus three sizes tips my choice to the Naked Running Band.

Probably, if you compare it with some cheaper models like for example the Flipbelt or The Hipster Running Belt from Nathan. Both are approximately half the price but are less breathable (no mesh but ‘solid’ fabric), do not have a key hook, additional straps for poles and race number shock cords.

A tough competitor could be the Salamon Pulse Belt. This belt also has additional straps for poles but is not made of a breathable mesh, has only four sizes and is less stretchy to really put in a lot of ‘stuff’.

So, for me it is worth the money.

It allows me for most runs to leave my trailpack at home. But it has its limits as I wrote above, especially when you also want to add your poles to the Band. That’s also realised by Naked Sports Innovation I think whilst they just introduced a vest from similar material.

What are your experiences with Running Bands? Any preferences?

(If interested, in the UK the Naked Running Band is sold by Centurion Running, when in the Netherlands you can either buy them via the internet in the UK or US).

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What did I carry so far with the Naked Running Band?

Groceries I bought for my evening meal when running back home.IMG_20180704_163016

Eight ‘Krentenbollen’, my favourite Dutch bread treat, known in the rest of the world as Raisin buns, see video :).DSC_0130

Mountain trailrunning pack when I explored the Bob Graham Round in the Lake District in three days days.

 

For these day long trailruns in windy and wet weather I packed I think the maximum I could fit in in (keeping my poles in hand):

  • a set of water proofs (jacket and trousers);
  • first aid kit;
  • softflask;
  • phone;
  • map and compass;
  • some energy bars.
The Bob Graham Round is a circular tour around Keswick following 106 kilometres, 8200 meters height gain over 42 fells tops in order to prepare myself for the ultimate endeavour next year to do it in 24 hours and become a member of The Bob Graham 24 hour club.
Just another crazy idea in the trailrunning world that started already way before we called it trailrunning. The round was first done just within 24 hours way back in 1932 by Bob Graham, a hotelier of Keswick, Cumberland, at the age of 42 (!).
Besides trying it within 24 hours you can also add: ‘doing it in winter, do it twice’ or do it as fast as possible like the ‘inhuman’ trail phenomenon Kílian Jornet just proofed setting a new record of 12.52 hours! For me within 24 hours would be great, I will definitely write a blog about my effort!

 

 

 

The Absurdity of Ultra Trailrunning, or not?

Some ‘kitchen table’ philosophical thoughts I had during the 85km and 2900m+ trailrun as part of the Innsbruck Alpine Trail Festival (IATF18).

Reading the book ‘The age of absurdity – Why modern Life makes it Hard to be Happy’ by Michael Foley (2010) I couldn’t stop wondering why I was actually running 85 kilometres around Innsbruck including 2900 metres of climbing and descents during the Innsbruck Alpine Trail Festival (IATF18)?

P.S.1. I got the great tip about BBC Radio 4 ‘The Digital Human’ which discusses the difference between a life with friction and a friction less life. It talks about the same feeling I describe in this blog. Maybe nice to listen to as a podcast during your trailrun.
P.S.2. Why are we doing this? That is the question I want to answer in this article. And I am definitley not the only one. A inspirational movie is ‘THE WHY, Running 100 miles‘.
P.S.3. The GUARDIAN published an interesting article about ‘What running does to your brain?‘. So now it is official: scientific proof that it is absurd but also good 🙂

 

Nobody forced me up those Alpine mountains and said, ”Only come back when you are finished. And by the way, an overnight stay is not included, the idea is to do it all in approximately 12 hours’’.

So, whilst the ‘normal people’ slowly woke up I ran on Saturday morning 28th April with a head torch through Innsbruck, climbed the hills and zigzagged into the forest. The air was still fresh and crispy but it would not take that long to warm up. It would become another sunny and warm day, up to 25 degrees without any clouds. The sunrise was beautiful, at first a red blossom, but quickly with full force enlightening the blossoms in the trees, making the grass in the alpine meadows even more green and the still sleepy and very tidy Austrian villages even more part of a scene out of the romantic Sissi movie.

 

 

That is when my brain wandered off to the question of the absurdity of this all. Or is it absurd? Michael Foley writes about the ‘present age of entitlement’ where people only think and act as if they only have rights and no duties, entitled to a continuous stream of the pleasures of life … and if something is not correct than it is somebody’s or society’s fault and surely not you own or just ‘bad luck’. The call upon entitlement however does not provide a deeper sense of satisfaction and ability to cope with life’s setbacks. For this you need to put in effort and detachment. Effort, setbacks and the like precedes satisfaction, happiness. Detachment provides the ability to observe and think about what is actually going on around you in the world, creating paradoxically more intense engagement …

‘The fool doth think he is wise but the wise man knows himself to be a fool’

(Shakespeare ‘As You like It, Act 5, Scene I – I have not seen this play but the quote posits very eloquently the humbleness in which we can, or maybe should look at life).

The meaning of life is in my opinion most famously stated as to ‘always look on the bright side’. However we are not ‘just’ entitled to be always at this ‘bright side’, we need to find it. To find this ‘bright side’ we need detachment. Micheal Foley writes that …

‘… Real detachment requires ‘Solitude, Stillness and Silence’ instead of the present ‘Commotionism’ (constant company, movement and noise) …’.

 

 

Whilst enjoying the sun, the extremely well stocked refreshment posts, the beautiful scenery, and the many friendly spoken Austrian ‘servus’ I realised that this absurd undertaking of me running 85km in half a day brings for me the pursued solitude, silence and stillness that Michael Foley writes about. An ultra trailrun (i.e. at least a few hours running) by definition goes at a slow pace. The mediating rhythm of running and the physical pains which slowly materialise bring me in a ‘sort of nice flow’. Together with the consciousness that it is my own personal responsibility to start in this event is enough for me to allow my mind the time to detach and wander off.

The K85 followed similar paths as most trailruns I have run both organised and just self-made: as much as possible away from the busy world, through wood, across fields and along river beds. Solitude is not difficult to find in these circumstances, most trailrunners experience their run rather solitary, although there are always those who have the ability to talk for hours. No worries, just drop back a few 100 metres and your are on your own together with the pleasant Silence of nature (although the birds and cow bells are not creating a complete silence, there is a pleasant form of ‘calm’). Stillness may be a strange connection to trailrunning, but not for me. I find stillness in the moments when passing for example a ‘kissing gate’ on the right of way paths in the UK, or during the K85 when passing a corner in the forest and suddenly have a breathtaking view on the snow capped mountains … than I just stop.

received_1939705929375997So what does all these ‘kitchen table’ philosophical thoughts bring me? The realisation that I am very lucky to run in the sun, a little holiday, whilst it is cold and wet at home. That the rest of the family allows me to this instead of coming directly back home after my work abroad was done. Intense enjoyment of the day. A spontaneous pose besides two traditionally dressed Austrian ladies whom picture was just taken that moment. The transition from being in the ‘running flow’ to a feeling of great satisfaction during the last few kilometres ending in euphoria after the finish. Than Solitude, Silence and Stillness are exchanged for sharing stories, memories and ‘thoughts during the trail’ with the other runners. Made even more enjoyable with a few pints of cold alcohol free Erdinger Beer and savoury snacks.

 

 

Ultra trailrunning is absurd! I fully agree but it helps me to make sense of and see the ‘bright side of life’ … and that is all I need.   

Some statistics:

  • In total 150 men and 19 women finished the K85.
  • The men 1 to 150 finished between an very fast 08.07 and more than twice this time of 17.34.
  • The women 1 to 19 finished in the bracket of 08.59 – 17.34 (the last man and woman clearly decided to finish together).
  • I finished as man 54 in 11.14.
  • I was the first Dutchmen of in total three Dutch runners and 19th Men 40 – 50.
  • But to be fair the only Belgian participant and also INOV-8 Benelux ambassador Aaike De Wever (read his experiences) passed the line in a great time of 08.57.

Some trailrun ‘stuff’:

  • I ran on the INOV-8 Roclite 315. These shoes worked well on the dry mixed ground of the not very technical trail consisting mostly softer forest trails, hard packed wide trails and some wonderful small rocky paths along the rivers floating into the River Inn.
  • I wore a 5 litres Race Ultra trailpack from INOV-8 which allowed me to easily take all the required ‘stuff’ with me. The alternative I had brought with me, the Compressport ULTRUN 140 was just a little too small for easy and quick access. It would be great if Compressport would develop a larger trailpack, see also my review: The Trailrunners Belt / Vest / Backpack choice.
  • The Compressport clothes however felt really good in the warm weather and the new R2 OXYGEN tubes did not feel warm at all. Specially made for maximum breathability they did what was stated on the package!
  • In my ‘last week short preparation runs’ in sunny Naples, Italy I noticed again that Compressport produces clothing for the ‘warmer’ Alpine climate with a lot of mesh (beside the compressing fabrics they are known for) and INOV-8 more for the wet and colder UK temperatures, see also my review: Compressport Trailrun clothing.
  • And finally, but surely important, I enjoyed the sun protected by pair of Julbo sunglasses. There any many sport sunglasses on the market. I got in contact with Julbo a few years ago when I won a pair during a trailrun. So the choice was ‘made for me by lady Luck’, but as the stoic would say ‘take advantage of this fortunate happening’.

The Trailrunners Belt / Vest / Backpack choice

Overload – Help! – Too many trail packs to choose from. I hope my experiences may help you to make a choice that fit your needs.

FB_IMG_1508699986849Trailrunners are easily recognisable, are they not? Sturdy running shoes, probably compression tubes, double layer short running tights, a colourful running shirt, a Buff and … a trailvest!

BLUF, i.e. Bottom Line Up Front:

I prefer not to carry anything when running, but sometimes it is needed due the distance, the remoteness of the terrain, the mandatory kit list, your own multi-day trailrun plan or the stuff you need to bring into the office for work.

So what are the options? Well in the end probably 100+ if you do a Google search. All have pro’s and con’s and the price range is rather large to say the least!

During my years of trailrunning I ended up with five ‘systems’ of which I use four regularly and one, to be honest hardly ever because it just does not work for me. I hope my experiences will help you to decide what is maybe the most suitable ‘system’ for you.

So here we go,

from small to large and one to four,

adding number five as the ‘system’ I do not use.

Number one: The Compressport Free Belt

freebeltAt first I was a bit hesitant to use this but after a while I really started to appreciate the Free Belt. Main advantage I think is that it is extremely easy in design. does the job, i.e. carry stuff, and in my opinion looks rather cool. I use it for running to and from work carrying my phone, head torch, clean socks and maybe a sandwich. The Free Belt has four equal size spaces and uses stretch to stay in place around your hips and to keep the stuff inside. No zips or buckles that may irritate, get stuck or break. During a weekend trailrun I easily pack my phone, a energy bar and one or two 250ml soft flask.

The Free Belt works for me in the meaning that it stays rather well around my hips and just occasionally has the tendency to creep up towards your stomach area. If this happens all is still well packed and does not fall out.

Be aware is that when you are sweating the Free Belt gets completely wet. That may not be a surprise but you need to pack everything that you don’t want to get wet. The Free Belt dries rather quickly so when you run home in the evening after a day in the office it is dry again!

Summary: Basic, clever designed, not too expensive Belt that can easily carry the essentials for a Sunday morning 3-hours trailrun, looks cool and indeed leaves you as Free moving as possible.

 

Number two: INOV-8 Race Ultra 5 Vest / Pack

race-ultra-5This is a trail pack I really like for several reasons.

As many other trail packs it is lightweight (approx 260 grams) , has a good 5 litre storage compartment which can be compressed with a bungee cord and an emergency whistle. You can use the bungee cord to carry for example a lightweight jacket increasing the amount you can carry.

20170903_130129However, the real big pro’s for me are the two (very) large side mesh pockets and the two separate reservoir zipped pockets wich hold two 500ml soft flask with a 30cm drinking tube.

  • The side mesh pockets are ideal for storing your Buff, mittens, energy bars (or cellophane after eating them – leave nothing but your footprints behind), phone, map etc. They are large enough for all these items and stay secured around your body. Only be careful when you pull off the trail pack because than the mesh stretch does not secure all the stuff anymore that well. These large side pockets is a feature I have not seen on other trail packs. Most have smaller stretch or zipped packs, not the ‘huge’ ones on this vest.
  • The soft flask combination with the 30cm drinking tube allow you to easily keep drinking whilst running and without any bouncing of hard bottles. Just be aware to pull the drinking tube not only through the loop in the zipped pocket but also through the small loop halfway the front straps. If you do not need both soft flasks than the zipped compartments are large enough to fit a 6 inch phone.
For these very good reasons the The Race Ultra 10 litre compatriot was voted best in the performance accessories category by a panel of expert judges and named a 2015/2016 ISPO AWARD GOLD WINNER.
Unfortunately INOV-8 does not sell this type anymore but some other shops do, so please do a search on the internet. There are three successors I think in the INOV-8 inventory at the moment, however be aware of, in my opinion, real downside to two of three.
  • The first two successors are the Race Elite (4 litres) or Race Elite Vest 10 litre, equipped with hard bottles!! Something I do not understand from INOV-8. I think nowadays most, if not all trailrunners (please respond if you do not agree) would select soft flasks to prevent unnecessary bouncing. Also they do not provide the comfort of the drinking tubes. This means you need to get the hard bottle out of the mesh pocket, open the lid, drink, close the lid and put it back into the mesh pocket all the while not really looking where you are running.
  • The third, and in my opinion best successor is the All Terrain Pro 0 – 15 which has the same benefits as the Race Ultra 5 I described. Difference is that you can either have a minimalist Race Vest 0 or a larger Race Ultra 15 by adding a 15 litres pack. How the split between the vest and the 15 litres pack performs on the trails I have no experience yet but it looks a good alternative. This design won a Trail Running Magazine Best Test and reading some reviews on the internet this is a pack I definitely consider when the present is really, really worn out.
Be aware that the Race Ultra 5 come in two sizes. I surely needed the M/L with a regular chest size of 95cm.
Summary: Best Trail pack I have with great a on-the-run hydration system and well sized mesh pockets for all the stuff you want to keep quick at hand.
Maybe we should start a campaign to have INOV-8 put the soft flasks with drinking tubes in all there packs and ban hard bottles :).

Number three: The Compressport ULTRUN 140 Grams Pack

CC Pack frontThis is I think one of the lightest Trail packs at the moment using stretch fabric all around to keep stuff in and save weight. It fits very comfortable and combines a lower clipbelt with an easy to use knotted stretch cord to keep the pack in place.
It has enough room to store the same amount as the INOV-8 Race Ultra 5 but has in my opinion some disadvantages which makes the Race Ultra 5 my favourite when needed to pack just a little more.
CC Pack back
The disadvantages are in my opinion:
  • No bungee cord to add that additional jacket. The Compressport stretch does not need the bungee cord for compression, the design will do that for you. However, you miss that extra storage capacity.
  • Only two small mesh side pockets which hardly fit a 5 inch mobile phone.
  • The pockets on the IMG-20170703-WA0004front straps are just too small to fit two fully filled 500ml soft flasks without the danger that when running and jumping downhill they accidentally drop out (which happend to me in the beginning so now I only fill them to approx 350ml). Also adding drinking tubes is more difficult because there are no loops to keep the tubes in place.
  • The way running poles are stored created chafing at my ribs just where the handle of the poles touch your torso.

Summary: very lightweight and comfortable trail pack. However, the design has some disadvantages with respect to side pockets and soft flask storage. They promote it as a trail vest that will keep you going for 100+ kilometres. I have some doubt with respect to the amount of storage space. I use it for shorter distances or when I do not need too carry too much stuff.

One thing that is really good with this trail pack is the promotion video on YouTube in which they compare a trailrunner with a infantry soldier packing up for field day. 

Number four: INOV-8 Race Elite 24

ultr 24I bought this pack when I planned for a multi-day self organised trailrun with overnight stays in for example a B&B (Ridgeway Trail, Christmas 2016), or a mountain hut on the Etna (March 2017) or in the Spanish Pyrenees (Summer 2017). I also use it sometimes when running to work when I need to bring clean clothing for example.

I like the large zip opening which gives you quick overall access. There is a small zip pocket inside for credit cards etc. The bungee cords enables to compress the pack to the size you want . The pack can be strapped close to your body with adjustable front straps and two straps on either side. The

DSC_0212

front straps also contain two large zipped pockets just like the above described Race Ultra 5. The pack does not come with soft flasks or drinking tubes but you can use them if you want to.

Only disadvantage I have with this pack is that it is really has only one compartment pack. No outside mess side pockets as with the Race Ultra 5. Also no compartments within the large pack itself, for example a mesh zip that could either split the pack in two parts or if zipped open make it one big one. Maybe something INOV-8 can consider with there next design.

At present INOV-8 do not sell this pack anymore but other store do, just take a search on the internet. INOV-8 successor is the All Terrain 25. However, looking at this design it missed the option to pack two soft flask with drink tubes and also does not have large quick stow-away side mesh pockets but two zipped side pockets. In all it is more a small backpack than a trail pack, I am not really convinced (yet). Probably the All Terrain Pro Vest 0 – 15 would perform better in my opinion. A little less volume but all the benefits of mesh side pockets and a on-the-run hydration system.

Number five: INOV-8 RACE ULTRA 1 WAIST HYDRATION PACK

INOV8RACEULTRA1-2I have an older version of the All Terrain Pro 1. My version is not sold anymore by INOV-8 but some shops still offer them besides the new All Terrain Pro 1.

I never really got comfortable with this belt. Main reasons were that it always ended around my stomach area whatever I tried. The belt bounced too much for my liking when carrying two 500ml hard bottles. And there was only minimal room to store stuff like a phone, energy bars etc. Also there was no ‘safe storage’ using a zip compartment of with the Free Belt several stretch compartments.

Looking at the new INOV-8 All Terrain Pro 1 I think this would solve many of the above issues due to the use of soft flasks (which create a vacuum when drinking) and more, and secure compartments.

Summary: A waist pack with hard bottles that does not fit me, sorry. Advise to test it well before considering buying.

Hopefully my experiences are of help, just let me know your experiences!

 

 

INOV-8 Roclite 305 Review

True, strong designed, multi-terrain trailrunning shoe

The INOV-8 Roclite 305 – a genuine multi-terrain trailrunning shoe

DSC_0191After a 1000 kilometres of trailrunning on the INOV-8 Roclite 305 I feel ready to share my experiences. You may notice in the pictures that I have two pairs, I made 800 kilometres on the red and 200 kilometres on the blue.

The trails I enjoyed where very much what I would call multi-terrain: ranging from easy going dry forest, wet grassland, muddy fields, scree slopes to challenging large boulder fields. So besides distance I can also say something about the best terrain for these shoes.

In the INOV-8 Roclite family you will also find a a little lighter version: the Roclite 290 (4mm drop),  a version with Gore-Tex: the Roclite 305 GTX and a boot-design (both with or without Gore-Tex: the Roclite 325 (GTX)  I have no experience with these other versions.

First the numbers and data – from the brochure.

  • The Upper:
    • Strengthened rubber toe-cap shields the toes from obstructive debris.
    • Integrated tongue gusset keeps all debris at bay.
    • Standard fit ensuring the shoe allows for toe splay while lifting (and a good option for those with a normal to wide forefoot).
    • ADAPTERWEB lacing system adapts to the movement and swelling of the foot in motion.
    • X-LOCK system supports and holds the heel in place.
  • Midsole:
    • PowerFlow cushioned mid-sole together with a molded, 6mm footbed creates light underfoot comfort.
  • Outsole:
    • Tri-C rubber compound and multi-directional claw-shaped cleats, each with a wide contact area, providing an good grip over unpredictable terrain and the quick release of debris.
    • Stone protection utilising the Second-generation META-SHANK.
  • Numbers:
    • DSC_0238Weight: 305gm. I measured 336gm for UK size 9.5.
    • Stack: Heel 22.5mm / Forefoot 14.5mm.
    • Drop: 8mm (INOV-8 two Arrow indication).
    • Lug depth: 6mm (how deep are the ‘rubber points’ of the outsole).
    • Footbed: 6mm

My experiences

I will divide my experiences in positive or negative and make where applicable a comparison with other shoes, especially the new INOV-8 Trailroc 285 which I was able to experience also for many kilometres already this season. Obviously this is very much runner dependent. I will describe why I think a feature is + or –  but in the end, as always …

‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating’ –

Choose your own treat after running on these shoes yourself!

(Maybe Ice-cream)!

Positive features

Sturdy – Stand like a rock. The Roclite 305 is for INOV-8 a relative sturdy shoe which I liked when running trails in the Spanish Pyrenees this summer, for example during a two day trailrun following the Carres de Foc. But also during the ‘horizontal rain and hard wind‘ day three of the Ring Of Fire multi-day trail on the Isle of Anglesey I appreciated the grip and sturdiness on the small paths along the cliffs.

You basically ‘stand like a rock’ and feel more supported from all sides.

This I would like to compare with the new Trailroc 285 (see my review elsewhere) which is much more flexible in the forefoot, becoming more stiff from the middle to the back of the shoe due to the stone protection ‘plate’.

True multi-terrain. The rocky, sharp stoned trails in the Spanish Pyrenees felt all right, just as much as running through the Chilterns near my hometown Northwood.

I agree with the advise from INOV-8 that this is a true multi-terrain shoe.

Good rock protection for feet and toes whilst also enough lug depth and size of cleats for grip in mud or scree. I would say that the Roclite 305 is more multi-terrain than the Trailroc 285.

Lacing system and integrated tongue. I am a bit of a fan of shoes with integrated tongues (which Salamon is known for) so I was happy that INOV-8 applied this for the Roclite 305. It gives me the comfortable feeling that the shoe is ‘wrapped’ around my feet, leaving no room to glide or cause friction when zigzagging through the forest or running down a scree slope. Also the lacing system I liked. It may not be designed for this purpose but the ADAPTER Web gave me the option to tie the laces quiet tight around my feet

whilst keeping it a bit more loose above the last ‘ADAPTER web’.

DSC_0239Wear and tear. After a 1000 kilometres the shoes are still in good condition with only superficial wear of the upper front mesh.

Negative features

Not really. To be honest I do not have real negative issues with these shoes. They perform as promoted by INOV-8 and what I expected when using them. If anything, they are a bit more sturdy than you may expect when you have been running on INOV-8 shoes before. But that is more a difference than a negative.

Summary

The INOV-8 Roclite 305 is true, strong designed, multi-terrain trailrunning shoe with a very comfortable ‘wrap around your foot’ feeling. A bit sturdy but you really stand ‘like a rock’. For me I will use these when going into more demanding rocky or unknown terrain, leaving for example the INOV-8 Trailroc 285 or the even flexible INOV-8 X-Talon 212 for the faster trails.

DSC_0835

What are your experiences, please let me know!

 

INOV-8 AT/C Stormshell and Racepant Review

Keep Calm … Carry On … Wear the Stormshell and Racepant!

Sometimes you get what you do not hope for …

Horizontal rain for eight hours, from all 360 degrees, 54km long, 1000m+

However, no way better than to test raingear!

IMG_0432I felt very lucky when I received the INOV-8 AT/C Stormshell (Full zip) and matching AT/C Racepant just before I headed out to the Isle of Anglesey for the Ring of Fire three day trailrun covering 216km and 4000m+ . The trail follows the coastline via the stunningly beautiful Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path (see my running experiences on my weblog).

I felt very lucky because I always like to new trailrunning gear, it makes me smile like a ice-cream-aholic (which I am also!) in a all free ice-cream shop.

But the proof of the ice-cream is in the eating and for rain-gear you need

… indeed rain!

IMG_0433Who wants rain when running around Anglesey? Nobody I think. And for two days we were treated with great sunny weather but the last day was different! Horizontal rain from the west with no shelter for in total 54km to go along the northwest part of the Island including a climb of Holyhead mountain, it could not be better test weather.

To be honest to all you who are reading. I received the clothes from INOV-8 UK when I asked them if they wanted to support me in this trailrun. Their response was extremely generous and I really appreciate that, but it does not withhold me to be critical. I do not think INOV-8 UK expects anything else when they promote themselves as the ‘World leaders in trailrunning gear’.

So here we go … what are my thoughts after 8 hours of rain?

First the numbers and data – from the brochure.

  • 20170909_120254.jpg
    Small, light weight (171 gr)

    The AT/C Stormshell Full zip:

    • Designed for lightweight racing and intense training runs in wet conditions – and it was wet!
    • Roll away hood with wired peak and single multi directional adjustment.
    • Packs away small into its own pocket.
    • Lycra bond cuffs with integrated thumb holes for when it is really cold.
    • Pertex Shield: a 2.5-layer waterproof fabric with 20,000 HH creates breathability.
    • Taped seams, full length zip opening and internal stormflap, aquaguard chest zip pocket.
    • 175 grams (I measured 171 grams, size M).
    • Fulfils all the criteria when race organisers rule a waterproof jacket must be carried as part of mandatory kit.
    • Provides 360° reflectivity.
  • 20170909_120119.jpg
    Small, light weight     (175 gr)

    The AT/C Racepant:

    • The two layer waterproof fabric creates the same breathability as the Stormshell.
    • Stretches to all sides.
    • Soft inner for warmth and comfort.
    • Rolls up to a small pack using an integrated loop on the waistband.
    • Knee high zips for easy put on/take off.
    • 176 grams (I measured 175 grams, size M).

My experiences

I will divide my experiences in positive, negative and where I think INOV-8 could improve the product even more. As always, these observations are very much runner dependent but I hope I can describe clearly enough why I think a feature is + or -.

BLUF (Bottom Line Up front)

It does it job very well!!

It does not let rain in, lets sweat go out, light weight, small package, feels really comfortable even on bare skin and the Stormshell has a great hood.

Improvements could be an even more athletic cut and adjustable waistband of the Racepant and securing the hood cord to avoid ‘wind flapping’ of the Stormshell.

Positive features

 

Does not let rain come in and lets sweat get out . It does what it states on the package! Maybe not a surprise but always good to know. During the day it was relatively warm, approx 13 degrees Celsius, which is not the best temperature for breathable clothing whilst you create more sweat the warmer it is. Underneath I had a long sleeve INOV-8 merino wool shirt, short tights and tubes on my calves. I also wore a buff. Enough to keep me warm and due to the breathability not got wet inside.  After the whole trail I still felt warm and dry. The softness of the Racepants ensured indeed that I did not even realise I was wearing rain trousers.

Versatile design.

The hood is really good!

With just one draw-cord at the back you adjust the whole hood easily around your head.

When needed you can fully secure your face when running head-on into the wind and horizontal rain. The full zip can be opened and secured just below the chin with a button, good when running with the wind in your back or uphill when you tend to sweat more.

The design of the Racepant is straight forward, basic and does the job. The zips are indeed long enough to easily put them on and off with your shoes on. There are no zip pockets or anything else.

Both Stormshell and Racepant indeed pack very small and fit easily with all your other stuff in your trailvest.

Negative features

Not really. To be honest I do not have negative issues with both Stormshell and Racepants. They perform as promoted by INOV-8 and what I ‘hoped’ when, unfortunately, I needed to use them fora whole day.

Possible improvements

No negative features but I have some possible improvements to make the Stormshell and Racepant even better, or if you wish to balance your decision what you may like to wear yourself in the end.

  • The AT/C Stormshell Full zip:
    • The single draw-cord at the back of the hood works really well. However, when running into the wind the cord itself begins to ‘tick’ on your head. Not very hard, but like a metronome following your running pace. This can become annoying after a while. I think it is not that difficult to add a small securing ‘band’ which stop this.
    • Inform the customer that when the jacket gets wet it turns from the original colour (for me green) into a greenish / black. It is as if the jackets opens it pours to let the sweat out but at the same time showing the colour of your shirt underneath (in my case black). It does not inflict the utility of the jacket at all but when I noticed it at first I was a bit surprised.
  • The AT/C Racepant:
    • With my length of 1.81m size MEDIUM was good for the length of my legs. However the waist was too wide. Although there is stretch in the waistband for me I needed to fold the top of the Racepant into the top of my short tight in order not to have it slowly ‘sink’ down. I think it would be easy to add a small draw-cord to make the size of the waistband adjustable, especially with most runners probably have a smaller than usual waist size.
    • Although the cut is already ‘athletic’ I would prefer an even more tighter cut. When I was running full in the wind I still felt as if the pants ‘flapped’ around a bit more than needed.

I hope this review helps you to decide if the AT/C Stormshell and Racepant are what you are looking for. I am completely satisfied and will take them with me whenever I think the weather may turn sour or when it is part of the mandatory kit list during an organised trailrun.

What are your experiences, please let me know!

 

Compressport Trailrun clothing

Born in Switzerland
– Compressport Trailrunning Review –

I felt really lucky and privileged this year in April to dress myself in a new set of Compressport Trailrunning clothes. I always really enjoy new trailrunning clothes as others may be thrilled buying a new dress, or the latest jeans. And just as with new jeans, you start to appreciate them more and more when time progresses. It is now August and some 2000 trailkilometers later, time for a review …

Are the ”Born in Switzerland” compression clothes as good as Compressport states?

The most trailrun kilometers I wore a set of:

P.S. The links will bring you to the Compressport website to find out more technical details. My review focuses on my practical experiences of these technical details, did they work for me, do they actually add positively to my trailrunning?

During the longer trails and especially the six days multi-stage PirineosFIT 2017 Jaca Trailweek I used the 140 gram Ultrun Trailrunvest. During shorter runs, or runs were I knew I did not need that much to carry I used the FreeBelt. These two products I will review separately in comparison with some other trailrun vests that I have. The running gloves I will test during fall  /winter 2017-2018.

My Experiences – Summary

If you are looking for Trailrunning compression clothing I think you will not find any better than from Compressport.

It is not cheap but you get your money’s worth of very high quality clothing packed with a lot of technology and nice features.

As always the proof is in the wearing, and that is what I did for many trail kilometres. I hope my experiences will support your decision what to obtain to enjoy the trails …they are there to enjoy and explore.

My Experiences – Detailed

GREAT LOOKS

To start with the most important (not really):

the gear just looks great, has a soft touch and makes you want to keep running!!

IMG-20170703-WA0004To be honest, it is not important at all for the actual running how the clothes look like but for the psychological part of running it sure is! I think most of us, at least I do, will scan how other runners are dressed when in a race or just when passing during a training. For what reason? Partly to check the competition, assuming ‘well dressed’ runners are serious runners, i.e. FAST! Partly to see if there are new ‘goodies’ around.

TECHNOLOGY

The compression technology for which Compressport is well known I found most useful in the short and tubes.

DSC_0129This performance enhancement technology works well for me. Especially the Tubes give me good calve stability and Achilles support. Both are important for me, whilst I had some Achilles heel issues over the years and also the tendency that my calves were the first limiters during a long (marathon) race getting cramps. This is now very much reduced – for the Achilles heel also with custom-made orthotics.

The compression running short provides compression of your thighs: does it help? For this I am less sure than the tubes but it feels good and my own experience and mental proof is that I did not suffer any cramps in either calves or thighs during the strenuous six days PirineosFIT 2017 Trailweek where I ran a mountain marathon every day. The compression is stronger than for example the Raidlight Ultralight short.

The fabrics are a nice combination of:

  • softness, it feels pleasant to the body and does not create any irritation or chafing even after running eight hours in warm weather, sweating a lot whilst wearing a trailrunvest;
  • quick drying from sweat, rain or after a stream crossing – the Tubes are for example much more quickly dry than the Herzog Tubes;
  • breathable, especially the lower part of the shirt, the groin part of the short and the back of the Hurricane Jacket through the ‘compression mesh’. The mess width is large enough for pleasant cooling but luckily small enough not to become ‘see through’ which would be a little embarrassing for especially the short.
  • rubber frictions patches on the short to provide support for your sweaty hands when pushing you upwards to the mountain tops. These I used extensively during the World Championship Trailrunning 2017 in Italy.
  • rubber frictions patches on the the shoulders of the shirt providing support to the trailvest;
  • the sweatband of the visor cap is pleasant, keeps it in place even when in stronger winds and I like the ‘additional’ cooling for my head when compared with a normal cap;
  • lightness, especially the Hurricane Jacket of only 110 grams! The jacket is designed with a stretch mesh back for breath-ability and stretch so you can use it both directly over the shirt but also easily over the trailrunvest when wearing one.

Pockets:

  • The shirt has six pockets all around at the lower part. These are useful for light weight stuff like energy bars / gels but not so much for more heavy things like a mobile phone or a soft flask. The stretching mesh is just not strong enough to keep such heavier items in place when running.
  • The short unfortunately does not have any pockets on the sides or back although I think that would be a good place for mesh pockets for mobile phones for example (compared with for example the Raidlight Ultralight short).

Wear and Tear:

Overall the clothes still look great after several hundred of trail kilometres including several ‘stumbles’ on the rocks and interaction with bramble bushes and dozens of machine / shower washing. Only wear I experienced was loosening of the inner Compressport print in the short, maybe a wrong use of glue? However, this is not what you expect of a primary brand like Compressport.

SIZING

I had some issues with the size advice from Compressport.

Based on their advice I first ordered Tubes size two because I ended up just between size one and two and followed the rule to use the larger size when in doubt. When using these size two Tubes I felt too little compression so I changed them (without any costs) to size one which fitted much better.

The size advice for the shirt also troubled me. I started with size SMALL based upon the advice of Compressport. Although this size gave me a good fit around my chest it had the tendency to creep up around my waist when running, creating a split between the short and the shirt. Although maybe good for the suntan on my stomach it did not feel very pleasant. Unfortunately also MEDIUM had the same issue so I ended up with size LARGE (without any costs). This size was long enough to stay around my waist without creating a bare skin opening with the short. Downside of this is that the upper body compression is less and more importantly that the pockets and the lower part are not stretched enough to keep heavier items in place. Something to consider when acquiring this shirt.

THE OVERSHORT?

I think that Compressport has designed the Trail Underwear Short to be worn in combination with the Overshort. At least that is what is shown on the website. However, I found the Overshort of no added benefit to for example more quick drying of the short or to protect the groin area for any ‘see-through’. Also the Overshort had the tendency to creep up to my waist, above the waistband of the short. That did not feel very pleasant and also ‘looked’ a bit strange. I ended up not wearing the Overshort at all after the first few runs.

Other brands also offer two-layer trailrun short (like the INOV-8 Twin Short) but these are completely integrated as one piece complete with pockets etc. I am not sure why Compressport choose to split the two items.

Your Experiences?

I am really interested in your experiences of the Compressport trailrun clothing and also how it compares in your opinion with other high end trailrunning brands like INOV-8, RAIDLIGHT or for example SALAMON. Just drop an e-mail, 🙂 , CHEERS!

INOV-8 Trailroc 285 Review

Flexible and versatile within limits

Lucky me!!

I was challenged by INOV-8 Benelux to test the new INOV-8 Trailroc 285

during the PirineosFIT2017 Jaca Trailweek.

Six days, six mountain marathons through the rocky Spanish Pyrenees are certainly a good testing ground for trailrun shoes called Trailroc not for nothing!

IMG-20170703-WA0007
Plenty rocky uphills …
19620925_1549645378443508_5039699591564347773_o
… and scree down hills

The new Trailroc do not resemble in the slightest the older Trailroc models, so it is more useful to assess these shoes as a new branch on the INOV-8 trailrun tree.

 

 

First the numbers and data – from the brochure.

  • The Upper:
    • Glued TPU overlays for extra protection on high wear zones.
    • Padded tongue and collar for added comfort.
    • Very breathable mesh lining, good in warm weather.
    • Medium fit ensuring the shoe allows for toe splay while lifting (and a good option for those with a normal to wide forefoot).
  • Midsole:
    • PowerFlow+ EVA cushioned mid-sole together with a molded, 6mm footbed creates light underfoot comfort.
  • Outsole:
    • Combination of three rubber compounds for maximum durability and grip on all hard rocky terrain.
    • Stone protection utilising the new 5th Gen Metashank.
  • Numbers:
    • Weight: 285gm (strangely enough my size UK 9.5 right shoe weighs 319gm and the left shoe 303gm – unsure where the difference comes from).
    • Stack: Heel 21.5mm / Forefoot 13.5mm.
    • Drop: 8mm (INOV-8 two Arrow indication)
    • Lug depth: 4mm (how deep are the ‘rubber points’ of the outsole).
    • Footbed: 6mm

My experiences

I divide my experiences in positive or negative. Obviously this is very much runner dependent. I will describe why I think a feature is + or –  but in the end

‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating’ –

Choose your own treat after running on these shoes yourself!

(Maybe Ice-cream)!

Positive features

DSC_0012
Stone protection plate

Flexible forefoot. The Trailroc 285 is a surprisingly flexible in the forefoot, becoming more stiff from the middle to the back of the shoe due to the stone protection ‘plate’. I like that very much and would place the Trailroc in between the very flexible INOV-8 X-Talon 212 and the stiffer Roclite 305.

DSC_0011
Three compound rubber sole with 4mm lug depth

Grip on dry stones, grass, forest ground. The trails around Jaca gave me every Comfortable fit, cushioning and ventilation. The comfort in the warm Spanish climate of 30+ degrees Celsius was the feature I was most pleased with. Enough room for your toes whilst I did not slip during steep up- or downhill and without the need to tie your shoes very tightly.

The 8mm heeldrop combined with the relative heavy cushioning gave me the comfort I needed for the daily 40+ kilometres: it is a long / ultra trail shoe.

DSC_0004
Toe protection

Toe protection. The rubber toe protection saved my toes on more than one occasion during the mountain marathons, a nice feature which does fortunately not degrades the flexible forefoot.

Negative features

Protection and grip on larger sharp rocks and scree. I found the protection on the limits for steep downhills on scree with sharp stones of with large sharp rocks. These sort of underground I found difficult to navigate on (realising I was still more a sturdy mountain cow than an elegant mountain goat) but was relatively common during the six days in the Pyrenees. For these sort of trails I would prefer a little stronger designed shoe, and was in my opinion passed the limits for the Trailroc 285. Maybe the Roclite 305 would have done better – there were some other runners using these shoes.

Wear and tear.

DSC_0005My shoes showed, not surprisingly, a relative large amount of wear and tear after 360 kilometres of tough terrain trail running, mainly on the sides of the shoes. This may be a result of my use of the shoes in a very harsh ‘shoe’ environment versus INOV-8 balancing sturdiness with flexibility and light weight.

Summary

The INOV-8 Trailroc 285 is an surprisingly flexible trailrun shoe with a comfortable fit and good cushioning even during steep ascents / descents and with good grip on smaller stone trails. For me I will put it between the very flexible INOV-8 X-Talon 212 and the more stiffer INOV-8 Roclite 305.

However, when running through more rough and sharp rocky terrain I found that I was at the limits of the (stone) protection given by these shoes. Also the grip on muddy paths (due to the 4mm lug depth) and wet stones is limited. These are all features that are runner and terrain dependent.

The amount of wear and tear after 360 kilometres of demanding mountain trailrunning was substantial for INOV-8 shoes. Maybe it has to do with my running style but something to consider before purchase.

What are your experiences, please let me know!