Product Review: Kind Apparel Skirt

Amelia is one of our RE ambassadors for 2018/19. She is very active in the community and is one of the makers of the maps we all know and love, Cairn Cartography! As a frequent runner of the trails, we asked Amelia to review a skirt from a local company, Kind Apparel. You can follow her adventures on instagram @cairncarto as well as on facebook.

I have to admit when I first heard I was reviewing a running skirt for my first go around I was a little disappointed. I tried a few running skirts four or  five years ago when they were really popular and never really found one I liked. They always feel like too much fabric moves around while I’m running. However, as soon as I saw this skirt, that disappointment went away and I got excited. To start with, the fabric is amazing. It’s light and comfortable without ever getting staticy or clingy and the colors are so fun! Plus it’s made from recycled plastic bottles and made by a local Missoula company.

The skirt I received has built in liner shorts that are pink cheetah print which is a fun little secret. The shorts fit like spandex but they don’t ride up or squeeze and any annoying bulges basically disappear and I forget about them unless I’m getting off my bike in a public place and realize I don’t need to worry about showing too much skin. The skirt sits at my hips, right where I like my shorts to sit, and falls to mid-thigh. The skirt feels well made and like it is up for being well-loved for a long time.

If this skirt had a drawstring it would be almost perfect. Truthfully, I only ran in this skirt once and I spent the whole run pulling it up or hoping it wasn’t falling off. I don’t think a smaller size would help but a drawstring would fix everything. However I’ve found myself wearing this skirt for everything except running: hikes with my dog, floating, to the brewery to meet friends and everything in between, and it stays on comfortably for all those activities. It’s comfortable, flattering and easy to wear. My only other tiny suggestion would be to add a gusset in the shorts for a little more mobility but that’s a minor complaint. I love the phone-sized pocket on the shorts which easily fits my phone, key and a doggy bag, although the weight of a phone in there does exacerbate the skirt-falling-down problem.

With the addition of a drawstring I could see this skirt being a great option for runs when it’s a little chilly for shorts but not quite cold enough for tights. The double layer of fabric and longer-than-shorts coverage definitely feels like a little too much for this hot weather we have been having, but it would be nice for cooler days. I could also imagine wearing this skirt over tights on super cold days. In the meantime I will keep wearing it for all kinds of summer fun.

 

Product Review: Ultimate Direction EDC “Every Day Carry”

Cory Soulliard is a Runner’s Edge Ambassador for the 2018/19 season. You can usually find him volunteering or running at almost all of our Runners Edge events! He is always a friendly face in the crowd usually sporting a big smile! You can follow his adventures with his pup on intagram @corysoulliard.

Growing up in Pennsylvania my high school running hobby was a pretty simple one. My running shoes were replaced when the outsole fell off, and my summer runs were either as the sun came up, or after it went down. The morning runs were before work but the evening runs were to allow the summer temperatures to drop from 90 degrees down to a brisk 88. Never did my running ever have the need for nutrition or water. The plan worked great until after college when I decided to train for my first marathon. On one of my first 20 milers I was so thirsty that I asked a
stranger to drink out of his garden hose. He was washing off his riding mower and told me “Sure. It’s too hot for me to ride this mower any longer so I am going inside.” I had six miles left.

Needless to say I still do not carry water on most of my runs unless it is long enough that I wear a pack. My experience with bottles was never terrible but also never really enjoyable. The Ultimate Direction EDC is by far the easiest one I have used. The soft flask and the simple design make it a no brainer. The 0.5L capacity is no joke either! Since my bicep strength training is similar to my high school nutrition plan I will warn you that 1+ lbs of weight at your hand does feel a little heavy after enough miles. Since that weight is almost entirely water it drops to a few grams by the time the run ends. Two side pockets can easily hold keys, ID, or credit card sized items. One almost hidden pocket in the bottom is probably best used to stash a Fizz or Nuun tablet if needed. The soft flask bottle has a large opening (for adding ice, energy mixes, or even quick fills). The bite nozzle pops up and down like a traditional sport top so it can be locked (down) to make sure you don’t drain the entire bottle on your shoes while driving to the trailhead. I am guessing at least a few of you have similar camelback stories. When the nozzle is open (up) the water was easy to drink, but it would not leak even when I squeezed the bottle and waved it around like I was trying to signal a passing plane.

Summary(seen with 2 gels, 1 bar, and full of water):
Pros

● 0.5L capacity
● Useful pockets
● Easy use design

Cons

● Water is heavy (No fault of EDC but try it before racing a 50k with it)
● Water gets warm in summer (Duh, but the opening is big enough to add
ice!)

Test Run Reports:
1. Since this is called an “every day carry” I decided my first use would be taking the dog to the river. There was a little running involved but mostly just holding a leash while running the roads and throwing some sticks. I was really happy with how functional my hand was even when holding the bottle. It does not impede my ability to hold a leash or treats or various other items.

2. I was just starting to build miles again after a tough spring so my long run was the next test at 8 miles on the road with moderate elevation. This is where I felt the weight a little but it was not enough to affect my pace at all. I threw in a few surges and climbed a couple hills and never felt impeded which was my concern. I did not have anything in the pockets of the carry which allowed me to pick up a small tool I found along the road during my run. I like bringing home free running loot but I also thought it would be a good test of the pockets since the small but solid metal piece could have slid right out when running. I forgot it was there until I got home and heard the thump on the counter as I set it down so I am pretty sure the pockets are solid. I also tried taking the bottle off my hand, switching hands, and adjusting the strap while running and found it to be a no-brainer, easy on-the-fly adjustments.

3. The next test was an 8-mile rocky run around Lake Como. This time to combat the warm water I added a few ice cubes before leaving. The ice did not last long in 90-degree weather but the water did remain cool much longer. The opening on the bottle was large enough that adding ice was no problem. During the run I took the carry off my hand, gave it to my wife and had her carry it for a few minutes, which she handed back. This was all done on the run which would not have happened with an old velcro strap and a hard bottle I had used in the past. She did like the feel and the design but the weight of a full bottle was more than she expected. She rarely carries a bottle and if she does it only holds about 5 ozs. Continuing around the lake I felt like I was able to maintain my pace and flail my arms when needed for a particularly fast and rocky descent.

4. The last true test was plogging during the Great American Running Store celebration at Runners Edge. Rubber glove on one hand and water bottle in the other…where do I carry the trash? Well the strap allows me to carry it in a few different configurations so during some of the plog I turned it so the bottle was on the back of my hand which left my fingers, thumb, and palm completely unobstructed. I would not recommend running this way at a fast pace with a full bottle but that is not the purpose of plogging. This gave me a gloved hand to pick up trash, a hand to carry the trash bag, and a bottle that stayed clear of contamination. I also carried a car key in one of the side pockets and had no real fear of losing it. There is supposed to be a “secure key pocket” but I think it is a little small for the modern, giant car keys.

5. Bonus Report- After a successful run many people like to sit down with a cold beverage. It is always wise to ensure you are hydrated to properly maintain your healthy lifestyle. Now if you happen to be well hydrated because you were able to easily carry 0.5L of water on your run then you might be interested in having alternative recovery beverages. I have heard that 16oz cans fit well! Maybe I need to skip the run and just bring this to my next BBQ!

Product Review: lululemon Surge Short

Sean Kiffe is a Runner’s Edge Ambassador for the 2018/19 season. He is very visible around town as he runs just about every Runner’s Edge race and Run Wild Missoula event each year. We asked him to review the lululemon Surge Short and share his thoughts. You can follow Sean’s adventures @seankiffe.

Having run in a few different brands of shorts this season I was excited to try out something totally new.  I’ve become a bit picky about my short choice over the years. The lululemon Surge Short is a simple and enjoyable addition to my running wardrobe.

Fit

The Surge 6” short has a super light feel. The Swift four-way stretch fabric is very thin, but sturdy and silky to the touch. I found the shorts super comfortable while running with an almost airy quality. I especially liked the OOM (out of mind) liner. After a few runs in these shorts I have come to love the boxer style liner and it’s ability to thwart the “insta-wedgie” that is sometimes created by brief style liners. The smoothness of the fabric and the OOM liner also help to eliminate inner thigh chafing which I sometimes experience on longer runs.

Construction / Durability

The Surge Short is well constructed. The elastic waistband is comfortable and secures with an inner drawstring. I barely notice the combination against my skin while running. The lightweight Swift fabric is very comfortable, but I am curious to see how well it will withstand the repeated friction of hundreds of miles of running. LuluLemon really adds a nice touch by adding seam reinforcements in just the right seam joints. The seams themselves are adequately stitched but then reinforced at each terminus.

These are positioned exactly where other shorts fail after repeated use.  I’ve run a few times in these shorts and they’ve been washed and dried a few  times. The proprietary Swift fabric seems to hold up well in the laundry.

One aspect of the design that seems unnecessary is the faux-fly. The attempt to mimic the zipper portion of a pair of pants with no discernable function is a waste of fabric in my opinion.

Functionality

The Surge Short has a single outer pocket on the backside. I was impressed by how secure the pocket was even though it has a flap closure instead of a zipper.

The elasticity of the Swift four-way stretch fabric holds items securely in place. However, the pocket’s volume maxed out for me at either my iphone 6s, one Clif bar, or my car keys and two gels.

An especially ingenious feature of the Surge Short is the electronics pocket on the leg of the liner. My phone rides snuggly, completely concealed on my thigh and the internal conduit manages your earbud cord nicely. The outer short’s fabric hides the phone or ipod. The internal phone storage sleeve helps maximize the volume of what you can carry on a single run.

The elastic side straps on the shorts that are touted as storage bands baffled me a little.They are flexible but  don’t tighten or loosen, and I worry that they would end up losing whatever you would store there (extra top, gloves, reflective band, etc) before you even realize they are gone.

The bottom edge of each leg features a small reflective safety strip. While this is not uncommon in running apparel, I feel that it’s noteworthy in that unlike some other brands it is subtle and very flexible. Some other brands that I I’ve used have this feature and it ends up creating a stiff edge on the fabric which can be a little annoying.

Overall, I was impressed with the LuluLemon Surge Short. While it’s not the short I would select for super long efforts, marathons or ultras, it does have its place in my running repertoire. The Surge Short is a touch spendy at $68.00, but quality build of the short seams to say that it will be around for a while. The Surge short’s combination of comfort, function and simplicity make it a winner. It will definitely be one of my go-tos for shorter runs around town, yoga or hiking.  

Product Review: Sugoi Arm Coolers

Jenna Lyons is an athlete that does it all. Runs, bikes, skis, you name it. She just graduated from law school and still finds time to represent Runner’s Edge as a RErun Ambassador while she studies for the bar exams. She recently tested the Sugoi Arm Coolers and gave us her thoughts.

SUGOi ARM COOLERS: Too Cool For School

We have been pretty blessed in Missoula to have a cool spring where it feels good to run at
pretty much any time of the day. Once July comes around the corner, though, running can be
challenging if you don’t wake up at 5 a.m. to get your morning miles in before work. Personally,
I am a huge fan of sleeping in, stretching, and drinking way too much coffee in the mornings.
And for those days—the days you only have time to run in the heat of the day—there are the
SUGOi arm coolers. In the words of the Little River Band, it’s “time for a cool change.” True to
form, I have handpicked a music video for you to listen to while you read this review (hint: it
involves dolphins): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bKwRW0l-Qk.

I admit, I was skeptical about trying these out. Why on Earth would I want to wear MORE
clothing when it is 90+ degrees outside? The truth is that we have arrived. We are in the 21 st
century. Technology is amazing now, and it can help you feel better while you are running.

COOL FEATURES

The arm coolers are very lightweight. You can fit them even inside the little pouch on your hand
bottle if you decide to take them off during a long run. The arm coolers have a grippy material
at the top, so they aren’t constantly sliding down. They stay in place, allowing you to focus on
slaying your run and feeling nice and cool.

PROTECTION FROM THE SUN

Most importantly, these arm coolers can keep you from getting sunburns on your arms. They
have UPF 50+ sun protection, which is great if you’re like me and forget to wear sunscreen all
the time. It is so important to protect your skin from the harmful effects of being out in the sun
for hours on end. I have returned from many long mountain adventures with crazy sunburns on
my arms, but I was too hot to wear a shirt. Problem solved.

PROPRIETARY ICEFIL® MATERIAL

Most of all, the arm coolers work! They truly work! They are made of cooling fabric, which
utilizes your body’s own moisture to cool skin temperature. They wick away perspiration and
cool your arms down.

What I didn’t like about them is that they are a little too long. I also wish they had flowers or
some other kind of design on them. But they are supposed to be white so that they don’t
absorb sunlight and heat, so that wish doesn’t really make a lot of sense. They are also around
$36, which is a little pricey in my opinion.

Overall, I enjoyed reviewing these arm coolers, and I think you will enjoy them too. Now if they
would only make a face cooler…

Product Review: Tifosi Swank Sunglasses

Rachel Brumfield can be seen racing anything from the Resolution Run to Eleven Miles to Paradise, but also likes to explore and spends time in the mountains during the summer. You can follow her adventures on instagram @rachbrums.

Finding a good pair of sunglasses is no easy task. I’m not sure who a sunglasses designer has in mind when they’re dreaming up their next design – but it’s definitely not me. The combination of a low bridge, chubby cheeks and longish eyelashes usually force me to settle for something that meets a few criteria: doesn’t look awful, doesn’t cost a fortune, and actually semi-block the sun. I’ve had the most success so far with Goodr, which mostly fit and are perfect for running.

Tifosi Optics, however, takes it to the next level. Their Swank model are hands-down my new favorite sunglasses. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Fit: These sunglasses fit perfectly. No headaches from too-tight-around-the-ears, no marks left on my nose, no hitting my chubby cheeks. I like that the design is very neutral, suiting a wide variety of face shapes.
  • No-slide: Like Goodrs, Tifosi has mastered the sweat-proof glasses. They don’t slide down your sweaty nose or fog up, and they stay put on your face while running – even downhill!
  • Quality: For a $25 pair of sunglasses, these feel very high-quality. The lenses are a scratch-resistant, shatterproof polycarbonate (good news for those of us who are constantly dropping, sitting or stepping on our sunglasses). The frames are bendy and don’t easily break. The lenses, while not polarized in this version, offer 100%UVA/UVB protection and a glare guard. Plus they put the brand on the top of the lens and the earpieces, which makes them seem extra designer.
  • Look: The Swank rides the fine line between the ultra-popular classic Ray-Ban style and something a little more toned-down, with subtle curves and a narrower lens. I think it is a shape that would look good on just about anyone and is a great unisex style. The Swank also comes in a huge variety of colors. I opted for something neutral, so I could wear them for any occasion. Other options included fun summer colors like bright orange, ultra violet and powder blue.

Overall, I give the Tifosi Swank sunglasses two thumbs-up. They are my go-to everyday pair of sunglasses. They more than check all the boxes: look good, feel great, don’t break easily, don’t slide down your face while running and won’t break the bank. I’m delighted to have found an affordable pair of sunglasses that are so comfortable and versatile – now go get yourself a pair!

Happy summer adventuring!

 

Product Review: Cairn Cartography Maps

Jesse Carnes has spent a lot of miles on the trails, both on foot and bike. He is currently training for his first 100 mile footrace, IMTUF. You can read more about Jesse’s exploits here

Let me start by saying, like many people who enjoy rambling around in the woods, I really like maps. Perusing over a good map gives a sense of excitement and possibility. There’s nothing quite like spreading out a map on the living room floor and plotting out possible excursions. Do you think we can traverse that ridgeline? I wonder if we can get down to that lake without getting cliffed out? That trail connects there?! No way! We can make a great loop out of that.

I got my start reading maps by reading USGS quad maps on family backpacking trips. These set a high bar for technical accuracy, but a very low bar for graphic appeal. During the summers when I was in college, I worked for the Forest Service and continued reading those same quad maps, while also occasionally using the National Forest map for the area. The difference was striking. The forest map was substantially easier to look at, but was occasionally lacking in technical accuracy or detail. These differences can be found on all sorts of maps, and they are worth paying attention to.

In the last few years, the maps produced by Cairn Cartographics have become by far my favorite maps to use in the state of Montana. Generally, in my product reviews, I like to point out the things I do and don’t like about the product in question, but the only negative thing I can say about the Cairn maps is that I wish there were more of them. As a result, I am just going to tell you why they are the best maps of the area.

Visual Presentation
When I compare these maps to the majority of other maps of the region, one of the first things I notice is how easy it is to interpret the landscape. A big reason for this is an effective use of shading in addition to topo lines, allowing you to not only read the slope based on density of lines, but to get an immediate overall sense of the landscape, as if you were actually looking at it from above.

In addition, it is important to note that the text is chosen very deliberately, so as not to get in the way if it’s not what you’re looking for, but to be easy to read if it is. I have used countless maps through the years that have text all over the place, which interferes with one’s ability to get the aforementioned lay of the land.

Lastly, the key is fairly intuitive. The delineation of trails for different user groups is easy to figure out, and the land ownership classifications are, for the most part, pretty clear. As you can see above, there are also different colors used for forested areas and those either above tree-line or otherwise unforested. This has proved very useful when determining whether a proposed ridge route is going to involve a lot of bushwhacking or not.

Accuracy/Detail
One might think, in this day and age of easy-to-use GPS devices, that the accuracy of maps can be taken without question. In general, it is true that most are pretty darn good, but I still run into the occasional situation where the map says there is a trail that doesn’t actually exist, or the trail goes off in a different direction, or the lake that allegedly exists is only there part of the year. Likely because of their specific focus on places that are close to their own backyard, Cairn Cartographics seems to catch most of this stuff. It is worth noting that over time, new trails, closures, and general changes in landscape will yield some inaccuracies, but at the time of production, my impression is that these maps are extremely accurate.

Materials
Printed on a tear-resistant plastic, these maps are extremely durable and waterproof. As much as I appreciate the nostalgia of a quad map folded up in a ziploc bag, with the area you need to see facing up, it sure it nice to have something you can open up in the rain without ruining it. Every map should be waterproof, but not every map is.

Also worth noting is the size of the maps. The total size is 25″ x 39″, which is fairly manageable. While I do love laying out a good 36″ x 48″ forest map in the house, those get pretty unwieldy in the backcountry.

They’re local!
Cairn maps are made by a local couple in Missoula, Amelia Hagen-Dillon and Jamie Robertson. They have been producing them since 2010 and are an integral part of the local outdoor scene. Additionally, Amelia is one of the new Runners Edge ambassadors, so watch for some of her product reviews coming out soon!

As I mentioned, my biggest complaint about Cairn Cartographics is that I wish there were more maps! Eventually, I would really like to see a map of the Great Burn/Stateline trail area, as well as a detailed map of the three mountain biking areas close to Missoula (Blue Mountain, Pattee Canyon, Rattlesnake). While poking around on their website, I was excited to learn that they have a Public Lands of Montana wall map, which is definitely now on my list to get when I get the chance.

Check ’em out, and start planning your next adventure!