Product Review: Nathan Hipster Belt

Rachel Brumfield works at the University of Montana Foundation, but spends a lot of her time in the running community. She has been seen racing anything from the Resolution Run to Eleven Miles to Paradise. As a 2017/2018 RErun she tested the Nathan Hipster Belt and gave us her thoughts.

Nathan Hipster Waist Belt: A true phone saver

I drop my phone a lot. So often, in fact, that my husband jokes that I’ve spent more replacing screen protectors than my phone itself.

Common scenarios include: running with phone in hand and accidentally flinging it on the sidewalk or hiking with phone in hand and dropping it on a rock.

Enter the Nathan Hipster Waist Belt. For the past couple of weeks, my main question has been: “Where was this all my life?!”

Not only does the belt solve my phone-dropping issues, but it serves as a handy place for everything I need on a run (except water). After testing it in a variety of different settings (running, biking, hiking, grocery shopping), I’ve picked five reasons it’s my new favorite little piece of gear.

  1. Fit: Snug without feeling too tight. I was a little nervous about the fit, as it is not adjustable like many running belts. You simply step into it and pull it up around your waist (like pants). I chose an extra small based on the dimensions on the tag, and it fit perfectly.
  2. Comfort: I forget I’m wearing it. Unlike most running belts I’ve tried, the Nathan Hipster does not move around while running (even downhill!). The feel is consistent whether the pockets are stuffed or mostly empty.
  3. Carrying Capacity: I was pleasantly surprised by the amount the waist belt could hold. I carried my iPhone 7, keys, credit card, Clif ShotBlocks and earbuds without any trouble. You could definitely fit more into it if you wanted.
  4. Look: The belt comes in a variety of colors to fit your style. My style is low-maintenance, so I chose black to make sure it would match anything. Paired with black shorts, the belt is barely noticeable – more like a wide waistband than a bulgy fanny pack. If you like more flair, you could select a brighter color.
  5. Security: The lack of zippers did make me wonder if I was going to lose a few items on the trail. But no matter how much running, jumping, or bending I did, nothing fell out. Those soft little pockets are magic.

At $26-$32, I would call the Nathan Hipster Waist Belt a good investment. It provides a solution for carrying anything you need on a run, looks great, isn’t bothersome to wear and could really be added to any pocket-less outfit. It’s easy to wash and could save you from any and all phone casualties.

Product Review: Jenny Collection Clutch Handheld

Angie Partain is very involved in the Missoula Running Community as both a runner and frequent volunteer despite being a busy mom. As a RErun Ambassador we asked her to review the UD Clutch bottle and share with us her findings…

I was excited to try out the Ultimate Direction Jenny Collection Clutch handheld water bottle this month.  July was the perfect time for me to focus on hydration.  I used it in my daily life as much as possible … around the house … around town … walks … shorter workouts … and of course on my long runs.

Features:

  • Breathable Mesh Strap
  • Zippered Pocket  (hairband included!)
  • Reflective
  • Versatile carrying positions
  • Cross bungee retention
  • Body Bottle 500 included

Specs:

  • Weight: 2.5 oz. / 72g
  • Capacity: 43 in3 / 0.7 L

Materials:

  • Breathable mesh harness for all-day comfort
  • Nylon Ripstop, coated for waterproofness and strength
  • Power Mesh: Lightweight strength with differential stretch in the x and y axis for enhanced load management

Cost:   $42

I’ve broken my review down to 3 categories.   Does it Leak?, Is it Comfortable?  Is it FUNctional?

Does it Leak?

I have to admit, I really hate running with a water bottle … and tend to plan my routes knowing where I can grab a quite sip of water, rather than carry anything with me.  I’ve used other handhelds before, but have struggled with nozzles leaking to the point of losing all my water in the first few miles…not a good place to be when you’re counting on it being there for you.  I was very impressed with the nozzle on this handheld though.  I tried squeezing, jiggling and anything I could think of to make it leak … but I couldn’t muster a drop…AWESOME!!  The downside to the nozzle is that it can come off, and I actually dropped it after my run and had to go back and look for it later that day.  

Is it Comfortable?

Yes, I thought it was comfortable for walking, hiking and in my everyday life.  I did struggle with it a bit on my long runs though.  I thought I would love that it was squishy and pliable, but found the instability of the bottle to be a bit annoying while running … it just jostled around a lot. I also felt the grip on the bottle was a bit wide for my thumb and found that it made my whole arm feel fatigued. I played around with it a bit … just tried holding it … tried clipping it to my tank top (utter failure) … and then discovered it was very comfortable backwards.  This position was a little awkward when taking a sip but it felt more comfortable to me and I actually forgot that I was carrying it for the rest of my run.         

Is it FUNctional?

I love that the zippered pocket is mesh with a larger capacity than other handhelds offer. I was able to fit 2 fruit leathers, a hydration mix, a gel and a packet of craisins in it (not that I ate all that on my run …this was just an experiment at home). I loved the versatility of carrying positions. I love the sporty look and the ability to collapse it for storability.          

Overall, this is a good product.  It wasn’t my favorite though. Really, I was very happy with the the leak-proof aspect of this product and the FUNctionality! Where this product falls short is comfort. I really don’t think I would choose this for my long runs in the future, and look for a different handheld instead. I even asked my husband to give it a whirl on his long run, he was less impressed than I was. He felt that the soft bottle caused him to squeeze his grip, which wore his hand out quickly. He also felt that his hand was overly sweaty (granted, he was using a bottle sized for women). Ultimately, I really wanted to love this product, but felt it didn’t quite measure up in the end.  

-Angie

You can find the Ultimate Direction Clutch as well as a variety of other handheld bottles and hydration options at Runner’s Edge. Just like shoes, we encourage you to try out different options to see what is most comfortable for you.

Product Review: Nutrition Comparison

Jesse Carnes is a RErun Ambassador for 2017/2018. He is an accomplished triathlete and trail runner. Jesse has been in the endurance world for years and has used a variety of nutrition products over the years. We asked him to give us a brief run down on differences in a few of the products on our shelves. You can follow Jesse’s adventures here.

Quick Fuels: Making Sense of Gels and Chews

As endurance athletes, we have all learned to deal with the variety of challenges intrinsic to our sport. There is specialized gear available for every type of road or trail, unbelievably lightweight packs and vests to carry whatever we need, and clothing for every weather condition that we can bring along without having to deal with excessive bulk. One of the most critical challenges, though, is how to feed ourselves while we are on the move. To find something that is easily transported, tastes good enough that you will actually eat it, has the proper balance of nutrition that works for you, and won’t make you sick to your stomach takes some major trial and error.

The range of products out there right now to fuel our daily excursions can be downright intimidating in its breadth, from drink mixes specifically designed for before, during, or after exercise, to gels and chews, to energy bars, to the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a banana. While I am a proponent of each of these types of sustenance in their own place, for purposes of keeping this review somewhat simple, I’m going to focus specifically on gels and chews. That’s right, the form of nutrition that it seems every endurance athlete has an extreme love-hate relationship with. I know you can remember the last time you or one of your training partners complained about the taste, texture, or mere existence of gels, while in the same breath acknowledging their necessity in the process of finishing a certain race or workout.

Well, good news! I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way. The variety of options has increased dramatically in just the last couple years, and continues to do so. If you haven’t found the right gels or energy chews for yourself yet, that’s an excellent reason to keep reading. Hopefully I can guide you in the right direction. I will divide this review into two categories (chews and gels) and discuss three of each.

First, the energy chews!

 

Clif Shot Bloks

These have been one of my go-to chews for years. They the softest of the chews that I have tried, which in my experience makes them relatively easy to chew and swallow (a feat that can be difficult during a long, particularly arduous outing) and I have found them to be a quick, reliable source of energy. They are available in 11 different flavors, with margarita (which everyone goes nuts for) and salted watermelon containing extra sodium.

Gu Chews

Gu Chews (formerly known as Chomps) have been around for a while and are pretty similar to the Clif version, with a couple notable differences. Specifically, a sleeve of Chews contains eight smaller-sized chews, as opposed to the six larger Shot Bloks per sleeve. Gu Chews are particularly high in potassium (because cramping sucks) and contain amino acids that, according to Gu, may help “reduce mental fatigue and decrease muscle damage”. I personally haven’t noticed a huge difference in my level of mental fatigue when using these chews, but you know, maybe it helps?

Skratch Labs Fruit Drops

If you have issues with the stickiness of most gummy chews and find them difficult to consume, it might behoove you to try out the Skratch Labs Fruit Drops. They are much firmer than most and have a sugary coating, making them generally easy for most people to get down, even in the throes of an endurance activity induced breakdown. Also, in my opinion, they have a very pleasantly fruity taste. At 160mg per pouch, they contain the most sodium of the three chews mentioned here, but they contain no potassium. They are also the only chews mentioned in this review that do not contain maltodextrin.

Gels

Okay, so maybe you’ve figured out which chews will be best tailored to your needs, or maybe there is more research to do. Regardless, for this review, it’s on to the proverbial meat and potatoes of rapid endurance fuel. That’s right, it’s time to talk gels.

Gu

Gu gels are, in many ways, what comes to mind when I think of energy gels. They have that classic gel consistency that can be almost liquid when it’s warm out and downright difficult to get out of the package when it’s cold. Maybe that texture is your thing. It’s not mine. That said, Gu’s redeeming factor (over other brands of traditional gels like Hammer or Clif) is the breadth and creativity of the flavor options. From Caramel Macchiato to Cucumber Mint to Tastefully Nude (code for unflavored), there is something for everyone. As a bonus, if you want to support public lands access (don’t we all?) try out the Campfire S’mores flavor, as 10% of those sales are donated to Conservation Alliance’s Public Lands Defense Fund. Also it’s delicious, so there’s that too.

If caffeine is your thing, Jet Blackberry and Espresso Love have 40mg per packet, with many other flavors also containing smaller amounts.

Honey Stinger

Honey Stinger gels are pretty much what you would think they would be: honey, with added vitamins and electrolytes. The notable addition that you get from Honey Stinger and not from the others is the presence of B vitamins, which play various roles including conversion of foods into energy, aiding in digestion, and boosting immune response. They also have very high potassium levels. Also of note, for those who prefer a 100% plant-based diet like myself, Honey Stinger makes one of the few gels that does not fit the bill. For this reason, it doesn’t make it into my standard line-up.

Huma

So you don’t like gels, you say. The texture is weird. They don’t taste good. They leave a funny sticky feeling in your mouth. Whatever your complaint, throw it out the window, because Huma has taken gels to the next level by doing the obvious: using real fruit and real sugars, mixing in the necessary electrolytes, using ground chia as a binder, and making a magical concoction that tastes like a smoothie and works like an energy gel. This was by far my favorite gel of everything I tested, in both taste and function. It contains far more sodium than any of the other gels (although this varies widely by flavor) and the berry pomegranate flavor (my favorite) contains extra sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. It’s the most comprehensive electrolyte blend I have seen in any gel, and in my experience, it works.

In the wide, wide world of endurance nutrition products, it’s hard to sort out the differences sometimes. The products I’ve mentioned are a very small glimpse into some of the options out there, and a starting point for how to differentiate between them. I hope you have fun experimenting on your own and creating your personalized endurance fueling plan.

 

Product Review: Hoka Speedgoat 2

Jenna Lyons is a RErun Ambassador for 2017/2018. We asked her to test out a pair of the Hoka Speedgoat 2’s and tell us what she thought. You can follow Jenna’s adventures @littlelyoness. 

HOKA SPEEDGOAT 2: Like Dancing on Rainbows

By Jenna P.  Lyons

I reviewed the Hoka Speedgoat 2. Admittedly, I never tried the original Hoka Speedgoat, so I have no standards by which to compare this newer shoe to an older Hoka product. I chose to test the Speedgoat 2 in three environments: (1) on a super smooth trail with little rocks; (2) on a super technical, rocky, steep trail; and (3) having a cappuccino at Black Coffee with a dress on.

In true law student form, I organized my review of this shoe in five bulletpoints to avoid the vagueness rabbithole many shoe reviews fall into. Enjoy!

1.    Traction & Responsiveness

They have Vibram Megagrip lugs and sole, which provide for great traction.  However, if you’re not used to the cushion cloud platform or lack of a rock plate, these shoes can feel unstable, especially if you’re hauling down a rocky, gravelly steep downhill or jumping laterally from cloud to cloud.

2.   Comfort

These feel like running on a cloud. Or a marshmallow. This is due to the soft upper and the super soft cushion. For a more accurate depiction of how I felt on my runs in these shoes, click this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ky3Ordfqn88. No really, click the link 🙂

The finer details:

  • Weight: About 8.2 oz for a fairy foot like mine; 9.8 oz for a Men’s 9.For reference, the women’s shoe is about as heavy as an average hamster. The men’s shoe is about as heavy as the same average hamster that has just eaten 3 or 4 walnuts.
  • Drop: 4.5mm (32mm heel, 27.5mm forefoot). Roughly the size of a baby seahorse.

3.   Looks

I love platform shoes, so these are perfect! Though the Speedgoat 2 is more low profile than other Hokas, there is still substantial cushion.  I felt somewhat dorky walking around town in them, but that probably has nothing to do with the shoes. The colors are vibrant like a pet shop full of parakeets, so this will come down to personal preference for many folks who desire to run in Hokas.

4.   Price

$140. . .the same as many other trail shoes and the same price as roughly 70 cups of coffee. They’ll probably last longer, though, due to the beefiness of the lugs and sole.

5.   Fit

These fit pretty true to size. I normally wear a 36.5 or 37 European size in La Sportivas, and a 6 in all US-sized shoes, and the Hokas I have been running in are a size 37 1/3 (US 6). I have average width feet, and these fit snugly, which means if you have really wide feet, these may not be comfortable for you. I also have high arches, and would recommend insoles for other folks with high arches.

Conclusion

The Hoka Speedgoat 2 is a wonderful shoe that will make you feel like a pink unicorn running on a rainbow. It is the same price as most other trail shoes and fits true to size. It is a great shoe for long runs, especially if those runs take place on dirt roads or smoother single track. They aren’t great if you’re aiming to run super super fast, jump laterally, or chase children. I wouldn’t do box jumps in them. They are also not great for going on a first date or going to church. But you could go to coffee in them with a dress on. The upper is soft and comfortable, and so is the platform cushion. The lugs are beefy, and provide great traction on gravel. Like parakeets, the Speedgoat 2 comes in sweet colors that will make you giggle. If you have an injury or if impact from running hurts your knees, hips, ankles, or back, the Hokas may be a good shoe for you, pending doctor and/or PT approval. If you really want to be running when you are really old, then the Hokas are probably a good choice for you. Verdict: Quality shoe that you will probably love!

Product Review: SAXX Underwear

Tim Mosbacher is a RErun Ambassador for 2017/2018. We asked him to test out a pair of the SAXX Underwear and tell us what he thought. You can read more of his reviews and stories from running here

Courtesy of Tim Mosbacher

A few months ago I was doing a little shopping at the Runner’s Edge and posed an issue to salesman Forrest Boughner.  I was wearing out the liners of my running shorts faster than normal, and running shorts have been getting more expensive every year.  He suggested purchasing SAXX underwear and using these as a replacement for the liner.  He divulged a little personal information—he was now wearing SAXX underwear and was liking them.  Forrest and I usually do not discuss our underwear choices so I thought they must be good!

 Fast forward to this month and I am now on my second pair of SAXX underwear.  Forrest was correct.  They are a cheaper replacement to purchasing all-new running shorts, and they are the most comfortable underwear you can buy.

 I initially did not even wear the first pair for running.  SAXX were so comfortable I started wearing them as my go-to comfortable wear.  Their moisture wicking and anti-microbial properties create a situation where you do not sweat during normal wear, which eliminates odors.  The most noticeable feature when you first put them on is the “ballpark pouch.”  SAXX promotes the pouch as a “3D hammock shaped pouch which is designed for contact free support.”  The pouch prevents heat and chafing from skin-against-skin friction.

Courtesy of Tim Mosbacher

 With the second pair I removed the liners from my old damaged shorts and wore the SAXX boxer brief as the “liner.”  Despite high heat conditions, I had no chafing and very little moisture in the front (some in the rear) due to the pouch.  The legs did not ride up much for me and to be honest I never even felt them on any of the test runs. 

 Sizing seems accurate as I normally wear a 30-inch waist pant and the tested briefs were a small with the advertised waist of 30-32.  In the future I would like to test out a XS and compare as they are rated 27-29. 

 The “elephant in the room” with SAXX briefs would be the cost.  They are priced at $38 a pair. After a few months of wearing my first pair, they look the same as the day I purchased them.  I have been able to run in shorts that I would have relegated to the trash bin, saving hundreds of dollars on new shorts with liners.  It seems $38 is a good investment.