Product Review: Hydrapak Stash 750ml Soft Bottle

 

Jenna Lyons is an athlete that does it all. Runs, bikes, skis, you name it. She is currently in her last year of law school and still finds time to represent Runner’s Edge as a RErun Ambassador. She recently tested the Hydrapak Stash 750ml Soft Bottle and shared her thoughts.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS

I reviewed the Hydrapak Stash flexible water bottle. It holds 25 fluid ounces of liquid and is designed for easy, convenient use on the trail. It features an easy grip ring and bail handle for easy carrying. The sides are flexible so that the bottle is comfortable to carry. The bottle is soft and squishy and reminds me of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGokmurmJic

THE BOTTLE

Let’s face it…runners and hikers aren’t known for their huge arm muscles, and the Stash accommodates that. The main asset of the Stash bottle is that it is 50% lighter than the traditional hard bottle. And once it is empty, it collapses down for easy storage in your pack or pocket. I carried in my hand on a run and put it in my jacket pocket once I was done…no more having to carry empty water bottles around! I also put it in my backpack in its collapsed mode, and then brought it to yoga and filled it up. And then collapsed it back down when I was done. It was perfect. I recently started learning to paraglide, and I cannot wait to use this bottle, as it will be available hanging off my pack on the hike up, and will collapse into nothing for the flight down. I could see it being great for kayaking, backpacking, or equestrian purposes as well.

ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY

You can sleep easy at night knowing Hydrapak really had the environment in mind when they designed this bottle. The bottle is BPA and PVC free.

DURABLE

The bottle has a Beyond Lifetime Guarantee. I am not sure what that means…maybe it means your kids can get a replacement after you die? Throughout the course of my research on this bottle, I learned that Hydrapak uses TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) to ensure that the bottle is flexible without sacrificing durability. They also use radiofrequency welding to ensure a waterproof seal, and they offer a 2 year no-leak warranty.

DOWNSIDES

I am not sure if this is the best bottle for running. It is definitely the best bottle for hiking or backpacking—or any other activity where you’re spending extended time outside and have a pack with you. While I used it for a run, it wasn’t optimal and I would prefer to use the harder I would highly recommend that anyone who enjoys moving efficiently in the mountains head down to Runner’s Edge to pick up a Stash bottle!

Product Review: Ultimate Direction FK Gaiters

Tim Mosbacher is a staple in the Missoula running community. He is currently trying to run a marathon in every state and will be hiking the Montana portion of the CDT this summer. As a RErun Ambassador, and because he’s spending a lot of time on his feet, we asked him to test the new Ultimate Direction FK Gaiters and share his thoughts. You can follow more of Tim’s adventures here.

I am planning a 1000-mile backpacking trip this summer, and Forrest from Runners Edge said gaiters are a must for this long trip.  Since that initial conversation, most of the thru-hikers I have conversed with have backed up Forrest’s statement.  One slight problem is that I have never worn gaiters running or hiking, only cross country skiing. 

My experience with cross country gaiters has been positive but sweaty.  Since they go up the leg so high, my lower legs tend to sweat – a lot.  I had feelings of trepidation upon getting the Ultimate Direction FK gaiters for that reason.  Boy, was I wrong.  I have worn the gaiters on quite a few runs and rarely am aware that I have them on.  I have worn them with different heights of socks (low crew and quarter), and with both heights I have no feeling of sweatiness even in 75+ degree runs on the beach.  Even with shoes not built for gaiters (no gaiter lace hook at the end of the laces), the FK lace hooks worked great with all of my shoes.

As with all gaiters, it takes some practice and some initial setup time.  The FK gaiter comes with a replaceable hypalon strap that slips below the shoes so the gaiter does not move up and down.  If it wears out, the replaceable strap retails for only $2 (mine have no visible wear after all of my test runs).  The strap is adjustable, but it is a little bit of a struggle make it secure.  I needed to adjust the strap to its lowest setting to fit my shoes. 

 The top is velcroed together and stayed secure during all my runs.  There is no debris coming through the front or back of these gaiters.  I did on one run, due to operator error, not affix the Velcro together evenly and had Velcro chaffing, which can dig a nice hole in your skin in no time.  Once I attached the sides correctly, it was no longer an issue.

If you are a person who routinely kicks their ankles or calves while trail running (leading to materials sifting down into your shoes), the Ultimate Direction FK gaiter would be a great purchase.  Head down to Runners Edge and tell them Tim sent you.

Product Review: Nathan VaporKrar Waistbelt

Tim Mosbacher is a staple in the Missoula running community. He is currently trying to run a marathon in every state and has experience with a variety of running products. As a RErun Ambassador we asked him to test out the Nathan VaporKrar Waistbelt and share his thoughts. You can follow more of Tim’s adventures here.

One of the many reasons I like Run Wild Missoula training classes is that there are usually aid stations involved. Without aid provided, packs are a necessary evil. I hate carrying water and gels.  So when the classes end, I, like many people, create my routes based on where I can stop and get water.  So many loops will involve the River Front Trail due to the drinking fountains. Once they shut off in the fall, I am even more challenged. The Nathan VaporKrar WaistPak is going to change that.

I have owned a number of Nathan products in the past (two vests, water bottles, water belt, hipster belt). I hated carrying water bottles in my hand while running roads (I prefer it on the trails), and the water belts in the past had too much movement for me, even with the tiny bottles. Vests are the same as bottles: they work well on trails, but are uncomfortable when running on pavement. The VaporKrar has none of these inconveniences.

The VaporKrar is a combination Nathan Hipster with a water belt, albeit composed with a different material. It has a zippered front pocket large enough to carry a cell phone, two velcroed side pockets to carry gels, and a velcroed back pocket with a compression system that is made for an 18oz soft water flask or a light jacket. 

I love how the VaporKrar feels while I run. That is, I do not feel it even with 18oz of water. The compression system, which is made to tighten on both ends of the pocket, makes the pocket not move at all. The literature says that it provides a “bounce-free ride, even at Rob Krar’s speed.” Well I never ran at Rob Krar’s downhill speed, but I’m pretty sure I did some miles faster than what he can run up a 20% grade, and I can attest it was bounce-free!

The 18oz soft flask is designed to be used with the Exodraw Handle, which I have not tried. But I have heard from other trail runners that carrying soft flasks on long runs is a lot nicer than carrying hard bottles. Combined with the Waistpak, this seems like a great feature.

I have worn the VaporKrar on most of my runs the last month. It just doesn’t bounce on me, so even on shorter 10 mile runs I have worn it just in case I get thirsty. The one negative complaint I have is one that people would have with any compression system. It is pretty easy to remove the bottle even with some compression applied with the straps. To get the bottle back in is a little more difficult, and I have found that is easier to release all of the compression, insert the bottle, and then recompress. And all of that can pretty much happen only when you are stopped.

The pack has an elastic waist band. This makes it form fitting. I am not sure how long the elastic will last. It does tend to get twisted on removal. When it is empty it has a tendency to fold over (might just be my extra stomach muscles) but it is not noticeable while running.

I highly recommend the Nathan VaporKrar WaistPak. It is perfect for runs where you only need 18oz of water at a time. Stop into the Runner’s Edge and tell them Tim sent you.

Product Review: New Balance 910v4

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.

New Balance 910v4

Happy trail season, fellow runners! It’s that long-awaited time of year when we get to dust off our shoes and continue to wish the snow away from our favorite trails. Just in time for training this spring, I tested one of New Balance’s trail shoe: the 910v4. Excited to share with you what I thought of these bright beauties!

Specs

New Balance 910v4
Weight 8.6 oz (Women’s size 7)
Heel Drop 8mm
Cushion Firm
Tech REVite midsole foam, HydroHesion rubber outsole

 

Fit

For me – with my fairly average feet and wide toes – the 910’s fit perfectly. The midfoot feels secure, with a double-layer elastic portion that keeps the tongue from sliding around. My little toes love the spacious toe box, which is tall enough to keep toenails happy even while pounding downhill. In comparison to other running shoes, the 910’s feel very stable and snug, in the most comfortable way.

Durability and Traction

The outside of the 910’s feature a fine, double-layer synthetic mesh. Notably, the toe area is reinforced with a rubber compound to protect your toes from the rocks, sticks, and myriad of other things that might trip you up along the way. The midsole – which some say is fairly stiff – has a fantastic “rock plate” for smoother-feeling trail running. I tested these features by running down the M, Mo-Z and backside of Waterworks Hill. I’m happy to report great grip and stability, even on loose rock. The narrower tread also allows for better maneuvering between the rocks and uneven terrain.

Style

I would be lying if I said the bright “Sea Spray with Alpha Pink & Black” color scheme didn’t sway my affinity. These kicks make you feel like you’re flying up and down the trail! I love the vibrant colors, especially this time of year when the sky is super gray and scenery drab. The design of the shoe looks sleeker than my other trail shoes, making them easy to wear around.

Other Favorite Features

I mentioned it previously, but the addition of the elastic layer that attaches to the tongue makes this shoe a favorite for me. Rather than slipping around on long downhill portions of trail, these shoes stay in place (preventing obnoxious hot spots and blisters). I also am a huge fan of the reinforced toe – it’s not overdone but is helpful for a runner like me who sometimes forget to pick up my feet. 😊

Price

The New Balance 910 is reasonably priced at $110 – definitely not the most expensive option out there.

Summary

For a neutral trail running shoe, the New Balance 910 is a great option. They ride the middle in nearly every aspect – comfortable but not plush, firm but not unresponsive, stable but not unforgiving – except in design. (In design, they’re fun, colorful and perfectly embody my feelings about spring trail running.) For an every day runner who likes to get off the roads and onto Missoula’s beautiful trails – they’re an easy YES.

Product Review: Oiselle Ballard Bra

Angie Partain is very involved in the Missoula Running Community as both a runner and frequent volunteer despite being a busy mom. You can follow her adventures at @jnapartain.

A good bra—or the right bra can be hard to find but it is well worth the search when you find it.  I mean a good bra is a life changer.

So, how do you measure a good running bra? Personally, I like thin straps, nice lines, girly details, medium support, good padding (I’m back and forth on removable cups), smoothing (thick enough to provide coverage without showing off the outline of the cup), something that dries quickly and won’t freeze me out at the finish line (am I the only one that struggles with this?  Freakin’ brrr….), won’t smell and of course—is COMFORTABLE. I’ve had bras that I feel like I’m falling out of and I have had bras that I literally need help getting out of (Ok, I probably bought the wrong size that time, but that’s all part of finding the right bra!).

LOOK

The Oiselle Ballard Bra passes in the pretty department for sure. It immediately jumped out at me as something that I wanted to try on. It has a minimalist look about it with the clean square neckline, which is complimented with mesh trim. The double strappy criss-crossed back gives the front’s classic lines a spunky vibe that works well with a peek-a-boo backed top or alone. It comes in royal blue, black and white.      

FIT

Fitting true to size with a smoothing fit, the Ballard continues to impress me. I love the modest 

cut, which hits mid chest and a bit lower on the torso, reminding me of a bralette style which is oh-so comfy. I find myself wearing it with my daily wardrobe as much as I do for running. Oiselle sizes their bras from 2-12, so it’s easy to get just the right size. If you aren’t sure on sizing—the gals (and guys) at Runner’s Edge can help you get it right. I don’t need a ton of support, but felt it was on the higher end of medium support feeling very well supported without that “squished” corset feeling. The removeable cups are nicely contoured, not visible through the bra or through a fitted top, are easily adjustable, stay put in their pockets while running and best of all–keep you from being nipple-y. The cut of the back is very flattering, gracing you with a slim and smooth profile.

FEEL

The Ballard’s tight knit fabric wicks moisture well and kept me cool but not frosty. The inner lining is very soft, and I had zero issues with chafing or odors. It washes up well without fading, pilling or bleeding. Air drying is recommended and I was impressed that it remained super soft after doing so.

I’m super happy with the Oiselle Ballard and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for the perfect running bra. It’s priced at $50 and is worth every penny…I’m definitely going to buy a second one!

Happy running!

-Angie  

Product Review: Sugoi Titan 5″ Shorts

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

Until recently, I have to admit I have never thought too much about the features of my running shorts. Basically, if they don’t fall down, chafe, or flop around heavily when I am trying to run, I’m generally good to go. As my runs have gotten longer, though, I have started paying a little more attention. In training for trail ultramarathons, things like carrying nutrition, adapting to varying weather conditions, and just being comfortable in general become very important. When you’re 15 miles out on some ridgeline, you can’t just stop in to the gas station to grab a snack and cool off/warm up.

When it comes to general comfort, your first consideration is clothing. I recently tested out the Sugoi Titan running shorts to see how they stacked up, and I found some positives and some negatives as compared to other shorts I have tried.

The first thing I will mention is that the material of these shorts feels very light. While they fit a bit looser than I generally prefer, I didn’t notice any excess bulk. They felt surprisingly airy and, when I wore them to the local Tuesday night track workout with the intention of getting an idea how they feel while running fast, I completely forgot to pay attention after about two laps. That’s usually a good sign.

One of the features that is touted by Sugoi in these shorts is their “Icefil” technology. As much as I wanted this to just be little pockets that you fill with ice when you get too hot (brilliant marketing idea), it turns out that’s not what it is. Icefil is a specific type of fabric that is used on the inside layer at the front of the short. Anyone who has experienced chafing in that area on a hot day is aware of the importance of a particularly effective moisture-wicking material, and additionally, Icefil supposedly reacts with body heat to cool your skin temperature, leading to less sweat to begin with. I wish I could say I got a chance to put this feature to the test, but it turns out heat management hasn’t been much of an issue in the last few weeks in western Montana. I do look forward to trying it out in the summer, and I definitely plan on using these shorts when I pace the Missoula Marathon in July. If your goal is 3:20, follow me and I’ll get you to the Higgins bridge right on time!

Okay, so we’ve got general feel covered; now let’s talk storage. For running around in the mountains, vests and hydration packs are cool and all, but sometimes you just want to carry a handheld water bottle, a couple gels, and some Shot Blocks. For those days, shorts pockets are extremely important. Pocket configurations vary greatly from one to the next. Most shorts these days have a zipper pocket in the back, where it is least likely to feel off balance or bounce. Some also have small hip pockets, which I have grown very fond of for storing gels or other small, light foodstuffs. The small inside front pocket that used to be the standard on running shorts seems to have essentially gone extinct, for better or for worse.

The Titan shorts have only one pocket, and that is the rear zipper pocket. The most notable thing about this pocket is its size. By running short pocket standards, it is rather massive. Just for fun, I tried putting my Samsung Galaxy S8 in it, and I could still fit a pair of gloves and a couple gels. For the gloves and the gels, this pocket is great, but for me, the cell phone was too heavy for a pair of shorts this light and loose-fitting. I tried running a few strides, and the bouncing annoyed me right away. However, I will say if I were going for a short hike on a hot day, I would have no problem with it. In the spring weather, I have made good use of the pocket, storing a buff, gloves, etc. as the weather changes during a run.

Features are great, but when it comes down to it, the true test of a good pair of running shorts is whether you notice them when you are running. If not, it’s probably a well-designed pair of shorts. So far, the Sugoi Titan 5″ shorts certainly pass that test.