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!

Product Review: Stance Socks

Angie Partain is very involved in the Missoula Running Community as both a runner and frequent volunteer despite being a busy mom. As someone on her feet all day we asked her try out Stance socks and give us her feedback. You can follow her adventures at @jnapartain.

Stance Run Socks

Let’s talk socks.  Ok, so I’m a bit of a frugal gal.  It’s hard for me to spend a ton of money on something that nobody is going to see—like socks.  Let me tell ya though, I’ve tried to save money on this category over the years and it has NEVER paid off—especially because I have crazy persnickety feet.  When it comes to running, having happy feet is at the top of my list of importance. Every one of my most miserable runs (and believe me, I remember ALL of them) had something to do with sad blistered feet or angry toes that were sliding around in my shoes.  Even still, my finicky feet have struggled in certain high end running socks. Needless to say, this has been an area of trial and error throughout the years for me. So, when my friends at the Runner’s Edge asked me to try out Stance socks–which were totally new to me–I was excited to see how they would work out.  

Look

Stance offers great design, with a variety of colors and styles in their socks. They range from super fun to subdued mixed with a splash of fun to clean and classic in design. They are available in crew length or tab. Whatever your style—I’m certain you’ll find something you like in this brand.

Comfort  

Right from the get-go, I LOVED how these plush socks felt on my weary feet. I may or may not have worn them 48 hours straight on their first wear because I just didn’t want to take them off.  The material is incredibly soft and will make you want to buy more than one pair.

Fit

Fitting true to size, the tab socks hit right at the ankle and sit comfortably just above my shoes while crew hit mid-calf.  With an anatomically correct fit and seamless structure they formed well to each foot without any bulky or bunchy spots, which kept my toes singing happy tunes while on the road and trail.

Performance

I wore these a bunch—from running to hiking to walking to cleaning house to sleeping–shoot, I even wore them to the pool.  They never disappointed. My feet stayed happy on my runs, and I have no blisters or lost toenails to report. They have a nice element of compression to them which seemed to keep my feet from swelling on longer runs.  Also, I didn’t have any issues with odor. They held up in the wash, however they do seem a bit fuzzier (but not pilled) afterward. I think this is simply due to the soft nature of the material, but they are by no means wearing thin.  

I completely recommend trying Stance run socks!  I will most definitely be purchasing several more pairs (which is a way better choice than my 48-hour obsession confession). Priced from $14-$17 for tab and $18-$20 for crew they aren’t your bargain sock, but believe me—they’re worth it and so are your feet! Check them out at Runner’s Edge today!

Happy running!

-Angie

Product Review: Brooks FastForward Sports Bra

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.

I’ve never been super picky about my sports bra – but thanks to Runner’s Edge, I’m becoming something of a connoisseur. Brooks has always exceeded my expectations with their gear, so I had great hopes for the Brooks FastForward bra. It didn’t disappoint.

Look – The FastForward bra keeps it simple. The design is flattering, but without excess. Thick straps cross once in the back and fasten with a fuss-free hook. A fun mesh accent spices up the front and sides. It comes in a fun geometric pattern or solid black. Though simple, the bra is sleek and feminine. I’d call it a classic.

Fit – This bra fits a little snugger than most of the other sports bras I own. This could because of the fabric, level of support or that it runs a little small. The straps are adjustable, though, making it easy to get the right fit every time. The back closes with a simple hook, which I love (Does anyone else lose precious minutes in the morning trying to get a strappy bra untangled and clasped or removing a clasp-less bra after a sweaty run?!).

Feel – The FastForward bra feels a little stiff at first, but quickly becomes unnoticeable. The fabric seems a little less flexible than a bra with a lower level of support. On the other hand, though, it stays comfy when wet and doesn’t hold much stink. (Both very important for summer running). It has removeable cups, if you prefer a lower impact feel, and doesn’t rub under the arms or along the band.

Overall, the FastForward bra is a solid pick. It’s comfy enough to wear all day and simple enough suit any style. Personally, I prefer the Brooks FineForm for its softer fabric and any-occasion feel – but for a more classic-style running bra, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Fast Forward. It’s cute, comfortable, durable – and definitely a staple item for everyday running.