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. As an avid trail runner, we asked Sean to review one of our waterproof shoes, the Brooks Cascadia GTX. You can also follow Sean’s adventures on instagram@seankiffe.

Brooks Cascadia 13 GTX

Wt.: 12.3oz

Drop: 10mm

Category: Trail

 

As the daylight fades and temperatures start to drop, many of us are forced inside to the treadmill. While the treadmill is not an all-bad, the allure of a shoe that is aimed at keeping you running outside no matter what the conditions is very enticing. The Brooks Cascadia has always received high praise as a trail running shoe and the Gore-Tex version is a nice adaptation to an already solid shoe. I was excited to test a pair of these this month, in what promises to be apt conditions for testing a waterproof shoe.

Fit:

After lacing up the Cascadia 13 GTX my feet felt completely at home. The cascadia hugs the heel very snug and tightly. The lace cage compresses evenly, distributing the pressure of the tongue super comfortably on the top of the foot. The super tight weave of the mesh upper is pliable yet durable and allows the foot to move where and when it needs to. The toe box is on the narrow side but it did not feel cramped at all. The sizing is true to fit. The shoe felt a little rigid at first but after three runs in the sloppy Missoula conditions they have begun to loosen up nicely.

Performance:

While a lot of Gore-Tex running shoes carry weight like a tank, the Brooks Cascadia is pretty light (12.3 oz) compared to other Gore-Tex trail runners I have experienced. Other leading brands weigh in between 14 and 20 ounces. Advances in Gore-Tex fabric technology make it lighter and less rigid than older versions. These shoes are light and nimble and sit right in the weight range of other non-GTX trail runners. While some waterproof trail runners look more like hiking shoes, the Cascadia presents like a true running shoe with the added waterproof bonus. The Gore-Tex fabric is remarkably breathable. Not once did I feel as if my feet were dampened by their own sweat.

My first run out in these shoes saw some of Missoula’s classic “not sure if it is fall or winter” weather. The messy mix of slush, water and snow was a perfect test for a Gore-Tex shoe. The Cascadia 13 was impressive in these conditions. The waterproofing and breathability of the shoe performed flawlessly. My feet were dry and happy the entire time. The Cascadia shed water nicely and did not hold on the water like some shoes might.

The sole of the Cascadia is burly to say the least. The sole provides a nice wide base for added stability on slippery surfaces. The outer hexagonal studs offer an excellent lateral cleat on both sides of the forefoot.

Brooks uses its proprietary BioMoGo DNA technology in the midsole and it’s both responsive on the trail and cushioned enough to make the longer efforts less impactful. On the first few runs that I did in these shoes I felt very connected to the road and trail surface but cushioned enough to push as hard and as long as I wanted to.

The rugged 3D rubberized mud guard that extends from the toe box to the heel is nothing short of armor. It is tough and pliable at the same time. While protecting your foot from the lashing of ice and other trail debris, the mud guard does not sacrifice the flexibility of the shoe one bit.

 

Brooks uses what they call a rock shield guard to improve stability and disperse the impact of those more pointed encounters  your sole might have on the run. This combined with the cushion of the DNA midsole make for smooth and confident ride. The triangular Pivot technology allows for targeted flex in just the right spots on the sole of the shoe.

 

The Cascadia 13 GTX has the added bonus of a gaiter attachment on the heel of the shoe which will be nice for really sloppy spring conditions or deep snow. There is also a well thought out small pouch on the tongue of the shoe that you can tuck your laces up into.

           

Overall:

The Brooks Cascadia 13 GTX is a great choice for the runner who is not willing to move things indoors when it gets cold and sloppy. Gore-Tex, the industry standard in waterproof technology performs just as promised with the Cascadia, waterproof and breathable. The comfort and quality of the Brooks brand really comes through in this shoe. It’s light, responsive, waterproof and solidly constructed. At an MSRP of $160.00 the Cascadia is worth every penny. The Cascadia 13 GTX is certain to keep you running outside regardless of what the seasons throw your way.

 

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! We asked him to review a new safety vest from Noxgear that is new to the Runners Edge and you can read his review below. You can also follow his adventures with his pup on intagram @corysoulliard.

Noxgear Tracer 360

“I like yer jacket” he said out the window. I smiled and said “thanks.” I took it as a compliment even though I wasn’t wearing a jacket.

It was my first real night run of the season. I was out doing mile intervals during an 8 mile run and I was on the final interval when I heard him coming. The deeper engine sound of a large pickup truck. I was working up the last hill and he was slowing down. Was it someone with a witty comment? His window was down and he looked over and said “I like yer jacket. It makes ya really easy to see.” I wasn’t wearing a jacket. It was a warm night compared to the last 2 weeks and I only needed a light long-sleeve to keep warm. I was however trying out my new Noxgear Tracer 360.

Wearing it

Out of the box it was a little tricky to put on. I generally wear a men’s small or medium shirt and I opted for the small of the Tracer 360. I had to figure out top from bottom and left from right. It helps if I were to actually read the word “left” on one of the straps. By the third run I had it figured out. Once on it nearly disappears from my mind. There is one high-viz, elastic, chest strap that feels similar to a heart rate monitor. This strap is your main support and the focus of the sizing. My small vest is adjusted to fit me but still have room to get larger and certainly can get smaller. Once adjusted, the thin cables that carry the light are barely noticeable. The main battery pack looks a little large for running with but the size does not mean it is heavy, it is actually very lightweight. I wonder how it would feel in the summer for a 24-hour relay race?

The lights are awesome!

As the name implies, it provides 360 degrees of visibility. The first night wearing mine I saw another runner make a turn over ¼ mile away and I could instantly tell they were wearing the same vest. That might not seem unusual in Missoula but after dark on a weeknight in Hamilton, the streets are not exactly crowded with runners. I was also impressed that I could not only notice the runner but I could tell what they were wearing. They chose one of the solid red color for their run. With the push of a button you can choose from 6 solid colors or 5 flashing patterns. The solid colors are great and adjustable to your mood but the flashing options are when this party vest comes to life. I mean I am seriously considering wrapping it around our Christmas tree when I am not out running. My 6 year old friend loves when I stop by wearing it!

Concerns.

There are two main concerns. I am not a fan of using batteries. This vest uses 3 AAA batteries and I would prefer in internal, rechargeable battery but with a 40 hour runtime I will really only use 1 set per year. The second warning is that the on/off/mode button is in the middle of your back when you are wearing the vest. Although not the easiest, I can reach it while running. Other options would be to turn it on before donning the vest or having a friend hit the button for you. Although then you will be at the mercy of their selection and if I am choosing for you, I am going for party mode.

Summary

The vest may look a little crazy but I suggest you try one on. Drivers can be easily distracted or just not see the lonely runner. If you are going to be on the roads at night, don’t take any risks and make sure you are seen.

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! We have some awesome New Balance apparel so we asked Amelia to review the Anticipate Half-zip. See her thoughts below! You can also follow her adventures on instagram @cairncarto, as well as on facebook.

A good half-zip top is an essential piece in a winter running wardrobe, but not all half-zips are created equal. I’ve owned my fair share of versions where the sleeves weren’t long enough, or the zipper made an annoying clink through my entire run, or a scratchy seam on the back of my neck made it hard to focus on a run. This month I tried out the “Novelty Anticipate” half-zip from New Balance, which is one of the best running shirts I’ve ever worn.

The first thing I noticed about this top was how soft it is! The material feels amazing on your skin. And I think the stripes are pretty sharp. As someone who doesn’t always keep my running clothes separate from my everyday clothes I appreciate that this top looks and feels just as good with jeans as it does with running tights.

The fit is relaxed. It fits a little longer on me which I really like, to avoid cold drafts on my lower back this time of year. The sleeves have plenty of length and thumbholes to keep my wrists warm. It’s roomy but not bulky and fits under other layers comfortably. It’s a bonus that the material feels super soft when you use the sleeve to wipe your nose, and it dries fast so you don’t end up with a big soggy spot on your wrist (you know what I’m talking about).

Not only is the material really soft, it stays comfortable and manages temperature fluctuations really well. I’m a person who runs cold when I’m not running, and then heats up into a sweaty mess about fifteen minutes into every run, no matter what I wear. I’ve used this top layered over a tank top or layered under a wind shell and this last week I’ve even worn it layered under an insulated running jacket and it stays comfortable through it all.

Finally, this top has well thought out details that were obviously designed with runners in mind. There is some reflective accents for visibility during those inevitable runs in the dark. The zipper locks down and stays put. There are mesh panels that look stylish and help with temperature management and there is a small pocket that sits right on my hip that is big enough for a key or a gel.

This top would make a great gift for a runner on your list this holiday season, or for yourself to help motivate to get out on these frigid days. Happy Running!

Craft Fuseknit Comfort Long Sleeve Base Layer

Lee Macholz is one of our 2018/2019 RErun ambassadors. She is a stud! After work and family time, she still manages to volunteer and/or run many events through Runners Edge and Run Wild Missoula. We asked her to review the Craft long sleeve and talk about the importance of baselayers in the winter. Here are her thoughts below…

Fit: The Craft Fuseknit Comfort Base Layer fits me very well. I have a long torso and long arms and many women’s shirts that fit me in the torso are too short in the sleeves. The trend in adding extra length to sleeves to include thumb holes and cover the hands has been hit-and-miss for me as most mean that the sleeves are comfortable but the holes are useless. This Craft base layer, however, is great in that I can comfortably wear it with my thumbs through the holes and cover part of my hands! I love this because my hands are perpetually cold. The body of the shirt is seamless and fits close to my body but is not skin-tight. It is very comfortable because there are no seams through the arms to have to twist to just the right place to avoid rubbing and chafing. This also means it is super comfortable layered under another shirt or close-fitting jacket. When layering, it almost feels like it disappears – no bunching or twisting or chafing. It is just long enough to tuck into my cold weather pants. My only complaint is that when worn
with tights and a running waist belt, the fabric is a little slick and the bottom hem rides up a little; but not any more than most other shirts. Also, I like that it does not have a hood attached.
Function: A good base layer is super important as we move through the unpredictability of fall weather and on to colder winter temperatures. A quality fabric is important because let’s face it, we’re a sweaty bunch of people! A base layer acts as insulation in the cold, helping to regulate your body temperature by wicking away moisture. Many people like wool base layers for their ability to keep you warm and dry but I am allergic to wool and so I rely on the magic of today’s performance fabrics. I like this Craft Fuseknit because it not only fits me well for a base layer but the fabric really works to move sweat away from my skin so that I don’t get wet and cold.
Performance: You can wear the Craft Fuseknit in a range of temperatures depending on your layering. As the weather started to cool down this fall, just the shirt on it’s own was good as long as the wind didn’t pick up. With a little wind and cooler temperatures, I added a wind-stopper jacket and it kept me warm but not too hot. As the winter temperatures start to drop, I plan to wear the Craft Fuseknit under a warmer running coat or a quarter-zip and I’m confident that it’ll be just right.
Bottom Line: Overall, I have been pretty impressed with the Craft brand. It is nice to have another brand choice for quality running gear. Craft seems to be a slightly lower price point than some of the other name running brands, which I appreciate. I have several Craft items and so far the quality has really held up to my active lifestyle between running, hiking, cross-training, and kids. If you are active through the fall, winter and spring in Montana, you definitely need a good base layer. I would recommend the Craft Fuseknit Comfort Long Sleeve!

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! We began carrying the popular brand, Darn Tough, and we wanted Amelia to share her thoughts on the wool socks made in Vermont. You can also follow her adventures on instagram @cairncarto, as well as on facebook.

Darn Tough Vertex ¼ Sock Review

The week before every big race I do, I find my way down to Runner’s Edge and pick out a brand new pair of socks to wear on race day. I usually buy something I’ve worn before so I’m not trying something new on race day, but having new socks to put on gets me excited to run hard and feels like a nice gift to my feet for all the hard work they have put in leading up to race day.

I started to write that I’m not particularly picky about which socks I choose for my race-day present, but I realized that’s not true. I am pretty particular about my socks. I like them to be wool, or mostly wool, I like short no-show socks unless it’s brushy or snowy and then I like some of my ankle covered. I like my socks pretty thin, and I really dislike toe socks. Finally, I try to buy all my gear from companies with a conscience. All that means I was pretty excited to review both the light and ultra light version of the Darn Tough Vertex ¼ socks this month!

My first impression when I took the socks out of their packaging was that they were really soft and super cute. The days of a pack of 10 all-white cotton crew socks are long gone, and it takes some good design for socks to stand out on the wall in today’s market. These come in cheerful color options that I really like.

Darn Tough is a family owned business based in Vermont, close the where I grew up, and they still make all their socks at their mill in Northfield, Vermont. They offer a lifetime guarantee, on socks, and pride themselves on products that are built to last.

I have a confession to make: I love the idea behind Darn Tough but until recently I really didn’t like Darn Tough socks. They use a higher percentage of nylon than other wool sock brands which makes their socks much more durable, but it also makes some of their thicker hiking socks feel really thick and unbreathable. For years I’ve gotten a pair of their heavy-weight hiking socks every year for Christmas, and every time I wear them my shoes feel too tight and my feet end up a sweaty clammy mess.

In the last few years I’ve started coming around, and after trying these ¼ socks I’m a big fan. I’ve spent a lot of time running with wet feet lately and the ¼ sock height is perfect for cold, muddy, slushy conditions, and even when my feet are soaked they feel warm and comfortable. Another issue I’ve had with Darn Tough socks in the past is the ankle feeling too tight, but these feel soft and comfortable without being so loose they fall down. I didn’t have any issues with bunching or falling down or slipping or any other problems with the way they fit. Mostly I forgot I was even wearing them until I went to take them off and realized my feet were much wetter than I realized, which is a good sign I think. I’ve been known to get holes in the toes of my socks after just a few wears but these, like all Darn Toughs are built to last.

I highly recommend you try these out if you are looking for some new socks to add to your drawer. Especially if you haven’t always loved Darn Tough socks in the past. Thanks for reading!

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! We asked him to review a jacket from a cool company, Cotopaxi, and his thoughts are below… You can follow his adventures with his pup on intagram @corysoulliard.

Fall is here. The mountains are dusted in snow, the mornings are frosty, and the views are amazing. It’s that great time of year when I want to be out on the trails as much as possible before they are covered in snow. A well timed run means I can still enjoy shorts and a t-shirt but heading back one of the the canyons in the bitterroot means I should not go without an extra layer. Do I take a layer for warmth? To stop the wind? To shelter me from the surprise
rain or snow? How about one that will take on all of those roles?

Quick notes:
Pros                                    Cons                                              Notes
– Light (4.6oz)                   – Pockets do not zipper                  – Bright, bold colors
– Packable                          – Elastic waist does not                  – Half-zip available
– Hood                                   cinch
– Collar protects neck
when zipped
– Vented back
– DWR finish
– Quiet

The Cotopaxi Teca jacket will only take up a little more space than a tennis ball and weighs a scant 4.6 oz so there are few reasons to bring it with you. I was able to shed the wind at the top of Trapper Peak and fend off a light rain around Lake Como while just wearing a light t-shirt underneath. Trapper was a classic fall trip that starts warm from the car but without some protection at the top there would be no way I could hang out and enjoy the view. My Teca jacket was basically nonexistent on the hike up but ready when I needed it at 10,157ft. The run around Lake Como started cool and damp so the jacket was in for a more thorough test.

The first thing I was noticing about the jacket was the noise. Many light jackets are more disruptive but I quickly realized that it was just the hood that I was hearing. The hood was not needed on this run so I tucked it in the collar and ran in almost silence. After a couple miles in 38 degree weather I started to heat up. There is an inch wide strip that runs the width of the back to ventilate while on the go and when I started overheating I just lowered the zipper a few inches to let some extra air in and ran on in comfort. Although the rain was minimal the DWR finish did keep me dry despite the efforts of all of the low hanging branches that were saving up their water for my passing. My legs and my socks did not remain so dry.

At 5’10” and roughly 140 lbs I decided on the men’s medium and I would say the fit is about right. The body is large enough I will be able to add a warm layer and wear this jacket through the winter but not so large that I feel like I am wearing a parachute. The sleeves are plenty long
so the elastic cuffs can actually meet my gloves. If needed the collar covers your neck when zipped up and the hood will wrap around your head to keep the heat in. My wife may have stolen the jacket for an early morning run and she approved of it. Although a size down would have been better fitting I get the impression that I might notice it missing again in the future.

Now I must be honest, I dress for function, not fashion. I would expect this Teca jacket to be worn by a stylish runner slipping through the crowds of NYC or on the cover of some running magazine instead of on minimally maintained trails. I don’t think I would have purchased the jacket because the 1990 style, bright, block coloring might be too bold for me. After wearing it a couple times I don’t feel as self-conscious as I expected. In fact on the dull grey days I think I like the addition of color to my world. As with all ultralight jackets I hope it can withstand the abuse on the trail. A recent run up Bear Creek Canyon did push the limits of the DWR as I was continually slapped with branches full of the previous night’s wet snow. Although I am not sure I stayed dry, I would say I was able to stay comfortable for the 2 hour adventure.

Anyone growing up in the late 80s-early 90s may feel right at home with the styling. Many companies tried their hand including The North Face seen here. If you miss the kangaroo pouch pocket be sure to check out the half-zip Teca. You will have plenty of room to bring along your sandwich, walkman, and a few slap bracelets for your friends.