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Product Review: Brooks Fast Forward Zip Bra

Raise your hand if you’ve come home from a winter run cold and sweaty with fingers too numb and body so tired that wrestling a wet sports bra off your clammy skin felt like an insurmountable task. Me too. Death by soggy bra is a good way to kill even the coziest pre-run situation but wriggling out of a damp bra underneath a pile of winter layers is the worst.

Enter the Brooks Fast Forward Zip Sports Bra.

I’m not someone who needs a lot of support from a running bra so I usually just go for whatever pullover racer back has the softest fabric or cutest pattern. I have never owned a sports bra that wasn’t a pullover until last month. I always thought the fancy ones with hooks or zippers weren’t for me.

And I was a little skeptical of the Fast Forward bra. Would the zipper make a weird bump under my shirt or bounce around? Would I hear in clinking as I ran? Would the zipper feel like cold metal when I put it on? Nope, nope and nope. Despite the zipper, this bra has a simple construction with a mesh racer back, sleek front panels and a wide soft elastic band along the bottom. Like most bras it came with pads, although, like always, I removed them right away. The zipper has a cozy panel behind it that protects your skin from ever feeling the zipper and the zipper lies smoothly under your shirt. The zipper pull locks down and doesn’t bounce. The best feature? When your run is done the zipper is smooth and easy to undo freeing you from a soggy bra in seconds. No struggle!

A note about fit and sizing: since I don’t need much for support I tend to buy sports bras a size bigger than my normal shirt size, so I can avoid feeling suffocated. This bra fits true to size, and the medium I tested was probably a little big but it was comfortable and I didn’t think about it while I was wearing it. I often find sports bras feel too short, and that I have to keep tugging them down, and that didn’t happen with this one, if anything the straps felt a tad too long. The elastic band around the ribcage is soft and supportive without feeling restrictive.

Despite having a zipper this bra feels light, breathable and sleek, and I’m sure it will be in heavy rotation all summer. I recommend this bra for anyone looking for an option that doesn’t require a clammy wrestling match to get out of.

Product Review: Trail Butter

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 thought Sean would be the perfect person to review the new product we are carrying, Trail Butter. He often spends countless hours on the trails, so who better to test this product than Sean?! Read his review below and you can also follow Sean’s adventures on instagram@seankiffe.

The Trail Butter brand is relatively new on the running nutrition scene and it is a welcomed addition. The company started in 2012 on a self proclaimed mission to…

“create delicious, all-natural energy food alternatives that provide balanced, slow-burning energy in a convenient portable package, all while using only unprocessed, whole-food ingredients” https://trailbutter.com/about/

It appears that they have done exactly that. As any long distance runner knows, you have to fuel the beast. Testing out Trail Butter could not have come at a better time for me. As I’m gearing up for the coming season of running with a couple ultra distance events on my calendar I’m attempting to explore the range of products out there to find out what works with my digestive system.

I used the Trail Butter product on four different runs. There are several things that I really liked about this product. First, I love the fact that these are made of simple, real, sometimes organic ingredients and when you eat it that’s what it tastes like…real food. Unlike the ingredient lists of other running foods and gels that sound like a chemistry text, the Trail Butter ingredients are simple. There are also vegan options for those of you who are so inclined.

One thing that I really enjoyed was that there was none of the gooey aftertaste or lingering paste in your mouth that you get with gels and that’s nice when you’re sucking wind on the long course. The claim of “slow burning” really resonated with me. The nut component offers a ready source of fat that burns slowly, perfect for those long distance efforts where short bursts of high fructose corn syrup or some other sugar are simply not enough to sustain you for very long. The butter-style format allows for quicker assimilation into your system than an energy bar which would take longer to digest and might be dry and hard to swallow on the run.

The packaging comes in three different styles. The single serving 1.15oz packets are easy to open and resemble the packaging of a typical gel. The 4.5oz pouches were my favorite. I loved having several servings in one reseal-able, easy to eat out of pouch. This limits the amount of garbage and mess that you end up having to tote around the trails with you if you were carrying 4-5 packets of the same product. You can also get the Trail Butter flavors in a 16oz jar, which might be nice for those of you who like to prepare custom running foods. Last year I was fond of taking quartered PB&J banana sandwiches on my long runs and eating them a quarter at a time every few miles. The jar size would be nice for that.

The small company hails out of Portland, OR and still has that homegrown feel about it. I like this and it almost gives it a sort of local feel. The product is not crazy expensive and ounce for ounce contains more calories than the typical 1oz gel packet.

While dark chocolate and coffee was by far my personal favorite, the original flavor and the maple syrup and sea salt both were delicious in their own right. Having a sensitive stomach, I tend to get some discomfort after too many sugary gels. If that sounds familiar to you I think you’re going to really enjoy this product. Trail butter goes down easily, tastes delicious and delivers long lasting energy that’s perfect for the long haul. In summary, Trail Butter is real food, real simple and really good. Trail Butter is a must-try for anyone looking to mix it up with their running nutrition this season.

 

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Product Review: OS1st Bunion Relief Socks

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. Bunions effect many people around Missoula and the world and they can be very irritating when wear or buying shoes. We brought in a Bunion Relief sock and asked Lee to review our new product. Her thoughts below…

OS1st Bunion Relief Socks

I have to say, I really like these socks. I can’t tell you first-hand if they relieve the pain of a bunion, but I did a little research and here is what learned. Bunions develop slowly over time, so while I don’t have one now, I can see by the shape of my foot that the potential is there for one to develop. A bunion is a bony bump on the inside of your foot at the joint of your big toe. They develop when there is regular pressure on the big toe that causes it to lean toward the second toe. As such, I can see how this could be an issue for runners! I think that recent shoe design can help prevent bunions
as we are seeing wide toe boxes in many shoe styles, but can these socks help as well?

Fit: There are two elements to this sock that I think would be beneficial for treating / preventing bunions. First, the Bunion Relief Socks are designed with a split toe. I’ve never worn a split toe sock before and so it was pretty weird at first. But, I can see how this design relieves the sideways pressure on your big toe that you could get in a regular sock, especially a compressive one. I liked that my big toe could move more freely and I could feel the difference. The second element to this sock that is specific for a person with a bunion is the padded area at the joint of the big toe. It is a softer,
thicker area that fits just right and would provide nice padding to a painful bunion. Moving up the foot, the sock has good compression over the rest of the foot that results in a high performance and very comfortable fit. I like the height of the sock as well – though I am partial to a quarter-height sock.

Performance: I have been running in these socks through January and February in Montana – it is snowy and it is cold. I usually like a taller sock in the winter so my ankles don’t get cold or wet, but as a quarter-height design, these socks have been just high enough. I am not sure if it is the material, or the split toe design, or both but I find these socks to be on the warm side. Which is perfect in the winter, though I likely won’t wear them much in the summer for this reason, we’ll see. I have been washing and wearing them regularly and they are holding up really well. The compression zones are just enough to feel good, but not so much that they cut off my circulation.

Bottom Line: While I can’t speak to the pain relieve side of the equation. I do think that the split toe design and extra padding on these socks will help prevent / ease the symptoms of a bunion. Bottom line is that once I got used to the split toe, I like them and will keep them handy!

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Product Review: Squirrel’s Nut Butter

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 Sean to review a new anti-chafe product called Squirrel’s Nut Butter. Read his review below and you can also follow Sean’s adventures on instagram@seankiffe.

Squirrel’s Nut Butter is a newer line of anti-chafe and skin care products with an all natural ingredient list. At first glance I had to wrap my head around the fact that this product was not food. With nutrition products on the market like Clif Bar’s Nut Butter Bars it can be confusing. That said, the Squirrel’s Nut Butters list of ingredients does not read like a chemistry textbook and would more than likely be just fine to eat. The product’s invention was intended as a treatment for eczema for one of the founder’s children. It would appear that the uses of this salve are far reaching beyond athletic purposes.

I tested the Anti-Chafe Salve in the stick format (it also comes in a small tub container). The primary ingredients are coconut oil and beeswax. Any endurance athlete knows the discomfort that chafing can cause and the invaluable proactive benefits of a product like this. I used Squirrel’s Nut Butter primarily on my two problem areas, the nipples and inner thighs. The butter applied easily and was scentless. For anyone running medium to long distances, this is a must-have product.

Other products like Body Glide, Gold Bond and Chamois Butt´r have been around for a while but neither have the simple, hypoallergenic ingredient list like Squirrel’s Nut Butter does. It should be noted that there is a vegan option as well.

I like the “deodorant-stick” style application method. It helps to keeps your hands free from the product directly and also limits the amount of mess and waste created from applying it. The all natural ingredient list is an obvious winner for people with sensitive skin or allergies, and in this day and age of space-age polymers infused into every product we buy it’s great to keep it simple with “real” ingredients.

I’ve used Body Glide for years now and by comparison the Squirrel’s Nut Butter product was just as effective, if not more so. The anti-chafing quality was excellent and it did not lose its effectiveness after prolonged effort and sweating. I’d strongly recommend this product to any athlete. It’s inexpensive, made from a simple list of natural ingredients and it works as promised. The Squirrel’s Nut Butter Company also offers products for cycling and skin restoration, all boasting the same all natural ingredients.

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Product Review: Saucony Peregrine 8 Ice+

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! Since he is an avid winter runner and always braving the elements, we asked him to review the Saucony Peregrine Ice 8+. Check out his thoughts below and you can also follow his adventures with his pup on intagram @corysoulliard.

Caution, ice is slippery!

Now that we have that out of the way I will start with a few things that these shoes cannot do. They do not prevent ice from being slippery. They also will not prevent the string of curses that will enter your mind later this winter (and may come out your mouth) after too many weeks of running on the rutted, icy, frozen roads in Missoula.

What will these shoes do for you?
Well have you ever driven a car in the winter weather with snow tires? I would consider these shoes the snow tires of the running world. I don’t take my snow tires off if the roads are dry and I would not hesitate to wear these shoes when the roads or trails are free from ice and snow. In fact I think that is possibly the biggest asset of these shoes. If you know you will be spending your entire run in snow and ice then I would recommend picking up something from Kahtoola, DueNorth, or your favorite sharp winter accessory. If you don’t have any then I am sure the crew at Runners Edge can fix that problem. If your run is like many of mine have been lately (mix of pavement, dirt, rocks, ice, and snow) then these shoes will help a lot. Since they are built on a proven trail shoe they can handle every type of trail I throw at them. The traction is terrific! When I come around the shady corner into the snow there is no need to change my stride. If the next corner is solid ice, well then I still do need to run with a little caution. They do not act like metal spikes! However, like a good set of snow tires, they do improve traction over regular trainers and with a few carefully placed steps I am past the ice and still running. I will throw out the disclaimer that I have already owned Peregrines in the past and loved them so I probably went in with high hopes and they did not disappoint.

How about the shoes?
There have been some changes with the Peregrine 8 from previous models. They have removed any kind of rock plate and increased the amount of foam underfoot. In a recent trip around Lake Como (when I was not running across the actual frozen lake) I was intentionally taking some of the lines that were littered with rocks to see if I could tell a difference. My feet did not feel any discomfort. The biggest increase in comfort I noticed was due to the Runshield upper. They are not waterproof, but they are extremely water resistant. I have had them in the cold snow, wet snow, and rain and my feet have been dry every time. The dry snow is usually fine, but I often return with wet feet after being out in the rain or sloppy snow. I plan to add a pair of short gaiters and continue testing these all winter! The outsole has changed a little and the Ice+ have the addition of the Vibram Arctic Grip to help with the slippery sections, but they still maintain the great grip I remember. They are still a neutral trail shoe sporting the 4mm drop and a great new upper.

Conclusion
Traction devices for your shoes are like tire chains, the absolute best when the going gets really rough. On all those other days when you want to be able to cruise at higher speeds and across varied terrain then these trail shoes will not let you down. I think the Peregrine Ice will see a lot of use this winter!

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Product Review: Brooks Cascadia 13 GTX

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.