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Archive for September, 2011

Women’s Running Shorts: A Comparison

September 30th, 2011

For nearly a decade, a single short has dominated the women’s run apparel industry. The Nike Tempo Track Short is the queen of running shorts; women of all shapes, sizes and abilities adore it, some so faithful that they refuse to wear anything else. Through the years, the Tempo has taken on over 1500 color combos and hundreds of prints, from tie die to stripes, checkers to polka dots. Other running brands have tried to confront the Tempo “craze”, but they have ultimately been unable to draw attention away from the hoards of colors and the incredible following that the short maintains. (There are entire walls of tempo shorts in many retail stores, and even a blog entitled “Confessions of a Tempo Addict”).

In some ways, the success of the Tempo Short is peculiar – it’s very basic in shape, fabric and features. In other ways, it’s no wonder that it has won over the hearts (and purses) of so many female runners: the fit is forgiving and generous, not to mention that it’s reliable and always available, with 20+ colors and prints to choose from during any season. Women need not “shop”, they can simply “buy”.

Priced at $30.00 MSRP, the Tempo is clearly a price-point buy. But Tempo-mania goes far beyond that, and it is likely to continue given that Nike is offering some 50+ versions of the short for the Holiday season alone.

Fascinated by the dominance of such a simple short, we decided to do a comparison between the Tempo and its competitors. Interestingly, when put in a line-up among other 3”–3 ½ ” running shorts of similar price and style, the Tempo didn’t pan out where expected.  According to an in-house survey of 5 different shorts, a Saucony short actually out-did the Tempo in all 3 areas of criteria: Fit, Fabric and Aesthetics.

Read more…

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Brooks PureFlow – First Look

September 29th, 2011

Brooks PureFlow Men's Shoe April 2012 Color

The Saucony Kinvara 2 no longer stands alone. Prepared to duel, is the Brooks PureFlow. It is built with a 4mm heel-toe offset, just like the Kinvara 2, but sits an estimated 2mm higher off the ground (stack height: heel-23mm, forefoot-19mm). The extra 2mm mostly comes from the outsole, which should increase durability over the Kinvara 2. But that extra thickness, no matter how slight, does come with a weight increase. The PureFlow comes in an estimated 1.3 ounces heavier than the Kinvara 2 but is still quite light (men’s sample size 9.0=8.6 oz, women’s sample size 8.0=7.6 oz).

Comparisons with the Kinvara 2 do not end with the specifications. The PureFlow is similarly quite soft while standing or walking but more responsive while running.  Whereas some customer feedback indicates the Kinvara 2 may be too soft at a quick pace, initial reports suggest the PureFlow to be more responsive at faster paces. This unique dynamic is the result of Brooks blending their DNA cushioning with their premium BioMoGo midsole foam.

As part of the Brooks PureProject line, the PureFlow comes with a set of standard features geared toward midfoot striking and a less-is-more philosophy. This shoe is for those who want a more “natural” experience but with cushioning not found in the near-barefoot type shoes (Altra Adam/Eve, Inov-8 Bare-X 200, Merrell Trail/Pace Glove, New Balance Minimus Trail, Saucony Hattori).

The PureFlow has an MRSP of $90 with a limited release in October 2011. A broader release with additional colors begins January 2012.

Brooks PureFlow Women's Shoe October 2011 color

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Mizuno Inspire 8 – First Look

September 27th, 2011

Mizuno Inspire 8 Osaka Edition Men's Shoe (sample shown)

Long considered the performance runner’s support shoe of choice, the Mizuno Wave Inspire 8 will continue to deliver a smooth and responsive ride. And although the updates to the Inspire 8 are minor and focused primarily on fit, the weight is reportedly a half ounce lighter than the Wave Inspire 7.

The Fan Wave of the Inspire uses basic physics to distribute ground reaction forces in manner which slows the rate of pronation. What this means is the Inspire works with the foot in a non-obtrusive manner, yet delivers support for moderate over-pronation.

With the 8th edition of the Inspire, we get changes to the heel fit to resemble the 6th model and the addition of flex controllers to the forefoot outsole for a proclaimed more efficient toe-off. There is also a limited edition Osaka color, which celebrates Mizuno’s Partnership with the 2011 Osaka Marathon. Fortunately for us, this means we get some fun colors to go along with the status quo usually found in this shoe’s history.

The Osaka edition will be available mid October 2011, while the remaining two colors per gender will be released in December 2011. And, following the common trend for Spring 2012 model updates, the Inspire 8 will see a price increase to $115 MSRP.

Mizuno Inspire 8 Osaka Edition Women's Shoe (sample shown)

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THE NORTH FACE Better Than Naked Jacket

September 21st, 2011

The North Face Better Than Naked Jacket

The North Face Better Than Naked Jacket is a seemingly weightless, easily stowed, weather-resistant layer for Fall running.

As part of TNF’s Flight Series collection and Better Than Naked (BTN) line, the Better Than Naked Jacket is completely performance-driven with premium features and a minimalistic design. Both light and windproof, it’s built for endurance athletes who may experience fluctuating conditions all within one run. The fabric is uniquely soft, yet also breathable and stretchy.

We tested the Better Than Naked Jacket in a variety of running conditions.  Though we expected the jacket to be too thin for running on brisk mornings (~ 50 degrees) with only a tank underneath, it was actually just right. It was cold at first, but then quickly warm and even too warm once the sun rose. This was a perfect opportunity to utilize the stash pocket. Once stowed away, there wasn’t much to do with it. There is a wrist strap but ultimately it was most comfortable when worn around the waist or stashed in the back of shorts.

On violently windy days, the jacket performed surprisingly well as a wind barrier. Slip on the hood, tighten the hood’s drawcord and you’ll find yourself adequately protected from most stormy conditions. An important caveat is that the BTN jacket is neither seam-sealed nor substantial, so it will unlikely keep you sheltered from extreme downpour or dramatic drops in temperature. But we found the weight to be very versatile and the fabric to be deceivingly powerful.

The nicest feature by far was the jacket’s fabric. Implied in the name “Better Than Naked,” it has an incredible feel that makes it largely unnoticeable as you run; while runners normally avoid layers at all costs because of bunching, bulkiness or weight, the BTN Jacket is impressively airy and unrestricting. There is an even lighter version of the jacket for Spring and Summer that is very ventilated, but isn’t windproof or hooded. The Better Than Naked Cool Jacket will be available in February 2012.

Overall, the Better Than Naked Jacket is fantastic for long distance running in unpredictable climates.

Other “stand out” features:

  • Laser-cut venting provides a cooling system for your body (underarms and on hood)
  • All around adjustability: cord loops around the waist and on the sculpted hood keep the garment close to your body even when running in wind
  • Lots of reflectivity
  • Great versatility: can be worn with only a tank underneath and stowed away when temperatures increase

Where other jackets fail to provide lasting comfort and freedom, the North Face Better Than Naked Jacket prevails. It’s a must-have for Fall running.

The North Face Better Than Naked Jacket (MSRP $129.00) is currently available for both men and women.

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Soleus GPS 1.0 Digital Sport Watch – First Look

September 20th, 2011

Soleus GPS 1.0 Digital Sport Watch

Soleus is jumping into the GPS market with the GPS 1.0 Digital Sport Watch. With an MSRP of $99, the new Soleus GPS watch targets runners seeking a simple-to-use speed/distance watch to monitor training.

Main Features

  • GPS: high-sensitivity receiver
  • Distance: current & total in Miles or Km
  • Pace/Speed: current & average
  • Calories Burned: current & total Kcal burned
  • Chrono: 24-hour, 1/100 second resolution
  • Data Storage: 100-lap memory
  • World Time: 106 cities covering all time zones
  • Rechargeable Battery: USB rechargeable lithium-ion

Looking at the list above, it’s clear Soleus created a value-priced GPS watch with desirable core-run features. Additionally, the watch includes: time-of-day, date, alarms, multiple time zones and a backlight. All these features are packaged in a wristwatch that looks to be about the same size as Soleus’ current Ultra Sole or 262 watch models.

While there is no heart rate monitor option nor computer data-transfer capability, runners who want to track their pace/speed and distance will find it in the new GPS 1.0.

The Soleus GPS 1.0 Digital Sport Watch is expected to be available October 2011.

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Asics Noosa Tri 7 – First Look

September 15th, 2011

Asics Noosa Tri 7 Women's Shoe (only Noosa Tri text in heel and forefoot glow in the dark)

It glows in the dark. Need we say more? Well, maybe a little more.

The Asics Noosa Tri 7 (MSRP $120) is a variation of the popular, performance-oriented DS Trainer. By using the platform of the DS Trainer 14, the Noosa Tri 7 rides on a system proven to be successful for long, uptempo running. As such, it is great for the marathon portion of an Ironman triathlon. If you don’t do triathlons, that’s fine. This shoe has the balance to be used daily, for tempo runs, intervals or racing.

Overshadowed by the loud colors and unique glow-in-the dark components, this shoe’s upper delivers supreme breathability, making it ideal for hot, humid conditions.

The standard run of Asics technologies are here: Solyte midsole for enhanced cushioning and durability; Asics Gel in the heel and forefoot for added cushioning; DuoMax for mild pronation control; AHAR for outsole heel durability and a Durasponge forefoot for added flexibility and response; and so on.

Weight should be nearly identical to the Noosa Tri 6 (10.6 oz for a men’s 9.o, 9.5 oz for a women’s 8.0) and the heel-toe-offset is 10mm. But who really cares about that. The ride will be smooth and responsive for any foot-strike and the shoe is wildly cool. Look for the Noosa Tri 7 to be available February 2012.

Asics Noosa Tri 7 Women's Shoe (sample shown)

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adidas adiZero Hagio – First Look *Update

September 12th, 2011

adidas adiZero Hagio Men's Shoe (Hagio sample with incorrect "Feather" name shown)

Come January 2012, the hugely popular adidas adiZero Rocket will be gone and in its place will be the adiZero Hagio (MSRP $90).

The Hagio carries over the midsole from the adiZero Pro. And with a light weight upper and new outsole, the Hagio is expected be an ounce lighter than the adiZero Rocket. The featherweight upper utilizes vast areas of open mesh for superior breathability and weight reduction. Strategically placed laminated overlays help secure the foot and deliver a sleek appearance.

By stripping away oustole material, the Hagio is more flexible than the Rocket and additional weight savings are found in the outsole design.

All of the standard adidas technologies are still here. Full forefoot ADIPRENE adds durable comfort and provides good rebound for a responsive toe-off. The TORSION SYSTEM maintains structural integrity of the midsole’s midfoot. ADIWEAR provides durable wear at the heel and blown rubber in the forefoot provides added cushioning is light in weight.

Built on a 6mm heel-toe offset, the low-profile Hagio is ideal for faster running and racing. Specified at 6.0 ounces (sample men’s size 9.0), this shoe weighs the same as the Brooks T7 Racer, but should deliver greater durability. Expect this shoe to compete directly with the Asics Hyperspeed 4 and Saucony Type A4 ( the Hyperspeed 5 and Type A5 will be available February 2012).

Of note, the Hagio name  pays homage to the shoe designer of the same name who has had a great influence over the development many adiZero racing shoes.

adidas adiZero Hagio - outsole view (sample shown)

*The original post stated the adiZero Hagio carried over the midsole of the adiZero Rocket. However, the midsole of the Hagio is carried over from the adiZero Pro. The Rocket midsole was derived from the Pro midsole.

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The Sugoi Hydrolite Jacket: Intelligent Fabric, Brilliant Design

September 9th, 2011

The Sugoi Hydrolite Jacket

The advent of packable, lightweight running jackets isn’t an entirely new concept, but the Sugoi Hydrolite Jacket is absolutely original.

Sheer and intriguing, it features an “intelligent fabric” that reacts with water to create a moisture-blocking membrane. The film-like surface visibly activates as beads of water roll off of it, leaving a trace of “lifted” material. Unlike other jackets with waterproof material, the Hydrolite’s unique fabric actually breathes well; it allows excess heat and moisture to escape while also protecting you from the elements outside. This means that you can run comfortably in rainy conditions for far longer than most protective running jackets would allow. The Hydrolite even has 4-way stretch, ensuring great movement.

Between its one-of-a-kind fabric and its inherent versatility, the Sugoi Hydrolite Jacket clearly has an advantage over other weather-resistant shells. Beyond that, this stellar piece has ventilation panels and all-around reflective piping. It packs down to about the size of a muffin, making it a great “just-in-case” jacket for running in suspicious weather.

The Men’s Sugoi Hydrolite Jacket is currently available at Running Warehouse (MSRP $90.00).

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