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Posts tagged “gear review

Gear Me… Running Shoe Showdown.

For the last year and a half or so, I have really embraced running. Running is something that I have always done from time to time, but for the first time in my life, I have actually enjoyed it. Maybe it’s because I am now in my 30s, and my body is reacting a bit differently than when I was in my 20s. Or it could just be that running is a very inexpensive, and low time commitment way to stay in shape. Don’t get me wrong, I love mountain biking, but it is very nice to just leave from the front door and hit the road or woods for a quick half hour run. That said, here are the shoes that I have been putting to the test…

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From bottom to top: Vibram KSO, New Balance Minimus, Merrell True Glove, and Saucony Kinvara 2.

Vibram Five Fingers KSO
These are the shoes that made me enjoy running again, and made me hate it all the same. I posted a rant about them some time ago (read it here) and after my little toe issue, I took a nice long break from them. After that break, I started to work them back into my running routine, and now I am back to liking them. These shoes really shine for trail running or hiking, but only when it is dry. Wear these shoes when it is muddy, and you will have a trail running session that is similar to ice skating. Since they are so light, they are also a great choice for having around the campsite after a day in hiking boots.

New Balance Minimus
These are my go to shoes now a days. Primarily a trail runner, I find that these shoes are an all around delight for my feet. They feel very similar to the Vibrams, but with a more aggressive tread pattern, that hooks into the ground very well. Wet trail downhill running? Yes please. These shoes connect with the dirt unlike any running shoes that I have worn. I also like running on the pavement with them, but this is not the popular view on this model.

Merrell True Glove
I have been a fan of Merrell’s products for a while now, and when they embraced the minimalist running movement, I was intrigued with their models. I ended up with the True Glove, and after quite a few runs I decided that these were not for me. The feel of them seemed dulled down, as in the rubber seemed too hard, or not as flexible, and they just did not feel right to me. So, I have been wearing these shoes to work, and after two and a half months they look like this:

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These shoes have not held up to a little bit of running, and a lot of time at work. The other shoe has completely separated at the toe from the sole. So add shoes that don’t last and bad ground feel, and that equals shoes that I will not buy again.

Saucony Kinvara 2
After my Vibram incident, I went out looking for a more comfy shoe, and I ended up going with the Kinvara 2s. Compared to all of the shoes on this list, they are like running on clouds. Not a true minimalist shoe, but more of a transition shoe. Any time that I feel like pushing the miles all on pavement, these are the shoes that I reach for.

So there you have it, the shoes in my current stable. I have been running quite a bit more here the past few weeks, mostly due to having a slight tailbone issue, and also due to Venturepax having a running challenge on their site. Head on over to accept the challenge to win some Altra running shoe swag!

Just keep running…

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Gear Me… Surly Tuggnut.

The Surly Troll is an amazing bicycle. Quite possibly my most favorite bike ever. Yes, I just said ever. One recurring problem that I have had with it however, is that when my wheel is positioned a bit farther back in the horizontal dropout, the wheel decides to slip on the chain side. This causes the tire to shift awkwardly and pushes the tire into the chain stay, stopping your forward momentum. While running smaller rubber in the back, this is not an issue, as the wheel can ride all the way forward. But, with winter coming, and I have wanted to roll out on some larger tires, this was just not acceptable. So that said, enter the Tuggnut…

The Surly Tuggnut is a handy dandy $30 piece of stainless steel that fixes this slippage problem and also cracks open those pesky pry off bottle caps on your favorite beverage. It was so easy and straight forward, that I was surprised that it came with instructions. It’s not rocket science, took just a couple minutes to install.

Here are the two things that I do not like about it:

My first complaint is that it has a shiny sliver, chrome like appearance. I would prefer it in black, but to each his own. This one shiny part on my bike will be covered in mud anyway. Second, the bottle opener does not have much clearance with my derailleur, so to use it I will have to turn my bike over like I am changing a tube. Maybe if I would just man up and make this bike a single speed, then I wouldn’t have to worry about that…

Overall, this is a very handy piece of metal, and I am pretty glad that it ended up on my bike. I can now run larger tires without the dreaded wheel rub. And also, I can now drink more beer while on my bicycle. Well done Surly!


Gear Me… Osprey Talon 22 first impressions.

If you have been cycling for a while, you probably have some sort of backpack that is made just for your cycling pleasure. I am sure that most of us gear geeks have a Camelback or two hanging out in our gear shed (Two for me!). My latest purchase needed to be a little more versatile than both of my Camelbacks, so I decided to try out another brand, which led me to my local outfitter, Roads, Rivers, Trails to check out the variety of packs. After talking over my wants and needs with their knowledgeable staff, I ended up going with Osprey. The bird geek in me rejoiced.

The Talon 22 is one of their Multi-Use packs, which focuses primarily on cycling. This pack is very versatile in regards to size, fitting in the 1200-1300 cu in. daypack category. This is a size of pack that I am desperately lacking (I am a backpack whore, I’ll admit) and primarily I plan on using it to carry my growing camera gear while on the bike. I also wanted a pack that I could load up for the day, and stay in the woods for a while. This pack fits right in with those thoughts. While it is on the smaller side of the spectrum, it still packs in quite a bit of gear, and I plan on trying to do an ultralight overnight or two with this pack, with minimal gear of course.

Some of the other handy features of this pack are an external hydration sleeve to keep your reservoir separate from your stuff; side pockets with compression straps, with one side having taller tie down points for longer gear, like a tripod; and the handy dandy LidLock, which holds your helmet in place when you are not wearing it. I am a bit confused as to why I need that concept, but it does work nicely.

In this price range of around $100, this is a solid pack so far. I have only had it in action just once, since I just bought it yesterday. Today on a small hike, I loaded it to capacity to see how it felt, and it was pretty amazing. We shall see how that first impression stands up to the tests of time. Stay tuned!

Osprey sums up the Talon 22 with this short video, as well as providing the monotone overdub:

Be sure to check out Osprey at the link above, as well as Roads, Rivers, Trails which is located in historic downtown Milford!