‘An insulated jacket with great moisture management and rain-proofing, thanks to the unique materials used in its construction. Stay warm, stay dry: stay moving.’
For so long I have been looking for something to wear after events to get the inner fire burning and to actually feel warm again. The need for such an item really did come apparent in the last few months after moving house. As much as my house move wasn’t purely for the need to have a swimming pool exactly 6km from my front door (I wouldn’t advise anyone to go through the stresses of a house move just for this reason) it did however come as a rather large bonus. BUT with winter closing in and living on a top of a hill in exposed moorland, wind chill is the coldest I have ever experienced in the UK and so I found myself REALLY needing this item, I just had to find what the item was…
It needed to be something that could be used on a daily training basis as well as being transportable for events and more specialist times. As a surfer (or so I like to call myself) I have an array of more water sport style options for warming up after coming out of wetsuits on blustery beaches but none of these are exactly practical to be packed down in to a rucksack for a pre-swim run.
My criteria for such an item wasn’t exactly vague but the Mimic Essen seemed to taken them all in its stride:
It had to pack down small and I mean tiny, I have honed the skill of fitting everything I need for my swim session as well as clothes for afterwards in to a 12L hydration pack allowing me to run to swimming and leave afterwards with the hubby in clean dry clothes. Only problem, I was freezing in the tiny top and leggings I could squeeze in my bag…hence the search!
‘The lightweight material is made from recycled polyester and offers the outstanding warmth of a down, but with the minimal weight and compact storage size of synthetic’
It had to have water repellent down. If this was to work how I wanted it to I needed to know that as it was warming me the down filling wasn’t just slowly absorbing the moisture as tradition uncoated goose or duck down has the tendency to do.
‘The unique QuadFusion Mimic material used in this jacket’s insulation has most of the properties of a down but absorbs much less water in rough conditions. Coupled with a lightweight 30D tear and wind resistant DWR-treated Pertex shell (fluorocarbon-free for great environment credentials). Thanks to the durable waterproofing treatment, water runs right off and doesn’t soak into the jacket.’
It had to be practical, I had to be able to move and carry on the things I needed to get done. As much as it would be lovely to get out of the water and wrap up in a sleeping bag, this doesn’t bode well for actually packing up kit and getting home. It had to be agile enough without compromising on warmth.
‘The ergonomic designed, articulated sleeves and Polartec Powerstretch shoulder inserts keep the wearer agile. Polartec Power stretch was developed to expand the base fabric’s durability and range of motion. Polartec Power Stretch has the ability to retain warmth without restricting movement or agility during activities.’
As well as all of this I actually wanted this jacket to be exactly that, a jacket for winter walking, winter exploring and winter life. Not just something that sat in the kit bag and only came out at races but that I lived in and that would stand up to all the different activities I threw at it. All very reasonable requests I thought!!
‘The next-to-skin surface keeps you warm and dry through touch points that diffuse and evaporate vapour moisture in the outer layer. Reinforced elastic fibres ensure fabric consistently rebounds after every stretch. The outer surface has a low-friction finish that reduces irritation when worn with other fabrics and increases overall abrasion resistance. This makes it perfect for use on long mountain trips.’
Let me intro to you the new Salomon Sense Ride aka the new all-singing-all-dancing-all-terrain-bad-boys in the off-road running world.
4 words sums up this review THESE HAVE IT ALL!
Salomon set themselves the challenge of designing a trail shoe that not only came in to its own on the toughest climb but also rocked it on the approach, across the local park and along the canal path. Their Contragrip sole it’s where it all comes in to play, a fancy word for extra grippy and sticky this sole is the standout aspect in providing unrivaled traction across the loosest of gravel or the wettest of grass verges.
Let’s be honest anyone in the market for specialist trail shoes has watched endless shiny perfected promo videos where incredible runners hurtle carelessly down what can only be a French Alps black ski-run in the summer and see impressive stats flash up on to the screen on how this is the go to product for their own runs in this terrain. Questions keeps raising their head in the back of your mind however as that consumer. ‘That’s all well and good for when I’m running the Alps mountain trails (in my dreams) but what about all my normal runs?! What about across the park being yanked every which way by my excitable pup? Am I going to face plant in the boggy English summer grass?’
Unfortunately we don’t all have the luxury of living at the start of the footpath and not having to run down the street first to join the trail. I know I’m not alone in wanting the start and end sections, transition from house to trail, to be as comfortable as the middle, trail, grass, footpath you-name-it-my-runs-got-it section.
I, as have my husband, friends and I’m sure you, have spent many a year running wet grass in road shoes as that was best for actually getting to the field or putting up with clunky grip on the approach as it would be ‘ok in the end’. What I love about these is their flexibility, soft enough to be feeling what is beneath your feet, something I didn’t even realise I wanted in a shoe until I concentrated on it – try it, you’ll see! But also the comfort that they provide, I am no way suggesting you swap these for your road shoe no, no, no but for me when runs in busy hectic lives don’t fit in to the categories of trail or road these are in that real life runners category of you-name-it-my-runs-got-it.
I remind you of one of my first sentences: 4 words sums up this review THESE HAVE IT ALL!
‘Put it on leave it on’ is a bold claim from Patagonia and as the predecessor of this jacket had won a ‘2015 Outside Gear of the Year’ Award, I was keen to put it to the test.
First thing you notice is just how light it is and I’m talking really light (!) 252g to be exact. It has a brilliant women’s fit too, a nice cut with a long enough back to keep it from riding up when wearing a rucksack and sleeves with a bit of give. I am not a fan of tight cuffs; I like to be able to push them up, see my watch and not be restricted by my choice of jacket. On top of this the sizing I found to be pretty spot on, it had a good amount of give for layers underneath but doesn’t look oversized and baggy. All in all they have done a great job!
The Nano-Air sports a quite impressive list of technical jargon for those in the know and for those just concerned by the colour choices you can’t go wrong with any of the eye catching options.
Shell: 1.3-oz 20-denier 100% nylon ripstop.
Lining: 2-oz 50-denier 100% nylon plain weave.
Both shell and lining with mechanical stretch and a DWR (durable water repellent) finish.
Knit: 6.3-oz 100% polyester stretch waffle knit with Polygiene® permanent odor control
252 g (8.9 oz)
The big question though – did I ‘Put it on leave it on’?
Impressively yes! I was putting this through its paces in the beautiful Lake District and had all the bag space and spare kit ready for when I thought I was going to be too hot and then too cold. On mountains runs I do always find it a hard toss up with what to wear. I don’t like to be too cold at the start yet I know the moment I’m on a uphill climb I’ll be boiling in the bag of my jacket and upon reaching the summit there you go its blowing a gale and chilly is an understatement again.
Impressively the Nano-Air held its own, underneath I had worn just a t-shirt ready for when I was too hot, but I am pleased to say it didn’t get a showing. In the wind it was warming and didn’t let too much of a draught through and on the uphill’s when I expected to boil, it was nicely wicking. It let the heat out and with only simple changes of the zip I was able to get all the cool air I needed.
I am impressed and this certainly is now a cold run staple of mine.
Patagonia’s bold claim has stood the test of the Lakes, it went, it ran and it conquered!
Karkoa – User Friendly Luggage- Compartment Sports Bag
Firstly let me introduce Karkoa, the new kids on the block when it comes to luggage, these guys based in France have seen what a mess we all get in to with our sports kit and have gone out of their way to solve it. Whilst doing this, they have not only solved the things I knew where annoying me but also provided solutions for problems I hadn’t even thought about!
Karkoa do a range of holdalls and backpacks as well as add on accessories to suit all tastes and needs. I opted for the 20L Plume in Emeraude Blue, let me show you around.
Main section – Accessed by one large zip this has a firm flat base, nothing like I’ve even seen in a sports bag before it’s like a shelf in the bag, designed to keep those smart work clothes crease free even when it is fully packed. Perfect for those of you who exercise on the way to work.
Base section – I can’t be the only one who wraps their muddy, sweaty trainers in a carrier bag to stop them contaminating everything else I have with me. Welcome to the end of those days! The Karkoa bags have a base shoe section, completely self-contained and accessed through a U shaped zip. The lining of this even pulls fully out making it super easy to tip out the dirt and wipe clean – it is even big enough to take shoes up to a size 12.
Chilled drinks pocket – Foil lined and again accessed through a separate zip to stop anything touching those precious work clothes you are desperately trying to keep smart. Mine holds my protein shake, something I didn’t even realise was much nicer cool as I’m so used to having it ‘changing room warm’.
Laptop and essentials pockets – They really have thought about these two, not only is there a specific laptop pocket as well as two other smaller pockets to organise your keys, phones and whatever else we all have in the bottom of our bags. They are both lined with a soft fleece material to keep everything safe, snug and scratch free.
Dirty wash bag – Again I can’t be the only person who does this, I even do it on holiday. Everything worn goes in the ‘dirty wash bag!’ My husband is even now partial to this routine! Karkoa were clearly also drilled by my parents at a young age and have provided you with your own. A thick and durable plastic case to put all those smelly, sweaty clothes in and yep you’ve guessed it, its own section to keep it in quarantine until it can get to the washing machine.
If that all wasn’t enough, last but not least they also even throw you in another little waterproof zipper pouch for any lotions and potions you want for after your work out. Last thing you want is them slopping over your smarts, so again this is all zipped away safe.
The reoccurring theme of the Karkoa bags is organisation. If you are anything like me, busy people have to be organised and if something can make fitting in a work out around all the other throws of life that little tiny bit more straight forward then it is a huge win in my book. I love love love this bag!
Check out their website and video to find out more and join the dream organisation.
I have had these trainers for just under a month now and have loved testing them.
First thing you need to do is check out the swanky video featuring actual runners wearing the trainers including Candace Hill – the fastest female school runner of ALL TIME!!!!
I think its fab that Asics have used actual people in the promos, no acting here, people who do this running thing day in, day out.
What is the first thing you notice about these trainers? Colour right?! Thought so! Whether you choose men’s or women’s the designs are super eye catching and look incredible, but behind this is a pretty awesome shoe packed full of clever features not to be missed.
Pros – Normally in reviews like this I do 3 or 4 pros but with these I couldn’t narrow it down, so I’m afraid you got them all!
Colour choices –Like I’ve already said these catch your attention and the compliments of those around you – never a thing to turn down!
Sticky sole – The outer part of the sole is almost sticky to touch and to say these are not a trail shoe nor claim to be for off road, they have held up extremely well under the wet conditions I have had to throw at it (no fault of my own, it has rained a lot!)
For someone like me who is multi-sport based and have to negotiate plenty of wet and slippy transition areas as well as change of terrain in runs these are going to feature in my race kit from now on.
Cushioning sole – I LOVE the Noosa writing in the sole but after aesthetics this is a knee saver. The whole sole is soft and durable and is like running on cushions. Their tag ‘Don’t run, fly’ is very accurate indeed.
Mesh outer – Luckily I am not someone who suffers from blisters on my feet, especially as in my Aquathlon races I am not going to waste time drying my feet after the swim in transition. (I cant afford the seconds!) These are made with no seams and with the breathable mesh outer I have found to wick the water away very effectively. They almost air dry your feet rather than some other shoes which the material absorbs the moisture resulting in a very heavy soggy run.
Heel tab – Simple but really effective. A really big tab in a nice grippy material just where you need it.
All in all these are a super Triathlon and Aquathlon shoe but even if you are just a runner these make a fab all round road and mixed terrain trainer.
Things to consider – I really struggled with this list on these and nothing about the shoe in its self stands out. If I am clutching at straws it would be nice to see these with an elastic lace option for the triathletes but of course its not too much trouble to add later on. Only other thing, be aware I have found they do come up large so order your size accurately. sportsshoes.com do half sizes which I always look for in a company and even better currently have an offer on where they are giving away a free pair of running tights with every order! £37.99 running tights for FREE how brilliant is that!
Sportsshoe.com kindly sent me the Haglofs Trail shoe to review just over a month ago and I have been putting them through their paces. Any followers of my Twitter will know my training encompasses a huge variety of activities from hill sprints to burpees in the mud, sled pulls and weights. Think Cross fit style HIIT training outdoor regardless of the weather with trail running thrown in for good measure. It is the huge variety of things I do that I thought these Haglofs Trail shoes would make the perfect pair to provide me the grip I need throughout the wetter months.
Good overall grip – Wet grass, shallow mud and frosty frozen ground; these have worked fantastically and allow you to put the power down without wheel spinning.
Cushioning – Excellent thick sole; especially on frozen ground this came in to its own, anyone looking for a winter knee saver this is the one.
Variety of colours – Looks aren’t everything however no one is going to turn down something that looks nice and does a fab job. This is that shoe, a wide range of men’s and women’s that look great and do the job. What more can you ask for?!
Things to consider –
These are not a fell shoe – Why would they be they don’t claim to be however this is noticeable when going through deeper mud, the grip does become quite easily clogged up.
Grip at the front of the toe is limited – I found when doing things like burpees or pushing up a steep incline when it is your toe that is making contact with the floor the grip is limited however once the ball of your foot hits the ground you’re flying!
Ankle area – The foot opening in these seems to be quite small and stiff making them a bit firm for uneven running or if you are prone to ankle rolling. This seems to be worse with lower ‘no show’ socks, higher or cushioning socks have solved this for me. Perhaps they just take a bit of time to break in.