Gear put through its paces
By Amy Whitley, Carolyn Price and Diane Rudholm
Brooks Cascadia 8 Trail Shoe
How can you go wrong with a trail shoe that was designed with the help of ultra-distance runner Scott Jurek of Seattle and won the Runner’s World Editor’s Choice in the trail shoe category last April? Our tester discovered great traction and stability from the lugged outsole when running up a muddy hill. More points: the outsole is constructed of recycled materials (good job, Brooks!), and the upper is constructed with a breathable, durable microfiber throughout. Available in men’s and women’s sizing.
Retail price: $120. www.brooksrunning.com/Cascadia-8
Biom Ultra Quest
For those of us searching for an all-around trail shoe, the Ecco Biom Ultra Quest fits the bill. This trail runner is equally well-suited for running or hiking on diverse terrain like wet grass, rocks and mud. Wear them as lightweight hikers during a backpack trip or for your daily trail run. The Ultra Quest is slim and unassuming, but features a tough rubber outsole and the breathable-yet-waterproof Gore-Tex construction you rely on in a trail shoe.
Retail price: $180. us.shop.ecco.com
Certainly one of the highest performing trail running shoes on the market, the Swedish Icebug Anima-L is extremely lightweight and supportive. This model hugs the heel and ankle while giving the forefoot a wide range of motion. The footbed is narrow yet stable, able to take turns through sand or gravel without faltering, and the sole pattern offers all-round traction for extra stability on Northwest trails.
Retail price: $139. www.icebug.se
The lightest running shoe in the Vasque line, the Pendulum is still heavier than some (as well as cushier and more supportive than some). But for the non-extremist Goldilocks out there, it might be “just right.” The Pendulum travels the middle of the road very well: the foot stays close to the ground for solid stability, and there is enough shock absorption to keep knees happy.
Retail price: $109. www.vasque.com
MontBell Tachyon Jacket
Runners will love this super lightweight (1.4–1.6 ounces), full-zip wind shell. Stow it in your pocket and when conditions deteriorate, pull it out and it’ll readily block the wind and some precipitation. Stretchy mesh inserts under the arms, elastic cuffs, rip-stock nylon, reflective logos and an affordable price make this a great buy. Men’s and women’s sizing, various colors.
Retail price: $85. www.montbell.us
Smartwool PhD Run Skort
Want to run in a skirt without the chaff-factor? Smartwool’s PhD Run Skort protects while thermally regulating body temperature with a Merino boy-short under a recycled polyester skirt. We loved the reflective accents and the soft feel of the wool against the skin. Style and comfort — that’s what we’re talking about.
Retail price: $80. Available online at: www.smartwool.com
Sweet Spot Skirts
Fast ’N Flirty Running Skirt
How about an ultra-lightweight skirt to brighten up your winter running sessions? The Fast ’N Flirty line of skirts includes 10 vibrant wrap-around designs that flatter most body types. The Supernova and Cosmo patterns are our favorites. Snap the adjustable skirt over running tights or compression shorts for full derriere coverage. The skirt’s flexible band and silicone detailing keep it in place while expanding and contracting with you as you run.
Retail price: $49. www.sweetspotskirts.com
Kaidel’s Running Top and Hat
Best known for its iconic Seattle and Washington bicycle jerseys, Seattle-based Kaidel Sportswear has sped into the running market with a similar artsy lineup of long- and short-sleeve running tops, jackets and fleece-lined baseball hats. Our tester swears the running hat is the best and most comfortable fit she has ever worn. Featuring a cozy fleece interior lining and microfiber exterior, it’s the go-to headwear for crisp fall runs. The moisture wicking long sleeve top is constructed of a thicker polyester technical fabric with perforated fabric at sides and under arms for breathability and increased range of motion. Thumbholes at the wrist. Subliminated graphics feature the Washington State Ferries, Space Needle, Mount Rainier and green forests. Holiday gifts, anyone? Men’s and women’s sizing.
Retail price hat: $30; Running top: $58. www.kaidelsportswear.com
Amphipod Xinglet Flash LED Reflective
Winter in the Northwest often leaves runners in the dark, but wearing reflective gear can make all of the difference. The Xinglet Flash LED Reflective from Amphipod is a minimalistic (read: super light) and effective option. It features fluorescent shoulder and side straps and bright red blinking LEDs on the front and back. With fully adjustable straps, it works equally well over a thin base layer or over heavier raingear. We like how comfortable the Xinglet is and how simple it is to power the LEDs on and off.
Retail price: $44.50. www.amphipod.com/products/visibility
Reactor LightVest by GoMotion
Long-distance and trail runners, this one’s for you. The Reactor LightVest features a powerful CREE LED on the front, blinking red LEDs on the back and all-round reflective strips. This combo is perfect for helping runners choose their steps with confidence, and be seen by drivers in poorly lit areas. The mesh vest rides high on the ribcage and can be adjusted to comfort. There is a small pocket for a mobile phone or MP3 player and a bungee cord that works nicely for carrying an extra shirt.
Retail price: $69.95. www.gomotioninc.com
Pandana by Curve
Something fun for winter! Wear the Pandana headwear as a neck gaiter, scarf, headband, hair band, face-mask or bandana to provide just the right touch of warmth. The colorful and versatile Pandana is a seamless stretchy lightweight fabric tube that wicks away moisture and dries quickly. Stow neatly away in your pocket. Available in a wide variety of stylish colors and patterns.
Retail price: $16. www.pandana.com
Smartwool PhD Compression Calf Sleeve
Who knew Merino wool would feel so good, while still wicking away moisture like nobody’s business? Smartwool’s Compression Calf Sleeve offers 20–30 mmHg of graduated compression for run recovery, with includes mesh zones for moisture management. We preferred them over the traditional full knee sock version for their ease of wear. Retail price: $35. www.smartwool.com
Rayovac 2-Hour Power Charger
The handy, pocket-size 2-Hour Power Charger for micro USB mobile devices, is one of those must-haves in emergency situations. We love this cordless, compact charger, which fits easily into a jacket pocket or backpack. Powered by one Rayovac Lithium CR123A battery, the charger is compatible with both Android and Apple devices. Charges most devices in 30–40 minutes and has an on-off switch. Also available in larger power packs.
Retail price: $8.99. www.rayovac.com