Friday, March 27, 2015

Winter Warrior 2015! Episode 2: Orange Mud Insulated Bottle, Beanie, and Accessory Pack, plus Super.Natural Base Layer LS175 Review!

Ok... so finally moving on to Episode 2 of the Winter Warrior 2015 series...  I admit, it was a little difficult to do while spending a week in sunny So Cal visiting my parents during spring break with the family...  However, even though it's officially spring now, there is still plenty of cold and snow to be had..  much of which we missed while gone!

In this episode, I have a quick review of a slew of cool Orange mud gear, as well as a base layer shirt I tried from Super Natural!

First  up.... Orange Mud!!!    Yes... as an ambassador, you already know how much I love OM gear!   But in addition to the Hydraquiver line, there are some great accessories for chilly winter running..

This winter, Orange Mud has kept me going with the Purist insulated bottles, Hydraquiver accessory pack, and the logo beanie!

First up is the insulated Purist bottles.  I got a few of these to swap out with my regular Orange Mud bottles.  The great thing about them for winter running is the double-walled insulated design that helps to keep your fluid of choice from freezing...   I was able to run several hours in near single-digit temps without any significant freezing issues which was awesome, but the feature I really love about these bottles is the Purist lining inside the bottles..  through some kind of magic of a low surface tension shielding inside the bottle, there is absolutely no flavor, smell, or staining!  Regardless of the what you put in, or how long it might sit, a good rinse out and you are good to go.  If you don't like the plastic taste or staleness you often get with other bottles, then you should upgrade to these!   I do know that there are some changes in the works for these bottles, but primarily in the look and size, but have no fear... they will be as good or better!

Next up is the great Accessory Bag add on for the Hydraquiver VP2.  That's the cool little bag that you see above, mounted between the bottles on the VP2.  I was gearing up for the Frozen Dead Guy 50K Fat Ass, and was able to load the bag with some extra gels, and 4 double decker Moon Pies.. yep.. that's right :-).  The bag fits super securely between the bottles, and leaves room to still use the shock cords, and in this case I tacked on my YakTrax for the run as well.   The accessory bag is a terrific addition to the VP2 for the winter, or any time you need a little more space for a self supported run!

Finally... the Orange Mud Logo Beanie!!  Saying that I LOVE this beanie is an understatement.  When I first got it, I thought it was much too light weight to keep my bald head warm this winter... WRONG.  This beanie is pretty much the only thing that goes on my head when it's below freezing out, and it is amazingly warm, and comfortable, even when soaking wet with my nasty winter head sweat...    and it doesn't get stinky either...    but no worries, I do wash it :-)

Now... my beanie has a slightly different logo than the one on the website, BUT I guarantee it will be just as bad ass for you as well!   Here's another shot of it, on a scary weird fake head..

Next up is a sweet base layer shirt from super.natural  This is a new company to me, but I liked their pitch as a "Fusion of nature, technology, and design".

The shirt that I tested out was the Base LS175 pictured above.  What makes this a bit different than the other base layers I've tried is the fit and the composition.  As opposed to all synthetic materials, the LS175 is composed of 48% merino wool, 48% polyester, and 4% lycra.  This blend offers a bit more of a natural feel, and the benefits of wool, combined with the technical performance of the synthetics.

 I wore this shirt several times running in sub-zero temps. and I also wore it as a base layer while skiing.  I liked the feel of the fabric, and it certainly provided more warmth than I expected, as the material is pretty thin and light weight.   The biggest difference to me, compared to other base layers I use, was the looser and lighter fit of the shirt.  In other words, there isn't a lot of compression or snugness to the fit.  So, if you prefer that, this would be a great shirt. Also, I know some folks don't do well in 100% synthetics, so perhaps this natural blend would be more comfortable for them. I am fortunate in that I can wear just about anything without irritation.   If you are looking for something super comfortable, that provides warmth and wicks moisture, with a nice easy fit, this is a great choice... however, expect to pay around $60-$70..   a little on the high end, but not overpriced for the performance.

Ok then.. that wraps up Episode 2....    stay tuned as I will try to wrap up the last episode quickly so we can jump head long into Spring!   Up in Episode 3 will be the Petzl NAO headlamp, Hillsound Free Step 6 traction devices, Injinji winter socks and toasty gloves from Pearl Izumi! 

Thanks again for tuning in.... and happy trails!


Monday, March 2, 2015

Winter Warrior 2015! Episode 1: Watson's Performance Base Layer Review

Well.. while we had a hint of the Spring to come a few weeks ago, Winter is back in full force here in Colorado with several snow storms and cooler weather... of course, not as much snow as we would like (Sorry East coast for getting it all!).

So, to celebrate winter, and winter running, this is part 1 of a 4 part Winter Warrior 2015 series! I have a lot of great winter related gear that I've been testing over this season, and looking forward to sharing with you what I've learned.

So.. to kick this series off, I'll start with some base layers.  When it gets nasty cold and windy, a solid base layer can be amazing to keep things warm!

During those nasty days, I've been running (and skiing!) in a Performance base layer combo from Watson's, an active wear company out of Canada.  I had not heard of Watson's before, but was more than happy to put their gear to the test!
Uh no... that's not me :-).  But it is the Performance series thermal long sleeve top and pants.  From a spec standpoint, these are considered medium weight, and comprised of a moisture wicking, 4-way stretch spandex material, with an anti-microbial treatment, and a great comfort fit.

Here are a couple of non-professional pics (very), but they give you an idea of the quality of the stitching and the design of the panels. I do like the higher collar as it helps to keep cold out, and almost reaches my beard :-)

The feature I love the most about this line, is the amazing feel of the material on the inside.  I tried to take a picture of it above, but it's hard to see.  You really have to feel it!  It's almost the feel of a sand-washed silk... very warm, very soft, and super comfy.. especially for synthetic materials.  Love it.

So.. how does it perform?  Amazingly well in my opinion.  If this is their medium weight offering, I can't imagine how warm the heavy duty stuff is!  Must be designed to battle harsh Canadian climates!  I loved running in this, and when pairing the base layer pants with the Super XC pants from Sporthill, I feel like I could take on any level of sub zero F temps!

Ok... so what would you spend on staying super warm and comfortable this winter?  That questions leads me to another feature of Watson's that I love... the price!  The top and bottom both retail for $25 Canadian on their website, which you can find HERE.   For those of you in the U.S. that translates roughly to $20 each, which I feel is a great bargain!  So be sure to check them out if you are looking for a great base layer, and check them out on Facebook as well by clicking HERE.

Thanks again for tuning in! Stay warm, and stay tuned for Episode 2 of Winter Warriors 2015, featuring Orange Mud, and Super.Natural!

Happy Trails!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Performance Base Layers for free from Watson's as coordinated by Outdoor PR in consideration for review publication.