Thursday, January 26, 2017

Cool and Casual Shoes II: Lems Primal 2, SOM SPL3, and Altra Desert Boot Review

Lems Primal 2

Altra Desert Boot

Ok... so, I'm guessing most of you don't wear running shoes ALL the time...  I'm guessing you spend a lot of time barefoot, in sandals etc.... But there are those times that a casual shoe is great to have.  I am bad about wearing my trail runners or huaraches most of the time when not barefoot.

BUT... I do think it's great to have some more casual styles of shoe..  for the weekends, walking, easy hiking etc.  And to that end, I have a review of three pretty different types of minimalist casual shoes.  Before I jump into the reviews though, I have to sheepishly admit that I've had the Lem's and SOM's for a very long time, and have been remiss in getting a review up, so my apologies to the great folks at those companies and thank you for your patience.

Ok... first up are the Lems Primal 2's.  Now.. if you can remember way back, I did a review of the original Primal back in October 2012.. which you can check out HERE.   Also, I did a review of their Boulder Boot, which you can see HERE. 

First and foremost, I love the Cardinal Red color!  Let me tell you.. these shoes stand out.. and in a good way! They are very similar to the original that I reviewed, but with a few changes.  Most noticeably is that the upper seems to have a little bit more structure, which is nice.  Weight wise, they are pretty much the same, coming in at 6.9 oz, but they feel much lighter on the foot.  And as with the original Primal, I could certainly run in these, but I love these as a casual shoe.  A terrific shaped toe box, and responsive 8mm air-injected rubber sole.  They come with a 3mm insole, but I removed those as I like the feel of the shoe without them.  Lem's have come a long way from when they originally started as Stems!  If you are looking for a comfortable casual and minimalist shoe.. you can't go wrong with Lems... check out all of their products here:

Next up, is the SPL-3 from SOM (Sense of Motion) Footwear. SOM is a cool, local Colorado company that was from the desire for a better shoe that didn't exist.  A little more than 2 years ago I tested the original SPL and you can read that review HERE.   Before I jump into the review, I have to let you know that SOM is gearing up to release some new stuff!  That being said, if you go to the website you will see that available sizes on the SPL-3 are limited.  BUT... my guess is that the new release will be even better, so take what you read here, and assume more improvements!

So of course, I had to compare the SPL-3 to the original SOM's I had.  As you can see the sole includes more reinforced stitching, but otherwise much of the same feel.  The BIG difference is that the SPL-3 was much lighter. I believe about a full ounce was shaved off between the two, but it sure feels like a lot more! 

Much like the original SPL, I found these shoes to be very comfortable, and probably one of the roomiest toe boxes I've seen.  These truly allow your feet to feel free, and they function as great casual hikers and every day shoes.  The traction is decent, and the water shedding upper is comfortable and durable.  

Anyway.. if this sounds good to you at all, I would highly recommend you visit their web page and sign up for the newsletter so that you know when the new release is out..  check them out here as well as follow them on Facebook by clicking HERE.

And to wrap up this Cool and Casual shoe review, is the Altra Desert Boot.  As you know, I've been testing out a variety of Altra shoes, and I do have more reviews to come.  But this is kind of a neat departure from their traditional road and trail running selection. 

Ok.. as I've noted on prior Altra reviews, some folks may not consider these true minimalist shoes, primarily based on the stack height.  The Desert Boot comes in at 28mm stack, but of course are zero drop, and have a nice foot shaped toe box.  What is interesting is that this boot is basically the Torin 1.5 (Road running shoe) for those of you familiar, but on top is a cool leather boot style upper.  And of course, being a Seattle Seahawks fan, I do love the blue, neon green, and gray color combination! But if thats not for you, you can get them in light gray or black.  

So, even though it's a thick stack, the shoes do bend somewhat, and overall they are very comfortable.  I don't mind a higher stack in a casual shoe, provided the upper is comfortable, which these are.  A little beefy at 10 oz, but again, not an issue for me for casual wear.  If you love Altra's, and are looking for a fun casual shoe, I think the Desert Boot is worth checking out! 

Ok!  Thanks as always for checking in.  Stay tuned as my New Year's resolution is to get caught up on reviews and stay that way!  So... more to come. 

Happy Trails!


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Brrr.... C2 Extreme Tights and Elite Half-Zip Wool Review

Credit to Gde-Fon

Brrrr!  It's that time of year again...  And for folks like me that always seem to need to be training in the winter for races in May...  time to become that Winter Warrior!

Sure.. I could find a treadmill and workout inside.. but what fun is that?  Besides, I need to start logging some long miles, and I would never last inside...

So.. the question then becomes.. how do I stay warm and comfortable?  As you know, I've tackled this by testing and reviewing a variety of winter wear products, and for this season, I'm taking a look at a company called C2.  Heard of them?  I hadn't before, but I am glad I have now!  C2 is a small New England business started by Jane Hayes in 1993.  C2 came about from a passion for finding the right performance clothing for being outside, even in challenging weather. As you know, I love smaller 100% made in the USA companies that came about from the desire for something better.

C2 Elite 1/2 Zip Power Wool and Extreme Tights
So, since I knew I would need to be logging a lot of trail miles in Colorado's beautiful, but frigid winter, I was more than happy to give the C2 products a test.  So, what I tried out is the C2 Elite 1/2 Zip Power Wool top, and the Extreme Tights.

Ok.. so first up is the Elite 1/2 zip top...  forgive the goofy guy in the pic, just wanted to get a pic of the top while it was on.   

So, this top features a blend of 65% Polyester, and 35% Wool, as the Power Wool option, but you can also get it in a Power Dry all synthetic option if you have issues with wool.  

It is marketed as a next to the skin, all day adventure base layer, designed to wick moisture, keep you warm and comfortable, and to be very durable.  I found it interesting to see the waffle-like pattern of this fabric blend.  For me, it felt just a little bit itchy against my skin, but not too much.  I determined it worked best for me wearing it over a thin compression shirt.  Doing that, it was super comfortable and breathed really well.  And, most importantly, kept me warm when out walking and running in temps around 20F.  I am quite certain it would work well at even lower temps.

I generally wear just synthetic poly materials, but it was nice to have the feel of natural wool in this fabric.  It stretched nicely, so easy and comfortable to wear. The quality construction is apparent as well as you can see in the solid stitching and zipper construction.   This piece retails for $89 on their site, but it's one of those pieces of gear that is a good investment, as my guess is it will hold up through a lot of wear and tear.. and who doesn't like to be warm and dry?

Now for the Extreme Tights.  I was originally going to review their Performance Tights, which look awesome, but when I saw these I thought... now there is something different...   and who can pass up a name like Extreme!!

So what makes these unique compared to all the other winter tights I've tried is the composition of materials.

As you can see by the pictures I've shared, these tights have two distinctly different (yet similar) materials.  On the upper (above the calf), the material looks and feels like Polar Fleece.  But I've learned it is much more than that. The upper is a Polartec Power Stretch double velour, which is 94% Poly and 6% Lycra. The result is a fabric that is baby butt soft, and stretchy.  So comfortable that you don't want to take them off!  I loved how they don't pinch or constrict around my waist.. they feel like pajama pants. But, my immediate concern was that the material was too light and that the wind would blow right through it.  But I've learned that this material was developed for wind and abrasion resistance, water shedding, moisture wicking, all while being lightweight and insulating!  

As for the bottom section, it is made of a similar Polartec Power Stretch (88% Poly, 12% Lycra), but with something called a Hard Face coating.  So here you get something that is still stretchy but with a little more structure.  I really liked the feel because for me that section worked a bit like calf compression and felt great.  Also, it shed snow very easily. 

And, the zippers make it very easy to put on socks of various heights etc, handy for runners, skiers and bikers alike. 

As far as performance goes.... superb!! I have a feeling I will spend most of the winter in these pants...   I spent 8 miles running single track (pic above) in temps around 20F and my legs were happy.  The Extreme Tights held out the wind, shed snow, wicked moisture and kept me warm.. you can't ask for much more than that to keep you training and outside all winter!

The Extreme Tights retail for $149, and again, a solid investment.  You can easily spend that on a good pair of trail shoes, and my guess is, these tights will outlast them for sure.  

So, to wrap up, I am really happy to have learned about C2.. another great Made in the USA company that is delivering some top quality and high-performance winter wear.   Check out all of their products by going to this link  and check out their Facebook page by clicking HERE.  AND, just for you, if you use the code "barefoot16" on your order, you will get 20% off orders over $50 through 2/15/2017!

Thanks again for stopping by... good luck with your winter training!

As always, if you have any questions, comments, feedback, just drop me an email, leave a comment below, or message me on the Barefoot Inclined Facebook page HERE.

Happy Trails!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received C2 Elite 1/2 Zip and Extreme Tights for free from C2 in consideration for a gear review

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Happy and Healthy 2017!!

Happy New Year!!!

Hard to believe that another year has passed by... and even harder to believe.. this is my 5th Annual Happy and Healthy kickoff post and giveaway!  Yep.. way back in January of 2012 I launched my first Happy and Healthy... and I can't believe how much it's grown since then!

 I have really appreciated all of you that have been following my blog for the past year, following on Twitter, and liking the Barefoot Inclined Facebook page. Which is why I am so excited to host the ultimate giveaway to get 2017 off to a great start, showcasing my favorite gear and vendors from 2016, and the amazing things from those companies I represent as a proud ambassador!

24 Hours of Palmer Lake, April 9, 2016
But, before I jump to the giveaways, I just wanted to give a little recap of the year.  I had a number of goals for the year, but first and foremost was to continue my journey to better health through clean eating, and also to continue participating in trail ultra marathons. After my first ever DNF in 2015 in an attempt to run 100K, I had set a goal of achieving that distance in 2016, and I managed to do so at the 24 Hours of Palmer Lake in April. 

While it was so awesome to be able to achieve a new distance PR, it also came with a high cost.  I managed to overtrain a tad heading into this one and entered it with some serious Plantar Fasciitis issues in my left foot. In retrospect, I should not have pushed it.. and I even told myself I would just go easy and see how it went.  But, I had my 100K goal in sight, so I pushed on to get it, plus a few more miles.  For a day or two it seemed the PF went away, but nope.. came back with a vengeance.  After April, I ran only one other race... the Southpark Trail Marathon and Half.. the original plan was the marathon, but I dropped it back to a very slow half.  After that, I was done running, and focusing on resting/rehab. 

So... while I had hoped to bore you with recaps of all these amazing races in 2016, I instead can only relay that the balance of the year was a struggle. I've put 20 lbs back on due to not running, and I lost a lot of motivation over that time to work out at all, or to work on any reviews or blog posts..  

But.. have no fear! My PF has faded finally.. well, it's become more of an Achilles Tendonitis type issue BUT.. I know exactly how to deal with that, and I am.  I am slowly working my miles back up, and feeling that joy of just getting out on the trail and moving, regardless of the speed.  And, what else does one do to get motivated?  Sign up for a race of course!  Not just any race though... I've signed up for the Born To Run Ultras in May in beautiful So Cal, and am shooting for 100 Miles!  I know.. totally crazy, but you know.. sometimes you gotta get way out of the comfort zone to kick start things... 2017 is going to be EPIC!!

Speaking of epic..  In 2016 I had the great fortune to continue the year representing Carson FootwearFuel 100Switch SunglassesOrange Mud, and Human Potential Running Series as an Ambassador!! I can't tell you how great it is to be involved with these folks, the amazing products/races they have, and the incredible fellow ambassadors I've got to know...   I am very lucky indeed :-)

OK!... let's get on with the HUGE giveaway to kick 2017 off right! 

Below are brief recaps of some of the reviews I've done over the last year or so, and an opportunity for me to give back, thanks to the generosity of all the great folks I've worked with and represented over the years.   I have a separate giveaway for each, so you have tons of opportunities to win! 

Each giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. (and in some cases, Canada or elsewhere, and will be noted).  I will run these until 10PM MST, Friday January 13th, 2017... so enter early and often!

Let's kick this thing off with a shout out to Carson Footwear, the makers of my favorite trail/ultra running shoe...   These things are amazing!  My first review of these was almost exactly 2 years ago, and you can check it out HERE.  The ONLY running shoe manufacturer that builds their shoes 100% in the US with US materials...  That rocks..  

I love being an ambassador representing Carson Footwear...  I ran a 50K in these right out of the box, and my original Iguana's reached 800 miles before I reluctantly retired them. I also had the privilege of representing Carson at the US Trail Running Conference last year hanging out with shoe maker supreme Carrie, THE Everett Carson, and Carson speedster Rachel :-) 

US Trail Running Conference
Anyway, if you've followed me for any length of time, you know I will go on and on about Carsons.. so I'll stop now, and instead give away a pair of Carson's of your choice, plus a running tank top, courtesy of the amazing folks at Carson Footwear.  If by chance you don't win, you can always score 10% off by using the code "barefootjg" at checkout :-)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Another company I am proud to represent is Switch/Liberty Sport Eyewear.  From my first run in the Switch H-Walls to skiing with the all weather protection of the Storm Riders, I've been hooked.

I love the ability to quickly swap out lenses lightning fast for different lighting conditions, and the fact that the H-Walls are the bomb for trail running... light, durable, and well ventilated...  And such great folks to work with!  Anyway, enter below to snag a pair of H-Walls for your running adventures!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Salty/sweet goodness! Love Electro-Bites from Fuel-100 as part of my fueling for the long haul. I love the no sticky mess alternative to fueling and electrolyte replacement on my long runs. Flavors include Simply Salty, Apple Cinnamon, Salty Vinegar, and my two favorites, Pumpkin Spice and Salty Vanilla. 

Anyway, thanks to co-founders Andrea and Michelle, I'm happy to provide a baker's dozen variety mix to 3 of you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Woo hoo! Now I get a chance to rave about my favorite trail ultra series by far.  In 2016 I continued as an ambassador for HPRS,  Although there is no longer an official ambassador program, you can bet that I will continue to promote Sherpa John's races and events, and participate in as many as I can.  Why? Because he and HPRS get it....  And what is IT?  Simply put.. its that sense of community.  I've met so many amazing folks and had so much fun at these races that it is difficult to describe.  I did try in a post HERE.  The bottom line is if you want an extremely well-run race, killer aid stations, and to feel supported and valued, whether 1st place or DFL..  HPRS is where you belong..  check them out!

And speaking of races.... thanks to Sherpa John's generosity, I am able to give away two (2) race entries to two of you! Entries are good for any race, excluding Silver Heels 100 and Indian Creek 50's. Check out all the races HERE.. and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Xeroshoes Ipari Hana

Xeroshoes (Invisible Shoes then) were my first pair of minimalist runners back in 2011 and I will never forget the impression they made. Steven Sashen has come a long way with his company and products and I've loved working with them over the years.  Last year they released the Ipari Hanashown above which is their first "shoe", and is amazing! 

And in 2016, I finally met the man, myth, and legend himself.. Steven Sashen!  We had a great time at the US Trail Running Conference in Estes Park and got a sneak peek at some new shoes coming out later this year!   And Steven, being the great guy he is, has provided 1 pair of the Ipari Hana, as well as a pair of Z-Trails for me to give away!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


2016 was another great year with ThinOPTICS.  For those of you like me that struggle with joys of presbyopia, ThinOPTICS are a life saver! I carry two phones ( work and personal) and I have a pair attached to each..   and they are awesome.. easy to wear, easy to keep track of as the case is attached to my phones and an incredible lifetime warranty!    Check out my full review HERE.

New for 2017 is a very cool keychain based case!  Check it out in this short video, and then enter to win a pair!  Also, if you follow this LINK to the ThinOPTICS website, you will qualify for a 15% discount on any order!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you haven't heard of RecoFit before, you really need to check them out.  As I noted in my review last year HERE, their calf compression sleeves are the ONLY ones I've been able to run in, and I love how they perform and feel! A great local company that has continued to grow, and I love to see that.

RecoFit ArmCoolers

The great folks at RecoFit are providing a pair of their new ArmCoolers for one of you to check out.  I'm jealous as I haven't tried them yet!  Of course, it's 4F out right now, so cooling isn't an issue, but I love the fact that these can help cool, as well as block out harmful UV rays... an excellent tool during a hot summer ultra!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Another one of my favorite running huarache companies is Shamma Sandals.  I've been working with Josh at Shamma for a few years now, and he and his company have been following a path of continuous improvement in the design and composition of their sandals, and it has been great to participate in that journey.  Last year I reviewed the latest edition of the Warriors HERE, and even since then, the products continue to evolve, so stay tuned for some new stuff in 2017!

2016 Warriors.. sorry bout the ugly feet

Being the awesome dude he is, Josh is providing 2 pairs of any model sandal to 2 of you! Go to the Shamma website HERE and check them out, then enter below!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Now check out this super cool organization called Active At Altitude located in beautiful Estes Park, CO.  So who are they, and what do they do?

Well.. in their own words "Through our running camps, conference, and app, we create experiences and tools to educate, inspire, and empower an active, healthy, mindful lifestyle" and they do that amazingly well!  

I met Terry Chiplin at the 2015 US Trail Running Conference, which is just one of the cool things they do in the trail running community, along with running camps and a cool app called Activacuity.


After the 2015 conference, I returned to the 2016 US Trail Running Conference, and it was even better!  I can't wait until this year's conference in October!

Thanks to Terry and Active at Altitude I'm giving away a one day pass to the Runner's day at the October conference on Saturday October 14th, 2017 and an annual subscription to the Activacuity program/app!!   

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ok!  You've made it this far! Wading through my blah blah blah, entering giveaways left and right... good job!

Last, but certainly not least in this 2017 extravaganza is Earth Runners..  I've worked with Mike Dally since he started his company way back in 2012 when I tested his original Quantums... and most recently, the Elementals last September.   Earth Runners is another fantastic US based company that never ceases to surprise me with the Kaizen approach of continous improvement! Check it out for yourself by entering to win a pair of any style Earth Runner huarache!  Thanks Mike and Earth Runners!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wow... there you have it...   a wrap on 2016 and a huge kickoff to 2017!   Thanks again for tuning in.. I wish you all the very best in this new year and  I am really looking forward to another great year of running and blogging!

Happy trails!