Latest Running Shoe, Gear, and Apparel

By clicking on the "Latest Running Shoe, Gear, and Apparel..." here you can see a list of my recent reviews and articles organized by category.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Review: Altra Running Paradigm-Max Cushion, Supremely Refined

Running shoe design continues to evolve and Altra Running pioneers in minimal cushion, FootShapeTM toe boxes and  "Zero DropTM" shoes (no height difference heel to toe) is evolving too. With the Paradigm Altra maintains its heritage of incredibly comfortable toe boxes and zero drop and now applies it to a maximally cushioned, super light shoe. Hoka One One now has real competition in the space they invented.
Altra founder Golden Harper gave me a full update on the line and was kind enough to send me a pair of the Paradigms to try. My preview of the Spring 2015 Altras here. Paradigm not expected to change.

Details
The Paradigm has 34mm of stack height front and back according to Altra and 25mm according to Running Warehouse. Will inquire as to measurements difference. Most conventional "well cushioned" shoes have 20mm or less in forefoot and 24-28mm in the heel.  The advertised weight is 9.1 oz in a men's size 9. My 8.5 Paradigms (review sample provided at no charge, opinions herein entirely my own) weighed 9.5 oz on my digital scale. I will not quibble over the difference as there can be manufacturing differences. From Altra: "As for the weight discrepancy, manufacturing tolerance is usually about an ounce in either direction.  Our weights are based off of weighing production shoes when they show up in a size 9. " These weights are incredibly light for such a supremely cushioned shoe. They fit me true to size.
Altra Running Paradigm

Comparison to Hoka One One 
I have run in a multitude of the earlier Hokas such as the Mafate, Bondi, and Stinson all with similar stack heights. I loved the ride but found them slow and soft given my no knee lift, heel striking stride. The challenge is to provide either enough forefoot flexibility for all that foam and/or create a rocker effect. Newer Hokas such as the Huaka and Clifton reviewed here have reduced their maximal forefoot  height somewhat and are now fantastically flexible fast and light, about the same weight as the Paradigm and even lighter for the Clifton. However, Hoka uppers are often not quite there in terms of fit and comfort for me. Don't get me wrong I will still reach for my Huakas when I want to go fast with super cushion, but for supreme comfort Paradigms will have a place in my rotation.

Altra hits it out of the park with the Paradigm creating a super cushioned,  supremely comfortable long run shoe.

  • The FootShape toe box allows my foot to splay spread out fully, yet I do not feel it is too wide as the midfoot upper hold is just snug enough with the lacing also effective. The overall upper is supremely comfortable, among the best or in fact the best for a long run trainer I have ever put on.  
    Altra Running Paradigm- FootShape

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Initial Review: adidas Terrex Boost- Trail Monster- But Can It Dance?

I spotted the adidas Terrex Boost at Outdoor Retailer as as Boost fan knew I had to learn more and try them.  The adidas Terrex Boost is in the Spring 2015 (release date) adidas Outdoors catalog as a 10.2 oz, 290 gram 6mm drop mountain/trail running shoe, $160.  There is a women's version too.  The early size 9 sample pair that adidas sent me at no charge weighed in at 11.6 oz, 320 g. I will inquire what the final weight will be.

I titled this review Trail Monster as on first sight this is one beefy shoe. Huge lugs,
adidas Terrex Boost
a substantial upper with overlays along the rand and toe, a shoe clearly design for rough trails, rocks, mud. The question in my mind was what would Boost, the TPU based high rebound midsole that I like so much in the adios boost racer on both roads and yes trails (review here), add to a dedicated trail shoe? I say adios Boost as close as I can tell the  white Boost layer in the Terrex looks identical to the adios, at least in the forefoot and appears to sit on top of EVA that wraps up the sides. The orange Terrex and Boost logoed areas seen around the heel are a TPU based film (same material but thicker than the seamless overlays now seen so frequently on run shoes) support element. It wraps all the way around the heel. The orange TPU is not hard plastic but have some give when pressed and when running, clever.
adidas Terrex Boost

Comparison Review: Hoka One One Clifton and Huaka

Hoka One One recently launched two fabulously light, super cushioned shoes: The Huaka and Clifton.  Having now run in both and reviewed the Huaka earlier here, where I called it the first "fast" Hoka,  I can say now having run in both,  that these close "cousins" are quite different in feel and even purpose.  Hoka's marketing theme is "Crazy Fast. Crazy Light. Crazy Does." and for sure marketing spin meets reality with these shoes, although I will quibble that the Huaka is for me a faster shoe than the Clifton. 

By the numbers
Huaka (9.3 oz/264g M9 , 2mm drop, 27mm heel/ 25mm forefoot, $150)
Clifton (7.7 oz/217g M9, 5mm, 29mm heel,/24mm forefoot, $130)
Both fit me true to my size 8.5 with the Huaka initially feeling a touch too roomy until I removed the speed laces.

The Huaka is a no compromises road and trail hybrid with an energetic and dynamic midsole (RMAT) with great rebound, decent support and traction for all but the roughest or muddiest trails. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

OR Summer 14: Sigvaris Sports Compression- Light with True Graduated Compression


Sigvaris is a 150 year old Swiss company specialized in medical compression garments. They have been in medical compression for over 50 years. Medical compression garments are used for varicose veins, DVT, maternity, diabetes, leg ulcers, etc... In recent years compression garments and especially leg sleeves/socks and shorts have become popular in endurance sports.
Sigvaris says:

 Athletes who wear SIGVARIS SPORTS products will benefit from:
- Increased circulation
- Improved blood flow through the veins
- Increased oxygen to the muscle tissue
- Less lactic acid buildup in the legs during exercise
- Reduced exercise-induced muscle soreness in the legs

I have used a number of compression products over the last several years, primarily calf compression sleeves,  including the first I found on the market CEP, then Zanesh, Salomon, SmartWool and more recently CEP again. While I am not sure about the performance benefits of improved circulation, improved blood flow and oxygen and less lactic acid build up I am pretty sure, that at least for me that with compression:
  • I have less exercise induced soreness after wearing sleeves 
  • My legs feel more aligned in the direction of travel
  • I am quite sure they  help reduce calf cramps in long events by stabilizing the muscles, reducing vibration and preventing nerves from twitching into cramps. According to this article in Competitor quoting Prof. Schwellnus of the University of Cape Town “The mechanism for muscle fatigue and muscle damage causing cramping is best explained through an imbalance that develops in the nervous system control of muscle. Muscles tend to become very twitchy when they become fatigued or are injured,” said Schwellnus. "
The issue with calf sleeves  has been one of comfort for me. Zanesh was too thick and hot and while the latest CEP are fine, I keep looking for thinner and more comfortable options.

Found what I was looking for at Outdoor Retailer from Sigvaris .

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Dominique Guest Post: Pakems -- Fun Apres Sport Footwear - WaterResistant and Packable


With thousands of exhibitors and 200 new exhibitors each year at the Outdoor Retailer Show, it can be a challenge for new product lines to stand out and catch the attention of the passerby.  Pakems caught my eye. They are lightweight, water resistant and packable footwear meant to be worn after/apr├Ęs a sport activity, such as hiking and skiing.