Monday, March 17, 2014

Clean and Quiet: FLEXR Sports Bottle Review

Now that I've been blogging/reviewing shoes, gear, and stuff for a few years now, I don't often run across really innovative products too often.  But, recently I've had the opportunity to try something really awesome!

There is a really sweet new hydration product on the market from a company called FLEXR Sports, and they have a very cool twist on bottle based hydration.  What FLEXR has designed is a standard hydration bottle, but with a bio-degradable, BPA free, disposable, flexible liner.

So, what's cool about that is that you no longer have to mess around with trying to keep your bottles clean, especially if you are mixing powders, or tablets like NUUN etc.  The liners are BPA free and biodegradable.  If you normally just use water, you can rinse the liner out and reuse them quite a few times. But, if you forget at some point, and it gets kind of funky, just toss it and drop in a new liner!

Now, the 21 oz bottle I tested comes with a squishy padded grip around the bottle, but I usually run with a Nathan handheld on shorter runs, so was happy to see that I could easily swap out the bottle for the FLEXR.

The thing I really liked (besides easily keeping a clean bottle), was the fact that the inner liner compressed as I drank, drastically reducing the sloshing noise and feel from the bottle while running.  It quieted things down a bit, and also dampened the bouncing around of the remaining fluid.

The cap performed adequately.  I certainly didn't have any issues with leakage, provided I screwed it down tight over the liner.  The spout works on a 1/4 twist of the top and I found that the best combination was a slight squeezing of the bottle while drawing out the liquid at the same time... this helped with the liner compression etc.

My only challenge was getting a new liner installed... but I found that to be a bit easier when I read the instructions above!  Of course I had to try before reading these first :-)  .

Besides that little challenge, I really like using the FLEXR in my handheld.  The FLEXR's come with 5 liners I believe, and they retail for $10.95 on their website.  A 25-pack of liners runs $2.95.   An excellent deal if this clean and quiet option sounds appealing to you.

As always, if I've missed something, or you have a question, let me know in the comments!  Also, I have a big review coming up for a variety of hydration options for long runs, so stay tuned!

Happy trails!


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Live Easy & Minimal! Lems Boulder Boot Review!

Ah yes.... while I love my minimalist running shoes, there is something to be said for having great casual shoes as well.  About a year and a half ago I reviewed my first pair of minimalist casual shoes, which were from Leming Footwear (now just Lems). They are still one of the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn, and you can check out the review by clicking HERE. The same or very similar shoe is now called the Primal 2 and you can also see it on the Lems website HERE

So... since that time the Lems product line has grown, and I was really excited to give the new Boulder Boot a try. The great folks at Lems not only provided me the Boulder boot in black, but also set up Mrs. Barefoot Inclined in the cool pair in gray.  So, stick around for a 2 for 1 review!

After receiving the boots and giving them a try on, my first impression was that of the wonderful toe box room. Much like the Primal 2, the design of the Boulder boot is natural, like your foot, allowing plenty of room to wiggle and spread your toes.

I also expected them to be much heavier and less flexible compared to Primal 2, however I was surprised at the overall construction of the boot. These come in just a hair under 10 oz, compared to the 7 oz Primal. And, with a stack height of 9 mm, plus about 3mm for the removable insole still makes for a relatively thin, and very lightweight boot.

Speaking of the insole, I found it to be comfortable, and more importantly, a good additional insulator for the winter.  If you want to improve ground feel, or just get a little more foot room, the insole is easily removed.

With the insole removed, the interior construction and seams are pretty well made and comfortable. I'm not sure about straight barefoot in these boots (as I always wear socks), but with socks, they are comfy with or without the insole.

The soles are made of an air-infused rubber, which give them a little bit of a marshmallow feel, but not too bad.  Also, they are very light weight.  As you can see, the tread is not aggressive. Great for casual hiking and running around town.

As for flexibility? Well.. there you go :-) .    So, was there anything not to like about the Boulder boot? Not really! I will never go back to "traditional" shoes after going minimalist.  My feet and body are so much happier, so it is so great to have another option beyond a running shoe or huarache.  The only thing that took some adjusting to was having my ankles covered! It was kind of a weird feeling after not having worn a boot in a long time. But, the upper is flexible and comfortable like the rest of the boot, so I adjusted quickly.

Ok... enough of my blather... what did Mrs. BI think of her boots?  She let me know that she really does like these boots as well, and received many comments/compliments when wearing them.  I think I have her just about fully converted over to minimal footwear with these boots, several pairs of kigo's and Vivobarefoot!

She echoes much of what I noted above, however she did struggle a bit with a some toe rubbing on the seam in front. In retrospect, the real culprit is the size, and not the shoe.  We determined that going up to the next size would have been ideal. We kind of went off her foot measurement, and perhaps my construction tool skills are not the best, as she got a size 39, and a 40 would have been better.  So, measure carefully, and if it's close, I'd go up.

There you have it... follow Lems advice and live easy & minimal! Easy to do in these great boots.

As always, if I missed something or you have any questions, comments, leave them below! Thanks again for tuning in... stay tuned for more :-)

Happy trails!


Monday, March 10, 2014

Happy Monday! 50K Training Update and stuff...

Hey everybody... hope your week is off to a good start!  Sorry for having disappeared from the blogosphere, but I've been a bit caught up with work, life, oh... and training for my first ultra marathon!

The good news is that I am halfway through my training program, and the wheels haven't come off yet :-).  I've been following a training program from Competitor that was recommended to me.. you can see the article HERE or below is the summary of the plan.  I am just starting Week 9!

Still a bit worried about getting through this race, but I think that's normal.  I've logged 245 miles since starting the plan, and a lot of time on my feet.  Most miles have been in cold, snowy conditions, which hopefully won't be the case the day of the race... but it is Colorado after all.

Here is the Garmin course profile if you are interested... click HERE. 

A majority of my miles have been run in the New Balance MT 1010V2 (full review coming up soon). Primarily because of the winter conditions, but these have proven to be a great minimalist trail shoe... I'll save the details for the review :-)

BUT.. hold the phone..  The newly released Trail Performance shoe from Eric Orton and B2R should be arriving here this week and I am stoked!  If you remember, it was Eric's Road Performance shoe that carried me through my first Marathon in Carlsbad, CA and I love that road shoe.  So, I can't wait to get these on the trail, and have them carry me to my own "Cool Impossible"!

Anyway, that's what I'm up to.  I do have a number of reviews coming up, including the Lem's Boulder Boot, FLEXR Sports bottles, the NB MT1010V2 (and MT 10V2), as well as a cool review of the Pearl Izumi N1 Trail shoe.

Oh... for those of you that have run an ultra marathon, I'm totally open to any feedback/tips you have to offer! Drop them in the comments here on on Facebook... thanks!

Have a great week and happy trails!