Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Nathan: Halo Fire Headlamp Review

Nathan is one of the sports leading manufacturers of hydration, visibility and essential performance gears for many years now. They have been named to the 2013 Inc. 500/5000 list, an elite ranking of the nation’s fastest growing private companies.

Nathan products are available in 45 countries and the chances that you’ll see their products when you go to your specialty running stores and outdoor retailers are very likely. I have been using some of Nathan’s hydration systems for a long time now and they are exceptionally good. Nathan just recently released two distinctive headlamps designed specifically for runners, the Halo Fire (3 LEDs) and the Nebula Fire (1 LED). They let me test the Halo Fire (with cross over kit so that it can be attach to bikes) and I have to say that it is packed with cool features that other competitors don’t have. 

Halo Fire
Main Features
·   Lightweight, multi-beam, rechargeable headlamp offers over 280 lumens of clean, eye-pleasing light.
·   Two down-angled proximity LED's light the path at your feet, while a powerful spotlight shines ahead.
·   There are five lighting modes – low, medium, high, sprint, & strobe – and the maximum burn time tops out at 22 hours.
·   Change light settings touch-free with Halo Fire's RunWave technology

Additional Features
·   LED: 3 LED’s, 288+ max lumen
·   Battery: 1500mAh Rechargeable Lithium Ion Polymer Battery
·   Charge Time: 5 hours
·   Minimum USB Charger Amperage: 0.5A
·   Water Resistant: IPX4 – Weather resistant
·   Adjustable headlamp angle

 Below are the Intensity, Distance and Burn time for each mode:
·   LOW: 20 Lu, 12 meters, 22 hrs burn time
·   MEDIUM: 80 Lu, 26 meters, 7 hrs burn time
·   HIGH: 240 Lu, 47 meters, 2.5 hrs burn time
·   SPRINT: 288 Lu, 51 meters, (Sprint mode availability resets after 3 minutes of running time)
·   STROBE: 100 Lu

RunWave Technology
The Nathan Halo Fire Headlamp is definitely one of the best headlamps on the market today. There are so many cool features with this product, so let’s discuss them one at a time. First is my favorite of all the settings, the RunWave technology. It is one of the three settings where you literally wave your hand in front of the headlamp. There is a sensor in front that triggers the headlight to switch it to different lighting modes/ intensity. There are five modes that the headlamp will cycle thru using the RunWave: Low, Medium, High, Sprint, and Strobe. While some runners may argue that changing light setting is no big deal, but fumbling with the buttons with gloves on is definitely a challenge especially during fall and winter.

Run-Right Light Technology
The next cool feature is the Run-Right Light technology where it features two down angled floodlights that illuminates the path on reasonable distance while the other light (the one on top) serves as a spotlight that illuminates the path far ahead. This gives me more peripheral vision of my surroundings. If you’re the type of runner that is pretty much happy on one setting, then this mode is where you want to be. Most runners will likely stay on this mode and you can even prolong the life of the battery by staying on this setting.

Auto-Strobe Technology
The last cool feature is the Auto-Strobe technology. This is the feature that I am so excited about. This is definitely for runners (even cyclists) that spend most of their time running (cycling) on areas where vehicles are prevalent. The auto-strobe sensor reacts to car’s headlight. While on the steady mode, it will switch to strobe once it senses the oncoming car’s headlight. It is sad to say that most drivers now a days are distracted while driving. This feature is one of the best ways to alert and communicate your presence to drivers. I tested this while cycling on one of my morning rides and really impressed with how it alerted the drivers. I love this safety feature and Nathan really put a lot of thought in it. As an added safety feature, the comfortable head strap has Nathan's very own BlackLight material in it, offering a reflective hit to make you even more visible to drivers. Below is a video where all these cool features are discussed.

 My Verdict
The Halo Fire is the first ever headlamp designed specifically for runners. It’s lightweight, multi-beam, rechargeable headlamp that offers over 280+ lumens of clean, eye-pleasing light. It is is packed with features that will make your night or early morning runs safer. There are so many things that we need to consider when running, and SAFETY should always be our top priority and this headlamp should be on every runner’s top priority list.

I’m really satisfied with Nathan Halo and frankly speaking, I didn’t have any problems while testing it on my runs and cycling contrary to what others said on their review. It does what it supposed to do. It’s a bit pricey in my opinion and that’s the only downside I can say. The Nathan Halo is available on most specialty and retail stores, it sells for $120 at REI to $97.74 thru Amazon. Nathan stands behind their product and as their motto said “No matter how hard you push our gear, we guarantee it”. Nathan will repair or replace at its discretion any manufacturing defect free of charge.

Thanks for reading and let me know how this works for you.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The North Face: Flight Series Short Sleeve and Better Than Naked 5” Shorts Review

The North Face was founded in 1966 by Douglas Tompkins. Named for the coldest, most unforgiving side of a mountain. As the name of the company implies, you might think that it probably started somewhere in the high altitudes. Ironically, the company began on a beach. Yup, to be exact in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood with an altitude of 150 feet above sea level. The North Face started as a climbing equipment (mountaineering) retail store and later added outerwear to their product lines. It bears the quarter circle logo that evokes the Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.

For almost 50 years, The North Face has grown popularity and recognition. Tested and proven by athletes around the world, it is no surprise that their gears and apparels are unparalleled. I’m an outdoor fanatic and have heard so much great things about them. I’m so glad that I was able to get my hands on some of their products and put them to the test.

·   Engineered knit short-sleeve tee helps regulate body temperature
·   Flight Series™ performance running gear is race-day ready
·   Athletic/fitted silhouette
·   360-degree reflectivity for visibility in low light
·   Engineered ventilation
·   Stitch-free construction on critical seams
·   Reflective logos

Fit and Functionality
The Flight Series Short Sleeve Shirt is a quick drying, fitted running shirt that is designed with an ultralight construction to reduce chafing and a breathable lower back for improved temperature regulation. The North Face utilizes the FlashDry fabrics that are engineered to accelerate the removal of moisture from the skin and speed up the evaporative process.  This enables you to stay drier, more comfortable and out performing longer in a wide range of weather conditions and environments. The FlashDry fabric doesn’t add weight or bulk and never washes or wears out. For safety standpoint, the shirt is equipped with 360 degree reflective materials for visibility in low light conditions and has an athletic/ fitted silhouette that semi hugs the body.

I started a little bit late when I did my long run last weekend sporting this shirt. The temperature was a bit high when I got out the door and not even two miles on my run I was already sweating a lot. The shirt performed well and true to how it is advertised. I’m not a big fan of loose shirts and the silhouette form feels more comfortable and conforms to my body. I did a total of 13 miles and though I’m not expecting that I will be completely dry, the shirt was still comfortable throughout my entire run.

·   Lightweight 5" inseam running shorts with quick-drying liner
·   Stitch-free on critical seams
·   Inner drawcord
·   Pieced FlashDry™ knit liner
·   Stretch knit panels for mobility and venting
·   Storage pockets on rear waistband
·   Opening at back waistband allows you to slide and stash your T-shirt
·   Zip back pocket
·   Reflective logo

Fit and Functionality
I received the Better Than Naked 5” Shorts along with the Flight Series Shirt and tested them both on the long run I did last weekend. The BTN 5” shorts fabric was so light, soft, thin and comfortable to my skin. The liner brief has a FlashDry fabric that helps keep me dry and aids in evaporating process. The brief liner is a critical aspect for manufacturers since this is a “hit and miss” in my opinion. Too small and it will create an uncomfortable, tight constricting feel along the groin that could sometimes lead to chafing. Too loose and it basically serves no function. I’m not a big fan of liner briefs and I normally cut them off, but not with this short. It’s amazingly comfortable that it didn’t bother me while I was running.  

Other features that I like are the storage pockets on the rear waistband where I can easily stash my gels and gummies. There is also a zippered pocket in between those pockets where I can store and carry my Nexus 5 phone, it’s a bit tight but I was able to squeeze it in. I was concerned that having my phone in there will create some bounce, well that was not the case, it was bounce free and comfortable. It’s so comfortable that I almost forgot that I have my phone in it after I finished my run.

My Verdict
The North Face is known for its high quality and undoubtedly superior reputation on their gears and apparels. Their products are capable to withstand the most extreme conditions as tested by world class climbers, explorers, extreme skiers, ultra marathoners and high altitude runners, whose lives depend on the performance of their apparel and equipment.

 I’m happy to say that I’m very satisfied with these apparels that I tested. The Flight Series Short Sleeve Shirt sells for $80 and the Better Than Naked 5” Shorts sells for $55. This is the only negative aspect that I can say…yes, it’s a bit pricey and it will definitely put a ding in your wallet. But the quality comes with a price and these are high quality apparels that will not disappoint you. The North Face stands behind their products and they offer a lifetime warranty against defects in material and workmanship.

The North Face offers different varieties of gears and apparels depending on the type of activities you are into. So check their website or retails stores near you and let me know what you think.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day...thanks CIM

Guess whose picture ended up on the California International Marathon Father's Day promotion? I was stoked when I saw this...I'm guessing that out of hundreds of pictures that were taken during that time, they picked our picture. What are the chances?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cotopaxi: Erindi Tech Tank and Retro Trucker Hat Review

Ever heard of Cotopaxi? If not, that’s OK. Cotopaxi is a relatively brand new company that specializes in outdoor gears and apparels. Based in Salt Lake City Utah and founded by Davis Smith in 2013. The name Cotopaxi is taken after a volcano in Ecuador and represented by a tiny llama logo.

Cotopaxi is not just a company like most companies you know. They are the first company in the US to be incorporated as a benefit corporation. So what is Benefit Corporation? It is a type of for-profit corporate entity authorized by 30 U.S states and the District of Columbia. Their purpose is to create a general public benefit that includes positive impact on society, workers, community and the environment. In other words, their purpose is to help those less fortunate and the poorest regions of the world. Hoping to make the world a better place.

I did a review of the Tikal Active shell two months ago and you can read it here.  The name of each product is taken from a place of the region that would benefit from the purchase. Like the Erindi, it’s a protected reserve in Namibia located southeast of Omaruru. So when you decide to purchase this product, that’s where portion of the profit will go. So you get the idea…it’s all about giving back and help those in need.

·   Flatlock stitching and off-shoulder seams reduce abrasion
·   Lightweight and breathable polyester fabric has hydrophilic finish to wick away moisture
·   Comfortable, wide cut provides a full range of motion
·   Slim fit is perfect for cool-weather layering
·   Sustainably made with repurposed fabric
·   Made in USA

Fit and Functionality
Most of the running gears today are made of polyester materials and we know the main reason behind it, to wick moisture away from our body. Erindi tech tank is made of repurposed polyester fabric that is lightweight and breathable, but what is so striking about the Erindi is the feel of the fabric. If you don’t bother looking at tags, you might think that it is made of cotton. Seriously, it is that soft unlike other polyester materials. I was a bit skeptical and wondered if this can really hold up based on how it is advertised. I used this on one of my runs during lunch time and I was surprised how it handled the moisture and sweat away from my body. It’s quick drying, highly breathable, soft and comfortable to wear, making it ideal for training and racing. The design of the Erindi tech tank is not too flashy, it’s very mellow and can be paired easily with jeans and shorts for those quick walk around the neighborhood or trail adventures.

I’m 5’-6” and ordered a medium size and it’s true to size. I’m not a big fan of loose shirt. The Erindi tech tank is a “slim-fit cut” that semi-hugs my body which I like most. Even though that it is semi hugging my body during the run, the material didn’t stick to my skin when I started to sweat. The cut off-shoulder allows more air to circulate and helps in cooling down my core.
·   Adjustable snapback
·   Mesh backing
·   Fits most sizes

Fit and Functionality
We’ve all been accustomed seeing most runners wearing running hats and visors but not so much with the trucker hat. Luke McKenzie, a professional triathlete is known for this signature. I’m not trying to be like him or imitate his choice of fashion, it just makes me wonder why he likes it better than the traditional hat. Well, after testing it along with the Erindi tech tank, now I know. My assumption during my run might be relative and it might just be a personal preference but I like how it performed. The trucker hat is made of some plastic mesh at the back and regular fabric at the front. Unlike the regular hat which sits flat and molds on our head, the trucker hat is stiff enough that it can sit an inch or more above the head. It’s obvious that this gives more room for the fresh air to circulate and hot air to vent out. It felt comfortable during my lunch run with the temperature of at least 900F. You might think that the plastic mesh will eventually get hot, but that was not the case. It even held up pretty well in directing the sweat off my eyes.

My Verdict
Cotopaxi is regarded in producing great and high quality gears, and it shows very well on all the products that I tested so far. The Erindi tech tank is lightweight, breathable and very versatile. It can be used for running or just a normal stroll around the block. If you haven’t tried the trucker hat, then give yourself a chance. I know it’s out of the ordinary and other runners might give you a look. It’s all about function and this hat might just be the hat that can do the trick for you.

You can purchase these products directly on their website and while you’re on it, check out their other items as well and extend your helping hand to other people who are in need. Cotopaxi is built on the premise to help those who are in need and you too can be part of that by supporting them.