Thursday, July 28, 2016

SKINS: DNAmic Men’s Superpose Half Tights Review

I’ve been using compression gears for majority of the time especially right after my hard workouts. I know that there are still on-going debates with its benefits…does it really give you that extra boost to edge the competition? Well, one thing that I can say is that not all compression gears are created equal. I cannot say that all apples taste the same coz they’re not, same goes with compression. The materials and technology behind each product will be the core difference. One of the compression gears that I wanted so bad to test out is the SKINS. I heard a lot of great things about them and I finally got a break few weeks ago. They sent me one of their products to review, the DNAmic Superpose Half Tights.

As a brief history, SKINS was founded in 1996 by an Australian physiologist and ski enthusiast named Brad Duffy. Like most everybody, he likes to feel ten years younger so he could do the things he loves most, skiing and partying all night. Remember that movie “Limitless” played by Bradley Cooper? Yeah that kind of thing except for the super drug, but you get the idea. His knowledge that improving the blood circulation will result to more oxygen supply to the body and it will improve power, speed, stamina and faster recovery, which simply means more time to do what he loves most. He consulted with NASA and other experts to confirm this and turns out that he was right. It didn’t take that long and the SKINS was born.

Features and Benefits
   Increases oxygen delivery to active muscles while in motion and reduces lactic-acid build-up for more power and less recovery time.
   SKINS unique sizing system is based on unique Body Mass Index (BMI)/anthropometrical algorithm, because you only get the full benefits of gradient compression if it fits you properly.
   Uniquely wrapping and supporting your key muscle groups to reduce movement and focus direction for less vibration in your muscles, less soft tissue damage and less soreness after exercise.
   Keeping you dry through advanced wicking is inherent in all SKINS fabrics. Moisture is drawn away from your skin, so you stay dry and comfortable.
   SKINS was born in Australia, so we know a thing or two about exerting ourselves in the sun. Our fabrics have a UV protection of 50+, which means you can get out and train harder without worrying about the sun related risks.
   SKINS’ fabric is warp knitted using multiple fine quality yarns to give superior performance. Warp knit fabrics have no natural stretch. Instead, the spandex mix ensures specific levels of elasticity and perfectly controlled compression.

Fit and Functionality
SKINS size chart is right on, I requested a medium size and it’s true to size and was perfect. The DNAmic Superpose utilizes a 4-way stretch material that moves with your body. It is made of lightweight, quick-dry materials that wicks moisture fast away from the body plus a built-in Dynamic Gradient Compression Half Tights that helps in muscle stability for better performance, delivers a controlled compression on the thighs and delayed muscle lactic acid build up. The fabric is warp knitted using multiple fine quality yarns to support key muscle groups that reduces the stress, vibration, less damage to soft tissue and less soreness after exercise. The waistband material is made of a compression band and doesn’t utilize a draw cord like other shorts in the market today. So no more cords to untangle after every wash. It has a small size pocket at the back where I can store some gels and gummies. Unfortunately, this pocket doesn’t have enough stretch, so don’t expect that you can squeeze your phone in it, unless you still own those flip phones (no disrespect). So if you cannot run without your phone, I suggest get an armband.

To test it out, I ran 10.6 miles last weekend sporting this shorts in a very hot and humid condition. I was not even three miles from my house and I was already soaking wet. One thing that I don’t like is when the back of my shorts started sticking to my hamstring, well not with this shorts, the quick-drying material expelled the sweat away from my body. I’m not really expecting that shorts will be completely dry but as long as I’m comfortable with it then I’m a happy runner. I thought running with this 2-in-1 shorts was a bad idea since it was hot but I was really glad that I did. As we all know, our body works twice as hard during hot condition and we eventually tax our muscles even more. Well, this shorts somehow equalized that level of stress with the help of the compression tights, my legs still felt fresh after that run. Am I just super excited when I ran it the first time? Maybe. So I decided to test it again one more time during my lunch break for 5.5 miles where the temperature was close to 90oF. I have to say that this short was truly amazing in supporting my muscles and never did I experience overheating despite the two layers.

My Verdict
Overall, I’m really impressed with the shorts and it really lived up to its hype. SKINS are scientifically proven to improve your blood flow, helping you get more oxygen to those hardworking muscles. This will definitely be on my “favorite” gears when doing marathons and training runs. It is very lightweight, silky soft and the breathability of the quick-drying material is superb. On top of that, the inner compression tight is very comfortable and supportive. My legs still felt energize and my muscles were less sore after those runs. The waistband was great and comfortable too but I’m not sure if this will “bacon-up” after so many uses and wash cycles. The only thing that could probably be improve is the back pocket, make it a little bit roomy and stretchable.

How much? I got to be honest, this short is not cheap! The DNAmic Superpose Half Tights sell for $99. “Yikes”…that was my expression. It will definitely put a dent in your wallet. Is it worth it? I believe so. You really have to experience the quality of the materials and benefits it can do to you. This is worth the buy if you’re a serious runner and if putting a lot of weekly mileage is your thing. However, if you’re just getting into running and doesn’t necessarily sure if running is for you, you might want to consider other options.

You can purchase the DNAmic Superpose Half Tights directly on their website or at retail stores near you. SKINS know that their products are top notch, they have a 1 year guarantee on any materials and workmanship flaws. They will replace any faulty garments with a new one as quickly as possible.

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think of this product.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The North Face: Better Than Naked Short Sleeve Shirt and Long Haul Shorts Review

I am big fan of The North Face and I've been using their apparels for such a long time now. Their products are truly remarkable and one of my favorites to use during my training runs and races. I have reviewed couple of their items a month ago and you can read my full review by clicking here.
·   Flight Series Short Sleeve Shirt
·   Better Than Naked 5" Shorts

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. 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. They gave me another set of products to review and I’m thrilled to put them to the test.

·   Lightweight FlashDry shirt body-mapped ventilation
·   Stitch-free construction on critical seams
·   360-degree reflectivity for visibility in low light condition and reflective logos

Fit and Functionality
What I like most about the BTN Short Sleeve Shirt is the lightness and its ability to transfer the moisture fast away from my body. I was already impressed with the Flight Series Short Sleeve Shirt, but the BTN Short Sleeve Shirt is a notch better in my own honest opinion. It is quick drying, super ultralight material that is exceptionally soft, breathable and great in moisture and temperature regulation. The closest comparison that I can think off against this shirt is the 2XU GHST Shirt which is also extremely light and soft. Like the Flight Series, the BTN Short Sleeve Shirt utilizes the FlashDry technology 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.

I used the BTN Short Sleeve Shirt when I raced the Davis Moonlight ½ Marathon almost two weeks ago. For those who are not familiar with this race, it’s in Davis California and it starts at 7 pm. I’ve been doing this race for 3 consecutive years now and the common denominator on this race is the temperature, it is always hot! I put the BTN Short Sleeve Shirt to the test and it didn’t disappoint. The lightness of the shirt was absolutely amazing in controlling my core temperature. The material was so thin that it allowed more air to go thru my body and it dissipated the sweat as quickly as possible. This helped me accomplished in beating my previous time by more than 2 minutes and I’m extremely satisfied with the result. The fact that I didn’t put much effort leading to this race, it just shows that gears do make a big difference in performance.

·   7" inseam running shorts designed for maximum storage
·   360- degree reflectivity for visibility in low light condition
·   Supportive comfort-fit waistband with draw cord
·   Built-in compressive liner short with pockets

Fit and Functionality
I received the BTN Long Haul Shorts along with the BTN Short Sleeve Shirt and tested them both on the Davis Moonlight ½ Marathon. I was absolutely amazed with the ingenuity that they put into this shorts. It has multiple elastic pockets around the waist area (total of 6 pockets) plus a zippered pocket at the back that can fit some large phones today. Aside from the 6 pockets along the waist area, there are additional pockets located on the compression liner too. It has 3 small elastic pockets on the right leg and another 2 decent size pockets on the other. With the number of pockets built into this shorts, there are no more excuses of running low in fuel. This shorts is obviously built for long distances where storing fuels are essential. It’s amazingly comfortable that it didn’t bother me while I was running despite the gels, gummies and bars that I have with me on the runs. Like most of The North Face apparels the Long Haul Shorts’ compression liner has the FlashDry fabric technology that helps keep me dry and aids in evaporating process.

My Verdict
The BTN Short Sleeve Shirt is an absolute gear that you must have whether you’re a serious runner or just getting some work outs here and there. It is one of my favorite gears to wear on most training days where the temperature is above normal. The technical aspect of the materials (i.e. ultra-lightness and breathability) of this shirt is next to none. Honestly, I couldn’t find any fault on this shirt aside from the colors. They could have probably done better in selecting more lively and flashy colors to make the shirt stand out from the rest. But other than that, I'm so pleased with this shirt!

In my opinion, the BTN Long Haul Shorts was made based on one main concept…it's all about functionality. I’m not saying that it’s not fashionable (coz it is) but its main feature is to carry fuels, which is an absolute necessity when it comes to endurance sports. As the name suggest, it is geared for long haul/ distances. The storage pockets of this shorts offer more than enough to carry your fuels and supply you on the long runs. This shorts can be best utilize on trail runs and on race events where slowing / stopping for fuel is not an option. One thing that is obvious on this shorts is the weight, it’s a bit heavy in my opinion. The weight is mainly located on the waist area where all the pockets are built in. It didn’t bother me during the run but I think it’s noteworthy to mention since most shorts today are really light.

The BTN Short Sleeve Shirt and BTN Long Haul Shorts sell for $50 and $65, respectively. These are high quality gears and I highly recommend that you give it a try. It is tested and proven by athletes around the world, it is no surprise that their gears and apparels are unparalleled. The North Face stands behind their products and they offer a lifetime warranty against defects in material and workmanship.

They also have different varieties of gears and apparels based on the type of activities you are into, so check their website or retails stores near you and let me know what you think.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Tommie Copper: Memory Foam and Sport Orthotic Inserts Review

I did a review of Tommie Copper’s Compression Core Band and Compression Short Sleeve Crew Neck couple of months ago and I got to say that I was really impressed with how comfortable those gears were. Compression garments can be worn during training, races and most especially on the days that you need it most…recovery. You can read my full review of these two gears by clicking here.

Tommie Copper was founded in 2010 by Tom Kallish with the simple goal of helping people live healthier, happier, more fulfilling lives. Tommie Copper is one of the many companies that specializes in compression. They have different compression garments to choose from, whatever your need is, chances are Tommie Copper has it. I have reviewed many of their gears in the past and you can read it by clicking the items below:
·         Dress Compression Socks
·         Compression Tight

Tommie Copper just released their new products for foot care, the Memory Foam Orthotic Inserts and Sport Orthotic Inserts. I have this injury in my heels that is “on and off” and it all started when I was training for my first marathon. The pain is more noticeable after doing my long runs. I’m not sure what causing this pain but before I see a podiatrist, which might cost me a fortune, I decided to try some less pricey option. I got nothing to lose so might as well give it a try.

Memory Foam Orthotic                                                             Sport Orthotic Inserts
Features (Memory Foam)
     Great for everyday use
     Stabilizes & support the foot and ankle
     Great for casual footwear, work wear and dress wear

Features (Sport Orthotics)
   Softens impact to feet, ankles & knees during activity
   Helps relieve & prevent pain such as, shin splints, tender arches and Runner’s Knee
   Balances the feet to provide proper alignment
   Great for all athletic footwear styles including: tennis, golf, hiking and more

Fit and Functionality
I wear a size 10 shoes and they fit perfectly on my running and casual shoes. The inserts are much heavier compared to the regular inserts and one thing that is very noticeable on these two orthotics is how high the arches were built. I initially thought that this was designed to support people that have high arches. I have a medium arch and I can feel that these inserts are pushing my feet to go outward. Mainly the high arches were constructed that way to  provide for a proper alignment, however, it felt a little awkward in the beginning but it didn’t take me long to get used to it. Not sure how this will affect some people that are basically flat footed, so I suggest that you give it a few walks for a while before finally committing yourself with these orthotics. Before I go any further, the main difference between the two is that the Sport Orthotics are designed to have more cushion and shock absorption, other than that both are almost identical when it comes to features and benefits.

I’ve been using the Memory Foam Orthotics on my casual / work shoes for some time now. I work in the office and have a standing desk set up, so I’m up on my feet for most part of the day. Having these inserts feel much better since the high arches are pushing my body in proper posture and right amount of foam to cushion my feet. TC has some pressure imaging (see picture) that shows the difference “with and without” their orthotics. I got to be honest that it was hard for me to distinguish the difference with or without the inserts when my heels are OK. But once my heels started to flare up after my long training runs then I can see a little bit of benefit when wearing one. It alleviates some of the pain but not to a point that it will completely eliminate it.

In regards to the Sport Orthotics, I have these inserts in one of my running shoes. I run during lunch time for 4 to 7 miles at the most. As I mentioned on the above that these inserts are heavy and I felt that right from the get go. Changing inserts on my running shoes is a bit hard for me since running is more crucial than walking. Running has a lot more to consider and shoes are the biggest thing that I prefer not to alter. It’s a delicate situation to alter and it requires some balance. I have to say that the weight of the inserts didn’t favor me much during my test runs and it took a little time to get used to with the high arches. Having this so much height on the arches threw my natural gait. Not unless your running form is really bad and needs some proper alignment then this inserts might be something that you can try. As they listed, tennis, golf, hiking are probably some of the activities that you can use this for, but definitely not ideal for running or any sports that will require you to go fast. That said, I ended up using it on my casual shoes and it felt much better.

My Verdict
I’ve been using the inserts for couple of weeks now and I have to be honest that this is tough to review. I will just base my assessment on “if it met my needs”. The main reason for trying it is to see if this can help ease the pain that I experience after my long runs. I have to say that it does, it gave me that support and cushion that my feet needed. The pain is more manageable but not to the point that the pain just went away. I would say that the pain is more tolerable when using these inserts. This really helps me get by on those days that I needed to train. Any little help that I can get is better than nothing.

These inserts are made to support and give us proper balance and it is meant to address minor issues like mine. It is designed to help us get back on track, so don’t let this be a crutch and rely on it totally. Once you feel that you’re back to normal, I suggest that you ease on using them.

The Memory Foam Inserts and the Sport Orthotic sell for $69.50 and $64.50, respectively. It’s a bit hefty in my opinion but you can always give it a try, it might work for you. You can purchase these directly on their website. Tommie Copper stands behind their products and guarantees the quality, performance and fit. If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase, simply return the item within 60 days for a refund.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Buff: UV Buff Tubular Headwear Review

Buff is a seamless multipurpose tubular headwear that can be used as a cap, neck gaiter, beanie, headband and a mask. Buff, short for “bufunda” which means scarf in Spanish, was founded in 1992 by an avid motorcyclist named Joan Rojas. As a motorcyclist, he’s always out under the sun. He gazed for solutions to keep his head and neck protected and with his knowledge in tubular knitting, came out the first Buff.

For more than 20 years, Buff has premiered and innovated the tubular headwear. They incorporated state of the art fabric technologies like Coolmax and Polygiene. I was really impressed with the simplicity and the multi-functionality of this tubular headwear. Check their website and they have a wide varieties on their selections, ranging from running to fishing. They even have gears to protect your pets from the elements and that is something quite unique. For the purpose of this review, they sent me the UV Buff Tubular Headwear and UV Half Buff Headband and I’ve been testing these gears for a few weeks now.

UV Buff
Main Features
     100% microfiber polyester
     Blocks 95% of UV rays*
     Soft, breathable Coolmax® Extreme fabric
     100% seamless
     12+ ways to wear
     Polygiene® Active Odor Control
     Thermal protection from cold & wind
     2-way lateral stretch
     One size fits all adults

Fit and Functionality
The Buff headwear is a one size fits all gear that can be used depending on your needs and how you want to style yourself. I said “style” since there are multi-ways on how the Buff can be worn. It measures about 10 in x 20 in and is relatively thin making it very lightweight and compact. If you are not fond of wearing a cap then this might be a good alternative since it is more versatile and easy to carry than a hat. You can easily toss it in your pocket or wrap it around the wrist as a wristband when you don’t feel like wearing it for a moment. And when it’s time to protect your head from the sun, then just pull it out and you’ll get the protection you need. It blocks the UV rays that prevents you from getting a sun burn and the microfiber polyester absorbs and pulls the moisture away from the skin. Below are the pictures how the Buff can be worn.

UV Half  Buff
I’ve been using the UV Buff on my morning runs and the UV Half when cycling. The difference between the two is just the size. The UV Half is geared towards cycling and since it is half smaller in length than the regular UV Buff it doesn’t have that much material that could bunch under the helmet. What I like most about these gears is the ability to pull the sweat faster than a regular hat. When used as a headband, it helps in redirecting the sweat from rolling into and stinging my eyes. I also have the option to slide it down and it quickly converts it into a gaiter to protect the back of my neck. I got to be honest that I haven’t had the chance to try out the different configurations or ways of wearing it since some of it are best suited for winter or colder environment. But nonetheless, I’m very excited to test it out this coming fall, the beginning of my marathon training. This will be good replacement of my beanie and will serve as a face mask as well on really cold days of running.

Below is a video that shows the different configurations how you can wear the Buff headwear.

My Verdict
The Buff is a simple gear that can be used multiple ways. It is lightweight, compact, soft, breathable, quick drying and offers a lot of protection from UV rays. If you’re hitting the market area and would like to try something new, give yourself a chance and try out the Buff headwear. The price of the UV Buff is $25 (the UV Half is $15) which is almost similar price of a regular hat. But one thing that makes it a great buy is the versatility it offers unlike the regular hat. I think that justifies the price but I still have yet to test its durability when washed several times. You can visit their website or retail stores and check out the different varieties of Buff. You can also get these items thru Amazon and REI that could save you some bucks.

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