Friday, September 23, 2016

Salomon: X-Scream 3D Shoes Review


I’ve known Salomon brands for a long time but I never really had a chance to get to know their products better until I tested out some of their apparels (you can read my review of those apparels by clicking here). I got to say that I am so pleased with their performance and it delivers what they promised to deliver…no hype no sugarcoat. I also received a pair of shoes to test out and I’ve been putting this on the mill for quite a few weeks now.


Description
Salomon is no stranger to trails and that’s the area where they really shine. They’re very popular with Ultra-runners and you can pretty much equate their name to any endurance sports you can think of.

Their trail shoes are one of the best in the market today when it comes to durability, strength and comfort but Salomon doesn’t want to stop there. We all know that runners are very diverse and Salomon is making every effort not only to accommodate those trail runners but road runners as well. I do most of my training runs on pavement since that’s where most of my races will be but I do some off-road training once in a while just to get my feet and ankle stronger. Running a road shoe on loose soil is always a challenge for me and I was so glad to see that there’s a “hybrid” shoe from Salomon that can do both…meet the X-Scream 3D. Let’s go down to the basics and know the shoe better.

Technologies
·      Lace Pocket: Provides easy storage for the Quick Fit lacing system.
·      Sensifit: Works to cradle the foot providing a precise and secure fit.
·      Quick Lace: Minimalistic and strong lace for one-pull tightening. Easy on, easy off.
·      Friction Free Lace Eyelet: Quick and easy one pull lacing.
·      Molded EVA: Provides excellent next to foot cushioning and anatomical support.
·      Breathable Open Mesh
·      Injected EVA
·      High Abrasion ContaGrip
·      Compressed EVA
·      EndoFit
·      Wet Traction ContaGrip
·      3D Flex
·      3D Profeel Film
·      Asymmetrical Heel Counter

The X-Scream 3D is a neutral running shoe that provides impressive traction on different surfaces. The shoe weighs in at 10.50 ounces (300 grams). The heel to toe drop is 10mm (Heel height: 23mm, Forefoot height: 13mm). I tested a size 10 and suggest to go ½ size up for better comfort or visit your retailer to get a good feel if you can.

Upper


The upper material is made of a breathable open air mesh with some added layers of fabric on the inside to increase its structural integrity. Contrary to what I initially thought that air passing thru the material could be an issue but that wasn’t the case. It’s breathable enough even on those hot afternoon runs. The front end of the shoe is sewn with flexible but sturdy toe cap to protect those piggies from any debris or rock.


Salomon has this technology that they incorporated called ENDOFIT™ “an internal fit sleeve designed to hug the foot in exactly the right places and improve feedback and foot wrapping”. Salomon used a stretchable, oversized, soft material on the tongue area that is sewn to the midsole of the shoe (see picture above). This is the first thing I felt when I slid my foot in and it really gave me the security that my foot is “one with the shoe” and I really loved how it felt during the run.

QUICKLACE and SENSIFIT
I’ve tested a lot of shoes in the past but none of those have this kind of QUICKLACE™ technology. One of the major benefits of the quick lace is getting your foot secure in a fast time, all it takes is a one pull to tighten and you get the security your foot needs. Aside from that, we all know that getting in and out of the shoe as quickly as possible is important (especially if you’re racing) but the biggest benefit of the quick lace is that eliminates the possibility of unequal distribution of tightness around the top of the foot that could lead to a potential hot spot and ruin your run.
Added to that great feature is the SENSIFIT™ technology that cradles my foot providing a precise and secure fit. So how does it benefit me? One of the issues I have on some of the shoes I tested was that my foot tends to slide forward especially on a downhill regardless of how snug and tight I do my laces. The combination of both technologies eliminated that issue and never did I experience my big toe stabbing the top of my shoe. Kudos to that!

It’s worth mentioning that the inside of the shoe is incredibly soft, you could probably run this without any socks. I haven’t tried this yet since I like to run with my socks on but just be careful if you want to experiment with this shoe.

Sole

The heel drop of this shoe is 10mm and though I like running with low heel drop as much as possible, this was almost unnoticeable and it didn’t give me any issues like over stretching my calves and heels. Actually, it even helped me more to lean forward on the take off and gave me that extra push. The bottom of the sole is robust and firm but the forefoot area is flexible enough to give me the proper toe off. It is so stable that there is almost zero lateral flex (side to side flex) which makes more sense since you don’t want the shoe to collapse when tackling corners on a fast pace.

They utilized the Ortholite insole that is a bit different from other insoles. It is few millimeters thick on the bottom of the heel to help absorb the impact when running and gives some energy return on the take-off. The materials like the ContaGrip, Injected EVA, Compressed EVA and Profeel film were strategically arranged that works differently depending on the surface area, the idea behind this shoe is to make it ideal for both city and trail runs.

The Ride

I normally run on a 7+ mile loop close to where I work and the last two miles of that loop is the one that I hated most. It’s made of uneven surfaces with lots of alligator cracks and high crowns. Surprisingly, the shoe didn’t disappoint and it made the surface tolerable. I was able to make my strides faster and consistent which is contrary when I am using my other shoes. Is it just mental? Maybe. But what I care most is my feet are really liking it!

From the get go, I’m not really expecting that the ride will be as cushy like other shoes I have. Branding this as a city and trail shoe, something has to give, right? I felt the firmness of the sole when I ran this on the pavement but I also felt that there was still some cushion to catch my feet on the landing. It’s more amazing how the firmness of the sole felt differently when I tested this off road, it’s actually cushy and forgiving on my legs and knees. The shoe was responsive and forgiving enough on those miles that I pounded on the road and its off road traction was exceptional.

My Verdict
Salomon took the gamble of creating a ‘hybrid” shoe designed to tackle the city and trails and I have to say that they were spot on. Overall, the X-Scream 3D exceeded my expectations and met my needs. I love the fact that I have the flexibility to go off road in the middle of road run and enjoy the beauty of both sides.

For a mere price of $125, this is a great price if you’re looking just to get out and enjoy the trails without needing a real technical trail shoe. You can purchase this directly on their website or at retail stores near you.

Thanks for reading and I hope that you find this information useful. I love to hear your feedback so feel free to drop your comments below.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Tommie Copper: Performance Quad Sleeve Review

My marathon training has begun a month ago and this will be my third consecutive time racing the California International Marathon. My training partner developed this 16-week program for both of us hoping to best our previous time by 30 min. Yeah, it’s a very ambitious goal. Is it doable? Absolutely! We just need to put more heart and stick with the program. The most torturous day for me is the long run which normally happens during the weekend and bouncing from that hard workout ASAP is a must. I’ve been doing a lot of stretches, foam rolling and most especially compression.

Tommie Copper is one of my favorite brands when it comes to compression gears. I have reviewed few of their items on the past and you can read my full review by clicking on each item:

TC just released a new line of compression gears and they sent me the Performance Quad Sleeve for review. Let’s take a closer look then will dive into my review:


Material
·         It’s made of fabric infused with copper and zinc
·         Have the CopperZnergy™  that helps eliminate odors caused by microbes
·         It offers a UPF 50+ that can protect you from sun’s harmful UV rays
·         It has a COOL COPPER™ fabric technology that provides moisture wicking and breathability to keep you cool and dry.

Benefits
·         Provides all day comfort
·         Fast recovery and relief
·         It supports muscle from fatigue

Fit and Functionality
The Performance Quad Sleeve is made of 86% polyester and 14% Lycra spandex that delivers a right amount of compression around the circumference of my legs and it fits perfectly. It has a silicone gripper on top to prevent the sleeve from sliding down. It’s worth mentioning that it has a “silicone” material in it, because some people might have allergic reactions to it so please be aware of that.

TC offered me to test it out and I couldn’t resist that offer. It’s very timing with all the trainings that I’ve been doing. With my long runs, I can definitely feel that my quads and hamstring are taking a lot of beatings. Sometimes getting up from bed could be a challenge. I’ve been using this performance quad sleeve for few weeks now, almost everyday during and after my runs. I’m a true believer that it helps me recover faster and effectively. I’ve read some articles that you shouldn’t wear the compression gear for a long time especially if you plan on sleeping with it. But I’ve tried this many times with this quad sleeve and I didn’t get any bad reactions or feelings from wearing it all night. I felt that my legs are fresher and more energize the following day.

Note: I’m not suggesting that you do the same, each individual has different level of tolerance so please be careful when you decide to wear compression gears for a long period of time as this could be harmful or detrimental to your health or life.

Could it just be mental? Who knows but some studies suggest that it helps deliver more blood to the muscle by compressing the veins and arteries, supplying our muscles with more oxygen which aids in a faster recovery and delay the onset of muscle fatigue. I know that this could be debated all day but for me personally, I’m happy and satisfied with what it does to me.

My Verdict
There are so many compression gears in the market today that could make your head spin. Finding the right one is the hardest but the reward is great on the end. I have tested a lot of Tommie Copper’s compression gears and I can vouch that their gears and apparels are truly reliable.

I’ve worn the Performance Quad Sleeve many times and it has been washed and dried many times as well. The elasticity and compression has never change the day I got it and it’s holding on pretty well as I speak. It’s very comfortable, supportive, aids for a faster recovery and doesn’t give me the itch compared to some other materials that I have tested.

The Performance Quad Sleeve is available on their website and sells for $34.50. The value is just average and comparable with other gears in the market. All TC products guarantee the highest quality, performance and fit. If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase, simply return it within 60 days for a full refund.

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think.  

Friday, September 9, 2016

Salomon: S-Lab EXO TW Shorts and Trail Runner Short Sleeve Tee Review

If you’ve been doing a lot of trail runs or any activities in the high mountains like skiing, snowboarding, mountaineering or any high altitude sports then you’ve probably heard about Salomon. They are no stranger to the world of endurance sports and they have proven that they have the highest quality of gears, apparels and equipment that you can depend on.


Salomon was born in the French Alps in 1947, in Annecy France to be exact. It was started by Francois Salomon, his wife and his son George. Their passion for mountain sport, product development, quality and craftsmanship drove them to create progressive gears that we are enjoying today. Salomon also expanded their products to running and I heard a lot of great things about it. It seems very fitting to test them out since I’ve been doing a lot of trainings and preparations to get myself ready for marathon this December. I received few items from them and I’m happy to put them to the grind. 


 Features
·      EXO Sensifit Stability: helps you move easier, perform longer and recover faster.
·      5 waist pockets (1 front, 2 rear, 2 side): for easy access to your essentials without slowing you down.
·      Inner tights: honeycomb pattern for muscle support.
·      Lightweight waist construction.
·      Reflective branding front and back: for increased visibility in low light conditions.
·      4 way stretch plain weave: a material that moves with your body.
·      Advance Skin / Active Dry technology.
·      UPF 50 sun protection.

Benefits
·      Muscle Support: Patented Salomon EXO print delivers maximum support for muscles to improve endurance.
·      Mobility: patterned to enable complete freedom of movement, with stretch comfort in the fabric.
·      Lightweight: superlight fabric on the outer short.

Fit and Functionality
I ordered a medium size based on their chart and it is spot on. My waist is about 32 inches and they feel good and comfortable. It’s a little bit long compared to my other running shorts and it just sits above my knee.

First thing that I noticed was that it doesn’t have a draw string like other shorts. The waistband is made of pure elastic (compressive) material that is almost 3 inches thick. I put it on and felt that it doesn’t quite sit on my waist but more on the hip area. The short is more of a “low waist” type short and it gave me a strange feeling but I got used to it after putting it in a mill. Second, the waistband that I mentioned above have numerous mesh pockets around it, it has a total of 5 pockets (1 front, 2 rear and 2 sides) that are totally stretchable and elastic enough to secure my running fuels and essentials in place. Traditionally, you’ll find the pockets of some shorts located along its side. I don’t know about you but I am not a big fan of such design. Not to offend anybody, but I think this is totally useless since we all know that any items we put in that pocket will just continuously bounce and hit our legs as we run. Salomon put a lot of considerations by having the pockets close to the body, not only it is secure but it also eliminates the bounce. Never did it sag when I loaded it up with my nutrition on the 15 mi run I did. Third, the “honeycomb pattern” compression tights are sewn with the outer shorts (along the inner thigh). The primary reason for this is to eliminate the shorts from riding up that could potentially create the unwanted chafing on that delicate area (no pun intended). The honeycomb pattern EXO Technology compression tights deliver the right amount of compression and support. It stabilizes and control my leg muscles from the jarring motion and it helps eliminate early fatigue by increasing the blood flow. It felt that my legs were still energize after the run. 
Fourth, they also added a very silky soft liner brief for added comfort and support, where the front is sewn to the short while the back portion is sewn to the compression tights. I’m not a big fan of liner briefs and I initially thought that this will cause some discomfort but I was totally surprised that it didn’t even bother me during the run and hardly noticed that it was there. Lastly, the outer layer of the short is equipped with the finest material that you could find in the market today, it has a 4 way stretch plain weave material that moves with my body and the Advance Skin/ Active Dry technology dissipates the sweat faster  and creates a cooling effect. I put this to the mill one more time during my 17 mi run, the shorts were moist but not soaking wet compared to some other shorts I tested and I’m really impressed with how it supported my legs and really felt comfortable throughout the entire run.


Trail Runner Short Sleeve Tee
 Material
     100% Polyester

Features
    Active-Form Fit.
    Salomon warp knit
    AdvanceSkin / ActiveDry technology
    Flatlock seams (to prevent chafing)
    Reflective branding

Fit and Functionality
The fit of the shirt is true to size and perfect according to their size chart. It falls under the “Active Fit” category. If you’re not familiar with how Salomon categorized their sizing, the Active Fit it is pretty much equivalent to a “semi fit”. The Active fit gives you the feeling that the material is close enough to the body but it doesn’t hug your skin like a compression shirt. However, it still follows the contour and curves of your body, so just be mindful that if you have some moobies (man boobs) and a bit of a muffin top that it will be hard to hide them when wearing this shirt.

I’m not a big fan of loose and relaxed shirts when running especially when I start to sweat, it makes the material even heavier and uncomfortable in a long run. I tested this on my 17 mile run and the temperature got high half way thru my run but the shirt held up pretty good. Thanks to the shirt’s ability to dissipate the sweat and moisture away from my skin I was able to maintain a good core temperature.

Let’s talk some sensitive issue, the dreaded chafing on the nip area! For the record, I don’t have problem on this area but I think it’s worth mentioning for the sake of this review. One of the major causes of that issue is the type of fabric used by manufacturers on their shirts. That chafing happens when the material starts to absorb sweat and begin rubbing on our skin. Remember that episode from the Office when Andy had some issue on that area? (click here for the video)…ouch! Some male runners tend to have sensitive nipples and they have to put band aids or nip guards to protect them from chafing. Well, this might be your saving glory, the material used in this shirt is as light as a feather and very comfortable, and you could probably ditch those band aids and use it somewhere else.

My Verdict
S-Lab EXO TW Shorts
The S-Lab is Salomon’s name for pure performance and designed at the highest level. The design of the S-Lab is quite unique, Salomon put together a lot of great features that you wouldn’t normally find in some other shorts. Frankly speaking, you could probably call this short the “mother of all shorts”. To summarize, here are the good things I like about the shorts:
·   it has numerous mesh pockets around the waist
·   compression tights that is sewn with the shorts
·   a very comfortable liner brief for extra support  
·   a 4-way weave material that moves along with our body
·   AdvanceSkin / ActiveDry technology that helps dissipates sweats and moisture faster

However, there are also few things that somehow lacking on this short:
·   Large phones will not be able to fit in.
·   The elasticity of the band is still unknown for how long will it last.
·   The shorts come with a sky rocketing price of $200.

Yup that much...it will surely put a ding in your wallet. I never realized that running could be this expensive. Back in yesteryears, running is just getting your shoes, shirt and T’s and off you go. However, our technology has evolved and we have done so much improvements on our gears and apparels to make this sport appealing to everybody. It’s very common now a day that anything that comes with a technology has a good price tag on it. Running is a very hard sport, it demands a lot from our body but we can lighten that load by supplementing ourselves with the right gears and apparels. You can never go wrong with the S-Lab EXO TW shorts. It’s worth the try in my opinion.

Trail Runner Short Sleeve Tee
I was really impressed with how the shirt handled the two long distances I did during the test phase. The shirt is incredibly light, comfortable, wicks moisture fast and helps me control my core temperature despite the hot temperature. Consumers should never be a surprise from a brand like Salomon, they are known for their high quality and standards.

Overall, I highly suggest that you give these two products a try and see for yourself the difference it could make on your running. You can purchase the S-Lab EXO TW Shorts for $200 on their website or at retail stores near you. The Trail Runner Short Sleeve Tee sells for $45 but you can get it on Amazon on a much cheaper price and save you some buck.

Salomon stands behind their products and rest assured that they are built with high quality materials and craftsmanship. They have extensive warranty period and they will replace any faulty garments with a new one as quickly as possible.

Thanks for reading and hope you find this review helpful.