Friday, May 26, 2017

Nathan: Zephyr Fire 300 Hand Torch LED Light and LUX Strobe RX Review

Safety is something that we shouldn’t take lightly regardless of what we do especially while running. One of the reasons we get into an accident is because we are sometimes less visible to pedestrians and motorists. It's obvious that in order to avoid that is to make ourselves visible. 

Nathan is known for its awesome hydration system but they also have a great range of visibility products. As their motto goes, "See. Be Seen. Run Longer"Zephyr Fire 300 Hand Torch and LUX Strobe RX embodies what that motto is all about.

Let's take a closure look:

The Zephyr Fire 300 Hand Torch is a handheld lighting device that is engineered and designed for runners. It features a 24 degree downward projection that helps eliminate hand twisting during the run. The ergonomic design provides a natural hand position while running and giving you the optimum illumination for your path.

Nathan incorporated the "Y" pattern secure system that is fully adjustable and can accommodate most hand sizes. With this strap, you can now relax your hand. Truly beneficial especially on longer events and rainy conditions.

There are two main buttons: the top button controls the light intensity and if you continuously push it, this will cycle thru its five modes of lighting plus the rear LED light. The second button controls the warning siren in case of an emergency.

The Zephyr Fire 300 utilizes the micro USB when charging, it normally takes about 6-hrs to fully charge the unit. A red LED will light up to indicate charging and green light to indicate it is fully charge.

I have tested quite a few lighting systems from Nathan and this by far is my favorite. One of the great features of the Zephyr Fire 300 is the strap system that securely strap the unit to my hand. To cinch it down, a simple pull of the elastic strap is all it takes and it sits comfortably without creating any tension. The body of the unit is tapered where the top portion diameter is larger than the bottom. This feature with the addition of the finger grooves make this unit fully ergonomic. My fingers fall directly on the grooves and the rubberized material helps me to have a much better grip when needed.  

To activate the unit, all you need is hold the power button for a few seconds and it will initially fire up in low setting mode. Push the power button the first time and it will activate the rear LED light in strobe mode. Second push will give you the medium light mode, third push will give you the high intensity mode and the fourth will give you the strobe setting in high intensity mode. To power it down, hold it for 2-3 seconds.

The location of the warning siren falls exactly where the index finger is, which makes it easy to activate should you need it. It creates a very audible sound which I found very useful on oncoming cyclists and pedestrians. Activating the siren also activates the red LED strobe light. 

The 24 degree is perfect as it naturally illuminates my path and the dispersion of light covers enough area for me to see a wide range of areas in front of me. I have used the Zephyr Fire 300 many times during my early weekend runs and walks around the neighborhood late night with my wife and kids. 

In addition to the Zephyr Fire 300 Hand Torch is the LUX Strobe RX safety light that is also a micro USB rechargeable that provides a 270 degree of visibility with a choice of red, green or blue LEDs and lively strobe patterns that makes you visible even at 2,400ft.

It is very convenient to use as it easily clips in to your short, shirt or hydration gear. I normally put this at the back of my running shirt (and at the seat post while cycling) which helps me to be more visible to those people coming from behind. I love putting it on strobe setting which catches everybody's attention.

My Verdict
The Nathan Zephyr Fire 300 Hand Torch and LUX Strobe RX are very powerful and versatile lighting units that runners and any outdoor enthusiasts must have. Both of these units are rated weather resistant so you can use it even on wet and rainy condition. It allows you to see your path naturally and more importantly it allows you to be seen. These units will surely increase your visibility and presence with the rest of the people you around you. Don't put yourself and the people around you at risk, I cannot stress enough how important safety is. Enjoy the run...but be smart and be safe.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The North Face: Spring Collection ‘17 Review

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you probably heard of The North Face. This company has been in the business for more than five decades and has earned a lot of recognition and praises. Founded in 1966 by Douglas Tompkins and 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.

The North Face is known for its high quality and undoubtedly outstanding reputation. This is the main reason why I kept on using their gears during trainings and racings. 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.

·   Dual layered running shorts with longer 10-inch compression liner.
·   Flight series performance running gear race day ready.
·   Inspired by ultra-runner athletes.
·   Athletic, fitted silhouette.
·   FlashDry fibers wick moisture and speed drying.
·   Low profile waistband with drawcord.
·   Ventilated, stitch free compressive liner can be cut to adjust length without unraveling.
·   Secure zip pocket.

The Warp Knit Dual Shorts is one of a kind shorts that will make you wish all shorts be like this. TNF really put their thoughts and thorough design to deliver such magnificent apparel. You may say that all shorts are created equal…well, not really. The Warp Knit Dual Shorts may look like the rest of the shorts but once you put it on, you’ll immediately feel the difference. It has a 10-inch compression liner built into the shorts (no biggy, right?), however, you can trim it down if you find it too long and you wouldn’t have to worry if it will unravel. The material has a soft feel to the skin and a perforated design patterns that allows the air to flow thru and keep you cool and dry. This also helps accelerate the removal of sweat and moisture from the legs, thanks to the FlashDry technology. It allows flexible mobility in every direction and what I like most about this compression is the stitch free design that eliminates the potential cause of unwanted chaffing or hot spots.

The outside material is pure lightweight and breathable. I have tested this many time on the trail and hot muggy afternoon road runs and I have to say that I was completely dry at the end of my run. The waist band has a good stretch and is supplemented with a flat drawcord for additional support and comfort. It has a three storage pockets located at the back with one of those pockets is zippered. I love the idea that TNF designed the pockets closer to the body (for a bounce free run) rather than a pocket style located down the legs. The pockets can hold gels, keys, card and some electrolyte tabs but not an oversized phone.

This shorts sell for $150 (ouch), I know that you could buy at least three shorts with that price but I truly believe in saying “you get what you paid for”. This short is worth every penny and I wouldn’t mind splurging my money on it. It’s a superb apparel that you should try.

·   Engineered knit short sleeves running tee regulates body temperature.
·   Flight series performance running gear race day ready.
·   Inspired by feedback from ultra-runner athletes.
·   Athletic, fitted silhouette.
·   FlashDry fibers wick moisture and speed drying.
·   Engineered ventilation with stitch free construction.
·   Welded and tapered seams.

TNF didn’t stop with the Warp Knit Short, they also created a shirt that goes along with it, the Warp Knit Short Sleeves. Both of these gears do complement each other. The shirt is a fitted silhouette which is somewhat similar to a “semi-fit” that follows the contour of the body. The material is noticeably soft to the skin and has a stitch free construction that doesn’t cause irritation and chaffing. Similar to the compression liner of the Warp Knit Short, the shirt also has perforated design on high heat zones which helps in regulating the body temperature. The Warp Knit 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.

One thing that I need to point out is please read the label carefully on both of these gears when washing. I would suggest that you put them is a mesh bag to prevent it from getting snag on something like velcro equipped gear.

·   Lightweight, breathable running singlet with moisture-wicking FlashDry fibers.
·   Athletic Fit.
·   Body mapped ventilation.
·   Stitch free construction on critical seams for zero distractions.
·   Reflective logo.

The idea of running naked may not be so enticing at all but running with Better Than Naked Singlet is. It’s still Spring but there are occasional days that the temperature is hitting the 90’s. I’m not a big fan of the heat but having the right gears is all it takes to beat it. TNF has this great tank top that is extremely lightweight and breathable…the BTN Singlet. Similar to the two gears on top, the BTN Singlet is also infused with FlashDry technology that enables the sweat to stay away from the skin so you to stay dry as much as possible. It has a body-mapped ventilation for better temperature regulation and stitch-free seams to prevent chafing. The material is soft and light that it doesn’t cling to the body. I love wearing my BTN Singlets during this hot and humid conditions as this allows the air to move freely in and out of my body. It has integrated reflectivity for increased visibility and safety. Best of all, there’s nothing greater than being cool and comfortable while the rest of the completion is struggling in the heat.

·   Lightweight, low profile running hat.
·   FlashDry fibers wick moistures and speed drying.
·   Tailored Fit.
·   Flexible Brim
·   Stretch elastic at back

If you’re a cyclist you might feel at home wearing this type of hat. It does look like and feel like a cycling cap except that it’s deeper and has a longer brim. The Pop Up Running Hat is a unisex cap that is ultra-lightweight and weighs merely nothing. It is low profile that is “tailored fit” so it wraps around the form of your head. It has a very flexible brim (not flimsy) that you can pop up to give you a better sight distance and pops it down to give you the shade you need. Unlike the traditional cap that has some bulk to it, this hat is very minimalist that you can easily store to your backpack or crumpled in your hand. You don’t have to worry about ruining its shape coz it retains its shape. The entire circumference is stretch elastic including the back closure (not Velcro or snap back).

It’s made of100% polyester material that is highly breathable and is rated UPF 30.

My Verdict

There isn’t much question if The North Face is one of the best companies in the sports industry today… because they are! I cannot argue on that. The gears that I have tested exceeded my expectations and I’m really happy with it. Well, this shouldn’t be a surprise at all, their gears are tested and proven by well-known athletes around the world so that they can perform in high level.

The North Face stands behind their products and they offer a lifetime warranty against defects in material and workmanship. So, check their website or retail stores near you and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

"FKT" Grants Awarded!

Ultimate Direction Awards Grants for “Fastest Known Time” Attempts
Hydration brand picks four winners out of 315 applications

Boulder, Colorado, May 1, 2017 Ultimate Direction, the leading brand in hydration and wearable gear innovations, today announced the four winners of its 2017 Fastest Known Time Grant Project. The grant provides aspiring FKT athletes with financial aid and premium adventure gear. Each winner will receive $1,000 in support of their challenge, as well as all the gear they need from Ultimate Direction and grant partners La Sportiva and GU Energy Labs.

The response to the FKT Grants was incredible, with 315 people applying. That was narrowed down to 39 finalists and gave the experienced panel of judges very tough decisions to make. Focusing on the fundamental core qualities of FKTs such as creativity, vision, skill, and commitment, the following four winners were chosen:

Heather Anderson - Colorado Trail (Early September)
The proposed route will follow the well-established and challenging 500 mile Colorado Trail from end to end. Heather will aim to complete this route unsupported, receiving no assistance. The female supported record is very close in time to the men's unsupported record, and as Heather currently has the FKT for the Self-Supported Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, and Arizona Trail, she may be capable of besting both those records even while going Unsupported.

Andy Gohlich - Norman’s 13 (Mid-September)
Norman's 13 (AKA the Sierra Nevada 14er Link-Up) will connect all thirteen of the 14,000’ peaks in the California’s Sierra Nevada range in one push on foot, north-to-south, following the model of Colorado's Nolan's 14 challenge. This includes, ideally, aiming to complete the route within the Nolan's 14 60hr time window. This route has never been attempted before.

“I'm so elated and excited. It's an honor to have these brands that I respect so much supporting me in achieving this Sierra 14er dream,” said grant winner Andy Gohlich. “I couldn't be happier, and can’t wait to get going.”

Samuel Jurek - Hut to Hut (June 30 – July 1)
The White Mountains Hut Traverse is an extremely rocky and rugged route connecting the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) huts in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This route has a long and competitive history, with the FKT being set back in 1963. With 18,739’ of elevation gain in 52.2 miles, the goal of going under 12 hours will be very challenging.

David Anderson - Wind River Traverse (Early September)
This route will be to climb all of the 40 named peaks along the Continental Divide in the Wind River Range of Wyoming in one continuous push. The Wind River Range runs for 100 miles along the Continental Divide from South Pass to Union Pass in central Wyoming. Between these two points, no road crosses or even penetrates the crest and it is located entirely in Wilderness. While backpackers have hiked the Wind River High Route, no one has ever tried this spectacular and technical route on the high peaks.

“Picking just four winners was extremely difficult, as we received so many bold and creative FKT proposals,” stated Buzz Burrell, Brand Vice President of Ultimate Direction. “In the end the Panel decided on these four because they were so inspirational. All of us on the Award Panel became really excited to see how these turn out.”

The concept of ‘FKT’ was created by renowned running adventurists Peter Bakwin and Ultimate Direction’s very own Brand Vice President, Buzz Burrell. Today, FKT is a term runners all over the world have come to understand and value as examples of creativity and arduous adventure.

For more information on Ultimate Direction’s latest products and athletes please visit or contact Harry Benyon at