The tagline, ‘Darkness is not an excuse anymore’ most certainly rings true with the head torches from Norwegian brand, Moonlight Mountain Gear.
Based in Burtfjord, Northern Norway, Moonlight have a great opportunity to test and build head torches to survive the cold and relentless darkness of Norwegian winters. It’s with that in mind that the ‘Bright as Day’ (BAD) products were created.
Quite simply, the engineers wanted to ski at any time, regardless of conditions. They have products that provide 3200, 6000 and 12.000 lumen.
There is a head torch for everyone and the ability to interchange components for increased flexibility.
I have recently been testing both the BAD700 and BAD2000 lumen products, for mountain, ultra and trail running, these two products work perfectly. The beefier and more powerful BAD 3200 is better suited to skiing, mountain biking and sports that are taken at a faster pace and when visibility and response time is crucial.
The 2000 is a new product, updated from the previous 1800 lumen version. In addition to 200 extra lumens, electronics have been upgraded and the cooling system allows the torch to deliver a full 2000 for the battery life. Covering 15-30 degrees the torch will last 1.5 hours on full power, 3 hours on 50%, 6 hours on 25% and 20 hours at 5% all provided by a rechargeable Li-ion 2 cell 9600mAh 3.7v battery that has a life go 500 cycles. Charge time is 3.5 hours.
One of the unique design USP’s is that the lamp head attachment system is compatible with GoPro QuickClip, therefore, as way of an example, you may have a GoPro attachment on a helmet for action filming, this attachment also takes the head lamp. Equally, head straps and other similar products from the GoPro range are compatible.
With an IP 67 waterproof rating, the head torch will function in heavy rain and humidity.
An LED inside the light housing indicates battery level, blue 80-100%, flashing blue 50-80%, red 30-50% and flashing red is less than 30%. When the torch reaches 10% or lower, the lamp head will flash three times and then drop to the lowest power setting. This is a feature that acts as a warning allowing you to reduce pace (for safety) and make adequate decisions so that you can return home OR change the battery with a spare.
Charging is via USB cable and the battery is USB C.
The Moonlight batteries are interchangeable between all the lamp heads and importantly can be used on or off the head strap. A 1-meter extension cable is provided. This is really important in subzero temperatures.
The facility to store the battery inside a jacket and keeping it warm will ensure a longer life. Also, when running, the ability to use a heavier battery without it adding weight to the head area is a key feature. A spare battery in 999 Krone which equates to £80.00
The head torch in not cheap, 2299 Krone if £185.00.
I am not a fan of the headbands that come over the top of the head and around the head. However, if using the battery on the headband for the 2000, the middle strap is important to help distribute the weight and stop any movement. It’s a problem if you want to use a peaked cap but no issue if wearing a beanie, Buff or headband.
The weight (298g) is at the manageable end of comfort for a torch that provides such brightness. But as a preference, for running, I have preferred to store the battery in my run pack. It is much more comfortable, and it also means that I can adapt the headband and not use the elastic that goes over my head, just the strap that goes around.
Brightness and spread of light are superb. In all honesty, the 2000 lumen setting is not really required for running, it’s almost too bright. The only time I used at this power was on technical sections when I really needed to see what lay ahead, even then, with reduced pace, 50% power or less was more than adequate. You need to ask do you really need 2000 lumen head torch, if not, the BAD 700 is the way to go…
The 2000 is a brilliant light for fast trail runners who really need to see everything and react in a split second, but for me, it’s better suited to mountain bikers and skiers.
Keeping in mind that the BAD 700 is 1199 Krone (£100), a considerable £85.00 cheaper than the BAD 2000, you really need to ask yourself as runner, do I need more lumen than 700?
Personally speaking, I think not.
700 lumens really are very powerful on the trail. When one considers night running pace, 700 lumen power really illuminates the trail to show you everything that you need to see, and it allows you enough light to react and change direction.
All the features of the 2000 or in the 700 including GoPro compatibility, 15-30 degree light scattering, guaranteed light consistency and so on. Weighing in at 180g with battery (head lamp 40g) is 118g lighter than the 2000, that is significant when running!
As with the 2000, an LED inside the light housing indicates battery level, blue 80-100%, flashing blue 50-80%, red 30-50% and flashing red is less than 30%. When the torch reaches 10% or lower, the lamp head will flash three times and then drop to the lowest power setting. This is a feature that acts as a warning allowing you to reduce pace (for safety) and make adequate decisions so that you can return home OR change the battery with a spare.
One of the plus sides of the 700 is that it is compatible with other batteries in the Moonlight range. By way of example, you could purchase the 1800/2000 Im 3.7v battery (which powers the 2000) and use it with the 700 head. This would extend the full power autonomy from 1.5 hours to 4.5 hours and at the lowest setting, you would get a whopping 60 hours!
Like the 2000, the battery can be stored on or off the headband and a 1m extension cable is provided.
The flexibility with GoPro fittings is superb and allows multiple options for attaching and fixing.
Charging is via USB cable and the battery is USB C.
For running, the 700 is perfect for me and if the battery is mounted on the headband, preferable to the 2000. The weight balance is ideal when running, whereas, the 2000 battery on the head feels a little too heavy.
The beam is perfect and consistent which is extremely important and for most, 50% or 25% would be enough for most runs, this provides 3 to 6 hours of life. If you occasionally go to full beam, then you can estimate 2 to 5 hours.
A spare battery is 799 Krone which equates to £65 and this would be a good purchase so that you can alternate batteries or carry a spare on the trail.
Easy to use, consistent power and great durability make this a ‘go-to’ product that really withstands harsh weather.
The head torch market has a plethora of options out there and it’s extremely competitive. It’s possible to purchase budget products that kind of ‘do the job’ but one always feels a little compromised. There also products out there can adjust power automatically – I have yet to have one work correctly! Some connect to your phone via an app, others state a really long life only for you to find that burn time is a fraction of what is stated.
Moonlight is lacking in frills. They have great design, awesome products that does what the manufacturer says. They burn for the length of time expected and without losing brightness as the battery loses its power. The removable battery, extension cable, interchangeability and the GoPro mount flexibility make them an excellent choice.
The BAD 700 is the way to go for runners, however, some of you out there may well need that 2000 blast, only you will know that!
Although not cheap, you get what you pay for and one thing is for sure, they will last.
Runner’s strive for the best of all worlds in one shoe – lightweight, feel for the ground, cushioning, support, lack of support, grip in mud, grip on rock, low drop, high drop, grip in the wet and the list goes on and on. The reality is, there are few run shoes that will be a ‘one stop’ package and this why so many variables exist.
When possible, we choose specific shoes for a specific task.
Boots are not something that a runner would usually look at unless going on a specific hike. Even then, if moving fast and light, a good durable run shoe is usually preferable.
In 2018, I was once again planning a fastpacking trek in the Himalayas but this time, my journey would take place in December. Previous trips had taken place in November and more often than not I had used the inov-8 Trail Talon which was perfect for long days. December in the Himalayas and I knew I would encounter snow and on occasion would need to use micro-crampons. I was reluctant, very reluctant, to use a boot, especially for long days… Too heavy, too cumbersome, too stiff and the list goes on.
I was introduced the Roclite 345 GTX with Graphene grip and the 325 GTX boot. These boots were a revelation providing all the feel, grip and upper of a conventional run shoe but with the addition of ankle support that was designed in a way that would facilitate running with very little compromise.
In 2019 and in 2020 I have been using the Roclite G370 for specific trips, by way of example, the Himalayas in November, Toubkal in Morocco (January) and the mountains of Norway for occasional trips when snow and tough conditions would challenge. A prime example being the highest summit of Norway, Galdhøppigen at 2469m with snow conditions. With 6mm studs, 9mm drop, 9/18mm cushioning front and rear and only weighing 388g for an EU44.5 (I went 0.5 size bigger than usual to allow for winter socks.) These have proven to be great boots when I needed more warmth, grip and comfort in extreme conditions without compromising a run shoe feel. They are highly recommended!
On first impressions this version of the Roclite does not look like any previous Roclite that has come before, the look and feel is completely different, especially in the stealth black look. Almost looks like a boot for the SAS or Special Forces.
Weighing in at 421g for an EU44 the boot is also more substantial than previous incarnations. But I need to clarify here that the new Roclite Pro G 400 is designed for a different purpose in my opinion. It is much more akin to a normal hiking boot but at a fraction of the weight.
The fit scale is 4 just like the Roclite G 370 listed above, however, I would disagree here. The G370 is more of a 3 fit and the new G 400 a 4. There is a distinct difference in feel between the two boots, the G400 most definitely allowing for more toe splay.
Drop is 8mm which is ideal for long days, the lugs are 6mm which provide great grip on a multitude of surfaces, especially with the addition of Graphene which extends outsole longevity. Cushioning is notably plush with 12mm at the from and 20mm at the rear.
Like the G 370, the G 400 is Gore-Tex and this does a great job of protecting against the elements, especially wet, mud and snow. The weak point is always where the shoe stops and quite simply, if water or snow goes over the top of the shoe, you will get wet feet. This is where Gore-Tex can be a problem; there is no way for the water to escape! Therefore, a key recommendation, from experience, is to use Merino socks that manage to retain heat and warmth when wet. Use Nylon socks and you risk cold/ wet feet. Merino wicks sweat excellently too… Also, a risk with a Gore-Tex product as they are obviously warmer.
The upper uses Schoeller® ceramic-coated fabric which is an abrasion-proof, heat resistant fabric which sees ceramic particles – said to be as hard as diamonds – coated onto polymers for applications in the likes of protective, outdoor and military apparel. In simple terms, this fabric is incredibly durable to the wear and tear that one would encounter in extreme and harsh environments.
There are many notable differences in comparison to the G370 and like I said previously, I see the two boots having different uses with some crossovers.
The G370 for me still feels like a run shoe. It laces up like a run shoe, feel for the ground is like a run shoe and the overall structure is more shoe like – there is less shoe if you know what I mean.
The G400 is considerably more robust in key areas:
The toe bumper is harder and more substantial.
The laces start higher up the shoe keeping the all-important flex area behind the metatarsals free.
The lace eyelets are solid/ robust metal with 5 on each side, the upper 2 have the inov-8 foot on, a nice touch!
The tongue is gusseted and maybe(?) a little more padded.
The heel protection is more substantial and padded.
Support for the heel area is considerably more reinforced and spreads down the left and right side of the shoe.
Cushioning is increased.
The outsole is completely different.
The G400 is a lightweight hiking boot that manages to combine all the great features of the previous models and then beef them up in a more robust package.
The G400 works alongside one of the other Roclite boot models, be that the G 286, G 335, G 345 or the G 370 but does not replace them. Important to consider that the choice provided (G 286, G 335, G 345 or the G 370) all have different drops, fit, uppers and cushioning, so, that is also an important factor.
The G 400 is just a great all-round boot that is light enough for fast hiking, fastpacking, daily jaunts and day-to-day adventures. It manages to combine all the features and support of a boot double the weight. By way of example, I have a pair of lightweight Haglofs which are still over 100g heavier per shoe without the level of protection the G 400 offers.
I have been using the zero drop Terraultra G270 run shoe and although the outsole configuration is different, the grip is comparable with comprises coming in very sloppy mud – the lugs are just not aggressive enough for these conditions and I would not expect them to be. This outsole needs to perform on a multitude of surfaces, and it does that exceptionally well.
The cushioning is very notable and on a couple of long days this proved to be really welcome, especially with the 8mm drop.
The shoe has ‘Meta-Flex’ which is designed to allow the front of the shoe to bend behind the metatarsals for that all-important propulsive phase. In the G 370 this works really well with plenty of flex. The G 400 less so. The sole is much stiffer, and it is here that there is a notable difference between say the G370 and the G 400 and why the G 370 feels more like a run shoe and the G 400 like a boot.
Sliding one’s foot into the shoe, it feels plush and the room in the toe box is notable. The lacing is fixed for the first 3 eyelets and the top 2 are open allowing ease for tightening, loosening or different lacing configurations. With the laces pulled tight and adjusted around the ankle, the foothold is spot on and the padding is superb. The back of the shoe drops away slightly avoiding risk of irritation on the achilles.
The back end of the shoe is beefy with a great deal of support to help reduce ankle roll. This is really noticeable to the G370 which has minimal additional support. Again, this is the run shoe v boot comparison.
The G 400 is a really great boot that is absolutely ideal for long mountain days when you need all the support and features of a traditional boot but in a considerably lighter package. It has great grip, durable upper, great comfort and superb weight. It’s hard to find a fault, especially when one compares to the competition.
Despite all of the above, the G 400 would not replace my G 370’s which feel lighter, faster and more like a run shoe.
Quite simply, I am in the fortunate position to have both and I can gladly mix between the two.
So, if you can only buy one, which should you go for?
If you are primarily a runner looking for a durable winter solution for all elements that will allow you to still run and cover ground fast, then one of the G 286, G 335, G 345 or G 370 models will more than likely be preferable. Make sure you check cushioning, drop and other key features.
If you are a hiker or fastpacker who will do a little running, the G400 would be a better choice and serve you for a multitude of uses.
Ultimately, whichever way you go you will win. The inov-8 boots have worked well for me for the last 2-years and the new G 400 is working exceptionally well now alongside my G 370’s.
Kilian Jornet to attempt the 24-hour track record at the Moonvalley 24-Hour, Norway, on November, 8th – Måndalen Stadium.
Important update: 26th October PM:
“Right now I’m pretty injured, trying to start running ok again in a week or so. I had plan to do different road distances during this year but for the moment I need to recover well 😦 Maybe in the future, if injures allow would be fun to try to run that far… :)” – Kilian Jornet via whatsapp
Kilian goes on to say… “No problem! This running roads thing is so hard to manage on staying injury free! Looking forward for next year climbing more again 😅”
2020 has been a stange year, races have been cancelled, the FKT scene is booming and mountain running star, Kilian Jornet ran his first official 10km on the road clocking a 29:59 – report HERE.
All images copyright iancorless.com – all rights reserved
For many, Kilian running on the road was a surprise, only a couple of year’s ago, the thought of this was but a dream. Even Kilian himself thought a road race to be highly unlikely.
Coronavirus, restricted travel, no races and embracing new challenges seem to be the new normal. And Kilian is no exception…
Yiannis Kouros, the legend of ultra running has always been treated as a god in long-distance running, his stats speak for themselves. In 1984 he won Spartathlon in a record time. What followed set the benchmark for road and track running. His ability to run remarkabkle distances and times over 100-miles. 1000km, 1000-miles, 12hr, 24hr, 48hr and 6-days are incredible.
“When other people get tired, they stop. I don’t. I take over my body with my mind. I tell it that it is not tired and it listens.”
In 24-hours, he has run 180.335 on the road and 188.590 (1997) on the track. He has a 100-mile personal best of 11:46:37.
Camille Herron holds the women’s record 167.842 miles from the 2019 worlds in Albi. For perspective, Camille believes the record is possible and she has great ambitions for over 170-miles personally.
Scott Jurek, the ultra-running legend mixed road and trail, he ran 165.7-miles in 2010 for 24-hours. But many have come along and mixed disciplines, Mike Morton and Zach Bitter to name just two. Anatoliy Kruglikov ran 171.48-miles in 1995, besides Yiannis Kourus, he is the only one to come close on a track.
“I think 24 is unique enough and Yannis’ mark stout enough that it will likely take anyone more than one try. If anyone can get it on round one though, it’s Kilian. Norway did seem a bit strange with weather, but I suppose he is staying true to limited travel. That would be a bit cooler than I would like even with warmer clothes. Rather have that than too warm, but still not ideal.” – Zach Bitter
The news that Kilian will run a 24-hour race on a track is a real surprise. The additional news that he will attempt the 188.590-mile distance set by Yiannis Kouros is mind-blowing. To be held at the Måndalen Stadium, the race will potentially happen on November 8th with the provision of +/- 2-days to allow for weather. The stadium is outdoor and this in itself brings a whole new dynamic to any 24-hour, especially in Norway during November. Daylight will be minimal, temperatures will fluctuate greatly and the evening has the potential to be very cold.
For a any performance to stand in regards to records, certain criteria must be met and Måndalen IL and Salomon will guarantee that the necessary protocols are in place. Of course, situations my arise that make the attempt not possible.
For perspective, to break the Yiannis Kouros world record, any runner would need to be abale to cover an incredible 7.875-miles per hour. Statistics show that from the ‘test’ run by Kilian earlier in August 2020 that this objective may be possible. He ran 84.89km in 5:58:13 with an average 4:13/km pace. Many looked on and wondered, why would Kilian run on a track….? It would appear we have an answer.
“Progression comes from adaptations, adaptations come from training and resting. Training comes from knowledge and knowledge comes from testing. Yesterday I did a nutrition test. On a stable environment (a track) and an easy but steady effort I was testing different fueling and hydration protocols that I hope can help me to improve the energy levels during different goals….”
“…From a race where we can have access to fluid and food (almost) when we want, or, to a high climb where we have very limited food and fuel since we need to carry all. I believe testing is important to have better knowledge of oneself and to apply knowledge in training, racing or projects.”
This challenge is something I thought I would never see. I would imagine it’s a challenge Kilian never imagined he would undertake. But, here we are discussing the possibility of what may happen come early November…
The numbers speak for themselves, it’s a huge undertaking, especially on an outdoor tack. However, it is going to be fascinating to see what happens with each journey of the 400m loop at Måndalen Stadium.
Before the 10km road race in Norway, Kilian had a slight injury and that did impact on his race. However, post-race he took time off to recover. I guess the big question mark will be how that recovery has gone and what impact that will have over a 24-hour period. Maybe the injury will require to delay or cancel the attempt?
“I don’t think the injury is a real problem but I need to rest a little and get rid of it. When I run a VK the effort is typically 30-minutes but this is different. In terms of cardio, for me it was kind of easy all the time. It’s the legs, you need to feel light and keep the speed. It’s very different. The first 4 to 5km with more people was a challenge as you are almost cm’s from the other runners. I need to get used to that. I learned a great deal. I will try again, at least in the short term, but next year I want to climb… I have some specific goals. I just need more experience.”
The reality is 756 laps of a 400m track – we wish Kilian well with his new undertaking!
Episode 197 of Talk Ultra brings an interview with Finlay Wild. Speedgoat discusses his 19-years of 100-mile victories. We have a sound bite from Kilian Jornet after his road 10km. Stephen Goldstein talks Covid-19 and we bring you Clay Williams, Ian Radmore, Richard McChesney and Miriam Gilbert with their Covid stories.
Talk Ultra is now on Tunein – just another way to make the show available for those who prefer not to use iTunes – HERE You can download the Tunein APP HERE
Talk Ultra needs your help! We have set up a Patreon page and we are offering some great benefits for Patrons… you can even join us on the show! This is the easiest way to support Talk Ultra and help us continue to create! Many thanks to our Patrons who have helped via PATREON Donate HERE
Speedgoat Karl wins his 43rd 100-mile race and completes 19-years, consecutive, of winning a 100!
Kilian Jornet runs 10km on the road in 29:59 read HERE
00:38:50CLAY WILLIAMS – In 2017 I was one of the runners in Canada’s first 200 mile trail race. Unfortunately I didn’t finish and was only able to run 150 miles in that event (long story). That DNF planted a seed, and I have had this need to finish a 200 miler ever since. So I registered to run Three Days at the Fair in New Jersey in May. Of course it was deferred from May until September due to Covid. And then I couldn’t cross the border to get there. I’m 60 years old so I can’t keep putting this off, so I made my own arrangements. With local crew support I ran “Three Days in the Park” starting at 9am October 1st. My raced director friend Tony Martin plotted out a one mile course for me, and I ran it at 200 times. It took me 75:46 to finish, and I’m happy with that As always, I’ll be carrying The Flag (ask me about The Flag), and dedicated the run to the Mood Disorders Society of Canada’s Defeat Depression campaign.
01:02:50IAN RADMORE – Going into lockdown back in March had the idea that we should & would support each other, along with building a training program that involved running as well as various workout activities. We looked to do something different every other day so to keep our minds & bodies active. It’s about having the correct attitude & not allowing the four walls of our home to take over. Inspiration was also taken from Captain Sir Tom Moore who before his 100th birthday decided to raise money for the NHS by walking around his garden. If that’s not inspiring I don’t know what is!!Damian Hall who broke the long time standing Pennine Way set by John Kelly. With these in mind they motivated me & drove me on the complete my half marathon training. This I ran on Sunday 4th October 2020 finishing in a respectable time 2hours 44minutes & 58seconds. Then the very next day entered the Inverness/Lockness marathon next October 2021 fingers crossed.
01:19:40RICHARD MCCHESNEY – In September, inspired by the recent FTK’s for the Wainwrights, I decided to see how long it would take me to visit all 270 London tube stations on foot. I’m a walker rather than a runner due to a long term impact related injury, but I managed to complete the 325 mile journey in 5 days and 20 hours. This has now been recognised by FastestKnownTime.com as the fastest self-supported time for this adventure and sets the bar for someone to try and beat it. Like the people doing the Wainwrights and similar FKT’s, I spent plenty of time mapping out what I thought would be the most efficient/shortest route but I think there is probably still some improvement that can be made here. I also did about 15-20 bonus miles due to some getting lost and also a tunnel closure.
01:47:20MIRIAM GILBERT – My experience as a cancer caregiver to my husband Jon after he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in March 2018 inspired me to create Ultra Care for Cancer Caregivers, a GoFundMe campaign to benefit cancer caregivers and provide them some joy and respite during their difficult journey as a caregiver. I named my GoFundMe campaign Ultra Care for Cancer Caregivers because I am also an ultra runner. I combined my running ultra miles and fundraising to raise money for cancer caregivers. I kickstarted my fundraising by running the Dawn to Dusk to Dawn 24hr 50K+ Solo Challenge in my neighborhood in May. Then on June 1 I began running the Tip to Tip Great Florida Traverse 128 miler. And I have 161.5 miles to go at the All the Way 901 mile. I am happy to say my husband Jon was declared in remission in May. He joins me on my virtual miles on his ElliptiGo.
Winter often creates apathy in many a runner. Especially when the white stuff starts to fall from the sky and when the temperatures drop, ice is not the friend of a runner. It actually forces many to turn indoors for cross training or treadmill running as the fear of cold and a potential fall is not something to be contemplated.
There is no such thing as cold. Just bad clothing. Winter is actually a great time to run, so, don’t be put off. Read an article HERE for inspiration.
Shoe choice however is a serious consideration for winter, and it may come as a surprise to find out that brands such as VJ Sport produce specific winter running shoes.
Combing the best elements of the XTRM and MAXxtrail and mountain running shoes, VJ Sport have produced the XANTE, the ultimate winter off-road running shoe when snow and ice play a key factor on a run.
Just like the MAXx which is designed for a more cushioned ride with a slightly roomier fit (fit scale 4) for long miles, the XANTE brings cushioning 10mm front and 20mm front (10mm/ 16mm on the MAXx,) 5mm lugs (4mm on the MAXx) and the addition of 20 carbon steel studs to guarantee grip in the trickiest conditions. While there is room in the toe box, it is not super-wide as this would compromise on what makes VJ great off-road shoes; precision! However, in comparison to say iRock or XTRM, there is a little more room for toe splay.
The upper is Nylon/ Polyamide and although not 100% waterproof, it is designed to protect against the wind, wet and extreme conditions one will encounter during winter months. It is extremely durable and resilient, as with all trail shoes, cleaning after use will ensure that they last longer.
As with the iRock, XTRM and MAXx, the XANTE uses FITLOCK which of all the run shoes I have used, provides the most secure and reassuring hold of one’s foot. It feels like a part of the foot and not something extra. This is especially important when running on any technical terrain. You do not want any question marks when it comes to foot hold and precision. Integrated with the shoes lacing system, the FITLOCK tightens the shoe on the inside of the arch and provides incredible hold. It’s the best there is!
VJ have the tag line, #bestgripontheplanet and anyone who has used a VJ shoe for mountain, ultra or trail running confirms, the Butyl outsole VJ produce really is the best out there. It grips pretty much anything, wet or dry and the addition of the 20 metal studs provides the ultimate reassurance for tricky winter conditions. The secret of winter running is to trust the shoe, the outsole and the studs.
The XANTE requires you to run with confidence and it’s the reassured application of your body weight pressing through the shoe and making contact with the ground that provides the grip. The more confident you are, the better the shoe grips. Taking inspiration from the car industry, the carbon steel studs are not round, but star shaped thus guaranteeing better grip in trickier scenarios. Protection to sharp objects and rocks is superb.
At 300g for UK 8, the XANTE is a light shoe. My UK9.5 (EU44) is 330g.
The 10/20 mm cushioning is plush and welcomed. Winter running, particularly on hard packed snow or ice can be tiring, especially with a studded shoe. The XANTE manages to combine the best of both worlds and although a 10mm drop may seem high, especially these days, it does provide a more relaxed run without a compromise on grip or the ability to handle technical trail.
Sizing is true to size; I use an EU 44 for all VJ shoes and the XANTE sizes the same. I rarely size larger for shoes and the XANTE adequately takes a Merino sock which guarantees foot warmth even when wet.
The toe bumper is reinforced and offers great protection against obstacles and elements without adding bulk. The heel box on all VJ shoes is relatively minimal and unpadded, the XANTE is no difference. The hold is superb. I get no slipping or movement, even when going up the steepest of hills.
If you have used VJ before, particularly iRock, XTRM or MAXx you will already be sold on the XANTE. In terms of comparison, the MAXx is the closest to feel but the grip and foothold is across the board superb. The cushioning is superb for longer winter runs, particularly on ice. The studs just grip – superb! The 10mm drop is relaxed and works well, out of choice, I would have preferred 8mm, but it is a minor quibble.
Should the XANTE offer too much, the XERO 5 is worth looking at. This has a slightly narrower fit (3) less cushioning, 10mm/18mm (8mm drop) and still has 20 studs and 5mm lugs.
If you have not used VJ before, do yourself a favour and try them out.
If you have not used winter shoes before, take the plunge. A specific winter shoe will suddenly open up running opportunities that did not exist before.
Zerei Kbrom Mezngi ran 28:20 at Hytteplanmila 10km Road Race on Saturday, taking the overall win ahead of Narve Gilje Nordâs and Bjønar Lillefosse, 28:28 and 28:45 respectively. For the women, it was a record day for Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal who ran 30:32 breaking her old course record of 32:25 set in 2017 and the long-standing national record held by the legend, Ingrid Kristiansen set in 1989. It was a huge day for Karoline!
The Hytteplanmila 10km Road Race is a big deal in Norway attracting the best-of-the-best. Normally, 1000’s would toe the line but 2020 and Covid-19 changed all that and instead it was an invitation race only with specific criteria, 37.20 (38.20 *) for women and 31.20 (32.00 *) for men (10,000 meters / 10 kilometers in 2019/2020, or equivalent achievements) * If there are vacancies in the heats. The race took place in waves, 1 minute separating each with no more than 25-runners per heat.
The Ingebrigtsen brothers would toe the line, Jakob having won the race and set the course record in 2019 with a sub 28:00 performance. However, eyes were on mountain running legend, Kilian Jornet, who would toe the line in his first ever official road race.
Despite the profile of the race, it’s a low-key affair taking place the community of Hole, close to Hønefoss and approximately 1-hour from Oslo. The morning was cold, grey and mist was low making for an almost ethereal feel ahead of the 1330 start.
Kilian arrived in his camping car and despite having specific media documenting the process, his presence was not acknowledged by the rest of the runner’s. This is a Scandanavian thing but also an acknowledgement that although Kilian maybe a star on the mountain, ultra and trail scene, in a road race, he is unknown…
Donning a face mask, his number was collected and he returned to his vehicle to prepare. I asked him how he felt ahead of the challenge:
“I feel good but I have been carrying a tibial injury which has impacted on training for the last 2-weeks, but I hope for around 29:30. We shall see…”
The chill in the air was noticeable for all and 30-minutes before the start, Kilian added a jacket and hat and moved to the opening mile of the race route and gently warmed up.
Around him, the road was full of runners. Looking on it was apparent, with the exception of one or two, that Kilian was one of the oldest competitors amongst this elite field. His 32-years by no means old, but the average age was late teens or early 20’s. They ran up and down the road striding out, sprinting and looking focussed, almost blinkered. Kilian by contrast looked calm, relaxed and happy to do his own thing.
At 1345 the sound of a gun announced the start of the first group of 25 and amongst them was Kilian. A lead car showed the time. Several bikes had cameramen to live stream the race and Kilian had his own following bike and live feed.
Kilian was mid-pack and striding out looking relaxed and focused. No doubt looking around and trying to find his place. He went on to say post-race, “It’s a fun experience to race with so many talented runners but I am not used to having other people so close and I found it hard to find a place and avoid other peoples feet, especially in the early stages.”
Having run 29:42 in training straight after a VK, it was realistic that Kilian could achieve 29:30 or faster. As the race unfolded, the front of the race forged ahead. Kilian, jokingly said before the race, “I am no 9 but I will not finish in this position!”
The brothers did not have their day, Jakob had not looked good warming up and he dropped from the race. His brother, Filip would finish in 29:03.
Zerei Kbrom Mezngi was the winner opening up a significant gap and powering in the final stretch for the uphill finish crossing in 28:20, 8-seconds ahead of Narve Gilje Nordâs.
Attention then turned to looking down the road and the arrival of Kilian. Five runners went sub 29:00 and then 8-runners followed to go sub 29:30. The next runner 29:41, 29:44, 29:46 and then Kilian emerged at the bottom of the slope with the motorbike to his right hand side. One runner was ahead of him who crossed in 29:54.
Kilian was now in full flight, both feet off the ground and he was pushing for the line. No doubt desperate to go sub 30:00.
While those around him collapsed to the floor grasping for air, Kilian crossed the line, smiled, his 29:59 did not show… 18th place.
He looked content, and was soon able to provide comments on his first experience racing on the road.
“I felt the injury, so I am a little disappointed for that. It was very interesting, very different to when you go training, you can keep a steady pace. Here it was fast at the beginning and I am not used to so many people and being so close. It’s difficult to understand my place. The first km was fine as it is downhill. It was a great experience and it motivates me to have another try…!”
“I don’t think the injury is a real problem but I need to rest a little and get rid of it. When I run a VK the effort is typically 30-minutes but this is different. In terms of cardio, for me it was kind of easy all the time. It’s the legs, you need to feel light and keep the speed. It’s very different. The first 4 to 5km with more people was a challenge as you are almost cm’s from the other runners. I need to get used to that. I learned a great deal. I will try again, at least in the short term, but next year I want to climb… I have some specific goals. I just need more experience.”
Kilian said only 18-months ago that running on a road had no interest for him. But now we see him testing himself over a 10km distance. From conversations, I know he has the desire to toe the line of a road marathon. On paper, that would suit him better allowing him to combine speed with endurance. For now though, we can marvel at 29:59 and speculate what is to come in the future.
All eyes will be on Hønefoss, a small region of Norway just 45-minutes from Oslo come Saturday 17th October.
Norwegian star Jakob Ingebrigtsen (born 19 September 2000) hopefully will toe the line of the Hytteplanmila, a race where he ran 27:54 in 2019. Jakob needs no introduction, particularly to the Scandinavian field (including his brothers tbc) that will assemble next to him come Saturday. In 2020 alone he set a Norwegian 5km record 13:28, He won National Championships at 1500m and 800m. Set a European 2000m record in Oslo and added a Norwegian 3000m record and a European 1500m record.
Jakob if he races, is without doubt the one to watch on Saturday.
However, the mountain, ultra and trail world will be looking at Kilian Jornet who will toe the line for his first foray on to the road running a flat out 10km with the best of the best that Scandinavia has to offer.
Hytteplanmila is usually a large event with 1000’s of runners (over 3000 in 2019). It is arguably the most popular 10km race in Norway and the one that attracts the best elites. However, Covid-19 has impacted on the race and for 2020 there is a special race for invited athletes only along with a virtual race. The criteria being 37.20 (38.20 *) for women and 31.20 (32.00 *) for men (10,000 meters / 10 kilometers in 2019/2020, or equivalent achievements) * If there are vacancies in the heats.
Many of Norway’s and the Nordic countries’ best long-distance runners will come to participate in this year’s elite race with eight starting fields of up to 25 runners.
The women’s race was won in 2019 by Sigrid Jervell Våg in 32:52, the previous year Meraf Bahta ran 31:58. Remarkably, the previous 6-editions dating back to 2012 ere won by Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal, her fastest time being 31:25 in 2017 which is the course record.
DATE: October 17, 2020
PLACE: Svendsrudmoen (Trongmoen 41, 3530 Røyse)
STARTING GROUPS (seeding):
On paper, the challenge ahead of Kilian is very real and while many in the trail running world will be rooting for Kilian, the reality is that he will not be in contention for the podium or maybe even the top-10?
“I will see how I feel… but anyway, I will be far from the front guys! Being close to 29’ I will be super happy!” – Kilian Jornet
Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Sondre Nordstad Moen, Samuel Tsagay, Filip Ingebrigtsen, Henrik Ingebrigtsen, Senay Fissehatsion (ERI), Urige Buta, Musael Temesghen, Richard Douma and Mesfun Tesfayohannes have all run 29:00 or less previously, so the task ahead is real.
Kilian’s ability to cross over disciplines and sports has always been an interest to sports fans all over the world and many have asked, repeatedly, “I wonder what Kilian would run in a road marathon?”
Well, Kilian had hoped to show us in 2020 having planned to run an official marathon. Maybe, if the opportunity arises, he may well still do, but Covid-19 has impacted on any road race of any significant size. However, Kilian has trained accordingly and openly admitted he did too much too soon earlier in the year.
“My plan this summer was to do mostly flat training but an injury came… After a few months injured, I start slowly to train properly in flat again. It’s curious how I was able to do anything I wanted in the mountains but couldn’t hit any meter of flat terrain without pain.”
In August, the mountain master showed us one of his favourite training sessions as his injury woes started to leave and his ability to train both flat and in the mountains returned.
“I do what I call VK10K… I run a vertical kilometer (1000m vertical ascent) run down easy and then run a flat 10km.”
He ran an astounding 29:57 for the VK and then 29:42 for the 10km. Both times incredible and while the VK time comes as no surprise, the 10km time certainly made many take a second look, especially with this coming on tired legs.
29:00 may well be possible come Saturday, one thing is for sure, it is certainly going to be interesting to see what unfolds. Unlike in mountain, ultra and trail races where the top-10 can be separated by minutes and even hours, this 10km will come down to seconds. We can certainly expect 28-minutes to 29-minutes have somewhere in the region of 10-athletes, can Kilian be one of them?
What time do you think Kilian will run?
Course Record WOMEN: Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal 31.25 (2017)
Course Record MEN: Jakob Ingebrigtsen 27.54 (2019)
National Record WOMEN: Ingrid Kristiansen 30.59 (1989)
National Record MEN: Jakob Ingebrigtsen 27.54 (2019)
European Record Women (Paula Radcliffe (GBR) 30.21 (2003)
European Record Men: Julien Wanders (SUI) 27.13 (2020)
It shouldn’t be complicated, but it is. Go on any run forum and I will bet you that daily, someone will ask a question about run shoes.
I want a shoe that will allow me to run muddy trails and road?
Can anyone recommend a shoe for fell running?
I have Hobbit feet and I need cushioning and grip – what shoe?
I could go on and on. The thing is, while it may be okay to ask a couple of question like:
How does a specific shoe perform in mud?
How is the wear and tear of ‘x’ shoe?
Asking for a specific shoe recommendation can be a recipe for a disaster, the reason being, we are all individual and shoes are very personal based on a multitude of factors. Nobody on social media knows you, your needs, how you run and what type of running you do.
So, please do not ask for a shoe recommendation on social media unless you are specific. A good example being:
“I am male, aged 44. I have been running for 23-years and I have extensive history in cycling, triathlon, road running and now I am moving to trail running… I am 5ft 9. A little overweight. In regard to shoes? I am looking for a trail shoe that will provide great grip on muddy trails. I need support for my arch and cushioning but not something as cushioned as say a Hoka. In regard to foot width, I am in the middle, neither needing precision or wide fit. On a scale of 1-5 I would be a 3!’
With the above we have information from the runner and therefore suggestions and recommendations can be specific and targeted. Even then, the runner should go to a run store, albeit now he has a shortlist of options and then try on the shoes to find the one that best suits him, his feet and his needs.
IF THE SHOE FITS
Firstly, and importantly, not all shoes are equal and not all feet are the same.
Quite simply, the better a shoe fits, the more specific to the type of running one will do in that shoe, the more likely you will feel better. The foot will be happier and the miles you run will be more comfortable.
Our bodies are supported by our feet; they are the first point of contact with the ground and therefore, they are incredibly important. Getting a correct fitting shoe that is specific for purpose is crucial.
When I say specific for purpose, let me provide some simple clarification now and then explain in-depth later. Shoes come in categories; I see the main list broken down as 6 main groups:
Road to Trail
Ultra-Running (with sub heading of Ultra Road and Ultra Trail)
Now, one could break down the categories even more with very, very specific needs such as, “I need a mountain running shoe with an aggressive outsole with great grip in wet and dry conditions and superb traction in mud.”
But before we get into the discussion on the shoe for the job, getting a correct fitting shoe is vital.
HOW DO WE FIND A CORRECT FITTING SHOE?
Please don’t fall in with the generic advice that a run shoe should be one size bigger than say your every day casual shoe! For a start, this assumes you have the correct size casual shoe and trust me, from experience, very few people do. The recommendation for sizing up also comes from the assumption that a foot swells when running. From experience, feet rarely go longer but can go wider with repeated impact and stress; think of races like Marathon des Sables when a runner is in a hot/sandy environment. So, one may need a wider shoe but not a longer shoe. This comes down to getting the specific shoe for the job.
I wear the same size run shoe as my casual shoes (typically) but to clarify, I go for the ‘same fitting’ shoe.
Shoe sizing between brands is variable and inconsistent, an EU 44 in say Salomon is not necessarily the same as an EU 44 in inov-8. So, first and foremost, always try shoes on!
Length and foot width does change so it can be a good idea to have your feet measured if you are new to running with little experience. Some specialists suggest getting feet measured yearly, but for me, this still only gives a guideline to shoe size as comfort, feel and specificity come in to play.
“As a rule of thumb,” I have consistently found that a thumb nail of space above one’s big toe is usually ideal for sizing. This is classic for an ‘Egyptian’ foot shape (D). I say usually because I have seen some feet where the second toe is longer than the big toe, known as ‘Greek’ foot shape (C), so, this would require an individual approach. There is also ‘Square’ foot shape and the thumb nail width above the big toe usually applies here, but, a wider toe box may be required.
Remember, both feet are usually not the same size, so, take this in consideration. Go for fit and feel with the bigger foot!
NOTE: Specifics come in to play such as foot width and specificity of the shoe. As an example, If you are running technical trail, you will need a more ‘precision’ fit. If running long/road ultras, you may well prefer a wider fit that will allow toe splay. More on this later.
Wear socks that you typically run in and if you normally wear two pairs of socks, then wear two pairs when testing and trying. Two pairs of socks may require you to go a half or full size larger depending on the sock thickness. Note:nYou may wear the same shoes for Summer and Winter, but in Summer you use light and thin socks but for Winter you use thick Merino socks. This may well mean you need a different size shoe for Summer in comparison to Winter.
Insoles can give a good indication of the shoe size and its width. As a guide, the insole should match the shape and size of your foot.
With the insole back in the shoe, place your foot inside and firstly check for the space at the front. If you have the required space, lace up and tighten. On the top of the foot you have the ‘Navicular Bone’ and the shoes should be tight here but not so tight to restrict blood flow.
Stand up and move around. Key checkpoints are: 1. Thumbnail width between longest toe and edge of shoe. 2. Check pressure on your little toe. 3. Check pressure and feel on your big toe.
Ideally, you want to be able to run in them and most good run shops have a treadmill to try out shoes. Key checkpoints: 1. No slippage in the heel area. 2. No pressure on toes. 3. Instep feels secure and pain free. 4. You have support or a lack of support as needed.
If you see material bulging because of tightness you may need a bigger shoe, or you have the wrong width. If you see an excess of fabric, you may have a shoe that is too large or too wide.
Check the fabric of the shoe and the seams. Will they be breathable for your needs? Will they protect you for your needs? Does the toe bumper have enough protection?
Remember shoes flex when you run. In the propulsive phase, the shoe will bend behind the metatarsals and this can be a troublesome area if the shoes are the wrong size. Often a sign of a shoe that fits incorrectly is this area will crease and often tear causing failure in the shoe upper. If running uphill, think mountain, fell and trail running, this area of a shoe gets a great deal of stress.
A good running store with professional staff will help you with shoe choices and they should discuss the pros and cons of the specific brands and models available. However, gut feeling and how you feel goes a long way. Always be careful of ‘sale’ shoes! Don’t be influenced in buying the wrong shoe just because it is a good price.
WHAT CAN GO WRONG?
Marathon des Sables has some foot horror stories and the general story is because of the heat, the sand and how brutal the race is. The truth is, the issues (usually) arise through runner’s choosing the wrong shoe and the wrong size.
Old advice has said size up, go bigger as your feet will swell.
However, a shoe that is too big allows the foot to move inside the shoe. A moving foot causes friction. Friction causes blisters. The rest is self-explanatory. In addition, with each sliding of the foot, the toes may impact with the front of the shoe and result in bruising. Think of running downhill with shoes that are too big, your toes will be crammed at the front with room behind the heel.
Having said this, feet can swell through impact and heat. So, using Marathon des Sables as an example, one consideration may be going for a shoe with a wider toe box but still that thumbnail of space at the front. What often happens is a runner has a favourite shoe and decides they need more room, so, they just buy a larger shoe (than needed) because it increases the width/ space. Actually, what they should do is change the shoe. It goes back to specificity.
Shoe that are too tight and/or too small will result in black toenails but more importantly can damage ligaments and possibly result in damage to the metatarsals. Stress fractures are a real risk. Also, you will have foot fatigue and pain. The foot is full of nerves and bones. As an example, the soles are extremely sensitive to touch due to a high concentration of nerve endings, with as many as 200,000 per sole. *The foot receives its nerve supply from the superficial peroneal (fibular) nerve, deep fibular nerve, tibial nerve (and its branches), sural nerve, and saphenous nerve. These nerves come from peripheral nerves that arise from the L4 to S3 nerve roots and contribute to the somatic motor function, general sensory information, and the cutaneous sensation of the foot. In regard to bones, each foot is made up of 26 bones, 30 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments, all of which work together to provide support, balance and mobility.
If you require stability shoes, the wrong size shoe may well put the support in the wrong place and instead of providing help, it will create onward issues and problems. Plantar Fasciitis is a risk.
Quite simply GET THE CORRECT FITTING SHOE!
IMPORTANT FACTORS TO CONSIDER
Okay, so we have given a guide to how you find the correct size of shoe. But now we need to be specific and address and look at some fundamental questions before going to any run store:
Supinate – Your weight tends to be more on the outside of your foot.
Pronate – Your weight tends to be more on the inside of your foot.
Neutral – Your weight is distributed evenly.
You need to know which of the above you are, as all brands and manufacturers produce shoes to answer these three specific needs. If you do not know the answer to this question, look at the soles of shoes you have worn for some time – you will see how they have worn. In a proper stride, your foot should roll forward and pronation should be neutral. Shoes that are geared towards supination or pronation are designed to bring you back to neutral.
Many runners who need specific support often see a Podiatrist and have Orthotics made that are transferable to any shoe. In this scenario, you should purchase neutral shoes.
**If you supinate, it can cause excess strain on your ankles. It may lead to shin splints, calluses, or bunions on the outer side of your foot, and pain in your heels and balls of your feet. Excess over pronation, means that as you walk, your foot rolls toward the inside and your arch tends to flatten out. Your shoe will show uneven wear on the inside part of the sole.
From barefoot running to bouncy marshmallow shoes, there is a plethora of cushioning options available to choose from and what is best may just come down to personal taste…
However, I beg to differ. I feel cushioning or a lack of cushioning should be applied based on what type of running one is doing and what conditions.
Fell running – Fell running often takes place in soft, boggy and wet ground. A feel for the ground is essential so that you can respond with ever-changing terrain. A shoe with too much cushioning will remove that feel, place you higher off the ground and may well increase the risk of injury. A sprained ankle being one of the most obvious.
Road running – Road is hard, it can jar the body, muscles and tendons and therefore a shoe with a little more cushioning may be preferable. For some, they require sofa like comfort. Others prefer some cushioning but not at the expense for the feel for the ground.
When purchasing shoes, look at the cushioning typically shown as, for example – Midsole Stack 8mm/ 14mm. This is 8mm cushioning at the front and 14mm at the rear. The higher the numbers, the greater the cushioning.
Some shoes include a rock plate which offers protection from sharp objects, useful when trail running.
Shoe drop is essentially the difference between the height/ thickness of the midsole under the heel compared to the same measure under the ball of the foot. Years ago, drop was not a consideration. On a personal note, thinking back say 8-years, I never considered shoe drop. Now, it’s all important.
Importantly, do not be confused by cushioning here. You may well look at say a Hoka One One and think it has a high drop. On the contrary, they typically have a low drop of 4mm. ***Drop refers only to the difference in thickness between the front and back of the shoe and is not a narrative on the magnitude of the thickness.
From experience, I do not consider that any runner has an ideal drop. I see drop as something that can played around with based on the needs and requirements of the shoe and the conditions it will be used. But I must clarify that I have been testing shoes for 8+ years and switching drop on a daily basis has been no problem, on the contrary, I actually consider it to be beneficial.
As a way to explain, I use 0 drop shoes all the way through to typically 8mm. I do have one pair of shoes at 10mm, but they are an exception.
Zero drop or barefoot advocates will argue and argue that zero is the only way to go and if you are adapted and have no injury issues, that is awesome. However, most people have not experienced zero drop and suddenly to do all runs in zero will almost certainly result in some injury. Zero takes adaptation.
Pure Sports Medicine are clear, “What we do know is that human tissues can be sensitive to sudden changes in the way they are loaded, and that it is biologically coherent (and in keeping with the laws of physics) that differing shoe drops may load certain tissues differently. As such, if you are currently uninjured there is no justification for changing the drop of your shoe, but should you want to then be mindful of allowing the body time to adapt to such changes (although many runners may be able to interchange between shoes of different drops we would usually advise being over cautious if this is not something you have done before).
So, if you typically run in 8mm drop shoes without injury, it makes sense you purchase shoes with 8mm drop. Equally, if 4mm is your thing, purchase 4mm.
Specificity of drop.
I personally (and others like me) see drop in conjunction with cushioning, or, a lack of cushioning as a tool to get the most from my body and my runs. For example, if running a muddy fell run, I will use a lower drop, say 3 or 4mm with less cushioning. By contrast, if I was doing a long trail run, I would prefer 8mm drop and more cushioning.
A certain drop may be beneficial in reducing sensitivity and complementing your overall management strategy – so consider this. ****Changing the drop of your shoes (or using multiple shoes which have varying drops in a rotation system) is not to be discouraged or feared, but be sure your body’s tissues can tolerate this, and are given the necessary time to adapt and attain the capacity if needed.
The outsole of a shoe is key as this is the point of contact with the ground on which you are running. Again, specificity is key. There is no one outsole that will do all jobs well and therefore the need for multiple shoes with specific tasks is an essential armory to a runner’s shoe cupboard.
Road shoes – Typically need little grip, just a good rubber.
Trail shoes – Typically require a good outsole that is durable and has grip, say 4mm studs.
Fell shoes – Typically will be aggressive and on first looks may look like football boots with 6 or 8mm studs.
Mountain shoes – Typically will be a mixture of trail and fell shoes and the outsole will be sticky to provide good grip in wet and dry conditions.
In an ideal world, if you ran all of the above scenarios, you’d have a pair of shoes for each scenario. However, shoes are expensive and many runner’s need to make some compromises. Brands realised this and for example, some offer road to trail shoes that provide a best of both worlds’ scenario. The inov-8 Parkclaw is a great example. “the perfect shoe for runners wanting to run on paths and trails, or those looking to make a transition from road running to trail running.” – inov-8
If you need grip for mud, you need to be specific, there is no compromise.
Like drop, shoe width can create many an argument. Simply put, if you have a slimmer/ slender foot, you can probably wear any width shoe providing you have the correct size and they hold you securely.
But if you are a Hobbit, shoe choice may well be compromised as you will need to look for a wider fitting shoe.
Shoe width is also a consideration based on other factors: 1. What terrain are your running on? 2. How long will you be running?
On a personal note, if I am running on technical and challenging terrain, I want a shoe that fits and holds my foot. I am not worried about toe splay – precision is a priority. By contrast, if I was running on groomed trail for multiple hours, a shoe with more width may will be preferable to allow my toes to splay and relax.
Like drop and cushioning, I mix the width of my shoes based on my needs.
Some companies, inov-8 for example provide a width guide to steer runner’s to shoes that will specifically answer their personal needs. This a great system that takes some guess work away. The system is simply rated 1-5; 1 being a tight/ precision fit, 5 being wide and spacious.
Brands such as Altra only offer one foot shape and believe that a wide toe box is essential, in conjunction with 0 drop. It is a toe shape foot box that allows toes to relax and splay. The big toe has space and in principal, this foot box helps reduce overpronation and increases stability. On a personal note, Altra has a place for long road, ultra or trail runs, but when the terrain gets challenging, they feel way to sloppy for me – but this is a personal thought. Altra fans or wide toe box fans will disagree.
WEIGHT AND FABRICS
Shoe weight can be an important consideration. Certainly, when racing, a runner may well prefer a lighter shoe so that they feel faster. However, if running an ultra, added cushioning and a little more weight will be worthwhile for comfort.
Shoe fabrics, seamless uppers, sock-like fits, Gore-Tex and other considerations may influence a shoe choice. Make a decision based on specificity.
A lighter shoe will typically not last as long – this may be an important consideration too.
CONCLUSIONS AND SUMMARY
Is choosing a run shoe really THIS complicated?
I suppose, yes! But once you understand the basics purchasing new shoes should not be too complicated. Below is a summary and process to follow:
Measure your foot.
Use a conversion chart to get your shoe size.
Understand gait and what you need. If using orthotics, you need neural shoes.
Ask yourself what terrain the shoes will be used on – This refers to what outsole.
Ask yourself how long typically you will run in these shoes – This refers to cushioning.
Do you need the shoes to be more precision fit or wider?
Look at brands/ options and based on the above make a shortlist.
Try the shoes on using the size provided from points 1 and 2 but then size up or down based on the thumb nail space rule.
Check the heel for slipping.
Check the instep and confirm a good foot hold.
If possible, try the shoes running.
Reduce the choices down to 3, then 2 shoes and then make an informed and educated decision.
Do not be influenced by the colour or the price.
Lacing can make a huge difference to how a shoe holds the foot. Lock lacing for example is very popular for off-road and challenging terrain as the shoe holds the foot more securely.
Compromise is a killer when it comes to run shoes. The more specific you can be, the better the shoe will be. But, if you have correct fitting shoes with appropriate cushioning, correct width and a good outsole, you will be able to head out the door and enjoy the process.
And yes, there are exceptions to the rule and somebody will use shoes that are too big and get away with it. Just as someone will run in sandals and get away with it. These are exceptions to the rule and not the norm.
Embrace winter, mercury dropping in the thermometer is no excuse to put outdoor adventure on hold. On the contrary, the new season brings a whole new set of adventures that could not be entertained during the months of Spring and Summer – read an article HERE on ‘Embracing Winter for New Adventures.’
Fastpacking is often looked upon as a good weather activity and not something that can be entertained or planned for the winter months. I disagree! Winter brings multiple possibilities and although fast packing in spring/ summer has many carry overs to autumn/ winter, some distinct differences are notable and important.
I have produced two articles on Fastpacking, one HERE and the other HERE looks at going lighter. Quite simply, fast packing is about finding the perfect and optimal balance between equipment and weight. To move fast, one’s pack needs to be as light as possible. In spring and summer, that job is easier as one requires less equipment. For example, sleeping bag will be lighter, tent will be lighter, clothing will be reduced and so on. Winter brings added challenges of balance and if you get it wrong, not only can it mean a miserable time, it can also be extremely dangerous.
WHAT TYPE OF TRIP?
I like to think of winter fast packing adventures primarily falling in two categories:
1. Self-sufficient with tent.
2. Self-sufficient and staying lodges, cabins, tea houses or even hotels.
To clarify, when I say ‘self-sufficient’ I mean carrying everything one needs for the adventure you are undertaking. If one is travelling with a tent, you will almost certainly be carrying all your food too. However, if staying in lodges, cabins, tea houses or hotels, then access to food will be possible and therefore the need to carry such items will be reduced.
For the purposes of this article, I am going to look at point 1 as this requires more planning, more equipment and a great deal more thought. For point 2, the equipment list would be as point 1 with the ability to remove items.
A fastpacking trip can be as simple as two days with one overnight stop or it can be a lengthy trip of multiple days or even weeks. As an example, in recent years I have taken myself to Nepal in December and fastpacked for ten days plus using tea houses for accommodation. Read an article on the ‘Three Passes Trek 2018: Ultimate Trek in the Everest Region’ HERE.
Any length of trip is valid and if new to winter adventures, it makes sense that maybe a first trip involves just one overnight so that you can fine tune what does and does not work for you.
Fastpacking in winter is the same as summer, but the need for more substantial equipment increases. Key is multi-purpose so that as mentioned previously, balancing minimal weight with equipment is optimal.
Planning is also essential so that one understands what equipment is needed and required. It goes without saying that winter conditions can bring anything, so, being prepared is an absolute no1 priority.
Will I have rain?
Will I have snow?
Will I have ice?
Am I going to high altitude?
Is the terrain technical?
Will I be climbing?
Questions as above are a starting point when deciding what to take. A prime example being that an ice axe, crampons and maybe even a harness will be required on a fastpack trip – If you don’t have them, that could be a BIG problem!
Do the research, understand the trip, understand the distance you will be covering and understand the amount of days the journey will take.
Once you have answers to the above, you can plan the equipment.
Top Tip: While solo adventuring is exciting and exhilarating, winter adventures with another person make a trip safer and, in my opinion, more enjoyable. It also means you can share the additional tent weight and supplies weight.
A winter tent will be heavier and more durable as the impact of the weather is greater and the need for protection is increased. The first question, is size? Many of us will not have the option or luxury to have several tent options that allow us to choose a solo, two or three-person tent. So, if purchasing for the first time, the best option would almost certainly go for a 2-person tent.
The tent needs to be 4-season unless you know in advance that your winter adventure will not have weather extremes. If the latter is the case, you may well get away with your 3-season tent.
Heavier fabrics, more substantial poles and less mesh make 4-season tent shopping a challenge. Budget is also a key consideration. A tunnel tent is optimal and if pitched correctly, it will withstand strong winds and harsh weather. Use a well-insulated, all-season tent designed to withstand strong winds and the weight of snow, as well as a full nylon inner to prevent as much heat loss as possible.
My favourite tent is the Hilleberg NALLO which comes in several sizes, 2,3 and 4 person and the ‘GT’ versions have greater storage which is not a consideration for me but could be a consideration if bike packing? The NALLO 3 is 2.6kg and one of the lightest all-season tents on the market.
2.6kg may sound heavy, especially when fastpacking but if you divide that weight between 2 (1300g each) or 3 (866g) it compares with lightweight solo tents such as the NEMO Hornet which would not stand winter conditions.
Ultimately invest in a tent as it will serve you well and last a great deal of time. Cutting costs early on will only come back later and bite you later.
Using a Tarp or Bivvy bag is not a consideration for me in winter unless in an emergency.
Packs are very personal and the correct one for you comes down to too many variables. I have said previously that I feel the ideal fastpack size to be 20-25 ltr. However, in winter, I usually go to 30 ltr and in Nepal I have gone to 40 ltr.
Montane Trailblazer 30 is a personal favourite as it fits like clothing with a vest-like fit and it has a waist belt.
Think about simple and effective storage space, minimum fuss, good fit and comfort.
Ultimate Direction Fastpack
Six Moon Designs
After the tent, the sleeping bag is going to be the next largest and heaviest item. However, think cleverly about sleeping bag and also consider the key phrase, multi-purpose.
Because you may experience -15 at night during a fastpack, this does not mean you require a -15 sleeping bag…. Personal favourite is the RAB Mythic Ultra 360.
“Smart lightweight campers have been using their clothes to boost the warmth of their sleeping bags for years and climbers do it when they have to. Yet most of us are still carrying bags much bulkier and heavier than we need.” – Peter Hutchinson Designs
Layering in a sleeping bag (just like in clothing) is key to regulating temperature and a perfect way to carry a lighter sleeping bag without compromising on warmth and comfort. Read an in-depth article HERE on ‘Choosing a Sleeping Bag for an Adventure.’
Key points to consider:
Am I using the sleeping bag in a dry or wet climate?
Is the weight of the bag really important? Normally the answer here is, if you are carrying it, yes, the weight is important.
Do I need the sleeping bag to pack as small as possible?
Do I need the bag to work in one or more situations? Another way of looking at this is, do I need to compromise on points 1-3 to get value for money.
Ask some personal questions:
Do I sleep warm?
Do I like to be warm and if not warm, am I miserable?
Am I prepared to be a little cold to be as light as possible?
Do I need a full-length zip, half-zip or am I happy to have no zip?
Consider other factors:
If you are tall, wide, have big shoulders etcetera, etcetera then some sleeping bags will just not work for you as they will be too small.
If you are small/ petite an off-the-shelf sleeping bag actually could be too big for you, this is not a huge problem, but if you wanted the bag to be as small and light as possible, you could go custom made.
Top Tip: Down is the lightest and packs the smallest. However, down cannot get wet. If it does it loses warmth and effectiveness. Some brands now offer ‘treated’ down that can withstand weather variables, so, consider this. If you are going to be in a wet/ damp climate, a synthetic filling may well be the best choice. Do not put your head inside the sleeping bag – make sure you breath out and not inside the bag as the moisture is not good.
If you are in a tent during the winter, you NEED insulation between you and the ground. Do not compromise here. No matt and you are guaranteed a cold, sleepless and restless night. There are many variables to look at and while weight is crucial, so is warmth. The weight of one’s body presses a sleeping bag flat when sleeping and therefore the warming properties are reduced. Cold comes up from the ground, which can be very dangerous.
It is possible to purchase insulated matts and they are obviously heavier. Ask questions about your personal needs and self-asses. Do you sleep warm?
Look at the ‘R’ number of a sleeping mat. The higher the R number, the more insulation it gives.
If you are going to be pitching a tent on snow or ice, the R needs to be 3 at a minimum and ideally 4 or higher.
Sea to Summit produce an Ultralight mat with an R of 3.1 at 480g in regular length. By contrast, the Comfort Plus XT with an R of 4.7 is over 1000g
While your spring/ summer gas canister system will work in winter, many choose to use a liquid fuel system as the pressure in the bottle can be maintained by pumping. MSR do a product called WhisperLite that can use gas or liquid fuel.
I personally use a Jetboil Flash or my MSRWindBurner which both boil water very quickly and work exceptionally well in windy weather.
I simply need to boil water and/ or melt snow.
Food is a significant consideration for winter and personally the need for warm and nutritious food increases. Dehydrated food is a staple both for breakfast and dinner and while many brands are available, Firepot Food is my favourite. A *typical meal is around 125g in weight and offers upwards of 500 calories. Baked Apple Porridge is superb in the morning and Chili Con Carne has spice and great taste. Options are available for larger packs. Taking Chili Con Carne as an example: the 135g pack has 600 cals and they have a 200g pack with 890 cals.
I take coffee for the morning and sachets of hot chocolate for the evening.
There is no one answer to clothing and many questions to ask. To start, I will assume for the purpose of this article that you are a runner who will be moving fast (er) than a hiker.
Key considerations re weather:
Will it be dry and cold?
Will it be wet and cold?
Will it be wet/ dry and cold?
Understanding the answer to the above helps clarify clothing choice. For example, Nepal in December will be cold and dry (usually) therefore the need for wet weather clothing can be reduced. It also means that down will be the main insulating layer. By contrast, if exploring the mountains of northern Norway, you will potentially experience all weather variables and therefore the need for synthetic insulating layers may be preferable to down and the requirement for waterproof jacket and trousers almost essential.
I see apparel in three scenarios:
What I wear in the day.
What I wear when I have finished for the day.
What I wear to sleep.
Remember the key word, multi-purpose.
Layering is essential to regulate temperature and at all costs, you need to reduce sweating, especially in subzero conditions as the sweat can freeze against the skin. Accept that you will need to move slower and that you will need to be diligent in stop/ starting to add and remove layers. It’s easy to feel too warm or a little cold and not stop because it impacts on your rhythm, this can be a really bad decision. Make sure you add/ remove as required.
Eyes: Wear glasses, especially in snow.
Body: Long-sleeve merino base layer top.
Hands: Merino base layer gloves.
Legs: Winter run tights.
Feet: Merino socks.
Shoes – These will be specific to the task and weather conditions. Obviously, I will not be carrying options (unless climbing,) so, my shoe choice will be based on the most demanding conditions. As a starting point, my standard trail running shoes with aggressive outsole would be ideal for mud and soft snow. If I was going to encounter ice I would either take micro-crampons to use on my trail shoe or use a specific shoe such as the Arctic Talon by inov-8. Extreme cold, challenging conditions and many variables and I would use a boot but a lighter option that is designed with a runner in mind, Roclite (370 or 400) by inov-8 works exceptionally well.
WARMTH and WATERPROOF
Using the above as a starting point, the need to add layers will depend on the conditions you are experiencing.
Head: You lose a great deal of heat through your head, so simply adding and removing a hat is a simple way to regulate temperature. There are many options here that typically fall in 3 categories:
I often like the head band option as it keeps my ears warm but still allows some heat to escape through the top of my head. If it is really cold, I will use a beanie.
Neck: In colder temperatures I like to have a Buff/ wrap around my neck. This is especially useful as the temperature drops as you can pull the item over your mouth and nose. They can also be used as a hat if required.
Body: A simple and extremely light windproof is great for adding and removing to regulate temperature. In colder conditions, the need to add insulation will be required and as mentioned, this can be down or synthetic. Ultimately, this layer, especially if still moving fast does not need to be too bulky or too warm. A Rab Kaon is a current favourite which has the best of both worlds by using treated down in a small and lightweight package. Rain, wet conditions and strong wind can make any trip miserable, so, a good and lightweight jacket with taped seams is essential. The Stormshell by inov-8 is perfect. Top Tip: Consider the size of the waterproof jacket, sometimes going one size bigger is better to allow for insulation underneath.
Hands: I struggle with my hands and particularly with my fingers, so, I do not compromise. I wear Merino wool base layers and then Mitts over the top by inov-8. If I need the use of my fingers, I will use a Gore-Tex glove by Rab. Importantly I carry a spare set of Merino base layer gloves and even a pair of more substantial mitts if conditions dictate. My hands are my weakness!
Legs: Winter run tights such as the inov-8 Winter Tight are ideal in all conditions and they are my ‘go-to’ for all runs. In rain I will use just the run tight. However, if the temperature drops to zero or below and the wind gets up, the need to add another layer becomes important and I use the Trailpant by inov-8 over the top.
Feet: Merino socks are essential as they work extremely well when wet. I often use an Injini 5-finger Merino as a base layer and then a Smartwool Merino sock over the top. On occasion I have used Neoprene socks as an extra warm layer.
Shoes: As discussed above but if going to extreme conditions and climbing I use La Sportiva boots, the G5 is perfect for snow conditions with crampons. Also consider that maybe you need snowshoes?
AT THE END OF THE DAY
You have finished fast packing for the day, you are warm, and the priority is pitching the tent. Before you do that, make sure you:
Add an insulated layer.
Add a windproof.
Wear a hat.
Put on gloves.
Once you have done the above, pitch the tent and get inside.
Priority is to remove layer and importantly remove base layers if they are damp or wet. Putting on a dry base layer is essential to keep warm
Replace run tights with Merino base layer tights.
Remove socks and put on dry socks.
Now add the insulated layers such as jacket, hat and gloves. If extremely cold, get inside your sleeping bag and retain the heat you already have.
Depending on the conditions and the environment, you may very well have additional warm layers that were not mentioned above. Three essentials for me in extreme conditions are:
The above 3 items can pack small and the warmth to weight ratio can make a huge difference. Trekking in Nepal or a similar place in winter and they are essential items.
Hut/tent slippers are a great addition for warm feet and allow you to get out of run shoes/ boots. They are light and can roll up. They fall in the luxury category but if you have space and don´t mind a little extra weight, they can be very worthwhile.
Be specific with the choice of insulated layer. There are many options available that balance weight/ warmth delicately.
First and foremost, make sure you are warm when going to sleep. If not, you will waste energy trying to get warm. If conditions allow, don’t hesitate to do some press ups, jog on the spot, do star jumps and so on before getting in a sleeping bag.
As a start point, I will wear:
Long sleeve Merino base layer top.
Long leg Merino tights.
Merino liner gloves.
The above provides me with a starting point. Of course, if conditions allow, I can remove some of the items above to regulate temperature.
If it is cold, I will wear a down jacket.
Extremely cold and I will wear my down pants and socks.
It all goes back to layering, multi-purpose and why I initially said that a lighter and less warm sleeping bag can often work providing you have the options to add warmth.
A good night’s sleep is essential.
Top Tips: Put clothes inside the sleeping bag to stop them getting cold and damp. Put all batteries/ phone etc inside the sleeping bag, they will last longer. Need a heat boost? Boil some water, add it to a very secure water bottle and put inside sleeping bag – the ultimate hot-water bottle! Have a bottle for taking a pee in or a FUD if you are a woman. Getting out of a tent in the middle of the night in wind, rain and/ or snow is not a good idea.
TOP TIPS FOR THE WINTER
Prepare and plan a trip meticulously understanding the weather conditions you will encounter.
Have the correct equipment for the trip.
Make sure you have a phone, the ability to charge and re-charge it and have a tracking device such as a Garmin InReach.
Tent must be durable and correct for the conditions.
A tent can be made warmer by reducing ambient space – use packs etc around you and don’t be afraid to ‘spoon’ a tent-mate.
Prepare ground for camping, particularly important in snow/ ice conditions. If possible, clear snow to reveal the ground underneath.
Use a mat as insulation between you and the ground.
Layer and regulate temperature.
Add hot water to a drink bottle for the perfect sleeping bag warmer.
Put clothes inside sleeping bag.
Have ear plugs and blindfold.
Eat and drink warm food and snacking in the middle of the night is a great idea.
Have a pee bottle or suitable device if a woman. Holding a pee in is not a good idea as this will waste energy and heat,
Insulated bottles are essential to stop water freezing. Turn bottle upside down.
Use poles when conditions dictate.
Use dry bags to keep all clothing dry.
Have plastic zip-lock bags for emergencies.
Make sure you have a first aid kit.
Zip ties, Gorilla tape and a small tube of super glue can go a long way for ‘on-the-go’ repairs.
Carry a multi-tool knife.
Use a long-handled spoon for dehydrated meals.
Eye protection is crucial.
Take a pillow.
Decide on the correct fuel for the stove. Subzero, go with liquid fuel.
Melt snow for water.
Carry a water filtration system.
Have a method for removing toilet paper and waste.
Have wet wipes or similar.
Sunscreen in snow is essential along with lip balm.
If possible and allowed, make a fire.
If possible and allowed, make a fire.
Take insoles out of shoes and put inside sleeping (providing they are not wet)
A second stove option and backup may be worthwhile. If using gas canister, the MSR pocket rocket burner is super small and light.
Ventilate your tent.
Protect extremities. Hands and feet. Consider hut/tent slippers.
Headtorch and spare batteries.
Depending on the length of the trip, luxuries are best kept at a minimum. However, on a lengthy trip in Nepal I did take an iPad mini as it allowed me to write, provided the option for movies and music and I could re-charge in tea houses. If I was self-sufficient camping, I would leave this at home.
Take a phone. Maybe use an old-style phone and not the latest smartphone. The latter is power hungry.
iPods and fancy earphones are great, but you cannot beat a pair of simple wired earphones as they do not need re-charging.
Take a notebook and pen (if not taking an iPad mini).
A battery for re-charging.
Remember, you need to carry any luxury so be ruthless.
Episode 196 – Kristian Morgan talks about setting an FKT on the South West Coast Path and multiple World Champion, Jon Albon, talks about ‘Finding My Feet’ for Endurancesports.tv.
Talk Ultra is now on Tunein – just another way to make the show available for those who prefer not to use iTunes – HERE You can download the Tunein APP HERE
Talk Ultra needs your help! We have set up a Patreon page and we are offering some great benefits for Patrons… you can even join us on the show! This is the easiest way to support Talk Ultra and help us continue to create! Many thanks to our Patrons who have helped via PATREON
NEWS FKT’s posted on last show: * Franco Colle new FKT on Monte Rosa from Gressoney* Nadir Maguet – Gran Paradiso FKT 2:02:32* Erik Clavery GR10 9 days 9 hours and a few minutes* Davide Magnini Ortles FKT 2:18:15* Kim Collison 24h Lakes achieves 78 Peaks* Sabrina Verjeee Wainwrights (wishes not to claim)* Dylan Bowman Loowit Trail 5:11:49* Josh Pulattie Oregon Coast Trail 12 days 10 hours 25 min* Candice Burt Tahoe Rim Trail 2 days 12 hours 47 min* John Kelly Pennine Way 2 days 16 hours 40 min* Sarah Hansel (57:43) & Joey Campanelli (41:00) for Nolans 14* Tom Hollins Dales Mountain 30 (130 miles, 30 summits) 41 hrsAdam Kimble new FKT on Tahoe Rim Trail, USADamian Hall new FKT for the Pennine Way, UKAdam Jacobs new FKT for Hertfordshire Way, UKCarla Molinaro new FKT for the JOGLE, UKBeth Pascall new FKT for the Bob Graham Round, UK and set 5th fastest time.Rhys Jenkins sets new FKT on the Wales Coastal Path #fkt! 870 miles. Time TBC but 20 days 9hrs 35 mins – 2hr 20mins off the record. Lindsey Ulrich new FKT Pacific Crest TrailMarilyne Marchand-Gouin new FKT Clorado TrailMikaela Osler new FKT Colorado TrailWouter Berghuijs new FKT Via Alpina SwitzerlandChristof Teuscher new FKT Eagles 33 Pau Capell runs UTMB in 21:17Finlay Wild runs the Ramsey Round 14:42Carol Morgan 24hr Lakeland record with 65 topsWonderland Trail in the USA, Kaytlyn Gerbin set a new female FKT. Dylan Bowman (16:58) set the FKT only to have it broken 1-week later by Tyler Green, now 16:40:55Kirsty Hewitson Steve Parr Round 62 fells 117mDiego Pasoz on the Via Alpina new FKTDan Lawson JOGLE 9d 21h 14mRyan Sandes 13 Peaks Challenge 13:41:10Donnie Campbell continues his Munro challengeKilian does a VK in less than 30 min and then follows up with 10km on the road in sub 30 min
With the NEW documentary featuring Jon Albon (Finding my Feet) live on www.endurancesports.tv as of Friday 2nd October.
We’ve created a special code so that our listeners can access the documentary, and everything else on the channel using a limited edition 50% offer lasting 6 months, click this link http://bit.ly/50offReward and enter the code “50_Reward”.
Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patron at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. Rand Haley and Simon Darmody get a mention on the show here for ‘Becoming 100k Runners’ with a high-tier Patronage.