adidas Terrex Two Ultra Parley Shoe Review

The adidas Terrex Two Ultra Parley is not a new shoe, I first received mine in March 2020 and currently I am about to start wearing a third pair of the shoe. So, I have plenty of miles on these ‘adi’ shoes to give a real overview of the pros and cons fromm this three stripe Terrex shoe.

Firstly, a little perspective, adidas, and particularly the Terrex arm of the brand are making huge changes and development to make its mark on the trail and ultra-world. In 2019, I worked closely with adidas at UTMB following the Terrex Team take on multiple races at the Super Bowl of the trail and ultrarunning scene. You can read my in-depth analysis HERE.

Want to WIN a pair of adidas Terrex Two Ultra Parley ? One Patreon supporter will be drawn at random on April 12th to win a pair. Support me on Patreon HERE for as little as £3.00.

Quite simply, adidas Terrex are taking the trail scene by storm, we have witnessed this recently with Ruth Croft winning Tarawera outright and runners such as Tom Evans making the podium at Western States and Luis Alberto Hernando winning CCC. The list of results is endless but one significant importance is how adidas are listening to the athletes and developing apparel and shoes to fulfil the needs of the runners. Notably, the recent launch of the Terrex Speed Ultra HERE had a two-year development with specific feedback from Tom Evans to ensure the shoe ticked all the right boxes. And what a shoe it is!

So, the Terrex Two Ultra Parley fits nicely into this new development of the brand and at the same times sets out some really surprising and new credentials. In 2020, T3 Magazine (a tech magazine) actually awarded the Terrex Two Ultra Parley King of the Mountains (and valleys) in the T3 Awards 2020.

The Parley refers to the ecological aspect of the shoe and notably why the shoe has been applauded. When large brands like adidas consider the sustainability and environmental impact, that can only be a good thing in the long run, pardon the pun!

Parley Ocean Plastic™ is a material created from upcycled plastic waste that is intercepted from beaches and coastal communities before reaching the ocean

Roughly 11 plastic bottles are used to make the Terrex Two Ultra Parley; Parley Ocean Plastic™ is a material created from upcycled plastic waste that is intercepted from beaches and coastal communities before reaching the ocean… It is used as a replacement for virgin plastic in the making of adidas x Parley products.

Ultimately a really great thing!

The shoe is distinctive and grabs the eye. All my shoes have been the blue coloured as pictured but for 2021 there is a cool Gold/Black/White version that is a real eye catcher. If you need a more sedate show, there is also a Black/ Grey/ Blue version.

adidas Terrex athlete, Yngvild Kaspersen on location in Norway.

The standout feature of the upper is the seamless sock-like Primeknit upper with an exceptionally close-fitting top (just like a pair of socks) that helps reduce debris entering the top of the shoe. There is no tongue, the upper is all one piece and the laces pass through the upper via reinforced eyelets. Where the tongue would be there are reinforced raised areas of padding that remove pressure on the Navicular bone when tightening the laces. The top of this area is raised with the number 320 prominent – the weight in grams of a UK8.5.

The upper is relatively free of overlays with some reinforcement coming at the front for a toe bumper, the toe box is wide and spacious, and an orange area around the heel. The is a tab at the back which clearly shouts the ‘Parley’ element of the shoe. Below the stretchy shoe/ sock top, where the foot enters, the heel area is very well padded – arguably one of the most padded heels I have felt on a shoe.

Boost midsole is a wow! One thing adidas do know is road shoes and the responsive Boost has been hailed worldwide for its responsive feel, energy return and comfort. Here on the Terrex Two Ultra Parley that Boost is 23mm at the front and 29mm at the rear providing a 6mm drop shoe of floaty, cushioned bounce. You can see the 23/29 on the shoe embedded into a very prominent orange reinforced area that wraps around the shoe from two third back on the outside and beyond halfway on the inside of the shoe – this adds support and structure.

The outsole is made by Continental who make excellent rubber that really does provide great grip. The outsole covers the whole of the shoe with no visible inserts or inlays and the grip is made of well-spaced lugs that are not prominent. I don’t have an exact lug size, but they are almost certainly around 4mm. This helps to understand the shoes intended use: dry trails, single-track and yes, even some road.

I feel the shoes size large and gladly I had the option to fine-tune my sizing with the Terrex Two Ultra Parley. My first pair was a standard EU44/ UK9.5 which worked fine but given the option to try a EU43.5/ UK9, this is my preferred size. I believe my design for this is based on my comment below in ‘Notable Comments.’

UK9 is 335g.

IN USE

As stated, I am on my third pair of the Terrex Two Ultra Parley and over 1000 km’s of use. First and foremost, the upper is extremely durable. They have had a fair share of wet, ice, snow and mud and apart from them being engrained with dirt, there is no visible wear. I am impressed. That all important bend area behind the metatarsals when in the propulsive phase, looks like new… That is a rarity! Most shoes, no matter how good eventually show some failure here, not the Terrex Two Ultra Parley. The upper is one of the stars being recycled from Ocean Plastic and this may well be one of the attributes of why it is so durable? However, there is a downside… I think they arguably the hottest/ warmest uppers I have ever used. In winter, great, they have helped kept my feet toasty. But in Spring and Summer, the Terrex Two Ultra Parley is a really hot shoe.

The sock-like upper really is quite remarkable. You slide the shoe on like socks, adjust the upper section so that they sit firmly around/ below the ankle and wow, I have socks on! Standing up, you immediately feel the stack height and 23/29mm Boost cushioning compress under your weight – you immediately know the ride is going to be bouncy.

The lacing only has 4 eyelets on each side and gladly, they sit well away from the key flex point when in the propulsive phase and toeing off. Unlike conventional eyelets, they are not holes that you pass the lace through, they are like mini tunnels with an entry and exit point. There is no tongue making this sock-like fit the ‘most’ sock-like of any shoe I have tested. There are two reinforced areas that sit below the number 320 which are designed to take pressure off the Navicular bone when lacing up the shoes.

The toe box is wide and spacious and allows for plenty of toe splay with light reinforcement.

Boost cushioning is superb. As soon as you toe off, you feel the cushioning compress and propel you forward. As you land it repeats the process and before you know it, you are bounding down the trail feeling the benefit of the 23/29 energy return. Without doubt, the Terrex Two Ultra Parley is a shoe for hard trail that is not too technical. This is also confirmed by the excellent Continental outsole which has dry trail lugs.

NOTABLE COMMENTS

The Terrex Two Ultra Parley run like road shoes and as such, they just want to fly along without complication. Rocks are fine, tree routes are fine but once you get into constant technicality and direction changes, the Terrex Two Ultra Parley doesn’t handle this well. There are several reasons for this: 1. The stack height has you high off the ground and therefore you lose that close connection with the terrain. 2. While the sock-like upper is incredibly comfortable and awesome, the lack of structure and reinforcement does allow one’s foot to move, especially when the trail gets technical. 3. The lacing is great, but again, technical terrain shows a flaw in the shoes ability to hold the foot tight and secure, particularly around the instep. This is one area I need secure on technical terrain. 4. The wider toe box adds to the ability for the foot to move.

Running downhill, the cushioning is superb but again, the upper and lack of a firm hold, can allow the foot to move.

Going uphill, the hold from the heel is excellent.

With the above comments in mind, you may well think I am being negative of the Terrex Two Ultra Parley. No, not at all. It’s a great shoe BUT it has limitations and with 1000km in two pairs, I know what those limitations are, for me anyway.

I grab the Terrex Two Ultra Parley when I am off for a cruise like trail run on groomed single-track. I don’t own road shoes, and the Terrex Two Ultra Parley have been perfect for 10, 20, 30km or longer road runs. They are a great shoe for those easier recovery days but equally, they can really shift and create pace if you want them too. They are an excellent road-to-trail shoe but be warned, too much road will wear the Continental outsole down.

SUMMARY

Ultimately, with 23/29 Boost cushioning, a wide toe box, sock-like upper and the lacing system, the Terrex Two Ultra Parley is designed for long trail runs on non-technical terrain when comfort and good energy return is a primary concern.

RRP £160

Website here.

To clarify, the shoes were provided to test, as are all the shoes that I review. But this is not a paid review.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. 

Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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See the NEW shoe by VJ Sport before anyone else…

A new shoe by VJ Sport is an exciting thing. I will be clear from the very start, VJ Sport produce, in my opinion, currently the three best shoes for fell, skyrunning, mountain and longer-distance trail/ mountain races. I have said time and time again and I will repeat it here, the iRock 3XTRM and MAXx are a trio of shoes that provide a perfect weapon choice for specific terrain and distance. Although the three shoes are very obviously from the same family, (they look very similar) – They all have ‘Fitlock,’ they all have amazingly durable Kevlar uppers and they all have the amazing Butyl rubber (albeit in different size lugs) outsole that VJ are renowned for, but they do not all fit the same or have the same drop. The iRock 3 is narrower, has more precision and aggressive lugs, the XTRM sits between the iRock 3 and the MAXx and the MAXx has been the more recent shoe offering a wider fit and more cushioning for longer distance trail and mountain races. 

Want to see the NEW offering and get an early review?

Available for Patreon subscribers only until the official announcement.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content.

Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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EXPED Down Socks and Bivy Booty Review

Exped is a relatively new company, founded in the 80’s, the company initially started as an outdoor distributor. Over time, Exped created its own identity and form 1997 have created their own innovative products designed for travel and expeditions.

In 1997, the ‘Orion’ ridge tent, along with sleeping bags and storage bags set a benchmark for how the brand would develop. Now, Exped have a range of products that include Tents, Sleeping Bags, Mats, Backpacks, Packsacks, Hammocks, Ponchos and a range of Accessories.

On a personal note, Exped sleeping mats, storage bags and travel accessories have accompanied many a journey in countless worldwide locations for me.

In Nepal and more recently in Norway, I have used the Exped Down Sock and Exped Bivy Booty for fastpacking, multi-day adventures and countless work assignments.

DOWN SOCK

Warm feet are an essential for me, I suffer with cold toes and when a day on the trail comes to an end, a pair of dry socks and then down socks have become a constant when relaxing in a hut or tent. Compact and light, the Exped down socks are available in S, M or L and compress into a small size and of course, they are lightweight, (75g per sock in M) simple in design. They have an elasticated baffle/ heel cuff inside to ensure warmth is retained around the foot and to provide a comfortable fit. Made from five individual down filled pieces, warmth is retained in each section of the foot with cold spots reduced to a minimum. In particular, the toe area has a special area of down to ensure additional warmth in this sensitive area. At the top of the sock, there is an additional elastic baffle, visible with the Exped logo, this provides a seal and reduces heat escaping and cold entering.

Quite simply, these socks are a revelation for post-day recuperation after activity. They are a simple product that add an all-important additional layer of warmth for minimal weight and pack size. Using a Merino Wool sock inside is an essential extra to ensure warmth. Need more warmth? Also consider using a heat pad like those provided by Nevercold. They can also be used inside a sleeping bag for cold nights. Designed for internal use only, the use of a Bivy Booty (below) is required to increase the flexibility of the Down Sock.

Specs:

Fill : 

Duck down RDS certified

Fillpower: 

700+ cuin

Fill Weight: 

2.8 oz

S – Shoe size DE/EU 37 – 39, USA 5 -7

M – Shoe size DE/EU 40 – 42, USA 7 – 9

L – Shoe size DE/EU 43 – 45, USA 10 – 11

BIVY BOOTY

Typically, when adventuring, fastpacking or out on any multi-day adventure, weight is a key concern and therefore the option to carry additional footwear is not an option. Therefore, a product like the Exped Bivy Booty manages to fill this great middle ground facilitating a lower pack size and lower weight. Weighing 128g for a M, the booty is at least 100% lighter than the lightest run shoe and considerably lighter than a walking boot. Designed to be used as a protective layer over any sock, the Bivy Booty excels over the Exped Down Sock.

It is a waterproof overshoe with a durable sole and TPU material that goes to mid-calf with two adjustable/ quick-release elastic cords. Designed to protect from snow, ice, rocks, twigs and any other sharp objects. The seams are factory taped and there is a three-layer shell of VentAir® combined with 15 D Ripstop Nylon to ensure foot protection and longevity of the product.

Overnight camp, Norway, February (iPhone photo)

In use, the Bivy Booty is the perfect product for camp life and the perfect lightweight accessory to facilitate moving around whilst relaxing after a day on the trail. Previously, I would use a down sock to keep my feet warm, only to find that I would then need to remove this sock and then use my day shoe to walk around outside the tent/ hut to facilitate any camp task. Now, I can keep my warm down socks on and use the Bivy Booty to move around.

Surprisingly comfortable, the two elastic cords, when pulled tight, really give a secure feel. The cords can be adjusted, even with gloves on. Of course, the Booty is not designed for any long walking, it’s a simple product to facilitate an easier camp/ hut life. They do this exceptionally well and on a recent camp trip in snow and ice with sub-zero temperatures, they were a life saver. The lower part of the Booty is designed to protect with a very strong reinforced area.

Insole is removable so you can upgrade if required.

Inside the Booty, there is a removable insole that is attached via Velcro. Top tip: You can replace the insulated rubber with a thicker product, say using an old sleeping mat. It’s a simple way to add more insulation between you and the ground, if required.

SPECS

15 D ripstop nylon, ventair, 10’000 mm water column, 40’000 MVTR

S – Shoe size DE/EU 37 – 39, USA 5 -7

M – Shoe size DE/EU 40 – 42, USA 7 – 9

L – Shoe size DE/EU 43 – 45, USA 10 – 11

XL – Shoe size DE/EU 46 – 47, USA 12 – 13

Exped website 

This is not a paid review. Products were purchased to test.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

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Coros VERTIX Adventure GPS Watch Review

The Coros VERTIX multisport GPS is designed for adventure that goes beyond the usual realms of running, cycling, triathlon and so on. One could arguably say that the VERTIX is geared to mountaineers, explorers and adventurers who need a premium product, built to withstand the demands of extreme sport and with a battery that will last for the most arduous and time-consuming adventures.

Using sapphire glass, titanium DLC bezel, waterproof to 150m and a stunning autonomy of 60-hours in regular GPS mode and a whopping 150-hours in UltraMax mode, the VERTIX is quite simply a stunning unit that competes with surpasses the competition.

But is it the best watch out there?

Coros have been taking the GPS world by storm, just look on social media in forums and you will see that Suunto, Garmin and Polar users are defecting to Coros. The main reason, battery and of course, price point is significant too. The APEX and APEX PRO have paved the way for the VERTIX.

From the off, I am going to be clear and straightforward, IF you need mapping and music on your GPS, the VERTIX is not for you. Now of course, updates happen all the time and most certainly, there may well be updates to come that add these features to a VERTIX, but for now, they don’t exist.

Also, the VERTIX price point brings it much more in line with premium models from Garmin and Suunto, so, the money saving of purchasing a VERTIX is less of an attraction in comparison to purchasing an APEX, for example.

The VERTIX has the most extravagant packaging I have ever witnessed for a watch. It comes in its own case (similar the sealed cases I use for cameras) which basically for the off says, ‘adventure!’ While initially impressed I then questioned the logic and the eco values of such a case. It is an overkill! But I then went on to find that once the contents are removed, there are padding inserts to convert the case to a product that can be used for other purposes. That is a nice touch.

Top Tip – Download the COROS app to your phone before turning the watch on. The simple reason for this is that a QR code appears on the watch face at start up. Using this QR code and the camera on your phone seamlessly connects the two and you are ready to get set up. I wish someone had told me this in advance.

In the case, the watch face sits independently, and you need to attach the watch straps. The fastening system is very slick and while a small feature, it adds to the premium feel. You can change straps and purchase additional colour options if you wish.

Cables, instructions and so on sit below the watch face and straps.

Unlike many GPS units, the VERTIX just has three buttons on the right-hand side, the middle button the key one. Top right is for the light, the bottom is for the menu (hard and prolonged press) and acts as a ‘back’ button, the middle button (digital crown) works on press and rotate. The rotate superb for navigating quickly.

Coros Vertix ©coros

The rear of the watch face has an optical sensor and importantly, this includes a SpO2 sensor which measures pulse oxygen levels. This feature most definitely helps place the VERTIX at the adventure/ explore and mountaineering end of the GPS world. But Coros are not the only company to do this…Fitbit and Garmin, to name just two, have this feature on several products.

The charging port is a simple oblong and comes with some small plastic covers (inside the case) that allow you to cover and protect this area when not charging.

Nice Feature: In set-up, you can choose right- or left-hand use. I very often put my watch on my right hand when doing sport/ adventure as it means that the buttons are away from my hand and wrist. It means that accidentally pressing buttons when scrambling, climbing and so on can’t happen. On the VERTIX you can specify left hand but rotate the face which places the three buttons away from wrist/ hand. A nice touch. The one downside is that the words on the watch face ‘Light’ and ‘Back/lap’ will be reversed. No big deal.

THE COROS APP

All initial set-up is done via the Coros app on your phone. It’s intuitive and straightforward, initially you are guided through the process. Watch and phone connection is via Bluetooth, there is no Wi-Fi capability.

Once set up, in the app you will see four key images at the bottom of the screen: GraphRunnerShield and Watch.

WATCH ICON

Click on the WATCH and you are given a menu of 9 key images that includes: 

Workout data – Customisation – Firmware Update

My Training – My Training Plan – My Route

Watch Face – GPS Satellite – Data Notifications

Watch Face is a good start place so that you can decide on the look of the watch and what info is provided when on your wrist for day-to-day use. There are a couple of obvious ones which everyone seems to use. You can also change colour options.

Data Notifications allows you to decide what alarms, info, alerts you get from key things such as calls, text messages, email, Facebook, WhatsApp and so on and so on. I have them all off, I just don’t need that info when exercising but in day-to-day use as a watch, some alerts are useful. It all depends on the user.

Select Workout shows what sports are covered by the VERTIX. Surprisingly this list is rather small with just 23 sports. A prime example is there is no ‘walk’ just a ‘hike’ option. Okay, you may well say there may be little difference between the two but for me, there is. So that irritated me. When you click on a sport, let’s say RUN. You are then provided options of how your watch screen will look. Choose the option that is best for you. You can do this for every sport.

Customisation allows you to access the ‘Workout Menu’ and ‘Toolbox’ so that you can make them personal to you and your needs. Basically, smartphone configuration of data fields. Notably there is Running Power and running efficiency metrics such as leg stiffness, contact time, cadence and so on.

Firmware Update basically connects to your watch and informs you if you are up to date or if an update is available. It’s a no brainer, keep the VERTIX updated.

My Training allows you to download verified programs from coros.com or building a workout for yourself. Click on ‘add workout’ then ‘create program’ then choose a sport: Run, Bike, Swim or Strength. Now you can add a session, in Run for example, you can add a warmup, then intervals/ sets and a cool down. It’s a nice feature and ideal to keep you honest and on track if you need some real structure to your training. As an example, I created a session: 15 min warm up, 8 x 1-mile on 5min rest followed with 15 min warm down. I created a name, saved it and then synced with my watch via the app. This session is now on the VERTIX ready for when I need it. Storage is not indefinite; it will hold 20 workouts on the watch.

My Training Plan works in just the same way as ‘My Training’ allowing you to add days and weeks of training.

My Route allows 10 routes to be added to the VERTIX for navigation. Click on ‘Import from Library’ and then ‘How to add a route’ takes you through a step-by-step process. I found it easy and seamless. Helps if you have apps on your phone such as maps.me or footpath as you export GPX files.

GPS Satellite Data tells you if you are up to date and if you need to update.

GRAPH ICON

Here you say an update of the day broken down in:

  • Active Energy
  • Exercise Time.
  • Steps.
  • Heart Rate
  • Sleep
  • Training Load
  • Fitness Index
  • Fitness Level

RUNNER ICON

Here you can see a list of all your workouts as an overview. You can then click on a workout to get more in-depth data. It will show a map of say a run, distance covered, workout time, average pace and so on and so on.

It is detailed, visually appealing and tells everything you need to know about an exercise session.

So, if you don’t want to be on Strava or other platforms, perfect. Here you can see important metrics:

  • Pace
  • Cadence
  • Stride Length
  • Running Power
  • Elevation
  • Heart Rate
  • Heart Rate Zones
  • Training Effect
  • Lap Splits

In all honesty, there is no need for Strava or any other 3rd party product. The information provided in the Coros App will keep even the nerdiest nerd happy.

Information on stride length, cadence and power are three areas I have looked at and analyzed realizing that these areas are useful in making me a more efficient version of me.

SHIELD ICON

Here you can access your profile, and this is where you add weight, gender, height etc.

In addition, you can access:

  • Workout Programs
  • Training Plans
  • Navigation Routes Library
  • Muscle Heatmap
  • Record

Under ‘3rd Party Apps’ you can link your watch and information to Strava, TrainingPeaks, Final Surge and so on.

USING THE WATCH

Once you have been through the app, set everything up, you can now start training! Screen resolution is 240px and 64 colours and when not backlit, not always easy to read. Click the top right button and the screen illuminates for approximately 9-seconds and it is easy to read.

The VERTIX auto-locks and I like this. It stops any accidental button pressing. To unlock, you need to rotate the digital grown. Once rotated, press the digital crown and you will be given the menu. By turning the digital crown up or down, the menu rotates. I really like this, it’s easy to do and I found it no problem even when wearing gloves, albeit gloves that are not too thick. When at the sport you want, press the crown in. You will see ‘Start’ another press and then you will be updated on connection to satellites and heart rate. Once connected, press again and of you go.

Top Tip: If you want to add ANT+ accessories or any other item, this can be done in the ‘settings’ menu.

In RUN there are options to choose structure or focused training options such as Aerobic TrainingInterval or Anaerobic. In most scenarios, I choose the sport I want, wait for connection and press start. Off I go. You can custom all sports.

When training, you can scroll through screens with the digital crown, and you can record laps by pressing the bottom button. Remember, you may need to change if the watch auto-locks otherwise you will need to rotate the digital crown to ‘open’ the watch.

Touch screen is also possible, you can switch between screens via swiping.

If you wish to pause, you can press the digital crown.

If you have finished a workout, press and hold the digital crown and it will count down, 3,2,1 and saved. The workout is then added to the Coros App on your phone and if you have set up third party connection, Strava for example will be updated with the session. You need to open the app with the watch close to upload the workout.

NAVIGATION

No mapping. Yes, no mapping which is a huge surprise, especially if Coros want to differentiate from the APEX Pro and compete with say, Garmin Fenix 6 Pro. However, there is enhanced navigation that includes the use of checkpoints. Basically, upload a GPX file to the Coros App that has pre-defined locations, they could be aid stations in a race? Sync to the VERTIX and when navigating, information is provided to the next checkpoint that includes distance and elevation. Very useful if racing. However, internal memory in the VERTIX is limited, so make sure you delete any stored files not required. The best may to upload GPX is use mapping apps on your phone, say, maps.me, Footpath or similar. Export a GPX and then ‘save’ to the Coros app. It was very easy to do. For me personally as a wearer of glasses, mapping does not work on a watch, it’s too small and there is too much information. A bread crumb to navigate is fine. Also, there is touch screen functionality, helpful with moving a breadcrumb nav screen. BUT, and I will say this again, for the VERTIX not to have mapping, it makes the competition more appealing for what is the same price point. Coros are very good updating and progress but the lack of memory on the VERTIX will probably mean that the next Coros watch addresses this, has memory and most likely mapping.

WORKOUT PROGRAMS

All workout programs can be fully customized and loaded on to devices. For the purpose of testing, I prioritised the run modes but there are many options for bike, swim, run and so on. Notable, the strength category uses heat map and has different workouts for muscle groups. Heat map indicates recovery.

Menu is accessed by a long press of the bottom button. Here you find the following:

  • Navi Settings
  • Map
  • Satellite Signal
  • Stopwatch
  • Timer
  • Alarm
  • Watch Face
  • Night Mode
  • System
  • Save Location
  • Do Not Disturb
  • Compass
  • Broadcast HR
  • Oximeter
  • Battery Usage
  • Metronome
  • UltraMax

ACCURACY AND DATA

In all my testing I have used the VERTX alongside an Apple iWatch for every session and on many occasions, I have used a Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar too.

Below is the same run viewed in: Coros, Strava and Apple Watch apps.

GPS, I guess I could deep dive into the accuracy of the GPS and analyze every intricate detail. However, whenever I use a GPS unit or read a review, I often just want to know does it work and is it accurate? Using GPS and GLONASS, the VERTIX tracks position and is consistently reliable.

Quite simply, the VERTIX was in line with the iWatch and more so with the Fenix 6 Pro Solar. In countless runs, between the VERTIX and the FENIX 6 the difference was less than 100m and the mapped routes excellent. The iWatch had less accuracy +/- 1 to 400m. Having said that, on a 20km run (for me) I am not going to worry about 400m +/-. If I was an elite or Olympic athlete, it may well be super important.

In UltraMax mode GPS data is only recorded for 30-seconds in every 120-second window. This is how the battery life is extended, of course, accuracy is impacted. Motion sensors, algorithms and individual running model complete the 90-seconds when GPS is not recording.

Quite simply, the VERTIX is doing its job.

Heart rate viewed as above in the app.

Heart rate data was compared to a chest strap comparison and I was impressed. One thing is important, make sure the watch is pressed firmly against the wrist and tight. If it is loose and bouncing around, you are going to get mixed and inaccurate results. Hair on the arm, sweat and even a tattoo can impact on accuracy. Viewing the data in the Coros App is clear and while not exactly the same as the chest strap, they are will within the parameters one would accept. 

You can see pace, cadence, stride, power, elevation and HR all in one view.

SpO2 Feature Hold down the lower right button. Rotate the toolbox menu to Sp02. Press the digital crown and you will be shown the relevant screen. Note: altitude performance is shown at 2500m+ On the display you will see your altitude and SpO2.

Battery is one of the standout features of the VERTIX. It’s so good, you can almost forget about it. On receiving, I gave the watch a full charge.

As an example, I wore the watch for 17-days, did 17 runs totaling 34 hours and still had 10% battery remaining. This was in the ‘normal’ GPS mode. That is outstanding and quite simply one of THE selling features of the VERTIX and ultimately why one would choose this over say a Suunto, Fenix or Polar. For perspective, run 1-hour a day and use the VERTIX only for running and it will last 8-weeks!

Recently I did #feb406 running the dates of February which totalled 406km. I did this all on one battery charge and that included standby time too.

I think Garmin have obviously been losing many sales due to the autonomy of the Coros APEX and more importantly the VERTIX, that just recently they released the ENDURO which is boasting incredible battery life that competes with and exceeds the VERTIX. Weirdly, the cost of this unit is eye watering and amazingly it does NOT have mapping! I honestly believe that for those sports people who are going to spend big bucks on a GPS unit, mapping is the one thing that may well tip the edge and why the VERTIX will compete against the FENIX 6 PRO for sales – for many, maps and music will swing it. But if battery is the be all and end all, and for many it is, the VERTIX is a wow.

SUMMARY

In many respects, my summary of the VERTIX could be the paragraph above in regard to battery. Quite simply, battery is the hero of the VERTIX and why it would and should be at the top of your GPS list if looking for a premium unit that lasts and lasts.

However, there is far more to the VERTIX than ‘just’ battery. There is no hiding away from the fact that the VERTIX is here to steal the glory from Garmin and Suunto. Place the VERTIX next to a FENIX 6 and they pretty darn look similar, they are almost the same size, the VERTIX a little more depth in the case. The VERTIX being lighter but it has all the build qualities as one would expect in a premium unit.

Coros are without doubt being aggressive and they want market share, this is great for the consumer as they are pushing boundaries at a far greater pace than much of the competition. It amazes me that they do not have mapping and music on the VERTIX… But I am sure it is coming!

Price – The VERTIX retails at £539.99. The Fenix 6 Pro Solar £729.99 and the Fenix 6 Pro £599.99. The new Garmin Enduro £699.99. Suunto 9 £449.00. Polar Vantage 2 £449.00. As you can see, the VERTIX is not a budget option. The APEX and APEX Pro gained traction (I believe) based on pricing and battery autonomy. The VERTIX now has stand out battery but a price that is alongside and comparable with the other brands and in some cases, more expensive. 

So, why would you buy the VERTIX?

If you have been using Garmin, Suunto, Polar or whatever for some time, you will be invested in the brand and therefore will not switch on a whim, after all, a GPS is an investment. However, if you have constantly needed more autonomy, Coros are going to keep distracting you, this happened with the APEX models and now the VERTIX takes it to another level. Garmin have obviously realised this and are trying to compete with the ENDURO but at £699.99 that is a big ask – for me, it makes no sense, even if the battery life is longer than the VERTIX – Garmin say 80hrs in GPS and 300hrs in max mode compared to 60/150 for the VERTIX. Trust me, after using the VERTIX, I and pretty much anyone else does not need more autonomy.

Ultra-running, adventuring, exploring, multi-day adventures, fast packing and so on, the VERTIX is for you. Climbers will be enticed by blood oxygen monitoring and its capabilities at altitude. The features, such as power are also another key sell point for any athlete.

Ultimately, if you need mapping the breadcrumb navigation may well just not be enough for you and this is where the dilemma comes – until Coros update with mapping! On a personal note, I wear glasses and require glasses to read. I can follow a breadcrumb trail on a watch as it is clear and simple, I can’t navigate a GPX route on a watch with mapping – basically there is just too much info. So, IF I do need to refer to map/ GPX route I do that on a stand-alone device or I use additional software on my phone, such as FOOTPATH.

Notably, all watch controls are via the app, there is no desktop equivalent like with other brands. You can log in on the Coros website, but there is little to no additional extras. So, if you have a Garmin, move to Coros, the difference is huge. But, the Coros app is great, works and does the job.

The VERTIX is quality, has a great weight, sits nicely on the wrist and the app is excellent.

Key features:

  • Titanium bezel
  • Sapphire glass
  • 150mm water resistance
  • Battery
  • Blood oxygen monitoring
  • Left/ right hand use and settings
  • Digital Crown
  • Stride, cadence, power and so on
  • HR monitor
  • Barometer, altimeter and compass
  • Training structures
  • Interchangeable wrist straps 

The VERTIX is highly recommended. Coros website here.

No frills, hard core, designed for adventure, excellent build and amazing battery, it is a winner! BUT the omission of mapping, storage, NFC, Music and a couple of other features may well mean that the VERTIX is not for you, especially when the competition is at a similar price. But this is where the VERTIX battery steps in! The Fenix 6 for example, can’t match on autonomy even with solar. I don’t think the VERTIX price helps, if Coros really want the VERTIX to sell, it needs to be (based on UK prices) probably £100 cheaper.

For me, I have everything I need in the VERTIX and I won’t be exchanging it for anything else. The battery is a standout and I love this aspect of the watch. For perspective, my day-to-day watch is an Apple iWatch and that is still my day watch when home and I can charge it every day. I like the features of the iWatch, the screen, the integration with my Mac life. But out on the trails, in the mountains, adventuring or doing whatever, the VERTIX excels.

Watch was provided by Coros to test, this is not a paid review.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Episode 204 – Ruth Croft

Episode 204 of Talk Ultra has a chat Ruth Croft about winning Tarawera and racing in Covid times. Speedgoat co-hosts.


Talk Ultra needs your help! 
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NEWS

Check FKT website for latest updates HERE

ARTICLES

  1. What goes in a Winter Pack? HERE
  2. VJ Sport Xero Shoe Review HERE
  3. adidas Terrex Speed Ultra Shoe Review HERE
  4. adidias Terrex Speed PRO SG Shoe Review HERE
  5. La Sportiva VK Boa shoe review HERE
  6. Moonlight head lamp review HERE
  7. inov-8 Roclite Pro boot review HERE
  8. Review of 2020 HERE
  9. Icbebug Pytho 5 Review HERE
  10. inov-8 Mudclaw G260 Review HERE
  11. inov-8 G270 Long-Term Review HERE
  12. Fuelling for a Multi-Day like MDS HERE
  13. Winter Running – Hints n Tips HERE
  14. Icebug Route Winter Studded Shoe Review HERE
  15. The Ultimate Guide to Desert Multi-Day Racing (updated) HERE
  16. Haglöfs L.I.M Essens Jacket HERE

NEED A TRAINING PLAN?

12 – 24 Week Multi-Day Training Plans now available HERE

100-Mile Training Plan now available HERE

We also have several places that have become available for bespoke coaching and training plans. Like more information? HERE

INTERVIEW : RUTH CROFT

Spotify HERE  

ITunes HERE 

iOS HERE

Android HERE 

Web player HERE 

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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adidas Speed Pro SG Shoe Review – First Look.

Following on from the launch of the adidas Terrex Speed Ultra (HERE) available from March 1st, 2021. Terrex now unveil the adidas Terrex Speed Pro SG.

7mm lugs, 19/23mm cushioning and Continental outsole.

Quite simply, adidas are shaking up the ‘off-road’ running scene with new products that are going to make even the most skeptical trail, mountain, ultra or fell runner, stop and look again.

This is a first look at the new Terrex Speed Pro SG and not an in-depth review, quite simply, I need more time on the trails in them…

If you like mud, if you like fell running, if you like mountain adventures mixing rock, bog and mud or if you like skyrunning, this is a shoe that you need to look at.

225g (UK8.5) and 4mm drop

As the side of the shoe says, these weigh 225g in a standard UK.8.5 (240g for my UK9.5/EU44 test size) and the drop is 4mm bringing that all important close feel and connection to the ground.

Cushioning is 19mm at the front and 23mm at the rear which brings a significant addition to cushioning in comparison to like-for-like from other brands. This is a real plus, especially when transitioning from soft ground to hard rock or gravel trail. Using ‘Lightstrike’ and not Boost technology, the Terrex Speed Pro SG has great movement, feels dynamic and of course is super-light. Flex behind the metatarsals is very good and the propulsion phase is superb. The ride is firm and assured and the cushioning kicks in when required.

The lugs are 7mm providing that important claw like grip that is required to penetrate and hold in mud or any soft ground. The grip is provided by the excellent rubber compound of Continental which from experience and testing provides excellent traction on wet or dry rock.

Core Black / Cloud White / Solar Yellow and a flash of pink.

The upper is quite unbelievable, I don’t think I have ever witnessed something so airy and breathable. It’s like a sieve which allows water to escape immediately. There are several extremely thin reinforced layers on the outer – toe, side, heal and instep. Inside there is an additional thin layer (in yellow) that contrasts with the black mesh upper to create the two-tone black/ yellow look of the shoe and additional support structure.

True to size, the toe box is much wider than I had anticipated without losing a precision feel. For those who have been looking for an aggressive shoe that can handle mud/ rock and fell but still need space up at the front, this may well be the shoe for you?

Lacing is superb and holds the foot extremely well and continues to hold firm when on the trails and constantly switching direction. Hold at the rear comes from a minimally padded heal box that for me provided no slip going up or downhill.

There is no insole and internally there are no seams or stitching on the upper, so, the risk for any abrasion, blisters or hot spots is greatly reduced.

INITIAL SUMMARY

The Terrex Speed Pro SG will turn heads through its striking looks, the Core Black / Cloud White / Solar Yellow and a flash of pink looks great! The features listed above are stand out, while there are some similarities to other soft ground shoes from other brands there are some notable differences that will make this shoe appeal.

  • Cushioning.
  • Low drop.
  • Wider toe box.
  • The lightweight upper.
  • The overall weight of the shoe.

Initial runs have been excellent and for me personally, the combination of wider toe box (but not too wide), cushioning and the 7mm lugs will make this shoe a ‘go-to’ for when grip is required.

It’s too early to tell on longevity, wear and so on as I have less than 100-miles in them. However, check back for a full and in-depth long-term test/ review in a month or so.

To clarify, the shoes were provided to test, as are all the shoes that I review. But this is not a paid review.

*****

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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adidas Terrex Speed Ultra Shoe Review

I review a great deal of shoes. In the last 12-months alone, I have worked my way through over 20 different pairs and models. In all honesty, running shoes these days are generally all good. Yes, some are better than others but it’s all personal, what works for one, may not work for another. There are so many variables; drop, cushioning, support or the lack of it, toe box width, lacing, upper and I could go on.

Read about : How to find your running shoe size and fit

HERE

So, if the shoes are neutral, I am pretty much always able to run in the shoe irrespective of the toe box width and drop. Actually, I like switching drops and currently, I use 0 drop through to a very rare 12mm (which is. Winter stud) drop. In regard to toe box, if I am running on technical terrain, I much prefer a narrow/ precision fit which gives me an assured control, by contrast, when running longer and on less technical terrain, a wider toe box provides more toe splay and comfort.

I guess what I am saying, no one shoe does all things!

Recently, a couple of shoes have excited and the latest is the adidas Terrex Speed Ultra.

I first heard rumblings of this new shoe well over a year ago, good friend, Tom Evans and adidas Terrex athlete was involved in the design process and it was clear, via his results, that a fast, light and responsive trail running shoe was coming. A win at Tarawera in New Zealand and 3rd place at the iconic Western States set the stage. 

I have to say, I always love getting new shoes. Opening the box of the Terrex Speed Ultra was a real surprise, the colour way and look was really impressive.

Tom Evans

I messaged Tom, “I have got the Speed Ultra!”

“…they are 2 years in the making!! And one of the main reasons I joined Terrex! Hope you like them, I’m SO happy with how they turned out!” was the reply.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The colour way was an instant eye catcher (a black and white version is also available) with a mix yellow, greens, grey, black, white and a flash of pink. adidas list the colour as, Cloud White / Solar Yellow / Matte Silver.

Cloud White / Crystal White / Core Black

On the side is a ‘240’ which signifies the weight (typically for a UK8.5) and trust me, these are the lightest most ‘floaty’ trail running shoes I have had the pleasure to hold. Incredible!

The upper is seamless and like a fine sieve used in a Michelin star restaurant with minimalist overlay at the toe, the side and the heel. The drop is stated in the side, 8mm.

Inside the shoe, there is another layer which adds more structure, it’s super thin and its pattern can be seen from the outside of the shoe, particularly at the front where you see lines that move around to the side of the shoe.

The cushioning is solid at the front and as you move to the rear of the shoe, you get to see the ‘bubble’ like boost. ‘Lightstrike’ is written in the cushioning. Lightsrike provides energy return, cushions every stride and provides comfort over the long-haul of an ultra. Cushioning is 18mm at the front and 26mm rear – this is confirmed on the outsole along with the 2.5mm lugs.

The heel area is well cushioned, and the tongue is minimalist with holes all over to reduce weight and add breathability. It’s not a sock liner fit but it is attached at the sides which provides a more secure hold of the foot and instep.

Turning the shoe over, the outsole confirms the shoes intended use – hard, dry and fast trails. The Continental rubber has multi-directional 2.5mm lugs and in the middle, there is a cutaway for the ‘Torsion System’ which provides a thermoplastic arch bridging the heel and the forefoot assisting them to move independently and adapt to various surfaces.

IN USE

It’s just a wow! It’s been a long time that I have pulled on a shoe, run 12-miles off the bat and not taken the smile off my face because the footwear is just bouncing me and pulling me along and tempting me to run at a pace that I can’t maintain.

The Terrex Speed Ultra is quite simply stunning!

Fitting true to size, (I use EU44 272g) slipping the shoe on the toe box is that wonderful middle ground of having enough width to allow toe splay, but not so wide that you don’t have precision or control. Now of course, how the shoe fits does depend on the individual, but based on all my shoe reviews, the Speed Ultra is a wonderful middle ground.

Foot hold is superb, the thin tongue is padded enough for comfort but still allows for a great tight fit. The 6 eyelets allow for great lacing and hold particularly on the navicular bone. There are two ‘additional’ eyelets at the front to adjust lacing and at the top, there are the two additional eyelets that would allow lock-lacing or similar. The upper is extremely breathable.

The cushioning is immediately noticeable and although neutral, there does feel just a hint of support under the arch. It’s minimal! The Speed Ultra is not soft and squidgy, they somehow manage to balance soft and firm. Maybe this is the mix of boost and Lightstrike? The 18/26 cushioning is superb and still gives feel for the ground.

The shoe needed no bedding in, from the off they were comfortable and just felt superb. They forced me or influenced me to run with good technique and constantly they enticed me to go faster. It has been a long, long time that I have had a shoe that made me want to open up the throttle. Hitting the ground, the cushioning was firm but equally soft enough to propel me forward… Had I been told that this shoe had a super thin carbon plate inside, I would not have been surprised. The heritage of adidas making road shoes can be felt here in the Speed Ultra. After all, hard trail and single-track is very similar to road. The difference primarily comes with the outsole.

The outsole is by Continental and they make great rubber which really provides a secure grip in wet or dry. The 2.5mm lugs quite simply are for hard and dry trail, this is NOT a muddy trail shoe. As Tom Evans has shown, hard, fast and long ultras such as Western States are the terrain for the Speed Ultra. This shoe would be amazing for many US trails.

Road or hard trail, the Speed Ultra switches between the two seamlessly and in all honesty, if I was running a road race, the Speed Ultra would be my shoe. It’s that good! The Continental outsole also provides a little more security and grip. Now of course, I am not ‘competing’ for a win in a road race, so, the marginal gains from a specific road shoe may well prove a better choice. Tom Evans for example, after all he did run 63:14 for a half-marathon and I am sure he used a specific road shoe.

On trail, if it’s hard, rocky, tree routes or single-track, the Speed Ultra performs. The shoes fly along managing to provide precision and comfort all in a great package. The 8mm drop and cushioning provide all the comfort needed for a long day, hence the ‘ultra’ in the shoe title.

Ultimately, the Speed Ultra is one of the best shoes I have used in a long time.

SUMMARY

This is a glowing review. To clarify, the shoes were provided to test, as are all the shoes that I review. But this is not a paid review.

The Speed Ultra is one of the most exciting shoes I have used for some time. They put a smile on my face, and they tempted me to run longer.

Comfortable, secure and pleasure to wear. The Speed Ultra is going to be on my feet for any dry trail or road run for some time. On trail, the drop and comfort are perfect be that on gravel, path, hard pack single-track, rock or tree roots; wet or dry. However, this is not a shoe for mud or sloppy terrain… The outsole is not up to the job of gripping in soft stuff and for me, the cushioning would have me to high off the ground, I prefer to be lower and feeling the terrain when it is more challenging. Not a criticism of the shoe, just a clarification of how the Speed Ultra should be used.

*****

To clarify, the shoes were provided to test, as are all the shoes that I review. But this is not a paid review.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

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Winter Running and Adventure Essentials – What Goes In The Pack?

All running, particularly in the mountains, remote areas and particularly if going ‘solo’ brings an element of danger that must be managed. Winter and extreme conditions do increase risks and I discussed this in an in-depth article on Winter Running HERE

Following on from the article, I have had many questions to elaborate on the pack and the equipment I would use for day-to-day adventures and then how I would expand that equipment list for more adventurous and specific trips.

Firstly, understand yourself and your level of experience. I write about this in the article above, but it is worth emphasizing that no two people are the same. The ethos of ‘fast and light’ is great if you can go fast… BUT and this is a big BUT, what happens if you can’t go fast? What happens if you fall, are immobilized, waiting for help or a rescue?

Imagine a scene, stuck on a mountain side, you have broken your leg. You were moving fast and so were warm. But now you are still, the temperature is dropping well below zero and you are unable to move or generate heat. It’s a disaster waiting to happen, and THIS is the scenario you MUST think off when packing for an adventure.

I have a simple attitude of it’s better to carry it and not needed it.

Weather can change in minutes at any time of the year, especially in a mountain environment. However, in winter the changes are often far more extreme, Hypothermia can hit in minutes and it is deadly.

Preparation is key and assessing what ‘may’ happen on any adventure or run is crucially important to make sure that a day or multiple day’s activity remains safe.

The equipment list below are my personal choices, and I must stress here that I have tested many variables and brands to come up with the list below. Importantly, there is most definitely multiple ways and solutions to any problem, so, while my list below could be seen a perfect shopping list, it’s also fun to find out what works for you.

YOU AND WHAT YOU WEAR

What you wear for a run/ adventure should come as second nature, but it can often be a real dilemma understanding how to balance the layers so that you don’t overheat or equally, get too cold.

Read about GETTING LAYERED HERE

Personally, I find the most difficult temperatures around 0 to +5 degrees C (32-49 Fahrenheit.) It’s cold enough to make you feel chilled (often will feel damp too) but within 15-minutes of running you feel warm.

inov-8 ambassador, Abelone Lyng

The starting point for me is a merino wool base layer, it naturally helps regulate body temperature, remains warm when wet, transports sweat away from the body, and is very good in regard to odors. Icebreaker is my product of choice and they have a simple system of 150/175/200 and 260 products, the higher the number, the thicker and warmer the product. I personally find 150 ideal, especially for running and active sports.

My jacket will balance warmth, breathability and protection from the wind, Haglöfs L.I.M Hybrid Hood manages to balance all these elements in a really lightweight package. It can even be worn directly against the skin. The inov-8 Technical Mid Hoodie is also a good choice.

Leg wear will depend on the weather and arguably I would potentially look at 3 scenarios. On milder winter days hovering around 0C I would use my standard inov-8 run tights. 0 to -10C I would use a thicker winter tight, potentially with wind block panels on the front by Swix. Below -10 and I would use Icebreaker 150 merino underneath the thicker Swix tights.

Keeping feet warm is essential in winter and again, based on weather, temperature and conditions. I will go with one of three scenarios: Merino woolneoprene socks or Sealskinz. My default is neoprene as it works well in most conditions. It’s not unusual to wear two pairs of socks in winter, say a merino liner and thicker over sock or a merino liner inside Sealskinz, keep this in mind when getting winter run shoes, you may need a half-size larger shoe?

Hands, like feet, need to be warm. I use Icebreaker liners, with either inov-8 Extreme Thermo Mitt which is incredibly warm.

I wear a Buff or similar product around my neck, and I use a Haglöfs Fanatic hat which manages to be always warm, but not too warm!

Vj Sport Xero 5 here

Shoes will depend on conditions but for me, once winter arrives, I usually require a winter shoe with studs to provide grip, particularly in ice. The VJ Xero 5 works exceptionally well. Of course, in most scenarios you could use your favourite trail shoes and carry micro crampons which you can add and remove as required. However, if you know you will be in snow/ ice all day, a specific winter shoe provides a much more enjoyable experience.

Finally glasses with a specific winter lens are often essential to protect from cold air, snow and reflected brightness from snow. I use Oakley Radar.

THE PACK

Black Diamond Distance 15 is a somewhat unique pack that manages to appeal to trail runners and alpinist/ climbers who have discovered that all important link-up of sports coming together for unique adventures and/or fastpacking. These adventures tend to entail a bit of easy climbing, some scrambling, some fell running and some walking – or just about whatever you can string together.

Black Diamond Distance 15 balances running and alpinism perfectly.

A hybrid between running and climbing pack, the Distance 15 fits snug to your body and is stable with minimal bounce. The main compartment of the pack includes a quick draw-string main opening which Black Diamond say is waterproof – it is not! Please use a waterproof bag inside like those provided by Sea to Summit. A zippered security pocket inside is ideal for a wallet and there is a stretch mesh divider that will hold a bladder, or it can be used for storing nylon or dyneema.

Elasticated compression straps either side of the main bag are ideal for reducing the volume of the pack and keeping everything tight together and they can be used to secure a pair of ice axes that also have specific storage at the bottom of the back and security buckles that pass through the ice axe head. Integrated into the main compartment (on each side) are ‘Quiver Sleeves’ for Black Diamond Z-folding walking poles. The front of the pack has a vest fit with two adjustable straps and two 4-way stretch zippered pockets and four front stretch pockets that will hold soft flasks, snacks or any other essential ‘on-the-go’ items.

IN THE PACK

Icebreaker 150 top and bottom

Spare base layer, top and bottom – These would be duplicates of the Icebreaker 150 as worn.

Spare socks – Merino run sock.

Jacket

Mid layer/ insulation – In winter, I will already be wearing a mid-layer, either the Haglöfs or inov-8 as mentioned above. My additional insulation would be down and the Haglöfs Essens is an incredible all season product. It has warmth, very low weight and first-class goose down with 800 CUIN filling that it is DWR treated – the filling stays dry for up to 10,000 minutes with exposure to wet conditions.

Barrier shorts

*Barrier Shorts – Haglöfs make an excellent, light and packable barrier short for the extreme cold.

Haglöfs Gore-Tex Paclite

Waterproof jacket – The inov-8 Ultrashell Pro is an excellent very lightweight waterproof jacket but in winter I will usually take a heavier duty Gore-Tex Paclite L.I.M jacket by Haglöfs.

inov-8 Trailpant

Waterproof pants – inov-8 Trailpant waterproof and breathable designed for really cold, wet conditions.

Icebreaker liner gloves

Liner gloves – I would carry an additional pair of Icebreaker merino as mention above.

Sentinel by Mountain Equipment
Black Diamond waterproof over mitt

Outer gloves – I would typically carry two outer gloves as I suffer with cold hands, a warm Sentinel mitt by Mountain Equipment and a waterproof over mitt by Black Diamond.

Hat – Spare hat as above.

Buff – Spare as above.

Food and hydration – In winter, a main issue can be frozen bottles, so I carry one or two small Thermos flasks with coffee, sweet tea or hot chocolate. It can make a big difference to have this option. For snacks I will use energy bars, Kvikk Lunsj or similar. Always a good idea to plan a cafe stop on longer runs too!

Phone – I use an iPhone and I make sure I have mapping software such as Footpath and what3words for emergency use.

Petzl e-lite
Silva Trail Runner Free

Headtorch – A simple Petzl e-lite as a ‘just-in-case’ for all runs but if running at night I use a Silva.

Small knife

Knife – Victorinox.

Mountain wipes

Wipes – Wipes.

Waterproof liner bag

Waterproof liner bag – (maybe 2 depending on needs) – Sea to Summit make excellent lightweight bags to make sure all spare clothes etc remain dry.

Survival bivi

Bivvi – Terra Nova Survival bivi that is fully waterproof, breathable and has a simple drawcord closure. It packs away into a small stuff sack.

Hand and feet heat pads

Heat pads – An essential back-up for hands and feet by Nevercold or similar.

First aid – Lifesystems small emergency kit in waterproof protection.

Additional power.

Batteries/ Battery pack – Modern tech doesn’t last long in extreme cold so carrying a back-up battery can be a good idea, Goal Zero make good products.

Map and Compass – As applicable.

Garmin inReach

*InReach tracker – Garmin.

Folding Z Poles

*Poles – Black Diamond Z-Pole Carbon.

Micro crampons

*Crampons – You need to be very specific with crampons and the shoes you use them with, however, a pair of Snowline are a good back-up.

Camp Corsa

*Ice Axe – Camp Corsa – lightest ice axe out there for low angle glacier travel, ski mountaineering and adventure racing.

Atlas Race 22

*Snowshoes – Atlas Race 22.

*Hand Ice Studs – Isvidda Isdubb If you are running on the ice, it is important that you use ice hand studs both for your own and others’ safety. (These are often sold for those ice fishing.)

All items with * are only applicable based on the adventure, the type of terrain, weather conditions and personal experience. The inReach is a wonderful security blanket that is arguably ideal for any run/ adventure but if you have a phone (with power) at least you have one emergency back-up. However, phones don’t always have reception.

Running across a frozen lake, Norway.

LIGHTERPACK is a great online tool that helps you manage equipment and keep track of pack weight and contents, HERE is an example of what is listed above.

SUMMARY

Winter adventures are incredible and exhilarating. On a personal level, I find them more challenging and exciting than many Spring/ Summer trips due to the added complexity. However, that complexity can prove to be fatal.

Don’t compromise in winter. Be prepared.

The above list of equipment is designed to show you what is possible and how to make weight as minimal as possible without losing efficacy of the items. You could go away and purchase this list of items and you’d have all you need for winter running.

However, if you are like me, looking around, testing items and comparing is part of the fun… It’s actually what I have been doing for years, that is how this list came about.

So, do the research, make sure you not only have what you need for an adventure but make sure you have all the extras needed should a situation arise leaving you vulnerable.

Further Reading:

Ice Running HERE

Winter Running HERE

Embrace Winter HERE

Winter Camping & Fastpacking HERE

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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VJ Sport Xero 5 Winter Studded Shoe Review

If you read my shoe reviews on this website, you will already know how much I appreciate VJ Sport shoes, the trio of iRock3, XTRM and MAXx for me, set the bar when it comes to running shoes for mud, rock and mountain terrain. I have yet to find shoes by any other brand that matches them… Admittedly, Scott and inov-8 do come close with some recent offerings, in particular the Supertrac RC2 and the Terraultra G270.

In October 2020 I reviewed the Xante by VJ Sport, a winter studded shoe that excelled in snow and ice bringing all the many attributes seen in the MAXx and providing an awesome winter shoe. My only negative of the shoe was a 10mm drop BUT in all honesty, it never impacted on my running experience. I did mention however that a lighter, 8mm drop shoe was available, the XERO 5.

The Xante was a fit 4 with 10mm/20mm cushioning and 20 carbon steel studs, 5mm lugs and weighs in at 336g for my EU44/ UK9.5.

The Xero 5 is a fit 3 with 10mm/18mm cushioning and 20 carbon steel studs, 5mm lugs and weighs in at 294g for my EU44/ UK9.5. A significant weight saving between the two shoes considering the cushioning is only marginally different.

Further Reading:

Ice Running HERE

Winter Running HERE

Embrace Winter HERE

Winter Camping & Fastpacking HERE

The XERO 5 first off looks great in black and orange with a hint of red. Although listed as a fit 3, I personally have found little difference between the Xante and Xero and in all honesty, I would even say the Xero may be a little wider in the toe box? Feels more like a MAXx.

Light, agile and responsive, the Xero are a real pleasure to run in and not at the compromise of comfort.

Like the Xante, the upper is windproof and has a water-resistant upper but it is not insulated. While insulation is not absolutely necessary, it does make more sense, particularly for a winter shoe. Having said that, I compensate by using neoprene socks by inov-8 or Sealskinz. This ensures warm feet, even in the coldest and trickiest conditions.

VJ uses FITLOCK on the upper which provides the most secure and reassuring hold. The upper feels like a part of the foot and not something extra making sure there is no unwanted movement, especially important when running on any technical terrain. 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!

The 5mm Butyl outsole lugs grip both in the wet or dry and the addition of the 20 carbon steel studs provides the ultimate reassurance when running in snow and particularly ice. The secret of winter running is to trust the shoe, the outsole and the studs. The studs perform superbly gripping as and when required, the only time for caution is after rain and then a quick freeze. If the ice looks shiny and like water, take care, I have yet to find a winter stud that grips 100% in these conditions. In 99% of cases, the reassured application of your body weight pressing through the shoe and making contact with the ground is what provides the grip.

Sizing is true to size; I use an EU 44 for all VJ shoes and the Xero 5 sizes the same even when using a neoprene sock or thicker merino sock. The lacing system is so good, there is incredible flexibility to loosen or tighten and there is the option to lock lace if required.

Toe protection is excellent and the heel box, as on all VJ shoes is relatively minimal and unpadded but has superb and reassured hold.

IN USE

You need to trust studded shoes and once you do, you will just love running in winter conditions. Don’t be shy, make sure you plant your foot firmly and let the studs with the addition of applied body weight allow the shoe to grip.

The Xero 5 as with all VJ shoes just holds the foot wonderfully and there is an extra comfort in this incarnation that I have not found in the XTRM or MAXx.

The cushioning is balanced and the 8mm drop ideal. The 10/18 works well allowing feel for the ground without any compromise. Ice running can be tiring but I have found the Xero 5 a pleasure.

The upper does its job protecting from wind and water but insulation would be nice.

Summary

There is nothing not to like in the Xero 5, well, ok, maybe a lack of insulation… Other than a lack of insulation, this VJ offering is everything the Xante was and is but in a lighter and lower-drop package. Of course, winter shoes for many are a luxury, it all depends on how much snow or ice you get. But trust me, if you get regular ice, a specific bespoke shoe for winter running is so much better than any ‘add-on’ micro spikes. You get a true real run feel, and the Xero 5 give me everything that a XTRM would give me but with 20 carbon steel studs. I personally get to run for 3-5 months on snow/ ice so I can expect a pair of winter shoes to last one or two winters, for many though, winter shoes will last several years basically down to the fact that snow and ice does not really impact on the outsole. Just make sure you clean the shoes and dry correctly after use. And don’t worry if you see the studs go rusty, that is normal! 

I have been using five pairs of winter shoes with studs over the last 3-4 months and two are standouts, the Xero 5 being the winner and the Icebug Route a close second.

Light, agile and responsive, the the VJ Sport Xero 5 are a real pleasure to run in and not at the compromise of comfort. The 20 carbon steel studs provide grip in snow and ice conditions all with great cushioning and an 8mm drop. They are a winner!

These shoes were purchased to test, this is not a paid review.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Episode 203 – Jamil Coury

Episode 203 of Talk Ultra has a chat Jamil Coury about racing in Covid times. Speedgoat co-hosts.


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NEWS

  • Check FKT website for latest updates https://fastestknowntime.com/
  • La Sportiva VK Boa shoe review HERE
  • Moonlight head lamp review HERE
  • inov-8 Roclite Pro boot review HERE
  • Review of 2020 HERE
  • Icbebug Pytho 5 Review HERE
  • inov-8 Mudclaw G260 Review HERE
  • inov-8 G270 Long-Term Review HERE
  • Fuelling for a Multi-Day like MDS HERE
  • Episode 201 – Simen Holvik HERE
  • Winter Running – Hints n Tips HERE
  • Timothy Olson TCC2021 HERE
  • Icebug Route Winter Studded Shoe Review HERE
  • Haglöfs LIM Essens Jacket Review HERE
  • 12 – 24 Week Multi-Day Training Plans now available HERE
  • 100-Mile Training Plan now available HERE
  • The Ultimate Guide to Desert Multi-Day Racing (updated) HERE
  • Join the #FEB406 Challenge (run 406km in February) HERE

INTERVIEW : JAMIL COURY

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Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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