adidas Terrex Agravic Boa Shoe Review

adidas have been making Terrex shoes for years and Luis Alberto Hernando has been flying the adidas flag for most of them. It’s fair to say, that a runner such as Luis always gave the Terrex brand credibility.

However, I always felt he was a lonely figure fighting the big brands and teams from Salomon, The North Face, La Sportiva, Scott and so on!

Well, that is all changing. adidas with the Terrex brand are moving in to the trail world in a big way. Certainly Dmitry Mityaev and Ekaterina Mityaeva were the start of that process. Then Timothy Olson. Now, with the closing of 2018 and the start of 2019, Tom Evans, Holly Page, Sheila Avilés and many more are joining the line-up.

Listen to Tom Evans talk about his 3rd place at Western States HERE

 

I witnessed adidas’ plans at the recent Infinite Trails (here) in Austria and here did I not only get to see and try the new apparel, I also got to see some of the new shoes.

One of those shoes being the Terrex Agravic Boa. I was intrigued with this shoe as my initial test/ use of a previous adidas Boa shoe left me somewhat unconvinced.

I spent time at the Boa® stand (at the Infinite Trails expo), discussed the development of the Boa system and got a hands-on- feel of the Agravic. The development was marked but I couldn’t try the shoe as sizes were limited. Gladly that was rectified when Boa sent me a pair in the post.

First off, I love the look of the shoe is stealth black. This broken by a  camouflage black/grey/white section before the stark white of the shoes Boost cushioning. The black colour comes from a special dye process (see below) that is more ecologically sound.

They are light shoes with a wide toe box, reinforced toe protection and then a complex series of overlays that give the shoe structure which is all pulled together by the Boa® lacing system.

A notable feature is the shoes sock liner. This is arguably the most immediately comfortable shoes I have slipped on. One could easily use these shoes without socks the liner is so good. It is completely seamless so the risk to rubbing/ abrasion is greatly reduced. This also extends to the heal – a firm hold without rubbing is a winner.

Cushioning comes from adidas Boost technology and one can feel adidas’ road pedigree in these shoes. The cushioning is plush and responsive with 15mm at the front and 22mm at the rear. This gives an unusual 7mm drop. I say unusual as 6mm or 8mm is ‘standard’ in shoe drop across all brands.

The outsole is the amazing Continental rubber. The tread is by no means aggressive and this is certainly a trail shoe designed for fast running on non-muddy trails. But on hardpack trail and rocks, wet or  dry, the grip is excellent. I must add here that in my cycling days, Continental were always my tires of choice!

Specs:

  • Sock-like construction hugs the foot
  • Weight: 285 g (size UK 8.5)
  • Midsole drop: 7 mm (heel 22 mm / forefoot 15 mm)
  • Product colour: Core Black / Cloud White / Active Red
  • Regular fit
  • Boa® Closure System for micro-adjustment and secure and consistent hold
  • Abrasion-resistant textile upper
  • Continental™ Rubber outsole for extraordinary traction in wet and dry conditions
  • Responsive Boost midsole; Moulded sockliner

IN USE

These shoes are wonderfully comfortable. They feel so good as soon as you slip them on and this all comes from the sock liner. There is an immediate notable feel that the toe box is wide and spacious allowing for good toe splay. So, if you need wide trail shoes, add the Agravic to your check-out list.

My previous adidas Terrex shoes left me undecided or should I say, unconvinced by the Boa closure system. Have to say, the Terrex Agravic Boa® has changed that. The Boa® works great here and that is for two reasons:

  1. The adidas shoe is a much better fit and therefore this makes the work of the Boa® so much easier.
  2. The overlays that add structure are well placed and designed allowing the Boa® to pull tight, hold the foot and keep it secure.

I am experienced with the Boa® system, it has been the ‘go to’ on cycling shoes for years and my first experience with run shoes was way back in 2008, I think?

There will always be an argument that laces are easier, and yes, laces do a great job and it’s hard to argue against the tried and tested method. But the Boa® here has me hooked. Speed both on and off is great. Quite simply slide the shoe on, push ‘in’ the Boa button and turn. The laces pull tight and continue to pull tight until you stop. To loosen, pull the Boa® button and voila, the laces release immediately.

I had problems before getting a firm hold on my foot. Not here. The shoes have three lace points on left and three lace points on the right. As you tighten, they pull in. I really like my foot to be held well, especially on technical terrain and here in this Terrex Agravic Boa® I am very happy.

Toe box is roomy, but not too roomy. They are very comfortable upfront and the toe protection is adequate with a good bumper.

Boost cushioning is popular the world over and here one can really feel the plush comfort from adidas’ technology. The cushioning is in two sections : the camouflage section and the white section. I have to say, these are the most ‘road like’ trail shoes I have run in. On hard trail they just bounce along giving a great feel for the ground. It may come as no surprise, road miles are super comfy and I’d have no hesitation to run a road training session or race in these. The outsole may not thank me though!

The outsole by Continental is superb offering great grip and feel, wet or dry, on hard trails and rocks. The outsole is not aggressive though, so forget mud!

SUMMARY

The Terrex Agravic Boa® is a really great trail shoe for those looking for great comfort, cushioning, 7mm drop and a roomy toe box. It’s the type of shoe you can slip on and spend all day in without ever thinking about foot comfort.

Stand out features :

  • The sock liner – darn it is so comfortable.
  • The Continental outsole.
  • The Boost cushioning.
  • The shoe design, particularly in the overlays that hold the foot.
  • And yes, the Boa® system really shines here. For me, it’s a turning point (pun intended) that convinces me that I would happily use these shoes and this system on a regular basis. My laces never came lose. Adjusting on the go was quick and fast – faster than any other lacing system. But importantly my foot was held secure and tight when I needed it.

The shoe is for everyday trail running and happily takes road too. It’s not a shoe for mud, but that is obvious when one looks at the outsole.

This is a great adidas shoe and I am in no doubt that shoe has benefited from feedback from the ‘elite’ adidas Terrex team. It’s an exciting time to see what else adidas have in the line-up for 2019 and 2020.

adidas TERREX HERE

Terrex Agravic Boa HERE

BOA® HERE

adidas Terrex Agravic Boa information:

  • Boa® Fit System adjusts on the go. Sock construction keeps feet snug and comfortable.
  • Boost cushioning for mountain ready energy. All-day comfort on the fastest trails.
  • Continental™ Rubber outsole takes hold, even in wet conditions.
  • Dope dye colouring process saves at least 10 litres of water per product. Dope Dye is a coloring process which uses an innovative twist in manufacturing to conserve water and energy. By injecting color directly into raw materials, the Dope Dye process substantially reduces the eco-footprint of manufacturing, saving at least 10 liters of water for every pair of Dope Dye shoes made. The fibers and filaments are fully impregnated with pigment at the very beginning of the manufacturing process. Starting form a deep black raw material means there is no need to dye the product: less water, fewer chemicals and less energy are needed.

PHD Summer Lightning Review

© www.NICKMUZIK.com

Fast and Light. They are buzzwords in the world of trail, mountain and ultra running. We could argue all day about how this came about. Many would potentially give Kilian Jornet credit for the movement but I think it’s fair to say that men and women have been going light to the mountains and trails for quite some time, it’s just recently that we have all become far more aware.

Light does have its problems!

We have many documented reports, articles and stories of runners, mountaineers or alpinists being ‘caught out’ on a mountain and as a consequence in certain circles, mountain runners have gained a bad reputation.

Travelling light is all well and good providing that you are able to move fast! The two words go together; FAST and LIGHT! But what do I mean? Well quite simply, the process of going light will almost certainly mean that what you carry as a runner or alpinist will be minimal. Minimal of course is subjective and dependent on the person. For arguments sake, lets call light as follows:

  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Waterproof Jacket
  • Pack to carry water
  • Mobile phone

In essence, that is going light to the trail or mountain. Should conditions become difficult or problematic, this is where FAST comes in. You need to get out of trouble, danger or the cold fast and to safety. In many respects, this is part of the challenge. Running in the mountains is not a risk adverse sport.

Question:

What if though you could add a 1000 fill down product to your pack for a weight addition of 3oz (85g) or 6oz (180g)?

I kid you not.

UK based company PHD currently have 2 remarkable products that embrace low weight, low pack size and ultimate functionality in a limited availability range of products called Summer Lightning.

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PHDwafer-vest-28-4-15_med

A SUMMERLITE DOWN JACKET (£199 6oz) and a WAFERLITE DOWN VEST (£99 3oz) are part of the K Series range of products that offer ultimate warmth against minimal weight. Filled with 1000 fill power European goose down (responsibly sourced) the jacket has a water-resistant Ultrashell outer fabric, stitch through construction and the vest has a 10x inside and out fabric that is not water-resistant and stitch through construction.

I have to say, having tested both these products I think PHD should make them available all year around. As a brand, my understanding is that they see them as a warm alternative for summer months but to be honest, they are a great addition to any kit list irrespective of the time of year. Both products would provide ideal warm layers to any multi-day adventure such as MDS. The potential to combine a warm layer and lightweight sleeping bag are endless. The apparel would also make a perfect addition (for every run) to any mountain runner’s kit list and lets face it, for fast packing they are brilliant. You see, these products are so light, so small I simply can’t think of a reason not to take them! I even have the jacket packed away in my day-to-day laptop bag or camera bag for that ‘just-in-case’ scenario.

On Test

I have had both products for 1 month and I have tested them ‘in situ’ at Richtersveld Wildrun in South Africa and at the Ultra Skymarathon Madeira. Both races provided me with changeable weather and an opportunity to test each product to the full.

On first impressions it’s difficult to believe that when one looks at these items compressed in a small stuff sack that they could possibly be a down vest and a down jacket. You pick up the vest and you don’t even notice any weight. It is just 3oz. The outer Ultrashell fabric on both products is silky smooth and a pleasure to wear against the skin. I wore the vest and jacket with just a t-shirt underneath and found them both really comfortable.

They may be light but they are warm, really warm. Let’s be realistic, they are not for polar conditions. But if you need a warm layer to protect against morning or evening chill, daily colder or cooler temperatures or an additional warmth layer to be added under a Gore-Tex (or similar) or windproof jacket, they are the perfect choice.

They are arguably the lightest down products in the world? Both pack to the size of an apple!

I have to say, I was spoilt; having a vest and jacket did allow me to regulate my temperature extremely well and on one occasion I actually wore the vest under the jacket on a very cold and damp night in South Africa.

They are simple, no frills products. The vest has no pockets and just a half-zip to reduce weight. The jacket has a full-length zip, two side pockets and a short stand up collar with no hood. However, it is possible to add a hood when ordering for the additional cost of £27.

As with all PHD products, items are made to order and this does allow you to customize any apparel exactly to your needs. For example, you could have a jacket with a half-zip, no pockets and a hood! The choice is yours.

Please keep in mind that if you need or require products by a certain date, you will need to allow for manufacturing time.

On the go, I found adding or removing either the vest or the jacket easy. They pack so small that I could actually just stuff either item in the pocket on my shorts. This is important because as soon as you start to move quickly, they retain heat exceptionally well and you find that you need to remove them so that you don’t sweat. Of course, as soon as you stop, you can quickly access the vest or jacket and wear them so that you don’t get cold

I wore the jacket all day on a very wet and chilly South African day and the Ultrashell outer fabric did a great job protecting the down from wet and moisture. Admittedly, I did wear a waterproof layer over the top. But in and around base-camp I was often moving from one tent to another with no waterproof layer and the product held up well with no problems despite constant drizzle and rain. Notably, the vest and the jacket did a great job of blocking out the wind.

Summary

PHD has come up with two incredibly light and small items of apparel that are now part of my ‘essential’ kit. They are so small, light and effective that I can’t be without them. Yes, they are that good!

Do I have a negative comment?

Down does not like rain, wet or moisture and it effectively becomes useless should this happen. Ultrashell fabric does protect the insulation in the jacket but this would only protect to a certain extent. So, if you anticipate bad (wet) weather you would almost certainly need a Gore-Tex or similar 100% outer layer to maximize the 1000 down fill. To be honest though, if you were going to the mountains a waterproof outer layer should be mandatory no matter how light you are going!

On a final note, I can’t recommend these two products enough. They may not be the cheapest apparel available but what you get are two incredible products that are functional, pack small and are superlight. Did I also mention that PHD has two sleeping bags that are also part of this range: ELITE RACER DOWN BAG (8oz) and RACER DOWN SLEEPING BAG (90z) more news on those to follow.

 PHDracer-sleeping-bag-26-4-15_med

PHDelite-racer-down-sleeping-bag-10-5-15-1_med

 

Specs as provided by PHD 

Summer Lite Down Jacket £199 

PHDsummerlite-jck-1-5-15_med

  • A PHD ‘K Series’ product: Ultimate warmth / weight performance
  • PHD’s Unique 1000 fill power European Goose down
  • Water-resistant Ultrashell outer fabric (our lightest-ever proofed fabric)
  • Ultralight 10X inner fabric
  • Stitch-through construction for lightness
  • Pockets: 2 zipped hand-warmer pockets

Not only is this our lightest-ever insulated jacket, it’s made in water-resistant Ultrashell fabric too.

A super-light down jacket with exceptional summer race and trekking performance.  At just 180gr it weighs less than many base layers, and it packs down tiny taking the absolute minimum space up in a summer rucksack.

The amazing Ultrashell outer fabric (our lightest water-resistant material) protects the down from damp and its 100% wind block qualities enhance the performance of the unique 1000 fill power Down insulation.

  • Ideal companion for summer nights
  • Pack without noticing the weight or bulk
  • Outer layer or mid-layer warmth
  • Warmer, lighter and a smaller pack size than a fleece jacket and 100% wind block too.

5 deg C

180g / 6oz

Add a hood £27

Three colours 

XS, S, M, L, XL

 

WAFERLITE DOWN VEST

 PHDwafer-vest-28-4-15_med

  • A PHD ‘K Series‘ Product: Ultimate warmth / weight performance
  • PHD’s unique 1000 fill power European Goose Down
  • Outer & Inner fabric: Ultra light 10X
  • Stitch-through construction for maximum weight saving
  • Down-filled collar to seal in the warmth

At 85g (3oz) the WaferLite vest is the lightest down vest in the world. 35% lighter than our superlight standard Wafer Vest.

The 10X fabric gives total wind block and the unique 1000 fill power down provides the highest warmth-for-weight performance possible. Packed into a tiny stuff sac, the WaferLite vest is simply breath taking for summer racers and ultra-light trekking.

The WaferLite vest will fit snugly under any of our down jackets, even the Minimus or the Yukon.

  • Ideal companion in a cool camp, bothy, or hut.
  • Pack without noticing the weight (or the bulk).
  • Midlayer to boost warmth

Add performance to your sleeping bag.

5 DEG C

85G / 3OZ

£99

 

PHD are available HERE 

SummerLite Down Jacket and WaferLite Down Vest are currently only available in May/ June.

 

 

Rab Mountain Marathon 2014

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Over 500 runners assembled in the English Lakes for 2-days of Mountain Marathon action in what turned out to be two great days.

Although the sun only penetrated the thick cloud a couple of times, the weather was dry and as per usual, the Lakes provided a perfect backdrop to two tough days.

RACE IMAGES available HERE

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A score event (long and short), participants competed in solo or teams of two and as one would expect, the mix of ability was wide. One of the appeals of the RMM.

A rolling start on both days, 8:30 to 10:30 on Saturday and 07:00 to 09:00 on Sunday avoided snakes of runners and thus ensured everyone had to hone their ‘nav’ skills in finding the appropriate controls.

One thing that was great to see on both days, was huge smiles and a real enjoyment of the event irrespective of ability or speed.

©iancorless.com_RabMM14_-0122

Day 1 provided a couple of very obvious controls relatively close to camp 1 to start and then there field of 500 spread over a wide area. The faster runners covering quite some ground to gain maximum points and by contrast, the walkers took a more direct line and less controls to camp 2.

Starting just west of the A6, day 1 went as far north as Mardale Head and Blea Water and west of Stony Cove Pike. In the south, the faster runners could venture below the River Kent.

Stewart Bellamy (300 points) was the stand out solo competitor and Andrew Stirk/ Adam Higgins (290 points) were the leading team of two after day 1 in the long course. Jackie Scarf and Phil Scarf had a 20 point lead in the short score (235 points) and Luke Gordon (210 points) was the leading solo.

©iancorless.com_RabMM14_-2915A strong wind blowing from the south potentially was going to make overnight camp interesting. However, with all runners back the wind suddenly dropped making the evening a calm, still and very warm night.

An early start had participants departing in two start windows, 0700-0800 and 0800-0900. With the exception of just a few, nearly all participants headed south before then heading east and making the way back to day 1 start camp.

A corridor of controls made this section of the course busy with runners coming from all directions as they tried to take accumulate as many points as possible.

Tough terrain and warm temperatures made day 2 all about covering ground fast as controls were much closer together and therefore points were really up for grabs. Steve Bellamy once again lead the way with 240 points with Daniel Gooch and Jon Moulding both raised their individual games with 245 and 240 points respectively. Two man team Andrew Stirk/ Andrew Higgins looked to be moving fast all day but finished 4th with 235 points. However, Stirk/Higgins still held on to 2nd overall behind Steve Bellamy and Daniel Gooch placed 3rd.

Short score competitors had a shake around on day 2 with day 1 leaders, Jackie & Phil Scarf placing 2nd behind Steve Wilson and Peter Stobbs. Patrick Butlin finished 3rd ahead of day 1 2nd place, Luke Gordon. However, the overall results remained unchanged with Team Scarf 1st (425 points), Luke Gordon 2nd (390) and Tim Martland (360) 3rd.

©iancorless.com_RabMM14_D2_-3103

 

Shane Ohly as race director and the Ourea Events Team bring slick organisation to difficult terrain and along with the course planning skills of Charlie Sproson, these events are a must do on the calendar. It’s been a busy year for the team, it all started in January with Marmot Dark Mountains. The Rab Mountain Marathon concludes 2014 but already plans are in motion for 2015 and remember, it’s a Dragons Back year! Arguably one of the toughest challenges in the UK

Results are HERE

Ourea events HERE

RACE IMAGES available HERE

Ourea_Events_Logo(600)

inov-8 Race Ultra Vest 2015 *New Product Review

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The 2013 incarnation of the inov-8 Race Vest was a revelation. It was arguably the most simple and minimalist pack on the market that fit and functioned perfectly for the task at hand. It had a unique design, the ability to carry 2-bottles and/ or bladder and in addition it had a series of really useful and importantly, ‘usable’ pockets. No pack is perfect, however, I did say the Race Vest was close.

Many agreed. The pack sold incredibly well and it won awards.

However, it did have some restrictions. In reality, the pack was perfect for 1-day races when minimal mandatory kit was required. But if you where doing a longer event such as UTMB then the original pack had limited space. I actually was able to put all my mandatory kit in the pack but I had to be creative and yes, I had to have the smallest and lightest kit available.

©iancorless.com_S0152108RaceUltraVest2015I personally don’t think this is a fault of the pack! The original Race Vest had a use and if used in the scenario for which it was intended, then it was arguably one of the best packs available.

When the product became available to purchase (early 2014), a few tweaks had been made from the original prototype, which I was using. The key change was in the upper. My pack would allow the 2-bottles to fit low (near the rib cage) or high on the shoulder straps. After testing, many people commented that the shoulder straps rubbed around the neck, so, Matt Brown, the designer, reworked the design, narrowed the straps (which did provide a better fit) but unfortunately this meant you couldn’t fit the bottles in the upper position. A real shame in my opinion! More importantly, original retail samples had a couple of question marks on durability. Many runners complained of some less than perfect construction. This was soon nipped in the bud but as we all know, this is never a good thing.

Below, the original Race Ultra Vest with bottles: 

For_web_Race_Ultra_vest

Jump to the inov-8 athlete retreat in the English Lakes, spring 2014. A weekend of running: looking at new shoes, apparel and accessories for the coming year (2015). Needless to say, as a running aficionado, I love this. I love to see how a brand takes past and current ideas, develops them and comes up with something new. The new apparel looked incredible, new shoes were promising; particularly the new Ultra 290 shoe and then we saw the packs… the new Race Vest.

Similarities could be drawn to the original 2013/2014 model but boy oh boy. This was a complete overhaul taking all the features from the original, adding tweaks and then coming up with something new. inov-8, Matt Brown and the rest of the team had pimped their packs!

No longer was one pack available but three: 5ltr, 10ltr in this style and a larger 24ltr for mountain marathon or multi-day events. Using the ‘vest’ fitting system, these new packs in one word are awesome.

I said in my original Race Vest review back in 2013 that ‘This new product from UK company; inov-8 may very well be the next key moment in pack design stripping away complication and providing a pack that would almost make a perfect accessory for Batman.’

It was a bold statement and one that I still hold. However, that unique innovation has moved up a step and lessons have been learnt.

©iancorless.com_S0182111RaceUltraVest2015

So, what is new?

  • Larger capacity (3 different sizes)
  • Pole fitting attachments
  • Redesigned vest
  • New soft flasks with extended drinking straws
  • Dump pockets
  • Zipper pockets

I have 2-packs for testing, the 5ltr and 10ltr. They are exactly the same, obviously the only difference being capacity. For the purpose of this review, I have tested and photographed the 10ltr as I feel this will be the most popular option. However, I will say that the 5ltr does have far more capacity than the original Race Vest despite them being arguably, on paper, the same size!

My test product is a prototype and I am aware of some tweaks that will be made based on my review and the feedback I provide. So please refer to this review and I will update with any key changes and revisions that may happen over the coming weeks/ months.

The vest fits like a glove. I never expected anything else. You put it on and immediately it is like adding another piece of well fitting clothing. Unlike the original Race Vest, this pack will not have adjustment straps on the side. Therefore, the pack will come in a variety of sizes so that you can get the product that fits you! I believe this will be S/M and M/L and fit has been tweaked under the arm to a better fit under the arm from my prototype.

Why no side straps?

Well, two large ‘dump pockets’ have been added to the pack. It made sense. This was an area not utilised in the original design and now you have 2-easy access pockets for food, clothing or any other item you may need.

For me though, these dump pockets make the ideal location for storing the new soft flasks. This wasn’t the original idea of designer, Matt Brown. However, after 1-week of testing, I contacted Matt and told him of the way I was using the pack. It made perfect sense to me. It had the bottles in an easy access and comfortable place, the new ‘extended straws’ meant that I could feed as and when I wanted without removing them and if I needed to refill, I could just pull them out, take off the top, fill and replace. In addition, you could still use the dump pockets for additional storage either under or over the soft flasks. I typically put my gloves, Buff or other essential items in this area. Being a photographer, I have often replaced one soft flask with a camera. Yes, they are that adaptable.

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On the front of the pack, you have zip pocket on either side. These pockets are for the soft flasks, however on my prototype they were a little too small and tight. For me, they are perfect for valuable items such as phone/ money/ credit card or similar. Matt Brown has confirmed for me that the zipper pockets have been re-designed and made larger accommodating the flasks with ease and comfort, ‘I used the updated sample at CCC and kept the bottles in the zipper pockets, a lot easier to remove and get back in again,’ said Matt. So, the choice will be yours? I do recommend you try options and see what works for you.

Several other stretch pockets are available that work well for keys, food and or gels.

 

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The front fastening system has also changed from the original. This pack no longer uses the quick release system that some found fiddly on the previous vest (I didn’t). Now it has 2-fixed straps, upper and lower and both use the classic male/ female quick release fastening system.

The rear of the pack has 2-zippers: one on the outside of the pack that allows access to an uncluttered open pocket.

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On the reverse, the part of the pack that would sit against your back, has a zipper that would allow direct access to a bladder should you wish to use one.

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Of course, this is perfect, especially in long events when you are carrying mandatory kit. You don’t want to be pulling kit out to get to a bladder. In addition, elastic cords have been added to the top and bottom to attach poles.

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The large open pocket (10ltr version) held with ease:

  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof pants
  • Buff
  • Gloves
  • Base layer
  • Compass
  • Gps
  • Phone
  • Arm warmers
  • Beanie
  • Gels/ bars

And I still had space to squeeze other items in. No question, it’s perfect for a UTMB style event or similar. Should you carry fewer items, the adjustable bungee drawstring on the pack will allow you to compress unwanted space.

The pack has an optional (purchase extra) 2ltr bladder that sits within a temperature control sleeve and this easily slides into the rear zipper pocket. The feed pipe is insulated and can be used on the left or right hand side of the vest. Ideal should you require the option to carry 3ltrs of liquid: 2ltrs in the rear and 1ltr at the front two soft flasks.

IN USE 

It may come as no surprise that I find the pack perfect. I have yet to find an issue with any aspect of the design.

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The soft flasks with extended straws are a revelation and make ‘on the go’ drinking a breeze. It also makes refilling very easy.

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The vest fits like a glove, does not bounce and is extremely comfortable even when filled to capacity.

Fabrics are light and breathable as the original. Of course with any vest, you are going to get a hot spot on your back. You can’t avoid that with this style of product. Having said that, I have yet to find a pack that doesn’t do this…

10464062_10152436307373891_1576851184164900850_nThe rear large zippered pocket requires some thinking when packing, as it is just an open space. You push things in and keep pushing. I recommend if using a bladder, add this first and then pack. Place the items you are likely to need less at the bottom and then work your way up leaving the most essential items at the top. It’s not rocket science but good to think ahead. Once the bladder is in place, you don’t need to remove it as it has a separate zipper access thus allowing refilling as and when required. It works really well. As mentioned previously, you can fit all mandatory kit (UTMB requirement) in the spacious pocket.

You can attach poles to the rear. I tried but didn’t find this to be a good option for me. More often than not, the new folding poles such as Black Diamond or Leki are shorter in length. This makes fastening more awkward and problematic. To resolve this, I attached two adjustable bungees to the shoulder straps and I store my poles folded across my chest; works for me and makes storing and access to the poles easier. It’s a personal thing.

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The multiple front packets provide immediate access to anything I needed whilst running. I had a phone, camera, bars, gels, keys and money all at hand. Perfect. The front zipper pockets add extra security if not used for the soft flasks.

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I used the two large dump pockets for my soft flasks and then placed gloves, buff and some snack items on top. This works great but you need to think when coming into an aid station… if you just pull out the soft flask, what is on top will hit the deck!

 action photos ©marcuswarner

Conclusion

I raved about the original Race Vest (2013/14 model) and hailed it as arguably the ‘perfect’ pack. In refection, I was wrong. It was perfect to a point. The new range of packs (in 3-sizes) have addressed the issue of storage (or lack of) and with the addition of soft flasks with straws, these packs offer everyone the opportunity not only to get the right size to fit them but also the correct capacity for your needs. For me, if you were only going to purchase one pack, the 10ltr would be the most logical option.

Although we haven’t done a full test from a female perspective, initial feedback has been good. As I am sure you can imagine, this very much depends on the lady and the chest size.

We will update this review with a female viewpoint ASAP.

Finally, inov-8 has come up with another winner. I’d recommend this pack to anyone and everyone. The 10ltr does have some strong competition from many other key brands so ultimately it will all come down to personal taste. But if you are ordering online without seeing the product have confidence, you won’t be disappointed.

Check out inov-8 HERE

Availability? This pack is a 2015 model and as such will retail in early 2015. Pre orders and enquiries should be sent to inov-8

Price? 5L £110 / 10L £120 inc bottles

Note: I was asked on Facebook about a lack of negative comments. It’s simple really, I don’t have any. My comments re the zipper pockets being too small and tight was my big gripe which ironically made me look at storing the soft flasks in the dump pockets. Matt Brown, the designer has reworked these pockets and as he says, he personally used the pack for CCC with no issues. I do hope to get a couple of images from Matt to show this tweak to the design.

Berghaus Trail Chase 2014 – Summary and Images

Berghaus Trail Chase Logo

The inaugural Berghaus Trail Chase took place at the weekend in the North York Moors National Park. Organised by Shane Ohly and the team from Ourea Events, this race offered a unique format that was suitable for all abilities and experience.

Three courses: Black (white flags), Red and Blue offered three distances of varying difficulty over 2-days on way marked courses.

©iancorless.com_IMG_2444BerghausTrailChase_2014_

 

A full set of race images are available to view HERE

The event HQ was located in Thinmbleby, Osmotherley. This location provided a hub for runners to assemble, register and prepare and then on the stroke of midday buses arrived to transfer runners to three different starts.

Using ski piste colour coding, runners participating in the black route would run 32.8km with 1012m elevation on day-1 and then 21.3km (814m+) on day-2.

The red route covered 25.3km (801m+) and 17.4km (582m+)

And the blue route provided an entry level race that could appeal to all abilities covering 16.6km (326m+) on day-1 and 10.1km (291m+) on day-2.

Logistically, all races on day-1 would finish at the same campsite in Chop Gate and then on the following day, black and red races would start from the overnight stop and the blue runners would be transferred to Locker Wood for the shorter last day. As one would expect, all races finished at the race HQ in Osmotherley.

©iancorless.com_IMG_2189BerghausTrailChase_2014_Vibrant heather, lush green fields, dense bracken and rugged trails along with lush green forests and bridle paths provided a stunning backdrop to all 3-races. Despite heavy rain during the overnight camp, the weather gods played ball providing everyone with a couple of excellent days running. Add to this live music, flowing beer and some excellent food in the Chop Gate village hall and Ohly and the Ourea team have the makings of a great event.

©iancorless.com_IMG_6554BerghausTrailChase_2014_

 

Day-1 for all three races started as one would expect with mass starts for each respective race. The sting in the tail and the unique nature of this event became clear on day-2 when the CHASE began. Starting in finishing order of day-1, runners would leave in order with exact time gaps adhered to. The objective? Catch the runner in front and you gain a place. It brings a whole new meaning to running scared and the cat and mouse scenario adds a real element of excitement to the event.

©iancorless.com_IMG_2161BerghausTrailChase_2014_

Post race, not only had the Berghaus Trail Chase race format provided a challenging experience for each and every participant but it had also been fun! The atmosphere was very relaxed and the whole experience had been a real positive.

Of course, racing did take place over the 2-days and some hard fought battles were run out on the trails of the North York Moors. However, it very much felt that racing was secondary to fun and enjoying the moment.

The Berghaus Trail Chase will be back in 2015. Bigger, better and I can only hope that Ohly books some great weather once again. I for one will be back.

RESULTS:

Black

  1. Duncan Archer 4:36:54
  2. Charlie Sharpe 4:47:42
  3. Steve Coates 5:07:34
  1. Stephanie Kitchen 6:06:32
  2. Michelle Hetherington 6:07:42
  3. Sam Scott 6:23:34

Full BLACK results HERE

Red

  1. Simon Jones 3:47:51
  2. Madeleine Robinson 3:56:43
  3. Alistair Nash 3:57:29

Full RED results HERE

Blue

  1. Christian McGill 2:32:25
  2. Peter Downes 2:33:22
  3. Martin Done 2:35:31

Full BLUE results HERE

 

A full set of race images are available to view HERE

Race website HERE

Final results HERE

A full set of race images are available to view HERE

 

Image Preview #inov8retreat

An incredible and inspiring weekend in the heart of the English Lakes with a committed team of athletes and employees of inov-8. It’s been a real pleasure to spend quality time discussing the brand, apparel and shoes. Watch out in 2015, inov-8 have some seriously quality products coming your way!

Here are just a small selection of images as a teaser….

all images are ©iancorless.comall rights reserved

No reproduction please.

Check out inov-8 at http://www.inov-8.com

inov-8 athlete retreat #inov8retreat

No sooner had I arrived in the English Lakes and in minutes I was dropping my bags and immediately turning around and heading out on the trails with inov-8 athletes for a 2nd run of the day. It was just an hour… up and then down in true fell running style.

It’s just the start, currently 12-athletes have arrived but later today, more runners will arrive and an intensive weekend will start in full.

Back at inov-8 HQ, breakout session are in progress, talking about new apparel, new run shoes and how the products are designed and why!

It’s all about being specific and appropriate to the required purpose. Innovative and committed are two words I hear repeatedly.

Leaving the HQ, our weekend will commence at a Youth Hostel deep within the English Lakes; keeping us close to the trail and at the heart of what we all love… being at one with nature.

More to follow as the weekend unfolds!

Follow on twitter #inov8retreat

All images and content ©iancorless.com

INOV-8 RACE ULTRA pack/vest review

Brendan Davies inov-8 Race Ultra ©iancorless.com

Brendan Davies inov-8 Race Ultra ©iancorless.com

Inov-8 Race Ultra Vest/ Pack

Please note*

Please note inov-8 have now updated the fit of the Race Ultra Vest for production. This has reduced the width of the top front pocket, resulting in it no longer being able to hold the 500ml flat water bottle. It does, however, still have capacity to hold the 250ml soft flask available with the Race Ultra 0.25.

It used to be simple; get rucksack, add a few essential items, grab a bottle of energy drink and off you go! However, the rucksacks used were more often than not, developed for hiking and thus Issues arose. The packs had too much bounce, a lack of specific functions related to running and more importantly, the need to access items such as food and liquid whilst on the go was non existent.

A boom in rucksack development followed. Brands developed new ranges of product, initially they were a reworking of already existing packs. As demand increased, new lines and new ranges came to fruition and suddenly an array of run specific items came on the market. We were spoilt for choice.

If you are like me, you will have tried many of these products in the search for the ‘perfect product’. Some items have come close but ultimately I have always wanted to make a tweak here or a tweak there. Bottles, bladder or combination of both, the decision will split people. Small capacity, large capacity; ultimately you need both. So, when looking at reviewing any new product one has to take into account many options and variables and then judge a pack on those merits and how well it fulfills those needs and demands. Rarely does a product come along that you can 100% say, ‘this is the perfect pack’.

For many, the launch of the Salomon S-Lab 5ltr pack started the current revolution and design in form fitting, vest like garments that could carry essential equipment, provide immediate access to essentials whilst still being able to carry 2ltrs of liquid in a bladder or the option to also have bottles.

But I can hear you say, so and so did it before Salomon and such and such did ‘x’ with ‘y’ product. I am not going to disagree; I am just highlighting a key moment in pack design that has heavily influenced the current trend for ‘vest’ like products.

Of course, Salomon soon realized that 5ltrs was not enough capacity, particularly for long mountain races such as the TNFUTMB. So, when Kilian Jornet lined up at UTMB several years ago, he had a new, 12ltr pack. It was a key moment in pack development and design. For many, the Salomon S-Lab 12 ltr has been and currently is one of the most popular packs for any racing and/or training.

Step in inov-8 with new Race Ultra Vest.

This new product from UK company; inov-8 may very well be the next key moment in pack design stripping away complication and providing a pack that would almost make a perfect accessory for Batman.

inov-8 Race Ultra ©iancorless.com

Following current trends, the Race Ultra Vest is a pack that is worn like an item of clothing. It is extremely minimal in design and offers one large ‘stretchable’ mesh pocket on the rear that is open ended with a zigzag elastic cord on the exterior to adjust compression.

inov-8 Race Ultra ©iancorless.com

The front splits into a left and right side and replicates pockets/function. Two large angled stretchable pockets hold two newly designed inov-8 ‘flat’ bottles that sit close to and under the rib cage offering easy access and importantly, no bounce!

inov-8 Race Ultra ©iancorless.com

They are held in place with elastic cords to eradicate the bottles falling out.

inov-8 Race Ultra ©iancorless.com

Above these angle pockets are two large chest pockets that are ideal for storing large items OR they provide the option to house the two flat bottles in a higher position, freeing the angled pockets for storage. It comes down to personal preference.

In addition, two other smaller pockets sit on the chest section offering a place to hold mobile phone, camera, food, gels or other similar items and one pocket has an elastic cord to attach keys too.

inov-8 Race Ultra ©iancorless.com

The product is light, open and has a unique adjustable fastening system. On both sides of the pack four straps attach the front to the rear and these are independently adjustable allowing for a perfect fit dependent on load.

inov-8 Race Ultra ©iancorless.com

At the front, two chest straps have three ‘quick release’ fastening options (top, middle and bottom) that allow you to move straps higher or lower to ensure that you have restriction free movement.

inov-8 Race Ultra ©iancorless.com

inov-8 Race Ultra ©iancorless.com

This is particularly important for ladies who will obviously require the option to adjust and control how straps fit in and around breasts…

Finally, the pack does come with a 2ltr bladder that sits within a temperature control sleeve and this easily slides into the rear open pocket. The feed pipe is insulated and can be used on the left or right hand side of the vest. Ideal should you require the option to carry 3 liters of liquid; 2 liters in the rear and 1 liter at the front in two bottles.

IN USE

This product fits like a glove! I have yet to find anyone who has put this product and on not found it immediately comfortable. It just fits, pure and simple. The adjustably of the four side straps and two front straps does mean that it can fit pretty much any body shape.

inov-8 Race Ultra ©iancorless.com

When running it does not move. No bounce whatsoever.

Accessibility to bottles is superb in either of the two storage places. I personally found that I liked the bottles lower, sitting under my ribcage. Depending on your body shape and size, you may prefer the bottles in the higher position? One drawback of the lower position is that your arms may rub the bottles as you move left-to-right in the running motion… not an issue I experienced. Removing bottles whilst running was easy, just pull the red cord, remove the bottle, drink, push back in and then re attach the cord over the neck of the bottle.

inov-8 Race Ultra ©iancorless.com

inov-8 Race Ultra ©iancorless.com

inov-8 Race Ultra ©iancorless.com

Upper access pockets on the chest provided immediate access to anything I needed whilst running. I had a phone, camera, bars, gels, keys and money all at hand. Perfect.

inov-8 Race Ultra ©iancorless.com

The rear pocket requires some thinking when packing, as it is just an open space. You push things in and keep pushing. The pack stretches and molds to the contents allowing what looks like a small space to become spacious. Pack this well and place a lightweight jacket or raincoat at the top and you can actually reach over your shoulder and remove the top item from the pack without stopping. A real bonus for the ‘racers’ amongst you. If you have fewer items in the pack, you can remove any bounce or excess room with the adjustable elastic cord.

inov-8 Race Ultra ©iancorless.com

Poles or additional items can be added to the pack via several black nylon loops that have been added to the pack in strategic places. You may need to purchase some elastic cord and be creative with how you work this but it is a great additional way to get exactly what you personally need. For example, I added my poles across my chest allowing me the option to add and remove them at will. So much better than attaching to the rear and the complications this brings.

Unlike other vests, the Race Ultra does not get too hot. The main reason for this is the open design. Under the arms you have no fabric, just two straps on each side, therefore are flow is increased and importantly, internal heat can escape. In addition, the fabric and materials used are very light. This not only keeps the overall weight of the product down but it also does allow heat to pass through it. On your back you can’t help but have a hot spot. I have you to find a pack or vest that does not d o this, even those that have a framework that helps or reduce back contact.

inov-8 Race Ultra ©iancorless.com

The big question is, can you fit all the required kit for a long 100-mile race such as TNFUTMB into the pack? The answer is yes, but you need to be creative and pack light/ small. Inov-8 have developed a whole new range of apparel that works in conjunction with this pack (reviews to follow) such as seamed waterproof jacket with hood, seamed waterproof over trousers, warm insulated layer, base layer, hat, gloves and so on. It would be fair to say though that for most people, with normal conventional run clothing and wet weather gear such as specified in the mandatory kit list at most long races, particularly for TNFUTMB, it would be a squeeze to get it all in. This is the only negative comment I have found in regard to this pack. But to clarify, with small, lightweight and ultimately expensive products, you can do it. It depends what is important for you and your specific needs, Remember the is called a ‘race’ product and as such, one would naturally assume that the user, male or female, will be looking to be as small and as light as possible.

inov-8 Race Ultra ©iancorless.com

Finally, taking up space on one of the quick release options on the front of the pack is a removable whistle.

CONCLUSION

I can’t tell you how many packs I have purchased over the years in the search for the ‘perfect’ pack. Just when I think I have found one, I find a reason not to be 100% convinced. I’d have to say that finally, in the inov-8 Race Ultra Vest I have found a product that ticks every box and makes me feel 100% confident in my choice and decision.

If I had one issue, it would be for longer races when high demands on mandatory kit are required. Unless you have the latest up to date smallest and lightest products, you will struggle to fit everything in this pack.

However, I can’t help but think inov-8 is already thinking about a solution for that!

Weight (pack stripped) 195g. In stores Feb.
Price £80. This includes two bottles, insulation sleeve and reservoir with insulated tube.

inov-8 website HERE news HERE

Many thanks to inov-8 for the opportunity to test and review. In addition, I would like to thank all the inov-8 athletes who made themselves available to facilitate the photo shoot. In this particular case, Brendan Davies was extremely patient while obtaining images of the Race Ultra.

Disclosure:

I attended an apparel test week in and around Chamonix at the invite of inov-8. I was supplied all products, apparel and shoes free of charge to test and review. I have used and tested all items for at least 3-months and my reviews are impartial based on the pros and cons of each specific item

Mont Blanc Marathon and inov-8

©copyright .iancorless.com._1130936

Team inov-8 placed five athletes in the top-10 men and women at the 2013 Mont Blanc Marathon – a brutal Alpine route which included 2,511m of gruelling ascent and 1,490m of daredevil descent. Watch their story of exhaustion, elation and commitment.

Video by Dave MacFarlane (website)

on YouTube HERE

Read the Mont Blanc Marathon race report HERE

Read all about the inov-8 athlete retreat and apparel testing HERE

Images from Mont Blanc Marathon HERE