INOV-8 AT/C STORM SHELL RACE JACKET and AT/C RACE PANT REVIEW

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The days are getting shorter and bad weather is just around the corner. Wet, wind, snow and ice are all part of the norm if you are going to keep training and racing outdoors through the months of November, December, January, February and if you (we) are lucky, the weather may start to improve with the arrival of March.

Getting outdoors when the days are dark and the weather is inclement can be difficult. But if you have the correct apparel, these days can actually provide some of the most inspiring experiences. Pretty sure you have heard the saying, ‘No such thing as bad weather, just bad equipment!’

Although this article is a review of two key items of apparel to keep you warm and dry while out on the trails or in the mountains. I should clarify first and foremost a couple of good protocols that will make any run in winter better.

Layering is key so that you can regulate temperature.

Start with a base layer that will keep you warm but also wick away sweat. Merino wool is a great fabric.

Use 3/4 or full length tights. Some runners like to continue running in shorts through winter. It all comes down to personal preference but keep in mind conditions. For example, snow and ice can burn.

Have gloves, hat and a buff like product and ideally use a specific run sock, again, Merino wool is best.

Depending on conditions, the length of run you are undertaking and how high (altitude) you will go, taking a mid-layer is probably a good idea.

Two options exist:

  1. A ‘down’ filled jacket that will pack small, weigh very little and provide excellent warmth. The main problem with down is that it must not get wet!
  2. A ‘Primaloft’ jacket (or similar) will pack a little larger than down and weigh a little more but the big advantage is that a product with a synthetic filling can get wet and retain warmth. For mountain, trail and fell runners this is a better choice.

With all the above boxes ticked. Any runner who ventures into the fells, mountains and any challenging environment should take a high quality waterproof jacket and over trousers. This is where inov-8 step in with the AT/C Racepant and AT/C Stormshell.

The current trend of moving fast and light has seen runners take less and less to the mountain. Light is great providing you can move fast, the two go hand in hand. I’ve often heard many a runner say, ‘Waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers… pfffff! I don’t need them to race. If I am using them then my race is over!’

And that is exactly the point. Warm layers, waterproof layers are there for when unpredictable conditions hit or when you (the runner) have an unexpected or unplanned incident. A sprained ankle for example can stop you running and result in a slow walk. One thing is guaranteed to happen and that is your core temperature will drop and hypothermia won’t be far away.

With the AT/C Racepant and Stormshell you can still travel light but have the luxury of two excellent products that will keep you dry, warm and protected from the wind.

AT/C RACE PANT

•Colour : BLACK

•Weight : 175g / 6.2oz

•Material : 55% PU / 45% Polyester

•Gender : Unisex

•Specification :

•4-way stretch, super micro soft hand touch.

•Knee length YKK Aquaguard zips with locking zip heads.

•Elasticated front, flat back waist band and hem.

•Ergonomic fit.

•Packs away into pocket.

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The RACE PANT weighs ****g rolls up small and will fit in any pack and pretty much any waist pack. They are simple in design with a thick waist band, an internal pocket with elastic loop so you don’t loose keys, a tapered leg and a lower leg zip on both legs that allows the pants to be added or removed without removing shoes. In regard to size, they are a streamlined and tapered product and therefore should you have a bigger leg, you may want to check on the appropriate size for you. For example, I wear medium in all inov-8 products but I chose large in the Race Pant.

These pants fit so well that they cause no discomfort or odd feeling when running. This is often a problem with any over trouser as the additional layer can feel claustrophobic. I used the Racepant with shorts, 3/4 tights and full length tights underneath. Without doubt, the Race Pant is more comfortable with 3/4 or full length tights underneath as a layer of fabric stops the Race Pant sticking to your leg.

The AT/C Race Pant is breathable and retains warmth very well. Of course, if conditions improve and the ambient temperature rises, it’s advisable to move the Racepant asap otherwise you will get hot quickly.

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The AT/C Race Pant is a quality product and is comparable to the TNF Storm Trouser (which is very lightweight) and in my opinion is a considerably better product than the OMM Kamleika Race Pant which I found too hot and a little heavier.

Recommended!

AT/C STORM SHELL RACE JACKET

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•Colour : RED

•Weight : 150g / 5.5oz

•Material : 100% Nylon ripstop face, PU Laminate

•Gender : MENS

•Specification :

•Deep centre front YKK Aquaguard 2 way front zip with internal storm flap and locking zip heads.

•Roll-away hood with wired peak and single hand adjustment.

•YKK Aquaguard chest pocket zip with fully taped seams.

•Lycra bound cuffs with integrated thumb hole.

•Includes stuffsac.

The Stormshell is a pullover product with a two-way zip that stops mid-chest. The hood is fully adjustable, zips high and has a peak to protect from wind and rain. The sleeves are longer in length and include a thumb hole, so, should you need extra hand warmth or protection, you call pull your hand inside the sleeve. At ***g it’s seriously lightweight and it also packs small. It’s a product that really personifies fast and light without a compromise on quality or protection from the elements.

The Race Jacket has become my ‘go to’ waterproof layer when running or working. It’s so light and small there really is no reason NOT to take it! The benefits it brings when the weather changes are huge and although looks shouldn’t come into the equation, it’s a fine looking jacket too!

It’s minimalist in design so you wont find many pockets. A chest pocket is the only addition.

Fully taped seams guarantee that the jacket remains waterproof. A pull cord around the waist allows you to adjust the fit. The hood has adjustment on the front  left and right sides and on the rear of the hood is a pull cord so you can tighten up any excess fabric. The peak has a flexible reinforced section that allows you to bend the peak to your preferred fit. This reinforcement also stops the hood collapsing. The hood can also be rolled up and secured inside the jacket by a fabric loop with velcro fastening. As mentioned, the zip is two-way which will allow you to have the jacket fastened under your chin but with the zip open should you require some ventilation. The zip goes up high, almost to nose height and if you have the hood adjusted correctly, you rally can protect yourself from the elements with just your eyes showing. The chest pocket is big enough for a phone or similar sized product and it also include a drawstring bag (the size of my hand) that the jacket can fold into.

Like the trousers, the jacket fits snugly and you may want to check sizing based on your intended use, particularly if you may want to use an insulating layer between the base layer and the outer layer.

The jacket for me is a real winner. I’d go as far as saying that it’s one of the best products of its type that I have tried and tested. The combination of weight, size and features is incredible. It has so many pluses that it’s difficult to find a negative. The only negative may well come in durability? However, I have nothing to base this question on. For 6-months this jacket has performed exceptionally well.

Highly recommended!

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In Summary

The AT/C Racepant and Stormshell work together like cheese and pickle, like gin and tonic; they are a match made in heaven. They may not be the cheapest products on the market but with lightweight and waterproof products, you get what you pay for! I have tested many different trouser/ jacket combinations and if you want to move fast and light with maximum protection, this duo is hard (impossible?) to beat. The only time I would exchange the AT/C Racepant and Stormshell for something more substantial, like a Gore-Tex Active product is if I knew that I was going to be spending many hours in a tough, cold and unpredictable environment and moving at a slower pace. The benefits of the AT/C Racepant and Stormshell is they are so light and small, you really have no reason not to take them with you. That’s a real plus! If you are racing in the mountains, nearly all races now require an ever increasing mandatory kit list. I can pretty much guarantee that at the top of that list will be: ‘waterproof jacket and trousers with taped seams’ – inov-8 have provided you with a perfect solution with no comprises; low weight, small size and 100% protection – what more could you want?

More detailed photographs and action photos to follow.

Big Red Run 2016 – Stage 2 ‘Adria Downs Marathon’ – 42.195km

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Mud, mud, glorious mud, nothing quite like it for cooling the blood… follow me follow, down to the hollow and let us wallow in mud glorious mud!

Oh yes, the 2016 Big Red Run had mud and then some today. The overnight pit patter of rain unfortunately increased heavier and heavier and as morning came, the camp site, located on a lower ground clay bed, became a ‘claggy’ mud bath. Within four walking strides, shoes, doubled, trebled and then quadrupled in not only size and weight. It was brutal – really brutal.

The 0630 call for breakfast was a mix of laughter and very worried looks. The rain was still pouring and it was not forecast to dry out until after darkness. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that it was going to be a tough day; not only for runners but all those working on the race.

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Maximum mandatory kit was requested by the race director, needless to say, a waterproof jacket was going to be essential and for once, not something that remained in the pack as a ‘just-in-case’ but something that should be worn from the gun! Thermal layers for the top and bottom were added to packs as a back-up scenario should an enforced rest, injury or stop should occur. It was a good call, conditions were tough.

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Leaving camp, the course was one that would loop on itself several times and finally return back to the same camp for the end of day 2, a classic marathon distance stage of 42.195km.

Early running was hard as the soft clay ground just stuck to the runners shoes making not only the size but more importantly the weight of the shoes considerably challenging. Add to this all grip being removed due to the volume of wet, sticky clay that built up in the soles. Watching the runners almost required a classic 1920’s silent movie soundtrack, you know the ones I mean, fast, comical and high-paced. Off course, the runners were the opposite – slow, cumbersome and with a high potential to fall at any minute.

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In the early stages many of the day four protagonists ran together, Braddan DB Johnson, Jamie Hildage, Andy Dubois and race leader, Elisabet Barnes. The foursome forged ahead at an excellent pace despite the conditions.

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After the halfway mark, Elisabet Barnes made a move and accelerated away from her running buddies and gave another excellent performance to win the stage outright in 4:17. To run this time in these conditions was extremely impressive, something that Elisabet acknowledged:

“I am amazed at the time. Today was ridiculous in places, my shoes were four times the normal size and weight. It was like running with ankle weights. I was running with my iPod and I just kept saying to myself, one song at a time and one foot at a time!”

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Jamie Hildage (4:26) lives in Australia but he’s a Brit born and bred – he’s used to these conditions and actually revelled in them, so much so he finished 2nd on the day ahead of stage 1 2nd place, Andy Dubois (4:44) and Braddan DB Johnson (4:53) taking the 3rd male place and 4th overall. Interesting statistic when one looks at the results, 3 of the top 4 were born or live in the UK – surely an advantage for the testing conditions.

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Helen Durand (5:16) continued to run strong on day 2 and replicated her 2nd place on the ladies podium and Karla Johnson (5:50) moved up from 6th on day 1 to 3rd on day 2. Amon Sheddon who had placed 3rd on day 1 had a tough day and finished down the field.

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Camp this evening full of stories of mud, sweat and tears. It’s funny how adversity brings out laughter… however, it has been a tough day for Greg Donovan and his team. Greg has had to take the very tough condition of cancelling any racing on day 3. It’s a call that no RD wants to make but currently the camp is bogged down in some of the worst mud I have seen.

 “To break camp down and move it to a new location while racing was underway would stretch the whole logistics and potentially compromise safety. I will update on this tomorrow during the rest day,”

– Greg Donovan

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Marathon des Sables – What goes in the rucksack?

MDS Kit

It’s countdown time to the 30th edition of the iconic Marathon des Sables. The training is done and it was time for Niandi Carmont to go through all her equipment, lay it all out, weigh everything and decide what to take and what not to take.

Running a mult-day race? Check out our 2017 training camp http://d.pr/f/18cqZ

To be clear for those who do not know. Minimum pack weight is 6.5kg.

Minimum food requirement is 2000 calories per day for 7-days.

In addition to the above, each runner must have ‘mandatory’ kit that includes venom pump, compass, penknife and so on…

Marathon des Sables is a self-sufficient race and therefore the runner must carry everything they need for the duration of the event. The only exception comes with water (this is provided and rationed) and a Bivouac (tent) for the evening which is shared with 7 other runners.

Niandi was very clear… my pack will be minimum weight: 6.5kg

It’s been an interesting process and one that has provided both Niandi and myself with some real eye openers… normally you would have too much kit and you would be deciding what to take and what not to take! The reality has been here that we have EVERYTHING that Niandi wants to take and we are under weight. A nice situation to be in.

You can download the equipment list in Word HERE or Excel HERE

Before we get to the pack. Lets look at what Niandi will wear:

  • inov-8 Race Ultra 290 shoes with Raidlight gaiters (gaiters sewn on by Alex in London)
  • Injinji toe socks
  • Raidlight Skort
  • Raidlight T-Shirt
  • Arm Coolers
  • Anita sports bra
  • inov-8 peaked hat
  • Oakley sunglasses
  • Buff

The above is essential and will be worn for the duration of the event.

The pack is an Ultra Aspire Fastpack that will have 2x750ml bottles that sit on the hips and provide easy access

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*Update – This pack was changed at the 11th hour to an Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20 (available here). This proved to be a good decision! The UDF pack turned out to be a revelation at the 2015 MDS runners. Elisabet Barnes and may others used this. It’s simplistic, no-nonsence approach was a real winner and the bottle holders on the chest perfect for ‘on-the-go’ hydration.

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Points to consider:
1. The bottle holders are ‘on’ the shoulder straps in an excellent position (lower) and they do not bounce! You can fit 750/800ml bottles in them.
2. The pack fits snug to you pack and can be tightened to remove all bounce. It’s vest like.
3. The pack is just an open space, so, it’s really simple. The downside is that you do need to think about how you pack, anything you may need ‘en-route’ should be near the top.
4. As you eat food and pack contents and weight gets less, the pack has a roll top closure which means that you can make the pack smaller as the day’s pass.
5. It has no waist belt so no stomach stress.
6. It has elastic stretch pockets on the outside for easy access and additional items.
Negatives:
It has no waist belt so therefore you way wish to add a small waist belt for food, snacks, salt tabs etc

 

Sleeping bag (with Piglet) Yeti Passion One

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The North Face Summit Series down jacket

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Raidlight Tyvek suit which has been tailored and modify for a tighter fit and to reduce weight.

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Petzl head torch with spare batteries

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The items below make up additional items that are optional extras (such as iPod) and mandatory kit. One or two items are missing: Spot Tracker, signalling mirror and sun cream.

Food is broken down on the excel spread sheet but here is a summary in words and images:

Dehydrated Meals x6 672
Dried Mango 93g x 4 372
Porridge 59g x 7 413
Coffee 1g x 10 10
Peanut Butter 33g x 5 165
Honey 21g x 8 168
Mini Salami 10g x 10 100
Tropical Mix 194
Sesame Bites 27g x 6 162
Dried Banana 270
Mixed Nuts 200g x 2 400
Macademia Nuts 153
Cranberries 175
Wraps 296
3550

We have not added photos of the dehydrated meals as currently we do not have them but we have calculated the weight and you can see a review of dehydrated meals and options HERE

So in a nutshell. With everything listed above we have a current pack weight (without water) of:

TOTAL WEIGHT 6189
*all weights in grams

Niandi does have some additional optional items that she was considering taking and now based on the weight above she will add:

  • Flip Flops 250g
  • Cheese 150g
  • Stove and fuel 150g

The above 3 items tip the scales at 550g

This will make a total pack weight of 6189 + 550 = 6739g

JOB DONE!

Read an in-depth preview of the 2015 Marathon des Sables HERE

Salomon S-Lab HYBRID Jacket M and HYBRID Pants M review

Kasie ©salomonrunning

Kasie Enman ©salomonrunning

Just imagine it, you go to a car dealer looking to purchase a new car. You have set yourself a budget. You know what you want and you have narrowed your search down. 

Walking through the door, you see the car you want and in the colour you had selected. It ticks all the boxes, it’s your dream car and most importantly it’s the price you can afford and maybe more importantly, it’s what you can afford.

Just behind ‘your’ car is the new version… more streamlined, go faster stripes, a little more minimalist and certainly faster. It’s almost double the price! But you want it. No matter how much sense and logic says you have the ‘ideal’ car in front of you, at the price you can afford and in the colour you want. The ‘go-faster’ model behind keeps pulling you ever closer…

Welcome to the Salomon S-Lab range.

Let’s be clear right from the off. If you are looking for a budget jacket and/or trousers for trail and mountain running then the HYBRID M Jacket and trousers are not for you.

These two products are the Ferrari, the Stella Artois, or the Caviar of the running apparel world.

Ultra light, form functioning and with an attention to detail that is seldom seen, the HYBRID products are seriously impressive products.

I can see you are already tempted. So, if I need to provide any additional clarification or just to ensure that your bank manager doesn’t sue me for unfair persuasion, the HYBRID Jacket M has a RRP of £220 and the HYBRID Pant M has a RRP of £170. Yes folks, that is £390 of apparel porn.

Still tempted? Read on.

 HYBRID JACKET M

Jacket 1

Okay, joking aside, Salomon and more importantly the S-Lab range are all about travelling light and fast on technical, mountainous and challenging terrain and as such, the products they design are 100% committed to making that process as easy as possible. No compromises! So, price point to a certain extent is irrelevant. If you want the best technology, the lightest products and functional kit that does the job… the price will be what it will be and you just take out your credit card and commit. The question ultimately is, is it worth it?

This is a difficult one because affordability is very different for each and every individual. For example, I know many people who would reluctantly pay £2.50 for a coffee but wouldn’t flinch at paying £220 for the HYBRID Jacket M.

Breathability – Freedom of Movement – Ventilation

Jacket 4

Three serious buzz words when we look at any garment that needs to protect us from tough and challenging elements. The jacket is ridiculously light at just 120g. On first look, I really questioned if this would provide 100% waterproof protection. It does to an extent! (More on that later) Using ‘Motion Fit Technology’ the jacket is tailored like a fine Saville Row suit to provide non abrasive comfort around the neck and shoulders with unrestricted movement and more importantly ones arms don’t feel restrained.

The jacket has a ¾ front zip, glued seams and has ‘Advancedskin Shield,’ reflective panels and two seriously impressive breakthrough details that I haven’t witnessed on any product before. (Let me know if anyone else has?)

  1. Quick stash waist – this is an ingenious idea. So ingenious that I thought to myself, ‘I wonder why nobody hasn’t thought of this before.’ Basically, below the ¾ zip you have a large stretch band that goes around your waist. Initially I thought this was to stop the jacket riding up… no! This works as a ‘retainer’ when the jacket is not required. So imagine, conditions are changeable; one minute it’s raining, one minute it’s not. It’s cold, it’s hot and the need for protection is constantly changing. This system allows you to take off and put on the jacket without actually removing the jacket completely. You basically remove your arms and slide the excess fabric to your waist and then ‘store’ in the elasticated fabric band that sits around your waist. Ingenious.
  2. In the hood is a headband like product that sits around your head and therefore holds the hood in place and stops the hood moving and causing any annoying hassle. Again, so simple it’s ingenious.

Jacket 3

In all other aspects, the HYBRID Jacket M would appear just like any other jacket until you wear it. The key features then become apparent:

  • Ultra lightweight
  • Form fitting
  • Functional
  • No pockets
  • Ventilated armpits
  • And dare I say, ‘special.’

But this may not be the jacket for you?

Salomon may well not agree with me here but I have to say it like it is. This really is an awesome product and innovative but I can’t help feel that it is for shorter races, faster runners or faster runners doing longer distances.

I am no racehorse, if I were doing a tough mountain 100-miler say UTMB. I would not be finishing in 20-hours like Francois d’Haene, in reality it would be the opposite. I’d be getting full value for money and be out on the course for 30+ hours (I think). So, should bad weather come in and lets say a worse case scenario of torrential rain, snow, blizzards and zero temperatures I personally don’t feel that the HYBRID would provide me (or maybe similar runners) with enough protection. This is not questioning its waterproofing, the jacket is waterproof BUT only in key places. Also I need to state here, I am not sure if this jacket would comply with ‘mandatory’ specifications?

Jacket 2To clarify; the jacket is waterproof on the chest, hood, upper arms, shoulders and upper back. The remaining areas; under arms, under the armpit and lower back use a lightweight fabric. These fabric areas obviously reduce weight but do mean that the whole jacket is not 100%. So, if you are in gusty winds in bad weather, rain will gain access.

*So you see the dilemma. If you are moving quick and retaining core temperature, the HYBRID Jacket M will be ideal allowing adequate protection in a lightweight, breathable and seriously functional product. But if your pace drops, you have extended walking and your core temperature starts to drop, this jacket may well not be the best for you… something a little heavier, a little more robust and 100% waterproof may well be the better product.

See the BONATTI HERE

Salomon are very clear on this, they say:

“Ultra light jacket integrating water-proof panels for foul weather, and innovative quick stash waist, a stretch panel around the waist that enables you to remove and store your jacket without stopping.”

Fit is streamlined and as one would expect, excess fabric is at a minimum. For reference, I have a medium product and the jacket fits snuggly (I am 40” chest) with enough room to wear the S-Lab 1L or 3L vest underneath the jacket. Again, this is a real plus! If the jacket is stored around your waist, you can constantly add and remove your jacket as conditions change without adding or removing your race vest.

In conclusion, the HYBRID Jacket M is an awesome piece of apparel. It’s expensive, innovative and in my opinion has a very specific use. The jacket is light enough and small enough that it can be taken on every run as a ‘just in case’ product but its real use comes when racing and racing fast… it’s all about function, speed and providing adequate protection and freedom of movement. If you have the legs and lungs to go with this jacket, you won’t be disappointed.

 

HYBRID PANT M

Trouser 1It may come as no surprise that many of the comments above relate to the HYBRID Pant M too. Like the jacket, the pants weigh in at a ridiculous 120g. They fold up and compress into something similar in size to an orange and so therefore take up little to no room in any pack and to be honest, with the minimal weight you wouldn’t even know you had them with you. So, as mentioned with the HYBRID Jacket M, these pants could be added to your pack for every run and would provide a great emergency cover.

Trouser 2Like the jacket, the pants are not 100% waterproof but where waterproof panels are added, the rain and wind resistance is excellent. Arguably the pants are two halves; waterproof and wind resistant front and lightweight fabric to the rear except round the calf/ ankle area where the waterproof fabric extends around.

Trouser 3

A long zip that almost extends to the knee allows the pants to removed or added without removing shoes and elastic at the ankle keeps them nice and tight. The waistband is lightweight, breathable and has stretch with an adjustable cord.

Trouser 4I have a medium product and they fit close (maybe a little too close for me) but I need to clarify, I have big legs and large calf muscles. I am not boasting, just stating a fact. For most ‘normal’ people, these pants will fit really well. I am 31/32” waist with an inside leg of 31” and the medium is ideal (despite my huge legs).

Trousers 4

Running in the pants is a joy. They are so light that you don’t really notice them. The stretch panels allow plenty of unrestricted movement and the ‘Motion Fit’ ensures that no excess fabric gets in the way.

I personally feel these pants suit the racer who needs some protection when still moving fast. If you are in a long race and moving slow, I personally don’t feel these pants would provide the necessary protection or warmth for really long periods in challenging conditions. This is particularly apparent on the rear of the pants. For example, should wind and rain be coming from behind, the trousers have no waterproof panels to protect. Again, Salomon does not hide away from this fact. They are offering a product that clearly states what you get:

“S-lab hybrid includes a waterproof membrane on the front, with wind protection on the back for cold, wet weather training. Stretch panels ensure comfort and motion fit specific to running.”

As I stated above* and I repeat, “So you see the dilemma. If you are moving quick and retaining core temperature, the HYBRID Pant M will be ideal allowing adequate protection in a lightweight, breathable and seriously functional product. But if your pace drops, you have extended walking and your core temperature starts to drop, these pants may well not be the best for you… something a little heavier, a little more robust and 100% waterproof may well be the better product.”

See the BONATTI HERE

In conclusion, having spoken to and spent a great deal of time around many runners, wearing pants when racing is a no, no! It’s funny really, I often hear the phrase, “If I am wearing pants then my race is over.” I understand that but as we have seen on so many occasions, when conditions go tits up (as they often do) a functional and protective layer is essential. Salomon provides a very specific product that fulfils a need for many a runner and/or racer but that product comes at a price.

Summary

The HYBRID Jacket and pant M are two seriously impressive products with loads of innovation. They are light, pack small and are a dream to wear and use. Although anyone can wear them, I do feel that the products suit a particular type of runner. However, having said that, if you have the money, want a lightweight jacket and pants to take on every run, these two beauties are absolutely ideal for that. Ultimately though, you have to ask the question, do I want to pay £390 for that option? Personally, I would still need a more substantial jacket and trousers for big mountain days and products that are 100% waterproof (See the BONATTI HERE). I welcome the HYBRID products to my wardrobe but they do not replace other items. They are an addition and a really welcome addition.

 

CHECK OUT THE SALOMON S-LAB RANGE HERE

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The North Face AK Stormy Trail Jacket

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As the main sponsor of the TNFUTMBThe North Face fully understands the needs of every runner when embarking on the epic alpine journey. Irrespective of distance, the mountains can be a cruel and hard place.

Copyright Ian Corless

Copyright Ian Corless

Look at the history of the race. For several years the TNF UTMB has been hampered by bad weather. Just last year, 2012, the race was shortened at the last minute and ‘mandatory’ kit was increased to 4 layers to ensure the safety of every runner.

Two pieces of mandatory kit are a fully waterproof jacket with hood and taped seams but also over trousers. Now many runners, particularly the elite runners think… “I will never wear over trousers”. The 2012 edition of the TNF UTMB confirmed to many that mandatory kit, (although sometimes one may think it is over the top) is absolutely necessary.

To this end, The North Face have created two new items that tick all the boxes for 2013. The AKSTORMY TRAIL JACKET and AK STORMY TRAIL PANTS. Available in Black & Yellow

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Key Features

It’s simple really…. a tailored fit to reduces excess material and flapping. A reduction in ‘extras’ as these only add opportunities for onward problems or areas were leaks may appear. Lightweight and small pack size.

Box TICKED

The AK STORMY range do all the above and then some. Of course that doesn’t come cheap. But you get what you pay for and I certainly wouldn’t want to compromise when I am several thousand feet up in the rain and snow. Expect to pay £160 for the jacket.

SPECS

The North Face Men’s AK Stormy Trail Jacket is a waterproof, breathable, hooded running jacket for maximum protection in the foulest weather. It features FlashDry technology which has microporous particles to improve and accelerate the removal of excess moisture from the skin. This means a drier and more comfortable performance for longer, in a range of weather conditions.

The jacket has a reflective brimmed, stay-put hood with an adjustable hood cinch at the rear. It has a reflective drop-tail hem for increased coverage and weatherproofing. It has minimal ‘additional’ features to ensure that 100% weather protection is guaranteed. It has a small pack size and low weight and can be rolled up so that you can store the jacket in its own hood.

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IN USE

Copyright Ian Corless

Copyright Ian Corless

The jacket is a snug fit. I am a 38″/40″ chest and I have a small. It is perfect. The important thing is to try this jacket with the anticipated under clothes. I wore a TNF long sleeve run top as this would probably be my normal under garment when wearing a jacket like this. I also then added a TNF thermal layer jacket. The AK Stormy allowed room for both underneath without restrictions. Under the arms have been tailored to allow for movement. A big plus. It is a no frills jacket, so, don’t expect pockets! It has a small chest pocket which has been glued in place. Gluing means no seams. No seams, no leaks. The zippers are fully waterproof and the neck goes high but not too high. The hood has a brim and an adjustable toggle on the rear to get a good fit.

I personally found the hood was most comfortable when wearing a peaked cap underneath. This is a personal thing. The addition of a peak stops the hood working forward and offers additional protection.

I have been out in the wind, rain and snow and the AK Stormy has been spot on. Full comfort and 100% protection. It is most definitely designed for rough weather but not at the compromise of additional weight. A difficult balance to get right. As such, this jacket will always be in my pack when heading out for longer days or most definitely when heading to the mountains. It has no ventilation but I was extremely surprised that I never found the jacket too hot.

If you are racing in the UK when our weather is extremely unpredictable, I couldn’t recommend this jacket enough. Certainly, it would be the perfect kit for the Lakeland 50 or 100.

It goes without saying that The North Face have designed this jacket (and additional over trousers) with the UTMB in mind and without doubt it would be my ‘top of the list’ when full weather protection and light weight is required.

Very small pack size and weighs 220g
Very small pack size and weighs 220g
Adjustable hood
Adjustable hood
Glued chest pocket and waterproof zippers
Glued chest pocket and waterproof zippers
Reflective piping
Reflective piping
Brimmed hood
Brimmed hood
  • Reflective brimmed hood with stay
  • Adjustable hood cinch
  • Glued chest pocket
  • Reflective drop-tail hem
  • Stowable

available S,M,L,XL

Links

The North Face HERE

That iPhone will travel

copyright - lifeproof.com

copyright – lifeproof.com

The Apple iPhone (amongst other smart phones) has become the regular accessory for many runners. Lets face it, it has a great camera, video and a multitude of ‘Apps’ that will allow us to track, plot, follow and record our runs if required. When you add to that you can listen to music and even make a call with it, one has to admit that it is almost the ultimate accessory for your daily run.

Many races now insist that a phone is part of the compulsory equipment that you take when racing, so, do you really want to take a phone that costs in the region of £500/600 out on the trails, particularly when it could be wet, cold, muddy or even worse, you could drop and break it.

Step in lifeproof.com

Other models of protective case have been available for some time, but the Lifeproof model seems to have taken the ‘case’ one step ahead!

copyright life proof.com

copyright life proof.com

It’s not as bulky as others on the market, which is a great plus. To give you confidence to go everywhere with your LifeProof case they water test each and every case they make. Not only that, after the test an independent agent performs additional testing and even puts randomly selected cases through a second water test. You have a guarantee then when you purchase a case it has been tested. In addition to this, they have a range of accessories and replacement parts to ensure your case lasts the life of the phone and beyond.

Each case has IP-68, the most rigorous classification in this specification. The first characteristic number describes protection from solid foreign objects. An enclosure with a characteristic number of 6 can withstand exposure to circulating talcum powder for 8 hours with no dust ingress after that period. The second characteristic number describes protection against water. An enclosure with a characteristic number of 8 exceeds all other water protection levels and is specified by the manufacturer. For LifeProof, number 8 signifies LifeProof cases will withstand immersion in water to a depth of 2 meters / 6.6 feet for 30 minutes.

copyright life proof.com

copyright life proof.com

MIL STD 810F-516 standard requires that the item can physically and functionally withstand the relatively infrequent, non-repetitive shocks encountered in handling, transportation, and service environments.

Perfect protection against WATER, DIRT, SNOW and SHOCK a Lifeproof Case may very well be that perfect accessory for your daily companion on the trails and when racing. Have to say, I love mine and my phone has been out in all conditions.

Specs for IPhone 5

  • Dimensions:5.4” x 2.6” x 0.5” / 137.5 mm x 67.1 mm x 12.2 mm*
  • Weight:1.05 oz / 29.8 g
  • Water Proof:Fully submergible to 6.6’ / 2 m for 30 minutes
  • Dirt Proof:Sealed from dirt & dust particles – meets or exceeds IP-68 IngressProtection Rating
  • Snow Proof:Sealed from snow & ice – meets or exceeds IP-68 Ingress Protection Rating
  • Shock Proof:Withstands drops from 6.6’ / 2 m – meets or exceeds MIL STD 810F-516

overview_graphic_specs

 

A range of accessories are also available so that you can maximise your user experience:

Armband, Bike Mount, Life Jacket, Suction Cup Mount and Belt Clip view HERE

copyright life proof.com

copyright life proof.com

  • 1 CrystalClear AR-coated optical-glass lens
  • 2 Nonstick cover never collects dirt or lint
  • 3 Waterproof seals on all ports and openings
  • 4 Polycarbonate frame absorbs impacts
  • 5 Waterproof ports on all microphones and speakers
  • 6 Scratch-resistant and waterproof screen protector
  • 7 Shock-absorbing elastomeric inner-layer

Price from £50

RECOMMENDED !

 

The North Face – AK Stormy Trail

A5YKJK33As the main sponsor of the TNFUTMB, The North Face fully understand the needs of every runner when embarking on the epic alpine journey. Irrespective of distance, the mountains can be a cruel and hard place.

Look at the history of the race. For several years the TNFUTMB has been hampered by bad weather. Just last year, 2012, the race was shortened at the last minute and ‘mandatory’ kit was increased to 4 layers to ensure the safety of every runner.

Two pieces of mandatory kit are a fully waterproof jacket with hood and taped seams but also over trousers. Now many runners, particularly the elite runners think… “I will never wear over trousers”. The 2012 edition of the TNFUTMB confirmed to many that mandatory kit, (although sometimes one may think it is over the top) is absolutely necessary,

To this end, The North Face have created two items that tick all the boxes. The AK STORMY TRAIL JACKET and AK STORMY TRAIL PANTS. Available in Black & Yellow

A5YKJK3

A48DJK32

Key Features

It’s simple really…. a tailored fit to reduces excess material and flapping. A reduction in ‘extras’ as these only add opportunities for onward problems or areas were leaks may appear. Lightweight and small pack size.

Box TICKED

The AK STORMY range do all the above and then some. Of course that doesn’t come cheap. At £160 for the jacket and £110 for the pants this is an investment. But you get what you pay for and I certainly wouldn’t want to compromise when I am several thousand feet up in the rain and snow.

SPECS

AK JACKET – The North Face® Men’s AK Stormy Trail Jacket is a waterproof, breathable, hooded running jacket for maximum protection in the foulest weather. Featuring The North Face® FlashDry™ technology, microporous particles improve and accelerate the removal of excess moisture from the skin, allowing drier and more comfortable performance for longer, in a range of weather conditions. Used and recommended for endurance races such as The Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc, the jacket is constructed with a reflective brimmed, stay-put hood, an adjustable hood cinch and a reflective drop-tail hem for increased coverage and weatherproofing. Easily stowed in a backpack and with a glued zip chest pocket for secure storage, follow the athletes in The North Face® Men’s AK Stormy Trail Jacket.

A5YKJK32

  • Reflective brimmed hood with stay
  • Adjustable hood cinch
  • Glued chest pocket
  • Reflective drop-tail hem
  • Stowable

available S,M,L,XL

AK PANTS – The North Face® Men’s AK Stormy Trail Pant is a waterproof, windproof, breathable running trouser for maximum protection in the foulest weather. Featuring The North Face® FlashDry™ technology, microporous particles improve and accelerate the removal of excess moisture from the skin, allowing drier and more comfortable performance for longer, in a range of weather conditions. Used and recommended for endurance races such as The Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc, these performance fit pants are constructed with an elasticized waist with adjustable drawcord and articulated knees for increased mobility. Easily stowed in a backpack and with reflective logos for increased security on night and low level visibility runs, follow the athletes in The North Face® Men’s AK Stormy Trail Pant.

A48DJK3

  • Elasticated waist with adjustable drawcord
  • Performance fit
  • Articulated knees, Ankle zips
  • Reflective logos
  • Packable

available S,M,L,XL

A full test of the AK range will follow soon. Initial impressions are superb. Fit is excellent. The attention to detail really is spot on and both garments are a real joy to wear but ultimately, they are a pleasure to run in… that is what counts!