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Bundle Up With Ibex Base Layers

When it comes to winter outdoor activities, bundling and layering is key. And choosing the right base layer is an important first step.

One of the best fabrics to use for base layers is Merino Wool. Merino is a natural, high-performance fabric, in part because of the conditions these sheep live in. Winters can be as cold as -4ºF and summers as warm as 95ºF. Their coats have evolved so that the fibers react to the changes in body temperature. And this natural technology is passed along to its human wearers.

Ibex sent us their Woolies Tech Crew and Woolies Tech Bottoms to test this winter.

Ibex Men's Woolies Tech Bottoms
Ibex Men’s Woolies Tech Bottoms

Ibex’s Merino Wool comes from Australia and New Zealand. They implement the high standards in farming, making sure their sheep are treated with respect and best practices are in place to protect the land the sheep live on.

Ibex is also part of the Climate Neutral community of businesses. The apparel industry as a whole accounts for 10% of global carbon emmisions and remains the second largest industrial polluter. Ibex measures their carbon footprint and partners with their supply chain to reduce where they can and offset the rest.

Why Ibex Merino?

Merino Wool keeps the body cool during even the most strenuous activities by trapping moisture and releasing it as vapor before it turns to sweat.

Ibex Men's Woolies Tech Bottoms
Ibex Men’s Woolies Tech Bottoms

During testing, I wore the Woolies Tech Crew on a chilly morning run. Normally, with other moisture wicking fabrics, I would end a run like this sweaty and, in those spots in the fabric with sweat, cold. With Ibex’s Merino Wool crew, I found myself relatively dry and comfortably warm by the end of the run.

Because Merino Wool is able to regulate your temperature, it also stops odor-causing bacteria to form, so you also don’t have to worry about smelling funky after exercise.

If I wasn’t working from home these days, these base layers would be great for commuting to the office on my bike. I could easily go from my bike to my desk and still look and smell good.

Merino Wool also offers natural sun protection. The Woolies Tech Crew and Woolies Tech Bottoms offer UPF 50, while some of their lighter products offer UPF 25.

Finally, as sustainable a fabric as Merino is, as the end user, we are also encouraged to be sustainable in our care of the fabric. Because it’s odor and sweat resistant, it’ll stay cleaner for longer, which means that it doesn’t have to be washed after each activity.

For testing, I put in around 25 hours of activity before I felt that I needed to wash them.

Woolies Tech Crew and Woolies Tech Bottoms

I was really impressed by the performance of both of these products.

When I mentioned to my wife that I was testing out Merino Wool base layers, her first response was, “OMG, wool? It’s so itchy!”

But guess what? It’s not.

Ibex’s Merino Wool is the finest wool you can get. I found Ibex’s clothes to be soft on my skin and never itchy or irritating (even against a relatively fresh tattoo). On their site, Ibex shares that their fabric is ideal for people with Eczema or who have found cotton or other performance fabrics irritating. I have other Merino Wool products and I swear that Ibex outperforms them on comfort.

Ibex Men's Woolies Tech Crew
Ibex Men’s Woolies Tech Crew

The Woolie Tech Crew and Bottoms are 81% Merino and made with Ibex’s “Pro-Tech” fabric.

On the Woolie Tech Crew fit comfortably. When I paired it with a running vest, I found that the neck was structured so that I didn’t have any rubbing from my running vest. Additionally, it has optional thumbholes, which is a feature I love. When I was out running, I got to a point where my gloves were too much, but I still needed something to keep my hands moderately warm.

The crew laid close to my skin, but didn’t feel tight. I was able to pull up the sleeve easily to adjust settings on my sports watch.

The Woolie Tech Bottoms were great as well. I took them out on a wintery run as well; pairing them with a pair of running shorts over them. My legs were comfy and cozy throughout.

Ibex Men's Woolies Tech Bottoms
Ibex Men’s Woolies Tech Bottoms

Now, the most ideal winter activity to test these products in is skiing (or snowboarding).

I paired these up with a mid-layer and a hardshell.

I was slightly concerned I would get overheated, but I was comfortable for the several hours I was out on the slopes. Even after I got back to the ski lodge and shedded layers, I found that the Ibex base layers were still mostly dry.

Summary

I’ve been a big believe in Merino Wool for a while, but it wasn’t until trying Ibex’s products that I was in love with the fabric. I keep finding myself looking for reasons to put them on.

Heading out for a run? Ibex is coming with me.

Going snowshoeing? Ibex is joining me.

Lounging around in the house? Ibex, hands down.

Both products tested were larges. I am 5’11” and 185 pounds. You can find these along with many other options at Ibex’s website.

Crosspoint Waterproof Knit Wool Gloves Review

It’s no secret, our team at Huck Adventures loves Showers Pass. They are a go-to for many of our adventures; big or small.

Crosspoint Waterproof Knit Wool Gloves
Crosspoint Waterproof Knit Wool Gloves

They recently sent us a pair of their Crosspoint Waterproof Knit Wool Gloves to try out.

The Crosspoint Waterproof Knit Wool Gloves are fully waterproof. It is constructed with three bonded layers, including a wear resistant exterior, a waterproof / breathable Artex membrane, and a lovely merino wool lining. This merino wool lining is something special. It is soft and cozy, but even with the heart rate pumping, offers great temperature regulation while providing anti-microbial properties to keep it smelling fresh.

So far this winter, I’ve taken these gloves running and snowshoeing.

While running, I found that the merino wool lining performed as expected. Even on longer runs, as I warmed up, I found myself keeping the gloves on longer. Typically, I would oscillate between having gloves on our off, regardless of the temperature outside. But with my body temperature better regulated, I didn’t have those issues.

While snowshoeing, these gloves paired well with another Showers Pass product: the Crosspoint Flip Mitt. I was able to open the mitt and have the dexterity of my fingers in the Crosspoint Waterproof Knit Wool Gloves.

The gloves also became my go-to this winter for walking the dog. With the fit and dexterity, I was able to pull out the poo bags, open them, and pick up the little doggie droplets with easy. That might seem like a small thing, but with my other gloves, I’d always have to pull them off in order to perform this activity.

This winter, I also picked up a new daily routine: outdoor ice baths. Every morning, I’ll sit in a horse trough full of icy water in my backyard for 3-4 minutes. I’ll wear the Crosspoint Waterproof Knit Wool Gloves during this time, resting my hands on the outside of the bath.

And I can attest to how waterproof these gloves are. My dog loves to chew on ice. Throughout this morning ritual, I’ll dip my fingers into the bath and pull out chunks of ice and throw it to him to play with.

These gloves are terrific and my go-to this winter.

I consider my fingers normal sized and wear a large comfortably.

Sunglasses For Every Run

Every time I leave the house, I wear sunglasses.

It’s better than the alternative: squinting and stressing out my eyeballs.

But I am picky about what I wear, especially when I run. I don’t know about you, but I always feel that after an hour or two, my head expands and sunglasses can start feeling tight and uncomfortable.

My perfect sunglasses can’t be rigid and hard. They have to be flexible; bending and flexing to accommodate for the blood pumping into my noggin.

I was excited to hear that Nathan was launching sunglasses. They already make great packs and apparel for running, so why not sunglasses?

They have several variations of running sunglasses, but with winter coming, they sent me a pair of their Summit Polarized Sunglasses with the blue mirror lens to try out.

Nathan SUMMIT POLARIZED RUNNING SUNGLASSES
Nathan SUMMIT POLARIZED RUNNING SUNGLASSES

The choice of lens was intentional. I have plenty of sunglasses for bright, sunny days. But what about those fall / winter days when it is overcast and windy or when I am running on trails with a lot of tree coverage? I want eye protection on those days too and darker lenses are too much.

The frames themselves are really comfortable. They are made from a lightweight thermoplastic material that is durable and flexible. The flexibility allows the frames to bend and contour to your face, but they are also resilient to damage. I did a few drop tests and the glasses came away still looking brand new.

Nathan SUMMIT POLARIZED RUNNING SUNGLASSES
Nathan SUMMIT POLARIZED RUNNING SUNGLASSES

There are also rubber grips that sit flush on the frame around the nose and ears to help minimize bounce and keep the glasses securely on your face. Bouncing down trails didn’t dislodge them. Even a slip and fall on my head didn’t askew them.

As for the lens: they are great. Before when I’d run on cloudy days or in dense forests, I’d always oscillate between having my glasses on for a period, then off. On and then off. Over and over again. But with their blue mirror lens, I kept them on the entire time. And I felt that I had less eye fatigue because of that.

While I have plenty of other sunglasses for bright, sunny days, I’ll definitely be picking up another pair from Nathan. These glasses are the most comfortable out of my collection and will be a great companion for when I start ultra training this spring.

You can find these sunglasses at Nathan’s website for $50 a pair.

Nathan TrailMix 7L – Men’s Review

Nathan sent us the TrailMix 7L, a trail-running pack, to test. Over the last month, we’ve taken around the local trails, up and down several mountains, and have put on around 75 miles with the pack.

Nathan TrailMix 7L
Nathan TrailMix 7L

As the name suggest, it has a total capacity of 7 liters, including 2 liters of water storage with an included HydraPak reservoir.

The Fit

The TrailMix 7L wears like a small backpack. It’s fit is snug, yet comfortable, with contoured shoulders and multiple cinch straps to ensure a proper fit. The build is light and flexible, letting it move with you as you tear down the trail.

It features a compression system that keeps your load tight against your back for stability. With the water reservoir, I always flip it upside down and suck out any extra air prior to running with it. This helps reduce any natural bounce that may occur with the pack, but I honestly didn’t feel any excessive bounce.

One of the key features I always look for in a running pack is comfortability on long runs. During ultra season a few years ago, my go-to pack at the time always left chafe marks on my shoulders. The TrailMix 7L has a soft perimeter and I didn’t experience any chafing on my arms or shoulders.

Storage

Nathan TrailMix 7L
Nathan TrailMix 7L

The TrailMix 7L might seem light on storage, but I found it adequate for runs up to 20 miles in the changing temperature of Fall. Starting out in the morning, I had gloves, beanie, and a jacket. Once it warmed up, they easily stashed in the pack. I also always run with a small first aid kit that fits snuggly in the bottom of the pack.

On the front of the vest there are two front pockets. They are large enough for my 20 ounce soft flasks, but for the runs I did with the pack, I used them more for my iPhone 12 Pro and snacks.

Nathan TrailMix 7L
Nathan TrailMix 7L

The back of the pack also has daisy chains for attaching lighting (great for night runs) and trekking pole attachments.

When I took my poles out, I found that the attachments kept them stored adequately. I didn’t have any issues with my poles falling out. When I did pull the poles out or stashed them, I had to stop and remove the pack. Not ideal for races, but good enough for training.

Hydration Sytem

It’s worth taking a few sentences to talk about the hydration system.

As mentioned previously, the TrailMix 7L comes with a HydraPak 2L bladder.

The bladder hose snakes out of the top of the pack and down the right breast where it hooks securely. The hose is long, so when it’s hooked, I don’t have to unhook to drink. However, on longer runs, I did find the bounce of the hose slightly annoying, so I ended up tucking it into the bottom belt of the pack.

HydraPak is one of the best manufacturers of hydration systems, so it was awesome seeing that it was included.

Quick pro tip: when washing, HydraPak’s can be reversed. Just reach inside and pull out to reverse. It makes cleaning a heckuvalot easier. Plus, drying is a lot faster.

Conclusion

I’m excited to continue trail-running this winter with the Nathan TrailMix 7L. It offers ample water storage and the remaining space is large enough to pack in or out with my running necessities.

The TrailMix 7L is also the most affordable pack we’ve tested. At $100, it is $30-$100 less than it’s competitors.

If you’re looking for a new trail-running companion, look no further than the Nathan TrailMix 7L.

These socks helped me PR a marathon

When I first started running, I used what I had for equipment: old, tattered Reebox and cheap cotton socks.

As my mileage increased and I set my sights on my first marathon, I bought a pair of running shoes and running socks from Swiftwick.

Swiftwick were my first official pair of socks for running, so I was excited when they sent me a couple of their new styles to try.

Swiftwick socks across all their various styles, have several key features.

They include a lightweight upper to increase breathability and to keep your feet cool and comfortable. Their toe box and arch support is built so that the sock doesn’t move on you.

Swiftwick Trail-Running Socks
Swiftwick Trail-Running Socks

Swiftwick VIBE™

The Swiftwick VIBE™ is a medium cushion, compression sock built for trail running.

The compression feature supports the muscles in your foot, which is perfect for the trail. As you’re running on uneven terrain, you need something that will support you every step of the way.

I test a “no show” size and the height fit comfortably on my foot. I didn’t experience any rubbing between the sock or my shoe on my ankle bone.

The Swiftwick VIB Zero is perfect for runs is warmer temperatures.

It should also be noted that the Swiftwick VIBE comes in a two heights, including the Zero (no show) and One (ankle length)

Swiftwick PURSUIT™

Now that it’s getting colder, the PURSUIT™ has become my new favorite trail running sock.

Similar to the VIBE, the PURSUIT comes in several sizes, ranging from no show to calf-length. The ones I tried were the PURSUIT Four, which came up to the middle of my calves.

The PURSUIT is constructed with Merino wool and has a reinforced heel and toe for maximum durability. Merino is nature’s technical fiber. It absorbs moisture without feeling soggy and regulates temperature.

“Oh, but wool,” you think. “Isn’t it itchy?”

Not with Swiftwick. It was made with a Merino wool that produces a soft, no-itch feel throughout.

PR’ing my Trail Marathon Time

With gear reviews, we like to put in the miles.

With Swiftwick, I wanted to see if I could beat my trail marathon time.

During my last ultra, one of the challenges I had was blisters on the bottom of my foot from my socks moving that slowed me down on the final 10 miles. I had to stop, pop, drain, and apply bandaids.

But with Swiftwick, on some fairly technical terrain, I didn’t have the same problem.

These socks rock!

Tasc Performance Apparel Review

When I stopped at the Tasc Performance booth at Outdoor Retailer, I knew I had stumbled onto a pretty special and unique brand.

Tasc Performance clothes are made from a bamboo fiber blend, which is great for any type of activity due to its moisture-wicking, anti-odor, and wrinkle-resistant properties.

At Outdoor Retailer, it was immediately noticeable how lightweight and comfortable their clothing was. The bamboo fiber blend made it extremely soft and I knew I had to try them out on the trail.

Field Testing

Tasc sent me a handful of products to review. In this post, we’ll break down two products: the Carrolton Tee and the Recess Short.

The Recess Short

Tasc Performance Recess Short

With the Tasc Performance Recess Short, the softness of the bamboo fiber blend was immediately apparent. It might TMI, but I have been have some chafing issues in the nether region. During the field test I took them out on a mountain hike and several runs and I never experienced any redness or soreness down there. I also through in a handful of home workouts and yoga sessions.

When comparing them to my other go-to running shorts, they also weighed in 2 grams lighter.

The shorts have several pockets for storage. I was able to easily hold a few gels and a flexible water bottle in the side pockets, and my keys in a zippered side pocket. On the bamboo liner, it has a cell phone pocket that easily held my iPhone 12 Pro.

The pockets kept things secure enough so that there wasn’t too much bouncing, but ideally on longer runs, I would store a majority of those things in my running pack.

Not getting chafed by itself made these shorts a winner. But I’ve also just lounged around the house in them. The liner isn’t too tight or constrictive. It kept everything in it’s place while giving me room to stretch out.

I also found that they are suitable to nearly every workout activity I could think of. While doing jump squats or downward-facing dog, I never felt that the shorts were slipping in a way that would expose my butt crack. But I also didn’t find myself constantly adjusting the liner.

The Carrolton Tee

Tasc Performance Carrolton Tee

To say that the Tasc Performance Carrolton Tee is as smooth and as soft as butter may sound like an exaggeration, but it’s not. I wish all my shirts were this soft.

While on my mountain hike, I had my go-to running back slung over it, and what I noticed was that I really liked the collar.

The collar sits a bit higher than my other running shirts. And what’s great about it is that I didn’t experience the normal chaffing I would get around my neck from my running pack. It’s the little things that make a difference.

The bamboo fiber also lays a bit different than a normal running shirt. It is heavier and because of that, I didn’t experience the typical riding-up I normally would have during yoga or HITT workouts.

The Bottom Line

Truth be told: I’m a big fan of Tasc Performance.

Not only were they really comfortable during my activities, but I put them through the ringer to test out the other bamboo proprieties: moisture-wicking and anti-odor.

I spent around 15 hours of heavy activity in them and they passed the smell test. I mean, it was a little funky towards the end, but it didn’t have the normal funk of my workout and running clothes.

If you’re looking to upgrade your running apparel or needing something that you just want to be comfortable in, look no further than Tasc Performance.

Huck Adventures Podcast, Episode 2: Abby Mitchell

Abby Mitchell

On today’s episode, we’re joined by Abby Mitchell, a trail-runner, ultra marathoner, and all around awesome person. We talk about trail-running, the Boulder running community, the sense of connection running can bring, her favorite gear, and being plant-fueled. Abby is also sponsored by Adidas. During our conversation she mentions a couple of her favorite products. If you’re interested, click on the link in the notes to learn more.

Adidas Terrex Parley 2 Knit

Ultimate Direction Comfort Belt

Adidas Skort

Suunto 9

Listen on: Google PlayApple Podcast or Spotify and make sure you click the subscribe button.

My Minimalist Journey – Vibram FiveFinger V-Trail Review

In 2009, I was introduced to the barefoot movement by a Kansas City based barefoot runner—Barefoot Ted or Barefoot Ned, I can’t remember. It was the same year that Born to Run by Christopher McDougall was published. After my first barefoot running session and feeling those sensations of grass and squishing mud—sensations that I don’t think I felt since I was a child—I ran out and picked up the book, devouring it over the course of a week.

Between runs in modern running shoes, I would try to run barefoot, a little bit at a time. After a particularly scorching summer day on sidewalks, I realized that urban Kansas City wasn’t the best place to embrace the movement. But the core idea of the movement was in the back of my head: how can I get back to a place where my feet were behaving naturally and how can I get more connected with the surfaces I was running on.

Almost a year later, in 2010, I had a running injury that caused me severe pain in my achilles tendon. It didn’t matter what pair of shoes I tried, the modern rigid structure of various brands caused me to almost stop running.

That was when I was first introduced to Vibram FiveFingers. They were preparing for their launch of their Bikilas line, and it was love at first sight.

Prior to their launch, I decided to make my own pair of huarache sandals, so that I could continue running. Imagine the shock of the local cobbler when I came in with instructions to cut 4mm Vibram rubber into the shape of my feet.

After another month, the Bikilas were launched, and I made my first purchase of Vibram FiveFingers. Over the years, I owned two different releases of Bikilas, Spyridon for trail-running, TrekSport, and the V-Run. I would wear them running, on dates with the wife, and to work. There was something magical about those shoes that kept me going back to them.

This past year, I moved to Boulder, Colorado, and was introduced to winter and mountain running. The Spyridon became my go-to for snowy runs up Bear Mountain or on some of the more technical trails in Boulder.

But then Vibram sent me a pair of their FiveFinger V-Trail to review.

The update to their trail-running line up was immediately evident. One of the main differences was in the shape of the heel cup. There was more padding, which made pulling the shoe on and off a lot easier, but also provided more protection which is key in more technical terrain.

The fit is really comfortable too. I felt secure in them, but as I ran over rocks and tree roots, it was the right sense of protection but still having the sense of connection and ground feel. Going up Mount Sanitas in Boulder felt amazing. On the uphill climb, I felt more stable and secure, and was able to push myself harder. Because of the way FiveFingers fit—essentially like a glove for your feet—I was able to grip, dig in with my toes, and push myself up boulders a lot quicker. On the downhill of that particular run I felt more in control, finding myself in an almost meditative pattern over familiar terrain.

I also took the opportunity to take them on a 15-mile trail loop called Dirty Bismark. There isn’t a lot of elevation gain and the trail wasn’t too technical, so it became a speed game—seeing how fast I could go in the shoes before I felt worn out.

But that’s the magical thing about minimalist running: when you do it long enough, you start training your body to use all the bones and muscles in your foot; you’re not just more connected to the ground, your connecting deeper with yourself.

For the fit, if you’re new to Vibram FiveFingers, it definitely something to try out in store, if you have the opportunity. With the various pairs I own—bought over the course of eight years—sizes range from 41-44. If you’re ordering from their site, Vibram’s sizing guide for their FiveFinger line is very handy. You also need to consider whether you’ll be active in them with socks or without, since that will impact sizing. For myself, I go both ways. Usually if I am heading out on short runs, I’ll wear them without socks, but for longer runs, I’ll toss on a pair of Injinji trail socks.

When I headed up Mt Bierstadt and Mt Evans this summer, I ran/hiked in the V-Trail and Injinji combination. It was the perfect shoe for the more technical aspects of Sawtooth Ridge, providing a sense of stability where some of my other minimalist footwear choices wouldn’t. Even though the route was around 12 miles with 4,500 foot in elevation gain, my feet didn’t feel tired—everything else did, but my feet felt great.

All in all, since picking up the Vibram FiveFinger V-Trail, I have put around 200 miles on them and couldn’t be happier. For the mileage, you can’t see any wear and tear. This is another great thing about FiveFingers and minimalist shoes in general—you don’t tear through them as quickly as other shoes. Typical, modern running shoes have a shelf life, depending on the brand, of around 250-500 miles. There’s still FiveFinger shoes in my collection that are 5 years old, with over 500 miles on them that I still wear. With my FiveFingers, the only ones I’ve retired are the ones wear I’ve completely worn through the outsole.

If you’re part of the minimalist movement, you should definitely pick up a pair of the V-Trail and hit some trails with them. If you’re new to minimalism, please keep in mind that transitioning from modern running shoes to minimalist takes time. It took me four months of running in my Bikilas to run a 10K comfortably; you build a little bit at a time, strengthening muscles and bones that haven’t been used in a long time. In this article, you’re only seeing a small slice of my minimalist journey. I started eight years ago, but didn’t start running in minimalist shoes full time until four years ago. I’ll share some additional details in future posts.

Please let us know if you have any additional questions about the V-Trail or any other minimalist shoes. You can reach me at jnelson@huckadventures.com or if you’re in Boulder, feel free to look up one of my upcoming trail running adventures as part of Huck Adventures.