Monday, June 18, 2018

2018 Arc’teryx Review

If you are like me, you may not have heard of Arc’teryx before.  They are an outdoor clothing company based out of North Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada.  Their name and logo refers to the Archaeopteryx Lithographica, which is the first reptile to develop the feather for flight (something to bring up at your next trivia night).  Their parent corporation is Amer Sports, which includes Salomon, which has built up quite the following in the outdoor sports world.  I have been working with the Arc’teryx store at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto (660 Stanford Shopping Center Suite 1030, Palo Alto, CA 94304).  If you head in, be sure to say hi to Dan Kirk. 

The company was founded in 1989 by local climbers whose goals were to create equipment that enables a person to be immersed in the moment no matter what the conditions are.  Arc’teryx also believes highly in environmental stewardship, responsible manufacturing, and community engagement.  I recently tested five products including the Adan Short, Accelero Comp Zip Neck SS Shirt, Incendo Hat, Norvan LD Shoe, and Norvan 7 Hydration Vest.

Adan Short

Shorts are something that are vital for me.  I have dealt with chaffing issues in the past, mainly because I carry a little more junk in the trunk thanks to bad genetics and a diet that could be approved upon.  The Soleus Shorts were the first shorts I tested from Arc’teryx and I was excited since they are a higher end brand, which is evident in their prices as well. 

The Adan Short is a super lightweight short that stretches with you whether you are running the flat roads near your house or climbing up a gnarly hill in the mountains.  It’s made with a quick drying material and has a small side split on the side.  The back of the shorts features a smaller stash pocket with a zipper.  

The inside of the shorts features a draw string to tighten the shorts and an inner brief.  My only issue is that in the medium shorts, the brief was a little small on me and caused chaffing issues.  I contacted Arc’teryx and quickly received a size large as an exchange, which alleviated any issues with fit or chaffing. 

I really like the Adan Short.  It moves really well with my body no matter what I throw its way.  The shorts retail for $79.00 on the Arc’teryx website.

Accelero Comp Zip Neck Short Sleeve Shirt

The Accelero shirt is a performance shirt that uses two different fabrics for those hot days on the trail.  The Helius™ material on the front of the shirt wicks moisture away and protects your skin from the sun with a UPF 50+ rating.  It is extremely smooth on your skin and prevents chaffing on those hot, sweaty runs.  The back and sholders of the shirt utilize a Viente™ mesh that is used to increased airflow and provides a cooling effect.  The combination of the two materials provides a very comfortable shirt that easily moves with you and keeps you cool. 

Another feature of the Accelero shirt is the zip neck.  I haven’t run with a shirt like this before and actually like the zip neck because I can unzip the shirt if I need a little extra ventilation.  At only 4.8 ounces, it is really light weight and almost feels like it is a part of you.  The Accelero shirt fits true to size and retails for $75.00 on the Arc’teryx website.

Incendo Hat

Sometimes a hat is just a hat, but there are other hats that provide more ventilation, are super lightweight, and just feel great.  The Incendo Hat would be the second type of hat.   Incendo Hat is a lightweight, ventilated hat that not only protects you from the sun and wind, but does an awesome job at wicking moisture away and is even moisture resistant for those rainy days. 

The material is really light and fits great using a cord in the back of the hat to tighten for an optimized fit.  I have been grabbing this hat more than any other hat in my closet because it simply is a top-notch choice.  I used the Incendo Hat at the American River 50 Mile and it performed flawlessly for over 12 hours.  The Incendo Hat retails for $45.00 on the Arc’teryx website.

Norvan LD Shoe

I have been interested in testing a shoe from Arc’teryx ever since I tested some of their gear last year.  I know that they really put a lot of thought and technology into their gear and knew that the shoes would be great.  The LD in Norvan LD stands for “Long Distance” meaning that this shoe was designed to provide comfort mile after mile. 

The Norvan LD starts at the bottom with a Vibram® Megagrip outsole for a nice grip on technical trails.  The cushion of the midsole is nice and springy, but provides a great deal of responsiveness so you can be quick and nimble on the trail. 

The upper material helps to regulate temperature by allowing moisture to escape the shoe with ease.  This makes for an airy shoe that will keep your feet from overheating.  It also lets water drain fairly easily after creek crossings.  I also like that it doesn’t allow dirt and debris to come in through the mesh, which can be an issue with some trail shoes.

The laces are thin and flat, which makes it easy to get a secure fit.  There is a lace storage system in the tongue, which keeps those laces from getting snagged on a branch (not that it‘s ever happened to me).

The Norvan LD comes in at 10.9 ounces, which is a little heavier than some trail shoes, but it doesn’t feel that heavy.  The place where this shoe really excels is the construction.  I haven’t seen a shoe that is built like this.  It is one solid shoe, from the stitching, to the welds.  The durability is something that I don’t worry about at all.  The Norvan LD comes in four colors and retails for $160 on the Arc’teryx website. 

Norvan 7 Hydration Vest

I also got to test out the Norvan 7 Hydration Vest.  Talk about a solid, high performance vest that you can take anywhere.  I have tested numerous vests over the years, but was extremely impressed with the features and build quality of this vest from Arc’teryx.

The Norvan 7 was built to provide functionality as well as be extremely comfortable, which I have to say that it hit both of those marks.  It is light weight at 9 ounces and holds a 2-liter bladder from Source (which is a great company).  The bladder has a quick connect hose and comes out the side of the pack at the bottom, which I found better than the packs where the hose comes over your shoulder. 

This pack has more pockets that you can imagine.  Besides the hydration bladder, you have two larger chest pockets, which can accommodate flexible bottles (not included).  There are two lower pockets at the bottom front of each side.  There is a large pocket where you can store stuff in the back as well as a smaller mesh pocket and a zipper pocket in the rain cover.  There are also pockets on the side toward the back which double for pole pockets.

The pole pockets are reinforced to put the sharp edge of your trekking poles.  First you put the poles in the pockets and then use the bungee cables to secure the poles.  It is easy to do with the pack on and securely holds the poles in place.  This is a great feature for longer runs or at times when you want to poles for climbing, but want to put them away for downhills. 

Arc’teryx  thought of almost everything for this pack.  While the material is a little stiffer than my Salomon packs, I like the fit and feel of the Norvan 7.  After over a dozen test runs, I can say that this is a solid pack that most people will really enjoy (because no pack will work for all people).  The price is slightly higher than some packs out there, but for the build quality and features, the price is great.  You can get the Norvan 7 at the Arc’teryx  website for $179.00. 

The Arc’teryx Social Media Links:

Arc’teryx makes some amazing products.  While some of their products have a higher price tag, I think they are worth the extra money.  I am a strong believer that paying a few extra dollars on a product that will make your hours of running more enjoyable is more than worth it, especially if the gear lasts for quite a while.  I challenge you to find products with a better build quality.  I love my Arc’teryx gear and highly recommend it.  If you have tried any of their gear out, drop me a line and let me know what you think.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Squirrel’s Nut Butter Review

It doesn’t matter if you are an elite runner or a weekend warrior, if you have ever had chaffing issues, you never want to let it happen again.  There are a bunch of different products out there and I have tried most of them.  I was given a sample of Squirrel’s Nut Butter at the Salmon Falls 50k last year and decided to give it a try after hearing great things about it. 

Squirrel’s Nut Butter makes an anti-chafe and restorative skin salve.  Chris and Stacy Thornley founded the company out of their own necessity.  Their daughter battled severely dry skin and Stacy, who is a Registered Nurse specializing in allergies, decided to start exploring solutions.  None of the skin health products she had found could properly help with her daughters eczema and other conditions.  She put her knowledge to work and started trying to create a salve.  It took a ton of trial and error, but finally an effective product was created. 

Chris and Stacy started offering the product to friends and family around Flagstaff, where they live.  Everybody loved it!  Eventually the new product made its way to a guy whose nickname is Squirrel (who works for Chris’ tree cutting company).  He tried the product instead of his normal anti-chafe product and raved about how well it worked.  Chris came up with the name and started marketing the product to endurance athletes.  Once he knew he would be able to sell the product, it was time for a name.  Because the original blend was made with almond oil, he knew the name had to be Squirrel’s Nut Butter.

Squirrel’s Nut Butter is now made with four simple ingredients; coconut oil, cocoa butter, beeswax, and vitamin E oil.  They have been selling their product since 2015 and it has really taken off.  It is now utilized in several sports including running, cycling, triathlon, hiking, and any other sport where chaffing may be an issue. 

They now have a spicy salve for pre and post workouts called Born to Rub.  Happie Toes is a foot-specific salve blended with peppermint and tea tree oils.  They even have a vegan version of the original Squirrel’s Nut Butter.  In addition to being an anti-chafe product, it prevents blisters on your feet and can heal and restore your dry, irritated skin (including eczema).

I have been using Squirrel’s Nut Butter for months now and have to say that I like it way better than the other products out there.  There are several reasons why.  The first reason is that it isn’t clumpy like Bodyglide.  It isn’t greasy and won’t stain your clothes like other products either.  It isn’t made with a ton of chemicals that I can’t pronounce.  It simply is easy to put on and works forever.  I ran my recent 50 miler and didn’t have a single chaffing issue after 13.5 hours of really wet and hot running.  I couldn’t have thrown more at Squirrel’s Nut Butter and it protected me like my own personal secret service. 

They recommend that if you are looking to use it in colder temperatures, that the stick works best, which is my favorite option.  They also have a double-walled tub that works great in heat up to 120 degrees.  In cold weather the SNB can get rather hard.  I just rubbed it between my hands for a few seconds to have it melt.  Then I applied it where needed.

I really liked the Happie Toes as well.  My feet really get thrashed, especially when I am doing a lot of runs in the rain and mud.  My feet get dry and sometimes even start to crack.  Other brand’s products are okay, but I really liked the effectiveness and feeling of the Happie Toes. 

Price List:
2.7 ounce sticks SNB $16.95
2.0 ounce double wall plastic jar SNB $13.95
2.0 ounce tub of Vegan SNB $13.95
4.0 ounce tub of Happie Toes $19.95
0.5 ounce double wall plastic SNB $4.95
0.75 ounce stick of SNB $8.95
1.7 ounce stick of Born to Rub $19.95
* all products can be purchased at the Squirrel's Nut Butter website

Great anti-chafe product lasts forever
All natural
Washes off easily and won’t stain clothes
Great prices

Squirrel’s Nut Butter’s Social Media Links

I can’t say enough good things about Squirrel’s Nut Butter.  It really is an amazing product and would definitely recommend it over other products.  The only downside is that because it is made with cocoa butter, it does have a chocolaty smell (more like cocoa), which makes me want candy.  Hopefully it doesn’t make a bear think I am a huge candy bar. 

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.