Posted in BibRave Reviews, Running, Thoughts

Apparel, Shoes, and Backpacks Oh My

Disclaimer: I received items from Altra Running, Handful , Vuori , Vooray, and Brooks Running from The Running Event as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! No further compensation was given and as always, all opinions are my own. 

I know, I know. It’s after Christmas and the last thing you’d need is more running gear, right? But hey, there’s no harm in looking. 🙂

I was fortunate enough to receive awesome running apparel and shoes and I’d love to share my thoughts on them.

Altra Running – Escalante 1.5

Handful – Adjustable Bra and Squeeze Play Capri (Mesh Side Panel)

Vuori – Omni Performance Short

Vooray – ACE Backpack, Black Nylon

Brooks – Ghost 11 and LSD Jacket

Disclaimer: This is a really long post so if you’re only interested in one or two, feel free to skip to those reviews. 🙂

Altra Running

Trying out new shoes always sends me into panic mode. My feet are pretty sensitive to shoe changes. I found that if I wear ballet flats to work or heels to work one day, I feel the negative effect of it in my run the next day.

So when I was given a pair of Altra Running’s Escalantes 1.5 in silver, I was super worried about testing them out because well, I am used to wearing shoes that have more of a drop . But after speaking to the owner Brian about how to switch from a high drop shoe to a zero drop shoe, I felt more comfortable trying them out. For reference, I have run comfortably in shoes that have drops starting from 6 mm to 12 mm so you can see why I’d be nervous about going to a 0 mm drop shoe.

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Note: The drop of a shoe is the difference between the height of the heel and the height of the toe. With a high drop shoe, most of the striking will be done with the heel. With a low drop shoe, the striking is primarily done with the mid-foot or forefoot. There are benefits to both and depending on whether you’re injury prone in one specific area, one type of shoe may be better than the other.

Brian told me that most runners can comfortably switch to a lower drop shoe, but it does take time. He suggested putting them into my shoe rotation on 3-4 mile EASY runs. For the other runs, I would switch back to my other running shoe (the Brooks Ghosts). He mentioned that over time, my feet would adapt and I could comfortable run in them for longer distances.

What was my experience?

I did a test walk in them to get used to them first and found them to be really comfy. They have a roomy square toe box, allowing my toes to be more comfortably splayed than other shoes. Once I felt comfortable enough walking in them, I took them out for a short easy 3 miler and on that first run, I had no problems. I’ve run in them five to six times now and haven’t found any really huge issues with them. I do notice that I strike differently in these shoes, which was expected, and I was a bit more sore after the initial run, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well they worked for me. I will continue to use these for my shorter runs and possibly during my interval workouts as these shoes are much lighter than my other ones and appear to be more responsive.

Handful

When I heard that Handful was one of the vendors at The Running Event (TRE), I was over the moon. Last year, I received a Handful Adjustable bra for Christmas and honestly, it’s become one of my most comfortable sports bras.

For those who may not know, Handful makes really comfortable active wear. They have a few different types of sports bras that range in support levels.

Their adjustable bra, which is the one I received at TRE, is meant for girls who are, well, like me. They provide me with the support that I need when I go running and also do not flatten the girls (yes, I did just say that).

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What are my favorite things about this bra aside from the support?

  • Resilience – I’ve had the original adjustable bra I got for over a year and it’s held its shape over the year. I’ve had sports bras that over time will lose shape over the wash and they just don’t feel the same. A year in and I feel like this bra has retained its shape a lot better.
  • Removable “Lights Out” pads – For a lack of a better way to describe what these are, I think I will just leave you with their description, which I think is pretty spot on.

“Our Handful Pads can be used to amplify what you were born with–think high heels in Vegas–or to replace what cancer, breastfeeding, or gravity has taken away. No one needs to know whether you are hot or cold!”

  • Non-restrictive – I’ve had sports bras that are supportive, but really restrict my torso and are difficult to take off. The adjustable bra is super easy to put on and take off and is really comfortable to wear even for an entire day.
  • Fun colors and names – Booya black, Lit, DeStressed, and No Headlights White? I mean, just the names of the bras are really fun and creative. They have an assortment of colors that are fun to mix and match.

Do they sell other things?

Yes! They do. I was also given a pair of their Squeeze Play Capris with a side mesh panel and really like them. They are high waisted with ruching details in the back that is fairly flattering for the backside. 😛 On both sides, there is a mesh panel, which accents the length of the leg, which I really like. Also, their fabric is moisture wicking so you can run in them without chafing or burning up. 🙂

They also have a versatile top called the Flippin’ Awesome Scoop Tank that caught my eye at TRE. Not only could you wear it to work with a blazer or just dress up with it, you can flip the tank and make it a workout tank. I thought it was also really flattering.

Vuori

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Vuori is actually a San Diego based company. Woot woot for my home town representing. They started out as an athletic wear store for men because there were limited options for men at the time. Then, lucky for me, they branched out and also started a women’s line of active wear. I was given a small Omni performance shorts in the color moss and was pleased at how well they fit me. For reference, I’m 5 ft and ~120 lb.

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Features of the shorts:

Fit: I love that the top of the shorts don’t grab at my waistline so it doesn’t bunch up my muffin top like some shorts do.

Back pocket: If shorts do not have a back pocket, it makes me sad. Lucky for me, the Omni shorts did so I just store a few gels in there when my FlipBelt gets too full of them during a race. LOL.

Fabric: It’s comfortable and moves well with running. I ran the Honolulu marathon in fairly humid weather with these shorts and there were no complaints.

Notable mentions?

I believe their number one seller is their performance joggers. I unfortunately didn’t test them, but the fabric for the joggers are SUPER soft and I know several people who swear by them. I may end up requesting them as a birthday present or you know just treat myself to one in the near future.

Vooray

Hooray for Vooray! If you’ve been to a running specialty store lately, chances are you’ve seen these Vooray bags around. Their cute bags are designed more or less for athletic use – storage for your running shoes, workout clothes, yoga mats, etc. I was given an Ace backpack, in Black Nylon, and am in love with how light weight it is and how comfortable it is to wear.

Features:

Exterior: Made of printed nylon so it’s really soft and even the shoulder straps are padded making the backpack more comfortable to wear.

Interior: It’s also made of nylon with the exception of the laptop sleeve, which is lined in some type of fur. This prevents your electronics from getting scratched.

Lightweight: It barely weighs anything so you don’t have to worry about carrying around any extra weight from the backpack when traveling. Despite it being so lightweight, it can also surprisingly carry a lot of things in it. When I first received it from TRE, it carried all of the swag I received (sans the two pairs of running shoes).

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Water bottle pockets: On each side, there are pockets that you can keep your misc objects in or maybe even two water bottles. I personally like keeping water bottles on the outside in case they spill so I think this is a great design.

Brooks Running

When I first started seriously running, my first pair of proper running shoes were Brooks Ghost 7s. So of course, I was ecstatic to see that I had received a pair of Brooks Ghost 11s to test out. Even if I didn’t always run in them, I’ve actually pretty consistently owned a pair of Ghosts throughout the years as I think they’re a pretty dependable brand and a great shoe to consider for beginner runners if you wear a neutral shoe type. Brooks also have great shoes for stability runners too (ie Adrenalines) so keep that in mind if you’re on the lookout for a new shoe.

Now back to the Ghost. The Ghost 11s are the first pair of Ghosts to have a structured mesh that wraps the foot more securely. The material is stretchy and allows your feet to fit more snugly, but also allows your foot to flex when needed. It also was designed to have a roomier toe box, but I personally found that it didn’t quite fit my foot shape as well as I had hoped. I prefer the older designs, but am still definitely keeping this shoe in my rotation as it provides a lot of support for my knees and can take on quite a bit of mileage.

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I was also fortunate enough to test out their LSD (stands for long slow distance) jacket and let me just say that this jacket saved me from freezing when it rained in Honolulu. Not only is this jacket water resistant, it’s also windproof, super lightweight, and is reflective. It even has an elastic arm band that you can bunch it up into and slide it onto your arm in case you need it. I don’t normally run in long sleeves because I heat up pretty quickly, so this jacket was actually a great solution. I just wear a tank top and wear this jacket over it. If I get too warm, I just take the jacket off and wrap it up and attach it to my arm. The jacket isn’t extremely breathable, but I found that by just unzipping it a bit, it wasn’t an issue anymore.

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So there you have it, a review of all of the products I received at TRE. If you have any questions about any of the products I’ve reviewed in this post or in my last post here (Nuun, Addaday, Arcanum, CEP Compression, IncrediWear), please let me know in the comments below and I’d be happy to answer them.

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