Product Review: Coast HX5 Flashlight

While at Outdoor Retailer in early August, I stopped by to see my pals at Coast to check out their latest light products to see if they had anything new that may resonate with the trail running crowd.  I have reviewed, and generally raved, about a couple of their headlamps over the past year, but I have been wanting to try a handheld for the longest time and decided to focus my attention to those.  I ended up walking away from their booth with the HX5 handheld, which is the one I thought would best fit into what we do.

DISCLAIMER: Coast provided me with a HX5 for the purposes of this review, however, I will always strive to remain neutral in my reviews for the benefits of my readers as well as the company in the effort to improve and innovate their products.

Product Overview

coast_hx5_master

First off, the headlamp versus handheld argument is largely one of personal preference.  Proponents of handhelds say that having the light source originate closer to the ground provides better depth perception on the trail.  Of course, with a headlamp you can keep your hands free and not disrupt your arm motion.  Whatever your preference may be, the flexibility offered with the HX5 can provide a solution for everyone.  It is one of the smaller handhelds in their product line, but still offers the right amount of functionality.  Here are the specs:

Light Output / Distance / Runtime:

  • Alkaline: 130 lumens / 79m / 03:45 (hh:mm)
  • NiMH: 125 lumens / 77m / 01:15 (hh:mm)
  • Li Ion: 345 lumens / 130m / 00:45 (hh:mm)

Length:

  • 4 in (10.16 cm)

Weight:

  • 2.5oz (70 g)

Additional Key Features:

  • Two-way clip allows you to clip it to anything, such as the bill of your hat, pointing forward or backward.
  • Simple slide interface to transition between spot or flood mode (or anything in between).
  • Water resistant for use outside in inclement weather.
Price:
Performance
I found the 130 lumens to cast out enough light for most hiking and running situations, although it might be best suited during sunrise/sunset or when there is a brighter moon in the sky.  It is comparable in light output to some entry level running lamps, such as previous versions of the Black Diamond Spot.  I also found that the quality of the LED light was consistent with previous praises I have given to other Coast products.  In short, I was more than comfortable running on dark trails with this light as my primary source.
I did play around with spot versus flood modes and found that spot was more suitable while running whereas flood was better when I needed to stop and look around as it casts a wider light.  Here are a few samples of what the light output looked like:

Spot/Flood/Hybrid

Lastly, I wanted to see if I could realistically use it as a headlamp by clipping it to the bill of my hat.  I usually run with a hat on, but the bill of a hat tends to block light from a headlamp requiring me to either take off my hat or turn it backwards.  By clipping the HX5 onto the bill of my hat, it casts the light beyond the bill and thereby is unobstructed.  I also found that because there is not much weight to the light, it didn’t cause my hat to bounce or move while running.  I found it funny that although I started to test this as a handheld, I actually began using it more as a headlamp.  In fact, I have been using this exclusively for the past three weeks on all of my runs that I start in the early morning because it is so convenient to use and then take off mid run and stuff in my pack.

Conclusion

Pros:

  • Versatility to be used as a headlamp (by clipping to your hat) or as a handheld is a great feature.  As a trailrunner, this was probably the most important because it allows me to carry something light and with a small footprint on me as a backup and to use it in the matter that is most suitable for whatever my needs may be.
  • Variable beam control that allows you to transition between flood and spot mode, depending on what kind of light you need to cast out.  If you prefer something in between, the HX5 can do that too.
  • Only requires a single AA battery so you won’t be churning through tons of batteries if you run a lot at night.

Cons:

  • No variable light output controls…instead, it requires you to swap to a different battery type.  While I find 130 lumens to be sufficient for my intended use, if you like more light output, you will need to put either a NiMH or Li Ion battery in the light.  In doing so however, you also drastically reduce the run time.  And let’s be honest, with the weight, size, and price point of this flashlight, it is a fair trade off.
  • I found it comfortable to hold, but for those with bigger hands, it might feel a bit small.  I think they could add another half inch without increasing the weight and it would be perfect.

At a miminum, every trail runner that runs in the dark should give a serious look at picking one of these up 9at least as a backup light).  It is lighter and smaller than carrying a backup headlamp and can be used headlamp style or as a handheld.  Also, at half the cost of a headlamp with similar performance, it really is a no brainer.  Given the low cost, I would also consider this for road running where you typically have more ambient light and a more consistent terrain.

If you like this post and would like to stay up to date when future gear reviews, race reports, and other related posts are released, please follow my Facebook page at Ultrarunner Joe!

Product Review: Topo Athletic Ultrafly

It has been a while since I have posted a product review.  With my peak training in full swing and the constant grind of everyday life, I have been left with little spare time.  Fear not though!  I have been out testing a few things and finally found some time to polish up my review of the new Topo Ultrafly, released in May 2016.

DISCLAIMER: I am a member of the 2016 Topo Athlete Team and these shoes were provided to me free of charge.  As always though, I aim to provide my honest feedback to help you make the right buying decision and to help Topo continuously improve their products.

Product Overview

As those of you that have been following me for a while are well aware of, I try to get most of my miles in on the trails. However, with my schedule, I still manage to log a fair amount of road and treadmill miles out of necessity.  Downside, lack of scenery; upside, I get to try out even more shoes!

The Topo Ultrafly is an extension to Topo’s Road line of shoes and is their most cushioned shoe to date.  At 28mm in the heel and 23mm in the forefoot, it offers a more cushioned ride than their Fli-lyte and Magnify models and you can definitely feel the difference when you put it on your foot.  Additionally, this is the first shoe from Topo that offers “light support” through the incorporation of a denser foam on the medial side of the outsole.  So, while it isn’t a full on support shoe (it doesn’t incorporate plastic posts like most other support shoes), it does provide a bit more support than its brothers and sisters.  The outsole pattern and upper are not identical to their other road shoes, but are similar enough in look, fit, and feel that if you like the other road shoes from Topo, you will not have to adjust much to these.  Lastly, the 5mm heel-to-toe drop offers a more natural foot feel without having to transition all the way to zero drop…it is a happy median.

M_Ultrafly-Black_Yellow-hero-944x720

Specs

Release Date: May, 2016
Price: $120 (An extra 20% off at topoathletic.com with code TOPODEAN20)
Weight: 9.2 oz (M9)
Stack Height: 28mm/23mm (5mm Heel to Toe Drop)
Fit: True to Size

Design/Fit

The design and fit holds true to Topo principles.  It fits true to size and follows the foot shaped design that gives you freedom in the toe box while securing the rest of the foot through the mid foot and heel.  The upper is light and breathable, yet durable.  My pair of Ultrafly has over 100 miles on them and they still look like I just took them out of the box.

Performance

Comparably Light

For a shoe with this kind of stack height, the Ultrafly is actually pretty light at 9.2 oz for a Men’s size 9.  It is at the lighter end of other comparable popular road shoes such as the Mizuno Wave Rider (9.7 oz) , Saucony Ride (9.2 oz), Nike Zoom Pegasus (9.9 0z.) and the Brooks Glycerin (10.6 oz). Topo saves a fair amount of weight with their light, breathable upper as well as through the strategic use of different foam types to incorporate in mild guidance without overdoing it on denser, heavier foam.  To be honest, I have never fretted too much over the weight of a shoe, particular within a half ounce or so and I don’t think most runners should either.  If the shoe performs for you and you train appropriately, then I don’t think it matters all that much to a majority of runners.

Comfort

The added cushion is definitely noticeable and makes for a great feeling underfoot.  With a 28/23 stack height, the Ultrafly definitely provides a soft, cushiony ride, but not without a minimal break-in period.  I found them to be a little stiff out of the box, but they did loosen up a tad after 25-30 miles.

Ride

Topo markets the Ultrafly as a guidance shoe thanks to the denser foam they use on the medial side of the shoe.  As this is further back on the shoe, you will probably notice this more if you are more a heel striker than you would if you run on your fore or mid foot.  The ride of this shoe was definitely plush, but I found the heel to toe transition to be a bit more stiff than their other road shoes, even after a break-in period.  As a support shoe, this is clearly by design and should resonate with the types of runners looking for a bit more in their shoe.

Conclusion

As a light support shoe, I think the Ultrafly is a solid first version.  It provides added support without hindering the natural movement of the foot, so it is not going to mess with your natural body mechanics.  While my personal preference is probably still for the more flexible Magnify, I would recommend this shoe to anyone that is looking for a shoe that embraces the natural shape and function of the foot while providing a bit more support.

Pro’s

  • The cushioning feels great under foot without being overly squishy.
  • The overall weight of the shoe, especially compared to its industry peers, is light.  The makes it a great candidate for race day or as an every day trainer.

Con’s

  • Not as flexible as I typically like in a shoe, but as this is built to be a moderate support shoe, this is by design.  It will work for runners that seek out more support in a shoe.
  • I don’t typically have to deal with rain as often on the road,  but I found the drainage to be less than ideal.  After a 6 mile run in pouring rain, they felt heavy and had puddles in the heels when I took them off.  This is due to the rubber bumper that wraps around the base of the upper.  I would like to see the next version to have some areas where the water can escape.  In the meantime, save these for dry days.

If you like this post and would like to stay up to date when future gear reviews, race reports, and other related posts are released, please follow my Facebook page at Ultrarunner Joe!

Endevr MyID Medical ID Bracelets

As an introverted trail runner, I spend a lot of time on the trails by myself.  Like most runners I know, before I head out the door I make sure that I have food, water, and my shoes.  And while my adventures take me to some pretty remote places, I find that I rarely think about what I would do in an emergency situation.  While I can’t plan for every scenario, at the very least, I make sure I always have identification with me.

Endevr, maker of the MyID medical information products, sent me a few of their products to review..  The first thing that caught my eye about Endevr was the range of their products that gives me many different options to ensure I can be identified no matter the situation.  This is the most comprehensive collection of medical ID products I have seen from a single company.  As a plus, their products aren’t limited to those that are physically active either; they make products for all members of the family, ensuring that no one is left without access to critical information in a time of need.

Overview

Endevr is all about creating an ecosystem with their MyID line.  After creating your information profile online for free, you can then link up to 10 bracelets, 5 sticker kits, and a wallet card to your profile.  Additionally, each product provides three methods for accessing the owners profile:

  • QR Code
  • Website
  • Phone Number

Let me quickly go over the products that they sent me.

Products

MyID Sport
MyID Sport – $19.95

The Sport is the more minimal of their bracelet offerings.  This is my preference because I don’t like larger, bulky bracelets while running.  It is made of durable silicone, making it water/sweat proof.  I actually haven’t taken it off since I got it, which speaks to the comfort and minimalism.  Another thing I love about the Sport is that they make kid sizes, which means you can get them for the whole family!  The biggest downside to the Sport is the size of the QR code, which I had trouble scanning with my iPhone.  I was able to get one out of the three apps I tried on my phone to read the QR code successfully. (NOTE: Endevr has let me know that they were aware of this and have implemented a new printing technique that resolves this issue – it will be available on all bracelets on August 1, 2016).

MyID Sleek
MyID Sleek – $29.95

The Sleek is a bit wider than the Sport, giving it a more sturdy feel.  The metal clasp allows you to adjust the size to the wearer, versus the non-adjustable Sport.  The one thing that I like about the Sleek is that it comes with the metal slider, which allows you engrave custom text in it.  This is great if you plan to be in remote places, because you can engrave key information in it in case you are outside of cell phone range and can’t use the other forms of retrieving the users information.  The downside is that the engraved slider comes with an extra $5 charge and is pretty restricted on the amount of text.

MyID Wallet
MyID Wallet Card – $9.95

The wallet card is hard plastic and is designed to fit into your wallet.  I like this for everyday use simply because when I am not running, I always have my wallet with me.  I keep it in my wallet with my driver’s license and health insurance card, both items that people typically search for in an emergency situation.

MyID Sticker
MyID Sticker Kit – $4.95

The sticker kit offers the most flexibility of any item they have.  It comes with four stickers that you can put anywhere.  Some good places to put these would be your bike, phone, gym membership key ring card, etc.  The possibilities are endless and with four, you can put them in places that ensure you are always identifiable.

Conclusion

I have switched over to MyID from RoadID as the ecosystem it makes me feel like I have all of my bases covered, which provides me with a much better sense of safety.  With MyID, I feel like my information is very accessible to those that may need it.  Additionally, I can create and manage an emergency information solution that works for my entire family.

Pros

  • Multiple ways to access the data ensures that your information can always be recovered.
  • Multiple products creates an ecosystem that ensures you always have your emergency information on you.
  • Not just for runners, but great for the whole family.
  • The app is easy to use for creating and maintaining your emergency information profile.  It allows you to store a ton of information that may be useful to emergency responders.

Cons

  • Other than getting the slider on the Sleek engraved with key information, these require you to have an internet or phone connection.  While first responders generally have better forms of communication in the backcountry, such as radios, this may be a problem in very remote locations if found by someone with access only to a mobile phone.

If you like this post and would like to stay up to date when future gear reviews, race reports, and other related posts are released, please follow my Facebook page at Ultrarunner Joe!