Product Review: OOFOS Recovery Sandals

If you have ever run an ultra marathon or cheered someone on at the finish line, you are likely familiar with one common behavior that nearly everyone crossing the finish line exhibits – the overwhelming desire to take your shoes off almost immediately.  Speaking for myself, after 6+ hours of running on technical terrain, my feet are sore and want freedom from my shoes.  Therein lies the problem; you want to take them off, but you still need to take care of your already thrashed feet.  I used to wear standard sandals, but they didn’t really provide much in terms of comfort or support.  A friend of mine suggested I try OOFOS and when I did, I knew I found my answer.  Let’s take a look!

DISCLAIMER: I am not affiliated with OOFOS in any way at the time of writing this review.  OOFOS did provide me with this product with no expectation of a review.  I am writing this review under my own direction and will look to provide honest, unbiased feedback.

Product Overview

OOFOS starts with their proprietary foam, which they call OOfoam.  Whereas traditional foam (like what you would find in running shoes) is designed for responsiveness, OOfoam serves the opposite purpose; it absorbs shock…up to 37% more than traditional foam according to OOFOS.  In addition, there are few few other benefits that resonate with me:

  • Unlike most sandals/flip-flops, they have tremendous arch support.
  • The foam maintains its shape and cushion for the entire life of the sandal.
  • They are shower ready and machine washable.

They offer three main styles to pick from as you can see below.  They are the OOahh Sport slide style sandal, the OOriginal flip-flop style sandal, and the OOcloog closed toe clog.  I will look at each one below.

Price: $45-60 at oofos.com (but you can sometimes find deals on Amazon.com after a quick search)

Before I get into each model more closely, let’s look at the outsole and talk a little bit about my overall experience with them.  The tread is the same on each model so you know what you are going to get.  As a recovery sandal, traction is not really my primary measurement, but I have found them to handle more than adequately.  Personally, I am more concerned with durability, stability, and comfort.

  • In terms of durability, I have gone from wearing them as post-run recovery sandals to everyday casual footwear so, needless to say, I have put quite a few miles on them.  Every model I have tried seems to hold up quite well.  Aside from being dirty and maybe a little worn, they look just about the same as when I took them out of the box.  Depending on your use, I am sure you could get several years/500+ miles out of a pair.
  • As a cushiony recovery shoe, one concern for some would be stability; would they be squishy and wobbly?  The short answer is no.  I would say that they are squishy where it counts; I have never felt like was was going to roll an ankle or anything because of an unstable platform.
  • When it comes to comfort, this is what sold me.  Their OOfoam creates the most comfortable footwear I have ever stepped into.  They feel great post run and I even wear them when I am working at my standing desk or just walking around.

So let’s take a look at some pictures of the three models and a few specific thoughts:


OOriginal

If you like flip flops, this is the way to go.  That being said, I found there to be a bit too much foam on the post in between the toes which I was a bit uncomfortable for me.


OOcloog

The OOcloog is easy to take on and off, but I am not so sure that the clog look is back in style yet.  🙂  On the flip side, I still wear them frequently because the closed-toe design provides a little more protection.  Plus, no one wants to have to look at my gross runners feet.  I also noticed that there seems to be a bit more support in the arch versus the other two models.


OOahh

Really not much to say about this one other than this is my favorite model.  They have a good look and are easy to slide off and on.  Really a great fit overall!

If you want my true opinion, I think these need to be in the finish line bag of every ultra runner.  It is important to take care of your feet after a long race and I have yet to find anything better.  Beyond long distance running though, if you are someone that spends a lot of time on your feet or just has problems with sore feet in general, you should consider a pair of OOFOS too.  You will be thankful on those days when you want to give your feet a break.

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!

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Product Review: Duckworth Vapor Tee

 

DW10301-14

Product Overview

For the past few days, I have been running in the Duckworth Vapor Tee, both indoors and outdoors, to fully test it out.  Duckworth is known for sourcing all of their wool from their very own ranch in Montana.  This gives them better control over the quality throughout the production lifecycle and allows them to produce a wool that is truly one of a kind.  The Vapor tee is a blend performance tee made of 38% wool, 50% recycled polyester, and 12% modal.  It is in their lightweight line of shirts and is meant as a summer wool shirt, although my experiences found that this would also be great (if not better) for Spring and Fall too.

Price: $60 at duckworthco.com

Looks

The neutral, earth tone colors keep the look simple and straight forward.  This resonates with me and most trail runners I know that typically prefer something a little less flashy.  Asides from running, it also makes for a great every day t-shirt as well.

Fit and Feel

I normally wear a medium shirt, so I got a medium in the Vapor tee as well.  It seemed to fit true to size on me.  As an average build runner, I did not find it to be too restrictive any of the key areas, such as the neck and shoulders; in fact, it felt comfortably loose all around.  If you have a more of a muscular build, it may fit a bit tighter in some areas, but the material is stretchy enough that I imagine it still wouldn’t feel too restrictive.  For most people, I would say that sizing up wouldn’t be necessary.

As for feel, this was one of the more comfortable wool-based shirts I have ever worn.  I always worry about wool being a little scratchy, particularly while I am running.  I also get concerned that it will start chaffing when it gets wet.  That was not my experience at all with this shirt…it felt great.  It seems to me that the blended composition of the shirt provides that softer feel without sacrificing the beneficial properties of the wool.

Performance

The wool itself has some key benefits, such as being anti-microbial as well as the natural warmth.  When blended with the polyester and modal fabrics, it also provides fast-wicking/ultra dry properties along with a cooling effect.  The end result is a shirt that does not get wet and heavy and can act in a warming or cooling manner to help keep your core temperature stable.

I purposely ran in it for several days in a row without washing it to test the advertised anti-microbial properties (willing to do whatever it takes to bring you a complete review).  I was curious, as a blended fabric shirt, if it would lose any of those benefits from the wool.  During this time, I wore it and stuffed it into a duffel bag in between runs to maximize the stink potential.  For the record, I would classify myself as an average sweater…not too wet, but not completely dry either.  After three runs across four days, I only had a very faint smell in the arm pit area, but other than that, it remained remarkably fresh.  I don’t imagine that most of us will reuse a shirt without washing it more than a couple times, but this is a great property nonetheless and certainly much better than other shirt materials that usually cause me to recoil from the resulting stench after a single run.

As far as temperature, I ran in it in temps ranging from 45 F to 80F.  In no instance did I feel particularly cold or hot.  At the start of my runs when it was cold, it kept me quite warm so that I wasn’t shivering.  Once I got going and my core temp increased, it didn’t make me overly hot in the least.  The other fabrics in the blend are said to produce a cooling effect when it gets wet from sweating.  While I can’t say that it produced any significant cooling effect, what I can say is that it didn’t add heat and did a great job at keeping my body temp stable, which is much more important to me.

Conclusion

While the price may scare many people away, you have to remember that you are getting probably the highest quality wool shirt on the market made from a tightly controlled population of Montana sheep and assembled here in the U.S.  In other words…top quality all around!  While I don’t envision running out and replacing my entire closet with these, I will likely grab one or two more and probably stash one in the back of my car for emergencies too.

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: 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!