Product Review: Kaenon Hard Kore Sunglasses

I am a total junky when it comes to sunglasses, as is evident by the full rack of shades sitting on top of my dresser.  I especially love finding a good pair of sunglasses for trail running.  That is why I jumped at the opportunity to review the Kaenon Hard Kore glasses.  Let’s take a look.

DISCLAIMER: Kaenon provided this pair of sunglasses for the purposes of this review.  As such, I always strive to provide an unbiased review for the benefit of both my readers looking for honesty and the company looking to improve their products.

Overview

Kaenon, founded by a pair of sailors (and brothers), has its roots in water sports.  They started the company in 2001 to build a product that addressed some of the main limitations and issues with eyewear at the time.  The result was a company that has innovated and grown to include several product lines.  Today, I am reviewing a model in their Kore Performance line, the Hard Kore.  Here are a few key features to highlight:

  • All Kaenon models start with their proprietary SR-91 lens.  This is their bread and butter.  SR-91 not only received the highest optical resolution score that you can get, but was the first non-polycarbonate material to pass the high-mass impact ANSI Z.87.1.  In other words, they offer unsurpassed clarity and durability.
  • Polarized lens that eliminate glare while offering full broad spectrum UV protection.
  • Supports prescription lenses so you don’t have to sacrifice vision quality.

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Price: $175+ on Amazon (click to view)

Use

I actually got these at Outdoor Retailer back in August (shame on me for taking so long to review), so I have had several months to wear the Hard Kore and put them to the test.  I chose the copper lenses due to their better contrast on the trails and have not been disappointed at all with how they have performed.

Above all else, they provide excellent clarity, allowing me a great view of the trail in both sunny and shaded conditions.  The polarization also provided great protection against glare of any sort without distorting the clarity whatsoever.  I did have some minor fogging on one chilly and rainy run, but that seemed to be either a one-time occurrence or unique to the cold/wet weather combination.  Beyond that, the clarity was never compromised in any other instance over my three months of testing.

From a comfort perspective, the frame stems are a bit wider/taller than you will see on most products out there and there were some pluses and minuses to this design.  On the plus side, the added contact to the sides of the head aided to keep the glasses in place.  As a result, I never experienced any bouncing or slipping of the frames.  The way they hugged the sides of the head also made them extremely comfortable.  Most recently, I spent 10 hours running in the Grand Canyon and never felt the need to take them off.  These are definitely an all-day pair of sunglasses.  On the flipside, I found that the footprint of the frames did interfere with some hats, most noticeably trucker style hats.  I usually run in the Headsweats floppy hat style, which gave me no problems, but you should keep that in mind.

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Conclusion

There are a lot of sunglass options out there of all shapes, sizes, and price.  Kaenon definitely prices alongside other premium brands, such as Oakley and Rudy Project.  While they would probably price too high for most people when it comes to everyday wear (myself included), I have always been of the mindset that one should always invest in a great pair of optics when it comes to activewear.  Perhaps it’s because I tend to be clumsy on the trails, but I feel that one shouldn’t sacrifice quality when it comes to having crystal clear vision on the trails.  That being said, if you are looking to make a solid investment in your gear, you should definitely give a hard look at the Kaenon Hard Kore.  Here are my pro’s and con’s.

Pro’s:

  • Light weight – They are super light on the face, which keeps you from noticing that they are even there.
  • Stable – They don’t slip or bounce on your face, which is important, especially because of how annoying it can be when you have to constantly push sunglasses back up on your face.
  • Optics – Probably, the most important feature to any trail runner, I found the optical clarity to be fantastic.  I went with the copper lens color because that color provides the best contrast on dirt terrain.  These were probably the best quality copper lenses I have ever worn.

Con’s:

  • Frames – They do hug the head nicely, but they are stems are wide/tall.  I didn’t find this to be a problem without head wear, but since I run with a hat on 95% of the time, I found that they do get in the way with certain types of hats.
  • Fogged up slightly during one heavy rain day with cooler (mid 40’s) temperatures.  Did not experience this on days when it rained, but the temperatures were higher.

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

 

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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!

Race Report: Skyline 50K 2016

The Skyline 50K (as well as marathon and half marathon) is a local race that takes place in the mountains East of Ogden, Utah.  Despite being just over an hour from my house, this was my first time running in this area.  I signed up for this one primarily as a tune up before my last race of the season in September, but with the weird season I have had, it also happened to be the first race since February that I have been completely healthy so it would also serve as true test of my health.  This race is tricky because, being in mid-August, it has the risk of getting quite hot.  As luck would have it though, we got a small break in the temperature as it was only expected to get into the upper 80’s.  This made for a great opportunity to have fun and enjoy the trails while also maybe pushing myself a little bit.  For the most part, I stuck with my strategy of running a consistently paced race without overtaxing my heart rate and ended up being only a couple of beats over my target average heart rate for the entire race (some of which may have been impacted by the bees – more on that later).

The race started from the Ben Lomand trailhead in Liberty, Utah immediately with a 3,000 foot climb over the first six miles.  I actually prefer this as it gives me a chance to warm up a bit without the pressure to start out in a sprint.  The grade of this first climb was pretty consistent all the way up, which meant it fairly runnable.  I ended up running 75% of this first climb to the aid station at the top without really extending outside of my heart rate threshold.  This race was full of unique challenges for me; the first was right around mile four.  While running through a particularly narrow, overgrown section of trail, I didn’t see a forward facing root sticking out of the ground which ended up skewering the upper on my shoe.  While it held together, I got to spend the next 27 miles with my toes sticking out of my shoe.  While this did force me to have to empty rocks out of my shoe more often, it didn’t seem to impact my running too much.


After topping off my water bottle, I began the first descent, which was six miles back downhill to the Ogden Divide.  This was a pretty runnable section of the course the whole way down, but was also the busiest section of the course in terms of hikers.  Still, it was pretty manageable.  At this point in the race, there were about four or five of us grouped together for the entire six miles.  Once down to this aid station, I filled my bottles back up again, got some fruit, and began the steepest (but last) climb of the course.  This is when my next personal challenge came in the form of multiple bee stings.  I haven’t been stung by a bee since elementary school when I got stung in the ear and it swelled completely shut making me look like an MMA fighter.  With this memory, I became somewhat concerned considering I now had three fresh bee stings.  I decided to hike slowly for the next 10-15 minutes to keep a close eye on my heart rate.  This probably ended up costing me a sub-6 hour finish time and one or two spots, but better safe than sorry I suppose.  After I was sure I was good to go, I got back to running all the way into the mile 16 aid station.  From here, the 50K runners have to do a 5 mile out and back to Lewis Peak.  This offered the best view on the course and is well worth the extra 5 miles over the marathon.  See for yourself:


After coming back through the same aid station once again, you jump back on the marathon course, which is a 6 mile downhill to the last aid station.  This downhill was fun, but it was finally starting to get hot as I dropped a bit in altitude.  While all of the aid stations were great, this last one I will never forget.  As I came in, they greeted me with two towels soaked in ice water for my head and neck, dipped my hat in ice water, and gave me two otter pops.  What a great feeling it was.  Special thanks to this aid station crew!

After leaving the last aid station, we had to run four miles along a pretty flat hiking/biking trail, including about a half mile along pavement into Eden, Utah to cross the finish line.  I crossed the line in 6:09:33 for 31 miles, 6K feet of elevation gain, and an 11th overall finish.  All said and done, I was happy with my day.  I felt relaxed most of the run and it helped me get a better feeling for where I was at in my preparation for next months race.  Mission accomplished!


I have to say, I was really happy with this race.  Everything from packet pickup to finish line activities was extremely well organized.  I don’t often run races more than once (with a few exceptions), but I could see running this one again.  If you are looking for a nice, runnable 50K with a local feel, I would definitely recommend this race.  Here are some of the key points!

Pro’s:

  • So many aid stations!  With one every 3-6 miles, I could travel light and not worry about water, even in the heat.
  • Gain is front loaded, which means you knock out all of the hills while the legs are fresher.  This actually helped me get my first ever negative split.
  • The course is clean, well-groomed, and super runnable.
  • Tons of raffle prizes from sponsors for the finishers, almost everyone got something this year.

Con’s

  • The last four miles of the course run along a pretty terrible trail along the shore of the Pineview Reservoir.  Unless you want to run road, this is really the only way to the finish line, so I guess it could be worse.  At the same time, the first 27 miles more than make up for it.

Thanks to my friends and family for their continued support.  Thank you to the crew and volunteers of the Skyline 50K for a superbly run event.  Lastly, thanks to all of my sponsors for enabling me with the best gear ever.  Please show your love and check out my “What I Use” page for discounts on everything that I use and trust!  Here is what I used.

  • Topo Athletic MT-2: My favorite shoe in training and on race day.
  • Injinji Trail 2.0 Mini-Crew: No blisters here.
  • Orange Mud Vest Pack 1: Light, with enough room for the water and food I need to get me from one aid station to the next on race day.
  • Headsweats Go Hat: If you wear hats on race day, there isn’t a better one out there.
  • RAD Roller and Rod: I always need to take care of the muscles after a great run.