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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Shaba VS-12C Mini Bluetooth Speaker

One of the things I LOVE about doing product reviews is the chance to expand the horizons of my readers through the discovery of products of new or relatively unknown brands.  I have found some really great products out there simply by digging a little deeper.  My latest find is the VS-12C mini bluetooth speaker from Shaba Audio.  Shaba’s parent company is also a manufacturer and exclusive distributor of Sherwood Audio in China.  Shaba’s product line is focused on portable audio devices, such as the VC-12C.

The market today is flooded with choices when it comes to bluetooth speakers, which can make it hard to find one that balances cost and quality.  You can go out and buy one for $100+ and get something that sounds good, is waterproof, etc., but aside from being pricy, products in this price range generally aren’t the type of thing that you would walk around with.  On the smaller side, you can spend less money, but most of them that I have run across either have poor sound quality, are cheaply made, or both.  I found the Shaba VS-12C to be a pretty solid middle ground.  Let’s take a look.

For its size, it provides surprisingly good quality audio output, both in terms of quality and volume.  The VS-12C is about the size of an egg, which you can see in this picture:

In terms of audio quality, it packs a decent punch too.  For comparison purposes, I would say that the audio volume output is about 75-100% more than that of an iPhone and the quality is considerably better.  Whereas sound quality can often degrade as you approach max volume on most devices, the sound quality is pretty consistent on the VS-12C.

Aside from just playing audio via bluetooth, it has some other pretty cool features as well.  Here are some highlights:

  • A selfie button, that allows you to prop your camera up and take a picture using the VS-12C as a remote.
  • A speakerphone capability that allows hands-free communication through your phone.
  • LED lights, that make it easy to use in the dark.

I could see a number of uses for this little guy.  For example, if you want some music while out hiking, walking, running, etc., it is the perfect size to carry in your hand, fasten to your pack, or hang it around your neck.  Really, it is pretty convenient for any situation where portability is a main concern.  Here is a basic pro/con list of highlights:

Pros:

  • Size makes it super portable for just about any situation.
  • Sound quality.  I am not going to use it to DJ a party anytime soon, but the sound quality was well above my expectations for something of that size.  It is perfect for personal, portable needs.

Cons:

  • I don’t like it hanging around my neck and would have much rather preferred if they built a clip onto the back of it so I could clip it to things instead.

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: 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!