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Review: Drymax Cold Weather Run Crew Socks

Thanks to Danielle Carrier for the review!

drymax_logo_10_orangeI have an allergy to wool, so finding a cold weather running sock that actually keeps my foot warm has been quite the battle.  The battle is over!  This sock is a synthetic blend (42% olefin/48% polyester/5% elastane/5% nylon).  It is comfortable and the cuff stays up (no slouching) which is great for some extra ankle warmth.  It is thick, which worried me at first, but the added thickness did not feel uncomfortable in either my road shoes or my trail shoes.  I have used these for a few road runs with temps in the 20’s-30’s and for an hour and half work out with temps in the single digits.  Every time, my feet stay warm, dry and comfortable.  I have not had any issues with blisters with these socks either.  If you are looking for a nice, non-wool based, winter running sock, this product may be for you!

Rating: 5 star (amazing)

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Review: Spahten Drill Shirt

thewolfThank you to Alissa Comlin for the awesome drill shirt review!

Oh, the excitement when the drill shirts are in! Ladies, before I ordered my shirt, I was searching and asking for sizing info since these are unisex and I wasn’t sure what size to order. As a customized purchase, I wanted to get it right the first time and not have to worry about returning it. Although I have not worn it to a race yet so I can’t speak for durability, I can comment on overall size and fit to help you with your purchase decision.

I am 5’10” and 153lbs, lean to medium build and, most relevant to this review, long torso. I can safely say that a size Medium fits me perfectly, and I adore my race shirt. Truthfully, a size Large would probably fit me, but would be a baggier fit which I don’t prefer. The Medium was exactly right for me. A Small would have definitely been too small.

It is a snug fit, but not uncomfortably tight. The neck opening is tighter than I’m used to, but this just provides more skin coverage during a race, which I appreciate. When it comes to racing, I’m of the school of thought that more skin coverage is better, not for modesty’s sake but for practicality. The fewer bleeding skin wounds I have, the less distracted I will be when racing. (Although if I had Amelia Boone’s body, I might rethink that.)

My favorite feature of the shirt is the length of the torso. It gives me plenty of coverage, reaching well below the hips which is unusual (and welcomed!) for those of us with long torsos. As I said, the snug fit means that it doesn’t budge much when moving around, so there’s no constant adjusting/fixing the shirt. The short sleeve comfortably covers the biceps and allows plenty of free movement, but again keeping you covered.

Add your racing name to the back, nothing feels better on the course than knowing you’ve got your own persona for the team to see! Definitely a conversation starter/ice breaker.

Most importantly, enjoy that you are part of such as awesome team and wear your shirt with pride!

Rating: 5 star (amazing)

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Review: Spahten Drill Shirt

Thank you Gary Miller for the review of our team drill shirt. Hopefully this will answer some questions for those on the fence when the next order opens.

GarySpartanMy short-sleeved drill shirt arrived in March 2014, and has been through a Spartan tour workout, a Fitathlon Challenge, the BoneFrog Challenge, the CT Spartan Sprint, and finally the Vermont Beast.   So I feel like I can finally give it a decent review.

•       Great job to whoever came up with the logo and design.  They look great, stand out, and I’ll admit to getting a little amped when I put it on, as that means it’s Race Day.  I don’t wear it for training.

•       The other major benefit is its use as an icebreaker.  I had a few very cool conversations over the course of the year with Spahtens I’d never met before, where the shirt was a cue that they should come up and say hi.

•       At 6’0” and 180 lbs, the medium fits me just right.   The torso section is perfect; the lat / armpit areas are a little tight, but don’t chafe or restrict movement at all. If I had gotten the Large, I’m sure the torso would be too baggy. Dudes larger than I may want to check out the sleeveless option.  I’m not a big compression gear guy, but the little extra tightness definitely makes it more comfortable after water obstacles than the regular tech t-shirts I used to race in.

GaryFog•       I was confident in the sizing because I actually broke out a tape measure, got my number, and used the chart.  As others have said, don’t just guess and be the person that’s unhappy the day everyone’s posting pictures of their new swag when it arrives.  An even better idea is to try someone else’s on at a race.

•       It has definitely proven to be very durable. While not impervious to barbed wire, the fabric has stood up to everything else without any rips or tears.  The white sections (primarily the inside, which nobody sees) are a little less white, and it has started to pill just a little, though not visibly at a distance.  Possibly a result of subpar laundry skills?

•       There are two monster stitches that attach each sleeve to the front and back torso section, which combine and run vertically down the sides.  At first, I expected they would be really itchy and uncomfortable, but it turns out I don’t really notice them while running, even with a hydration pack.  I still think they would dig in and become a major issue while rucking with a heavy pack, or while wearing a weight vest, so I wouldn’t wear it with that gear.

Rating: 5 star (amazing)

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Review: Darn Tough Socks

Thanks to Mike Downey for sending in the review!!

Before getting these, I was wearing some under armour charged cotton socks and they did quiet well for every race up until this past Nj super when I hit a major blistering issue. So after some polling of the community one sock that came up often was darn tough.

I wore these for the first time at the VT Beast. Here’s a few things… These socks are quite a bit on the expensive side (around $17.00) per pair. Not only are they made in the U.S.A. they are made in our own back yard, in VT. I do always try to buy U.S.A. when I can if they offer a comparable or better option than a foreign counter part.

When you first put them on they do feel a lot thicker and heavier than most running socks but, it doesn’t feel that way once they’re on your feet.

So, if your running shoes are already a bit on the snug side you might have to wear the socks and shoes around the house a bit and get the shoes a lil more opened up so you’re comfortable. These are  quite soft and comfortable to wear. Once wet they still feel comfortable, shed water and dry in a good amount of time.

These are great for OCR and I can’t wait to wear them in the winter. I am sure they will keep the feet warm.

Product info: http://darntough.com/
Rating: 5 star (amazing)

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Review: MudGear

mudgear logo

ColdSSSide_largeAs the sport grows, so does the variety of gear that is available. We’ve seen a few companies pop up and make waves such as OCR Gear and Xracewear for their bib pouch shorts and shirts.  MudGear enter the fray and are handily holding their own as far as I’m concerned.

When I reached out to them to test some stuff out they graciously sent over a few different products.

First, let’s get into their fitted race jersey.

This is not a compression top, but is definitely snug. Not snug like a woman’s bustier or anything, but just enough so that when you’re doing work, the sweat can catch and wick away. It’s extremely comfortable and very lightweight.

While I haven’t used it in an OCR, and likely will not because I gotta rep my Spahtens, I do use this every time I am out running or doing an outdoor workout. One of my favorite shirts I own is one made by Asics and this one is exactly the same material. Superb quality!

TrailSockQuartCrew1_1024x1024Secondly, let’s go over some sock options.These guys not only offer a long sock, which we will go over in a minute, but they offer an ankle sock that is superior to anything I have tried so far.

These 1/4 ankle socks have a cushioned foot-bed which is nice for those that strike more toward the front of the foot as you run. I’ve done the minimal thing, and it was fun while it lasted, but I need a bit more up front. Heck, I need a shoe with more cushion all around. There is also some cushioning on the front top of the sock. Depending on how I tie my sneakers, I get quite a bit of rubbing and friction. Sometimes it can get rubbed raw. These socks though offer a ton more cushion and I can tie these as tight as I want with no issues.

Speaking of the top of the sock… These were made for those that prefer a lower sock but still want to race in the mud with them. The collar of the sock is nice and tight. Not elastic tight as in it’s not comfortable, but super snug and, wait for it, keep rocks out and dirt out! I’ve yet to wear these particular socks in an OCR but use them on the trails often, even in wet conditions. My feet always feel nice and dry, from the wicking and drainage, but they also feel great without being demolished by gravel and pebbles.

MudGearCompressionRaceSockboth_largeLastly, the high compression sock…

I have tried multiple socks in this range and so far I have yet to find one I can fully stand behind. I may even have reviewed a couple in the past maybe a little on the hasty side. After a few uses of the others I found things I did not like. One of them for instance was way to sheer and was super tight. The other, while I loved the fit and the feel of it, they split rather quickly in the toe-box after an OCR or two.

I put these Mudgear one’s through the Tri-State Super this weekend though and they came out on top of any of the others. Not only are they made for OCR’s, which the others were not, but they are awesome quality. I spoke about cushioning in the 1/4 ankle socks, these have it too. Ever get ropeburn from a rope climb or rope traverse? Yeah, that isn’t happening anymore. Along the backside, the calf, of these socks is some extra cushioning. While there wasn’t a traverse rope at the Super, there was a rope climb and I intentionally put a little extra pressure back in the calf to see how they felt and there were great.

The material was great for wicking away water, I didn’t feel like they were super heavy or weighing me down at all.

One thing I really liked was taking them off. Not because they were uncomfortable or anything but because they actually came off with minimal effort. The others were not easy to get off, especially the sheer one’s. These rolled on down the calf and my feet were free.

All in all, if I were to rate the quality of Mudgear it would get the highest of marks. I really think these guys are on to something and think you’ll agree.

Product info: http://mudgear.com/

ps. Loved the bonus beer coozies they sent!! Now I can rep my favorite OCR gear company while sipping on a cold one!!

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Review: Halo II Headband

Thanks Greg Barton for this community review!

halobandI have been using the Halo II Headband for almost a year and I love it. I have two of them. The Halo II is a pullover style headband (non-adjustable). They are one size fits most but stretches pretty well and should fit a majority of people. It’s made with a thin, moisture wicking antimicrobial fabric with a rubber strip that is on the bottom inside part of the headband. When you sweat, instead of a sweatband collecting until it gets saturated, this headband creates a path using the rubber to divert the sweat out past your eyes.

It also comes in thirteen different colors. I can’t say enough about the Halo II. I wear it every time I work out, run and go mountain biking (It’s so thin it works great under a bike helmet). The quality is amazing. They are worn 3-4 days a week and I hand wash them in the sink every time. They still look brand new!

There are only two cons that I have found. The first is if there is no air going over the Halo II the band will get saturated and you will get sweat in your eyes. The only time this ever happens to me is if I am on a treadmill and the air in the room isn’t circulating. I have never gotten sweat in my eyes besides the treadmill. The second is you have a red line on your forehead from the rubber when you take it off.

I give it 5 stars. The line on my forehead for a few minutes doesn’t bother me enough to give it 4 stars.

Rating: 5 star (amazing)

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Review: X Racewear Bib Shorts

xraceToday there was a post on the page reminding me I had to get going on this review. Between classes for my job and now being enrolled in an online school I had spaced this out, now here it is.

Robb, from FIT Challenge, happened to talk to a rep at X Racewear about their products and told them I did some reviews here on our lil Spahten page, so they sent him a shirt and shorts for me to test out. Normally, at races, I wear a standard pair of black Asics running shorts. You know, the kind that have the built in undies?! Yeah I am not a fan of them either, specifically the Asics pair I have, but they allow me to run smoothly so that’s why I still wear them.

These also have the built in undies but they feel a bit more comfort as the elastic is less, umm, restrictive. They were very comfortable as far as wear goes. Outside of racing I do like longer shorts, ones that are either at or below my knee. When I race though I prefer them to be a bit shorter. I have found that with my short legs, if the shorts are to long sometimes they get caught on my knees and I fumble a bit. So, for me, these are the perfect height as they are just above the knee but not to short to worry about “exposure”.

Most of you are reading this though to find out about the pouch, and honestly, that’s what these shorts are for. X Racewear got into the market to save your race bib. You know, the one you lose as you crawl low to the ground through the mud? I’ve had it happen, as I’m sure many of you have too, that moment when a pin opens and you get jabbed in the gut. It not only hurts but now you’ve lost a safety pin. Soon enough, it’s going to be the bib you lose. What better way to protect it then to put it in a pocket, right? The idea in and of itself is great if you like saving your bibs, which I do. I lost one in the mud in Georgia and really wanted it, the race was epic so I wanted that darned bib!

xrace2I wore these at MuckFest and my bib was shown for most of the race, until the end when you had to leap into the water. After I crossed the finish line I noticed my bib was in a crumpled mess. BUT it was ok and I flattened it out and now I have my memento.

I have yet to wear the tank they sent at an actual race yet, but have worn it running. It’s comfortable enough, lightweight and dries quickly. Having a somewhat stiff area around the belly I thought it might be a tad uncomfortable. All seemed well, but like I said, I did not run with a bib in the pocket for the tank so I can’t specifically say whether or not it would chafe or anything like that after running with it for a  while or dealing with the rigidity of having a bib in the pocket. I don’t believe it’d do any damage though, it felt very comfortable.

From here on out I will be wearing the shorts at all OCR’s, I really like them and the comfort! They don’t hold onto water and even when they get wet they are not super heavy. Like mentioned about the tank, they are lightweight as well. The inseam, for me, fit well and I didn’t have any discomfort from the built in undies. The bib is very visible, so if that is a worry than let it pass.

Would I recommend them? Absolutely. From what I understand their customer service is fantastic, so I say give them a shot!

X Racewear: https://www.xracewear.com/

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Community Review: Hylete WOD Shorts

Community Review by Michael Downey

Just got my first pair of shorts from Hylete, a company we recently got an email about and get a decent discount on. The only negative thing I can say about them is they only come in two main colors, black and gun metal grey.

The shorts size wise run a tad snug. The Reebok shorts that Spartan Race sells, I wear an XL and its a tiny bit snug but roomy enough, but for these based on their size chart, I decided to go XXL. I am glad I did. I think if I went XL it would have been to tight and restricting, so depending on how you like to wear your shorts, if you like em nice and snug go with your true size. If you like a lil room go one size up. For sizes XL and under they offer two lengths normal and above the knee.

These shorts also come with a nice little feature in the string area. They have a hole with a plastic coating so you can easily choose to keep the string on the outside of the shorts or have it on the inside.

Another great feature is TWO zippered pockets high on each hip. The pocket is large enough for me to fit my Nokia 920 phone inside an otter box case and zip up. This is one of the bigger phones out there to give you an idea of the room. I took a quick jog on the treadmill with my phone in the pocket, with headphones in them, and it felt quiet comfortable and not a lot of bouncing around of the phone. One feature I would have liked to see would be to have the zipper stop short and leave a 1/4″ gap at one end so you could snake through a headphone cord and not have it get snagged. I plan to give these a spin at MuckFest this weekend and see how they handle in the water.

They are a bit on the pricey side, they show a list price of $70.00 before you sign up and log in. If your signed up with our team you get them down to $56.00 but they also have starter kits and you can get a few pieces for a better price. So I think that if version 3.0 of the shorts they can make that small change to the zipper and maybe offer more base colors these will be golden!

Rating: 5 star (amazing)

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Review: SwiftWick Compression Socks

logo-swiftwickWow! First and foremost, what a GREAT company SwiftWick is to work with. My initial contact couldn’t have gone easier. A whole pack of socks arrived; not only to be reviewed but to be used as a giveaway to members of the team. AHEM, I’m still looking for those community reviews for those that received some socks!!

After picking up a new “dread“-mill, I put some of the calf length socks to the test along with some others. First impression is the sock felt lighter on then they did beforehand. The seemed like they had a bit of weight and density but once slipped on they were extremely tight. Not in a bad way, I mean tight as in the really held the calf region together well.

I’ve been trying to use more of a mid to front foot strike in my running and with that I have had a ton more soreness below my calf in the soleus muscle. It not only hurt quite a bit during runs but afterward, for days, I would be in near agony. Ok, well not in agony but it sucked to walk let’s say that. Because of the compression in the Swiftwicks both the soreness while running and after was alleviated quite a bit.

aspire-twelve-black-compression-socks-9650larI would leave them on after runs, I even slept in them one night in hopes of being able to work the next day. Besides the fact I had just started getting back into running more per day and had changed my stride, I was pleasantly surprised at how I felt the next day. There was still some deep muscle soreness but overall, for once, my soleus did not feel destroyed and I was able to work a normal shift with minimal limp, haha!

They also sent some ankle compression socks to test out and I wear them all the time. I am a stinky, sweaty foot kind of guy, so being able to wick away the moisture is awesome! My son who has inherited the same sweaty, stinkiness wore a pair one day on a run with me and commented on how dry his feet were afterward. That was after prerunning the F.I.T. Challenge course with lots of snow and wetness, yet our feet were surprisingly dry. The stink? Well, Swiftwick can’t perform miracles, can they? The wicking in both the ankle and calf socks are great is what I’m saying.

vibe-one-olympic-blue-gray-11176big

One thing that always concerns me about wearing such a light sock is that they will slip around a bit in my shoes and cause blisters and such. This did not happen with these, my foot stayed put and were good to go! They were put to the test at our recent Unleashed training where we were jumping, running, climbing, etc. Again, there wasn’t any slippage and after 2 hours of a grueling workout and an hour of open gym my legs felt great.

Overall I am extremely pleased with these. I definitely prefer the calf socks be a little thicker, but these were quite a bit more tight so I felt like that may have helped more. I’d recommend these 100%. Check out their site at http://www.swiftwick.com/

And don’t forget, those that received socks you owe me a community review!! 🙂

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Review: Pro Compression Marathon Socks

blueprocompressionI haven’t had a ton of experience with compression gear, but have been told many times by those who use it that I needed to try it. A few weeks back I got a pair of blue marathon socks from Pro Compression in the mail and off we went.

I’ve done research here and there on the benefits of compression gear, and for some out there the jury is still out. For many though they swear by it. Back in the day, compression products were mainly made for diabetics, or for those with poor circulation. Over the past few years though athletes from various sports have been using them for recovery and for better runs and performance, especially in the endurance field.

I haven’t been running a ton lately, mainly because of the hill I live on and the fact the town refuses to do anything about snow/ ice removal. But, I did recently get a treadmill and have been crushing some miles on that.

I’ve run with these on and did notice that soreness I normally felt in my shins was a lot lighter, if there at all. Having not run a ton, I wore these for a while after the run and noticed less soreness in the days after. Are either of these solid reasons that the socks work?  Enough so that I have worn them religiously since then, on and after runs. Is that scientific? No, but who needs that nonsense when the proof is something experienced?! Am I right or am I right?

At this point I have tried a few different compression socks, and have to say I enjoy the thickness of this sock. Some of the others felt light and sheer. That said, I am hoping they don’t get uber hot come summertime, but we shall see when we get there, it’s still arctic here in certain areas of New England.

I’ve even worn them on a full shift at work. Eric said too! Ok, that’s the guy that started the company I assumed you guys knew by now, sheesh! Anyway, he’s an avid golfer and kind of has this like sock fetish or something. Hey, he said it not me. Anyway, I was comfortable in them and made it through my 10 hour shift without much sweat and itch, which my normal cotton socks get all sweaty and stinky. I did notice a bit of stink, but that’s the boot and not the compression socks fault. I mean I wear the things everyday and they just get… Well, you know…

Did I tell you yet that these guys, Pro Compression, are the official compression gear company for the Ragnar Relay? Yeah that’s really cool! You got that race coming up and don’t have any compression gear to rock? Well, it’s your lucky day! They are hooking us up here… Go to http://www.procompression.com/products and load up your cart. Use the code SPAHTENS at checkout and not only do you get free shipping but they are hooking you up with 40% off! Yeah, that’s friggin huge right? If you want other deals just scroll to the bottom of their homepage and sign up for the sock of the month club which offers a bunch of different deals. Make sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter too, they always have cool stuff going on.

I love these socks and now need to make an order for a couple other colors!!