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Three Trail Running Must Haves for Spring 2016

Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest 3.0 ($170)
Review by Kevin Riley

Bravo to Peter Bakwin and the design team at Ultimate Direction. They raised the bar with the release of the PB Adventure Vest 3.0. At 13.3 ounces, the vest weights less than the previous model, yet boasts over 30% more carrying capacity. Great for half day runs or longer all-day adventures, you’ll have no problem carrying your rations with this vest.

This vest has pockets for everything. (I counted 17 pockets in all.) I appreciated the smaller, more specific pockets in the front of the vest that kept me organized during my runs and allowed me to reach energy gels and bars, maps, and my cell phone without missing a step. Both left and right chest straps have easily accessible energy gel pockets, located high up on the straps which make it easy to unzip downwards, water bottle pockets that accept hard as well as soft bottles, and zippered side pockets, ideal for objects you can’t afford to lose. The burrito pocket on the left harness strap was the perfect size for my cell phone (iPhone 6), which was nice when I needed to reference the digital map while running or wanted to take a quick picture.

The adjustable hip straps (located inside the side velcro pockets) on both sides of harness straps made it easy to adjust down after I drank most the water or removed large articles from the pack. If I were to make one change to the vest I’d reverse the hip straps so they were further forward and easier to adjust.

The back of the vest contains large pockets for water storage and bulkier items, such as jackets and traction footwear. There’s one smaller zippered pocket that contains a keyring clip. (If you’re like me and are always worries about losing your keys, the keyring clip will bring you great peace of mind.) In addition to the large pockets there are two mesh pockets that are perfect for quickly stashing away clothing or accessories. There’s also a neat bungee system the allows you to attached just about anything to the vest and also allows you to shrink the vest to your ideal size using clips that are scattered all over the vest. It’s really easy. Just clip up and crank down on the cord lock. I found the bungee system works great for wet articles of clothing I didn’t want to put inside the vest.

They used a lighter weight mesh for the back of the vest where it rubs up against the body and heavier weight meshes for the pockets where you want more durability. A synthetic fabric called SilNylon 66, made by impregnating a thin woven nylon fabric with liquid silicone from both sides, is used on the front of the pack. This material is known for being lightweight and extremely durable. I put this vest through the ringer in a range of environments and it held up beautifully. On a number of occasions while climbing through chimneys in Red Rock Canyon I thought the vest would surely have a rip in it. To my surprise I wasn’t able to put one hole in it.

NANO Foot Roller ($25)
Review by Eva Dixon

Trigger Point Performance’s NANO Foot Roller Massager has traveled with me everywhere. I’ve used it before climbing, after a long run, under my desk at work, before yoga, and on an airplane (I bonded with TSA when it went through in my carry on and they had to check out the “unidentifiable object”). I’m constantly pulling it out of my bag to relieve the cramps and tightness I get in the bottom of my feet. Easily portable and extremely effective at relieving muscle tension, it has become a staple in my day to day routine both pre- and post-workout.

I have particularly tight plantar fascia, so I’ve needed to work out the knots that arise in the soles of my feet almost daily. I’ve spent many days in the Physical Therapists and Chiropractors office squeezing a stress ball while they worked on my feet, many hours massaging them myself, and months of progressively stretching and strengthening them. Nothing I can use at home has come close to the instant relief I feel when I step on the NANO Foot Roller Massager. It’s a perfect supplement to the work I’m already doing on my feet, and soothes the tension when I can’t make it to the Chiropractor’s office. Beyond that, I find that all of the muscles in my lower body loosen up after using it – especially my calves and hamstrings. It’s as perfect for easing your muscles into a workout as it is for your post-workout recovery or a long day on your feet. A few friends (who don’t generally have tight feet) tried it out when they saw me using it, and they were instantly in love. “We should use it to stretch out before we send our projects,” one friend said with a smile.

Unlike other foot massagers I’ve tried, which have a uniform surface the whole way around, the NANO has elevated rows which really allow you to get deep into tender spots. The two densities that Trigger Point Performance offers – regular (orange NANO) and extra firm (black NANO X) – are both fantastic. The rounded ends allow the NANO to roll along a surface, letting you easily alter the amount of pressure you feel, area you target, and speed. Go slow and press in hard for direct pressure in a particular area, or lightly roll out your whole foot by moving it quickly over the NANO. Bonus: it works equally well on your forearms after a long day of climbing. We put our feet and body through a lot every day. Give yourself some love with the NANO.

Salomon Bonatti WP Jacket ($150)
Review by Kevin Riley

When I received the Bonatti Waterproof Jacket from Salomon it felt stiff and heavy. On the other hand it looked great and fit well, so I excited to see how it performed. After a month of testing in the foothills of Colorado, among the desert cliffs of southern Utah, and throughout the windy canyons of Red Rocks the Bonatti proved itself as the versatile, go anywhere, do anything jacket I’ve always wanted.

The stylish jacket fit great and moved well while running and climbing thanks to the 2.5L Lightweight MotionFit fabric. It held up to general wear and tear and protected me from all types of harsh conditions. That being said, what I loved most about the jackets was the bells and whistles.

The feature that I loved the most was the vest button towards the top of the zipper that allowed me to unzip the jacket without it falling off. It helped me regulate my temperature without having to take off my jacket or put it back on. I could simply unzip the jacket, clip the vest button and continue on my way until I got cold and needed to zip up again.

I also appreciated the stow pocket located on the left chest. First off, you can pack the entire jacket into this pocket. I found this incredibly useful when climbing with the jacket. When I didn’t need it I simply packed it into itself and clipped it to my harness using the zipper pull-cord. The pocket also grommet for your headphones. Whether climbing or running I’ve always had a problem with my headphones. This completely solved the problem. Finally. the location of the pocket holds your items snuggly against your chest – not bouncing around annoyingly.

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