With my pediatric-sized earlobs, I’ve had more luck carrying a boom box on my shoulder than getting iPhone-issued ear buds to stay in my ears, most especially while running. And the quality of sound is a whole other beast. To find a pair of high-performance buds that cater to the small-eared lot was a God send, because a six-mile run just isn’t the same without a little classic rock. The Yurbuds Inspire Limited Edition Headphones do just that, they inspire. Inspire you to run harder, faster, longer—just like those who take on the Ironman, the company that Yurbuds joined forces with to release this product to the public. The headphones come with five different shapes and sizes of silicone ear fittings to ensure an adjust-free fit (you can also choose between ambient aware and noise isolating). The twist lock technology is simple—place the buds into your ear and then twist and lock into place—but it works. Allowing also for a hands-free run, the tangle-free, sweat-resistant cord features a iWhatever-friendly control that allows you to switch songs, answer calls, and change the volume without ever having to touch your music-playing device. Yurbuds is so confident in their design that they’ve issued the buds with a lifetime warranty, and the option to send in a photo of the buds in your ears for a custom pair to be made and sent to you free of charge. There’s no denying that there’s something inherently cool about a boom box, but there is little that compares to finishing mile ten to a soundtrack of Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle.”
Of the three big pushes coming from The North Face in the fall of 2013, we’re perhaps most excited about the brand’s new insulation innovations. ThermoBall ain’t the sequel to Skyfall; It’s a synthetic insulation made in concert with Primaloft, providing spherical patches of insulation designed to mimic the structure of down, trapping heat within small air pockets. This also makes it highly packable, and will insulate even when wet. The insulation on the ThermoBall Full-Zip Jacket ($199, pictured) is equivalent to that of a 600-fill down jacket of similar weight. ProDown—TNF’s proprietary water-resistant down—will also be introduced this fall, boasting products that will stay dry and full of loft for up to 100 minutes, and will be found in such products as the 950-fill Supernatural Jacket ($449). They’ll also introduce the new ZLoft tech, which uses Primaloft One synthetic insulation with a Z-baffle shape that maximizes warmth without adding much weight or bulk in hybrid, high-performance pieces like the Zephyrus Pro Hoodie ($299).
Another big initiative in 2013? Apparel and footwear for cold-weather running, including products that’ll make use of Gore Windstopper and proprietary tech like FlashDry and Thermo3D designs to create high-performance, gender-specific temp regulation for long-distance cold-weather runners. Products like the Feather Lite Storm Blocker Jacket ($200)—the lightest fully-waterproof, seam-sealed jacket they’ve made at just 10.5 ounces—were tested by TNF athletes on the trails of Mont Blanc, so they’ll work for you just fine.
They’ll also fill out a new line for the niche outdoor scene that prides themselves on braving the harshest cold-weather environments. The new Steep Series was tested by TNF athletes in the harsh world of Antarctica, and the 19 pieces in this new line will bring forth hardcore products with tech like the new Gore-Tex Pro waterproof/breathable fabric, water-resistant down, and other features that’ll keep you sheltered from the extremes.
We’ve been testing Gore Running apparel for the past six months. While the brand is a top-seller in the category in Europe, it has only recently been distributed in the United States. For Fall ’13, we are excited about their new Magnitude Outfit Systems for men (the Comp Shirt and Tights are pictured above). The performance line is designed for the long-distance runner. The tights have enough compression to shape and support the quads and calves, without restricting movement. We like the new vest and jacket with Windstopper laminate for cold-weather training, as well as the reflective and neon detailing for heightened visibility after dark, great ventilation, and smartly-positioned pockets.
This year, our New Year’s resolution is to get back to “fighting” shape. That means more running, more skiing, and more just-plain activity. But training takes its toll. Whether it’s the bonk after a ten-mile run, or post-gym exhaustion from hours of weight training, sometimes it takes us longer than we’d like to shed that muscle pain and general fatigue. Firming up and dropping ten pounds is a great goal, but face it, we need all the help we can get. We love GU Energy Gels for a mid-workout boost, and now we have their new Chocolate Smoothie Recovery Brew, a tasty treat designed to help your muscles recover and energy levels return. It tastes surprisingly good (not too chalky or artificial), much better than the average muscle milk and protein supplements we’ve relied on in the past. It’s made with premium ingredients, including whey protein isolate, for a boost that’s tastier and nutritionally more sound than our stand-by Snickers bar.
Cotton may kill, but sweat stinks. For those on-the-fly cleanups, we love the pre-moistened, alcohol-free Action Wipes. The 100-percent natural wipes are made with plant-derived ingredients that moisturize while they clean. On a particularly rough, dirty ride along the McKenzie River Trail, our intrepid tester encountered sweat, dust, dirt, mud, and even poison oak.Despite multiple forays into the underbrush, she emerged at the end of the ride looking and smelling like a daisy (okay, a dirty, somewhat pungent daisy). The disposable fabric is strong enough for multiple uses and our choice when there’s no shower in sight—like those marathon days at Burning Man. Note—it’s easier to mop a sweaty brow than underarms, but the wipes work for both. And you’ll love the calming effect of the soothing tea tree and eucalyptus scent.