iSport Super Slim First Look

Just got the iSport Super Slim bluetooth headphones from Monster, and on first blush, I really like them.  I’ve been a fan of the iSport Victory’s (they stay in my ear and deliver better sound than a lot of the one’s I’ve tried) for a while, so I was excited to try out the wireless one’s.

Ease of setup and use (9/10)

Out of the box, they had some charge, but I threw them on the charger in anticipation of a run the next morning.  Very simple to charge, just open up the port, connect the usb and you’re there.  Charging time says 1.5 hours from dead and I had them on there for about an hour before the light shut off, indicating they were good to go.  The only reason 1 take one point off is that because these phones do so much else (answer calls, control Siri, control music), you have to learn the buttons and commanding Siri, even when walking or stopped, was a bit of a challenge (of course, that could have partly been me out of breath)

Sound (10/10)

My first test was listening to them in bed.  Pairing with my iPhone was simple and they delivered clear sound and good outstanding bass. (The only negative at night is the bluetooth indicator blinks and is bright/annoying to your spouse if you sleep on the left side of the bed)    On the treadmill the next morning, sound through the phone was as good as wired and with the right earpiece in place, they stayed in.  I also paired them with a GOgroove Bluegate TRM transmitter hooked up to my tv about 12 feet away and experienced no lag in sound.

Fit (9/10)

Call me lazy, but if two things from the same manufacturer look exactly the same, I figure they should fit similarly.  A medium is a medium, etc.  What I found was while the in-ear-canal piece was the same between these and my victories, the “fin” is different (slightly different shape and angle).  What that meant was, for my massive ears, I needed to put the large fins in for the Super Slims.

They are slimmer than other Bluetooth, but not as slim as a wired pair, I added some shots at the end of the post so you can see the difference.  (The black headphones are a pair of JayBird BlueBud Xs that decided to go through the washing machine.  Testing the “sweatproof” vs. “waterproof” theory was interesting, and although you can hear sound out of them still (impressive), one ear is noticeably different from the other and the button functionality has somehow been rearranged and there’s no volume increase button.  Bottom line, don’t put them or any other headsets through the wash).

So, that’s about it for now, I haven’t tested the 5 1/2 hour life yet, so I’ll get back to you on that.  One of the things I experienced with the GOGroove and the JayBirds was static/dropping when I used them with my old school iPod nano in my pocket.  Not all the time, but a few times to notice.  I will check that out with the Super Slims on my next run. In the meantime, I would recommend checking them out and if you’re bored, take a look at the rest of the site!

2/11 Update:  Took it out for a run this morning.  They performed really well with the GoGroove and my old nano.  Interestingly, while running, It did drop when I turned my head to the left, looking for traffic (ipod/GoGroove in my right jacket pocket), but not when I turned my head to the right (similar to the JayBird, which tells me it’s a broadcast not a receiver issue).  Also interesting (to me, at least) was that if I covered my pocket with my hand while running, the signal dropped completely.  I tried it, though, at the end of the run while walking and had no interruption.  I’m not an engineer (apart from a mistake I made Freshman year), so no idea why it does this.  5 1/2 hour field test this weekend!

The Idiot

Side view

Side view

Fairly flush fit

Fairly flush fit

"slim" profile (kind of)

“slim” profile (kind of)

Jaybird comparison

Jaybird comparison

Jaybird from the front

Jaybird from the front

Skechers Go Run Ultra Initial Review

Just took a pair of the Skechers GRU on a quick 1 mile treadmill test. I’ll do more over the weekend, but here’s my initial reaction:

Fluffy

But good fluffy. I felt they were extremely soft and think they will be interesting to take out on a groomed trail (tomorrow) and more of a technical trail (Sunday). The insert (some call it a sock liner) was something I took out after the first 1/2 mile, and it made a big difference. The claim is that the drop is 8mm with the insert and 4 without. I’m used to running in zero drop, so 8mm felt like I was in high heels. 4 mm was still noticeable, but bearable for the entire 1/2 mile I ran in them.

IMG_3271Looking at it compared to my other regulars (Luna Mono and Altra Olympus):

  1. The tread is the most aggressive, which I like, especially after slipping around in the mud in my Mono’s last weekend.
  2. It’s narrower than the other two, though and hopefully on my longer run on Sunday I’ll find out if this is going to be a problem. Taking the insert out also opened up the toe box, so it may not be an issue.
  3. It has a drop (it’s been so long since I’ve run with one, I’ll be interested to see how my legs react)
  4. The weight is dead in between the two.  My Mono’s weigh 5 oz, the Skechers weigh 9.1 (as I’ll run in them) and the Olympus checks in at 13.5 oz.
  5. It feels, as noted before, “fluffy”. We’ll see if that’s a good or bad thing on the rocks.

Technical Comparisons:

GRU- 4 mm drop, 23/27 mm stack height (fore/heel), 9.1oz

Altra Olympus- 0 mm drop, 32 mm stack height, 13.5oz

Luna Mono- 0 mm drop, 11 mm stack height, 5.0 oz

Medium Distance Update:

So, took them out this morning on a combination of groomed trail and asphalt path in Forest Park, then just for fun, took them up and down Art Hill a few times

IMG_3272

Overall, they performed well.  Fairly light, strong grip going up the hill and although I knew I was running on rocks on the trail, I didn’t feel every one.  Often runners talk about having “ground feel” when running, especially when rating minimalist shoes.  I’ve found that while I occasionally do like to feel the ground, I prefer “ground awareness”, especially on long distance runs.  “Ground Feel” tends to translate into “Sore Feet” for me, and I prefer to minimize pain (enough of it occurs in other areas- falling, cramping, etc.) if I can.  The testing will continue tomorrow as I take them out onto some “real trails” on the Lewis and Clark Trail with some good climbs, creek crossings, some mud (it’s been raining a bit) and a bit more distance.

To be continued…

After 13.5 in mixed terrain (mud, a little bit of technical/rock, a few hills, but mostly single track) I have one word:

Brilliant

The shoes performed really well, carving through the rocks (aware without beware), confidently climbing in mud with nary a slip!

Fellow SLUG Mark on the rocks

Fellow SLUG Mark on the rocks

The shoes lost a bit of their shine in the mud, but the deep lugs and generous spacing between them meant the mud only stayed on the tops of the shoesIMG_3301

Not the bottom!IMG_3302

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, 13.5 isn’t a marathon or an ultra, so it still remains to be seen if they cause other long distance/time problems, but I didn’t feel or see any hotspots, and without the sock liner (as I mentioned above) there was plenty of room for my feet.  My foot did move a bit in them on the downhill, but that’s probably because I prefer to lace them looser.  I may not do an ultra in them until December, but until then, if you’re looking for a light, roomy, grippy trail shoe, this just might be it!

The Idiot

Gear Review: North Face Torpedo Jacket

So, my first review of a great jacket.  Sorry for the time between posts.  More inspirational stories, an update on the success of my diet, my training regime for my next races, and my next run for SouthSide (which will really be a year long challenge, but more on that later!)

Here are my impressions of the North Face Torpedo Jacket:

 

Wind Resistance   A
Comfort   A
Convenience   A+
Style   A
Front View

Front View

All runs were in sub-25 degree temperatures (I know that’s nothing for you up north, but them’s the cards I was dealt) with one of the days being pretty windy (various weather websites had the “how it feels” temp down to 15), and one of the nights being a half marathon called the Shivering Icy Trail Run (I may post a race report once my fingers finally thaw).  Because I don’t mind running in extremes as long as I can create a comfortable environment bubble around me, I used it as a shell over two thermal layers.  Sans the shell, the wind would cut through these layers like a scythe, as was evident by my having to cut my planned 20 mile run short because the gloves I was wearing were not up to the task.I’ve test-driven the North Face Torpedo jacket on more than a few cold days here in St. Louis, and I’ve got to say, I’m impressed.  I started looking for a good light, yet wind and water resistant jacket when my bulkier jacket became too cumbersome and my lighter jacket that I use for running in the Spring and Fall was not up to the task of cutting the winter wind.

Wind Resistance- A

While not completely blocking said wind, the jacket performed very well.  On longer runs, I employ a run/walk pattern and during the walking bits is when I need heat retention.  The jacket took more than a few gusts full on and I only felt the slightest discomfort on either my core or my arms (hands, as mentioned before, were another story).

Comfort- A

SONY DSCEven though I don’t swing my arms like Phoebe when I run, I don’t like to feel restricted.  The jacket was true to size and even with two thermal layers underneath, I felt like I could move very well.  Because it’s light, I wasn’t weighed down (although if you do ever feel weighed down by a running jacket, you probably should consider adding some upper body conditioning exercises to your training routine) and the collar was felt-padded (not sure of the technical term), so even fully zipped, I didn’t experience any chafing.  There’s no cord to draw the bottom tight, which I find nice, but not necessary as long as I tuck my other layers into my bottoms.

Convenience- A+

The jacket has two front zip pockets that I used for both keys and my iPod.  I like the fact that North Face connected the interior liner of the pockets so it could be used as additional.  My favorite, though, is the dual back pocket.  SONY DSCFirst, an accessible pocket that could be used for a water bottle or food, and a zippered pocket to hold the keys you don’t want to put in the front pocket.  Counting the interior pockets, that’s six total!  It doesn’t have a dedicated music player pocket, but I’ve always found the holes to push through your earphones fiddly (another technical term), so I don’t consider that a negative.

Style- A

Good reflective strips, choice of colors, and I just look good running in it! SONY DSC

So, a great jacket that I will be using for a while.  Questions initially about water resistance, were laid to rest during the Shivering half marathon.  It was cold, then rainy, then sleety, then ridiculously cold over the course of a few hours and the jacket kept me dry (can’t say as much for my gloves or shoes, but my torso was fine!)

Finally, quick poll- since I’m a bit of a gear geek, I’m happy to review more products I use, but if it’s a waste of your time, let me know. I’ll go with the majority.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 348 other followers