GUEST POST: Chula's Top 5 Gear Items
Some folks think running is a simple and relatively affordable hobby to undertake. After all, the essentials are only shoes, running shorts, and a top required to be able to (legally) get out the door and go. We all know, however, that it’s so much more than just the essentials. While I won’t delve into every piece of gear I own or discuss all the gear needed to run an ultra of 50 or 100 miles, I wanted to share my favorite pieces of running gear where I currently sit; in week 7 of 20 of War Hammer 100 training.
A 20-week training block beginning in mid-January is no easy feat to escape from unscathed. One has to battle the always-changing Central KY weather and darkness of winter. Nothing is guaranteed and you must be able to adapt to the ever-changing elements. Good gear doesn’t make you stronger or faster (although I suppose that could be debated) but it can allow you to train smarter. In regards to quality gear, I’ve always said “you get what you pay for”, and more importantly, “you should never notice your gear if it’s good”. Good gear can make training and racing more enjoyable and convenient.
Housekeeping note: these are my personal preferences and are in no way an endorsement of the brand or product by Next Opportunity Events.
Anyway, let’s jump straight into these items, here’s what I’m into:
Beats - Powerbeats3 Wireless
Holy Shoot (my Mom reads these), these things are amazing! I’ve always loved running with some kind of sound as I’m a huge music fan and podcast junkie. These beauties produce a quality level of sound unmatched in the market. They effectively wrap around the outside of the ear and mostly stay put - an issue (falling out) I’ve had for years with lesser brands of earbuds. Literally, nothing wanted to stay in my ears, or, if they did, had a pretty poor sound quality. The Powerbeats3 also connect seamlessly via Bluetooth to my iPhone in a matter of seconds. They purport to have an “up to 12-hour battery life” although I’ve yet to test that. Forgot to charge? 5 minutes of charge before your run gets you one hour of playback when the battery is low. If you’re in the realm of being an audiophile like myself, make the investment. ProTip: master the controls of the RemoteTalk feature on the cord allowing you to change volume, switch tracks, and take calls while running.
Nathan - VaporKrar WaistPak
This little beauty has solved A LOT of gear problems for me in training, especially considering the large number of medium distance runs I do during the week in the range of 7-9 miles in distance where I wouldn’t wear my vest. Worn around the waist, the VaporKrar is the first belt-type-thingie I’ve found that A. actually works in that it doesn’t shift or move, B. fits my big ole’ iPhone 6+ in the front pocket, and C. allows me to ditch the handheld bottle and comes with an 18oz flask (stored in the back) for my water or Sword. These puppies are 60-bucks, but thus far has been well worth the price point. The VaporKrar also has small pockets on the side for keys, credit cards or gels, etc. Top, top gear. Expect a nice, snug fit. ProTip: when full, the flask can be slightly difficult to get back into the rear pouch when running or racing. If you don’t want to have to stop to put it back in place, practice getting a feel for where and how to slide it back in with ease.
Altra - Men’s Performance Hoody
I started running in Altra’s only last year and have loved every step in them out on the trail. Somehow I was tipped off on a big sale Altra was having on running gear so I headed over to the site and snagged this ridiculously cool hoodie. Since I’m part fashionista, the other half runner, this piece allows me to be both AND stay warm on cooler runs. You can layer over or under it on runs where the temp dips below 35° - depending on your preference. This hoodie also has some really cool material on it that reflects light on night runs. This is also a big perk because I love me some pockets, there is a zip pocket on the front pouch big enough to fit an iPhone 6+, or whatever else you deem important enough to take out with you. ProTip: check Altra’s size chart before ordering, this piece is a slim, snug fit so consider ordering a size up depending on your preference. ProTip #2: as of publishing time, this piece was still on sale for $27(!) down from $90.
Territory Run Co. - The Getaway Sock
I found out about Territory Run Co. about three years ago while watching some Ginger Runner videos on YouTube and have been a fan of the brand ever since. Territory specializes in just really cool trail running gear and fashion. Anything from hats to t-shirts to anti-chafe balm, Territory has you covered. Their customer service is also phenomenal. Send them an email and you’re likely to get a reply back from Brett in a very short time. Since I love a longer sock, one you can pull up, The Getaway Sock has been a perfect fit. While I also enjoy the Injini Toe Socks when I’m racing an ultra, The Getaway Sock is the comfortable, reliable sock for my medium distance runs around town or on the trails after work. Such a cool brand with great design behind everything. Check them out. ProTip: we’re talking socks here - don’t underthink or overthink them.
BOCO Gear - Trucker & Technical Trucker Hats
OK sue me. I love a trucker cap to run in. Let us runners take them back from whoever stole them. They’re usually pretty cool looking, lightweight, breathable, wicking, and as far as BOCO is concerned, survive the wash. Estimating conservatively, I probably own at least 5 BOCO hats. I was first introduced to BOCO when I crewed my buddy Mike at the 2016 Georgia Death Race. All the cool hipsters had this strange brand of hat on. I literally saw dozens of em. Regardless, I run with a hat year round, whether it’s to pull sweat off or keep my head warm in the windy winter. BOCO has some unique designs and even produce custom orders for myriad brands and events across the country. ProTip: the Foam Technical Truckers are great in warmer months with a wicking internal sweatband and performance foam front panel. They also boast an overall softer feel on the run.
There it is! Enjoy, or don’t, but check out these products and let’s do this again soon when everything is likely to change.