Gear

What We’re Loving This Week: Water Flasks, Vests, Socks, And ‘Budget’ Watches

Our favorite triathlon-related things—old, new, and random—right now.

Maybe it’s telling that this week our editors and writers seem to be all about the adventure—with two different people opting for various hydration options as they get out on long runs to explore. As pandemic fatigue wears on, we’re all looking for whatever gets us excited, keeps us sane and happy, and is—we admit—just a little fun. Maybe that’s a cheap pair of socks that’s held up for 17 years, maybe it’s a retro-style watch. Whatever it takes. Here’s what our editors, staff, and writers are using and loving in their regular lives this week.

Nathan Speedshot Plus Insulated Flask

My local running club has a long-standing Saturday morning group run, complete with water stops that members set up each week. Since the pandemic, both the run and the water stops are on hold, which means carrying my own water when my miles get into double-digit range. I’ve been accomplishing this with the Nathan Speedshot Plus Insulated Flask. It carries 12oz of liquid, which is plenty for me, even in hot, humid Maryland. I appreciate how easy it is to carry—no bouncing and a comfortable fit thanks to an adjustable strap. I truly don’t notice it and unlike others I’ve tried, the Speedshot doesn’t seem to alter my arm carry/form in any way. I usually don’t carry gels or keys—running from home as I do these pandemic days—but there’s a small pocket on the outside of the carrier that would make it easy to do. The insulation keeps my water cold and the valve is easy/quick to use without missing a beat. Until that day when the Saturday morning club runs return, this is my go-to flask.

– Amanda Loudin, contributing writer

Nathan VaporHowe 2.0 Race Vest

Triathletes don’t typically have much need for hydration packs when it comes to regular swim, bike, and run training, but recently I’ve been going “off piste” and moving away from my norm with a lot more off-road trail running adventures. These are obviously self-supported, so you’ve got to find an easy way to stash all your hydration and fuel. Enter the Nathan VaporHowe 2.0 race vest—a women’s-specific hydration pack developed in collaboration with elite endurance runner Stephanie Howe. Whenever I’ve put this on this last week (before I’ve even set foot out of the door) I already feel like a badass epic adventure awaits—and it typically does! (This was last Sunday’s run/effort in the VaporHowe). The thought of running with something on my back definitely did not appeal to me initially, but I’ve been so surprised at how lightweight and well-designed this is—you seriously forget it’s there. There are way more pockets than I possibly know what to do with (some zippered, some secured with velcro), and the 1.6-liter insulated bladder means you have super easy access to plenty of fluids, which stay cool. Looking forward to plenty more adventures with this pack!

– Emma-Kate Lidbury, managing editor

Fox River Quarter Crew Socks

When I first moved to Boulder, I bought my first pair of Fox River quarter crew hiking socks at REI on impulse. I loved their plush feel, perfect ankle height for hiking and trail running, and muted colors. That was 17 years ago, and today this very same pair is still my go-to favorite for road and trail runs, backpacking trips, and hiking. While all other socks eventually wear a hole in the toe after a season or so, these Fox River socks are indestructible, yet they seem to have gotten more comfortable over time. They’ve survived an uncountable number of runs, training for two half-marathons, hundreds of camping and backpacking nights—and they still have just the one hole where your ankle goes. I recently stumbled upon Fox River’s website and decided it was time to stockpile, so I bought a single test pair of the current model from Fox River, their Prima Hike Medium Weight Quarter Crew sock. I’m pleased to confirm that they seem even better than my originals, so I’ve stockpiled three more pair. By my math, I should be set for socks for 45 more years at a cost of $1/year!

– Dave Trendler, director of marketing and audience development

COROS Pace Smartwatch

Maybe it’s because I’m the gear editor who gets to try out new things all the time, in a constant state of churn, but there are times when I literally get “geared out,” and I need to just go for a run with something simple. Lately I’ve been reaching for this midrange smartwatch (some could actually call it “budget”) when I head out the door. It’s super lightweight on my arm, has big clear numbers that almost look drawn on, and it starts up quick—while still providing lots of info. There’s something about the Star Trek-style fonts that seem almost dated that give me a weird sense of modern nostalgia, but this is a watch that really outperforms its price point. Sometimes simple is better.

– Chris Foster, senior editor