the roundup

Three Unique Gloves to Beat the Spring Chill

Photo: Oliver Baker

Stay warm on your next ride or run with these quality options.

Castelli BOA Glove

$120, Castelli-cycling.com
The draw: Dialed-in fit
Key feature: Use the BOA Fit Dial to channel your inner power ranger
Chill factor: Four snowflakes

If you haven’t noticed, BOA fasteners are everywhere. From shoes (both running and cycling) to helmets, you simply spin the little dial and a lament tightens up your stuff. Developed in response to pro cyclists at chilly spring classic, Milan-San Remo, who couldn’t remove their mitts, Castelli modernized its riding gloves with a device that’s super effective at tightening (twist and the extra-long gauntlet wraps your wrist for a super snug fit) and loosening (pull the dial and the cuff comes undone). Matched with a waterproof/windproof layer and mid-weight insulation, we liked these gloves for temps between 40 and 60 degrees. Though the BOA seems a little out-of-place while running, the dials were light enough to be unnoticeable. The one thing we did miss? A snotcloth on the thumb.

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Amfib Lobster Glove


$75, Pearlizumi.com
The draw: Crazy warmth without sacri cing dexterity
Key feature: Nothing says warmth like a neon lobster with hi-vis accents
Chill factor: Five snowflakes

The unconventional lobster design on these gloves rides a fine line between full-on mitten—which would offer risky control on the bike—and full-fingered glove—which would leave your digits frigid and lonely in their individual cocoons. The AmFIB Lobster Glove hits that sweet spot between the two with a waterproof insert, fleece lining, and a softshell outer layer. Though advertised to be most effective between 20-30 degrees, with an additional liner (see the Merino 150), these could work in lower temps as well. Our hands stayed toasty and in-control on long, chilly descents under 40 degrees and crazy warm while running in similar weather.

Smartwool Merino 150 Glove


$30, Smartwool.com
The draw: Super-packable for changing conditions
Key feature: Touchscreen-compatible fingertips for giving “likes” on the go
Chill factor: Two snowflakes

While both of the other gloves in our roundup are ideal for wet and windy conditions, this pair is best for cool to chilly dry conditions (think 40 to 70 degrees for running and 50 to 70 degrees for cycling). Despite missing a wind or waterproof layer, the 150s are still workhorses—especially for running—because they are so easy to bring along and offer incredible breathability for hot-handed folks. The soft feel of the Merino wool not only keeps hands warm, but also feels good. Touchscreen-compatible thumbs and fore fingers are effective, and while these gloves are about as thin as you can get (Smartwool’s 250s with 100-percent Merino wool are measurably thicker), these make an excellent everyday spring option or an effective liner for more brutal conditions.

Find The Perfect Pair of Running Socks (For You)

If you’re like most athletes, you probably don’t put as much thought into your socks as you do other pieces of your race-day wardrobe—that is, until painful blisters or cold toes make it all but impossible to ride or run. The right socks can make all the difference in comfort and performance, and many technical socks are specially-designed to address the unique needs of endurance athletes. Thanks to these innovative sock solutions, it’s never been easier to find your perfect pair.

RELATED: How to Treat Common Foot Ailments

Problem: Toe Blisters


Solution: Injinji Ultra Run

$16-18, Injinji.com

​To eliminate blisters, you’ve got to eliminate friction. These unique socks envelop each toe, eliminating skin-on-skin contact between the toes to prevent blisters. Though they may add time to some transitions, the added seconds may be worth it for those athletes who experience debilitating blisters on the run.

Problem: Sweaty Feet


Solution: Drymax Running Lite-Mesh
$11, Drymax.com

“Moisture-wicking” may not be enough to prevent blisters caused by sweaty feet—after all, simply pulling the moisture away from skin means little if it has no way to evaporate inside the shoe. Search for a fabric that both wicks and contains sweat, making moisture management a cinch.

Problem: Water from the Outside


Solution: Lorpen T3 Trail Running Ultra Light
$13.99, Lorpennorthamerica.com

If rain is in the forecast (or you’re the type who likes to douse yourself with water and ice on a hot day), opt for a sock that manages moisture on two fronts: hydrophilic, which pulls moisture away from the foot, and hydrophobic, which repels water and keeps the foot from getting wet. Lorpen’s T-Series line utilizes three super-thin layers that work together to absorb sweat from the inner layer and block water from the outside.

Problem: Malodor Maladies


Solution: Balega Silver
$15, Balega.com

Silver isn’t just for finisher-medal bling anymore. As it turns out, the element is a perfect addition to textiles, too. Chock-full of antimicrobial properties, silver yarns thwart the bacteria and fungi that make your sweaty feet smell…well, like sweaty feet.

Problem: Longevity & Durability



Solution: Icebreaker Run+ Light Mini
$18, Icebreaker.com

If it feels like you’re constantly buying new socks to replace holey, stretched-out pairs, consider investing in a pair made to last. Super-durable fabric blends featuring merino wool, nylon, and lycra aid in durability and shape retention, no matter how hard you (or your washer/dryer) are on your socks.

Problem: Slip-Sliding in the Toebox


Solution: Nikegrip Elite Lightweight No-Show
$28, Nike.com

For those who want to feel super-secure in their footwear, opt for a sock with anti-friction yarns designed to grip the insole of the shoe. This allows for comfort in shoes with bigger toeboxes without the need for a super-tight lacing system, which can cause circulation issues or chafing on the arch or top of the foot.

Problem: Heel Slippage


Solution: Darn Tough Coolmax Vertex ¼ Ultra-Light Cushion
$17, Darntough.com

When no-show socks slip beneath the heel counter of a run shoe, it’s annoying at best and chafe-tastic at worst. Instead, opt for a quarter-length sock, which extends just above the shoe upper to stay in place. An ultra-light, breathable Coolmax fabric ensures the extra material feels supportive, not stifling.

Problem: Cold Toes


Solution: Cloudline ¼ Top Running Sock
$18.99, Cloudlineapparel.com

These aren’t your grandma’s wool socks—today’s Merino wool blends offer all the warmth of thick wool socks in a lightweight, breathable package. Wool run socks can also pull double duty in your bike shoes when temperatures dip, keeping you warm without constricting toe movement.

Problem: Foot Pain


Solution: Thorlo Experia Multi-Sport
$14.99, Thorlo.com

A little padding can go a long way in keeping a runner pain-free, especially for those with low volume of natural fat pads in the ball and hell of the feet. In choosing a sock with added cushioning, high-quality moisture management fabrics become even more important, lest the soft place to land becomes a soggy, squishy mess.

RELATED: Sock Savvy: What To Know About This Underappreciated Gear

3 Smart Trainers for Less Than $1000

Photo: Oliver Baker

Get more out of your indoor riding with these brainy trainers.

Smart trainers are becoming more reliable, more connected, and less-expensive than ever before. Power readings combined with popular programs like Zwift, TrainerRoad, Bkool, Strava, and Kinomap can add fun to your challenging indoor sessions. Here’s the lowdown on three different options so you can find the best fit for your pain cave.

Bkool Smart Pro 2

$590; Bkool.com

The draw: Simple setup with tons of value

Bkool’s Smart Pro 2 has the same features as trainers twice its price: decent power max (1,200 W, and slopes up to 20% grade), quiet design, and excellent feedback from virtual platforms. The Smart Pro 2 also simulates inertia in virtual environments, which gives a very unique road feel. The set up was one of the easiest of the group with an incredibly strong ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart signal. We also loved the design and the included virtual software—which included a year of premium Bkool subscription that
gives Zwift’s popular platform a run for its money. Sometimes we felt the wheel slip with sudden efforts, but it seemed to improve over time.

RELATED – Mind Blown: Tacx’s New Smart Trainer is Also a Treadmill

Stac Zero

$480; Staczero.com

The draw: Silent, no-wear design

The Stac Zero uses a magnetic field to create resistance (but does not respond to virtual environments— adding resistance when you virtually turn uphill, for example) and measure power on your aluminum rim (sorry, no carbon rims allowed). Ideal for apartment dwellers and people who don’t like cranking their TV volume to 11, Stac’s design delivers an almost entirely silent experience without any wear on your rim or tire. Powered via a rechargeable battery, the Zero is also a good choice for race-morning warm-ups. Even after installation of the included wheel weight, the road feel was still slightly unrealistic compared other trainers in the category. Also, Stac’s reliance on the position of the rim magnets
to provide resistance and the lack of bundled software made consistency a bit of a question mark.

RELATED: Smart Vs. Regular Trainers

Elite Direto

$900; Elite-it.com

The draw: Rock-solid, direct drive

Regarding road feel and strong, sturdy design, the Direto is king. After installing a cassette and strapping your frame onto it, this trainer feels more like a high-end spin bike than a bike/trainer setup. The wide base, coupled with the direct-drive design, makes the Direto the ideal bike for hard, sudden efforts on virtual platforms with road feedback or pedaling analysis via the bundled software. While the Direto doesn’t wear on your wheels or tires, bear in mind you’ll want to get an inexpensive dedicated cassette to avoid the hassle of constant swaps. Note: Elite’s training software feels beta compared to other offerings, with few unpaid features and others not yet available.

RELATED: How to Smash Indoor Training Sessions Like a pro Cyclist

4 Mountain Bike Shoes Built to Perform on the Trails

Photo: Oliver Baker

Four mountain bike shoes built to perform—and play rough

Trail shoes differ from your road variety on a few key points: Their outsoles are beefier, covered in rugged lugs for traction when you jump out of the saddle; their uppers are made out of mud-shedding materials, sacrificing some ventilation to keep your feet clean; and their midsoles tend to offer a bit of flex around the toes to make walking easier. Here, four top models to try.

Sidi MTB Drako

$500, Sidi.com

The draw: Unparalleled stiffness, narrow fit

These Italian purebreds are meant for all-out racing. Crazy stiff carbon soles won’t lose a watt, but they can also be slippery should you need to hike-a-bike. The dials and wires are solid but not super simple to adjust on the fly, so expect to take a few extra seconds in transition. An adjustable heel-retention device lets you dial in the perfect fit, and like most parts on this shoe, it’s replaceable. The soft, lightweight microfiber upper is comfy sockless and meant to last years, turning that $500 into a smart investment. (Note: Tested and pictured in women’s version.)

Shimano XC7

$200, Shimano-lifestylegear.com
The draw: Race-ready comfort

Shimano found the sweet spot between stiffness and comfort in these sleek competition kicks. The carbon-reinforced sole leaves no energy wasted while the slightest flex around the toe and heel keeps feet and knees happy—and makes it easy to run for it, if you need to. The Boa entry system makes them quick in transition, while gritty fabric keeps heels from slipping. (Don’t worry, no chafing while riding sockless.) The shiny, synthetic upper wipes off easily and earns our kudos for understated style. A roomy toe box accommodates wider feet, but that Boa system locks down skinny feet just as well.

Giro Code VR70

$250, Giro.com
The draw: Easy arch adjustment, wide fit

The VR70s make customizing arch support a breeze with three different-sized inserts that Velcro onto the insole. The carbon composite sole gives solid power transfer while the Vibram-lugged outsole gives great grip off the bike. Riders with wider feet will appreciate the roomy toe box, while those with slimmer feet will probably find they can’t cinch the shoes down tight enough. The buckle closure paired with the Velcro straps made for the fastest in-and-out of the shoes we tested. Perfectly comfy sockless.

Pearl Izumi X-Project Elite

$275, Pearlizumi.com
The draw: Well-rounded performance, street style

Like the XC7, the X-Project Elite marries stiffness and comfort perfectly. The carbon midsole is totally rigid when standing to sprint, but the toes have enough give that our tester said he could “run a mile in them.” The PIs get top billing for style and customization options: They come with two pairs of arch support that fit into the insoles, as well as forefoot shims designed to help reposition the foot for ideal knee alignment. The Boa lacing system cinches them down fast for a snug fit, and the X-Projects feel just fine sockless.

Cleat Cheat Sheet

  • Mountain bike cleats are smaller than road cleats.
  • They use a two-bolt rather than a three-bolt system to attach to your shoe.
  • The tinier cleats recess into the shoe’s tread so you can walk easily.

There are a few models on the market, but XTERRA pro Will Kelsay says beginners would do best grabbing a SPD (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics) cleat and pedal system. “They work well, you’ll have lots of pedal options (platform, no platform, light, cheap, etc.), and they are pretty common so if you have problems, they are easier to fix and find parts for than other options. It’s common to bash pedals while riding, so it’s important to have a durable pedal and one that’s easy to fix.”

This Smart Footwear Wants to Make You a Better Runner

Photo: Oliver Baker

Remove the guesswork from your running form with these brainy footwear upgrades

You may have had a coach who barked about picking up your knees. Or perhaps you looked at the wear patterns of your worn soles to see where you scuffed. Along came motion-control shoes, designed to do the thinking for you, steering your feet through the gait cycle.

All of this is a roundabout way of informing your body to improve form for greater efficiency, speed and reduced likelihood of injury. Here, we look at the future: shoes and insoles that use tiny sensors and smartphone apps so you can receive sophisticated biomechanical data, analysis and even coaching advice on the fly.

Altra Torin IQ

$220, Altrarunning.com
The draw: Easy app; useful coaching; cushioned, zero-drop ride
Altra’s first IQ shoe is built into its most popular road model, with the company’s signature zero-drop platform and wide toe box. The shoe’s “brains” use dual sensors to show when you are landing on the forefoot, midfoot or heel. The info is transmitted to Altra’s free IQ App for live information on cadence, contact time and impact rate; it then converts the data into real-time coaching tips.

Under Armour SpeedForm Gemini 3 Record-Equipped

$160, Underarmour.com
The draw: MapMyRun connected; simple functionality; performance midsole cushioning
Under Armour’s digitally connected trainer syncs with the UA MapMyRun via a smartphone app to offer both direct metrics and analytics in a plush, neutral shoe. The Gemini 3 RE can store data for syncing later (so no phone required) or track data live. The shoe uses a unique jump test to measure muscular fatigue and help determine the intensity of your next run, and it comes with a one-year membership to UA’s MapMyRun MVP.

Stridalyzer Marathon or Performance

Stridalyzer Marathon, $89 (no phone required, one sensor) or Performance, $139 (phone required, four sensors), Retisense.com
The draw: Use with any shoes; granular data and analysis

Unlike smart shoes, the multi-sensor Stridalyzer insoles are swappable with any training or racing flats. Cadence, impact stress, body balance, ground contact time and foot-strike data are transmitted to a connected smartphone and coupled with Stridalyzer Analytics to offer form guidance. Though the insole is slightly thicker than a shoe’s stock version, we couldn’t feel the sensor underfoot.

4 Hydration Packs for Trail Running

Photo: Oliver Baker

Few off-road locations have water fountains or 7-Elevens, so savvy dirtbags need to bring their own fuel. With so many hydration pack options, the smartest multisport athletes should look at a running-focused design that can easily be adapted for cycling. The best hydration packs will keep you from overheating, fit snugly to avoid chafing and have enough storage for your gear. We tested four different options that will keep you moving when there’s no place to reload in sight.

Camelbak Octane XCT

$85, Camelbak.com
The draw: A simple, no-frills staple

Since Camelbak was one of the first to the game, it makes sense that it’s gotten the basic hydration pack down to a science. The Octane XCT is a bare-bones bag with light weight and a low price tag. A small back footprint and mesh shoulder straps ensure that this bag won’t overheat when temperatures rise, and small side pockets still store the essentials. The fit of this pack is the most backpack-like of the bunch, with the full load secured behind you.

Osprey Duro 15

$140, Ospreypacks.com
The draw: All the bells and whistles, all the pack space

The Osprey Duro 15 is not only the largest pack on our list at 15 liters of pack space, but it also boasts an endless parade of features: double sternum straps for weight balance; a magnetic clasp to hold the hydration hose; and enough pockets to hold a tool chest. When not on the trails, it can also serve double-duty as a small daypack with room for a laptop, jacket, extra clothing and more. Even with all that gear, the vest-like fit keeps loads balanced.

Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 3.0

$125, Ultimatedirection.com
The draw: Super cooling, lots of hydration options

The SJ Ultra Vest is not only crazy light, but it also keeps you cooler than any other pack tested. Out of the box, this pack is meant to be used with two soft flasks carried on the front: The upside to chest-mounted hydration is the ability to refill on the go, but weight on the front may not be for everybody. Add a hydration bladder (not included) to the back to better balance the load. (Off-road tri option: Use the bladder on the bike, keep the flasks in T2, then grab them for the run only.) Bonus points for small details like soft-trimmed fabric edges.

Geigerrig Cadence

$145, Geigerrig.com
The draw: Close fit, awesome bladder

The Geigerrig stands out with its pressurized bladder system. Using a rubber bulb—like the one on blood pressure-test sleeves—it squirts so you don’t have to suck. You can share your water better, and you can use it to clean a wound after a wipeout. Attach an additional inline water filter to make the world your drinking fountain. The pack itself is very form-fitting, light on straps, and also one of the warmer options we tested.

Training In The Dark? Take These Visibility Products Along

Photo: Oliver Baker

Spring (and your first race!) is right around the corner, but many of us are still left training in the dark. Make your inky sessions fun and safe with these six illuminating innovations.

1.Albedo 100 Invisible Bright

$19 for 4.6 ounces, Albedo100us.com

Make your train-in-the-dark apparel reflect light with this invisible (in daylight) spray. It’s designed to work on textiles, especially natural fabrics such as cotton and fleece, and can make your run shoes extra visible. The company also has a UV-resistant Light Metallic spray that—while not invisible—will stick to helmets.

2.Provis Reflect360+ Cycling Jacket

$175, Provizsports.com

Super reflective cycling apparel that’s not neon? Yes, please. Proviz thought of everything when creating this sleek-looking, tailored cycling jacket. The film fabric is made from millions of tiny, reflective glass beads yet is somehow breathable and waterproof. It has four pockets and multiple vents, and the inside has a cotton mesh lining.

3.Cycliq Fly12

$349, Cycliq.com

This handlebar-mounted camera-light combo from Cycliq both lights up the road with a 400-lumen headlight (which can also flash or pulse) and records the action ahead of you in full HD 1080p. The video loops until you have an incident, when the camera will automatically save the footage. It’s weatherproof, the battery lasts up to 10 hours, and it has a smart alarm that deters would-be thieves while on a coffee stop.

4.Million Mile Light

$23, Flipbelt.com

This mini motion-powered clip-on light stays lit as long as you’re jogging (the up-and-down motion powers the pulsing LED)—no batteries or recharging required. With 30-lumen intensity, the light is visible from 200 meters, plus it’s weatherproof and available in seven color combos.

5.Nathan Neutron Fire Runners’ Headlamp

$35, Nathansports.com

Be visible from multiple directions with Nathan’s newest headlamp. In addition to the 115-lumen spotlight on the front, side strobes kick out red, green or blue LED light. Available in five color options, the lightweight lamp requires two AAA batteries, which can burn for 30 hours.

6.Revolights Eclipse

$199, Revolights.com

These lights are a well-thought-out solution to night riding. They feature a legal headlight, a functional brake light and 360 degrees of visibility with strips of rechargeable LEDs (eight 35-lumen lights per wheel) that attach directly to the wheels. Keep an eye out for the next iteration, the Eclipse+, which will also feature Bluetooth connectivity and turn signals.

The Round-Up: Five Race-Ready Hats

In addition to blocking the sun’s harmful rays, the extra shade from a hat or visor helps reduce squinting, which keeps your face more relaxed. And there’s nothing like having a bill to serve as an awning for your eyes during a rainy run. The trick is to find a hat that functions well in training, looks good and fits your head just right.

Hat Trick
CTR Chase Marathon Run Cap
New Balance Performance Visor
Brooks Seattle Collapsible Hat
BOCO Gear Relaxed Fit Technical Trucker
Headsweats Performance Trucker

 

The Roundup: Upgrade Your Office Cubicle

Photo: Oliver Baker

Upgrade your cubicle to supercharge your workday.

Just because you’re a desk jockey 8–10 hours a day doesn’t mean your training has to suffer. A plethora of products focused on office fitness provides a means to stay moving on sedentary days. Consider the following three setups—ranging from easy to aspirational—and check out some of the latest office-oriented fitness tools.

Simple cubicle upgrade: For those looking to be more discrete, opt for products you can stash in your desk drawer. A grip trainer or hand therapy ball can increase hand and forearm strength during long phone meetings, and a set of resistance bands will come in handy for strength training throughout the day. Also, don’t overlook the power of “deskercises,” which require no equipment at all, like chair squats and desk dips. Seated leg raises and ankle-strengthening exercises are easy to do without anyone being the wiser to your workout. Consider swapping your desk chair for an exercise ball, which promotes core stability.

For the serious fitness fiend: Even a small investment can seriously up your office fitness game. This scenario might include an under-the-desk exercise bike or an elliptical trainer fit for a standing desk. A small set of hand weights is another option for boosting your productivity during lengthy conference calls.

Dream desk gym: The ideal fitness solution for your office involves a treadmill desk. These aren’t cheap, so with any luck, you may be able to convince your employer to invest in a few for the greater well-being of the office staff. In a perfect world, you may also have other gear at the ready to offer a complete workout throughout the work day. This might include a corner Zwift trainer setup, a set of dumbbells, and a TRX or band system.

5 Sunscreens Perfect For Triathletes

Photo: Oliver Baker

Try one of these skin-protecting formulas during summer training and racing.

Coola Guava Mango Sunscreen Spray

$36 (8 oz), coolasuncare.com

This refreshing tropical-scented spray offers broad spectrum SPF 50 and boasts 70 percent organic ingredients, all in a formula that is water-resistant for 80 minutes.

Beyond Coastal Natural Sunscreen

$6.99 (1 oz), beyondcoastal.com

This all-natural, SPF 30 formula uses zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to protect your skin and aloe vera, grape seed extract, jojoba oil and coconut oil to nourish it.

RELATED: Triathlon Dirty’s Little Secret

All Good Zinc Sunscreen

$16 (3 oz), allgoodproducts.com

All Good uses a “non-nano” zinc oxide formula that won’t leave a white residue on your skin, and in addition to this SPF 33 lotion, the company has a collection of sprays, sticks and butters.

Bull Frog Land Sport Quik Gel

$10 (5 oz), bullfrogsunscreen.com

For a serious sunscreen to tackle long bike or run workouts, Bull Frog’s SPF 50 Quik Gel holds up to sweat, and its oil-free formula dries quickly (the company also makes a water sport option for swims and race day).

Z Blok Sunscreen Stick

$10 (.5 oz), zbloksun.com

Convenient for re-application during long bike rides, this SPF 45 stick uses clear zinc to protect against harmful UVA and UVB rays.

RELATED: The Triathlete’s Sun Safety Toolbox