Brooks Running Bras Stink

I have owned two Brooks running sports bras since I started running just under two years ago. I started with the Juno model two sizes ago, and now I am into the Rebound Racer. These two bras alone have hugged my girls and kept them nice and snug for all of my major races and long distance runs.  I also own and use a C9 (Champion Target Brand) and a SheFit, which I use for day to day running mostly, choosing the Brooks because they have softer materials and fit better as they are quality bra’s, but they are not without their issues.

Brooks Juno & Rebound Racer Pro’s & Con’s (The short version): If you want a bit more back story read below the bulleted lists for my personal experience in each of these areas.


  • Good soft materials – doesn’t really cause chaffing (with the exception noted below) during distances up to a Marathon.
  • Durable materials – has taken almost daily washings and been worn for over a year (Juno) and a half (Rebound) without showing visible signs of wear and tear (one major exception also noted below).
  • Snug fit – my girls don’t bounce and the front tacky strap adjustment helps synch them in nice and tighten on the fly.


  • Stinky Fabric – After about 3 months of summer wear, both models have a breakdown in the materials and begin to trap odors which are released while wet. NO it’s not just me, or my laundry routine.
  • Outdated Design – Sports bra’s should be easier to get on and off. Especially when one is wet with sweat! See below for my opinion on the matter.
  • Price – are you kidding me? I paid full retail marked up price for mine at local running stores, and if they were perfect I would happily pay that price. But come on, I get almost as good support and coverage from my Target bra and it never stinks!

All in all I would recommend these bra’s for fit and comfort for longish and short distance, mainly because I haven’t found anything else that I like better. But for the price I would like something I love and I don’t love these bra’s. I use them because I bought them and I like to get my monies worth. But given the issues I have had with them I am on the hunt for a better bra for my Ultra distances.

More In-depth experience:

To begin, as mentioned before in other posts, I am rather sensitive to the feel of the material against my skin, so it is EXTREMELY important to me that the materials be soft (to me). I don’t like rough seams or scratchy edges, or stiff materials. And as I am upping my distances chaffing is going to be a HUGE concern.  So to be noted, with the Juno I occasionally had a problem of chaffing just above my breast plate where the fabric sagged into my cleavage. It started happening during my first marathon and happened a few times after that. My guess is that my boobs shrank just enough to allow this to happen, or I simply hadn’t run far enough for it to happen before that time. Either way I don’t like the burning sensation it caused during my post marathon showers.  Since boob shrinkage is a real thing thanks to running, I had to move down a couple sizes and purchased the Rebound Racer, and I have not yet had this chaffing issue, instead I have had a different problem.

With my Rebound Racer the straps compress over my collar bones during long runs and have left bruising on both side after races. Of note this occurs primarily when I have to wear a my Nathan Vest. Now you could argue this is the vest’s fault and not the Rebound, but I wore my vest with my Juno during Little Rock and didn’t have this problem. The fact is that the strap material of the Rebound feels thicker and doesn’t seem to absorb/compress softly enough over my skin and bones to prevent this from happening. Not sure if this is the Bra’s fault but worth noting nonetheless as it is a BIG factor in why I won’t be using it for our 50k.

My next complaint with both of these Brooks Bras would be the design. I don’t know about you but I HATE, with a passion, pulling a nasty sweaty sports bra off over my head. Not to mention wrestling into one before my runs. While you have the options to unstrap the shoulders on these models, I tend not to because they are a PITA to re-thread through the eyelet due to the velcro.  I also HATE the old fashion hook and eyelet adjustments on the back. I find myself looking like a contortionist every time the hooks catch over the fabric and won’t find the eyelets!  I would seriously like to see an open front option, and a velcro back adjustment maybe like my SheFit; the key here would be for the fabric and materials would have to be just right as to not cause chaffing or pressure points, I haven’t found my SheFit to be perfect in this department hence why I still wear the Brooks.

But so far my number one complaint about these two bras is that that they stink. Literally. About 3 months of wear during the summer months and both bra’s developed a stink that is released after they get wet with sweat. A smell like dead rotting vegetation wafts up into my nostrils and is most unpleasant during my runs.

Now before you jump to the conclusion that I have poor hygiene or don’t know how to wash clothes let me explain. First I don’t and have never had this issue with any other bra or sports equipment for that matter.  My husband is also a runner and his stuff doesn’t stink.  I wash our running clothes immediately after use in a detergent (Nellies Natural Laundry Soda) which I used to wash my babies dirty cloth diapers and my Roller Derby pads, so I know it is NOT my laundry routine that is the problem.  Again it is only these bra models I have ever encountered this problem.

With the Juno when the problem occurred last summer I tried using Biokleen Bac-Out before washing, as it is an enzyme based odor remover, but that didn’t help. The only thing that has helped is Bleach, which seems to kill whatever bacteria is able to develop by the way the fabric traps in sweat.  I did a sniff test yesterday after I ran in my freshly washed Rebound and it seems to be the mesh fabric that traps the smell. It wasn’t the fabric that lays over my breasts, but the waffle woven dry fit fabric that surrounds the padding on the inside, which I thought was interesting.  So into the bleach it went. Problem solved.  I am sure Trex’s nostrils will thank me. He’s never said anything but I am sure he’s just being polite.

So my search continues. I guess one plus of moving into the ‘itty bitty’ category is that I don’t need quite the support as I did before, so I can move away from these thicker fabric models. Wish me luck in my endeavors to find a replacement for my first Ultra.


NOTE: I purchased all of the products mentioned in this article at retail price, from retail stores, for my own personal use. I have no affiliations with any retailers, company, or suppliers. This is strictly a user review of these products.

Scosche 24 Heart Rate Band

I picked up a Scosche 24 HR band back in May and for the most part it’s been okay.   There are some runs where the readings are questionable (pretty sure I’ve never hit 208 BPM in my life and that it would kill me to do so now) and some runs where there was a lot of drop outs, especially if my watch and my scosche were on opposite arms, and a few runs where it just shut off in the middle of a run.

Hmm you know it sounds like maybe it’s just barely been ‘okay’.

In the last 3 weeks I’ve gotten significantly shorter battery life than it was giving me prior.  And I’ve been very careful after the first unexpected ‘no charge’ incident on my 5th run after a full charge to keep an eye on it and make sure I’m not leaving it on.

Today things took a turn for the worse though.  While out on a run I was getting a high reading on my watch.  My Scosche was on the outside of my forearm so I pulled the strap to spin it where I could see if it had turned off and “Pop” it flew off my arm.

I picked it up and saw it was missing a watch pin (the spring loaded pin that the bands hook on).  Well crap.  I finish the run and come home and the spare pins I have from my Fenix watches are about half a MM too long to fit.  So I google “Scosche 24 pin failure” to find out what the size is, thinking I’d just pick one up and replace it, and I start seeing post after post on Amazon from other people saying they’d lost a pin and theirs was because the case had cracked as well.

Sure enough I put mine under a strong light and one of the pin mounts is cracked.  Well double crap.

This particular area doesn’t seem all that well designed to me.  The screws that hold the top and bottom case parts together are in such a position it forms a natural weak point due to lack of material in this area.  And although I’m not a destruction testing scientist, nor do I play one on T.V., the material for the lower half of the case has that shiny ‘snap like a twig’ plastic look to it.

Maybe it’s a QC issue, bad choice in materials for the case or just bad design but whatever the case it’s unusable at this time.   I might be able to design and 3D print some kind of cage to put the unit in and that will attach to the 24 band or possible one of the old version’s velcro bands.   But that’s not going to be an option for 99.999% of their customer base.

I’ve dropped them an email explaining the situation, hopefully there will be a happier outcome but at this time I’m not sure I can recommend the Scosche 24.   There’s no android app to check firmware, I’m getting random shutdowns, battery life seems to have broken after 3 months and now I find you apparently have to really baby the case putting it on and off or you’ll crack it.

I’m hoping these things get fixed as I really, really, like the Scosche, it’s far more comfortable to me than a chest belt, the readings are almost, for me, as good as a chest monitor and in general it’s a good piece of kit, when it works and doesn’t break.


Week 2 of our 50 plan has come and gone and we did our back to back long runs over the weekend.  One of the things I’ve put in our training schedule is one weekend a month we do both long runs on the same day, one in the morning, one around 9:00 p.m.

This weekend we did the night run on the Snake trail at Turkey.  There’s a reason it’s called the Snake trail.  We had to shoo off, go around or jump over about half a dozen copperhead snakes between 18″ to maybe 30″ long.   Copperheads are typically non-aggressive and rarely fatal although they can leave you with some pretty nasty tissue damage.

The snakes were somewhat easy to spot in advance, it was the giant spiders constantly spinning webs across the trail as we did the multiple out and backs that were really annoying.   Being the slowest #boatanchor member of the group running I ran in front mostly to set the pace and as a result I got to clear the path of all the spiders and webs as we ran.  Mostly by running through the webs.

On week 5(ish) of dropping carbs from the diet and I’m still feeling the hit to some degree.  My pace is off by a fair bit for one, heart rate still on the high side for any given pace and in general just don’t feel ‘fast’ not that I ever did but it’s worse. A factor in this is that I don’t really have a ‘low intensity’ speed so converting stored fats to fuels is slow for me.

One semi-interesting thing is that even though we’d already done one 9 mile run that morning the second 9 miles that evening didn’t feel much different than the first one.

On a more useful topic is lighting.  Running Wife #1 forgot her headlamp and I didn’t have the spare I normally carry with me so I loaned her my headlamp and used the backup backup light I carry in my bag.  It’s one of many flashlights I’ve carried for a few years now, a Quark / 4 Sevens light, I’d give the model but you can’t get them anymore.   On medium which I used it puts out about 160 lumens OTF which I found very usable.  Not great at that setting for spotlighting far up the trail but I didn’t need to see that far out.

The biggest take away is that a light that’s not in line with your face is far more useful in terms of spotting hazards that might trip you up due to the sole fact that it casts shadows you can see unlike a light 1″ above your eyes.

As a result I’ve been doing a fair bit of research on lights, specifically L shaped lights I can use to attach to a belt or vest or carry easily and more naturally in my hand as I run.

I have some very specific needs though which makes it tough (impossible) to get a perfect light.

I’m currently looking at the following (no direct links as they are likely to go dead over time)

WowTec A2S ($30 on Amazon at the time of this post)

Skilhunt H03 ($30 to $45 depending on where you get it)

Skilhunt H03 RC ($55 various places)

Zebralight 600 Mark IV ($85 from vendor)

Armytek Wizard ($65 from vendor)

Armytek Wizard Pro ($80 from vendor)

I’ve ordered the WowTec A2S, got it today actually and a Zebra to test out.  Will likely pick up a Skilhunt as well.

Here’s the bigger problems I have – None of these lights are programmable so you have to use the settings they come with.

None of them have the perfect light levels for me.  I’d like a medium or high around 250-300 lumens to get the best efficiency at that level for me.   I’d like another setting in the 150-190 lumens range.   One that’s around 20-30 lumens and a ‘moonlight or firefly’ mode.

I need them to have a decent spill as well as okay spot but without a hot spot and I need it in a warm color range to make it easier to spot things like snakes that are almost the same color as the dirt I’m running on.  Warmer lights to me make it a fair bit easier to distinguish smaller color changes in greens and browns.

The TURBO!!!! modes I have no use for personally.   I just don’t see a point in having a light that in theory can throw 1100 to 2500 lumens for all of 30 seconds before the temp controls cycle it down significantly nor having a light that on the highest sustained power that doesn’t burn it up lasts an hour.

“Why don’t you get a dedicated trail running light?”

Good question, best answer I have is that Trail running specific vendors are lagging behind lighting technology and in general aren’t cutting edge in technology.   Not that bleeding edge is necessary or even a great thing but when it comes to a light the fewer batteries you have to potentially carry, the tougher the thing is, the more light it throws per watt, these are all good things.  And frankly most of them are pretty expensive for what you’re getting compared to the rest of the lighting world.

As I test these various lights specifically as options for trail running at night I’ll post my thoughts of each one, stay tuned.

Running with the DivaCup and Thinx

How I earned my Red Badge of Courage

Attention male readers, the content below is targeted for those who are interested in the use of menstrual cycle products as they relate running.  I give you permission to stop reading here (that includes you Trex).

I have been rather lucky when it comes to the timing of my long runs and races. But as the stars and moon would have it, eventually my luck ran out and for both Midnight Madness and our 15k night time training trail runs I ran into a few issues that only girls can relate. But with a little support and a costume change I fought the good fight and for it I have now earned my Red Badge of Courage.

I have failed to find any good blog articles that were helpful about how to prepare for long distance running while on my period, which is why I am telling my story here in case some other female comes along and wants some helpful / useful information.  Now to start there are several articles going around the Internet, like the ones on Livestrong, and RunnersWorld about how you will run/perform better for hormonal reasons during your cycle. Allow me to debunk that crap right now. It is total BS. While I have felt ok-ish energy wise (possibly due to Keto), which might support their evidence, that is minor in comparison to all the other stuff you have to deal with. No I can say for certain it is not helpful, not helpful one bit.

I highly recommend a useful little app called P. Tracker (or something like it) that I use on my iPhone that tracks the dates of my cycle easily and allows me to project out to the day (if my body plays nice) when I will start/end. Whenever we discuss doing a particular race I first check where that falls in the month and until this last month I have lucked out.  Just before the Little Rock Marathon I had a near panic attack as I had an ‘early’ warning scare and thought I was going to have to run my first marathon wearing the traditional forms of female protection. But it was only a scare and my body stayed on schedule. Whew! But this lead me to do some research and I found what I hoped would be the right combo of protection to avoid significant chaffing and leakage, and wouldn’t require equipment change midrace in a porta potty. Yuck!

So as it happened Midnight Madness was my first long race during which I would actually get to test out the reliability of my new female only gear, the Thinx sports shorts and a Diva Cup, both purchased for the inevitable times like this race when being a women feels like a curse. I chose the cup for the main reason that it fits better than most tampons do for running, and it can be worn for 8-12 hours depending on the day. That is important when running on trails where there are no bathrooms or for during long 6 hour races.  NOTE: I was not paid for or sponsored for this review. I purchased these products out of my own desperation at full retail price and here is my experience using them (both good and bad)

Before the race I had tested the cup a few times, but only on shorter runs, and had a dry run with the shorts to know they were comfortable to run in, but race day was my first use of them together as the pair to serve as my shield and armor.

For the first half of the race I was totally fine. Happy that I had the right combo of equipment and felt secure, confident and comfortable. But as the run went on I could feel the cup was just not seating quite right and it would need to be readjusted, having been jostled somewhat during the run. But much to my chagrin, mortification, and utter horror I found that I had a wardrobe malfunction around mile 8 of 20, when the Thinx shorts couldn’t handle all the sweat plus small amount of leakage caused by the running and the ill positioned cup.  Let’s just say I was utterly grateful for a night time race and my dark sweat towel.

Thank goodness for my DH, who just happened to be done with his race and met us along the way just in time. Like a saint he drove and retrieved my spare clothes (which I packed in my mobile aid station just in case!) and met me at the turnaround. Not wanting to slow us down too much with a wardrobe change I picked up pace and booked it ahead of our little gang and swapped my shorts out for a different set of Thinx underwear and a different pair of shorts and I was good to go again by the time they were ready to leave. At least for a while.

My change of clothes and the cup held up slightly better the second half of the race; and I felt good until about that last 3 miles of the race when all hell broke loose. Every so often my body likes to remind me I am a mere mortal and punishes me with a bout of cramps so bad they would bring a Dino to his knees; and well, my body chose the last three miles of my 20 mile race to dole out this punishment. I had the usual leg aches and pains, but those were insignificant against the low back, abdominal cramps, and a tender soreness of my nether region that I haven’t’ felt since my youngest was born. The pain was such that it actually induced severe nausea and by the end of the race, as we were all sitting around a carrot cake singing happy birthday to Trex, I was doing everything within my power not to ruin his hard earned homemade celebratory dessert.

Now I know for fact that this was not food related. I had no indigestion, or significant trouble intestinally during or after the race. And as I said, I have had bouts with this sort of pain before, but not quite this bad that I can recall.

After the race I drank some Traditional Medicinals Womens Healthy Cycle herbal tea which gave me relief from the cramping and pain, took a long hot shower during which I discovered that I had chaffing where no women should chaff thanks to the ill positioning of the Diva Cup; then crashed in bed for the remainder of the morning.

Last night I experienced a milder version of the above. Having learned from the previous experience, I doubled up on my Thinx under layers, had a black towel at my car, extra feminine towelettes and water. I had to adjust the cup a few times to reseat it which is why I carry black towels and wipes.

Given conditions and my anatomy, frankly at this point I don’t know what will actually hold up, and not cause chaffing, leakage, or considerable discomfort, as the above combo just hasn’t been quite up to the task during my heaviest of days. I think really I just need a different shaped cup for running, or maybe a wet suite. Who knows?

I have since talked to a co-worker of mine who finished her first 100 miler and she too agreed my equipment of choice was the right way to go, but we agreed I should try different brands in search of one that will work better for me for longer distance runs. I found a website… that seems promising at helping me in this search and it has wonderful information on how and why to use cups verses the more traditional options. I for one love the Diva Cup for everyday use. I also love my Thinx, but if I am at some point going to run 100 miles, I really hope it won’t come with another Red Badge of Courage.

Garmin (of) Course

I used my Garmin Course function for the first time this last weekend.  This was on a Fenix 5X but it’s available on a lot of the running models.

It worked very well with a couple of caveats.  To use the Course and a Training workout at the same time you have to start a Run, hold the menu (middle left on a Fenix) scroll down to Navigation, Course, select your Course, Do Course which will take you back to the Run main screen.  Then do the same thing and select Training, My Workouts or Training Calendar (whichever) and then select your workout or day then Do Workout which takes you back to the main Run menu then select Start (upper right).

That’s caveat one.   The other one is that you have to have Course and Map data screens installed on your activity.  What I found was since the course was 1 lap and we were doing 3 laps after the first lap the Course screen was blank, just black.   But I could use the Map datascreen to show the path that we’d just run and voila we could repeat it as often as we wanted.

It helped because for the first time outside a marked/laid out race course this was the first time we’ve ever run the route that we intended to run at Turkey mountain other than the Powerline out and back.   On the return loop of the first lap I went left instead of right at a Y and it was obvious within 30 feet we were off course.

I’m not sure when I might want to use it again but it’s nice to know it’s there.

Scosche Rhythm 24

I’ve had problems with HR monitors of late.  I train by HR zone so having a semi accurate and reliable montior is kind of important to me.

I started with a Garmin HR Chest Strap, the basic one everyone probably starts with.  It was good until the strap wore out.  How it wears out is beyond me but about 4 months it started reading erratically.  I tried changing batteries to no avail and then found posts that indicate the straps should be considered consumable and the Polar straps lasted longer.

This was around month 5 of my running and right in time for Black Friday sales so I bought a Polar replacement strap for $10.   Worked great.  Until it didn’t work so great and it was time to buy another one.

Now at $10 to $20 a pop and 4-6 months of life that was a bit ridiculous so I bought a Scosche Rhythm+.

Well on me it didn’t work so good.  Lots of drop outs in signal and it would consistently read ridiculously high in the first 5 to 10 minutes.  Like 20 beats above my max HR when I was just warming up.   I went so far as to take it off once and it still kept on reading something at 180 beats a minute.

So I went back to the Garmin which was at least somewhat more reliable.

It was with interest that I read about the Scosche Rhythm 24 and the new updated sensors and the new algorithms and all that.

And I couldn’t not buy one as my current chest strap was once again failing.  So another $20 for a new strap or try something else.

I did a short 30 minute run today, last teaser run before our marathon in a couple of days.   The Scosche Rhythm 24 I’m happy say paired easily and quickly to my Fenix 5.   During the run the HR seemed to be most responsive and more ‘real time’ if that’s a thing.   And most importantly during the run at no point did I see any stupidity or silliness with the numbers.

After the run when I checked the data it was a beautiful chart.   A start at 50 beats a minute ramping up to 118 over the next quarter mile or so and then leveling out around 120 beats a minute for the remaining 3 miles with only minor variations which were attributable by changes in pacing.

There were zero drops in the data and no ridiculous ramps up to 180 and then dropping down to 120 in the space of 10 seconds. It was a smooth climb to my cruising HR and then steady as she goes Cap’n till the end of the run.

Now this was a single run of a fairly short distance but I have to say I’m pretty happy with it so far.

In full disclosure a LOT of the new features that aren’t just about HR aren’t avaialble to me because I don’t own a iPhone, I’m Android.  But I don’t really care about those features, they’ll be nice to haves once they do produce a android app (assuming they do, they never really released a working one for the Rhythm+, just one that would brick your Rhythm by not checking if the firmware needed updating before trying to push it).

So if the new features are important to you and you don’t own an iPhone this may not be the HR device for you.

But if you want what appears, knock wood, to be a good way to get accurate valid HR data, albeit at a price, then you may want to consider it.   If nothing else it’s more comfortable than a HR chest belt and there’s no strap to wear out.

Nathan Vaporkrar 12L – His and Her Thoughts

Bunny did a fair bit of research looking specifically for a hydration vest that would work topless or semi-topless in her case.   She tried several and for reasons she’ll go into in a bit she landed on the Nathan Vaporkrar.

I like my Ultimate Direction FKT but I really like my Salomon Advanced Skin 12.

I recently ran my UD in a tank and ended up with a chafe line on my chest after only 15.5 miles.  Granted it was about 20 degrees past sweaty here in Oklahoma in May but still.  The UD has some bounce on me which contributed to  the chafing result.

Note: wearing the UD with sleeved shirt of any length or even a sleevless shirt that’s not a tank top I’ve never had a problem with chafing.  It does bounce on me more than the others.

But… I do like trying new things so when I had a chance between a sale, a coupon and a gift card from work to get a Nathan Vaporkrar for next to no out of pocket I decided to give it a try.

So… What do I think about it?  I’ll concur with Bunny that the material is soft, softer than the other vests I have and use.   The XL fits me, #clydesdalerunner, if barely.   I have about 2″ of strap left in the chest straps, 0″ in the side straps.  So I realistically have about 1″ to spare since that 2″ of strap is divided between two because of the V shape of the chest straps.

The upper chest pockets are better than the Salomon and the UD.   They expand well and my Pixel 2XL will fit in one with a case on it no less.  Not that I could carry one there as it bounces on my collar bone but it does fit.

The lower pockets for the water and gels are not as good as the Salomon, not even close.  About the same as the UD.   The reason I say this is I have a harder than normal time fitting my UD soft flasks in them than I do with the others.  The UD has a toggle string on theirs so you can adjust the fit precisely.  The Salomon is just stretching.

The lower outer pocket is really where the Salomon shines compared.   On the Nathan there’s enough room to fit about 3 eGels (my preferred gel based fuel).   The UD is about the same.  The Salomon’s are kangaroo pouches that are huge compared to the other two and stretch like crazy.

The chest attachment methods though go strongly to the Nathan, then the UD and trailing in distant last the Salomon.   I do not care for the fiddly tiny ass little clips that Salomon chose.  I’ve had them come undone on me while running if you don’t have them pulled tight.   The V straps and the large buckle of the Nathan is a welcome thing at all times and especially when you’re tired.

The Nathan 12 has no side pouches but due to the strap they have they’d have to route the straps like the Ultimate Direction FKT does where it runs through the pockets.  I’m not a fan of the UD side pockets but they’re somewhat functional.

The Salomon’s side pockets are better than both with the vertical zippers and I can easily fit my Pixel in one for easy access and all the gels I normally carry on the other side.   On the Salomon I use the front kangaroo pockets for trash and paper towels primarily.  My nose runs like a broken water hose when it’s cold out.

As we move to the back I give the nod to the Nathan for storage slighly over the Salomon and UD with one major exception.  The Salomon’s kangaroo pouches are far more usable in a general fashion than the Nathan’s as they’re accessed from the top.     The Nathan’s though hold a bottle in a easy to access way.  I found putting a frozen water bottle in there a decent way to get some heat relief.  It lasts about an hour currently before it’s all melted and still cool enough to be enjoyable.

I like the the big pouch layout of the Nathan the best, I like their bladder hanger better for sure than the Salomon.

Bladder, they all support a bladder but the Nathan is the only one of the three that comes with one.  The Salomon comes with two half liter soft bottles, long skinny ones that I don’t like and gave away.  I prefer my long neck UD soft bottles.   The UD came with two 20oz hard bottles when I bought it and I like them but the old style nipples they have wear out far quicker than I liked.

So which one? With one exception, but it’s a important one, and cost being equal I’d say go with the Salomon, then the Nathan Vaporkrar and then the UD although 2nd and 3rd are a tough call.

That exception though is if you’re going to be doing long runs with these vests against your skin then go with the Nathan.

But if one of them is a significant savings over the others then that likely moves them up in the ranking a fair bit because when you get right down to it none of them are head and shoulders above the others although for me the Salomon is the winner when it comes to storage by a fair bit.

The ‘two cents of a women’… 

As Trex said, in the months before our first marathon I spent countless hours researching hydration options that would fit my needs/preferences. I am still searching.

After watching online video reviews, promotional videos, and reading tons of articles from the best of the best, I narrowed my search to 6 packs. These being:

  • Nathan VaporKrar* Racing Vests 4L & 12L
  • Salomon Advanced Skin  5Set Pack and 12Set Packs
  • Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra 5 Set and 8 Set Packs

I borrowed a friends S-Lab Sens Ultra 8 set to wear on a run. I also wore Trex’s beloved Salomon & UD vests, which didn’t fit of course, but gave me an idea of storage and general ‘wearability’. I spent an entire afternoon at our local running store, Runners World, where I wore my sizes in all these vests and was able to test out stuffing these vests with gear, bottles, and nutrition.  In the end I bought the Krar 12L because,  as TRex has also found, it was wearable against my skin or over a tank top for the 95+ temperatures of our Oklahoma Springs and summers, and had enough storage for longer trail races.  The Salomons failed me miserably when I tried them on in my summer tank top. They both caused red marks in a few minutes where they rubbed on my shoulders and back. The material is just too rough. This was a huge disappointment as I really liked the storage options of these packs a bit over the Nathans. But I am all about comfort and slightly less about storage.

So why the Krar and not the “womens vest” designed by Stephanie Howe, the VaporHowe? Because I wanted a more subdued and gender neutral color and more important the sizing on the Krar (MM) I found fit a women with my curves better than the Howe. Sorry Stephanie, we just aren’t all built that narrow framed.

TRex pretty much covered all my likes and dislikes with these vests. After purchasing the Nathan I wore it for the first time, like a rookie, on our first Marathon, where it dumped cold rain on us. I have also worn it on our long trail races and runs in all temperatures (below freezing to sweltering heat), both with a bladder and without, usually with Trex’s reject Salomon skinny soft bottles, and I have not once had any chaffing or bouncing or annoying adjustment issues.  I personally carry an iPhone 7 (not the plus) and it fits in the lapel pockets without bouncing on my collar bone as it is considerably smaller than the dino-sized Pixel2 Trex carries. Just sayin.

But at the end of the day I have one major disappointment with this vest and most all of the other vests I researched. What’s that you ask?  I’ll tell you.

They are not designed to accommodate breasts. 

Now I am not sporting anything close to double letters in my size, but the simple fact is that regardless of how big/little mine are, I don’t like bottles over my boobs. They jut out from my chest and cause a visual distraction, as well as squish my girls even more than my sports bra’s do.

‘Just use a bladder or belt instead’ I am told. First I don’t need a bladder on shorter distances or supported races as it adds too much weight. I prefer a bottle to hold my electrolyte drink of choice and bottle for water sometimes combined with a bladder, plus room for my phone and gels. Most hydration belts still don’t fit all I carry on long races well.

When I wore the Salomons I put the bottles in the front kangaroo pouches and liked the location, but they bounced way too much since they weren’t designed for bottles.

Another problem is that vests not designed with the curves of breasts in mind, require tighter oddly angled strap adjustments which can cause pressure points. I have only found two vests on the market that sort of address my complaint, those being the UD Jenny Jurek Ultra Vesta, and the UltrAspire Astral Vest.  The Jenny, looked promising, but in the end I didn’t like body layer materials of Trex’s Scott Jurek UD, so I knew I wouldn’t want that one against my skin come this summer. Turns out I was right.  I do wear the Jurek hydration belt when I am not sporting my Nathan, but it lacks in storage, and bounces unless its tighten within an inch of its life. But the UD Jurek collection belt & vests do have some waterproof pockets, unlike the Nathan or Salomon, which is needed with all the water I am sweating in this heat!

And while I haven’t tried the UltraAspire which, like the Jenny, sort of solves the bottle placement problem, it looks kinda ridiculous and unnecessary how it curves the fabric around the breast. I know, given reviews and descriptions I’ve read, it won’t be as soft as the Nathan on my skin, and I also wanted a vest my DH could wear in the event he needed to, and frankly the UltraAspire would look simply ridiculous on a man. It also can’t compete in terms of storage for longer trail races.

So in the future, for my own edification, I will post my write-up/rant about what my ideal vest looks like. But for now I agree with TRex’s assessment of the Krar. And while it could use a curvy women’s touch, it’s soft and smooth like butter on my skin and that makes it a win.

High Desert Drop Bags

We have need of a drop bag so I did some looking.  Our initial needs, a 50K out and back in Moab, the Dead Horse, dictate something simpler.  We just need bags to hold our basic preferred fuels, spare things just in case an internet meme threatens, and the like.  Yes it’s early to worry about it, yes that’s how I roll.

I found High Desert Drop Bags mentioned somewhere and went to take a look and liked what I saw.  They’re simple and functional, always a win in my book.  I ordered some of the Dirt Bags as those seemed to be about the right size for us.  And I like that they’re a small company in the U.S. which I try to support whenever I can.

TL;DR – Good bag, good value, recommended.

The order was shipped very quickly in spite of a screw up on my part although U.S.P.S sent me the shipping email 2 days after the bags showed up.  *eye roll*

With anticipation I opened the box and got pretty much what was described and expected.  This is a good thing.

It’s a simple pattern, a basic overlapped U bag.  The zipper is set an inch or so down from the top and has a nice contrasting black flap to protect it and it’ll help it shed splashed liquids which might soak through the zipper quickly.

The bags are comprised of what feels and looks like about a 400D pack cloth. That means it should be pretty dang durable and get years of use.

Being pack cloth (my assumption) they’ll be water resistant to some degree but not water proof.  Even cloth with a DWR coating can only do so much to shed water and these don’t feel like they have that. Bottom line sub pack in ziptops or tupperware in the drop bag.

Of special note is the use of Dunlap zippers which is one of the last if not the last American company to manufacture zippers.  I admire that.

The stitching and binding is very well done, better than I can do on my old go to 1942 Singer, I tend to wander a bit in my lines.  Most seams appear to be single stitched unless there’s another stitch line under the binding.   For something that will get as infrequent use as these (unless you’re running an ultra every weekend)  it should be more than sufficient. And the stitching is protected inside the bag due to the design and also protected from inner wear through the use of binding.

There is a grey rubberized fabric ‘tag’ that runs along most of one side.  This is, per the company, to attach a strip of duct tape with your name and bib number on it for the race your own.  Then you can either clean the tape off with a solvent or just peel it off and use a new piece for the next race.   An interesting design for sure.

There’s a single grab handle on the right side made of half inch nylon strapping.

All in all I believe for what they’re designed for they’re a good value if you need the basics, shoes, change of clothing, fuels, blister kit, spare bottle, headlamp, batteries etc at a drop point.

There are a few things to for me to call out which does NOT take away from the value of the bags –

As mentioned there is no organization in the bag, it’s not that type of bag.  You’ll have to jumble things in or sub pack in other containers.

The grab strap could be slightly longer in my opinion but I have big hands so that’s a common complaint for me and I’d like to see a second one on the opposite side to make it easier to hang the bag up so it hangs horizontally.  Running and ultrarunning gear in particular isn’t made for my size. (6-4, 240#)  It’s a fact of life I have to deal with.

Although it would increase the build time and the cost I wouldn’t mind seeing a clear window on one side or the other for the purpose of ID or vanity/inspiration type things.  Like a 5×8 photo of a T-Rex… Rawr!!!

And that’s it, that’s the only nits I can pick with the bags and I would and will most certainly order more as I need them for myself or to gift to other folks.

Ultimate Direction Comfort Band?

Found this image over on Motiv in a sneak peak article and color me interested in an Ultimate Direction Comfort Band.  Of course the article was posted 5 months ago and there’s not been much news of the belt anywhere in the world other than a twitter image.   From the miniscule data I’m inferring it might be released this fall sometime.

I’ve wanted to try a Naked Belt but unfortunately they don’t make them in my size, not even close.  It’s unlikely that UD will work toward the bigger end of the spectrum although my FKT vest does fit me.   I know longer distance #notarunners aka #yourun? such as myself are a very tiny market share but I would like to see companies give us a bit of love from time to time.

Shorting For The Summer

So I just bought some new shorts for the summer runs.  Big whoop as 99.999999% of the people would say.  Up till now I’ve been running a variety of shorts, some Under Armor Raid 8″, Champion Vapor 6.2, Champion Performax, Asics Woven 7″.

I don’t care for shorts with a built in liner but it’s almost impossible to find a good running short that doens’t have one.  You can find shorts that don’t such as the Champion but they’re not ‘technically’ running shorts.  They tend to be on the heavy side for one, they’re longer for another.  And over time I’ve found that some of them leave chafe marks around my T-Rex belly on extra long runs.

I went to the all knowing Google and found some sites with various actual honest to goodness shorts reviews by actual runners.  Allegedly because in spite of the commercial you can lie on the internet.

In the end I found two models that were highest recommended of the options.  Brooks Sherpa’s and Salomon Agile shorts.  The Brooks were stupid expensive but allegedly are the short to wear if you’re going Ultra-ing.   The Salomon’s were on pretty deep sale at REI and I have a members dividend from last year so it was like they were both cheap and free at the same time.

Of course they have liners.   The Brooks Sherpa liner is more like a short under short though and isn’t the usual bikini brief liner.

I’m a bit torn now, do I try them out for this weekends back to back halves?  Or do I go with my very tried and somewhat true Champions with Under Armor compression shorts under them.

Over all the Salomon’s in the ‘same’ size as the Brooks are roughly one size smaller.   I ordered 2XL in both and the Salomon’s are, as usual, designed for the ‘old’ sizing pre-vanity so the 2XL is much more like an XL in actual fit compared to modern short sizing.  The Brooks are closer to vanity sizing where the 2XL would have likely been a 3XL 20 years ago.

Both fit well enough although only the Brooks will I have to actually tie the waist ties.

Both are super lightweight, to me anyway, and very ephemeral in feel.  Construction seems on par with what one would expect for a premium short, no loose stitching, no cock eyed stitch lines.

They both only have a single tail bone zippered pouch that’s about big enough for a couple of gels and a key and credit card.   Or a phone from 10 years ago.

I’m not sure if they’re worth the cost, we’ll see.  In the grand scheme of things is saving 3 ounces in cloth on your shorts going to make a big difference?  You take two extra gulps of water and you’ve added that much and more.  And by big difference I mean to elite runners.  3 ounces cut off my 250lbs isn’t even slightly noticeable.