Gear Roundup: BUFF® Tech Fleece Headband

Disclaimer: I received a BUFF® Tech Fleece Headband to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

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As the temperature drops and we head into winter, I add layers to my running outfits. I move from shorts to leggings, from t-shirts to long sleeve shirts, and then start adding a vest or a jacket to my ensemble as the winter gets colder.

But before I even increase the length of my pants or transition to long sleeves, I pull out my two mandatory pieces of winter gear – a headband that covers my ear and a pair of gloves. My current favorite running gloves, which I have mentioned in blog posts before, are a pair of brooks gloves that have a mitten option that pops out of a pocket (they are an older model, but closest to the “nightlife” glove that they currently sell). 

As for headbands, I have a little more of a collection. My go to has been a newbalance one that I bought with the NYC marathon logo on it in 2017, and then I have two other ones that float around. Point is, I am a fan of headbands that can keep my ears cozy when I run. 

When BibRave opened up an opportunity to test a Buff tech fleece headband, I signed up to give one a try. My headband arrived in the mail about a week later, and I was excited to try it out! The first things that I noticed about the headband were that the material was much thinner than other headbands I have, and the inside was so soft! The headband is supposed to be wind resistant, and since I was set to volunteer at a race that was going to be cold and windy I thought it would be perfect to try out the next morning.

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The Buff website lists the product details for this headband, and it includes that the headband is made of stretchy polyester elastane with a soft brushed fleece inside. It is also moisture wicking, quick drying, and breathable – I have had issues with other headbands winding up soaked through with sweat in cold weather, so this was another feature I was looking forward to testing. 

The first day I wore the headband, it stayed in place and kept me warm as I ran around performing various volunteer duties. It was so windy that day that the finish line chute had to be assembled last minute so that it wouldn’t blow away, and despite all that windiness my ears stayed warm – which I took as a “check” in wind resistant column. 

About a week passed before it was cold enough on a morning run to warrant a headband, but was soon as the temps dropped into the 40s, I put my new headband on as I headed out the door.

The headband was so comfortable, that I almost forgot I was wearing it! With other headbands I sometimes have the issue that I sweat through it, and then I am very aware of how cold the air is as the white headband sits on my ears. But with my new buff tech fleece headband I never had that issue. I am looking forward to more miles with my headband as the winter continues to get colder. I am confident it will keep my ears warm and keep me comfortable for many miles.

If you’re interested in trying out your own Buff Tech fleece headband, head to www.buffusa.com/bibrave and sign up for their emails for a 15% off coupon code! Let me know what you think of your new headband too – because I am guessing you’ll love it as much as I do once you feel the softness of the fleece.

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Gear Roundup: Orange Mud Transition Wrap 2.0

Disclaimer: I received an  Orange Mud Transition Wrap 2.0  to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

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As I trained for my first triathlon last summer, more than once I found myself in a public area and in need of an outfit change. I know, I know – they make plenty of clothing for triathletes that you can wear from swim to bike to run, but as a newbie to the sport, my wardrobe was more limited. I owned heavy padded bike shorts, that were no good for running and a bathing suit that needed to be changed out of after a swim, which lead to me searching for a public restroom or climbing into my car and trying to be discrete as I swapped outfits.

As the seasons changed to fall and my swims moved inside, I was trekking to the public pool armed with ratty old pool towels, that were hand-me-downs from my mother in law. They got the job done, but were a bit more bare bones with each use.

I had heard other triathletes talk about using a transition towel, and even seen a few put them to use. So when the BibRave team presented an opportunity to work with Orange mud and their new transition wrap 2.0, I applied to be a tester.

When I received my Orange Mud Transition wrap 2.0 from the folks at Orange Mud, it was all neatly packaged up in its bag. I got a purple one, and happily plopped it into my gym bag so it could come along for my next swim. I was surprised at how much softer it was than a standard towel

Now, the orange mud transition wrap 2.0 is more than just a standard pool towel. It is billed as a towel with three uses

  1. It has a zipper on one end that enables you to hook it onto your car seat, so that when you are sweaty after a workout you can protect your car seat

  2. It has an integrated adjustable belt so that you can wear it around your body while you change under it

  3. Of course, it has the standard feature every towel comes with – it can dry you off when you are wet

The next time I headed to the pool, I tried out the belt feature that the towel has. To give myself a little added privacy in the locker room I clipped the towel around me. I found that it worked better for me when I clipped it around my shoulders instead of around my waist, since it has to wrap around itself for me to securely clip it to my waist – which would work if I was just changing my pants, but made getting a one piece bathing suit on more complicated than it needed to be.

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But it checked the box of having a private place to change – so it was onto the next, and most basic test: How would it perform as a towel?

I got my laps in, and wrapped the towel around my body once I finished my swim. Once again, I was surprised at how soft the towel was. It felt smooth on my skin, rather than abrasive as old pool towels sometimes seem. I headed to the locker room and used the towel to dry off before changing. It did the job faster than a normal towel, and didn’t feel sopping wet as I tucked it back into my gym bag. When I got home I hung it out to dry, even though it seemed to have mostly dried off already.

There was only one thing left to check – how was it on a car seat? I headed for a run with mt friend Mike, and he offered to drive us to a local path. I packed my towel in my running bag, figuring I could save his seat from my sweat on the ride home.

After the run the towel easily zipped up and attached to the seat’s head rest. Mike pointed out that I we had taken his car to hot yoga in the past, and that I had already gotten his seat all sweaty once – but hey, thanks to orange mud I can now be a more considerate friend, and leave my stink behind a little less often!

All in all, this towel has quickly become my new favorite. It has already become a staple in my gym bag, and I am sure next summer it will come along for many open water swims and bike rides. If you are in the market for a towel that does more than just dries you off – the Orange Mud transition wrap 2.0 is just what you are looking for.

Gear roundup: AfterShokz Xtrainerz

Disclaimer: I received a pair of AfterShokz Xtrainerz to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

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As a newly minted BibRave pro, I was excited to see what kind of products I would get to test out - I already knew the community was great, and full of supportive runners, but I was looking forward to testing out some new products!

Shortly after joining, it was announced that there would be an opportunity to test a new product that AfterShokz was releasing, targeted at swimmers and triathletes. Since I had just finished my first triathlon over the summer, and needed some motivation to get back in the pool, I signed up, hoping to be selected. 

Just after being told to take two weeks off from running, I got an email that boosted my mood a little- I was selected to review the new AfterShokz product, called Xtrainerz (pronounced “cross trainers”), which are water proof headphones! I would get so much use out of them, as I planned to focus on swimming while I couldn’t run. Plus, I had heard so many good things about AfterShokz (Kasey runs with their headphones) but had never tried them myself, so I was excited to get my first pair!

Before I go into my experience with the Xtrainerz, let me get into product specs a little -

The Xtrainerz are waterproof in up to six feet of salt or fresh water, and even went through a 72 hour salt spray test with no corrosion - As a former test engineer, who used to perform this kind of testing on a regular basis, I can tell you salt spray testing is no joke! I have seen products come out of salt spray testing in totally unsafe conditions, so it is no small feat that these little headphones were impervious to the corrosion it can cause. The headphones have 4GB of MP3 storage, ready and waiting to be filled with your favorite tunes, podcasts, or audio books. The controls on the headphones can turn power on and off, set the music to shuffle, repeat, or play in order, and navigate between folders, so you can selectively listen to whatever you’re feeling on a given day. They also have an option to toggle between “swim” mode and “normal” mode

When my package finally arrived in the mail, it had AfterShokz branding on the outside, and I excitedly opened them up. They were nicely packaged, and even had some BibRave orange tissue paper in the box. After opening them up I popped them on, excited to try out bone conduction technology for the first time. To my surprise, they had a charge, and were even loaded with a few sample songs. 

I mostly stream my music, so I had to track down some MP3s to load onto the headphones built in storage. There isn’t a Bluetooth connection for the Xtrainerz, so streaming isn’t an option. Bluetooth can’t travel through water, so it makes sense that the headphones would just rely on their built in storage. 

After going through my iTunes library, I was able to convert some of my songs to MP3s, which are compatible with the headphones. I placed the headphones into their USB dock, and connected to my computer. No software was necessary to load up the music to my headphones, as they acted like a usb drive when I connected. So I was able to just drag and drop the music onto the headphones, and they were ready to go. I tried them out a little as I hung out at home, and was excited for my next swim. 

When I got to the pool a few days later, I turned up the volume as I stepped onto the pool deck, since there was a lot of ambient noise. I jumped into the pool, and started my first lap. The sound seemed a little garbled at first, and I wondered if I should go back to the lockers and grab the ear plugs that came with the headphones. But a moment later my ears had adjusted to the water, and I realized the issue was my ears, not the headphones, as the music was playing loud and clear - I even had to turn the volume down a little, as it was quieter under water than it had been on the pool deck. 

It was almost a surreal experience to have water while swimming, as I’m used to silence as I count my laps to pass the time. I was able to settle into a groove as a swam along to the music, the laps slipping away. Much more entertaining than doing mental math as I swim, which I have resorted to in the past.

The next time I swam with them, I decided to try the ear plugs that the came with. I had never swam with ear plugs in before, but as someone who often has to play the “shake your head at odd angles” game after swimming, I figured it was something worth trying. 

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My first thought: why did I not try this sooner!? The ear plugs made me so much more comfortable, and made me feel like I was the only one in the pool as I listened to my music. After only a few swims, I’m already spoiled by these headphones. 

Tonight, I’m loading up an audio book (Harry Potter of course - what can I say, I’m predictable) and I’m looking forward to listening to it on my next swim. When I connect my headphones to the computer, the files look like they’re on any USB drive, and by putting the audiobook in its own folder, I can select just the book and not wind up listening to music between chapters. 

The only downside to these headphones? They don’t have any bluetooth connection, so I can’t stream to them using my cell phone, when I want to use them while I’m not swimming. Since most of the music I listen to I stream, it took me a few days to track down MP3s to load up the headphones. 

All in all, I have thoroughly enjoyed my new AfterShokz Xtrainerz. They’ve been my first experience with bone conduction technology, and have surpassed all of my expectations. I love that they have storage built in, so I can go phone free, and that the buttons on the headset give me control over what I’m listening to. 

If you want to get your hands on a pair of Xtrainerz? If you visit www.bibrave.aftershokz.com you can save $50 on the endurance bundle of your choice when you use the coupon code BRBUNDLE.

Gear Roundup: Running Shorts

There are two things that I really look for in running shorts:

  1. They have to be long enough that my thighs don’t chafe

  2. They need to have some kick ass pockets!

New Balance 2 in 1 Shorts

New Balance 2 in 1 Shorts

Honestly, I wish I could tell you that the first thing was the most important to me, but if a pair of shorts had great pockets, I would probably happily load up on body glide in exchange for them being able to hold all of my crap when I am heading out for a long run.

My go-to shorts for the last few years have been the new balance 2-in-1 shorts, which used to have a great pocket in the waist band that my cell phone could fit snugly into. The downside was that when I raced in them – something I did often, as I have run 3/5 of my marathons in these shorts – I needed to also wear a fuel belt with them to hold my inhalers and Gu, as there is no way that anything other than my phone is fitting in that pocket. But last summer when I looked to expand my collection of these shorts, I found out that they had been redesigned, and the pocket that was previously large enough to fit my phone now could barely fit my inhaler – a total bummer.

So, I began my new shorts quest, since I would really like to own a pair of shorts with enough pockets to comfortable fit my cell phone, inhaler, and race fuel. I like my SPI belt, the fuel belt that I own, but sometimes the weight of anything beyond gels in it makes my back hurt, and lately I have been using Skratch gummies over Gu as long run fuel, which takes up more space.

I already owned a few pairs of shorts other than my trusted 2-in-1s, all of which I like for shorter distances, but just weren’t capable of the carry capacity that I need for half and full marathons. I’m going to run through a few of them here, because I would still recommend these shorts, and the new shots that I purchased that have become my go-to shorts:

For track workouts:

New Balance accelerate 2.5” shorts:

These shorts have a wide opening around the legs, and allow you to really get moving with some strides. They do have a small interior pocket that I would say is sized to carry a key, but there is no means to close the pocket, so I have never used it. The one downside? They are a little bit on the short side, so on humid or rainy days, I do apply body glide before running in them to avoid chafing.

Oiselle Roga Shorts

Oiselle Roga Shorts

For a long run when you don’t have much to carry:

Oiselle Roga Shorts

I purchased these when oiselle did a warehouse sale last summer, and they are a little on the short side, but are made of a super comfortable material. They have a good sized zipper pocket on the back of the shorts, large enough for my inhaler or one Gu, but too small for my cell phone. I ran in these for the Star wars Dark side half marathon in 2018, and while it was a humid day I can happily report that no chafing occurred.

Reading the product descriptions on the oiselle website, it seems that the “toolbelt” rogas offer more pockets, but I have yet to try a pair of those shorts myself.

But as for my hands down, favorite shorts:

So, in my search for the holy grail of pocket shorts, I spent a lot of time on running websites, looking at photos and descriptions of pockets. I checked out shorts on the brooks website, on REI – which carries a variety of brands, and at target, hoping maybe they would have something a little more budget friendly than the big running brands offer. Ultimately, I decided to order a pair of Pocket Jogger shorts from Oiselle, because I was basically drooling at all of that pocket potential, and I had a $20 coupon code to Oiselle for referring a friend to their site.

Two weeks or so later my shorts arrived in the mail, and I fell in love with all of the pockets. They have two deep side pockets, that full fit an iPhone X, one back zipper pocket, and two small open pockets in the waistband, which fit fuel well. It was still winter in NY when I ordered them, so I hopped onto my treadmill with them, and they fit like a dream. They stayed in place, without rolling up along my legs, an issue that I have with some spandex shorts. Heck, I can’t even wear the Nike PRO shorts that so many runners love because they immediately roll up on me! To really test these shorts, I loaded them up with my phone and race day fuel, and put them through the paces on the treadmill. Everything seemed to stay put, with no bouncing despite loaded pockets.

When I ordered these shorts, I figured I would continue to try other styles and brands if I was not happy with them. But I never did get around to ordering any other pairs, and for valentines day Dennis surprised me with two more pairs of pocket joggers – I had talked about how much I liked them so much that my non-runner husband had decided that I needed more pairs of these perfect pocket shorts.

My next warm weather race was the events at the princess half marathon weekend, and when I packed for Florida, I gave myself options for shorts – I had never run outside or over 6 miles in these shorts, so I wasn’t sure how they would compare to my New balance 2-in-1 shorts on race day. I packed a pair of each short style to go with my outfits for the princess 10k and Half, figuring I would make a race day decision. I was wearing a skirt for both events, so figured I had time to decide as things didn’t need to coordinate perfectly.

Oiselle Pocket Joggers

Oiselle Pocket Joggers

The morning of the 10k it was hot and humid, and I was going to attempt to race the event. I made the decision to go for the pocket joggers, since it was the shorter distance of the fairytale challenge, and if I liked them, then I would do the same for the half. My gamble paid off, and even when I was pushing the pace, my phone stayed securely in the side pocket. Plus, I no longer had to fumble with a zipper with pulling my phone out for photos, which is a frequent occurrence during RunDisney events. Since the shorts had served me well at the 10k, I decided to wear another pair for the half the following day, when they would really be put to the test, as I would be running with my GoPro.

I ran the WDW half marathon in January while wearing my newbalance 2-in-1 shorts, and spent most of the race just holding the camera in my hand, as I didn’t have a large enough pocket for it and it bounced too much when I clipped it to the waist band of my shorts, even if I was clipping it to my SPI belt at the same time. I figured worst case I would just wind up holding it, like I had done in January. But when we got moving, I slid the camera into one of the side pockets, and was shocked to discover that it sat there comfortably when I wasn’t filming with it, with no real bounce or annoyance. So, the pocket joggers passed yet another holding stuff test, and officially became shorts that I would wear for longer distance runs.

I plan on continuing to run in these shorts as I train for the Chicago marathon this summer, and will update this post if I purchase any new shorts, or have anything to add. But as of now, the Oiselle pocket joggers have officially become my go-to running shorts.