Shoes & Gear

Is advertising a victimless crime? I think not.

Is advertising a victimless crime?  I think not.

There are so many “great products” out there today but how does one weed through the reviews and actually find a product that is actually great and not just a lot of hype? I’m not sure that there is a product that really fits the bill of being great. You have to remember that just because one person likes a certain pair of shoes doesn’t mean that you will and just because I love a certain hydration pack doesn’t mean it will fit perfectly on your back. So how do you weed through the reviews to actually find a product that works for you?

You have to start by eliminating the reviews that are done by people who are paid to endorse a certain line. While the trail industry endorses just a handful of athletes let’s remember that these athletes have found a brand that works well with their running form and have been lucky enough to be picked up by the different shoe companies. While I may be wrong on this point it is hard to imagine that an elite runner will switch brands of shoes just because someone is going to give them a little bit of money to wear them. The trail industry is not paying athletes tens of thousands of dollars like Nike is paying a road runner so most runners apply to be ambassadors of products they want to wear. I’m pretty sure that Kilian would not be walking around in a pair of Salomon’s if he didn’t like how they felt. You have to remember that Salomon built the S lab around his foot, not yours. I only bring this up because how many people buy a certain shoe because they see an elite athlete wearing them? I live in Arizona and our trails have more rocks than dirt but yet I still see people wearing NB 110’s and Vibram five fingers out on the trails. Are you kidding me?

Are these the right shoes for you?

These are both great shoes but even the people that are paid to wear them would acknowledge that they have no place on an Arizona trail. These were designed to be worn on smooth trails with very little rock. I can’t count the number of times I’ve ran with someone locally that shows up in a pair of shoes like these and swears after 6 miles that they will never wear them again. You have to buy a product that is specific to you and not specific to someone who lives in another part of the world. How many people have you seen lately wearing those florescent green Nike’s from the Olympics? Too many and most are non runners but the advertising at the games was genius.

When you’re picking out other running gear such as a headlamp do you buy it based on price or the information provided? I have been switching back and forth between the $80 headlamp and the $29 Target light since June. The Target Energizer light is hands down the better light but the other light costs $80 so I keep pulling it out of my door handle when I go out to run only to find out that it sucks the life out of my batteries and feels horrible around my head. These two lights have the same amount of lumens, the Energizer light weighs less, costs less, is brighter, batteries last twice as long and if I fall and it breaks I could care less because it is only $29. I am not suggesting that you run to Target to go buy a headlamp but what I’m saying is be careful of what the big box store tells you are the best headlamps on the market. Too often we associate cost with quality without testing a product but one thing to keep in mind is retailers know this and they often over charge for a product to change your perception of a product. Is there really any difference between the $5 over the counter medicine or the $10 name brand medicine? No, there’s not just like there is very little difference between the $80 headlamp and the $29 headlamp.

I would have to say that buying the correct hydration pack to suit all of your needs is actually tougher than picking out a pair of shoes. When you’re buying shoes you don’t have to have an emotional attachment to them because it is easy to justify buying another pair if a certain brand causes blisters, is too tight, or doesn’t have the right traction but when you buy a pack you’re telling yourself that I’m going to learn to love this pack even if it isn’t the right pack for me. I know that lots of shoes cost more than a hydration pack but shoes seem much easier to just toss aside in the closet while that pack sits silently waiting for you to pick it up again and throw it on your back. I still have a bag that the bladder burst on me three times sitting just inside the door and every time I select a pack I think maybe I should give it another chance.

I can’t say enough about this bag, but you should decide for yourself.

That bag was an investment, it is suppose to keep me going through the bad moments of a run and have everything I need stored in the little pockets but it has failed me so many times and it was pricey. I bought that bag because it was unique at the time and I had never seen a bag with the waist bladder but how quickly and often I found out that this is not the best design for this particular bag still haunts me. I distinctly remember heading to the Cabin Loop in Pine, AZ with a full pack getting ready for a 20 mile run only to find it leaking sticky purple Gatorade all down my leg. My day was over and I was only one mile into my run. Luckily I had a friend that gave me one of his trusty bottles and I was back up and moving. I must own 7 bags at this point because I do reviews for different companies but I have to admit the only bag I have an emotional attachment to is the North Face Enduro 13. Recently I was sent a similar pack and when it arrived in the mail I was ecstatic that I was going to get to try out the top of the line pack. Maybe it was the nice packaging or the hanger with plastic wrap that they sent it on but by the end of my 30 mile run I had developed a rash on my belly button, sides, and it just never seemed to tighten down for me on my shoulders. This could very well be a me problem or it could very well be the fact that I bought into the advertising. Either way it is now in my arsenal of bags but I’m not sure when or if ever I will pull it out again. I was duped just like so many of us have been duped buying a product that looks cool online or perfect for one person but horrible for another.

Why can’t this last for 100 miles?

I will end my rant talking just a little bit about that item none of us can live without. You know the calculators most of us wear on our wrists when we go for a run. We’ve all bought into the Garmin craze and no doubt about it if they come out with a 950xt model I will be one of the first people at the store to buy one but honestly there isn’t a whole lot that has been done differently to the watch over the years. These watched are designed more for the triathlete so the swimming and biking functions have gotten better over time but the running features are the same year after year. Before I continue I will say I’m addicted to my Garmin and I love the 910 but can they really not make a watch in 2012 that can last for a whole hundred mile race? Is there not a back up battery that can be placed in the watch to allow us to see the data on miles 90-100? I made the switch from the 305xt to the 910 because someone said you can get 19-20 hours’ worth out of the battery life. While it is a true statement I just blew $400 for a watch that does the same thing as the previous model to get three more hours of battery life. Yes that makes me stupid and I’m a certifiable tech junkie that feels the need to have every new product on the market but maybe I need to stop buying into the hype and look around at other companies. Garmin spends so much money advertising to the running, swimming, and biking industries that we often forget that there are brands that exist and make a watch with a 30 hour battery life. I’m pretty sure Garmin could make a watch with 40 hours of battery life but why would they when they have people like you and I buying a watch every other year because it can last two hours longer?

I would love to sit here and say I’ve never been a victim of over hyped trail items but my house is full of them so I have no choice but to use them so I don’t feel guilty about my purchases. The one area that I have narrowed down is my shoe selection. For my first year on trails I wore Pearl’s, Brook’s, Mizuno, Inov-8, Nike, and after spending an ungodly amount of my wife’s money on shoes I finally decided the Inov-8 Talon 212 is my shoe for trails and the Inov-8 F-Lite 195 is my shoe for roads. I’m so torn right now because Inov-8 has the new Trailroc 245’s out and they’re a hybrid of road and trail but do I get suckered into trying something new again because it may be better. Probably, and as always advertising wins. We all tell our kids that yes that item looks great on TV but it really isn’t as good as they say but yet we all fall victim to the same thing. We’re all victims of a different kind of toy, running toys. If we just spent more money at the local small running stores we would most likely find better products because unlike the box stores they care about what they sell.

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This post was written by:

- who has written 22 posts on Trail Running Club.

Started running for the first time in my life three year's ago after losing my Dad to a pulmonary embolism at the age of 58 and since he began running he has lost close to 100 pounds. On 9/23/2012 Jay finished a running streak of 923 Consecutive days with at least 4 miles while compiling over 9,400 miles with 975,000+ feet of elevation gain and completed 15 Ultra's in honor of his Dad who passed away on 9/23/2008. Jay holds a Bachelor's Degree from Michigan State University in Crop and Soil Sciences.

Jay's recent trail ultra running results:

• 13th OA at San Diego 100M in 22:01:26
• 10 Top Ten Ultra Finishes in 14 races
• 4th overall at Lean Horse 100 in 19:01:12
• 9th overall at Javelina Jundred in 2011 in 18:28:26
• 100K Javelina Night Run Champion in 2011
• Cave Creek Thriller 50K Champion in 2010
• Runner up in 2011 DRT Ultra Series

2013 Race Schedule includes:
• Castle Hot Springs 22M
• Phoenix Marathon
• 3 Days of Syllamo
• Miwok 100K
• Speedgoat 50K
• Pike's Peak Marathon
* Mogollon Monster 100

Jay Danek is sponsored by iRun Honey Stinger

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