REVIEW: Brooks Glycerin 14 Running Shoes

REVIEW: Brooks Glycerin 14 Running Shoes

By: Matt Setlack

This post will focus on my personal thoughts regarding the Brooks Glycerin 14 running shoes. I have worn this shoe for approximately 971 km (600 miles). I was so impressed with the Glycerin 14 that I went out and picked up a second pair of the exact same shoe. I thought the comparison photos in this post would be useful for runners in general who may be thinking about trying out this shoe.

I am not bias towards any one make or model of shoe although lately I have been wearing a lot of Brooks running shoes including the Launch 3, Launch 4, Ghost 9, T5, T6, T7 (amazing racing flat) and Hyperion. For a full list of all the running shoes I wear, check out my Strava page here

Glycerin 14 Specs

Full specs can be found on the Brooks website by clicking here. This is a neutral shoe with medium arch support and a heel to toe offset of 10mm according to the Brooks website although I feel like the offset is more than this. When I'm running in a new pair of Glycerin 14s I feel like I'm running downhill (not a bad thing). Running feels effortless in this shoe. I weighed each shoe to be 325g, which is quite heavy.

Old versus New Glycerin 14 Running Shoes

The following series of photos that I took will show a side by side comparison of my old Brooks Glycerin 14 running shoes with 971 km (600 miles) on them and a brand new, never worn, straight out of the box Brooks Glycerin 14 running shoes. In order to be able to see the wear pattern on the old shoes, I scrubbed the dirt off the shoes. They are not normally this clean. I typically wore the old shoes on asphalt roads 90% of the time and grass trails 10% of the time.

"Old" = Glycerin 14 shoes that I have worn for 971 km (600 miles). Photos on left.

"New" = Glycerin 14 shoes that are brand new / never been worn. Photos on right.

Old Shoes

Old Shoes

New Shoes

New Shoes

Fit

I find the Glycerin 14 very comfortable and cushioned. The forefoot width feels wider than the Launch 3/4 and the Ghost 9. I really notice this when I'm running across a slope (traversing a slope) as my foot has a tendency to slide downhill inside the shoe. This doesn't cause any issues for me.

I tie my running shoes once and never tie them again; instead I slip by foot in and out. It saves years off my life especially since I would be tying/untying my shoes 6x per day otherwise. Make sure you use a square knot (aka: reef knot) as this will prevent the laces from coming undone (important). The looser laces also enable good fore-aft ankle articulation and prevents blood circulation to your feet from being cut off.

I feel like this shoe is really "rockered"; there is a very smooth transition between the time your heel strikes the ground and you toe off again. The bottom of the shoe feels rounded (kind of like the rounded Sketchers shoes that claimed would make you lose weight).   

Old on top. New on bottom.

Old on top. New on bottom.

Old on top. New on bottom.

Old on top. New on bottom.

Old Shoes

Old Shoes

New shoes.

New shoes.

Durability

The Glycerin 14 is extremely durable; likely the most durable running shoe I have ever worn. 

Old on left. New on right.

Old on left. New on right.

Old on left. New on right.

Old on left. New on right.

Old on left. New on right.

Old on left. New on right.

Old on left. New on right.

Old on left. New on right.

Sole Wear Pattern

The most wear on the Glycerin 14 can be found on the bottom of the soles at the back of the shoe. I would estimate that 1-2mm of black rubber has been worn away from the bottom heal area. There is minimal wear underneath the ball of the foot. Also, the inside cuff area near the ankle has some abrasion (only on old right shoe and not on old left shoe). 

Old on left. New on right.

Old on left. New on right.

Old in front. New in back.

Old in front. New in back.

Old on left. New on right.

Old on left. New on right.

New in front. Old in back.

New in front. Old in back.

the moral of the story

The moral of the story is that it could be very difficult to tell which shoes are new and which shoes are old. When it comes time to change your running shoes, you should not only look at the physical wear of the shoes but also think about how you feel while wearing the shoes. Personally, I can tell that a shoe is pounded out and ready to be retired when it feels "flat" while running in. I also start to notice aches in my joints.

Old on left. New on right.

Old on left. New on right.

Old on left. New on right.

Old on left. New on right.

A new version of the Brooks Glycerin has now come out called the Glycerin 15. I have not worn this shoe yet although based on what I have seen with other Brooks shoe iterations (i.e. T5->T6->T7, Launch 3 to Launch 4, etc), I imagine it would be similar to the Glycerin 14.

I definitely recommend this shoe for the majority of your training especially long runs. If you're interested in trying on this shoe, check out Running Room. I personally find that the Running Room on 109 Street in Edmonton has the biggest selection of shoes and they also have a back room with many discounted shoes and good prices.

Run Happy!

REVIEW: Ronhill Infinity Space-Dye Short Sleeve Tee

REVIEW: Ronhill Infinity Space-Dye Short Sleeve Tee

By: Matt Setlack

This review will focus on what I like and what I feel could be improved with the Ronhill Infinity Space-Dye Short Sleeve Tee. I have been wearing it for two months now mostly during my daily run commute and occassionally during indoor runs on the treadmill.

Ronhill website

If you are interested in finding out specifics about this tee, please visit www.ronhill.com.

What I like

Sizing - The sizing of this tee is consistent with other Ronhill apparel. I wear a size medium in this tee and a size medium in pretty much every other piece of Ronhill apparel I have. Medium fits me very well.

Fit - The fit is relatively relaxed. The torso and sleeve length of this Ronhill tee is noticeably longer than all of the other running tees I own. The long torso length makes it easy to tuck into your waist band if you like or leave it untucked. The long length is nice when I am doing stationary rowing in the gym and do not want the skin of my lower back exposed.

Very comfortable - I like the way it feels. The textured portions on the lower torso (the lighter "V" in left photo above and the lighter "up arrow" in right photo above) remind me of the textured stainless steel plates that you find at construction work sites. It stretches in every direction, which makes it very comfortable.

Breathable - I have never had an issue with this tee getting wet from perspiration and staying wet. I hang all of my clothes to dry after washing them and this tee hang dries very quickly.

Stitching - The stitching between the torso panel and the arms (as shown below left) is flat and can easily stretch perpendicular to and along the length of the stitch. 

Material - When you flip up the bottom front of the shirt (see photo above right), you can read the tee info, "Made in Portugal www.ronhill.com 60% polyamide 40% polyester Size M (and washing instructions)". There are no paper labels/size tags/material tags in this tee, which is really nice. I find that with other tees that have little paper labels, when I want to remove the label I do one of two things. Cut the label off but then there is a bit of paper left over scratching your skin or rip the label right out of the stitch but this often opens up the seam/stitch and you have to resew the stitch. Having the text printed right on the bottom of this Ronhill tee is a very good idea. A lot of other Ronhill apparel even has #runeveryday printed onto the inside of the apparel. 

Another minor but important fact about the printed tee info is the location. It is conveniently located on the front inside of the lower torso. It is also "upside down" (as shown above) but when you flip it up while you are wearing the tee, you can clearly and easily read the tee info right side up. This makes total sense and is an example of how Ronhill is making very functional and innovative products.

What could be improved

I don't feel like there is really anything that could be improved with the Ronhill Infinity Space-Dye Short Sleeve Tee. Some people might prefer having a shorter torso length and short sleeves. However, this doesn't affect the function of the tee whatsoever.

I recommend the Ronhill Infinity Space-Dye Short Sleeve Shirt. If you are interested, it is sold at Running Room. More product info can be found at www.RunningRoom.com or by clicking here.

REVIEW: Ronhill Trail Vertex Running Jacket

REVIEW: Ronhill Trail Vertex Running Jacket

By: Matt Setlack

The Ronhill Trail Vertex running jacket is designed to keep you warm when running in sub-zero temperatures. It is a very versatile jacket meaning that you can wear it in a wide temperature range just by varying the number of layers you wear underneath. I have been wearing this running jacket for the past month and typically wear it during my run commute to and from work every day (10 mile round trip). So far, I have worn it for approximately 300km in temperatures ranging from -30C to +5C (with varying layers underneath, of course).

Overall Thoughts

The Ronhill Trail Vertex running jacket is one of, if not THE, greatest running jacket I have ever worn. The greatest qualities of this jacket is its ability to help you thermoregulate, which I believe is one of the key ingredients of a comfortable jacket.

I wore the Ronhill Trail Vertex running jacket in Vancouver, Canada (see photos above) in temperatures around -5C to +5C. Underneath the jacket I wore the Ronhill Merino 200 long sleeve top. It was snowing heavily (those big fluffy snowflakes) and was warm enough that when the snowflakes touched down, they melted (it was a slushy mess to run through). I ran with my wife, Emily for 100 minutes (1:40) and was AMAZED that I was not even a little bit wet (neither from sweating nor from the wet snowflakes on the outside). For those who don’t know, this is revolutionary! Apparel manufacturers have struggled for years to make a jacket that is BOTH water resistant AND breathable but Ronhill has really done it with this jacket. On the exact same 100 minute run, Emily was wearing a different jacket and by the time the run was over, her jacket had completely soaked through and her undershirt was completely drenched...Emily didn’t enjoy the run. I was completely dry and thoroughly enjoyed the run.

A Note on Ronhill Running Clothing  

While I was studying a masters in Aerospace Vehicle Design at Cranfield University in the United Kingdom, one of my professors, Mr. Phill Stocking showed us a quote one day about what good engineering design is. The quote went something along the lines of, “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away” by French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Whenever I wear Ronhill clothing, I am reminded of this quote as I believe that Ronhill has done a brilliant job at designing and manufacturing running apparel very fit for purpose and not unnecessarily complicated.

Although I could be wrong, I get the feeling that Ronhill is constantly designing their products to be the absolute best for the end user. Because of their defined scope of making functional apparel for runners (in addition to backpacks and other running accessories), they do an exceptional job at it. Every Ronhill product that I have worn has been designed and manufactured with the utmost care and it seems that every little detail is well thought out – and works extremely well. Of all the running apparel manufacturers out there, Ronhill, in my opinion makes some of the greatest running apparel that I have ever worn. I find Ronhill products to be more durable, functional, reflective and comfortable than most. If you want quality that will last for years, you should really consider taking a look at Ronhill products.

What I Like About the Ronhill Trail Vertex Running Jacket:

Overall Fit - I wear size medium in Ronhill clothing (except gloves, which I wear large). I think the medium form/model that Ronhill uses for its clothing has my exact shape and dimensions because medium fits me perfectly as if it was custom made.

Arm Fit – The length of the jacket arms is a bit longer than typical, in order to allow the runner to stick their thumbs in the wrist thumb holes. I like that the arms are a bit longer as they keep my wrists warm when my arms are bent while running.

Another nice thing about the arms is that they are nicely cut to your arms; there is no loose fabric flapping around in the wind. It’s just perfect the amount of material Ronhill left in the arms. The circumference of the wrist feels slightly bigger compared to the Ronhill Wind Lite running jacket that I have been wearing in the summer (it's the bright green and blue jacket that I'm wearing in other blog post photos). This is a good idea because when you’re wearing this jacket you will likely also be wearing mitts or gloves and having a bit of extra room in the wrists helps accommodate the gloves.

Torso Fit – The jacket torso length is perfect for me. The circumference of the jacket torso is not restrictive nor too loose so cold air doesn’t come up from below.

Ronhill Trail Vertex Running Jacket-26.JPG

Versatility - I have worn this jacket in +5 with a thin t-shirt underneath and I have also worn it in -30C with two long sleeve wool tops on underneath. I like to wear this jacket with the Ronhill Merino 200 wool top (fantastic piece). The temperature range for this combo is around -5C to -20C. You can wear it in such a large range of temperatures because the wool top seems to do an amazing job of keeping you warm. 

Thermoregulation (Temperature Regulation) – You can unzip the front pockets or unzip the front of the coat to cool off or do the opposite to warm up. The PrimaLoft panels in the front and back of the jacket keep you warm but the material in the arms is thinner (no PrimaLoft) so that you don’t sweat. It’s a brilliant design.

Material - The material that the jacket is constructed of is stretchy, which, in addition to having a really nice fit, makes it super comfortable. Another advantage of the stretchy material and the particular stitch pattern that Ronhill used is that it allows the runner to easily stretch the jacket wrist cuff over their watch or GPS watch (a really nice touch). Most other jackets I have worn have non-stretchy wrist cuffs and usually what happens when you check your watch while running is that you either accidentally press the buttons because the cuffs are so tight or you don't bother checking your watch because you can't access it. The stretchy wrist cuffs on this Ronhill jacket are one of the things that make this jacket really fit for purpose.

Water Resistance - The jacket has a special coating (DWR – Durable Water Repellent) so the rain/wet snow just beads and runs off the jacket, which is really nice. If you're sweating, the DWR coating doesn't prevent the water vapour from leaving the jacket.

Lack of Hood – This is a good thing. It makes the jacket lighter and 99% of the time when I'm running, I don’t use a hood anyway. I also find it annoying when a hood is bouncing around behind me and partially filling up with air as I run.

Lightweight (257 grams) - It is light enough and packs up small enough that if you get too warm on the run, you can take it off and easily carry it in one hand while you complete your run.

YKK Zippers – They are nice and small but still big enough to use with mitts on. When you flick them down so they are in-line with the zipper, they are locked in place. I like that they don’t flip/flop all over the place when you are running. Behind the main zipper is a wind block strip of material to prevent the wind from blowing through the zipper.

What Could be Improved with the Ronhill Trail Vertex Running Jacket:

Thumb Holes in Arms – Personally, I never really use these thumb holes and I find that when I do, I feel like the design could be refined a little more. Emily likes using thumb holes so I guess it’s just a personal preference. However, these thumb hole do not take anything away from the jacket and do not affect its performance in any way.

Reflectors - When I wear this jacket on the run commute in the mornings and evenings, it is usually dark outside. Ronhill could possibly consider putting reflective stripes on the front/back of the jacket. However, there is a currently a reflective Ronhill logo on the front chest and a small reflective triangle on the upper back torso. This is a non-issue when I wear the Ronhill tuque (beanie) because it has a reflective stripe that goes all the way round the head making me visible to passing motorists.

I think reflectors on running clothing are a personal preference. The nice thing about not having reflectors is that you can always add reflectors later (via arm bands, reflective belt, etc) but if you buy a jacket with a lot of reflectors already on it, it is near impossible to take them off. I like the reflector scheme that was used on the Ronhill Wind Lite running jacket.

Overall Thoughts

The Ronhill Trail Vertex running jacket is very likely the greatest running jacket I have ever worn. Ronhill has nailed the design of this jacket. This is the perfect running jacket for anyone running in sub-zero temperatures. I highly recommend this running jacket to anyone who is looking for a high-quality, functional, comfortable, durable jacket to wear in cooler temperatures.

You can find the Ronhill Trail Vertex running jacket at Running Room by clicking here. I personally like the Running Room located at 8537 - 109 Street in Edmonton as they have a fantastic selection of running shoes and apparel. The staff there are super friendly and they also have a back room with many discounted running shoes. I even saw last year’s model of this jacket (red colour) at the 109 Street Running Room this winter at a discounted price.   

REVIEW: Ronhill Commuter Xero 10L + 5L Vest Pack

REVIEW: Ronhill Commuter Xero 10L + 5L Vest Pack

By: Matt Setlack

I have worn the Ronhill Commuter Xero 10L + 5L Vest Pack during my daily run commute to and from work every weekday for the past month (03 Feb 2017 to 06 Feb 2017). I have run approximately 300km total with this bag. When I run to work, the contents of the pack weigh approximately 5-7 lbs (2.3-3.2 kg), which includes my lunch and spare clothing. When I run home, the pack is a lot lighter with just has a spare change of clothing inside. The purpose of this review will be to provide you with my personal observations on this particular running pack.

Description

The photos online do not do this pack justice; it is much nicer than the pictures make it look. All photos in this review, with the exception of the photos from the Ronhill website were taken after using the pack for approximately one month. If you would like to find out specifics about the pack, please visit the Ronhill website here of the Running Room website here. The Ronhill website has the following to say about this pack:

This pack is sold in two different colour schemes: Granite/Lime and Royal Purple/Fuschia. The name of this bag is the Ronhill Commuter Xero 10L + 5L, which means that when the pack is in the smaller configuration with the perimeter zipper zipped shut (see far left column), the internal volume is 10L. When the perimeter zipper is unzipped, then the internal volume expands to give you an additional 5L for a total of 15L (see far right column).

What I Love about the Ronhill Commuter Xero 10L + 5L Vest Pack

This running pack makes a lot of sense. It is very obvious to me that Ronhill has done extensive research and development on this pack and there were clearly many runners involved in the process. I feel as though Ronhill's main purpose in life is first and foremost to produce the greatest pack (or jacket or top or whatever they are making) for the end user.

1. Fit

The fit of this pack is excellent and it hugs my body perfectly. There are numerous ways in which this pack can be adjusted to fit you just right. There are two elastic straps that go across your torso and they can slide up and down. The lower end of each shoulder strap can be adjusted to effectively shorten or lengthen each shoulder strap. You do this by pulling the lower end of the shoulder strap (located near where the glove fingertips are in the photo below) out from under the hip pockets.

The elastic torso straps are a very nice touch and stretch when you inhale/exhale, which is really nice. The last running backpack I had did not have this and it was annoying to have to constantly readjust the nylon straps based on if you had a lot of gear in the pack or if you just ate a big meal.

Distribution of Weight - To me, the centre of gravity is quite close to the back and rides higher up than a more traditional pack. This was my first "vest" style of backpack so it felt odd at first but I got used to it and I find it much more comfortable than a traditional pack now.

The Ronhill Commuter Xero 10L + 5L Vest pack rides higher than a non-vest style backpack, which is a good thing as it doesn’t affect your arm swing at all while running. The pack wraps around your upper chest rather than your stomach like a more traditional backpack. It is very easy to breath while wearing it. It feels more like wearing a vest than wearing a backpack.

The relatively wide shoulder straps really help to distribute the weight over a greater surface area, which is much more comfortable. The wide shoulder straps don’t cut into your shoulders with more weight in pack.

2. Functionality

Front Pockets - Fantastic idea. They are made of a stretchy mesh material. I usually store an extra tuque (Canadian word for beanie or hat), an extra pair of gloves and a buff here. They work well and are an ample size. In the front right strap, there is also a black whistle and a smaller mesh pouch to store things such as I wallet, I believe.

Size of bag – Perfect for my lunch and a spare change of clothes (underwear, socks, shirts). The 10L +5L concept is a fantastic idea and very useful/practical. I generally like to keep it as small as possible in order to keep the centre of gravity as close to my body as possible. However, when I have a larger lunch or if I am bringing my work clothes home at the end of the week, then I unzip the perimeter zipper and use the full 15L size of the bag. The perimeter zipper goes in a "U" pattern along the left side, then along the bottom, then along the right side of the pack. 

The additional 5L is also nice to accommodate racing flats for Tuesday tempo sessions or Friday interval sessions. There's an elastic draw cord on the back side of the pack, which cinches tight to make the pack as small as you need it and prevent items inside from bouncing about - great idea. When I'm run commuting, I find it annoying when I can hear the jingle-jangle of loose items inside the bag and having that cinch cord and perimeter zipper eliminate that, which is awesome. 

Details - Keepers for the front torso elastic straps are very nice to prevent the end of the straps from dangling and swinging around while you run. I also like the way in which the zipper pulls are tied to the zippers. First the zipper pull material is stiff and second the zipper pull length is just right - these two attributes allow the zipper pulls to remain relatively rigid while you are running. Again, I find it annoying when straps/zipper pulls/loose fabric/etc is flailing about while I'm running. I like my pack to be sleek, aerodynamic, and efficient - high speed low drag ;). The zipper pulls also allow you to use the zippers even with mitts on - a nice touch as many of my winter runs in Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada are done when the temperature is below -20C!

Top Flap - Really good idea. I believe what this flap does is prevent water from entering the bag via the tiny opening where the two zippers come together and it also ensures that the waterproof pouch in the backside remains completely dry. A third (and possibly unintentional positive byproduct) of this flap is that it helps relieve the stress concentration on the zippers. In every bag I have ever seen, the number one thing to fail first is the zippers! The greatest stress is put on the zipper at the very top of the bag when the pack is heavily loaded. Having this flap with velcro takes part of the load, which means there is not as much stress directly on the zippers. Great durability in this bag.

Lightweight - I measured this pack to be 431 grams - less than a pound empty! Even considering how lightweight it is, it is still super comfortable.

Damp pocket - This makes a lot of sense and is really practical. I use it all the time when I'm bringing my sweaty running clothes and head sweatband home. The head sweatband may look funny but it prevents sweat from getting in your ears and damaging your earphones. The damp pocket helps to segregate the damp clothes from your dry clothes (and maybe work papers inside the main compartment that you might be bringing home to work on). It is located at the bottom of the bag as shown in the photo immediately below.

Internal Miscellaneous Items Pouch - I put two iPod Shuffles in here (I always carry one spare Shuffle of course), my identification and some money. I like that it is sewn into the bag at the top edge only (it free hangs) because if you happen to have pointy objects inside the pouch, they don't dig into your back when you're running. I have used other running packs, with small pouches that are sewn all the way around the perimeter and sometimes this causes sharp objects to dig into your back but that's not the case with this Ronhill pack.

Water Resistance - Although I have not tried this pack in the rain, I am confident based on the material of construction that it would be very resistant to moisture. 

What Could be Improved with the Ronhill Commuter Xero 10L + 5L Vest Pack

Hip Pockets - I suggest that Ronhill consider moving zippered pockets forward as it can be quite challenging to reach into these pockets while running and while wearing mitts. A workaround that I have found is when I'm trying to access the right hip pocket, I push the entire pack to the right with my left hand, and that makes it a bit easier to access. Maybe my arms/shoulders are really inflexible? Another potential solution could be to change the zipper so that instead of just being a straight forward-back horizontal zipper, it was instead a forward-back horizontal zipper plus a little extra zipper that went vertical in the forward edge of the pocket (kind of like an L shape). Perhaps this might make it easier to access the contents of the hip pockets.

However, I understand the design that Ronhill was going for with these hip pockets. If they were to move the hip pouches too far forward, then they would interfere with the arm swing. The location where the pouches are currently located is tucked back out of the way, which is nice. 

Reflective Stripes - I suggest that reflective stripes be put on the front side of the straps (not just on back side of backpack as it is currently) and possibly on the lateral (left and right) sides of the pack. This is easily mitigated by adding a simple yellow reflective belt around the pack though so it's not a major issue.

Carry Loop - I'm not sure if this even warrants consideration but I found that when I am carrying the pack to the front door from the kitchen in the morning using the cord carry loop, sometimes the relatively fine cord that the carry loop is made of is uncomfortable on the fingers. Considering that this happens about 1% of the time and doesn't affect the running performance of this pack, it's not a significant concern but I thought it should be mentioned. Maybe in the future, consider making the carry loop out of a flat lace type of material to distribute the load over a bit larger area. This really is a minor issue and can easily be rectified by carrying the bag by the shoulder straps.

Overall Thoughts

The Ronhill Commuter Xero 10L + 5L Vest pack is an outstanding running pack and I highly recommend it. If you are looking for a pack for the run commute (or even just a pack that you could use as a gym bag), this is definitely the one I would choose. If you are interested in this pack, you can find it at Running Room