REVIEW: Nike Zoom Vomero 13

REVIEW: Nike Zoom Vomero 13

By: Matt Setlack

Overall Rating:  81/100

Ratings (out of 10):

  • Comfort: 8.5
  • Fit: 8.5
  • Responsiveness: 8.0
  • Speed: 8.0
  • Ride Quality: 7.5
Nike Zoom Vomero 13 - Matt Setlack - 1.JPG

The Good

  • Flywire lacing system
  • Good arch support

The Bad

  • Fairly stiff
  • Minimal ground feel
Nike Zoom Vomero 13 - Matt Setlack - 2.JPG

Price

MRSP: $140 USD

Specs

  • Heel Drop:  10mm
  • Weight (oz):  10 oz (Matt Setlack’s Men’s US Size 10.5 were measured to be 614g per pair)
  • Heel Height:  31mm
  • Forefoot Height:  21mm
Nike Zoom Vomero 13 - Matt Setlack - 4.JPG

THE VERDICT

The Vomero 13 is a soft feeling neutral shoe with ample cushioning designed for mid to long runs. The shoe held up exceptionally well and the outsole treads dug into the snow fairly well. A versatile shoe for roads, dirt, light snow and treadmill running. The robust cushioning left the shoe feeling moderately bulky with minimal ground feel.

Nike Zoom Vomero 13 - Matt Setlack - 3.JPG

FULL REVIEW

Comfort

A very highly-cushioned mid-sole with bottom-loaded zoom air in the forefoot and heel. Improvements in the flywire lacing technology were made as Nike got rid of the thinner flywire and replaced it with thicker loops to lock laces in place. This made for an adjustable fit and I liked the feel of the added support in the medial side of the shoe. I am a huge fan of the flywire lacing system, it really gave my foot a “locked in” feeling.

Nike Zoom Vomero 13 - Matt Setlack - 5.JPG

The texture of the tread looked similar to a camping sleeping pad. I was initially concerned that this tread material would wear down very quickly but it actually ended up holding up well.

Fit

The toe box provided ample toe splay and there were no issues with rubbing or blistering.  The forefoot was a bit on the loose side but didn’t raise any major concerns during runs. My heal felt locked in and there were no issues with heal movement or displacement. The arch support in this shoe was exceptional, it felt like it fit my arch perfectly.

Nike Zoom Vomero 13 - Matt Setlack - 6.JPG

The width of the Vomero 13 forefoot felt a little narrower than the Brooks Glycerin 14 and New Balance 1080 V8. The forefoot felt slightly wider than the Brooks Launch 3 and 4 forefoot. The heel cup was definitely lower than the Glycerin 14 and 1080 V8. It felt similar to the height of the Brooks Glycerin racing flat.

Responsiveness

I felt like this shoe was a little less responsive than the Brooks Launch 3 and 4. The foam felt a little “dead/flat” to me and I didn’t get a feeling of popping/bouncing back up after each footfall.

Nike Zoom Vomero 13 - Matt Setlack - 7.JPG

Speed

The Vomero is not a fast shoe; it is somewhat sluggish and inflexible. I would not wear this shoe for fast intervals or tempos.

Nike Zoom Vomero 13 - Matt Setlack - weight.JPG

Ride Quality

Although the Vomero 13 had a relatively springy toe off, it was very soft feeling. A neutral shoe with ample cushioning good for long easy running. If you like a cushioned shoe with minimal ground feel, this shoe might be for you.

Nike Zoom Vomero 13 - Matt Setlack - 8.JPG

REVIEW: New Balance 1080 V8

REVIEW: New Balance 1080 V8

By: Matt Setlack

Overall Rating:  73/100

Ratings (out of 10):

  • Comfort: 8.0
  • Fit: 8.0
  • Responsiveness: 7.0
  • Speed: 7.0
  • Ride Quality: 6.5
New Balance 1080 V8 - Matt Setlack - 1.JPG

The Good

  • The New Balance 1080 V8 has a very plush, soft, underfoot feel. None of materials broke down after use and the shoe generally held up quite well. New Balance successfully improved breathability from the v7 to the v8, good air flow throughout the shoe kept my feet dry and comfortable for most runs. If you prefer a cushioned shoe when striking the ground, you will love these shoes.

The Bad

  • The 1080 V8 felt very bulky and underfoot feel was minimal. In addition to the bulky feel, the ride was inflexible and stiff. It almost felt as though the mid-sole Fresh Foam was old. If you prefer running in a minimal shoe, this probably isn’t the shoe for you as there was little to no ground feel.
  • In terms of the look and craftsmanship of the 1080 V8 tread, the transition between the three colours on the tread (lime yellow/grey/black) is not a clean line. The transition between the colours looks sloppy. Perhaps this particular shoe was one of the first batches? This may seem like a minor thing but for a $150 USD pair of shoes, I was expecting cleaner lines and a higher look of quality of the tread.
New Balance 1080 V8 - Matt Setlack - 2.JPG

Price

MRSP: $150 USD

Specs

  • Heel Drop:  8mm
  • Weight (oz):  11.1 oz (men’s size 9), 9.3 oz (women’s size 8) (Matt Setlack’s Men’s US Size 10.5 were measured to be 658g per pair)
  • Heel height: 27mm
  • Forefoot Height: 19mm

THE VERDICT

The 1080 V8 is considered New Balance’s premium high cushioned neutral shoe. Although it had plush cushioning and a soft underfoot feel, it felt rigid and stiff. Minimal changes from the V7 to the V8 were made. New Balance kept the shoe almost exactly the same to the V7. Additions to the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V8 resulted in a 0.5 ounce increase in weight of the shoe. A TPU heal clip for added heal support. While New Balance markets this shoe as soft and highly cushioned, other shoes on the market currently offer a more cushioned ride at a lower price point. Alternatively, if you prefer minimal shoes, this is not the shoe for you.

New Balance 1080 V8 - Matt Setlack - 3.JPG

FULL REVIEW

Comfort

As the name suggests, Fresh Foam was designed for comfort. The Fresh Foam mid-sole cushioning provided good shock absorption on the roads with low energy return. Although these shoes are marketed as Fresh Foam, I personally did not notice any difference between the Fresh Foam and the regular eva foam running shoes that I have worn. The improvement of the engineered mesh provided good breathability, my feet stayed cool and dry on almost every run.

New Balance 1080 V8 - Matt Setlack - 4.JPG

I am not a big fan of the flat laces because they flop around while running and your opposite shoe wacks the laces as you run (compared to the circular cross section of the Brooks Glycerin 14 laces). Not a huge deal as this can easily be fixed with a pair of scissors.

Fit

For me, the 1080 V8 had a good fit lengthwise and widthwise. The heel cup seemed to keep a relatively snug fit. Fit was true to size and my foot splayed nicely in the toe box with no issues of any rubbing or blistering. The engineered mesh upper had a good wrap around my mid-foot leaving my foot feeling secure and snug. The New Balance 1080 V8 reminded me of the Brooks Glycerin 14 but the 1080 V8 feels a little lighter. The toe box width feels similar to the Glycerin 14.

New Balance 1080 V8 - Matt Setlack - 5.JPG

The 1080 V8 had a lot of volume. I felt like I needed to tighten the 1080 V8 a little more than usual to get the proper fit. I did not use the heel lock shoelace holes. The 1080 V8 were the same size I always wear (10.5 US men's) but there is a lot more volume in the 1080 V8 compared to another training shoe like the Brooks Glycerin 14 and Brooks Launch 3 and 4. I felt like the 1080 V8 had a similar amount of volume as the Hoka Clifton 2. The fore/aft length of the hole where you stick your foot into the shoe is longer than the foot hole in the Glycerin 14.

Responsiveness

I didn’t find the shoe to be very responsive, energy return was quite low and my foot felt a bit lost without the feel of the road underneath me.

Speed

Definitely not designed for speedy days, this shoe is ideal for long steady grinds at a slower pace. Weighing in at 11.1 oz, which is a 0.5 oz increase from the 1080 V7. The weight of the shoe and lack of ground feel made it difficult to get a good energy return and toe off.

New Balance 1080 V8 - Matt Setlack - weight.JPG

Ride Quality

Maximum cushioned shoe designed for general mileage. The Fresh Foam mid-sole was very inflexible, it was difficult to enjoy the cushioned ride due to the weight, bulk of the shoe and inflexible midsole.

The very first thing I thought after running the first 100 meters in the 1080 V8 was that the heel felt “flat” (very little shock absorption). I'm predominantly a heel striker (for easy runs) and the 1080 V8 did not provide a smooth transition from the very back of the heel to the midfoot to the toe off (unlike the Glycerin 14, which I found was kind of like a rocking chair that your grandparents would sit on; The Glycerin 14 has a nice smooth rolling/rocking motion from the very aft part of the shoe to the midfoot and then toe). The flat shape of the heel of the 1080 V8 and the fact that the Fresh Foam felt hard caused discomfort in my heels while running.

New Balance 1080 V8 - Matt Setlack - 6.JPG

The pair of 1080 V8s that I received looked new but they felt very old while running in them, like these shoes have been sitting in the back of a warehouse for several years and the foam has hardened. My other shoes that have 500+ km on them feel more springy/bouncy than these. Initially, I thought that maybe my feet were feeling uncomfortable because of my running mileage so I went for a run in the Brooks Glycerin 14 and all of a sudden, there was no discomfort at all (night and day difference).  

NOTE: I have NEVER had this bottom of heel discomfort issue with other running shoes and I run 5,000 to 6,000 km per year.

The honeycomb tread pattern picked up one or two small pebbles while running on the road.

REVIEW: Mizuno Wave Shadow

REVIEW: Mizuno Wave Shadow

By: Matt Setlack

Overall Rating:  85/100

Ratings (out of 10):

  • Comfort: 8.0
  • Fit: 8.5
  • Responsiveness: 9.0
  • Speed: 9.0
  • Ride Quality: 8.0
Mizuno Wave Shadow - Matt Setlack - 1.JPG

The Good

  • A good lightweight shoe good for easy days and longer tempo runs
  • Good ground feel

The Bad

  • Not a lot of padding under the foot. Felt a bit too minimal for longer runs
  • A bit firm. The wave plate felt a bit bulky and inflexible. Quite a stiff ride.
Mizuno Wave Shadow - Matt Setlack - 2.JPG

Price

MRSP: $110 USD

Specs

  • Heel Drop:  8mm
  • Weight: 7.9 oz (Matt Setlack’s Men’s US Size 10.5 were measured to be 552g per pair)
  • Heel Height: 25mm
  • Forefoot Height: 17mm
Mizuno Wave Shadow - Matt Setlack - 3.JPG

THE VERDICT

This is a brand new shoe by Mizuno that replaces the Mizuno Wave Sayonara. It is a moderately cushioned shoe, faster and lighter and best used for the runner that prefers a shoe that is slightly bulkier than a racing flat. It provided firm support in both the forefoot and the heel of the shoe, it didn’t have a springy feel upon landing but it did provide very good ground feel. The tread gripped well and worked well for road, treadmill and lightly dusted surfaces (dirt, snow). Ideal for longer tempo runs and longer race distances.

Mizuno Wave Shadow - Matt Setlack - 4.JPG

FULL REVIEW

Comfort

Fairly comfortable and fast ride. For me, it was slightly more comfortable than a racing flat but not nearly as comfortable as a heavier cushioned shoe like the Brooks Glycerin 14, Adidas Aerobounce ST and even the Brooks Launch 3 and 4.

Mizuno Wave Shadow - Matt Setlack - 5.JPG

The tongue is quite thin and if I tightened the laces up too tight, I could feel them through the tongue while running.

In colder temperatures it felt like the plastic piece that Mizuno uses (Technology plate insert) froze pretty quickly and contributed to the rigid and inflexible feeling of the shoe. The wave plate insert was designed to add more support to the shoe. The Wave Shadow provided exceptionally good breathability and comfort in the toe box and I really liked how Mizuno used one piece of mesh to wrap around the forefoot of the shoe. It provided greater stretch fit.

Out of the box, they fit quite well with good lock down in the midfoot, heel and forefoot. The toe box was spacious and there were no issues with chafing or blistering.

Mizuno Wave Shadow - Matt Setlack - 6.JPG

Fit

The width and snugness of the toe box feels similar to the toe box in the Brooks Launch 3 and 4. These shoes also share a very similar mesh-like material in the toe box.

The heel cup is relatively low compared to other shoes. The height of the heel cup in the Mizuno Wave Shadows felt to be a similar height as the heel cup in Nike running shoes such as the Nike Pegasus 32 and Nike Zoom Vomero 13. The laces provided a good lock down.

Mizuno Wave Shadow - Matt Setlack - 7.JPG

Responsiveness

The Wave Shadow was a very responsive shoe. The sole felt quite stiff and seemed to spring back during toe off. The Wave Shadow provided a responsive and fast ride with minimal cushioning.

Mizuno Wave Shadow - Matt Setlack - 8.JPG

Speed

The Wave Shadow is a very lightweight daily trainer and it was easy to run fast in these shoes. I would consider maybe doing a tempo or marathon paced session in these shoes.

Mizuno Wave Shadow - Matt Setlack - weight.JPG

Weighing in at just 7.9 oz, this shoe is fast. The forefoot provided good flexibility but the mid-back portion of the shoe felt stiff and rigid. Good heel to toe off transition and the minimal feel of the shoe made it fast.

Mizuno Wave Shadow - Matt Setlack - 10.JPG

Ride Quality

I really liked the zig-zagged groves in the forefoot, I think it enhanced the ride quality in the forefoot by providing greater flexibility.

Mizuno Wave Shadow - Matt Setlack - 9.JPG

REVIEW: Altra Duo

REVIEW: Altra Duo

By: Matt Setlack

Overall Rating:  88/100

Ratings (out of 10):

  • Comfort: 8.5
  • Fit: 7.5
  • Responsiveness: 9.0
  • Speed: 9.5
  • Ride Quality: 9.5
Altra Duo - Matt Setlack - 1.JPG

The Good

  • Very lightweight
  • Underfoot cushioning is excellent

The Bad

  • the inside of the toe box has a lot of volume, which some runners with a more traditional foot shape may not like.
  • if you are used to wearing a shoe with 10mm heel drop such as the Brooks Glycerin 14, then you may not like the 0mm heel drop on this shoe.
Altra Duo - Matt Setlack - 2.JPG

Price

MRSP: $130 USD

Specs

  • Heel Drop:  0 mm
  • Weight:  8.4 oz (Matt Setlack’s Men’s US Size 10.5 were measured to be 516g per pair)
  • Heel Height:  26mm
  • Forefoot Height:  26mm
Altra Duo - Matt Setlack - 3.JPG

THE VERDICT

The Altra Duo is a brand new shoe built to be a hybrid lightweight, fast and cushioned shoe. Altra designed this shoe to be versatile for racing anything from 5km to 100km ultra races to long training runs. It packs a lot of high quality for a racing shoe. It was aesthetically pleasing with bright orange highlights and contrasting navy engineered mesh. It felt like a beefed up version of a racing shoe while still maintaining a light and fast feeling that most racing flats have. I was very impressed with the technology Altra used to design a faster shoe with ample cushioning. They have more cushioning than most shoes and responsiveness was in line with competitors.

NOTE: This is the 1st pair of Altra shoes I have worn.

Altra Duo - Matt Setlack - 4.JPG

FULL REVIEW

Comfort

This Altra Duo was incredibly comfortable and one of my favourite shoes to run in. The upper was very light and breathable and my feet were comfortable and dry on all runs. The tongue of the shoe was made of nubuck suede to prevent lace bite and added comfort to overall fit of the shoe.

Looks like Altra was looking to save weight by making "lightening holes" in the bottom treads of the shoe. Interesting concept/design and I've never seen this done before. The outsole feels stiffer than I was expecting and springs back nicely.

Altra Duo - Matt Setlack - 5.JPG

The Altra Duo has a really wide forefoot. The tongue is the lightest tongue I have ever seen. There are a bunch of holes punched in the tongue, which I believe makes the shoe slightly more breathable. Similar (or maybe even thinner/lighter) than the Nike Zoom Streak racing flats that I have and those tongues are super thin/light. The Altra Duo heel is really bulked up and flared out/buttressed in the heel area.

The quality of construction of the Altra Duo looks to be top notch. It looks like the panels are bonded together throughout the shoe (for the upper).

The thing that is really different about this shoe (one amongst many things) is that there doesn't seem to be a lot of stitching visible. Mostly glued panels (to save weight).

Altra Duo - Matt Setlack - 6.JPG

Fit

Tight, snug heel fit. Toe box had a lot of room and excess fabric/mesh was notable from lacing up shoes tight to get a better snug feel. If you like a shoe with a wider toe-box, you would probably really like the fit of the Altra Duo.

The length of the shoe definitely runs small. My toe touches the end and that rarely ever happens in a 10.5. They feel almost like a 10 US Men's even though the box and shoe read 10.5 US Men's. Oddly enough, although the length of the shoe ran small, the internal volume of the shoe was massive. The Altra Duo is designed for people with really high volume feet.

Altra Duo - Matt Setlack - 7.JPG

After tying them up (not using heel lock holes), laces are excessively long. I had to double knot and sometimes triple knot the laces. They initially reminded me of Hoka Clifton 2's. Very light upper kind of similar upper to Saucony Kinvara. Reminds me of this.

Stiff ankle upper area. I like that. In a lot of other shoes I have seen really weak/not stiff ankle areas. Platform shape (shape looking down) is not as unusual as I was expecting from an Altra shoe. Very similar to Hoka Clifton 2. The black/orange colour scheme looks sharp. I like it.

Very angular heel/ankle cutout for the side bones in your heel. The angular lines and black/dark blue colour reminded me of the F-117 Stealth Nighthawk aircraft.

Altra Duo - Matt Setlack - 8.JPG

There is definitely extra dead space (open space) past the ends of my outer toes (the area that's not open on the tradition platform shoe).

I think the nice thing about the wide toe box is that it allowed my forefoot/toes to splay out/spread out while running without the sides of forefoot rubbing/chafing against the inside of the shoe.

The upper is very lightweight and flexible. When walking, sides of ankle area flare out. There is a lot of of extra room in toe area even though length is perfect for my foot. The security on the foot is good.

Responsiveness

Excellent responsiveness and good heel to toe transitions, would be good for longer workouts. They have a lot of cushion and yet are quite responsive. They feel like I’m wearing a thick yoga mat under my feet.

Speed

I was really surprised by how quick and nimble this shoe felt. It not only provided ample cushioning, it also had exceptionally good flexibility and ground feel. The almost web like cut outs of the sole added to the flexibility in addition to keeping it light and fast.

The Altra Duo is incredibly lightweight. Just as light if not lighter than a racing flat (Brooks Hyperion, Brooks T7, NB1400).

Altra Duo - Matt Setlack - weight.JPG

They made me feel like I was running faster than I actually was because of the 0mm heel to toe offset. This caused me to run in a more forward leaning posture rather than upright posture, like while wearing a racing flat. In these shoes, my foot strike is a lot more flat footed than heel/midfoot/toe rounded shape.

Ride Quality

Interflex technology within the shoe provided very good flexibility and a smooth ride. The flex grooves in the midsole gave a natural and smooth heel-to-toe transition.

The laces are REALLY long. But better to be too long than too short because you can cut them shorter with a pair of scissors, if necessary. The laces are much thinner and lighter than most laces I have seen, even compared to racing flats. The Altra Duo has a really nice forefoot rocker in the front end. They cause you to foot strike more in the midfoot compared to the heel.

Altra Duo - Matt Setlack - 9.JPG

I wore the Altra Duo on sand and on snow and they perform really well. They float a little higher on sand/snow compared to a traditional running shoe that has less surface area footprint. Unfortunately, the grooves in the bottom of the shoe would occasionally pick up little rocks/pebbles. I thought that the large footprint/flared buttress like bottoms would graze the inside of my lower legs/ankles but they didn’t at all.

I really like the Altra Duo.

REVIEW: Adidas Aerobounce ST

REVIEW: Adidas Aerobounce ST

By: Matt Setlack

Overall Rating:  92/100

Ratings (out of 10):

  • Comfort: 9.5
  • Fit: 9.5
  • Responsiveness: 9.0
  • Speed: 8.5
  • Ride Quality: 9.5
Adidas Aerobounce ST - Matt Setlack - 1.JPG

The Good

  • Lightweight upper
  • Toe box is nice and snug, feels like a sock fit
  • Comfortable and cushioned ride
  • Appearance. I LOVED the colourway and the blue/white contrast of this shoe.
Adidas Aerobounce ST - Matt Setlack - 2.JPG

The Bad

  • Minimal ventilation. Breathability could be improved upon as my feet were quite warm.
  • Weight comes in at 312g, which is slightly heavy
  • Tread/outsole performance was not sufficient and lugs did not grip well on anything other than a dry, clear road.
Adidas Aerobounce ST - Matt Setlack - 3.JPG

Price

MRSP: $110 USD

Specs

  • Heel Drop: 10mm
  • Weight (oz): 11oz (Matt Setlack’s Men’s US Size 10.5 were measured to be 658g per pair, which is exactly the same weight (to the gram!) as the New Balance 1080 V8)
  • Heel Height: U/K
  • Forefoot Height: U/K
Adidas Aerobounce ST - Matt Setlack - 5.JPG

THE VERDICT

The Adidas Aerobounce ST is a cushioned, neutral running shoe ideal for dry roads, track or treadmill. The Aerobounce ST has an EVA midsole using BOUNCE, which provides a springy, stable and cushioned feel. I really loved this shoe, with each step my foot felt like sprung back up. I felt like the Aerobounce ST was noticeably superior than pretty much every other running shoe I have ever worn. This shoe is a game changer.  

FULL REVIEW

Comfort

The Adidas Aerobounce ST is plush and spongy shoe. While the Aerobounce ST had a flexible and cushioned mid-sole it provided moderate ground feel. The Adidas  “Pro-Moderator” added to the heel for medial support gave balance, comfort and minimal stability. Engineered lightweight mesh provided moderate breathability and my feet were quite warm. The upper felt warmer than the Brooks Glycerin 14 upper while running indoors. However, while running outdoors, I could definitely feel the wind coming through the upper.

Adidas Aerobounce ST - Matt Setlack - 4.JPG

Fit

While the forefoot may be too snug for those that prefer a wider toe box it provided a nice snug, sock-like fit, similar to a high performance racing flat. There were no issues with blisters or chafing.

Adidas Aerobounce ST - Matt Setlack - 6.JPG

Responsiveness

The BOUNCE mid-sole cushioning technology, supported my foot well, popping back from heel to toe off. Upon landing the Bounce provided a really comfortable plush feel, while at the same time providing a really nice springy and bouncy return. The toe area is flattened with minimal volume compared to most shoes I have worn.

Adidas Aerobounce ST - Matt Setlack - 7.JPG

The BOUNCE mid-sole cushioning is the softest, most responsive running shoe material that I have ever run on. An interesting thing happened while running in these shoes; while running easy/slow, the sole provided a soft cushion but as I ran faster, I felt like the sole cushioning stiffened up and gave me a more responsive return (it was kind of like running on a swimming pool filled with starch and water). I am extremely impressed with this sole material.

Speed

A good lightweight, versatile shoe that held up well for mid to long runs. I wouldn’t wear this shoe for tempos or intervals; it is designed for easy runs. I was surprised at how speedy the shoe felt given the cushioning and weight. Although the tread was good on dry surfaces like the road and treadmill, it did not perform well on mud, snow and sandy surfaces. The lugs (or lack of lugs) are too minimal resulting in a less versatile shoe. The tread did not have a lot of grip and the shoe easily slipped while running on anything other than bare dry pavement.

Adidas Aerobounce ST - Matt Setlack - weight.JPG

The weight of the Aerobounce ST was measured by Matt Setlack to be exactly the same as the New Balance 1080 V8 (658g per pair for Men’s US size 10.5). However, the Aerobounce ST felt A LOT lighter on the foot while running. Also, the weight of the Aerobounce ST was more heavily distributed towards the heel area compared to a more “traditional” shoe, which seem to have a more forward center of mass (right in between the forefoot and heel).

Ride Quality

The Aerobounce ST had an extremely smooth ride and moderate ground feel. Heal comfort was springy and plush and felt very nice on landing. The outsole features minimal updates to the previous year’s model, with minimal outsole treads that gripped well on dry roads. However, running on even a little bit of snow caused the treads to immediately fill up with snow and the shoes lost almost all grip. When this happened, it felt like I was wearing curling sliders on my feet or running on a treadmill with the belt slipping on the rollers. The cushioned ride gives a springy and stable feel upon landing. There was a very fluid movement (flow) while running in these shoes from the point of landing to the toe off.

Adidas Aerobounce ST - Matt Setlack - 8.JPG

These shoes were the quietest shoes I have ever worn and I believe this is a result of the efficient design for the heel to toe transition. I could barely even hear my own footsteps, even while running on concrete.

REVIEW: Ronhill Infinity Torrent Jacket

REVIEW: Ronhill Infinity Torrent Jacket

By: Matt Setlack

This review will focus on what I like about the Ronhill Infinity Torrent jacket and what I feel could be improved. I have included as many photos as possible in this review (taken by myself) as I feel a photo is worth a thousand words. For an overall description, please visit the www.ronhill.com website by clicking the photo below. Note that the current colour (charcoal/fluo yellow) is different than the jacket that I have (blue and red) This review will focus on my person observations after running in this jacket for 3-4 months.

Initial Impressions

The very first thing I thought about when I pulled this jacket out of the package was how incredibly lightweight it is. I measured it to be 195g, which is even lighter than the Ronhill Momentum Victory Hoodie. I really like the vibrant blue and red colour of this jacket and I love the simple, elegant and functional design. To me, excellent design is when there is nothing left to remove but the garment still fulfills everything that it was designed for. Simple is good. Simple means lightweight. Simple means easy to use because there is no complicated mechanisms. 

Torrent Jacket Insta.jpg

Fit 

The fit of the Ronhill Infinity Torrent jacket is a little bit looser in the torso than the Ronhill Windlite jacket. The length of the arms feels the same. I wear a size medium in this jacket and the sizing is consistent with other Ronhill garments I have worn in size medium.

 Front view of Ronhill Infinity Torrent jacket
 Back view of Ronhill Infinity Torrent jacket 

What I Really Like about this Jacket

Front Main Zipper

The zipper works really well and seems very durable. There is a flap of material behind the zipper which eliminates the possibility that wind (or rain) will blow through the front of the jacket. The zipper itself is also waterproof so you have two layers of protection. 

Ronhill Infinity Torrent Jacket-6.JPG
Ronhill Infinity Torrent Jacket-13.JPG

#RunEveryDay Logo

I really like how Ronhill has printed "#RunEveryDay" on the inside of centre back of the jacket. This is a great reminder for me and also shows that Ronhill is with the times. 

 #RunEveryDay print on inside of center back of jacket

Waist Cinch Cords

One each side at the bottom of the jacket are places where you can tightened up the waist cinch bungee cord with one hand. They are easy and intuitive to use.

 One of two elastic bungee cord tighteners located near each hip.

Excellent Worksmanship

As you can see in all of these photos that I took, the level of care that was put into manufacturing this jacket is very impressive. It is very high quality and there is not a stitch out of place.

 One of two bungee cord tighteners

Hood

The size of the hood is perfect for me and there are also two different adjustments that you can make. One adjustment is done via two red bungee cords in the front of the jacket. These two cords cinch down the front opening of the hood (where you look out of).

The second adjustment is via a red cord loop on the back of the head. By pulling this red cord loop, the hood beak is brought closer over the top of your head (similar action to tightening up the back of a baseball cap). They work really well and make running with the hood up very comfortable. 

Ronhill Infinity Torrent Jacket-9.JPG

When you don't have the hood over your head, you can easily cinch it up by putting a flap of material over the bunched up hood, which will prevent the hood from flapping up and down as you run. Ronhill has done a phenomenal job of making this "hood strap down system" exceptionally intuitive to use (really well done, Ronhill!). The very first time I wore this jacket in the rain, I wanted to strap down the hood. Somehow, without ever seeing the system, I managed to figure the system out within seconds while running and not even being able to see what I was doing because everything was going on behind my neck! Incredible!

All you have to do is roll or bunch up the hood behind your neck, then open the fabric "strap/trapezoid" (as shown in photo below). Take the black rectangle of velcro on the bottom of the trapezoid and stick it to the blue rectangle of velcro on the outside back of the jacket. That's it! It works perfectly, is very secure and lightweight. 

Ronhill Infinity Torrent Jacket-8.JPG

Black Face Rub Rectangles

Really nice touch by Ronhill. When you zip the front zipper all the way up to the top, there is a nice soft black cloth material that your face/mouth can rub against, if necessary. This is really comfortable. My face does not rub against the jacket at all when it is zipped all the way up. 

Ronhill Infinity Torrent Jacket-7.JPG

Cuffs

I like the simplicity of the cuffs. There's nothing complicated about them. I like that only half the cuff is elasticized, which allows you to easily pull the cuff over your GPS watch to start/stop/check the time and/or pace. 

 Cuffs are half elasticized
Ronhill Infinity Torrent Jacket 1.JPG

Aqualite is the material used to manufacture the jacket. The tags that come with the jacket reads, "Key benefits: Total waterproof and windproof barrier" and I would agree.

Ronhill Infinity Torrent Jacket-11.JPG

Packable Size

It packs up to about the size of a water bottle, which is a bit larger than the packed up Ronhill Windlite jacket. It is very easy and convenient to carry if you want to take it off while running if it stops raining. The weight is only 195g as well, which is less than half a pound. 

Ronhill Infinity Torrent Jacket-16.JPG

What Could be Improved with this Jacket

Red Bungee Cords in front for tightening up the front part of hood

As it is now, one red cord on the left and one red cord on the right hang out the front side of the jacket (see photo below). When you are running, they have a tendency to bounce/faff/jostle about, which I find a little annoying. It would be much nicer if these red bungee cords were routed INSIDE the front of the jacket rather than OUTSIDE the front of the jacket.

Ronhill Infinity Torrent Jacket.JPG

Breathability

If you make a jacket that is waterproof/water resistant, then it will not be very breathable (i.e. allows water vapour to escape from the inside). If you make a jacket that is very breathable, then it will not be waterproof/wear resistant. PERIOD. A lot of companies have tried and they claim that they have manufactured a jacket that is BOTH waterproof AND breathable but I have not worn any jackets yet that do both of these things extremely well. It is not a fault of Ronhill (or any other clothing manufacturing company for that matter), it is simply a characteristic of the material. It is kind of like using all season tires all year around rather than summer tires in the summer and winter tires in the winter. The all season tires will work okay all year around but will not be particularly good or bad in any season. However, to be fair, Ronhill has done a better job than any other company I know in creating a jacket that is waterproof while being fairly breathable.

Ronhill Infinity Torrent Jacket 2.JPG

A possible solution to this issue could be to maybe add arm-pit zips (although this would add weight) to the jacket. And if you're wearing a jacket in the rain, then you would not want openings in the arm pits for rain to come in and get you wet. Perhaps a small panel material that is thinner and breathable could be placed in the arm pit area. 

Zipper Pulls

I personally prefer the small YKK zipper pulls that Ronhill uses on almost all of their other garments; the mini-flip lock kind rather than the long string/cord pulls that this jacket has. The zipper pulls on the Ronhill Infinity Torrent jacket have a tendency to flip up and down when you run and I personally don't really like this. This is a really minor annoyance though. 

Ronhill Infinity Torrent Jacket-5.JPG

Conclusion

Overall, I am very impressed with the Ronhill Infinity Torrent Jacket. If you do a lot of running in the rain, I would recommend that you consider this jacket. Ronhill products can be purchased at Running Room.

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