Altra King MT Shoe Review

Altra King MT
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King MT

Altra are famous for creating long distance running shoes with a zero drop profile, generous cushioning and a wider ‘foot-shaped’ toe-box designed to accommodate natural toe splay. With the King MT, Altra applies those principles into a more minimalist format, alongside great drainage and a rugged build making the Altra King MT the first shoe from Altra that would work well for obstacle course racing. Altra kindly provided this shoe for review and testing. Should this be your next OCR shoe? Read on to find out!

Altra King MT Features

Altra King MT Out-sole – Altra have chosen to use the Vibram Megagrip compound for the outsole of the King MT. The tread design is extremely aggressive, with row upon row of chevron shaped lugs, designed specifically for gripping in mud, snow, and wet conditions. I’ve been impressed with other shoes using this compound and I am pleased to see it used here.

Grip King MT Clean

Altra King MT Mid-sole – Altra’s Ego™ compound is used for the mid-sole on this shoe which is meant to be lightweight and consistent at providing cushioning in a wide range of temperatures. So, yeah… they work well in the cold. Trust me; Alberta Canada doesn’t hold back during the winter! The mid foot also has a rock plate, which is not always a feature of OCR shoes. The rock plate stops somewhere towards the forefoot, so you do get some mechanical dividends on the toe off and thoughtful protection where it is most required.

ALtra King MT 3

Altra King MT foot-bed – The foot-bed is really quite comfortable and I didn’t feel the need to exchange it for anything else. It is removable and can be exchanged for whatever kind of extra cushioning is desired. Critically for OCR it didn’t seem to shift or slop around even when it got extremely wet and muddy.

Altra King MT upper – The upper of the shoe is made from a rip-stop material, paired with a TPU overlay to keep the weight down without sacrificing durability. Altra have surrounded your heel with a weird kind of grippy one-way fabric that helps the shoe stay on when the mud wants to steal them. There doesn’t seem to be a rigid heel cup structure in this shoe and King MT will need to be locked down quite tightly to prevent lateral shearing of the upper and to take advantage of that sharkskin heel lock.

King MT close

The toe area features a rubber bumper to prevent toe stubs and the same protective material reaches up to the arch area also to protect from sharp twigs and rocks. The toe box itself has plenty of promised room laterally, but I felt like the ceiling was a little low for my fat big toe. Maybe I’m a freak in that department, but it was touching the uppers most of the time when running and I am concerned that my toe could start to wear a hole through here one day. No problems yet though.

King MT foot shaped

Altra King MT lacing – The laces on the King MT are fine. The extra eyelet is required and welcome to keep that heel locked in when the going gets muddy. The elephant in the room is the Velcro tie down, which has been quite polarizing for others who have reviewed the King MT. The idea is that you can lock down the mid-foot on hard descents and then loosen the fit slightly to provide a little more mid-foot volume for climbs. It is also a tie down for the laces. It works for the most part, except for my foot volume the upper strap is a touch too long at times.

Altra King MT lacing

The heel of each shoe features Altra’s Gaiter trap, and a gaiter loop at the end of the lace run. For those who want to use these shoes in snow, loose scree or talus, this is a welcome feature.

Grip King MT Gaiter

Altra King MT weight – At 289 g per shoe for a men’s 9.5, the King MT sits right in the mid-weight range for an OCR shoe.They are 70 g heavier per shoe than the Reebok All Terrain Super 3.0, and the similarly priced and very popular Salomon S/Lab Sense 6 SG but it remains 30 g lighter than the even more popular Salomon Speedcross 4.

King MT foot shaped weight 3

Altra King MT Usage

When you actually put them on, it makes sense. The shoes are designed to fit feet- not one particular sport modality. Altra seem to be letting your feet do what they naturally want to do, without getting in the way. The fit is comfortable and my toes have had plenty of room to move without forming hot spots! It might just take you some time to get used to the geometry of the Altra running style after running in conventional shoes. I would advise you to break them in well before racing in them.

King MT heel

On a long wintry trail run, these clung on about as well as other deep lugged shoes could. Biting the ground with each step, they work really well in everything I could throw at them (including a test on a sledding hill), chomping through muddy, root covered trails, snow, wet rock, muddy plywood, grass with no problems. When I needed grip or support, they generally offered plenty. I liked the zero heel to toe drop. It feels fast, as if the heel isn’t striking too early. 

King MT Altra running

While traction was great in the sagittal plane (e.g. running forwards and braking), lateral movements weren’t as sure. Look at the lug pattern and you will see the reason for this. There is a little less lateral direction grip than forward/backward directional grips. Creating some more offset between lugs could improve this. I would hate to slide out on a muddy bucket carry. It’s not a major flaw, but it could probably use some improvement.

King MT Grip2

The mid sole is protective and responsive. I ran on some pretty rocky trails with these and found them comfortable enough to not worry about where I was placing my feet. The real stress test for these was crossing a Lego-strewn floor without a trip to the E.R. The point is, they inspire a fast and aggressive running style across tough terrain, which is the kind of confidence you need to perform in OCR. 

If you’ve ran in Altra before, expect a firmer ride than you’d be used to. Altra classify this as a minimal cushioning shoe, yet I would say that the ride of the King MT is still comfortable enough for most of the distances you might find in OCR. It’s a lively shoe with plenty of energy return.

On the topic of drainage, these shoes have plenty of areas of open mesh and after a full submersion, they drained to feel just damp within about 200m of running. The water retention wasn’t significant.

Altra King MT Durability

You’ll have to dig around the interwebs for more details on extended use and durability. I’ve tested them on about 30 miles of some pretty unpleasant conditions in Alberta this November and they have held up well. No toes bursting forth (toes and fingers crossed). No loose seams. No cut eyelets. The strap has managed to avoid the scissors and the sole has barely shown any wear. The megagrip compound used for the outsole is the best in the industry and I have found that it wears extremely well – especially when compared to the compounds used by Salomon on the Speedcross line.

Altra King MT Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Versatile for OCR and beyond
  • Deep lugs with outstanding grip
  • Great fit and comfort with
  • Durable outsole
  • Rock plate is very protective
  • Shoes are springy and responsive
  • The Zero Drop profile encourages good running form
  • Nice wide toe box to avoid crowding and blisters.

Cons

  • The midfoot strap may not work as planned for smaller feet
  • The shoes can lose grip slightly when moving or pushing laterally in mud
  • Can be quite expensive

Altra King MT Conclusion

Even as is, the Altra King MT strikes a nice balance between weight, grip and protection, but if I had to suggest one improvement it would be just to make a few adjustments to the lug arrangement for the next version. I love the extra thought and innovation in this shoe (mid-foot strap and the shark-skin grip in the heel) and I love how it comes to life in the muddiest, ugliest conditions. The result is a racing product that will work nicely for the obstacle course and many other off trail adventures. It’s fast, minimal and aggressive enough that elite racers should be considering it as a real contender for this race season.


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Glenn Hole

Obstacle racer, trail runner, fitness addict and a pizza addict (currently in remission). I have three children and I work as an Audiologist/HAP. I grew up in Wales and now I live in Canada! Insta: @theocrguy Snapchat: Spartanupguy- Search the hashtag #ocrguychallenge
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Fit Four Spartan OCR Neo Grip Gloves

OCR Neo Grip Gloves
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Inevitably the question of whether you should wear gloves to an OCR event will come up in your circle of friends. Official Spartan Race glove provider, Fit Four offered me the option to try some of their newly introduced OCR Neo Grip Gloves. Unlike tradition full coverage mitts, the Neo Grips are minimalist in design, geared towards protecting you from painful callouses while allowing you a wider range of motion throughout your race.

Spartan OCR Neo Grip Gloves Features

Added cushion and anti-slip grip protection for OCR races  – The added grip these gloves provided really proved useful on obstacles like the rope climb, Hercules hoist, and plate drags. They provided a cushioned barrier for my hands, while not sacrificing the grip strength I’ve built up.

Original patented 4-finger minimalist gloves design – Can gloves without straps stay in place? How effective can such a small gloves be? The gloves hold tight around your hands without the need of straps or velcro. Their compression fit keeps them in place while navigating obstacles, running, trudging through mud or swimming. Having your fingers and palms free allows me to keep these on through the race if necessary but they’re also easy enough to slide off, should I want to tuck them in my pack when not in use.

Spartan OCR Neo Grip Gloves Usage

Admittedly, I have only worn gloves to more easily navigate mud crawls. I’d slip them on to keep my hands protected as I rolled under barbed wire, etc. I had never considered gloves for the obstacles themselves. I’ve spent a few weeks using Fit Four’s OCR Neo Grip Gloves and there’s definitely a place in my gear box for these going forward.

I found the gloves to be both comfortable and durable. Their four-finger compression fitting wrapped the most vulnerable parts of my hands, like a tiny neoprene wetsuit. The gloves were well built and tough, but their minimalist design ensured I lost no effectiveness in my grip, even bolstering it during certain obstacles. They’re easily removed while running, should you rather attack the next obstacle with bare palms – but I’ll warn you – after wearing these, you’ll wonder why you have gone this long without them.

I’ve taken them to multiple OCR events as well as my local obstacle training gym, and I’ve found them to be helpful in both race and training situations.

Spartan OCR Neo Grip Gloves Durability

Fit Four has developed these gloves using double-stitching to ensure durability and effectiveness during a Spartan Race. The compression fitting holds well while in use, and the neoprene design ensures that your hands can still “breathe” while wearing them. Small pieces of the foam lining have started to fall apart after repeated use, but this is mostly in spots where there is excess material and I have seen no change in the usability of the gloves because of this.

Spartan OCR Neo Grip Gloves Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Simple, minimalist design
  • Superior callous protection
  • Form fitting without the need for velcro or straps
  • Open design allows for a good balance of protection as well as freedom of movement

Cons

  • Underside of gloves can bunch up and fold over during obstacles like Rigs and Monkey Bars
  • Open design can allow mud and rocks to gather easier than traditional gloves
  • Small pieces of material have pulled away, though no impact to usage

Spartan OCR Neo Grip Gloves Conclusion

While any pair of gloves will not replace the need to continue to work on grip strength training for obstacle races, Fit Four has found the sweet spot with the Spartan OCR Neo Grip Gloves for users who trust their grip but want to protect their hands and callouses during a race. These gloves are small enough to tuck into your pocket during a race and easy to put on and pull off without having to stop, which makes them a great addition to any race day supply list.

 

 


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Glenn Hole

Obstacle racer, trail runner, fitness addict and a pizza addict (currently in remission). I have three children and I work as an Audiologist/HAP. I grew up in Wales and now I live in Canada! Insta: @theocrguy Snapchat: Spartanupguy- Search the hashtag #ocrguychallenge
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RockTape RockWrist Wrist Wraps Review

RockWrist Wrist Wraps
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For a while I had been thinking about buying wrist wraps for weightlifting, but after spending money on lifters and knee sleeves, amongst other (expensive) things, I just couldn’t bring myself to buy anything else. Naturally, when I was given this product to test and review, I was more than excited. Now it has become a staple in my gym bag! RockTape’s RockWrist Wrist Wraps provide excellent support when lifting and working out & have proven to be quite durable.

rocktape-review

RockTape RockWrist Wrist Wraps Features

Elastic Band  – Keeps the wrap in place. Has a good amount of elasticity without being loose.

Velcro Closure – Works for a wide range of wrist sizes & allows you to tighten/loosen as necessary.

Motivational Phrases – Keeps you going throughout your entire workout!

rockwrist-wrist-wraps-review-1

RockTape RockWrist Wrist Wraps Usage

Just about every time I snatch or clean & jerk, I grab my wrist wraps. When it comes to putting weight overhead, I prefer the added support they provide. If I’m doing a workout with lifting as well as other movements, I may keep them a little bit looser to allow more flexion in my wrist, but overall have never had an issue keeping them on while doing pull-ups, push-ups, etc.

rockwrist-wrist-wraps-review-2

RockTape RockWrist Wrist Wraps Durability

I have doused them in oodles of chalk, sweat in them, and ripped them off very quickly, but despite the past two months of repeated abuse, they haven’t come apart in the slightest. As of right now, I see no reason to be concerned about the durability of this product.

RockTape RockWrist Wrist Wraps Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Provide excellent support
  • Very durable

Cons

  • Elastic band may become irritable during sustained usage
  • Expensive in comparison to Rogue and Harbinger

Similar Products

WOD Wear WristWraps and Harbinger are two of the most common wrist wraps I see in CrossFit gyms, but RockTape is definitely a competitor when it comes to quality. Unfortunately, RockTape RockWrist Wrist Wraps are $25, which is $8 more than WOD wear.

RockTape RockWrist Wraps Conclusion

Overall, I would definitely recommend the RockTape RockWrist Wraps. I use the wrist wraps just about every time I lift and have no complaints about durability, which is often one of my main concerns since I am pretty rough on my gear. RockTape has always been and continues to be one of my favorite brands when it comes to products that provide superior support and stabilization.


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Glenn Hole

Obstacle racer, trail runner, fitness addict and a pizza addict (currently in remission). I have three children and I work as an Audiologist/HAP. I grew up in Wales and now I live in Canada! Insta: @theocrguy Snapchat: Spartanupguy- Search the hashtag #ocrguychallenge
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World’s Toughest Mudder – What You Need To Do It CHEAP.

World's_Toughest_Mudder_Gear_8

Prequel : If you have not yet done so, join the World’s Toughest Mudder Community Facebook Page group. This will be your best go-to resource of experienced veterans that can help after you read this blog post.

World’s Toughest Mudder Registration:

Participant Registration

This is set by Tough Mudder Headquarters (TMHQ), but often they will send out coupon codes or offers during the year. If you miss the Early Bird Special (which has not been the best price for the past 2 years), keep an eye out for race specials. For 2015 and 2016 TMHQ has released various coupons for WTM during other TM events. Always ask in the WTM Facebook group if there any are circulating prior to registration.

Worlds_toughest_mudder_registration

Pit Crew Registration

For the past two years, some participants have received free pit codes. For 2016 two pit codes were automatically included in certain Early Bird Bundles. Before paying for Pit Registration, as if anyone has extra. There can be complications with registering your people under someone else’s name during Friday setup, but you should be solid come race day. As an aside, in 2015 they did not let Pit Crew into the pit on Friday without the Racer they were registered under, FYI. Also, some participants donate the extra codes to the Orphan Tent*. If you cannot find anyone with extra codes, check if the Orphan Tent organizers have extra room. Your Pit Crew should help out with the Tent if you do it this way, but it’s a good way to kill the time while you are out on course.

*The Orphan Tent is a group of Mudders who set up a community tent (or two, or three) to help mudders who don’t have their own tent/pit crew. Search the WTM Facebook group for more info on The Orphan Tent.

World's_Toughest_Mudder_Orphan_Tent

World’s Toughest Mudder Airfare:

As far as airfare goes, find an airfare tracker and keep an eye on it. Domestic flights *tend* to be cheapest about 6 weeks before the travel date. This is a rough approximation, NOT a rule. If you find a price you feel is acceptable, you may want to purchase it. THE EXCEPTION is SouthWest Airlines, which offer their cheapest flights as soon as the dates are available. Do not wait on Southwest tickets. You can also re-book Southwest tickets if the price drops and get a credit for the difference, up to one year.

Be aware of baggage fees. You can cut costs by getting the maximum allowed carry-on size and REALLY packing it in good. Most airlines will allow a “personal” item, such as purse, etc. Get the maximum sized bag for your “personal item” and pack that as well. Use a checked bag as a last resort, and make sure you have a few pounds of wiggle room in case you have to pack some damp things on the way home. If you can, see if any other racers are leaving on the same flight or airport, and ask if they have extra room in their bags.

Southwest allows two free checked bags, which I will tell you from experience (if properly packed) will fit all your gear, a tent, a week’s worth of clothes, enough gear for a second race, an additional month’s worth of clothes, souvenirs for friends and family, and a small cat. REALLY practice your packing skills. In 2016 I fit 100% of my essential gear into my carry-on, with spare clothes and backup gear in my checked bag.

World’s Toughest Mudder Lodging:

This one is easy. Everyone is getting a place to stay in Vegas, at least for Friday and Sunday. For this, all you need to do is ask. Someone somewhere has a spare couch, or a floor and a blanket. It won’t be luxury living, but it’s better than sleeping at the airport or in a car. Typically, because most of us are pretty cool, you can score a couch/floor for free, or a bed/part of bed, for a few bucks.

World’s Toughest Mudder Car Rental:

Pretty much the same as lodging, check who’s around. It’s a standard courtesy to chip in for gas/expenses, but if you’re really tight on funds most people would understand. If you are getting in on a weird day or hour, most hotels are not far from the airport. An Uber or Lyft can get you there for less money than a cab. Getting a ride to the event on Saturday should never be an issue. Since you are going to find people to stay with, you know where they are going on race day.

World’s Toughest Mudder Gear:

This is one of, if not the, biggest expense for most people. It really doesn’t have to be.

Here are the essentials:

Wetsuit

I prefer the moderate priced wetsuits at Wetsuit Wearhouse, which are ~$100 with shipping. ORM has a discount code for this as well!

WetSuit Wearhouse Discount

Make sure you get 100% 4-way or 6-way stretch neoprene, nothing else. You will regret anything else. If brand new is out of the budget, there are the private sale sites like eBay/Craigslist/Letgo, Facebook gear groups, and Clearance sites like REIOutlet/SierraTradingPost where you can find them for less.

It is a wise idea to begin any gear search with Amazon. You can read unbiased reviews and compare some basic prices.

There are also many places where you can rent a high quality wetsuit for cheap. They have insurance against rips/tears and I haven’t heard of anyone getting guff when returning one that’s been through WTM. These are typically triathalon wetsuits, so they will have stretch neoprene around the shoulders and hips for mobility. If you’re renting, go in and try the suit on for a while before the day you need to pick it up. Long enough to really annoy the guy behind the counter. You want to identify any pinching or rubbing prior to race day so you can compensate.

World's_Toughest_Mudder_Gear_4

If you are reading this, you may not be able to afford two wetsuits, like many people are doing. If that’s the case, get the thickest one you expect to need. If it’s too warm during the day you can peel it down or leave it unzipped, and you can flush with cold water at most obstacles.

   -Let’s Talk Wetsuit Numbers-

The first number of a wetsuit represents the thickness of the neoprene in the torso area, the second number represents the thickness of the neoprene in the extremities.

I, personally, use a 3/2, but I’m a big guy and don’t easily chill.

Thinner people often go with a 5/4, and the most temperature susceptible among us will go with a 6/5.

Take your mass into consideration when choosing a size.

Wetsuit accoutrements: Hood, gloves, socks

I did not need any of these three for 2015, but had them handy. However, remember this sage advice from most vets of any endurance event situation…

 Better To Have It & Not Need It, Then To Need It & Not Have it.

Hoods get very warm, and some people have replaced them with beanies or wool hats for the middle of the night (if you have any lying around). For gloves and socks, many went with work gloves and normal socks instead of neoprene, but again, if you’re prone to getting cold, both are important. If you’re renting, you may be able to get a deal. If you’re buying, same advice as above: start combing various sites for deals. I got mine on Amazon, since they have a good return policy, and both were reasonably priced if you can squeeze it into your budget.

World's_Toughest_Mudder_Gear

Tents

If you’re on a budget, just completely forget this. You will have to pay to bring it on most airlines, and there are way too many solo people with big tents. Put it out there that you need to share a spot and someone will step up. Probably the mucho macho guys who will lead into the conversation with “I don’t plan on pitting anytime during the race, so…”. Take advantage of these goons by reserving some floor space. It will also save you worrying about getting in early on Friday to reserve a pit site if cars/airfare is an issue.

Headlamps

Worlds_Toughest-Mudder-Headlamp

If it’s still early in the year, keep your eyes out for sales. The Black Diamond Storm is a favorite at WTM. They just released a new version so the originals will probably be going on sale/clearance soon. Check the same sites as listed under wetsuits. If $35-$50 is out of your budget for a good quality headlamp, some people buy the cheapest headlamps they can find at Walmart (or similar) and seal all the cracks/joints with a putty or sealant. Do not do this until right before the event, and make sure there are fresh batteries in it as opening the battery compartment will compromise the seal. Always leave at least 24 hours for sealant to fully cure. Also, ask around before buying your own $5 tube of sealant as LOTS of people will have some sitting around the house or workshop. Additionally, a LOT of people may have spare headlamps sitting around the house as well that they’re willing to let you experiment with. You can also get a cheap, waterproof, strobe at Walmart; their “glowsticks” are about $3-$4 and will blink for 100+ hours (they are difficult to attach to a wetsuit, though). If you have it in your budget, I would strongly suggest a higher quality blinker like the eGear Guardian, or similar. This is a safety feature if you wander off course and get hurt, or fail to surface in a water obstacle. Please, please, please pack extra batteries.

Baselayer/Clothing Under Wetsuit

Baselayers are thin garments you wear under your wetsuit to prevent chaffing. They have special “rashguard” clothing for wetsuits than can be pretty expensive, and some people will use “compression gear” for the same purpose. Ditch all the high end running and wetsuit items. Get a longsleeve compression shirt and compression pants from Walmart. $10 each, unless you’re an XXL like me (try it on in store, compression articles run small). If you can budget it, get two. The first pair will not likely run out on you, it’s just nice to have a warm change of clothes if you need to stop and pit for something. Same goes for running clothes, get some Walmart or Target activewear. Is it exactly like a $100 UnderArmor compression or heat-gear shirt?

No? Is it worth $90 extra for UA? NO.

If you are doing WTM, you probably have some full-synthetic running clothes anyway, just use that if you aren’t worried about ripping some holes in it.

Gloves

Gloves are always a big issue. I’ve tried every type of glove there is. Fishing gloves, ice fishing gloves, wetsuit gloves, madgrips, work gloves, lifting gloves, batting gloves, football receiver gloves, fingerless gloves, mechanix gloves, etc…Been doing this a long time. Best gloves I’ve found so far are the bulk LATEX dipped (NOT NITRILE) gloves you can get at the hardware stores. Some people will spray them with plasti-dip as well. I noticed a marginal, but not earth-shattering difference, so if you want to save the money you can forget that. The latex dipped gloves are very good at gripping wet rope, and do a good job of protecting your hands from splinters. They are decent on metal, but nothing I’ve ever found beats bare hands for things like Funky-Monkey, etc. Anyway, they are cheap. You should have two pairs, just in case, and you should not have difficulty splitting a 10-pack with someone else, or bumming a few pairs off of someone in advance.

Shoes

High-end running shoes do make a difference, but they are expensive. If there is one area for WTM, that you are going to splurge on price or number of items to bring; Shoes would be it. You most likely have several pair you like that you your normally wear Tough Mudders and Spartans in. Bring those. Bring em all. They pack light and you can switch them up between laps much easier than a wetsuit.

Do NOT buy some pair JUST FOR WTM. That would be dumb. You need to know what these things feel like on your feet. While, nothing can create WTM race day conditions other than the race itself, get in them a lot on various terrain and obstacles do see which you like best.

Windbreaker – AKA The Secret Weapon

This very inexpensive item can literally save your life at this event. A windbreaker is easy to pack and will cut down MASSIVELY on wind (and therefore cold) during the event. My guess is that you have at least one in your closet right now. Go look for it, I’ll wait.

Found it? Awesome. Now put it in your suitcase.

World's_Toughest_Mudder_Gear_1

World’s Toughest Mudder Everything Else:

There is no reason you can’t share food and water with other racers. I, personally, always have double what I need and most people are the same.

I could have fed and hydrated probably two more people from what I brought without impacting my own nutrition. Check out the orphan tent during the event, as that’s where a lot of spare food and water goes when people quit early. Honestly? I bet you could just walk down any row of tents and ask if anyone has extra food/water to spare and you’d be set. Careful about disturbing people in the middle of the night, though, many are cold and cranky, and some are sleeping.

Extra tips

If you cannot afford extra racing gear, such as additional pairs of running socks, or a spare compression set, or are trying to save space in your luggage, get dressed by the showers. If you get out of your wetsuit to pit for a while and dread putting those cold clothes back on, run to the showers and douse them with a little warm water, then dress and get out quickly. The showers have been known to run out of water unexpectedly, so use them sparingly and limit your time in them out of consideration for other racers.

When the dark sets in is when you’ll see people starting to leave the event. If you’re short on anything, ask them. Often, people who are done will have no issues giving away food and simple gear. No one wants to walk them back to the car, and some people won’t mind the loss of giving away their spare $30 headlamp or blinker, etc.

You can find discount gift cards to almost any store at TheGiftCardFans dot com. If you are patient you can often find sporting goods and clothing stores with gift cards up to 20% off (ex: get a $25 card for only $20). So if you absolutely have to buy something from Dick’s or Nike or wherever, and you can plan a little in advance, you can take up to an extra 20% the cost of goods by getting a discounted gift card.

ORM’s complete history archive of World’s Toughest Mudder

Merrell All Out Crush versus Reebok Super ORs

If you want to view a comparison video between the Merrell All Out Crush and the Spartan Reebok All Terrain OR shoes, watch this:

Complete Reviews Here:

Reebok Terrain OR

Merrell All Out Crush

Going to compare the latest OCR shoes on the market. Here we’ve got the Reebok Super ORs. Here we’ve got the Merrell All-Out Crush. Now, we’ll start here with the Reeboks. This is the third iteration of these shoes. If you go to our website we’ve got a whole thing about all the Reeboks that ever came out ever for OCR. Link is going to be here, well, or here, wherever my finger is. You’ll see it. Ping!

This is the first shoe by Merrell. Merell’s not come out with an OCR shoe before. They obviously just partnered with Tough Mudder, so this is their first iteration. Let’s start with the laces. Now, Merrell’s got the old school laces, regular regular. Rebook’s got the what I think is a no-brainer. You got to have them these days, the snap lock, these guys, whatever the technical technology is for these. Speed Laces.

First of all, I do it wrong, too. This is probably not the sexiest way to do this but basically I do this once and then you slip these things on for life, like you never have to do it again, they never fall off for the race. There’s nothing worse than stopping, having to tie your shoes, especially if you’re trying to go really fast, but again to me this is a no-brainer in running shoes these days. I don’t know why anyone would still go old school, to be honest, especially with an OCR shoe.

Second of all, with the second piece that you have to have for an OCR shoe, well, you got to have a drainage because you’re going to get wet and you’re going to get muddy and you need it to get out of the shoe. So, as they’ve had for all lines of these, the holes are down here where they should be, should be. Here, Merrell, for some reason, put them further up and a little higher, so they’re up here.

Now, theoretically, to me, water’s going to go down and out to the lowest part of the shoe and out. If they’re up here, stuff can maybe get stuck up in here. Now, I did a super muddy race, which I’m going to get to in a minute, and they didn’t, but I’m saying theoretically they could. In terms of the outer, what you’ve got here is a mesh coating that’s kind of perfect because it’s tough, as in it doesn’t rip. The old Reeboks, remember, would rip like crazy. These, I’ve done over a hundred miles, two laps of the Spartan, totally solid awesome.

This thing is so light, by the way, translucent. I can’t tell in this video. Translucent, light goes through it, yet still super durable. These, also a mesh-ish thing, but way thicker, which makes the shoe overall heavier, which is why this shoe is awesome. So light, a little bit heavier. If you want specs, those will be on the website. I’m not good with that stuff. But that’s really the biggest distinguishing factor by the way is the weight of these things.

Teeth, as we like to call them, on the lug side, pretty equal. I mean they’re shaped different, but if I counted them, which I didn’t, they’re about the same. Looks like these actually have a little more on the side piece but I didn’t notice any slippage with these.

Speaking of which, I did do the Macon Mud Run in these recently. That’s a very muddy race. Not as big on the obstacles but big on the mud. So you’re talking all kinds of mud, the standing kind of mud, the soupy kind, the kind you’re kind of sloshing through, the kind you’re sort of stepping on and people who are like it’s their first run and they’re wearing tape on their shoes, they’re slipping and sliding, these did phenomenal for that, even though they do have a slightly different thing than that guy.

Over all, I’m going to give these shoes an A. But these, super duper A plus. So it’s not even like a good to great situation, it’s like a great and a fucking awesome. That’s really my official ranking for these shoes. Great OCR shoe, fucking awesome OCR shoe.

 

Icebug Zeal RB9X 2 Preview

Here is the first look at the Icebug Zeal 2 RB9X® for 2016.

The official name of this shoe is the Zeal 2 RB9X as opposed to last year’s Zeal RB9X. They are commonly referred to by obstacle racers as Icebug Zeals or simply “Zeals”.

Icebug Zeal 2 Outsoles

The RB9X class of Icebugs means the “outsoles” (the bottoms) are made of a rubber compound. As the OLX models come with rubber on the outsole plus carbide fixed studs. As you can see in the photo, these do not have the carbide studs.

Icebug Zeal 2 RB9X Outsoles

Icebug Zeal 2 Width

Most of the previous Icebugs that were made, such as the Spwiders or Icebug Spirits were super narrow. If you didn’t have a narrow toe box, you could not wear them. The Zeal 2 kept the same width of toe-box as last year’s model and therefore run, “true to size”.

Icebug Zeal 2 RB9X

Icebug Zeal 2 Upper

For “the upper”, the part that the outside of the shoe is made out of, Icebug switched from a nylon to Kevlar. Kevlar has a higher strength to weight ratio than nylon, so you can consider it an upgrade from last year’s Zeal.

Icebug Zeal 2 RB9X Upper

The inside of the shoe also looks similar to last year’s model.  Icebug did include a pamphlet on insoles in the pair that I received. So if for whatever reason, your feet aren’t quite fitting the way you want, Icebug have got a whole insole system.  The bottoms are almost identical, as well, with the little rubber cleats Icebug are known for. Mind you, these aren’t the “real” cleats, made of carbide. Those are the OLX models.

In terms of weight, they weigh the same as last year’s Zeal at 250 grams. They are not quite as light as, say, the new Reebok Super OR, which weighed in at 219 grams, or say, an X-Talon 190 which, that’s why they’re called 190s, they weigh 190 grams. But far lighter than, say, a Salomon, super heavy shoe coming in at 310 grams.

We will have an upgraded version of this blog, after we log some more miles, so stay tuned.