Ultimate Direction OCR Vest

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest
4 / 5 Overall
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The Ultimate Direction OCR Vest is as minimal as they come but stacks up against its competition, proving to be more durable and useful for race situations. This vest has nylon rip-stop fabric that stands up to wall climbing, mud, water, and any other surfaces you may get snagged on. You have the option of wearing a 2L bladder or placing a 600 ml water bottle in the front pocket or utilizing both water compartments with enough room in the zipper compartment to store gels or keys.

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest Features

Design: The design of this vest is super minimal, yet I was able to take along everything I needed even on my longer runs. I loved that even though I was able to pack this full, it never felt bulky like my other packs. It also has reflective strips in case you are running at night or darker areas.

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest

 

Durability: The nylon rip-stop is phenomenal. I have use this primarily on muddy trails where I have had to do some climbing and my vest still looks brand new. This is definitely the only vest I would trust to withstand a race environment.

Innovation: Instead of the possibility of losing a go pro or breaking a phone, the best has a roll-top, water-resistant pouch on the front to hold your smartphone. This allows you to take photos or video without destroying your phone. Unfortunately, neither my iPhone 8 or iPhone X would fit in the pouch, which was very disappointing considering it was one of the features I was most excited about.

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest

Fit: I really love the fit of this vest. Even with my 2L bladder, extra clothing and gel packs loading it down, it was super light and never made me feel like I was lugging gear around. There was no sloshing or weird chaffing around the arms despite the vest being fitted to my body.

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest Usage

I took this vest out in on trails in the rain and mud, climbed while wearing it to test its durability and it held up way better than my other vests. I had been using the Adventure Vesta, another Ultimate Direction vest, for the wet and muddy trail runs and the OCR vest even keeps things dry better than other UD vests.

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Light Weight
  • Minimal yet holds a lot of gear
  • The most durable pack I have used

Cons

  • Water-resistant smartphone pouch is not suitable for more current, larger iPhones
  • No color options

Similar Products

Dolfinpack Hydration Pack

Orange Mud Gear Vest

Salomon S/Lab Sense Ultra

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest Conclusion

This is an amazing vest if wearing a pack that can withstand the OCR elements. If you are like me, you may be disappointed that the smartphone holder didn’t come with a little more wiggle room for newer, bigger phones. However, don’t let that stop you from purchasing this vest as I am willing to bet that you’d be hard pressed to find another vest that will carry as much gear and come out looking like new, once you wash the mud off that is.



Jennifer Wade

Jen Wade is a former competitive bikini athlete and bodybuilding judge who hung up the bikini in pursuit of functional fitness. She is a certified personal trainer and fitness coach.

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VJ Sport XTRM Shoe Review

VJ Xtrm
4.1 / 5 Overall
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The VJsport “Xtrm” is the second model from the Finland based shoe company to find its way into the USA landing on many OCR courses in the coming months. After many saw OCR World Champion, Jon Albon, climbing wall, ropes, mountains and podiums in the VJsport Irock2’s, Jon and VJsport went back to the drawing board together in an attempt to create the perfect OCR shoe covering all necessary aspects including speed, grip and comfort. Did they accomplish this with the XTRM or fall short in designing the best shoe in the sport? I couldn’t wait to lace up this pair of XTRM’s, compliments of the Official USA VJsport distributors and see if I felt as good about them as they do.

VJ XTRM Features

Fitlock – I touched base on this feature in my Irock2 review and my stance hasn’t changed from then to now. This feature should be on all shoes, OCR and all other uses. The design of this lacing system allows the shoe to provide a secure midfoot feel without being too snug or loose. Very glad to see they carried this over to the XTRM.

Full Length Rockplate in Midsole – This feature wasn’t utilized in the Irock2 limiting the distance you could comfortably wear them for. Utilizing this in the XTRM allows minimal discomfort on varying terrains regardless of underfoot debris and surfaces.

Strengthened Rubber Toe-Cap – This may not be the first feature you look for in an OCR shoe but often overlooked. We’ve seen in models known for breaking down too quickly (All-Terrains) that durability in this area can be cause for concern in the sport with the excess pressure put on the toe-cap during downhill sprints, and quick stop movements. The look and feel of this feature instills confidence of durability over time.


Cushioning Units In Front and Heel – This feature is another upgrade on the Irock2 model that provides added comfort over longer periods of time which is practically a necessity no shame with more multi-lap and endurance options available in the sport than ever before.

VJ XTRM Usage

After a few short runs I could’ve easily concluded my review and provided all the necessary info you’d be looking for. But I wanted to be 100% sure I did everything possible to make sure this shoe was gonna live up the hype it would certainly get with the Albon name recognition. I’m sure Matthew Bardolph Davis would’ve liked to have this completed review weeks ago but I couldn’t resist testing them in the crazy Pennsylvania weather that was forecasted.


I was able to put in roughly 50 accumulated miles during rain storms, snow storms, ice storms, the aftermath of all listed conditions and then 60 degree perfection.


Uphill, downhill, mud, ice, streams, rocks and even wooden bridges were utilized to beat these shoes down and see where they stood after.

VJ XTRM Durability

Being a targeted area when creating this shoe, VJsport implemented varying failsafes to ensure durability and longevity. Between the added toe box space, strengthened toe-cap, Kevlar and polyester blend and added cushioning, they effectively made a shoe that won’t breakdown over time in typical harsh OCR conditions (Trust me, I tried).
VJSport-Xtrm-1
The medium last provides more room than the IROCK2 and combination of Kevlar and Polyester ensures increased durability im usual ocr shoe trouble spots.

VJ XTRM Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Fitlock lacing provides confident feel/fit
  • At 250g(8.8oz to Irock 8.4oz) light yet cushioned.
  • Aggressive 6mm lugs
  • Extremely durable

Cons

  • lacking drainage qualities
  • Slick on varying wet wooden surfaces
  • Can’t find a third

VJ Xtrm Conclusion

They totally freakin nailed it with this shoe. The never-ending shoe debate has a new heavy hitter to be listed with Salomon, Merrell, Inov8, Altra, Reebok, Icebug, and Salming. The VJ XTRM may make that convo civil as more people get their feet in these shoes and come to the conclusion I have. They’re durable, grip well, comfortable, wick mud easily and if you can live with a slight drainage deficiency you’ll have your shoe for long or short races that will easily last a full race season and beyond.

 



Jennifer Wade

Jen Wade is a former competitive bikini athlete and bodybuilding judge who hung up the bikini in pursuit of functional fitness. She is a certified personal trainer and fitness coach.

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Headsweats 5-Panel Performance Trucker Review

Headsweats 5-Panel Performance Trucker Hat
3.6 / 5 Overall
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I am a sucker for a hat. In fact, if I am running, hiking, grocery shopping, you name it, I probably have a hat on, so when I received the Headsweats Performance Trucker I was more than happy to put it to the test. I love the breathability of this hat and it’s not bad on the eyes either! They have really unique styles, which set them apart from other brands. I do, however prefer a lighter hat for runs but loved the features and breathability of this hat. .

Headsweats 5-Panel Performance Trucker Features

Style: With so many unique styles to choose from, this line of hats is a breath of fresh air compared to other brands. They don’t just change the color; each Performance Trucker has a unique design with men’s and women’s styles available, as well as a custom option.

Breathability: The terry sweatband wrapped in Eventure knit provides an unexpected breathability. The Trucker hat is very sturdy so I expected it to be hot and uncomfortable, but it was quite the opposite. Even in 91-degree weather my head never felt hot and I didn’t feel sweat pooling on my forehead.

Dry Wicking: The terry sweatband really keeps the sweat out of your eyes and is the best dry wicking I’ve seen. It doesn’t just absorb the sweat and dries completely without any odors at all. I threw my hair in a pony ail under the Performance Trucker and my hair wasn’t a moppy, sweaty mess afterwards.

Fit: The Performance Trucker line fits like a glove. It doesn’t sit super high on your head like a traditional trucker does. No one wants to look like a complete goober with your hat sitting a foot off your head (me in my Patagonia Duckbill Trucker Hat). I really liked the compromise between the trucker look and fit that Headsweats provides, especially as a female where trucker hats can look downright silly. I love the way this hat looks. The feel of the hat isn’t as light as the Ciele brand I am use to so I definitely had to get use to running with it, but since the breathability and dry wicking are so great, I soon began reaching for it on all of my runs.

Headsweats 5-Panel Performance Trucker Usage

The style of the hat I was given is called, “Misty Morning.” I have taken this hat on every outdoor run with me for the past month and a half. If you live in the south, you know that the months of August, September, and even the beginning of October are still hanging on to temperatures well into the 90’s. Headsweats’ terry sweatband in the hat is very unique. The Heatsweats Performance Trucker keeps the sweat out of your eyes not by gathering the sweat only to create a disgusting mess post run but the terry band is super dry wicking so you don’t have to deal with a messy clean up.

Headsweats 5-Panel Performance Trucker Durability

Unlike other lighter trucker running hats, Headsweats Performance Truckers are extremely sturdy. I have worn mine for 30+ runs now and it still looks and feels brand new. I have no doubt this hat will last!

Headsweats 5-Panel  Performance Trucker Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Highly breathable
  • Great dry wicking, did not absorb the sweat
  • Style allows crossover from runs to travel to trips to the grocery store
  • Keeps the sun out of your face
  • Super flattering on women

Cons

  • Though breathable, still not as light as other running hats

Similar Products

Patagonia Women’s Fitz Roy Bear Trucker Hat

Buff Trucker Tech Cap

 

Conclusion

I really like this style of the Headsweats trucker hat if not just for the breathability, for the versatility as well. I am hoping they may come out with more of a summer line that would be a tad bit lighter/thinner without compromising the dry wicking that the terry sweatband provides. I have actually purchased a second one of the Performance Trucker Hats already if that tells you how much I like the one I reviewed. I am looking forward to reviewing the Ultra Band they sent as well. I have a feeling it will come in handy this winter as a face mask because I HATE cold weather running. Check back in for that review!



Jennifer Wade

Jen Wade is a former competitive bikini athlete and bodybuilding judge who hung up the bikini in pursuit of functional fitness. She is a certified personal trainer and fitness coach.

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Dry Rub : Car Seat Covers for Athletes

Dry Rub Car Seat Covers
4 / 5 Overall
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When you come to Obstacle Races, you always come by driving your huge vehicle that is built specifically for adventure. It’s lifted, which is awesome, but not needed because races almost always have these really fancy parking lots that barely get your car dirty at all. Races are also one of the best places out there for cleanliness- every race spends so much time and energy into building these glorious showers. The showers are built in a way where the ground doesn’t re-muddy up your feet or shoes when you’re done. The water is always warm, and of course, you’re always able to get completely clean the first time.

If you couldn’t tell, that entire paragraph was sarcastic. This is BARELY the case.

If you’re anything like me, you straight up dread the drive to races. I drive a Corolla, which, for those of you who aren’t familiar with cars, this car is pretty low to the ground. I always get stuck in the grassy lots. My car looks like a total disaster, and it makes me cringe. I feel like after I run, not only do I need to clean myself extensively, but my car too.

Of course, let’s talk about the actual race, too. In some races, the directors HOPE to get you as muddy as possible. Sometimes they don’t, and it still takes about 5 showers for you to feel normal again. Most races provide showers, but the water is usually freezing, and often just over more grass, so you’re just hosing yourself off in another mud puddle. Basically, the world’s least effective showering system. You can rinse off a hundred times over and still not feel great. Then you’re wet, and freezing too.

So, you get back to your car in the muddy lot. Since you may still be wet, you’re completely covered in grass again…sigh…

Once you’re there, you look at your seat cover. You remember what it used to look like when the car was still new while you put down your handy-dandy car seat towel, and hope for the best. When you get home, you remove said towel in sheer agony because you can see a big spot where your butt has been sitting, and your car is still wet. Not to mention, you may need to consider throwing away the towel.

My friends, these days are over.

Summary/ Purpose

I’d like to introduce to you Dry-Rub, a car seat cover for athletes.

I had the pleasure of talking with one of their employees throughout the duration of my purchase, and might I begin by saying that this person (whose name I don’t know) was very pleasant and easy to work with. I received quick responses that were polite and reasonable.

Might I start off my product review by saying, this product totally makes sense. Towels aren’t thick enough to do the job. They fall over, even if you tie them. Then, they get stinky and gross. So, the fact that someone has created a product specifically to deal with our muddy butts, well, to you, I say thank you.

Product Features

Dry Rub is sold in a few different colors: red, blue, grey, and pink. I got the “mild” version, which covers the seat, the back of the seat, and the head rest. It does not cover around the foot area, but some of the upgraded versions do. I was really surprised with how quickly the product shipped to my house. It was on my door step two days after I had discussed the order with them. It shipped neatly in a box, labeled dry rub.

The box itself comes with a little handle, and it’s very light weight and easy to transport. Inside the box cover is another box that opens easily. Inside of that is a list of directions to help show you how to put the product on your carseat, and a drawstring bag with the dry rub inside of it.

The head rest of the seat cover in cinched, so it stays on comfortably and doesn’t wiggle. The back of my seat was completely covered, and the bottom is patted for extra support.

 .

Product Usage

I recently did the Green Beret Challenge XII, and decided to test this product after this event. What would be the point of testing a product that claims it can keep your car clean while you are also clean? So, after the event, I went straight to my car. No shower, nothing. We had been swimming in a pond a lot before I got in the car, too. I had about a 45 minute drive to my next location.

I was really excited when I removed this and found no butt stain on my car! The picture below was taken immediately after I took this seat off. Granted, the seat was stained before from said “OCR butt.”

I have used this product when I train also. I do a lot of trail running and you just never know what you are going to find on your way home. You especially don’t want to find things while you’re driving. It’s something that I can use on a day-to-day training basis when I don’t have time to shower in between doing the fitness and doing real life.

Another thing? No smell. When I got up, there were a few things of grass that stuck to the cover, but I was able to just brush them off. No problem. It was awesome.

Pros/Cons

Pros: It’s light weight, easy to transport, doesn’t smell, and can save my car from whatever swim, mud, or sweat stains I bring to it. It also comes in a variety of side colors so you can still be unique. The extra padding on the bottom is extra efficient for making sure that your butt covers the seat. Ships fast, and customer service is pretty great.

Cons: It’s not as attractive as you would hope it would be, and if you buy the “mild” model, below the seat isn’t covered.

Conclusion

Thoughts? I like this product.  The biggest thing was the model that I had did not also have the portion that covered up the lower part of the seat. But, Dry Rub has already made improvements on this model available. If you’re looking to purchase, I would go ahead and get the Medium or more upgraded versions. But, a definite recommend for people who are looking to get out of the towel method.

 

 



Jennifer Wade

Jen Wade is a former competitive bikini athlete and bodybuilding judge who hung up the bikini in pursuit of functional fitness. She is a certified personal trainer and fitness coach.

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Top 5 Shoes For Obstacle Racing – 2018

We often get questions like:

What are the best shoes for a Spartan Race?  What shoes are best for a Tough Mudder? What shoes are best for Rugged Maniac, Warrior Dash (or insert almost any race name here)?

At some point this is a question 99% of Obstacle Racers have asked. What we have done at ORM is round up the best shoes we have used, and other OCR Pro’s have used, to give you a simple list of the top 5 Obstacle Racing Shoes from our experience. Here they are, not in order of one to five but, just the top 5.

 

Hoka One One Evo Jawz – Hoka’s first foray into creating a mud shoe is an instant success. The Jawz has a flyweight nylon upper, a surprisingly cushioned midsole, and a heavily lugged Vibram Megagrip outsole. To keep the weight down and keep the shoe flexible, Hoka made cutouts in the outsole which, unfortunately, drastically cuts down the durability of the shoe.The forefoot is a little bit wider than a standard trail shoe but once you get used to it you’ll love them. You’ll also get kudos from Steve Hammond, which makes it worth every penny.
The Evo line is Hoka’s Research and Development team in France working in conjunction with their athletes to quietly pump out some of the highest performing shoes out there.
See our in-depth review here.
(Drop:  3mm  Lugs: 6mm  Weight:  7.2 0z)

Salming OT Comp-They are fresh to the OCR world and have come on strong. Savage Race has made them the official shoe for their race series. They made this shoe just for mud runs and wicked terrain.  The Michelin soles and their extreme lugs hold their own to any shoe out there to the metal while maintaining traction through the mud.
See our in-depth review here.
(Drop:  4mm  Lugs: 7mm  Weight:  9.0 0z)

Merrell All Out Crush 2 –  Merrell really hasn’t pushed it very hard and created a better looking version with BOA. This shoe has decent lugs and it runs pretty well. Honestly it doesn’t do any one thing exceptionally but does everything reasonably well. If I was to get one shoe for training and racing everything between a sprint and a 24 hour race this would be it.
*The BOA version unfortunately has experienced issues with the BOA clogging up and loosening or no longer working altogether.
(Drop:  6mm  Lugs: 6mm  Weight: 8.5 0z)

Inov-8 X-Talon 200 –  This shoe was developed for obstacle course racing after inov-8 botched the update to the classic 190. This super heavily lugged shoe excels in shorter races with lots of mud and grass. It probably isn’t enough shoe for most people in races over an hour.
(Drop:  3mm  Lugs: 8mm  Weight:  7.1 0z)

Altra King MT – If you need a really (really) wide forefoot this is the shoe for you. With a velcro strap across the top of the foot this shoe looks a little funky but goes downhill better than the rest of Altra’s lineup. This shoe has a full length Vibram Megagrip outsole which makes it feel pretty firm and a little rigid.
See our in-depth review here.
(Drop:  0mm  Lugs: 6mm  Weight:  9.7 0z)

Honorable Mention

Inov-8 X-Claw 275 – The 275 is the longer distance version of the 200. More cushion, a little more durable, and a little wider toe box. This shoe would be better for someone looking for more of a traditional trail shoe with some OCR grip.
(Drop:  8mm  Lugs: 8mm  Weight:  9.7 0z)

Salomon S-Lab XA Amphib – Salomon designed this shoe for swim-run races in Scandinavia and accidentally created a phenomenal OCR shoe. A non-removable insole coupled with open mesh drainage ports this shoe drains better than any other shoe on the market. The midsole is on the firmer side and geared for slightly longer races. The outsole is Salomon’s Premium Wet Traction Contra-grip which is not quite as grippy on wet obstacles as Vibram Megagrip. The fit is a little bit on the snugger side in the forefoot and the shoe sports Kevlar Quick-lace to guarantee your laces won’t come untied. This shoe would hold up great for racing and training.
(Drop:  4mm  Lugs: 6mm  Weight:  7.8 0z)

Got a shoe we missed?

 

What is your favorite OCR shoe?

Rehband 5mm Knee Sleeves Review


Rehband 5mm Knee Sleeves
3.8 / 5 Overall
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I was sent the Rehband 5mm knee sleeves to try about a month ago. They came in at the perfect time because I had just started to have some knee “stuff” happening. I wouldn’t call it pain, but hill runs, leg day, speed work, etc. had all become a little too much for my knees, particularly my right one. It just so happened that the Peachtree Road Race was just a few weeks away so my running volume was steady but I played it safe on runs so as to not exacerbate the problem. When I first slipped the Rehbands on, they fit like a glove and provided almost instant relief. These particular sleeves also were branded with the Spartan logo, which gave me even more motivation for my first Spartan Sprint in October here in Atlanta.

Rehband 5mm Knee Sleeves Features

Fit- The knee sleeves contour the leg and fit the knee better than any other sleeve or brace I have used. Once I slide them on, I don’t have to adjust them. The material isn’t as breathable as I would have liked particularly when paired with the Georgia heat, but in order to get the amount of support that these bad boys offer, it is an understandable compromise.

Compression – Just the right amount of compression to provide support without feeling like you have tourniquets on each leg. I was able to run, jump, squat, hip thrust, lunge, and carry heavy buckets without feeling any strain on my knees at all. While the compression is tight, I still had optimal range of motion and never noticed wearing them.

Versatility – Most of us don’t training for races by running alone. To train for an OCR, you are running, lifting, carrying, etc. These sleeves transitioned incredibly well from runs to gym and vice versa.

Rehband 5mm Knee Sleeves Usage

I used the sleeves during runs, Crossfit style WODS, traditional bodybuilding splits, and OCR workouts. Each time I used the sleeves I was impressed at how well they transitioned from one style of workout to the next. Unlike most sports specific gear, such as a lifting belt or wrist straps, I didn’t have to constant take them off and put them back on, and despite the compression I hardly noticed they were on. The only time they were slightly annoying was in the midday Georgia heat. They got a little sweaty but didn’t retain any moisture, they just made me a tad more hot.

Rehband 5mm Knee Sleeves Durability

The durability of these sleeves aregreat. I had them on throughout workouts where I was on the floor, on ropes, etc. and they still look brand new. They also haven’t stretched at all and I haven’t washed them yet (and no they don’t smell).

Rehband 5mm Knee Sleeves Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Amazing compression
  • Fit anatomically around the knee for optimum comfort
  • Transitioned well between sports
  • Felt the benefit the first time I wore them

Cons

  • In 90+ temps, they were a little hot

Similar Products

Iron Bull Knee Sleeves

Rock Tape Knee Sleeves

Rehband 5mm Knee Sleeves Conclusion

All in all, I loved how the Rehband Knee sleeves instantly relieved the pressure when running. I had a hard time recovering in between lifts and runs and wearing these made a huge difference in recovery. I was worried that running without them would be difficult since I had gotten so use to using them, but I ran and lifted without them for a week and while I had to work harder to stabilize, wearing the sleeves doesn’t leave you dependent on them. I ran without any nagging knee tension. The technology in the sleeves has me excited to try other Rehband products, particularly their compression pants when they come out. If the sleeves have this much support and contour, I imagine their pants will be well received. These sleeves are a staple in my workouts now for both OCR training and strength training.



Jennifer Wade

Jen Wade is a former competitive bikini athlete and bodybuilding judge who hung up the bikini in pursuit of functional fitness. She is a certified personal trainer and fitness coach.

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