Born Primitive: X-Factor Sports Bra

Born Primitive is an athlete favorite brand for most gym workouts. They typically make gear for CrossFit gyms, but, their clothes are generally sturdy enough for tough OCR-based workouts. I’ve noticed that their clothes don’t stretch, and colors stay nice and vibrant, even through most washes. Not only that, but BP fans can get a kick out of a multitude of variety in their selection, which is arguably some of the sexiest apparel that is also completely functional.

One thing that I appreciate about the brand is that they keep us pretty in-the-know when it comes to releasing new products. One of their more recent products is listed in the title: the x-factor sports bra.

As soon as I saw it, I thought that it looked perfect for what I needed. It almost has a similar build to the new Human Octane “superhero” series bra. The Born Primitive sports bra itself focuses on a more supportive build, with a longer band and thicker straps. The backing also has many straps so you can ensure that everything is going to stay in place. When I noticed that the website advertised it as something that also can be doubled as swimwear, I thought it would be fantastic for staying in place in the dunk wall.

Product Features

 

The X-Factor sports bra is 87% nylon and 13% lycra for a lightweight and comfortable feel. The edges of the back (not where the “x” is formed) is made out of a mesh material; between that and the open back look, the sports bra is really breathable, even given it’s thicker material. The length is longer and the straps are thicker to provide more coverage.

This Sportsbra also features a slight v-neck, and there are removable pads for those who prefer to have even more support in the sports bra. Because this sports bra provides an emphasis on support, if you are not expecting it, it may feel a little tight around the waistband. I like to save this sports bra for wearing to a race or during intense workouts, but maybe less for lazing around in big t-shirts.

I was a little concerned with my original thought of it being doubled as a swimsuit, I was thinking it was going to be more of a dry-fit material (never-mind that the website clearly has the other material listed, I just wasn’t paying attention!). This sports bra held up very well in the dunk wall, mud, and whatever else I threw at it in the Spartan Race.

Product Usage

I first wore this sports bra to a few workouts. I like to use Yancy Camp to train, which can combine many vigorous exercises into one beautiful, terrible, monstrosity. A lot of times with cheaper, or less specialized sports bras, when you hit a certain level of sweatiness, you feel like your sweat is bleeding through. I did not feel this way about the Born Primitive X-Factor; I felt dry and supported throughout the entire workout.

This was purchased the for race day specifically. I don’t know about you, but once I establish some kind of “race day” outfit, it gets me in the zone. The black X-factor sports bra looks pretty intense, so I got my hands on that one. I put it on and instantly felt ready to take on the day. The first race to which I wore this was the Spartan race in Virginia. First of all, the way it makes me feel is awesome. It looks really cool being paired with even more black.. but that’s just me.

One of the first obstacles that we encountered was the dunk wall. This was the one that I was the most nervous about. I jumped in and, other than the fact that the water was seriously cold, I felt great. Actually, the thicker band made me feel a little bit warmer than I could have otherwise.

Another obstacle that I noticed a difference on throughout this obstacle was surprisingly the bucket brigade. I’m one of those women who usually wear sports bras as my top if the weather allows. On the bucket brigade, I like to hold the bucket close to my torso. This is usually helpful for my grip, but it pulls at my sports bra. Maybe that’s just me. Because the X-Factor has a slight v-neck to it, the bucket did not pull on it at all! I thought that was really awesome.

Lastly, the X-Factor just looks cool. I got several compliments on it, especially for the way that the back of the sports bra looks. If Born Primitive knows how to do anything, it’s making cool-looking sports bras.

Pros

  • Cool looking back design that features a big cross and meshing
  • Longer band for more coverage
  • Small v-cut in the front that prevents slipping on that dang bucket carry
  • Very supportive design
  • Durable; can maintain shape and structure throughout long races and difficult workouts
  • Comes in multiple colors.

Cons

  • Not necessarily dry-fit material
  • Thicker; although great for colder races, may not be the best if you are looking for something lightweight
  • Can’t buy in stores; if you’re interested, you have to buy online. So, you would not be able to try it on before you buy it.

Conclusion

Born Primitive’s X-Factor Sportsbra is fantastic for high-intensity workouts. It has really high support with a longer band for durability, and an open back that includes a mesh detail for breathability. I would not wear this if you were doing something more relaxed, or just around the house. I wouldn’t want to wear this with a lot of layers, because the long line would be uncomfortable. But, for wearing this as a top for an OCR, the X-Factor has shown what it takes to compete in an Obstacle Course Race.

Buy one here

 

Warrior Elite II Half-Finger Gloves Review

Warrior Elite II Half-Finger Gloves
3.3 / 5 Overall
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With Spartan Race putting their name on a pair of gloves, it seems like there are more and more “OCR gloves” popping up each week. This week, I took WarriorPak’s Warrior Elite II Half-Finger Gloves for a spin both at the gym, and on course for a few races, to see what advantage, if any, these gloves have over the competition.

 

Warrior Elite II Half-Finger Gloves Features

Sticky silicon palm that gives grip in any condition  – The biggest question about gloves for OCR is their ability to grip in the multitude of elements we face. Will they hold when they’re wet? Muddy? When the bars are slick? If I give Warrior Pak any credit, it’s certainly about these gloves grip in all aspects of the sport. Hanging from rings on the Platinum Rig, hoisting a Wreck Bag, and carrying an Atlas Stone is no issue with these gloves. My big gripe here is that there seems to be extra material in the palm that becomes folded over quite easy when gripping and navigating obstacles. This proved to be quite cumbersome at times.

Fingerless (ends at mid knuckle) to allow for tactile feel during a race – I’m not normally a fan of “fingerless” gloves because of how they tend to bunch up, and cut off feeling to my fingers. These offer a looser fit around the knuckles than most, with good flexibility in the fingers, for ease of movement while wearing them.

Breathable and lightweight – Warrior Pak has a flexible easy to slide on design with a very light fabric on the backside of the glove which does help water exit the gloves more easily than others I’ve tried on.

Warrior Elite II Half-Finger Gloves Usage

I’ve used the Warrior Elite gloves for a handful of races now. The Ultra Beast in Quebec City, the US OCR Championships and in my OCR gym. I’ve always maintained that gloves will never be a fix-all for grip problems, and it’s no different for these gloves.

They can be, at times, prohibitive to use on obstacles. When I ball my hand up into a fist, as if I am gripping a rope, or bar, the material on the underside of the glove folds over and can actually cause my grip to fail, regardless of how well the material itself can hold on to a surface. The gloves don’t slide on and off as easily as I would like, which is really just more of an inconvenience and not an issue with the design. After one race, I stuck to my trend of using gloves for rope based obstacles, while keeping them in my pocket for Rigs, Monkey Bars, and Walls.

Warrior Elite II Half-Finger Gloves Durability

The Warrior Elite gloves have put up with quite a serious workload in a short period of time. From 2 laps of the hardest course I have done, in the Quebec Ultra Beast, to the hot, dry terrain of sunny Texas over Labor Day, they have come out completely unscathed. No wear or tear shown at all, even after a trip through the washing machine.

Warrior Elite II Half-Finger Gloves Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Excellent grip against a multitude of surfaces
  • Good flexibility in the fingers and wrist
  • Durable and functional in all elements

Cons

  • Excess material in the palm folding over becomes really prohibitive for grip at time

 

 

Warrior Elite II Half-Finger Gloves Conclusion

If you’re looking for a pair of gloves to compliment your grip during OCR’s, WarriorPak has a solid option for you, in these gloves. At $21.95, they’re affordable and won’t break the bank. They come in cheaper than Spartan’s Fit Four ($29.95) options. You may find, as I did, that they may fold up under your hand, causing you to lose contact with obstacles. Their grip against steel obstacles however may outweigh that for you. I’ll continue to use these gloves in certain situations as they prove more durable than Spartan’s options, and their fit around my wrist and fingers seems more comfortable.



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Sarah Hetzel

Sarah is a special education teacher from Greenville, South Carolina. She has experience in running from cross country and track in high school and two years in college. It wasn't until her friend Janet introduced her to obstacle racing that she fell in love with the fitness. Now she's trying to do as many different OCRs as she can, while encouraging others to do the same.
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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.

Garmin 225 In-Depth Review

Garmin 225
4.3 / 5 Overall
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The Garmin 225 is the best GPS watch I have ever owned to date. I say this because it is more than a standard GPS watch with its built in optical heart rate sensor. For my day to day needs and races under 10 hours it has served me perfectly. With that said I do wish Garmin would unlock things like UltraTrac Mode that it reserves for other watches in their line like the Fenix. After testing this watch for many months, since July 15′ as you can see on my Garmin Connect profile, I am very satisfied with it.

Garmin 225 Features

Optical Heart Rate Monitor – No longer will you see people wearing chest straps to measure their heart rate; Your heart rate is now measured with light and an optical sensor on the back of the watch(read more here, pdf warning). With this ever improving technology I have had heart rate data on ever run since I started using it. This is a huge advantage, more data is better data for optimizing training and seeing what works. The optical heart rate sensor is also always within 1-2 beats when tested against Garmin’s traditional heart rate chest straps.

garmin-225-review-2

GPS –  This is a Garmin GPS watch in 2015, it works perfect and fast. The only issues you will have with the GPS are the same issues any GPS will give you because it’s pretty much all the same these days. Fret not, this feature is still perfect.

Accelerometer – The accelerometer is actually surprisingly accurate when used on a treadmill. It even is self calibrating the more you use it when you do have GPS signal, see here for more on how it works.

Battery Life – It must be witchcraft, the battery with optical heart rate sensor on lasts for 10 hours. Think about it – this little watch on your wrist can track your location and heart rate with extreme accuracy can do it for 10 hours straight without a charge. Try using Google Maps on your cell phone for 10 hours straight without being plugged in (I know it’s not the same thing. it’s still impressive).

Garmin 225 Usage

Having used the watch for the past 5 months of obstacle race training and ultra running I have really learned the ins and outs of the watch. At first when using the Garmin 225 I was instantly saddened that I no longer had the touch screen of my Garmin 620. But it turns out I love not having the touch screen when it comes to my running watch. The ability to scroll through the screens with a guaranteed click of a button is something that is becoming long forgotten in our touch screen world. I remember when I had gotten my first iPhone after having a smart phone with a real keyboard how frustrated I was by not having buttons that I could feel but shortly after I just adjusted. This is similar because I forgot how much I love buttons on a watch so that you don’t have to look at it or hope your swipe worked. I am now converted back to the button world for watches, not for iPhones – I love my iPhone.

My love of buttons on this watch falls into an interesting status because during obstacle races the buttons on the watches are actually a little bit of an issue. During crawls I find that I will accidentally pause the watch when my wrist is bent for crawling. Otherwise this watch has held up through water pits, mud pits, and the water at rope climbs. I haven’t done a swim with it and I suggest you don’t either. This watch is not fully waterproof, see the comparison chart later on for water proof levels.

Other than these thoughts most of my usage has been rather simple in that it’s worked perfectly. I turn it on, I run as far as I want while getting all the information I could need like my average pace, current pace, miles run, heart rate, average hear rate and a bunch more, then I get home and plug the watch back in and sync all of my data. And even after syncing my data I have Tapiriik setup to sync my data from Garmin connect over to Strava so I can be cool and compare data with the service that more people use.

garmin-225-review-1

Ah, I almost forgot, one of the only down sides to the watch is sometimes the heart rate sensor doesn’t play nice for me. I’ve found that if I have particularly dirty sweat on my previous days workout sometimes the sensor is a little dirty. I can tell this because my heart rate seems capped out and not changing much at the beginning of a new workout. To fix it I either needs to sweat enough to re-moisten is and clean it in that way or I wet my finger tip and rub it over sensors on the back of the watch and it is fixed. The other way it doesn’t play nice is more of a personal issue I think. I have very poor blood flow, and on cold days when I’ve been sitting around in my house without much heat on my skin is very cold (this doesn’t bother me but freaks my wife out). When I start running, while in this condition, it doesn’t respond much to my skin until I get some blood flowing and heat up after a few minutes – I’ve found that I can speed this up by pumping my arms a bit.

Garmin 225 Durability

The Garmin 225 looks pretty much like the day I started using it. The face might have a few gentle scratches but otherwise it is unharmed. But the water rating is only 5ATM which means you probably shouldn’t swim in it. I haven’t run an OCR with it where there was any extended water sections but if I am doing a race that has it I will likely swap this out for the Garmin Fenix 3 that is 10ATM and suitable for swimming.

Garmin 225 Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Small and Lightweight
  • 10 hour battery life
  • Optical Heart Rate Sensor

Cons

  • Only 5ATM water resistance
  • No Touch Screen
  • Only 2 customizable screens

Garmin 225 Competitors

TomTom CardioGarmin 225Microsoft Band 2Garmin Fenix 3
Battery Life8 Hours4 weeks as watch, 10 hours with GPS2 days without GPS, 2-3 Hours with GPS5 weeks as watch, 20 hours with GPS
GPSYesYesYesYes
Heart Rate MonitorOpticalOpticalOpticalYes, with additional chest strap
Waterproof 5 ATM (50 Meters)5 ATM (50 Meters)Water-resistant IPX7, Up to 1 Meter100 Meters
Weight2.22 oz1.91 oz2.1 oz.2.9 oz.
Phone CompatibilityAndroid, iOSAndroid, iOSAndroid, iOS, WindowsAndroid, iOS
Price$99.99$239.99249.99$499.99
ORM ReviewYesYesYesYes
BuyAmazon Amazon Amazon

Garmin 225 Verdict

As of writing this Garmin has since released 2 more watches with heart rate monitors built in, updating the Garmin 620 to the Garmin 630, and the Garmin 230 to the Garmin 235. With that in mind I can suggest that you either buy this watch, the Garmin 225 or one of those two. There isn’t a ton of difference in my eyes except the battery life – a quick guide for that is the bigger the number the bigger the watch, and the bigger the watch the bigger the battery (life). In the future I will likely upgrade to the 235 or 630 for battery life so that I can do longer ultra races and still have a built in heart rate monitor. But for now this watch is perfect for me. Final verdict – Buy a Garmin 225 without hesitation.

 


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Sarah Hetzel

Sarah is a special education teacher from Greenville, South Carolina. She has experience in running from cross country and track in high school and two years in college. It wasn't until her friend Janet introduced her to obstacle racing that she fell in love with the fitness. Now she's trying to do as many different OCRs as she can, while encouraging others to do the same.
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Reebok All-Terrain Thunder 2.0 Review

Reebok All-Terrain Thunder 2.0
2.5 / 5 Overall
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Water Draining
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The Reebok All-Terrain Thunder 2.0 is a huge update from the mostly unused and unseen All-Terrain Thunder 1.0. This provides an intriguing route that Reebok is exploring by adding cushion to their already fast draining All-Terrain Super 2.0. In theory you can using a shoe like this for the longer races in obstacle course racing that get your feet wet but also keep you on your feet for over 15 miles. Or it could also be a great option for someone who is used to running in a shoe that has a heel to toe drop greater than the 5mm that the Reebok All-Terrain Super 2.0’s have. If you don’t know, changing to shoes with a drastically different drop can cause you quite a bit of leg and back pain on race day.

Reebok All-Terrain Thunder 2.0 Features

Terrain Skin – This is what Reebok is calling the rubber like material that they coat and inject into the material cover the outer of the shoe. They have started using this in most of their shoes for the All-Terrain line. It provides a good water repellency while also adding more durability. The only draw back I’ve found is that it causes that fabric to be a little more stiff than normal when bending.

Speed Laces – These are those types of laces that don’t require tying. All you need to do is slide on the shoes and tighten down on the quick tie mechanism. This is a step forward and backward all at the same time. One of the common complaints with the Super’s is the laces are thin and come untied all the time. While these won’t untie it is harder to get them to stay at the right tightness like you can with a standard pair of laces. Some like them, some don’t, it’s a personal thing.

Drainage Ports – A now standard feature in the Reebok All-Terrain line up. This allows water to flow right out of your shoes after a swim, river crossing, or rope climb. Works great just like on the other models.

Reebok All-Terrain Thunder 2.0 Usage

I was surprised by the lack of lugs on the bottom of these “trail/ocr” shoes. So, I first tested these around a park on mostly concrete. Within the first mile, I felt a heavy rubbing on the top of my foot by the tongue. It even left a small blister after that first run.  I later ran some trail miles in them and had similar issues. I immediately relegated these to “walking around” shoes. This means I would throw them on to go to the store, but never actually wear them for race.

Reebok All-Terrain Thunder 2.0 Durability

These are perhaps the least durable shoes I have ever worn. Even though, these became my “walk around” shoes, they began to fall apart after a few months. You won’t see the “standard holes in the sides” that usually come in this Reebok line. This could be because I never actually ran an obstacle race in them. Several other parts of the shoe denigrated pretty quickly, however.  See the photos below.

All Terrain Thunder Review

Reebok All-Terrain Thunder 2.0 Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Speed lacing is great, all running shoes to adopt this model.
  • Holes for draining also great. At this point, a no-brainer for all shoes made for obstacle racing.
  • Impress your friends who know nothing about OCR.
  • Step aside old “lawn mowing shoes”, there is a new sheriff in town.

Cons

  • Tongue gives blisters, even when rest of the shoe is proper fit.
  • Lugs not very aggressive, not ideal for trail.
  • Like most in the Reebok OCR shoe line, they fall apart easily.

Similar Shoes

Reebok All Terrain Thunder 2.0Reebok All Terrain ThrillReebok All Terrain Super ORSalomon Speedcross 3
Weight310 g320g219g310g
Heel Drop7mm13mm5mm9mm
Grip3/16"3/16"3/16"3/16"
Metal StudsNoNoNoNo
Price$124.99$125.00$90.00$80.00
ORM ReviewYesYesYesYes
BuyAmazon AmazonAmazonAmazon

 

Reebok All-Terrain Thunder 2.0 Conclusion

Do not buy this shoe. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.00.

 

**March 2016 Update: Luckily for you, Reebok has left this horrible shoe, and those like it, in it’s ugly past.

Click here to read about, possibly the best shoe in OCR.

 



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Sarah Hetzel

Sarah is a special education teacher from Greenville, South Carolina. She has experience in running from cross country and track in high school and two years in college. It wasn't until her friend Janet introduced her to obstacle racing that she fell in love with the fitness. Now she's trying to do as many different OCRs as she can, while encouraging others to do the same.
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