Product Review: XX2i Bermuda1 Sunglasses

Disclaimer: I received a pair of XX2i Bermuda1 Sunglasses to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

This isn’t the first pair of sunglasses I’ve had the good fortune to test out as a BibRave Pro, but it is the first pair of “casual” sunglasses I’ve gotten to review. XX2i has a variety of sunglass styles that are generally geared more towards athletes or active people–they have very streamlined shapes that you would expect to see more on a runner or cyclist than just Jill Everygirl walking down the street.

The Bermuda1 is XX2i’s first foray into “casual” eyewear. They are a brand new product that we Pros got to test out before they were even available for purchase. As I’ve said before, I have a tough time with sunglasses. Any time I’ve ever spent more than a few dollars on a pair, I’ve lost or broken them pretty quickly, but any time I buy a pair for $5 at Walmart, they last forever. That’s why I’m so delighted that the Bermuda1’s came with a rigid, padded case. That way, I can just toss them in my bag and go. They also came with a soft drawstring bag and a neck strap.

  
The first thing I noticed is that despite the larger lens size, the frames are still really light. They’re not heavy on my face. I LOVE the tortoise shell design; it’s subtle, but very stylish, and I feel like I could wear them with just about anything. The lenses are polarized, which is a nice bonus. I like the larger lens size a lot, because I feel like my eyes and face get more protection from the sun than from a smaller lens. 

I recently took the Bermuda1s on a spring break adventure with my husband. We drove from Vermont to NJ to DC to NC and then back north the same way. I’ve worn them driving, walking, hiking, and just sitting around having a beer on the porch, and I LOVE them. 

   
   
 Despite being so lightweight, I’ve dropped them a couple of times to no ill effect, so they’re definitely sturdy if you’re a clutz like me. 

  
My only complaint is that when I wear them for a prolonged period of time (think 6-hour car rides ūüė£), they start to feel a little pinchy on my head. I think the tight fit is intentional, because it means that when I bend over to tie my shoe, they don’t fall off my face. Considering that most people, myself included, generally don’t wear sunglasses that long, it’s a fairly small issue, and if you have a smaller head, you may not have the same issue at all. 

The Bermuda1s are not yet available on the XX2i website, but if you join our Twitter #BibChat on April 26, you’ll be among the first to find out how to purchase them, and you can use code XX2iRocks for 50% off!

Product Review: Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Wireless Headphones

Disclaimer: I received a set of Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Wireless Headphones to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I was excited to try these headphones out because one of the main reasons I rarely listen to music while running is due to safety concerns. Logically, I know that the odds of a knife-wielding psycho popping onto the bike path behind me are small, but the fear is still real. Also, I’m often running in high traffic areas, crossing major intersections, or just needing to effectively share the path with other runners, pedestrians, and cyclists. It can be hard to respond safely and appropriately if you can’t hear the world around you.

Aftershokz Trekz Titanium headphones use bone-conduction technology. This means that-wait for it-there’s¬†nothing in your ear.¬†That’s right. No hard, annoying, under- or over-sized piece of plastic wedged in your ear canal. This allows you to hear ambient sounds like cars, dogs, or knife-wielding psychos (I’m telling you, the fear is REAL. Too many horror movies I guess…)¬†while still hearing your jams.

Aftershokz

 

Aftershokz are water-resistant, and offer LeakSlayer (TM) technology to make sure that the sound from the headphones doesn’t “leak” out to those around you. This tech is pretty magical. If I put the headphones on my face at a normal, completely audible volume level, and then take them off and hold them in my hands, I can barely tell that sound is coming out at all!

Photo Mar 18, 11 42 06 AM

With the headphones, you get a semi-rigid, padded case, little winged fit adjuster pieces (which I fortunately didn’t need), a mini USB charging cable, and some reusable ear plugs in a little plastic case. That way, if you are in a situation where you don’t need to hear ambient sound (think air travel), you can block it out with the plugs. It all zips together nicely in the case, and I can just throw it in my backpack or gym bag when I’m on the go.

Photo Apr 14, 12 02 46 PM

Set up was super easy–I charged them fully first, and was paired up with my phone and listening to my audiobook in a matter of minutes. When you power them up, you get a little “Welcome to Trekz Titanium” message, and then they tell you whether or not they have connected to your Bluetooth device. The connection is almost always immediate, and the signal is usually plenty strong, even if I walk a few feet away from my phone. There is a “multipurpose” button on one side that is used for stopping or starting playback, skipping songs, or answering/hanging up phone calls, and buttons for volume up and volume down. I found that the multipurpose button was a bit difficult to push; I really had to hold the headphones while pushing to avoid pushing them into my head.

These headphones are SO COMFORTABLE. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that no matter how well earbuds fit, after a while, having something in your ear is just plain uncomfortable. With these, there’s nothing there! I was worried about getting a headache due to the Trekz using gentle pressure to stay in place, but I’ve had them on for hours at a time and never gotten a headache.

The thing to keep in mind with the Trekz Titanium headphones is that you are¬†meant to hear ambient sound. They are intended to offer you a safe way to both listen to music or whatever you want, and still hear any potential safety threats. Due to this design, it can be difficult to hear what you have playing over the headphones if you run through/past a noisy area. I experienced this multiple times when running on a busy road, or near a moving train. For me, this isn’t a super big deal. You just need to understand that that’s the way the Trekz are designed; it’s intentional.

Photo Apr 13, 7 54 36 AM

I only have a few small complaints about these headphones. Number one¬†is that the loop that goes around the back of my head hangs down a bit low, and can sometimes bump into my hydration pack. I need to play more with how I wear them and possibly involve the little plastic wings to see if I can eliminate that issue. Otherwise, I almost don’t even feel them. Next, wearing the headphones plus a hat plus sunglasses can be a bit tricky, but usually I can manage without any discomfort, and I feel that this would be a problem with any over-the-ear headphone setup. Lastly, I wish the headphones gave an automatic battery update upon power-up. I’ve had other Bluetooth headphones that did that, and it helps to manage battery life better. You have to push the multi-purpose button in a special way to get a battery update on these, which I find annoying.

The only aspect of these headphones I didn’t have a chance to test was accepting or making phone calls, but based on the sound quality while listening to music, I have no doubt that the call quality and volume would be great.

On the whole, these are excellent headphones, especially if you like to run outside while listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks. They retail for $129.99, which is pretty average for high-quality Bluetooth headphones. If you’re interested in picking up a pair for yourself, you can use the code BIBRAVE20 for 20% off!

Aftershokz will be sponsoring our Twitter #BibChat on Tuesday, April 19, so don’t miss it–our sponsors usually run a giveaway!

You can also read more about the Trekz Titanium headphones by checking out reviews by my fellow BibRave Pros:

Heather

Do you listen to music/podcasts/audiobooks while you run? Why or why not?

Friday Free-For-All – 03/13/15

Friday

Friday the 13th, oooooo!  For the second month in a row, oooOOOO!!! That means this will either be a super lucky day, or a super unlucky day. Only time will tell.

I’ve added a new “Discounts” page. As part of being a BibRave Pro, I get access to some pretty nice deals on gear and race entries all over the country. I’ll be updating the page frequently as I get new discount codes, and removing expired codes. I hope you find them useful! Check it out here.

We’re brewing beer tomorrow!¬† I do believe I’ve mentioned this before, but in case I haven’t, Ben is a novice beer brewer and we make a few batches a year, mostly for our own enjoyment. It’s actually a pretty great hobby. Once you make the initial investment in the equipment you need (which can be as low as $100 for a basic kit), the ingredients for each batch average around $50, and you get about 50 beers per batch, so it’s a great value. It’s been a really fun way for us to spend time together, and we’ve made some great beers.

I don’t have rehearsal until 8:30 tonight, wahoo! Rehearsals usually run from 6:45-10 pm, but tonight, I don’t have to be there until 8:30. This means I’m pushing off my recovery run until later this weekend and going on a errand spree. I need to get a graduation gift for Ben, a birthday gift for my sister Hilary, and take care of a few other things. It will be really nice not to arrive at rehearsal already completely exhausted, and go into the weekend feeling like I’m on top of things.

Do you believe that Friday the 13th is unlucky?

Have you ever brewed your own beer?

Product Review: Zensah Ultimate Compression Sleeves

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Zensah Ultra Compression Sleeves to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

When I first entered the run-blog world, I read a LOT about compression gear and its supposed magical powers. But the price tag for most socks/sleeves was way more than I was willing to pay to try something that may or may not work. I ran my first two half marathons, several 5ks, and plenty of long runs without the assistance of any compression for before, during, or after runs. But I’ll admit, I remained curious, especially when reading information like this from the Zensah website:

Graduated compression features the greatest amount of compression in the part of the garment farthest away from the heart and the least amount compression in the part closest to the heart (for socks, this would be the greatest amount in the ankle and the least in the calf). The graduated compression decreases the cross sectional area of the veins and a pressure gradient is created, which leads to improved venous return and many other physiological benefits.

The many benefits of compression include:
  • Enhanced blood circulation as a result of improved venous return.
    The deoxygenated blood goes back to the heart faster, which in turn helps to improve blood flow of oxygen rich blood back to the body.
  • Faster recovery following strenuous exercise and improved performance by aiding in the removal of blood lactate.
    Reducing blood lactate concentration during maximal exercise bouts, allows for an increased lactic threshold. Studies have shown that athletes with a high lactate threshold perform better.
  • Enhanced warm-up via increases in skin temperature.
  • Reduced muscle oscillation/vibration upon ground contact, providing stability to the muscle help prevent microtrauma to the muscles, making for a faster and easier recovery.
  • Reduced effects of delayed onset muscle soreness in the days following strenuous exercise through alleviating swelling and inflammation.
  • Increased muscle support, which increases performance through improved muscle efficiency.
  • Improved leg power and vertical jump through enhanced proprioception.

When another brand had a big holiday sale, I got a few pairs to try. They were cute and comfy, but I can’t say that I noticed any real benefit to my running or recovery. I just liked the way they felt. Then I started rehearsals for Legally Blonde. As you may or may not know, I’m in the big “Whipped Into Shape” jump rope dance number. After the first few rehearsals for that number, my shins were in constant pain. My knees started bothering me. So of course, I started to freak out. Somehow, I got the brilliant idea to wear¬†some compression socks to rehearsal one day, and it was like, “Oh, hey, check it out, my shins don’t feel like they’re about to crack. That’s cool.”

Photo Mar 05, 6 33 41 PMThen, I got the Zensah Ultra Compression sleeves in the mail, and they really kicked things up a notch.¬†These sleeves offer maximum compression and support, which means that I can jump around like a crazy lady after a 3 mile run and not be limping and in pain. These sleeves are WAY more supportive than the other brand I was wearing, and they’re the first thing I pack in my rehearsal bag every day. I’ve been recommending them to my fellow jumpers as a way to help alleviate shin pain during rehearsals.

I’ve also worn my Zensah sleeves¬†during and after a few runs, and while I like them a lot, I¬†can’t say for sure that they improve my performance. The extra support just feels really nice. They’re also great for travel–they kept my legs comfy and fresh during a 6 hour car ride, and they’d be great for air travel as well.

Pros:

  • Very high level of support
  • Nice color options
  • Competitive price point

Cons:

  • The “ultimate” compression means they’re a bit difficult to get on and off; I have to sit down on my butt and tug them pretty hard
  • Sizing wasn’t quite right for me. I ordered the medium sleeves going by my height and calf circumference, but I felt like the sleeves weren’t quite long enough–they ended up digging into my ankles and calves a bit more than was comfortable,¬†which seems counter-productive in a product that’s intended to increase circulation. I’d be willing to try a size large and see if that was better, but I’d worry that I’d lose that “ultra” level of compression by sizing up

Overall, I’m really happy to have received the Zensah Ultra Compression Sleeves, even if solely for the amazing support they offer my shins during Legally Blonde rehearsals. Without the Ultra Sleeves, I would be in constant pain, and my running would likely suffer.

Want to try Zensah products for yourself? Use code ZENBIBCHAT20 for 20% off your order!

Connect with Zensah:

  • Twitter: ¬†@Zensah
  • Instagram: ¬†@Zensah
  • Website: ¬†zensah.com
  • Facebook: ¬†https://www.facebook.com/zensahsports

Do you use compression gear for running and recovery?

What’s your favorite brand of compression gear?

Socks or sleeves?