Race Like the Pros: TeamSOG Sponsor Product Reviews

TeamSOG reins supreme in the adventure racing world. These world class athletes have been testing their sponsored gear since April. These products have seen terrain from Maine to Georgia, these are their findings.
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Adventure Racing (AR) is one of the most tactical and challenging sports in the world, where the equipment you compete with can make or break you. This multi-discipline endurance sport throws racers into the unsupported wilderness for hours or even days, mountain biking, cross country running/trekking, paddling, competing on ropes courses, and navigating/orienteering to points known as checkpoints (CPs) on a map. Once racers find these points they must punch a passport to prove they were there.

TeamSOG reigns supreme in the adventure racing world having claimed three Championship Titles in 2011 from the United States Adventure Racing Association, Checkpoint Tracker Adventure Racing, and The East Coast Adventure Racing Series. With the 2012 AR season in full swing, the team has been testing its sponsored gear since April in wilderness ranging from Maine to Georgia. As a “no frills” team competing on some of the most rugged terrain in America, they were able to provide serious feedback for better or worse on the functionality, structure, and usefulness of the gear from their generous sponsors…and it goes like this:

Cablz


Cablz are the perfect solution for securing your glasses while paddling, biking, or running. With Cablz you can just let your glasses hang around your neck when you don't need them. The team's only suggestion was to develop a shorter version so that the Cablz can be tightened to fit snuggly around their heads. Cablz will actually be releasing this type of model called the Cablz Xtremez, which will be 8 inches in length vs. the 12-inch original model.








Darn Tough


The company name says it all, these socks are darn tough. TeamSOG has worn them in every condition possible, some pairs for days at a time and they have yet to see a hole or have a complaint. They maintain their cushioning and provide excellent protection from friction in wet and dry conditions. The sock's ability to keep its cushioning is paramount especially for adventure racers who wear multiple types of shoes throughout the span of a competition. Darn Tough socks regulate heat and moisture well and will keep you moving – without blisters. These socks are foot fuel; they keep you going in any condition, at any time of day.








Elete Electrolytes

This salty, zero calorie clear liquid can be added to any drink. The team did notice a significant reduction in the amount of fluid they had to drink after a hard training session. The liquid is easily added to drinks using the convenient squeeze bottle, and TeamSOG found it to be a good alternative to previous electrolyte supplements they have used while competing.





ENO Double Nest Hammock & Slap Straps

This hammock is a breeze to setup, complete with the slap straps it takes just minutes to get into. The hammock is very light weight and ideal for camping or hiking, and can be used as a replacement for a sleeping bag while racing. The Double Nest can easily accommodate two people and hold up to 400lbs. TeamSOG's only recommendation would be to develop a lighter weight slap strap system for long treks.






Greenlayer

The fabric that the engineers at Greenlayer developed is extraordinary. Greenlayer clothing is manufactured from 50% recycled materials. The female team members especially seemed to love the Greenlayer product line, as the clothing fit them better than other brands of performance clothing. The male team members had nothing but praise, especially for the orange Twilight zips. The guys loved the comfort and functionality of them in the field while still wearing them casually. TeamSOG as a whole appreciated the comfort and functionality of the jerseys. One particular feature that the team loves are the thumbholes in the long sleeve and pullover models. The only suggestion that was made was to make the jerseys a little more performance based and a little less fashion focused. TeamSOG recommended a zipper at the neck for better ventilation and something to prevent the jersey from riding up under a pack. TeamSOG thought that these two additions would increase the functionality and performance of the jersey for adventure racing.





Headsweats

These hats and visors are lightweight and aid in keeping sweat off the face and out of the eyes. They can be used for any outdoor activity from paddling to biking to running. The standard race hat is lightweight, provides sun protection, and wicks away moisture to the point that racers forget they are wearing it. For bikers, the midcap and the skull cap are ideal for keeping sweat under control and eliminating the need to wring out helmet pads. The Performance Supervisor features an elastic band and is perfect for wicking moisture while maintaining a comfortable fit. Headsweats combines a fabric shell that wicks away moisture with a super-soft terry sweatband, which provides amazing airflow. A black bill on the visor also helps to reduce glare. The only improvement the team can suggest is having some kind of small, attachable towel that can be used to wipe away sweat. Other than that our racers love these products. They are incredibly durable and can be washed and re-worn without worry for years of adventuring.


Honey Stinger

This brand has revolutionized the energy food industry by coming up with alternatives to energy gels and bars. The waffles and the gummies are absolutely delicious and are loved by every racer we have. They are light on the stomach and easy to eat. Honey Stinger's product offerings help to break up the monotonous taste of the usual energy bar. The gummies have been especially praised and are said to also help quench thirst when low on water. Most importantly they don't turn into a big ball of "goup in your mouth" allowing racers to focus on competing and not on eating. The energy gels put every other brand to shame; move over GU…Ginsting Honey Stinger is where it's at. Protein bars? We thought they were candy bars. It is so amazing to have a recovery bar that doesn't taste like chalk. There were only two issues that TeamSOG had with the Honey Stinger products. The first was the lack of waffle flavors; more specifically, the lack of a chocolate flavor…which Honey Stinger just released so problem solved! The second issue was including a notch in the packaging that would make the product easier to open with wet hands. Overall Honey Stinger products are effective and easy to use.







Outthere USA Packs

TeamSOG has truly fallen in love with their Outthere packs. The ample amount of pockets are incredibly useful when gaining access to supplies during adventure races. Dual access to the main pocket was noted by our racers as one of the highlights of the pack... The mesh areas are perfect for carrying a helmet securely. The pockets around the waist are very handy to store food and water. TeamSOG did have a couple recommendations to enhance the already great functionality of the pack. They recommended resizing the waist and shoulder straps so that they would fit people with smaller builds. Another possible addition would be a simple locking tab on the map case just to ensure that the essential materials in that pocket are not lost. It is obvious that a lot of planning and testing went into making this wonderful pack. It is nice to have two sizes too, the MS-1 is great for 24 hour races or less while the AS-1 is better for longer races.







Liberty Bottle Works

These bottles go beyond looking cool. The team was thrilled to have a bottle made from recycled aluminum with BPA free materials. These non-toxic and non-leaching bottles have a deep drawn aluminum construction. This results in less dents and greater durability. With just a quarter turn, the cap seals by moving over a little bump in the bottle. These lightweight aluminum bottles are perfect for racing. Our only suggestion is to develop a cap for biking or running with a bite valve.







Princeton Tec


The APEX Pro is the headlamp of choice for TeamSOG. This well designed headlamp offers two levels of LED lighting, battery-conserving low lighting to see your way at night or a brighter spot light to locate controls (points) while trail running. The lights are very bright, and they are waterproof! The battery life (5 hours for Maxbright High) allows for a team to potentially get through an entire night without changing batteries. One of TeamSOG's recommendations is something with a more sustainable battery life. TeamSOG's tools of choice for mounting the lights to bike helmets are zipties. Although there is an optional helmet attachment, a more simple way (such as Velcro as suggested by one racer) would make mounting easier.

The EOS bike light, though, is loved by all. The light is soft, but definitely bright enough to get by on a bike. It's easy to carry a spare too for emergencies and can mount to pretty much anything. Using the EOS is a great way to save battery life on the APEX Pro on slower and less technical sections.




Soleus Watches


TeamSOG was thrilled to test the second generation of GPS watches from Soleus and were astonished with the high sensitivity receiver. The watches aided them in tracking pace, calories burnt, and stood up to some serious class V white water. Their favorite features included the fact that they could upload and store workouts and recharge the battery via the watches USB rechargeable lithium-ion battery. At only 2 oz. you barley know your wearing it. The team was excited to see the release of the GPS 3.0 and are can't wait to try out the heart rate monitor in the future. Their biggest hope is to see a model released with an altimeter within the next year. Over all this watch offers consumers a massive bang for their buck and is an essential training piece for adventure.





SOG


The team really couldn't come up with a complaint about this amazing product. SOG is a great knife brand that is beautifully made and has excellent balance. They are easy to use and have some nice features built in to them such as the cord cutter on the Trident. The multi tools are very powerful and can be used to handle a large range of jobs; however, they may be a little heavy for some users. A great addition to the SOG line, though, would be a biking multi tool, as suggested by one of our racers, including things like allen wrenches, a chain tool and other basic tools from pliers to a screw driver.







Scott Shoes

The eRide Grip II shoes received great reviews from all of our racers. One racer even claims to be blister free throughout our entire season thus far, which is quite a feat for the feet! In addition to the amazing comfort level in this brand, the tread seemed to grip nicely in both wet and dry conditions. The only complaint came with the laces; they kept coming untied. A suggested improvement would be to use square laces which have worked well with other trail running shoes. The eRide Grip style had a grip suitable for both trail running and running on pavement; however, a slightly more aggressive grip with less flexibility in the sole would be more appreciated for trail runners. These shoes make long runs more bearable and allow the runner to feel the ground more easily. The Aztec 3 is a whole new shoe when compared to its predecessors; this shoe offers amazing traction and gives Salomon trail running shoes a “Run for their money” with a better price point and durability on the trail.







Switch Sun Glasses

Easily the best feature of these glasses is the ease of lens interchangeability. Dark lenses can be utilized in high sunlight situations while paddling. The clear lenses can be used for low light situations like trail running or for nighttime excursions. Switch uses a magnetic retention system to mount the lenses, keeping the overall weight of the glasses to a minimum. The magnetic retention system allows for quick and easy changes. However it is possible to knock the lenses out while competing. Switch will be working to develop a way to further secure lenses while keeping the lightweight, durable and comfortable feel that racers adore about this brand. The team recommends the Tenaya Lake or H-Wall frames, which have yet to fog up on anyone while competing. Suggestions for Switch include offering a carrying case for organizing multiple lenses, and including one set of clear and one set of dark lenses instead of two sets of dark lenses with the original packaging.







Zensah Compression Sleeves

These compression sleeves have received a multitude of compliments from our racers on TeamSOG! The tension provided by the compression socks on their legs has prevented cramping and kept their calves fresh. The extra circulation that these provide seems to do the job as long as the elasticity holds out over the long haul. In addition to keeping the legs fresh, the thickness of the sleeves also acted as shin guards against thorns and other various brush while bushwhacking through the terrain. This was a nice added perk for athletes because it enables them to wear shorts and change out socks easier when needed. The soft material added to the comfort level of these sleeves, and the team praised the sleeves for their ability to help recovery from hard workouts and races. The one improvement our racers suggested was to make a leg warmer model; one that stretched all the way from the ankle to over the knee and to the thigh, for women especially.



All of TeamSOG's gear can be found on the American Adventure Sports online store www.shopadventuresports.com. For specific questions on these products please feel free to contact us at info@americanadventuresports.com or by calling 724.205.6450.

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