Late last year we had several companies approach us with some of their newest products to review. What better way to present them to you than in a consolidated article dedicated to cool stuff we should all have this year. It’s never too early to start making good on your wish-list.
TAUR testers have really enjoyed testing the new line of Suunto watches. Suunto maintains a solid line of performance watches with a wide variety of features. The Sport HR Baro is exactly what it suggests. The watch is similar in many capacities to its sibling the Spartan Sport, but with the added bonus of Heart Rate and Barometric Altitude using FusedAlti. The watch has a 10-hour battery life during activity, touch screen and Bluetooth capability and an impressive adventurous appearance.
We took our time with testing this watch. We wanted to ensure that it was fully tested in challenging circumstances and in a variety of sports. While the watch’s added features were very nice, it struggled to justify the return on investment, as the price tag is pretty high. Don’t get us wrong, the Baro and Heart Rate were great additions to the Sport line, but we would have liked a longer battery life to go with it. Take this watch and give it 5 to 10 more hours of battery life and you have a solid option for almost every adventure. On a couple of occasions during long days in the field, the battery died at 8.5 hours and 9 hours. These were full functioning runs and ski tours. We were scrolling through heart rate, navigation, altitude, pace and distance displays. Add the longer battery life at the $550 price point and TAUR testers are sold.
The user interface of the watch was very solid. As a relatively technical performing watch the ability to navigate the numerous settings and displays were easy. The touchscreen worked flawlessly and the tables and color graphics made a huge impact on the testers training. Overall, a thumbs up.
The search for amazing jerky has come to an end. Salt & Dry Jerky amazed our testers. We tested a variety of jerky for TAUR and S&D came out head and shoulders above the rest. We took several long runs and made sure to pack jerky on each of these runs. Across mountains with pristine lakes and in high dessert traverses in Zion, the scrumptious testing concluded with an overwhelming response for S&D.
At $8 a bag, S&D provides a fresh made to order batch. No need for nasty preservatives and processed beef, the S&D jerky feels like it is straight from your buddies ranch. On top of the fresh and natural meat is a bounty of herbs and spices. Not the sort of injected flavoring you get from other brands, this actually has rosemary, garlic or whatever the crafted spices are obviously on the meat.
S&D is 5-star jerky at a modest price. We are now subscribers!
Kogalla is a newer company on the marking, making the RA Straplight. Originally designed for the mountain biking and backpacking crowd, they are working towards moving into the trail running space. 5 independent lights are connected on a single strip, with individual magnets on the back and a cord running to a battery (several options available). The light produces 800 Lumens on its highest setting, with up to 3 hours of battery life (also on the highest setting) using the smallest battery pack and around 5.5 hours on the larger size (13,500 amh).
What makes the Kogalla RA special is its range of light. While most brands and models strive to send light farther in the distance, the Straplight creates 120 degrees spread in front of you, allowing you to see your entire surroundings and reducing that dreaded bounce. Users will still find they can see well over 50 ft in front of them, but at close range, it legitimately feels like daytime. The light also comes with a magnetic plate, allowing you to connect it through a pocket, along with velcro straps.
While skeptical at first, once we figured out how to wear it the Kogalla RA became a game-changer. Seriously, neither of our testers feel like they can ever go back to a normal headlamp again. This thing is worth every penny. Check out the video below for more details and a how-to on making it work best for you.
The Decibullz Custom-Fit Bluetooth Wireless Earphones were made to allow users to create a fully custom fit, noise reducing, earbud that fits specifically to their ear. These small in-ear headphones are made of machine built metal and a moldable thermoplastic to fit perfectly to the wearer’s ear. A Bluetooth design that will connect to any compatible device, it also has an easy to use controls and will even accommodate voice control.
The process to mold the plastic earpieces was much easier than expected, and the resulting fit was better than expected. The earphones are sweatproof and water resistant. This often means they still get slippery and fall out of your ears, but not Decibullz. More than 100 miles of running were put on these headphones and another 5 hours of bike riding. Not only did they not fall out, they never even came loose.
Sound quality is equal to any of the top brands on the market and noise reduction makes it great for using them on road runs, air travel, or if you just need to drown out your kids for a while. And at $120 the price-point is solid for the everyday user. The two downsides to these earphones were the battery life (around 2.5 hours) and connectivity. When not moving, they were fine, but when your phone was in your pocket and you were moving around a lot, they did have a tendency to be choppy. It is possible to reduce this impact by orienting the phone differently, so try that. Overall, a great product.
One of our absolute favorite vests at TAUR is the Camelbak Ultra Pro Vest. The Camelbak Nano delivers the same comfort and many of the same features in a more lightweight, streamlined fashion. The Nano is an excellent option for carrying the essentials when you don’t need the extra pockets and space for a full day adventure. Pockets for two soft bottles up front, along with double stretch side pockets on the sides (gloves, hats, nutrition), and a simple, main stretch pocket as the main back compartment. Loops on the back allow easy storage for poles. This is the perfect every run pack.
The Clifton has been a staple in the Hoka One One line for years. As one of their flagship shoes, they have have continued to produce a great quality shoe. Designed for runners looking for a neutral, max cushion shoe, the Clifton 4 continues to deliver. Improvements include an improved midsole, allowing for a more consistent ride over time and less breakdown as the miles pile on, as well as a newly designed and stylish upper.
Our testers put well over 100 miles on these shoes before we reviewed them. Both testers are not primarily road runners or max cushion shoe wearers, but for the sake of this review, they put in the miles. Feedback was resoundingly positive, with both testers feeling like this shoe was a big step forward in the Hoka line. While light, unlike prior models, the shoe felt a lot more stable and structured underfoot. Even more appealing was that the midsole didn’t break down once our testers hit 100 miles, something that has been a problem in other models.
Hoka One One is striving to diversify their line, creating a shoe for nearly every running. While we support this plan that the company has, it’s also nice to see that they have remained dedicated to their roots and producing a great max cushion shoe.
Kicker isn’t new to the headphones or earbud game, they’ve been doing it for a while. The EB400 Waterproof Earbuds are a change from your standard over-the-ear headphones. These are made of flexible wire that can be molded around the ear, creating a custom fit each time, as well as being very low profile. Provided with three different size buds, users can fit the noise dampening earphones properly and get great sound. They are touted as coming with an 8-hour battery life, something that is nearly unmatched in the wireless earbud market.
Here’s the deal, it’s tricky to get the fit right of the wire over your ears, in association with how you want the earbuds to fit in your ear. Our tester nearly gave up the first time using them. However, once you’ve figured that out and you get them situated just right, these quickly became a favorite. The battery life is simply unmatched, the sound quality is fantastic, and the low profile meant they were comfortable under a hat, beanie, or helmet. Add to that the fact that they are literally waterproof and can be worn while swimming, it is unlikely you’ll find another wireless earbud to match it.