Let’s be honest, our real wish list for this Christmas would probably be a whole bunch of race entries, but since we are also gear hounds, we bring you just a few of the cool things we’ve tested over the couple of months that would make Christmas gifts for you special other (or yourself!).
ID Pattern Collar ($23.00) – What makes the Stunt Puppy collar stand apart from the competitors is that your dog’s ID information is printed directly onto the collar and not a metal tag that clinks around or can fall off. Every dog is different, your dog deserves something as unique as they are. Not only can you choose a collar color or print that fits their individuality, but you can add up to 5 lines of text that provide contact information and some text that’s tells a bit about your dog.
We tested these collars on a few TAUR tester pets and the dogs appeared to be comfortable and happy with their new gear. Additionally, visitors immediately noticed the unique new bling and the writing from the owner. These are a fun and kind gift to that other member of your family you love so much.
Stunt Runner ($44.oo) – There are plenty of companies out there that do a running leash. Stunt Puppy realized something pretty innovative – the comfort isn’t about how the waistbelt fits or how much padding is in there, but what the leash is doing as the dog tries to pull away. They created an elastic leash that will stretch if your dog tries to pull away instead of jerking you off your feet. The belt itself is simple, however, you can add accessories of your choice because it is the normal 1″ thick webbing common with other belts.
If you’re a runner with a dog, this is really the belt you’re looking for. We tested this belt on two different dogs, each with their own unique running style (one is quick a good running companion, the other super sucks) and the belt worked incredibly well. Pair this gift with the ID Pattern Collar and you’re dog will be one happy pup in 2019.
If the price tag seems a bit high, it’s best to understand the return on investment. As trail and ultra runners one of our biggest needs is battery life. The Tarah Pro has a whopping 14 hours of continuous play before they will die on you. That will get you through the night of any 100 miler or a week’s worth of workouts. It pairs easily with your phone and has a blue tooth range up to approximately 30 feet, which means you can move pretty well around your house without having to have your phone next to you while you listen to music.
The sound quality and personalization of the Tarah Pro truly sets it apart from the competition. Download the Jaybird app and either use preset sound profiles, customize your own, or use the Personalize feature, where the app will walk you through a series of sound tests (not unlike a hearing test) that will create a sound profile that is unique to your hearing. After that you can customize, as needed. We tried this and the difference it made was incredible.
So yes, the price tag might feel a bit high, but trust us, as trail and ultra runners, it’s worth it.
We didn’t know 200 lumens could come in such a small package. This little light is great for early morning training runs or the start of a race. It comes in at just 35 grams and isn’t much bigger than a Costco grape. With full swivel mount and elastic cords to hold to your head, it stays in place and will allow you to shine light just where you need it.
This lamp was worn by TAUR chief, Craig Lloyd, during the Bear 100 this year. He used it for about an hour at the start of the race and then, because of it’s size and weight, he was able to carry it all through the day and into the night, keeping in on hand as a back-up in case his night time light died out (which it did). It is worth noting that while on full beam it only has a battery life of about 2 hours. It isn’t meant for ultras or long training in the dark, but will give you just what you need for your regular training runs before work. A great addition to any stocking this year.
Rockay is a killer story. Not only is it a company owned and operated by runners who thoroughly test their own gear, but they are striving to source 100% of their products from ocean recovered plastics that have been turned into polyester. In their first year they have been able to source about 20% of their materials from recovered ocean plastics, the other 80% coming from recycling plants. Over time those percentages will swap. Regardless of how you look at it, they are using 100% recycled materials to make a fully synthetic sock. They claim that one pair of socks removes two plastic bottles (or equivalent in plastic) from our oceans. Now that’s cool!
But are they comfortable? Well, we’ve been wearing the socks for a couple of months now and until the writing of this article we had no idea about the back story of what they are doing to save the planet. The socks are simply comfortable. They are ergonomically made to fit your feet, providing mild compression around the midfoot, but still offering plenty of cushion where it’s needed. Do they have a ground-breaking design? Not really? Do they have wild colors and designs? Nope. But what they do have is a very well made sock at a competitive price and a reason to help do your part in recovering oceanic waste, which makes it an awesome purchase all around.
10 Pack – $89
Elements make high performance foods specifically designed for athletes. Designed to give you the macronutrients you need as a runner, swimmer, skier, or climber, this natural dehydrated food is easy to carry and prepare wherever you are. Made with all natural ingredients and unique recipes, Elements will put a twist in your traditional dehydrated food experience.
We tested these meals at home, in the desert of Canyonlands National Park, and the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. We even put them in front of one of our tester’s kids (three boys, ages 7-11). Overall we found the food to be very easy to prepare (just add a cup of boiling water and wait 12 minutes) and the flavor was quite good. It’s worth noting that the Chipotle Turkey Scramble is spicy, too spicy for one of our testers. If that’s your thing though, you’ll dig it.
Elements performance foods are great for backpacking or just on-the-go lunches at work. Because they are dehydrated and can be prepared in the packaging, it’s simple to carry and even easier to discard. Just don’t forget your spork.
Bindle 24oz Bottles
Think about a train-hopper with her bag on a stick, casually slung over her shoulder as she passes from one place to another. That’s what a bindle is, a way to carry your goods. In today’s world the water bottle has taken the place of a bindle. However, unlike these unique tools of old, the water bottle has served a single purpose – to carry water. Your keys, money, card, phone, etc, all had to be carried in a purse or somewhere else, requiring you to usually carry more than you needed. With the new Bindle Bottle, you bet both in one.
The upper half of the bottle is a double-walled insulated bottle that will keep your hot drinks hot for hours or your cold drinks icy for as long as you need it. Below is waterproof storage compartment, big enough to hold your keys, wallet, ID, and more. While it isn’t intended to be thrown in your running vest, it is the perfect companion for trips to the gym, climbing crag, or work. Our testers took this bottle everywhere. They were happy to have something that meant they didn’t have to shove more stuff in their pockets just so they could leave their purse in the car. An easy and awesome gift for someone looking for something truly unique.
SPOT GPS devices have been well known in the industry. They are easy to carry, provide an accurate track of your travels, and allow for updates by the person carrying it, along with being able to call for a rescue, if needed. To date, nearly 6,200 people have been rescued as a result of having a SPOT device with them. That’s an invaluable number.
The new SPOT X not only provides the same capabilities of previous devices, but it also allows for two-way texting between the person wearing it and anyone with a cell phone on them anywhere in the world. It will also allow you to post to Twitter, making is to all of your follows can follow at an even more intimate (not in a creepy way) level. Like other devices in this category, the SPOT X also allows the user to input waypoints and provides a compass to get there. Coupled with your GPS watch, you should have no problems staying on route.
We used the device both locally and internationally, having it with us as we climbed a 16,500ft peak in Bolivia. While the initial setup can be tedious (users will immediately be required to perform a firmware update, which was nothing short of a disaster), overall the product is incredible and can actually do everything it says and is user friendly. If the other gifts in this article are for the person who has everything, this is the gift that they likely don’t have but desperately need. Keep your loved ones safe with the SPOT X.
The Kicker Bullfrog is a behemoth of a blue tooth speaker. Designed to stand up to the elements, while also providing incredible 360 degree sound, the Bullfrog is a great addition to any outdoor enthusiast.
Dual speakers provide a full suite of sound, regardless of where you’re standing. You can also pair one speaker with another so that you get full surround sound by having them located opposite of each other (we only tested one speaker, so you’ll have believe what the website says). This speaker can last up to 200 hours of continuous play (per the website). We ran it for about 10 hours of continuous play and have since used it on multiple occasions for about an hour each time. We’ve had the speaker for about 2 months and have never charged it. It is still going strong!
The speaker comes with an aux in port, a built in FM tuner, and a USB out to charge your phone. It is sand proof, water proof, shock proof (this we tested well as it was driven 50 miles on a dirt road while rattling around in the back of a truck), and will likely still be playing music long after we are all dead. It even has a tripod connection in the bottom, in case you need to provide music at your next wedding you DJ. Honestly, even with the steep price tag, this thing is worth it.
When you are driving along and you find the perfect spot to watch the sunset with some of your loved ones, you will want to ensure the Cotopaxi Kusa blanket is stashed in your car. Besides being compact and great looking this light blanket does an amazing job of keeping you warm in a pinch. Besides being made of durable ripstop and llama poly insulation, the blanket is exceptionally warm for its humble weight and appearance.
While traveling int he desert this fall, we used the blanket often as the sun was setting and temps dropped quickly. Don’t be fretted by the little boys cold appearance, he was more intimated by the winds and not the warmth being offer by the Kusa.
Don’t let the price point scare you. This is a solid insulated pack. The additional cost will be off set by the numbers of people who turn their heads in admiration of the pack on your back and the cold beverages you bring to the party. The Soft Cooler carries well. We tested it on several hikes, including one for several miles with a full 6 pack and lots of delicious treats in it.
The construction on the Soft Cooler is impeccable. We spent hours admiring the zippers and pulls on this pack. Our team fought over the privilege to test this pack. You will too.
So that pretty much covers it. If you didn’t have these items on your Christmas list, there is still time.