Deadliest 8000ers infographic
Every year in May, the Everest summit season is on and for outdoor lovers, a lot of action is to be seen coming from the highest peaks in the world.
Unfortunately, every season has its share of drama and we’ve already witnessed some accidents leading to the death of mountaineers and sherpas. Mountains are dangerous and when looking at the climbing history of the 8000ers, you can easily see how precarious adventuring there can be.
Good luck to all of the climbers, stay safe!
Data source: 8000ers.com
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Sense Ultra - impressive trail running shoes from Salomon
After weeks on running in the cold and the snow (the winter has been particularly long in Sweden), last week was finally time for the first ultra of the year for us: the Täby Extreme Challenge in Sweden. Multiple distances (50, 75 and 100 miles) were possible and although I’ve attempted to complete my first 100 miles, I had to drop out after 100 km (knee and adductor pain). Nevertheless, this was a great occasion to test the Sense Ultra shoes from Salomon while racing and the least I can say is that those shoes did live up to my expectations.
As you can see in the slide-show above (make sure you look at all the pictures by scrolling over or hitting the “Next” button), I’ve been quite impressed by the shoes and it’s been a real pleasure to run with them. A lot has been written about the original Sense were first released last year (the first model were custom made for Killian Jornet racing Western States in 2011) and Salomon has listened well to feedback from both their pro racers and other consumers. The result: an impressive pair of trail running shoes.
You need to be familiar with minimalistic shoes as there is only a 4mm drop and the sole is not too thick, but if this is your case, running with it will be pure pleasure. What’s impressed me the most is the ridiculous weight (only 210 grams, you don’t feel you’re wearing shoes at all) and the perfect fit it offers. Often ultra runners are anxious about blisters and chafing and I think you may manage to approach ultras a lot more relax if you can trust you have the right shoes. This is how I felt: I ran about 200 km with the Sense Ultra prior to the race and did not get any blisters. I still taped my toes on race day just in case, but I didn’t pay much attention to my feet and could focus instead on nutrition and hydration for example. There are so much aspects to consider when going for super long races that it is actually pretty cool to be able to forget about your feet condition. After 100km in the snow and the mud (see picture below), I didn’t get a single blister and I didn’t stop because of foot pain.
That’s how your feet look like after 10 hours in the mud…
Other important aspects
The traction offered by the Sense Ultra is good, although the terrain was probably too humid (mix of snow and mud) for this particular model. I still think it was a good choice to have very light shoes and loosing a bit in traction rather than the other way around. The upper part of the shoes is also not making much compromises with a very think fabric which can’t protect to much from getting wet or muddy. Still, note the reinforce toe protection which is useful and should help in increasing the shoes lifetime.
Overall, my feedback is greatly positive so far. The shoes have proven to be so comfortable and the lightweight make such a difference. There has been question about how long the shoes can last and I will report more on that during the upcoming months as I am starting to log more kilometers. Stay tuned!
Updates about new products and cool adventures from the Salomon Running team on Facebook
Women’s 100 - riding together
As spring came around lately, it’s now time to get back on our bikes and I thought to share a good source of motivation with you girls: Rapha is suggesting that we ride 100km on July 7th to celebrate the 100th Tour de France. I will try to take part in it and I can only recommend to join the event, I think we will see some really inspiring performances and a great spirit in both training and on the challenge day.
More info from Rapha:
On Sunday 7th July 2013 join thousands of women around the world to ride 100km. The aim is to create a global event, with thousands of women taking to the road to complete a 100km journey.
How to get involved in the Rapha Women’s 100:
Karhu Flow 3 Trail Fulcrum - Review
With the Flow 3 Trail Fulcrum, Karhu, the legendary finnish ski manufacturer, has put all its know how together to produce a unique trail running shoe.
Despite the ridiculous amount of snow we have for April, I have been taking the Flow 3 Trail Fulcrum out to the trails and enjoyed some nice snowy runs with them. Here is our review.
One of the first things that struck me when I received the Flow 3 Trail Fulcrum was the way their look. They look very simple, with a very flat outsole, and a very simple outer design. Quite a difference with what we can find now with new shoes trying to differenciate themselves with fancy design and “innovative” technologies.
The Flow 3 fit is very well. I did initially find them quite rigid but give the shoe a couple of runs and this stiffness will let place to a great sensation of comfort. One particularity that surprised me is that Karhu went for a hard piece of foam at the back of the shoe that blocks your heel down rather than an integrated design as you usually find. I am not gonna lie, I wasn’t such a fan at first, but as the shoe starts to soften up, it blends well into the overall comfort and it does add a good support to the heel.
Looking at the outsole, it does not display any fancy features. It is rather flat with numerous small grips. Its simplicity makes it a very good alternative for both road and trail running, which has become fairly rare nowadays. However, I found this outsole to be very slippery in wet conditions, specially on uphill running in grass and rocks.
Karhu has succeeded to find a good balance making the midsole reactive and protective at the same time. Being rather stiff, it really provides you with some good control and sensations.
The insole seems to be slightly inclined outside in at the heel location, which I do enjoy as it provides some kind of relief to your knees (very personal perspective, I know).
Back to the upper, Karhu has brought some great water resistance skills into the Flow 3 equation. I must say I have been very impressed with them for that. The plastic protection covering the bottom half of the shoe guarantees you a dry journey in muddy and wet terrain. The top fabric is itself well designed to keep your feet as dry as possible while still being very light.
All in all, despite a few things that are not perfect (i.e. slightly too slippery outsole), the Karhu Flow 3 Trail Fulcrum is a very versatile shoe that will satisfy you in many environments and conditions. Although I don’t find them anywhere as responsive as ultra light trail running shoes can be, they are an excellent option for runners who are looking for an all rounder shoe, sensations and reliability.
New Speedmax XC skis from Fischer
To finish in style this awesome ski season, I got the chance to test the new cross country skis from Fischer called “Speedmax”. According to the company a new fabrication process should bring even more speed and more glide. Let’s give it a test!
With some late fresh snowfalls last week, it was the perfect ski conditions on the track of La Bresse, France. I went for a long 2 hours tour with the new skis and my first feelings are very positive: the Speedmax are pleasant to ski on, especially with compact and hard snow. The pair I tested was very tonic and stiff, which fits well my ski technique, but I guess there will be all kind of hardness available so that all skiers can find their best setting.
From the sneak preview I got, I believe those skis will make a big impact next year and I can’t wait next season to come and to race with the Speedmax.
Vanguard Adpator 46 - Compact Photography Backpack Review
Being often on the move and running around a lot with my kit, I am still in look for the ideal outdoor camera bag so I was quite curious to see what the Adaptor 46 could bring into the equation. Finding a light and still safe bag seems to be an harder trick that it sounds.
The Adaptor 46 is a comfortable bag, that displays a nice sober design. As often, Vanguard manages to keep the design simple and clean, which I must say is very much to my liking.
With breathable padding in the back and comfortable shoulder straps, this bag feels very nice. There is obviously a little stiffness that is noticeable compared to normal backpacks, but this is one of the key feature to keep the cameras as safe as possible.
The balance of the Adaptor 46 is extremely good and even with some quite imposing tripods (like the one in the picture) the bag won’t move much from side to side when you’re running, skiing or hiking and won’t alter your balance in any way. That being said, one small feature that in my opinion could be one step further for running or hiking would be to have a chest strap. It can be easily installed but does not come in series with the bag.
Now, let’s have a look at the practicality of this Adaptor 46.
The main pocket at the bottom of the bag goes through the whole bag from side to side and can be accessed from either of those sides. It is divided both vertically and horizontally with well padded partitions (2 horizontals, 1 vertical) that can be easily placed at your convenience (velcro) which lets you design your layout easily according to what gear you’re using. You can fit a body+lense plus a couple of lenses in there. Once you’ve found a good layout for your kit, everything will stay safely and firmly in place.
The top compartment is very spacious and let you store numbers of items like sport cameras, gadgets and other devices. It is closed with a zipped top cover along with some clips that guarantee a good protection against mist and water. You will find a small pocket in that top cover that is very practical for small items like card readers, cables or your personal bibs and bos.
On the outside of the bag, the Adaptor 46 offers many different possibilities to attach your monopods, tripods and every pieces of kit you can’t fit inside. Everything seems very sturdy and you can be confident that your gear is safe and won’t fall out. A very nice feature is the “tripod pocket” that you can unfold outside and let hanging from a small zip on the front of the bag where you can place your monopod or tripod. Quickly secure it at the top with the clip and here you go. I think this is great feature for a quick access to medium size pods.
You will find as well two straps + clips on each side that are very handy to place gear or hang clothes.
I haven’t used the laptop sleeve that much as I mainly used this bag only for one day outings where I didn’t need my laptop. I usually tend to go as light as I can when I go shooting so I keep all the computers and other non necessary accessories home. That being said, there is a growing number of possibilities to control your camera with tablets or computers nowadays, so this might come handy if you use one of those.
The Adaptor 46 is not revolutionary. It is still not the perfect lightweight camera bag for outdoor activities in my opinion. But I must admit, lightweight and safe don’t really go well together.
All in all, Vanguard delivers once again a great quality product, very well thought and designed that will convince many outdoor photographers. Going for a hike, a field trip, visiting a new place? The adaptor can bring you the great security, space and comfort you’re looking for.
A year of Ultra Running
We’ve just published the Ultra Running Calendar 2013 with all the major events of the season and the great champions attending each race. Have a look at the timeline and get ready for a crazy year of running!
UltraFit Sling Strap from Joby - Full Review
Since I got into outdoor photography and filmmaking a couple of years ago I have always been using the default leashes that come with the DSLR bodies. As I shot in some unconventional angles, it had happened that I had the leash hanging in front of the lens but I have always found some ways around, mostly wrapping it around my wrist. This is a bit cumbersome but at least it did the job. Another issue, more problematic this time, was to run or move very fast withy the camera hanged on my shoulder. I never really found a way to put it that would be good enough that I wouldn’t have to readjust it every now and then.
Thus, it’s with a strong curiosity that I went on testing the new UltraFit Sling Strap from Joby. Joby is more famous for their Gorillapod but also starts to produce new items that help photographers with easier setups.
As you can see from the visual, I have been carrying my camera using this new sling while skiing and following some other skiers along the track.
I found the sling to be easy to install and although it relies on the tripod mount, it feels secure enough.
Once mounted, you will notice a first major difference when holding the camera with the sling hanging. Because the mounting point is below the body, the sling will not bother you when fine tuning the settings and cannot get in front of the lens either.
The second difference is when holding the camera around your shoulder. The camera fits naturally by your waist or in the back and doesn’t move once the sling is adjusted, which is made easy with the adjustable lock.
One drawback to this approach is the fact that you can’t have both the sling and a tripod mounting plate on the camera at the same time. I am not sure whether some systems exist for handling those two at the same time or not - I didn’t find any. Still, the comfort and the ability to change the leash length at all time is definitely worth it and I didn’t bother me that much switching it with the tripod when needed.
The UltraFit has now become my default leash on my camera and I can definitely recommend you to have a look and see how it can help you in holding better your camera when being on the move.
Common Running Knee Injuries
No injuries are good but every runner knows that knee ones are really not (good) as they usually take you down properly and take time to heal.
I unfortunately have been struggling with my knees since I took up running again about a month ago when the post winter first sunny days showed up so I had a bit of time on my hands to create this quick infographic about the main knee injuries for runners.
I am not a doctor whatsoever, everything presented below is just a graphic representation of what I have gathered from Runner’s World.
FYI, I am #2 (left knee) and #1 (right knee)… Happy days!
Don’t hesitate to share your personal experience in the comment section below.