Testing the SEATOSUMMIT dry sack

Last year, prior to a diving trip to Borneo, we bought a Seatosummit lightweight dry sack from a dive shop in KL.

8 litre capacity and weighing in at only a spectacular 58 grams.

I have just taken my lovely bright yellow dry bag with me on its first “summit” outing – a 2 week trek in the Himalayas in late Jan-early Feb.  The trek, on a frozen river, provided extreme weather day in, day out.  Cold, snow, sleet, and the possibility of having to ford glacial rivers (the latter didn’t happen, thank goodness).  I used the bag inside my daypack, to keep my camera, batteries, spare socks and spare gloves dry.

Perfect.

Everything dry, despite the fact we walked for hours in the snow.

Here’s the link to the Seatosummit website for these dry sacks.

It’s now been used on dive boats in Borneo and up in the harsh Himalayas, and has passed with flying colours.

Personally recommended.

I bought the bag, didn’t tell the shop nor the company that I blog.

Mangrove Running Belt

Santa Claus was generous this year, bringing me not one, but two, Mangrove running belts – one black & one a delicious Barbie doll pink.

I’ve used both of them, one per day, for the last week and I’m already a fan.

The belt has an expandable pocket for mobile phones, which makes such sense.  I have an older belt which I can now no longer use with my new phone, because the pouch isn’t expandable, so good call, Mangrove.

In fact, for the last half marathon I ran a couple of weeks ago, I used my older phone just because of this issue.

A clip for car/house keys – also makes total sense.

Head-phones have their own access point, and connect easily and internally to the mobile.

What I like is the fact that the belt doesn’t fully open – you either step into it, or put it over your head.  Presumably the logic is to avoid the risk of a clip or velcro fastener opening/not working, causing you to drop the belt.  Once again – good call, Mangrove.

I heartily recommend them.  

Now you want to buy this running belt, don’t you?
Here you go!  You’re just one click away from a new belt… 🙂

By the way – these belts were purchased, and Mangrove has no idea that I blog.

Testing Reebok’s reversible running shorts

Late September & Delhi is at its worst.

Hot, humid, the fag-end of the monsoons – which explains all that heat and humidity.

So, of course, that is exactly when I decide to buy some new running trousers, and test drive them (as it were) in such an unforgiving climate.

Because I’d just bought some Reebok running shoes, I decided to try out their clothing range as well, and bought a pair of reversible running shorts –  well, more capri-length to be exact.

They are indeed reversible –  grey one side, black the other:

I have subsequently used these running shorts at least twice, if not thrice, a week since then, and 2 1/2 months on from humid September, I am every bit as pleased with them, and they show no sign of wear and tear.

They really do wick away the sweat, as advertised:

The only adjustment I made to the trousers when I bought them, was to cut off the care label, in order to make them truly reversible.  Like so:

 

It was stitched on in such a way that removing it was easy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My only cavil – I do wish there was a pocket.

I bought & paid for the trousers myself, and no-one in Reebok knows that I blog.

They cost Rs 2699 (in late September 2016).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to buy these running shorts, you can get to Amazon very quickly, straight from this page.  Just click on either of the links below, and they’ll take you straight to their website…but, hey, you know all this stuff, right? 🙂

How healthy are Whole Food energy bars?

This review is written for us by a guest blogger (&, in the interests of full disclosure, a dear friend).

Gautam Chima is a serious cyclist (none of this Sunday morning-India Gate-post a selfie on Facebook stuff for him 😛 ), a musician, a keen angler – in fact we met up in Himachal, on a fishing trip.

Here Gautam reviews an energy bar that he has tried and enjoyed, and even though he writes from the perspective of a cyclist here, it seems to me that this would work equally well for all the trekkers and hikers and long distance runners out there.

Over to our guest blogger:

“Tirath Singh is a road cycling friend of mine, and its an old habit of mine to never ask about anyone’s profession. That conversation is too boring to have, and quite frankly if someone wants to tell me what they do; id rather have them start that discussion!! However, the loophole of this policy is that sometimes I miss out on some really cool things. case in point, apart from being a pretty good cyclist, Tirath is also the “Chef Partner” at Whole Foods India and previously unknown to me , he is concocting some really clever “healthy” food, tailor made to our Indian conditions.

So as it turns out I was looking for someone to sponsor us some granloa bars for a race, and lo and behold, our knight in shining armour, that’s Tirath, sent us a huge cache of granola and endurance bars. Surprise, Surprise! Now being the true-to-my-roots-punjabi, i was really skeptical about the goods. I mean how could these compare to my tried and tested training/racing staple “Nature Valley” bars?! Anyway, “kee farak paenda”, i don’t have to eat them, i just have to distribute them.

Onwards to raceday and while distributing the Whole Food goodies, i realized id left my personal stash at home. Hunger strikes and you eat what you get. Opened up the “Endurance Bar” and down it went, and another , and another! Fast forward a year later, and my Nature Valley stash is still safe and secure, hiding in a cupboard!

So what makes it tick? among all the “healthy” seedy stuff the label displays, its the jaggery and coconut that spins the magic . Dont get me wrong, im no fan of coconut taste in my food; but thats the thing; my butter chicken fried taste buds can hardly tell there’s coconut in there. The Gud and dates hold it all together beautifully , without being over sweet. “YUMMY” is an understatement.

And that dreaded feeling of reaching out into your back pocket, only to find a dried flaky bar disintegrate all over you, as you try to eat it…..no longer a part of my training life! The bar is sticky and comfortably soft in your mouth; and all of us who deal with dehydration on a daily basis , know the awful feeling of putting something flaky and dry in our mouths, mid ride.

Its an instant shot of energy, so delicious that you need to make sure youre not snacking on it regularly! I’ve had these in 3 hours races, and all day climbs, 1 every hour and they keep me going! Ive seen cyclist friends finish their morning hour-long hammerfest with one of these, before heading off to work! Its a formula that is balanced, and well, just works! Also, it feels good to support a local product, knowing its sooo good! I take them everywhere, on a long drive, trekking and even fishing trips.

buy it in their stores, or buy it online. what’s the worse that can happen? you’ll think it was horrid and that i’m getting paid to peddle Tirath’s bars. on the flipside, you may, just may discover a treat that makes training a bit more fun and enjoyable!!

Word of caution : this review is ONLY for the “Gluten Free Endurance Energy Bar”, they have other bars as well but this ones the keeper for me.”

11168088_10152984007127312_4849243521955071206_n

Gluten Free Endurance Energy Bar

Thanks, Gautam.

On the shopping list this goes!

Testing the Reebok Z Strike Elite AND the Reebok One Distance 2.0

This is a slightly unusual review since it deals with 2 different Reebok shoes, one of which I had to return due to a flaw.

On 28 June 2016 I bought a pair of Reebok Z Strike Elite shoes from the Reebok store in DLF Mall, New Delhi, India.

This was my first Reebok purchase & I was impressed by the knowledgable sales staff (despite it being sale time, so busier than usual) and I bought a lovely blue pair of shoes:

Reebok_5118

Reebok_5120

I now possessed 3 pairs of running shoes (#takingmyrunningseriously) and since I was part of a #100daysofrunning challenge, and therefore running every day, I rotated between my reeboks and 2 pairs of Adidas shoes.

I was running an average of 10k per day, but not wearing any pair of shoes on 2 consecutive days.  From the very first run, these shoes felt comfortable, great and cushion-y (is that a technical term?) and very light.  No teething problems, no blisters, nothing.

From Day One I loved the Z Strike Elite, and instagrammed to that effect.

Here you go, just a few images.

IMG_5162

IMG_5428

Took my shoes to Borneo:

IMG_6173

And to Kuala Lumpur:

IMG_6393

But…at 162 km (I log my usage on mapmyrun.com) holes suddenly appeared in the heel area of both shoes.  Like so:

Reebok right shoe_6442

Reebok right shoe_6441

I contacted Reebok –  and this part of my review now covers their customer service.

5 August: I email Reebok, sending the photos I have just shown you (above).

6 August: Reebok Customer Care replies, apologizing and asking for details, including a scan of the original invoice, which I didn’t have to hand, so on the

7 August: I sent a copy of my credit card statement.

9 August: Reebok replies asking me to get a duplicate invoice from the store.

OK.

10 August: I went back to the store in DLF mall, where they kindly printed out a duplicate invoice in no time at all, which I emailed to Customer Care.

11 August: Reebok email me to say I could go ahead and claim my replacement shoes.

 

Score card for Customer Service?

10/10.

They were quick, polite and efficient, as indeed were the staff in the shop.

BUT sadly the much-loved Z Strike Elite were no longer in stock, & so I had to get a different shoe, and pay around Rs3000 on top, since the sales are over.

So, with some regret – it’s out with the Z Strike & in with One Distance 2.0

Reebok_6827

I did my first run in these shoes this morning, and first impressions?

I like them.  A lot.

I like the tag at the back when you put them on:

Reebok_6829

Love the lime green.

Reebok_6763

Reebok_6767

They felt as cushion-y and bouncy and comfortable from the word go as the Z Strike Elite.

Now, though, I shall watch the heels like a hawk, hoping there isn’t a repeat performance.

Has anyone else experienced this?  The inner lining wearing out so quickly?

Reebok right shoe_6442

The store manager suggested it might be because I kept my shoes laced and pushed my feet in and out.

I absolutely don’t, and told him so.  So I actually have no explanation as to why the Z Strike Elite wore out so soon.

Anyway, onwards & upwards as they say – and let’s see how the One Distance 2.0 perform.

I’ll post a follow up review in a few weeks.

Neither Reebok nor the store knew that I blogged and I paid for the shoes myself.

Running in Adidas Ultra Boost

I sadly retired my Adidas Supernova Glide 6 running shoes a month ago –  boy, how I loved those funky colours –  and replaced them with (yet) another pair of Adidas.

Their Ultra Boost.

The ritual “out with the old and in with the new photo” follows, a comparison which always makes me feel sorry for my old, well-loved, slightly battered looking, soon-to-be-discarded shoes.

Actually, rather than feeling sorry for my old shoes, I feel disloyal.

That’s it.

Disloyal, after hundreds of kilometres together.IMG_3388

IMG_3386

The Ultra Boost are every bit as comfy and easy to wear as the Supernova Glide 6, but there is one thing I prefer in the latter – the fact that there is a tongue.

IMG_3391

As opposed to a rounded, moulded shape –  can you see from the photo below, that there isn’t a separate tongue per se?

IMG_3390

It’s purely personal –  I have a high instep, so the tongue fitting is easier to put on.

But that’s it, as far as “criticism” goes, and the lack of a tongue is hardly a criticism, to be honest.

Lovely cushion-y soles:
IMG_3399There is nothing like the first few runs with brand new shoes- you definitely feel as though you have a spring in your step.

IMG_3400

The photo below shoes the difference in the soles of the 2 shoes

IMG_3398

Prime-knit is used and makes for a snug, comfy fit.

Easy lacing

IMG_3394Given the amount I’m running at the moment, these shoes are already well run in, after exactly a month.  I’m taking part in a #100daysofrunning challenge which, for those of you who don’t know Delhi in the summer, is a major challenge.  It is blazingly hot, the rains haven’t yet come, and so this challenge really pushes us all to get out there and run, 43C temperatures notwithstanding.

My first run in these new shoes was exactly a month ago on 4 May and today, 4 June, I have notched up some 235km already.

So, yes, I might only have had these shoes for a month, but I can safely claim that I like them and enjoy running in them.

I bought the shoes myself.

IMG_3404

 

IMG_3382

How good is the Anker Solar Charger?

It’s very good, to answer my own question.

I have nothing but praise for the Anker portable solar charger.

I bought it before I went climbing in the Himalayas 2 summers ago, and it worked brilliantly, charging mobile phones mainly, both mine and my fellow team member’s.  Even though there was no connectivity for most of the climb in Ladakh, it meant I could use my phone to record video clips.

Some days, I attached the charger to my daypack (as in the photo below, which is not mine.  It’s from the internet) & I even charged my phone on the go.  Initially I did worry about the charger getting scratched on boulders (it didn’t, of course).

download (8)

Once we arrived in camp in the afternoons, out would come my charger and it would sit quietly there, as we all unpacked and set up camp.

images (2)

Super impressed and it is now a regular on all outdoors-y type trips, where power could be a problem.

Here are the charger’s vital stats:

anker-solar-charger-14w-2

It has 2 USB charging points.

download (6)

download (7)

It weighs in at 14.7oz / 417g so isn’t a liability in your day pack.

Totally recommended.

No one at Anker knows that I blog.

I paid for the charger myself, and bought it online.  As you can do now:

All the photos are from the internet.

AND…as I was looking for photos online to illustrate this review, I found this one, and learned a useful tip, which will be put to good use later this summer, when I’m back in Himalayas – hurray!

Anker-14W-Dual-Port-Solar-Charger-with-PowerIQ-Technology-0-2

Reviewing the Kalenji hydration backpack

Running in Delhi’s killer summer heat means that hydration is beyond a must.  It is, without exaggeration, a lifesaver.

I usually run with a handheld water bottle, but it doesn’t hold enough for the searing temperatures these days, so I have switched to using my Kalenji 2L backpack, and what an all round improvement.

Firstly, I have way more water available, but almost as importantly, because I’m not gripping a bottle, I am running more relaxed.

I set out every morning at about 5.30/5.45 at which time I don’t need my cap, so into the pack it goes.

A small snack – inside the pack.

My mobile phone goes into a zipped compartment, accessible from both sides, and the head-phones have their own exit.  Way safer than having the phone in my hand.

Can’t think why I haven’t been using this backpack every day.  Certainly makes for more streamlined running.

Totally recommended.

61oFgTcL18L._SY355_

41iFiaYD1uL

I bought the backpack myself, and told no one that I blog.

Actually I lie. Technically, one of my running group, Samiksha Mehra, bought it for me from Decathlon in NOIDA. (All of which is to say that no one had/has any idea that I blog!)


In love with my T10 sports polo

Since I started running 2 1/2 years ago, I have acquired quite a collection of T shirts.  As one does.

Races, promotional runs, fun runs, our running club –  many of these events come with a T shirt.

t10sports in Gurgaon, just over the border from Delhi, makes Tshirts, fleeces, running jerseys, cycling shorts – pretty much all the essentials for sports, clothes-wise.  Caps, jerseys, polos, corporate gifts –  they are the go to people.

We used t10sports when we had our running group Ts made, with custom printing, logos, names etc, and the works was done quickly and efficiently.

I was lucky enough to win a voucher for a free personalised shirt from them in the recent Women’s Day 10km and opted this time for a polo, the first I’ve had from them.

I really like the fact that their polos are designed for women, meaning the cut and the sleeves are different and better suited to our body shape.  Mine was comfy from the first time I wore it.

IMG_1135

Nice cotton, and I really like the striped inset (below).

IMG_1158

Detail of the buttons.

IMG_1159

Check out their website for prices and sizes.

Prompt, efficient service.

Recommended.

I didn’t pay for this polo, since I won it as a prize, but we all paid for our running group Ts, and t10sports has no idea that I blog or write reviews.

Taking my Adidas Climachill Cosmic Boost shoes on safari in Africa

I am still totally in love with my Adidas Climachill Cosmic Boost shoes but, tragically, they are now officially finished.

Finito.

Dead.

Khatm.

Well, that’s if I choose to believe the doleful message from mapmyrun.com received 2 weeks ago :

Untitled 4

I ignored them, continued with my #dailyrunning and now I’ve clocked up 720km, meaning I am technically “in the red”, as it were :

IMG_4751

But, as an aside, not half as much “in the red” as I am with my alternate shoes, my “old” Adidas Energy Boost:

IMG_4752

Yikes –  546 km OVER the recommended usage…time to go shopping, quite clearly.

But, yes, back to Africa.

We have just got back from a brilliant trip to South Africa, where I ran ever day, and where my shoes had a couple of fun moments.

We stayed at a friend’s game farm, about 4 hours north of Johannesburg, and since the farm does not have lion, elephant or rhino, it was deemed safe for me to go running in the bush, which was stupendous.  Watch out for rhino, I was told.  And leopard.  But otherwise, no problem.  And so I went for long solitary runs through the bush.IMG_3301

One morning, as we all set off in the Landrover for our early morning game drive, my running tracks from the previous evening were still clearly visible, and so our host suggested we try and identify the pug marks of the wildlife that had walked down the same track after me.   So we all hopped off the Landie and started spotting.

Here, you can clearly see the Adidas logo, and that a blade of straw has found its way on top of my footprint.

IMG_3358

Enough critters had wandered over my footprints…impala…baboon…wild boar.

All pretty exciting.

And then…no, that couldn’t really be a leopard’s pug mark, could it?

Yes it most definitely could 🙂

How exciting to think that during the night a leopard had walked in my footsteps.  Actually, he had walked over my footsteps.IMG_3356

But my shoes’ African adventures were not yet over.

The next week saw us in a friend’s fishing estate in the hills around Lydenburg.

Joy of joys, the estate manager has a tame meerkat, who is cute as a button and super friendly.

And this lil chap fell seriously in love with my shoes.

All that webbing!  He sniffed and poked and clawed away –  in the wild, they grub for food with their long (sharp) nails, so my shoes presented lots of temptation for him.

IMG_3913

Some times, we sat in companionable silence, while he rested from checking out my shoes.

IMG_3862

IMG_3858

Another day, he checked out my socks with great interest.

IMG_3859

And yet another morning, when I knelt down to try and take a low-level photo of him, he pounced upon the soles of my shoes with great glee, since things do indeed get wedged in the holes, and I could feel him happily scratching and scraping away.

After a while, perhaps tired from all that exercise with my shoes, he scrambled onto my knees, and settled down for a nap.

Now how special is that?South Africa_Finsbury_3377

One thing is for sure –  all this African excitement sure beats pounding the streets of Delhi every day.