Wild Wilderness


After pulling off the main road running north from Loomis, Washington, my friend Kevin found himself white knuckling the steering wheel of his Subaru Outback, traversing a slanted, precipitous, dirt mountainside path. We spent the next hour weaving through a labyrinth of unmarked roads searching for the trailhead. Luckily, I’d downloaded a map of the area, and was able to help navigate the matrix of backcountry roads. This was our first fastpacking foray into Washington’s remote Pasayten Wilderness, and it seemed the Pasayten wasn’t going to give up her secrets easily.

Offering up about 600 miles of trail, the Pasayten is home to the most remote wilderness in Washington, and is one of the few areas in the lower-48 to feature arctic-tundra-type terrain. Black bears, moose and bighorn sheep inhabit the area, while wolves and grizzlies occasionally move through. People and water sources are scarce. It was irresistible.

“You realize we may get snow and wake up one morning to find the trail gone, right?” I said to break the driving tension.

“Yeah, but the larches are going to be blooming and the mosquitos will be nonexistent!” said Kevin, optimistically.


Kevin Pazaski and I met several years ago during a local group trail run in our hometown of Sammamish, Washington, and have been scheming up fastpacking trips ever since. Our mutual love for the mountains, an appreciation for adventure and a shared (slightly mischievous) sense of humor have created a lasting bond. We’ve logged miles in the North Cascades, the Olympics and the Sawtooth Range.

Our intended route in the Pasayten was the 60-mile Cathedral Pass Loop. At the trailhead, we buckled our packs, which weighed in around 20 pounds with food and water included, and soon found ourselves surrounded by golden alpine meadows punctuated by groves of yellow larch trees. Gently sloping rocky mountain tops began to emerge all around, offset by high meadows.

“This place is an alpine wonderland!” I exclaimed. “You could run forever in any direction, and those peaks actually look runnable.”

“We’ve got miles to cover, buddy, but, yeah, this place is definitely worthy.”

Just beyond Horseshoe Basin, we came to the Pasayten’s famous Boundary Trail, which spans the northern edge of Washington and is actually just one section of the 1,200-mile Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail.

Approaching Teapot Dome, we passed several small streams and spotted a nice clearing just off the trail for our first camp. We took advantage of the lifted fire restrictions, and enjoyed a steady campfire that evening.

Up and at ’em early the next morning, we prepared for a 50K day, with a feast of eggs, granola and coffee. We enjoyed six-and-a-half miles of gently rolling singletrack on the way toward the long-abandoned Tungsten Mine cabins. At this peculiar outpost, we were struck by the manmade feature in the middle of this remote wilderness. Thousands of Boy Scouts had clearly preceeded us, and had carved their names into the cabins’ ancient logs.

Not long after leaving the Tungsten Mine, mountain vistas really opened up and we were treated to our first views of Cathedral Peak from Apex Pass. Sharp granite peaks punctuated  the horizon, while larch and fallen boulders provided a stunning visual foreground.

Fleeing a quickly materializing snowstorm, we descended 13 miles through an evergreen forest, where we settled in for our second night.

Moving again the next morning, we started a climb toward Topaz Mountain and Windy Peak, as the trail bobbed and weaved just below rocky outcroppings.

With a bit of sadness but a great deal of satisfaction, we began our descent from the high country. Just one short climb at the end of the route and we were back to the trail we’d started on two days before.


Ben Luedke is a trail runner, gear tester, photographer and psychotherapist living in Sammamish, Washington. You can follow him on Instagram at @cascaderunner.

First Look: Run Gum

Run Gum

Price: $2 per pack or $23 per 12 pack

Flavors: Cinnamon, Mint, Fruit

Run Gum is chewing gum with caffeine, taurine and B vitamins. Designed for athletes, Run Gum comes in a two-piece, waterproof packet and each piece looks similar to a Nuun hydration tablet.

According to Run Gum, you only need 10 minutes of chewing to get the sublingual benefit. In that time, you’ll absorb:

50 mg of caffeine (same as half a cup O’ Joe)
20 mg of taurine (a conditional amino acid)
2.2 mg of vitamin B 6
3 mcg of vitamin B 12

Once you get beyond the initial chalky texture, the gum chews like a regular old piece of piece of Double Bubble. On cold days, it may break into pieces, but congeals with a bit of chomping.

Of the flavors, cinnamon tasted truest. The company is currently working on gaining funding to increase the caffeine strength so that one tablet will contain 100 mg of caffeine to keep you amped for your next 100-miler or simply staying alert at your desk come 3:30 in the afternoon.

A word of caution: this gum is easy to mindlessly pop in your mouth and this reviewer has already spent the wee hours of the morning staring at the ceiling wondering where the new insomnia had come from. It really works!

Buy Now

Megan Janssen is the Assistant Editor of Trail Runner, and  is looking forward to getting some sleep.



First Look: Orange Mud Gear Vest 2L V2.0

Orange Mud Hydration/Gear Vest 2L 2.0

Weight: 8.9 oz (without bladder); 43.9 oz (with full bladder)

Price: $110

The Orange Mud Gear Vest 2L has a lot of great features working in its favor: innovative nutrition storage, snug front hydration pockets that are sizable but not cumbersome, easy-access trash storage, posterior shock cords for additional layers and nimble straps.

If you’ve never run with an Orange Mud vest, the design might seem counterintuitive. It doesn’t have mesh pockets along the ribcage that are common in many hydration vests; it’s one-size-fits-all and the nutrition pockets on the front look like they’re upside down (but they’re not; they’re just clever!). After running in the Orange Mud Gear Vest, however, it’s clear that the front pockets provide ample storage (enough for 600ml flasks) as well as space for a phone, sunglasses, keys and other accessories.

The nutrition pockets, situated on the shoulders, open downward, toward your torso. The Velcro closures keep gels, bars, waffles, etc. from sliding out and grabbing calories mid-stride is made simple by reaching up and across your chest.

The one-size feature may be problematic for folks on the far ends of the bell curve, however the front buckles and elastic sternum sliders allow plenty of room for adjusting (and feature an emergency whistle!). The side straps are easy to operate as well.

The pack is equipped with a 1L bladder that nests in the back pocket and hose management is effective and easy. There is some turbulence with the pack when carrying 300ml soft bottles and a full 1L bladder. If it suits you, leave the bladder at home and use the posterior stash for your preferred hydration and still store a layer, hat, gloves, emergency blanket, etc.

This pack is suited for long treks that necessitate ample gear.

Buy Now

Jeff Colt, an avid mountain runner, lives in Carbondale, Colorado. He seeks trails, tele turns, freshly baked bread and high mountain huts. 

Reviewer Jeff Colt
Reviewer Jeff Colt


The Fierce Female Field of the 2018 Chuckanut 50K

Krissy Moehl, recent winner of the Mount Gaoligong Ultramarathon in China, came home with about a week to finish setting up the Chuckanut 50K in Bellingham, Washington, which she race directs. The Chuckanut, which took place March 17, has become a springtime classic because of the rugged Pacific Northwestern trails, the robust trail community of Bellingham and no doubt Krissy’s elite status.

“The run is really well supported by the whole Bellingham community,” she says. “We had 20 states represented, 100 people from Canada and lots of locals as well. Our local brewery, Wander Brewing, hosted an after party.”

The entrant list increased this year from 300 to 500, stacking the field for both men and women, but the women’s competition has become especially competitive over the years at the Chuckanut. 

Several previous top female contenders were back for this year’s race: Anne-Marie Madden, who placed fourth in 2015 and second in 2016; Maria Dalzot, who took fifth in 2017 and the dominant Ellie Greenwood who has won Chuckanut five times: 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016. A couple of new arrivals stirred the pot as well: Gina Slaby has tagged the podiums at 11 of her 12 most recent races and Keely Henninger won the Black Canyon 60K, Beginner’s Luck 55K, the Mount Hood 50-Miler and placed fourth at UTMB.

“The depth of the women’s field gets deeper every year,” says Dalzot, 29, of Bellingham, Washington, who has won the female title at 12 of the last 18 trail races she’s entered. “A good [Chuckanut] race for me could mean barely breaking the top 10.”

While the women’s race took the headlines, the men’s race also featured a super-strong field. In the end, Cole Watson, 26, of Ashland, Oregon, finished in 3:36, followed by Patrick Smyth, 31, of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 3:40, Paddy O’Leary, 30, of San Francisco, California, in 3:47 and David Laney, 29, of Ashland, Oregon, in 3:48.

In a nod to the increasingly competitive women’s race, says Watson, “What stands out to me after looking over previous years’ results is the growing number of women finishing higher up in the overall standings.”

2018 Chuckanut 50k
Maria Dalzot was among the deep women’s field at the Chuckanut 50. Photo by Tad Davis

See Ya, Sister!

Excited for the race, Dalzot was happy to see clear skies, remembering last year’s mud fest. However, only three miles in, she was bogged down with a leg-injury flare-up, making the remaining 29-ish miles of the race a veritable slog.

“Because the women’s field was so deep, I was constantly trading places with some of the top women, especially Kathryn Drew, whom I leapfrogged with multiple times.” Drew would eventually finish fifth in 4:32.

At the start of the final, three-mile descent, somebody yelled out, “Great job, Ellie!” Dalzot thought she had been mistaken for Ellie Greenwood, one of her trail heroes. She quickly realized that Greenwood, 39, of Vancouver, British Columbia, was actually hot on her tail. “She soon screamed by me in classic Ellie fashion. I never had so much fun getting passed by somebody in a race.” Greenwood placed fourth in 4:28 and Dalzot placed sixth in 4:35.


Slaby Slays

Gina Slaby, 36, of Seabeck, Washington, describes the course as “very runnable, with a few miles of technical terrain and steep climbs. It plays well to the speedy marathon runners that have put in some time on the mountains.”

Her explanation would be cogent, except that it’s like Wonder Woman illustrating the ease of lifting a stranded ocean liner. In addition to her recent wins, Slaby held the 100-Mile World Record in 2017 until usurped by Camille Herron last November.

“What makes it tough,” she says, “is the speed that it can be run at. You should be running most of the climbs—Chinscraper [a particularly grueling climb] might be the exception—and hammering the downs. After some marathon and track adventures at the start of 2018, a lot of my preparation for Chuckanut included long runs in the mountains and hill workouts each week in order to get my legs fine tuned.” Her execution went well, despite major cramping toward the end. She was able to hang on and finish third in 4:28.

Keely Henninger on a fast section of the 2018 Chuckanut 50K. Photo by Pat Werhane

This Girl Is on Fire

Stumpy’s Marathon, in the hills of Delaware, was Keely Henninger’s first trail race. It was shortly after she had graduated college, in 2014, and she had very little running base. Her boyfriend at the time convinced her to sign up for the race, telling her it was a half-marathon, and little else. When she arrived, she learned it was a full marathon and that no water would be provided. She used her Dunkin’ Donuts mug from the morning to carry water. Then she won outright.

Since then, Henninger, 25, of Portland, Oregon, has gone full speed ahead into trail racing. Being a basketball player in college, she has maintained her ultra-competitive spirit. She had a goal to break the course record for the Chuckanut, but figured she could settle with winning. She kept her eyes on the strong women with whom she was toeing the line, particularly Madden, 37, of Vancouver, British Columbia. Madden is a Northwestern powerhouse; all of her finishes listed on Ultrasignup are sixth place or better. Henninger logged 6:30s for the first six miles and picked off runners one by one until she knew she was in the lead.

Just before “Chinscraper, I was running with some guys,” says Henninger, “and noticed one of them ahead hiking the climb. I decided to make myself run it and put about two and a half minutes between me and Madden.”

Henninger broke the rest of the race into 10-minute tempos and kept it up until she claimed the win with a final of 4:07. Madden finished eight minutes later, meeting her paramount goal for the day: a personal best.

Next up for Henninger is the Lake Sonoma 50 on Saturday, April 14th. Lake Sonoma is a Golden Ticket race on challenging, dry California terrain, 86 percent of which is singletrack.

In her last attempt at the race, she dislocated her shoulder in a fall. She simply put the shoulder back in place and carried on for nearly 17 miles before she became delirious and had to drop.


—Megan Janssen is the Assistant Editor at Trail Runner, and hopes to be mistaken for Ellie Greenwood one day.


Film: Never Die Easy—Finding the Most Elusive Man in North America

Filmmakers Adam Maruniak and Justin Pelletier go in search of the legendary Dag Aabye, 76. A ghost of sorts, he is rarely seen, and difficult to track down, as these filmmakers found out. Living in a bus off the grid in the forest of British Columbia, he lives a simple life. His passion is building and running trails. For the last 10 years, he has competed in the 128K Death Race in the Canadian Rockies, and is the oldest person to have finished the race.


First Look: Epson ProSense 307

Epson ProSense 307 GPS Watch

Weight: 1.8 oz

Price: $250

The Epson 307 is part of Epson’s ProSense line-up. Falling in the middle of the pack, between simple and advanced, it may be the Goldilocks of the five ProSense options: it’s a minimal-profile watch with full functionality including: GPS tracking, sport-specific workout functions (including running, swimming, cycling and daily activities) and a wrist-based heart-rate monitor.

The 307 is intuitive and easier to set up than other smart watches. Still, after opening, spend some time with the manual.

It took about an hour and a half to fully charge the battery for this reviewer, and, once charged, it lasted three full days with two GPS workouts before needing another charge.

This watch is best for those focused on cross-training and workout-specific goals rather than geo-junkies. This watch is map-less and doesn’t connect to third-party trackers (though the app does once connected to a smartphone).

The best parts of this watch are that it is inexpensive for a full-function GPS watch (on sale right now for $200, down from $250), has long battery life, is small and lightweight, has accurate work-out tracking and features a stopwatch.

—Tim Nooney runs 60 miles per week, typically with a new piece of gear that Trail Runner makes him take along and review.

Alleviating Back Pain for Trail Runners

When you think of trail-running injuries, the following may come to mind: bloody toes, stiff hamstrings, runner’s knee and bruised egos. But it’s not just our legs that are taking the brunt of our hill repeats. We often forget about the importance of core stabilization, shoulder stability and spinal health.

If you watch a pro in a race, his or her upper back and shoulders are solid and there isn’t much sway (other than the natural curve) in the lower spine (that is, until after mile 60. After that, all bets are off). Healthy runners focus on maintaining control in their upper body just as much as building strength in their legs and feet; a strong and controlled upper body helps support the lower body and guides the runner to stronger form.

Running with a sore, or even just a stiff back can make a workout unbearable. Many runners also struggle with sciatic pain (the nerve that exits from L5 and extends through the pelvis and down the leg and into the foot) which can be caused from myriad issues from bulging discs to aggravated hip flexors and psoas muscles.

Incorporate the exercises below into your regular workout to help alleviate any existing pain and to prevent yourself from tweaking your back in the future.


Target: Back and shoulders
Use: Strength

How to: Lie on your stomach and reach your arms in front of you. Separate your feet so that they’re a few inches apart. As you breathe in, engage your abdominals and lift your chest, arms and legs off the ground. Keep your gaze down to the ground to protect your neck. Lower your limbs down as you exhale. Do 3 sets of 20-30 reps.


Seated forward folds
Target: Low back and hips
Use: Stretch

How to: Sit on the ground and extend your legs in front of you. Leading with your chest, lower your torso toward your legs and rest your arms alongside, or on top of your legs. Let your head be heavy and relax your shoulders. Hold for 2 to 5 minutes to really help the spine lengthen and allow for the stretch to get into your hips and hamstrings.

NOTE: If you suffer from a posterior bulging or herniated disc, this stretch may not be for you. Consult a physician for beneficial stretches.


Lacrosse ball hips
Target: Hips
Use: Release hips and low-back pain

How to: Lie on your back with your feet on the floor and knees up. Cross your right ankle over the left thigh, so your right knee is out to the right side. Put a lacrosse ball or tennis ball under your right glute and gently roll around until you feel sensation—when you hit a knot or a tight spot you’ll feel it right away. Pause in this position until the sensation starts to subside, and then keep moving around until you find the next sore spot. Make sure to breathe!

This one is really good for anyone with low-back pain, especially sciatica. The muscles in our hips, glutes and hamstrings are all connected to our low back, so, by releasing those big tension spots, our backs automatically feel better. Move around until you no longer feel any points of tension then move on to the next side.


Target: Core
Use: Strength

How to: Start on hands and knees, then lower onto your forearms and keep your shoulders stacked over your elbows. Step your feet back, staying up on your toes. Engage your legs and pull your belly button towards your spine. Remember to breathe! Hold for 30 seconds to start, then work your way up to one minute, and so on.

An alternative is to come up onto your hands for the hold, with the shoulders over the wrists. You can also take your knees onto the ground for a bit more support.


Legs Up The Wall
Target: Low back
Use: Stretch and restore

How to: Find a bare spot on the wall and lie down with one hip and shoulder against the wall. Then swing your legs up the wall as you pivot on your hips. You want your bottom to be as close to the wall as possible. Your legs are straight (a slight bend in the knee is OK) and heels against the wall.

This is a good alternative to a forward fold stretch as it allows the low back and hips to lengthen, and release tension. It may be more comfortable to place a pillow or folded towel under your hips if they are tight. Rest in this position for 2 to 10 minutes.


Supine Twists
Target: Spine
Use: Stretch

How to: Lie on your back and pull your knees into your chest. Take your arms out to the side, like a T. Inhale here, then as you exhale, drop the knees over to the right. You can rest your gaze to the ceiling or to either the left or right side, whichever position is most comfortable for your neck.

Place a pillow or towel under your knees to support them if they don’t reach the floor. Hold here for 1 to 3 minutes, then roll onto your back and take the knees to the left side. This twist helps to release tension in the spine and the muscles that hold it together. It can also be beneficial for anyone with sciatic pain or who works at a desk.


—Meaghan Archer is a runner, yoga instructor, and wellness blogger from Canada’s Okanagan Valley. When she’s not on her mat or out running, you can find her in the kitchen whipping up healthy eats. 

Why It’s OK to Take Time Off from Running

Fitness sometimes feels like an enigma. What makes you fast or slow or strong or weak? A lot of the time, runners aren’t exactly sure. When faced with unanswered questions, it’s easy to default to human nature and fall back on superstition. It’s like when baseball players don’t understand why they hit home runs sometimes and strikeout others, so they wear the same underwear for a 162-game season.

As a coach, I think the most dangerous superstition of all is one that lurks in the back of almost every runner’s mind. I must not take time off or I will get slow.

The detraining superstition may cause a runner to push too far, not take time off when they are faced with an injury scare or run through extreme stress. One scenario that arises over and over is when an athlete has a little niggle in their leg but has a race upcoming. Should the athlete take time off, or push through it?

That question is not a hypothetical. On Saturday, March 3, Keely Henninger, a biomechanics expert at Nike and top trail runner, felt some pain in her lower leg. Her big early season race, the Chuckanut 50K, was just two weeks away. She should push through it, right?


Photo by Pat Werhane. Henninger, finishing first at the Chuckanut 50k

Keely is an expert in this area, so she didn’t rely on fitness superstition. Instead, she knew she could take time off without losing much at all. So she rested all the way to the following Friday, five days without running. She built back carefully over the following week, then won Chuckanut this past Saturday in a blazing-fast time.

Getting over the training superstition and getting comfortable with needed breaks requires an understanding of what changes with time off. There are three general things to think about.


Aerobic-System Changes

Even if you feel like a whale with asthma after a few days off, there is little change in your aerobic capacity with short breaks. Studies show VO2 max doesn’t really decrease until seven to 10 days off. There are some losses after (anywhere from five percent at two weeks to close to 20 percent at eight to 10 weeks, with minor variation across studies), but those can be reversed pretty quickly with training.

The general rule is that it’s easier to get back to where you were than it was to get there the first time, which likely has lots of fun physiological explanations ranging from epigenetics (changes in gene expression) to neuromuscular efficiency to capillary/mitochondrial density.

The takeaway is that your engine will still be ready after you spend some time idling in the parking lot.


Blood-Volume Reduction

What explains the changes after seven to 10 days? The likely culprit is a reduction in blood-plasma volume, essentially from the liquid content in your blood going down, as explained in this 2007 review from the American Journal of the Medical Sciences. A seminal study from the 1980s in the Journal of Applied Physiology found blood-volume reductions of five to 12 percent after just a few days of inactivity. So the heart has less blood to pump, cardiac stroke output decreases and working muscles have less fuel to snarf up. Rats!

There is a silver lining—blood volume bounces back quickly with training. That explains part of why you feel like a bucket of wet noodles after a few days off, but back to having delicious al dente legs soon after. The takeaway is that your blood volume will be back in action quickly, even though you probably don’t want to jump right back into hard training or racing immediately after a few days or more off.


Metabolic and Muscle Changes

With time off, respiratory-exchange ratio (oxygen consumed over carbon dioxide produced) rises, corresponding with less-efficient fat burning. At the same time, glycogen uptake is impaired. Slow-twitch muscle fibers become less predominant and lactate accumulates more rapidly. Capillary density and oxidative enzymes are reduced. As Ghostbusters said, it’s “dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!” (broken down in this 2000 study from the journal Sports Medicine).

So your gas mileage goes from Tesla to semi-truck. But take heart! Most metabolic adaptations don’t start until around a week and respond quickly to training.

That’s not all, folks. There could be some other factors that decrease performance that aren’t reflected in these studies. For example, the good type of muscle tension that makes your legs feel like coiled springs could go down, making you feel flat. You could drown your sorrows in 10 pints of ice cream a day, leading to weight gain. There may be neuromuscular changes that reduce running economy for some athletes.

Legendary coach Jack Daniels summarizes all these physiological variables in his helpful VDOT metric, providing a proxy for fitness change with time off.

Up to 5 days off: no change

7 days off: 0.6% change

14 days off: 2.7% change

28 days off: 6.9% change

So short breaks don’t change fitness much at all, plus there could be big benefits. A few days on your butt could heal muscles, balance hormonal fluctuations from hard training and stoke the motivation fire. After a short time off, you may even be stronger than you were in ancient times (a few days prior) when you were able to run.


Building Back

Don’t immediately jump back into training, but ease back with an emphasis on reversing any minor detraining. If you’re out for weeks, start with lots of easy running. If it’s a short time, like the five days Keely took off, you can come back a bit more quickly. Keely’s training looked like this:

Saturday: 20 miles

Sunday: rest

Monday: rest

Tuesday: rest

Wednesday: rest

Thursday: rest

Friday: 6 miles easy

Saturday: 11 miles easy

Sunday: 14 miles easy with a 20-minute moderate climb

Monday: 8 miles easy with 4 x 30-second hill strides

Tuesday: 3 miles easy with a few strides, 3 miles moderate, 3 miles easy with 4 x 30 seconds fast/30 seconds easy

Wednesday: 6 miles easy

Thursday: rest

Friday: 5 miles easy with 4 x 30 seconds fast/30 seconds easy

Saturday: Chuckanut 50K for the win!

Keely started with some easy running to rebuild blood volume, did some short efforts to get the feel again and regain any minor reductions in aerobic capacity, then tapered for the race (relative to her normal high-volume training).

So when in doubt, be like Keely (a good general rule). It’s OK to take time off. You won’t lose anything, and what you do lose bounces back really quickly. Some rest now may lead to your best later.


David Roche runs for HOKA One One and NATHAN, and works with runners of all abilities through his coaching service, Some Work, All Play.


Weekend Trail-Running Gear Round Up

The SEO 7R headlamp by Led Lenser

First Look: Ledlenser SEO 7R

Weight: 3.2 oz

MSRP: $90

Lumens: 20-220

The first thing I noticed when I took the Ledlenser SEO 7R out of the box was how light it was. And while running, the beam did not bob up and down, nor the fit was secure, required no mid-run adjustment.

With it maxed at 220 lumens, the lamp casts a wide, bright beam. The multiple settings allows you to change the beam intensity depending on the situation and location (you don’t want to blast the neighbors with such a bright light, but you certainly appreciate it on darker trails or while cruising down the shoulder of a highway).

This headlamp has two impressive features and settings that stand out. The first is the Advanced Focus System technology, which gives you the ability to adjust the beam radius (by turning a circular silver knob on the front), allowing you to switch between a long-distance focused beam to a broader, softer beam for looking at closer items (like maps, phones, etc.). The second is Ledlenser’s OPTISENSE-technology setting, which senses existing light around you and adjusts the beam automatically, tailoring to the surroundings. 

Other features include the ability to switch between full power to “power-saving” mode, signal strobe and red-light mode.

The rechargeable battery is environmentally friendly and cost efficient.

—Jacky Thompson is an avid mountain and desert trail runner. When she isn’t rock climbing, running, foraging or frolicking outside, she can be found practicing yoga and playing music.


Running headlamp
The Neo headlamp line by Ledlenser

First Look: Ledlenser NEO Headlamp

Weight: 2.0 oz

Lumens: 20-90

MSRP: $25

The NEO headlamp is my kind of headlamp—minimalist, straightforward, light, bright and… did I say light? At just under 2 oz, it’s barely noticeable. With the battery housing (three AAA batteries) in the back, the headlamp avoids unwanted bob and offers a balanced feel .

The bulb is fixed in a slight downward angle and is not adjustable. There are three settings: 90 lumens, 20 lumens and flashing-90 lumens, making this the ideal minimalist headlamp.

With a thin, soft-foam pad backing the bulb casing, the headlamp is  comfortable, and will soak up the sweat. Moonlight run, anyone?

Megan Janssen is the Assistant Editor of Trail Runner.


The Lycan by La Sportiva

First Look: La Sportiva Lycan

Weight: 9.3 oz, size 8.5 / 41

Drop: 6mm

Stack height: 18mm heel, 12mm toe

Price: $115

The new Lycan by La Sportiva raised immediate interest around the Trail Runner office, with its bright-blue midsole, bold SPORTIVA logo, black mesh upper, techy overlays and matching blue laces. Out of the box, the fit was comfortable with a roomy toebox and cushy mesh upper. It runs about a half size small, which is typical for many people in La Sportiva shoes.

The shoe has a bit of an exoskeleton design, leaving a uniform, almost seamless inner. This feature seemingly decreases blister potential on long runs that involve quick transitions over various terrain like rocks, sand, slickrock and trail. The lacing system locks in the fit and accommodated this tester’s high-instep well. 

The midsole is pronounced, cushioned and protective. The relatively low-profile outsole lugs provide security, and the practically seamless inner is excellent.

Mike Benge is the Editor of Trail Runner Magazine.


First Look: Smartwool: PhD Run Ultra Light Micro Socks

Material: 49% Merino Wool, 47% Nylon, 4% Elastane

MSRP: $16

My first impression of the PhD was that the toe and heel padding was thick compared to other running socks. However, once I put them on I didn’t notice any bulkiness, and I enjoyed having the extra padding on my toes and heels without experiencing any seam blisters or loss of circulation. If your running shoes have a tight toe box, however, the extra padding may become an issue.

Smartwool’s blend of wool and nylon is exceptionally soft and comfortable. These socks are stretchy, stay in place and even prevented my feet from feeling soggy or sweaty after an hour of running. Bonus points for not getting stinky, either.

—Jacky Thompson is an avid mountain and desert trail runner. When she isn’t rock climbing, running, foraging or frolicking outside in some way, she can be found practicing yoga and playing music.


First Look: Fits: Compression Wool Socks

Material: 49% Super-Fine Merino Wool,  37% Nylon, 10% Polyester, 4% Lyrica

MSRP: $30

Fits Compression Socks are super cozy and gentle. It was strange to wear a wool compression sock, but these were cozy and non aggressive. The compression is comfortable, yet gentle. Along with my foam roller, these are a go-to recovery tool after long days and hill repeats. These socks hug every curve of the foot and calf with no slippage even after extended use. I wore these for hours after a difficult, calf-intensive run and forgot I even had them on. They kept circulation going as well, so my feet didn’t get cold. 

—Tim Nooney runs 60 miles per week, typically with a new piece of gear that Trail Runner makes him take along and review.


First Look: Lorpen: T3 Trail-Running Ultralight Socks

Material: 40% Coolmax, 35% Tencel, 15% Nylon, 10% Lycra

MSRP: $14

The first things I noticed with the Lorpen Trail-Running Ultralight T3— a minimalist, thin sock—were the additional support through the arch and the molded feel of the sock. The arch support comes from the sock’s stabilizer wrap and (what I thought, at first, was just a sock pattern) functionally designed areas of support and protection.

The Lorpen “Dynamic Line” wraps around the heel forward, creating the molded feel. The colored circles over the ankle also provide extra protection of that tender area while dodging obstacles on the trail. These socks kept my feet extra dry on a sloppy day, in part due to the “shorty” height.

Megan Janssen is the Assistant Editor at Trail Runner.


First Look: Injinji Midweight Trail Crew

Material: 39% Coolmax, 58% Nylon, 3% Lycra

MSRP: $15

The first thing that comes to mind for many folks looking at toe socks is, “That it is going to take forever to put on my feet!” However, put your concerns to rest. These socks are awesome, and it doesn’t take that long to fit all your toes in them.

Once on your feet, these Injinji socks feel a little foreign if you are not accustomed to having material in between your toes. This may take some getting used to, but it’s worth it. They are totally seamless and soft, and  limited blister potential. The mid-weight style is great for the springtime, where the mornings are still brisk and a little extra warmth is needed.

—Jacky Thompson is an avid mountain and desert trail runner. When she isn’t rock climbing, running, foraging or frolicking outside in some way, she can be found practicing yoga and playing music.


First Look: Darn Tough Vertex No Show Tab Ultra-Light Cool Max

Material: 54% Nylon, 40% Coolmax Polyester, 6% Lycra

MSRP: $15

The Darn Tough Vertex sock is perfect for those who want soft support and mid-weight cushion. I keep my closet well stocked with Darn Tough socks, because they last forever. If I’m headed out for the weekend and don’t know the conditions, the new Vertex are my new go-to sock. The name of this sock has more weight than the actual sock and I’m a fan of the no-show height, which allows my ankles to stay cool. Despite the short height, the tab in the back keeps them from slipping below your heel pocket. 

Megan Janssen is the Assistant Editor at Trail Runner.


Salewa Ultra Train 2 Shoe

First Look: Salewa Ultra Train 2

Weight: 11.04 oz

Heel-to-toe drop: 8mm

MSRP: $139

The Salewa Ultra Train 2 is a very supportive, comfortable, all-terrain shoe, and a significant improvement over its predecessor, the Ultra Train. At first glance, the shoe seemed a bit stiff, with its supportive Michelin OCX outsole, 3F System that cinches the upper, arch and heel with one pull of the laces and stretch gaiters. However, on the trail, the shoe felt immediately comfortable.

On a Colorado springtime run—i.e. snowy, muddy, slippery—the Ultra Train 2 kept my feet warm and dry and held fast on all surfaces. Despite the aggressive tread, the mud sloughed off easily and the gaiters kept the dirt out.

Back at the trailhead, I encountered a fellow recreationalist who needed help getting his car unstuck from a bank of snow, ice and mud. As my face and shoulders got splattered with mud from his squealing tires, I couldn’t help but notice the shoes’ grip and support.

If you have a wide foot, these may not be the best fit. Otherwise, these rugged Salewas are great springtime, all-weather companions.

Megan Janssen is the Assistant Editor at Trail Runner

Music Video: Good to Be Alive, by David Rosales

David Rosales, 36, a singer-songwriter based in Huntington Beach, California, plays an ode to trail running in his new song “Good to Be Alive” from his latest album Brave Ones, to be released April 27, 2018.

David talked with Trail Runner about his journey as an artist and athlete, and what trail running means to him.

What came first, the trail runner or the musician?

I was running in the hills I grew up in as a kid before I picked up a guitar. But, the spirit for both have been side-by-side the whole time.

I’m an incredibly competitive person, almost to a fault. I’ve played sports my whole life, from football and baseball to surfing and snowboarding. And as I’ve gotten older, the opportunities for healthy competition have become increasingly limited.

This unhealthy competitive spirit began to seep its way into my music. Essentially, my whole approach to my art was askew. Art shouldn’t be competitive, and it was bumming me out. I decided to sign up for a trail race in the Santa Monica Mountains with a couple friends to try to channel that energy elsewhere.

I started training my body and mind. I just fell in love with this new world and community. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made a ton of mistakes along the way—everything from running without a headlamp at dusk, which led to stepping in a hole and spraining my ankle, to looking down at an app on my phone to start a race and stepping in another hole leading to the same swollen result. Pushing too hard and too fast leading to Achilles overuse, check. Not hydrating enough, check. You name it, I probably did it.

Anyway, I finished that first race. I had a blast competing and channeling that spirit into healthy competition both with myself and others. It’s been fun to see the progress from my first race to where I am now, having recently completed my second ultra distance on Catalina Island (the Avalon Benefit 50K) with a first-place, age-group finish … not bad for a kid with asthma.


Photo by Jeff Curtis

How has trail running inspired you?

Trail running has become a huge inspiration for me as a songwriter.  So much so that I actually wrote a song about my experience and love for it.  It’s one of those songs that came pouring out one night.


Is running a part of your creative process

I would say it is, but not in the way that most would think. When I’m flying down the trail or grinding up a hill, I’m not trying to write the next hit. I don’t even run with earbuds as I get far too distracted. When I’m out there, I get away from everything. I clear my head and listen to my breathing and feel my body. I’m having little conversations with myself and I’m completely in the moment.

It’s this meditation that I go through, so that when my legs stop moving and my heart rate comes back down to resting … this wild spirit is tamed and I can focus.


Are there other ways trail running has affected your life?

I’ve found that trail running is this endless mixed goody bag of invaluable lessons and overarching tools that I can dig into and directly apply to my everyday life. Words like humility, independence, freedom, expression, community, empowerment, perspective, discipline and resolve come to mind.

It’s been a saving grace for me in more than a couple of ways. Other than the obvious energy level boost and beneficial health aspects, trail running has given me patience … having kids did that as well.

The most life-changing impact has been learning to “trust the process.” For example, when I was running 5Ks I never thought I’d be able to run an ultramarathon distance.

This patience that I’ve had to have with my body and the steady build of mental fortitude is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. There is no cheating the miles or a hill. You get exactly out of it what you put in. I truly feel that anything is possible; you just need to put in the work and be patient with the process.


What is it like to live in Los Angeles as a trail runner?

Between growing up in the foothills of Los Angeles, going to college in San Diego and now raising my family in Surf City USA (Huntington Beach) … I’m about as Southern California as you get. I love it here.

California in general, is as diverse as it comes—both with the people and terrain. You really can’t beat the year-round runnable weather here. There’s enough diversity in the natural terrain to keep most anyone happy.


How do you balance your life as a musician, family man and runner?

It’s tough. It takes the right team around you. Fortunately, my wife and children are super supportive, whether it’s for touring or hitting the trails.

When I was single and without kids, I was overflowing with time. Yet, I wasted a lot of it. Now, with the benefit of perspective and experience, I maximize time like crazy. I try and squeeze every last minute out of every day.

It’s exhausting, especially because of the nature of my industry and playing shows into the night. I don’t get half as much sleep as I should, but there’s something about being up before anyone else, lacing up my shoes and slipping out into the quiet of the morning for a run.


Stay tuned for more information on David’s upcoming USA tour, starting in March via his website, Facebook page, instaram or twitter.


When not taking the trails or the stage, David Rosales loves spending time with his wife and two young children.