If you're an endurance athlete who needs a comfortable hydration solution as well as storage, the new Kalenji Bag Trail 5L Hydration Pack is the perfect choice. We give our verdict on this lightweight running hydration bag.
Comfort - 10/10
When running, especially over long distances, you want to be as comfortable as possible and to make sure nothing on you is going to start chafing after a few hours. This hydration vest is very comfortable and secure and does not chafe or rub in any places. It features two adjustable straps to the front to keep it in place and overall it fits very well. The bag doesn't bounce around at all as you run and the straps feature a felt lining which is very comfortable, meaning it doesn't rub your arms if you're wearing a running vest.
Small details really make this hydration bag great, such as grippers to the holders where you place the water bladder mouthpiece so it doesn't move around and stays put during your run. The mouthpiece itself is very easy to use – just twist and drink. This means that even with slippery, sweaty hands you can still access your water! A problem I've struggled with in the past with other hydration vests.
This hydration vest comes with a 1L water bladder which fits easily inside.
Storage - 9/10
For such a low-priced 'basic' product, this hydration pack has a fantastic range of storage options. There are two pockets to the front which you can access easily while you're running. One is designed for a 150ml soft flask but you could put anything small in there – keys, snacks etc. The other front pocket is large enough for a smart phone which means easy access and practicality while running. To the rear of the bag there is a 'kangaroo pouch' which is designed for packing away a running jacket in case you might need it which is brilliant. I use it for a sweat towel because my hands get so sweaty when running in the summer! This is really useful to be able to carry as I hate having wet hands while I'm running and means I can dry off if it starts to rain too.
The pack itself comes with a 1L water bladder which fits perfectly into the space and it's easy to get it in and out to fill it and empty it. The straw/mouthpiece weaves out of the back and in front of you across your chest. There is also a safety whistle attached to one of the pockets which is a nice touch, especially if you do lots of trail running in remote locations.
The safety whistle is tucked into the side pocket. I never would've realised it was a whistle if I hadn't noticed the description on the website.
There is also an inner zip pocket which Kalenji say is designed for your smart phone or keys but I would always be weary that due to possible unexpected leaking from the water bladder, anything going into this pocket has the potential to get wet.You also can't access this pocket while running so you wouldn't want to put anything in there that you need before you stop.
The only reason I marked down the storage is because the 150ml soft flask pocket is a little awkwardly designed and could do with being bigger so that I could get a larger flask in there as 150ml is little more than a gulp! However, other than this very small quibble, the storage on this bag is exceptional and more than ample.
If you're in need of slightly more storage, the 10L version of this bag allows for two 500ml soft flasks in front pockets as well as space for more snacks and even walking sticks.
Price - 10/10
With an RRP of £17.99, this brilliant hydration bag is less than half the price of similar products and is even 60-70% cheaper than some higher end hydration bags from the big players in trail running and endurance gear. When shopping around for a new hydration bag, I was really rather shocked at the sky-high prices of some on the market. A similar product from big brand Camelbak will set you back over £60, some Salomon hydration vests are over £100 and the singular offering from Nike, which is a very basic product, is priced at £75.
Kalenji offer a really accessible, reasonable price which is perfect for first-time endurance runners or trail runners who have never bought a hydration vest before so don't want to shell out on something expensive, but also for experienced runners who just don't feel like spending £60+ on a hydration bag! Considering this product provides everything you need, the price is almost too good to be true.
The mouthpiece is leakproof thanks to a silicone bite guard and twists on or off for easy use.
Verdict - 10/10
I'm hugely impressed by this running hydration pack and wouldn't consider any other on the market. For someone who regularly runs half marathon to marathon distance both on the road and on the trails, it provides the perfect amount of storage and water. I'd use this for anything up to 50km/31 miles in distance in all weathers for both training and racing.
For any endurance events that are further in distance or more remote in location, perhaps a larger bag would be better as you could take more supplies. However, for organised races and training runs up to marathon distance, this hydration bag is perfect in every way for beginners right through to experienced runners.
361 Degrees is a footwear brand that we had the pleasure of reviewing recently for their Meraki 3 model. We were sent a pair of their women's trail running shoes - the Taroko 2 - to test out on the trails. Here's our verdict.
About 361 Degrees
361 Degrees originated as a family-owned footwear business before expanding to be among the leading footwear retailers and was a key partner in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The mission of 361 Degrees is to help athletes go 'one degree beyond' – beyond expectations and beyond limitations.
For their higher spec shoes, 361 Degrees use a technology that they call 'Magic Foam'. They describe this as a 'top secret space age material' and don't give much more information than that. Their core range of running shoes are all built with 'Quikfoam', and this is what is used for the Taroko 2 running shoes. Quikfoam is an EVA/rubber foam combination which is encapsulated so it lasts longer, giving more cushioning for a longer period of time.
About the Taroko 2 Running Shoes
The 361 Degrees Taroko 2 women's running shoes are designed as a trail hybrid with performance in mind.
Stack: F/F 17.5mm R/F 26.5mm
361 Degrees have developed their own 'MORPHIT' heel lock which is designed to keep your heel secure and in place while running over uneven terrain. The breathable, durable mesh upper encompasses your foot and is designed provide a supportive and comfortable fit.
361 Degrees Taroko 2 Running Shoes Review
Upon first putting on these running shoes, I was hugely impressed with how comfortable they are. The sole is soft and squidgy like my Nike Zoom Fly shoes and the upper is incredibly flexible; I was able to wiggle my toes up and down with no restriction at all.
The innovative MORPHIT heel lock system is pure genius and I'm incredibly impressed at the thought that has gone into designing it - a lacing system wraps round the ankle secured with a compact pull cord at the heel which you can fasten to tighten for a completely locked-in feel and no rubbing.
When running, the shoes feel very comfortable and soft without losing the all-important energy return. I didn't suffer from any blisters or rubbing and I really appreciated the natural toe spread that the roomy toe box allowed.
The 361 Degrees Taroko 2 women's running shoes are generous with their sizing; I was hugely impressed with how well they fit on first wear. Finding the right size for running shoes can be an arduous task and if someone asked me what size I am, I would tell them I don't truly know as it's different for every model and every brand!
In general, I go for Women's UK 7.5 in Nike and Men's UK 8.5 in Asics. I have had to abandon more running shoes than I'd like to count due to squashed feet and numb toes so I am not afraid to size up and even wear men's sizes if necessary, however this is not necessary for 361 Degrees shoes which are lovely and roomy.
I opted for a Women's UK 8 for the 361 Degrees Taroko 2 shoes and found them to be perfectly spacious with lots of space in the toe box - no squashed toes here!
The 361 Degrees Taroko 2 trail shoes have fantastic grip to the soles for trail running. The MORPHIT heel lock system does indeed keep your heel in place as you run and the soft soles give just enough energy return that your feet feel comfortable without feeling like you're running through treacle.
These running shoes do feel heavy at 365g, but we don't buy trail shoes to be lightweight or speedy, we buy them to give us good traction and flexibility when it counts. However, if you're used to or prefer a very lightweight shoe, this model may feel quite cumbersome for you.
You can tell that a huge amount of thought, planning and energy have gone into designing the Taroko 2 trail running shoes, which is exactly what you want when paying over £100 for a pair of running shoes. I get the impression 361 Degrees are working hard to be pioneers and stand out in the saturated and competitive running shoe market and I'd say it's going very well for them. If they continue bringing out fantastic shoes like the Taroko 2, they are on to a winner!
Doughlicious is an independent gourmet cookie dough brand founded by Kathryn Bricken. Kathryn moved to the UK from America and brought her passion for delicious, home-style soft cookies with her. Their newest offering is organic ready-to-eat 'Lite Bites': a range of cookie dough bites in grab-and-go bags designed to satisfy your cookie cravings anytime, anywhere. We had the pleasure of reviewing them and giving our verdict.
Slightly softer than I expected but absolutely delicious and super moreish. Not too sweet but definitely sweet enough. Unusual texture (not in a bad way), can definitely tell it's made with oat flour as opposed to wheat flour. The chocolate chips are the perfect balance of bitter and sweet with a lovely crunchy texture without breaking my teeth. Can tell the ingredients are of a very high quality. It's not ruined by the fact it's vegan or gluten free - usually I avoid these options as I find it compromises on flavour and texture. But that's not the case here. I wouldn't have known it was vegan/gluten free if I hadn't been told.
Very reminiscent of protein balls but slightly better. Not as good as the chocolate chip flavour. The cocoa makes it quite bitter. Love the chopped peanut coating. Didn't really feel like eating cookie dough, more like eating a protein ball.
High in fibre
Source of protein
100% natural ingredients
52% lower sugar than comparable cookie dough brands
Made in the UK
361 Degrees is a footwear brand expanding throughout the world. The brand was founded in 2003 and saw massive expansion in 2013 to cover Europe and America. I was sent a pair of their neutral Meraki 3 running shoes to put to the test.
About 361 Degrees
361 Degrees originated as a family-owned footwear business before expanding to become one of the biggest sports brands and was a key partner in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.The mission of 361 Degrees is to help athletes go 'one degree beyond' – beyond expectations and beyond limitations.
For their higher spec shoes, 361 Degrees use a technology that they call 'Magic Foam'. They describe this as a 'top secret space age material' and don't give much more information than that. Their core range of running shoes are all built with 'Quikfoam'. Quikfoam is an EVA/rubber foam combination which is encapsulated so it lasts longer, giving more cushioning for a longer period of time.
About the Meraki Running Shoes
- Upper features a seamless engineered mesh for a light, sleek, comfortable fit.
- Pressure-free tongue is designed to provide comfort and avoid irritation during flexion.
- Ortholite insoles utilise 20% recycled materials while still retaining the performance fit and comfort that runners want.
- The 'Quik Spine' is a carbon fiberglass shank that adds linear integrity to the mid-foot.
- Quikfoam, a mid-sole material comprised of an EVA/rubber blend with PU coating that provides excellent durability, cushioning and responsiveness.
The 361 Degrees Meraki running shoe is designed to be fast. It is designed to be used as part of your core running shoe rotation for everyday runs as well as speed work. For this shoe, 361 Degrees worked with Ortholite to create their own insole material blend in order to increase breathability and moisture management directly under the foot. This is an everyday neutral running shoe designed for longevity as well as speed and comfort.
361 Degrees Meraki Running Shoes Review
This is a very classic-looking pair of running shoes and I immediately noticed how thick the heel cushioning looked, very similar to my Asics stability shoes. When I put them on, I wasn't disappointed and that thick heel cushioning made my foot feel locked in and secure, which means no rubbing or slipping of the heel.
The soft, flexible upper means no squashed toes, coupled with a roomy toe box which allows for natural toe spread. The sole of the shoe isn't too hard (a problem I've had with other running shoes) so my feet weren't sore after running and in general the comfort of these shoes is excellent. After doing 100 miles of running in these shoes, I found I didn't have any blisters or discomfort as the upper is so flexible and comfortable. I'm very impressed with the comfort of these shoes.
Choosing the right shoe size for running shoes can be a minefield at times. Every brand has their own size guide and the same size in different brands and even different models from the same brand can vary drastically.
I decided to go for a UK Women's Size 8 for the 361 Degrees Meraki shoes and they fit perfectly. The forefoot felt roomy without my heel feeling like it would slip out the back. For comparison, I am a UK Women's Size 7.5 in Nike running shoes and a UK Women's Size 8.5 in Asics running shoes. In general, I'd say these shoes come up quite true to size, thought you may need to size up perhaps half a size. They are definitely more roomy than Hoka and On Running shoes.
As mentioned above, these shoes look very classic and to me are reminiscent of a pair of Asics or perhaps Saucony running shoes. As such, I expected them to perform in the same way. By this I mean I expected them to be robust, trustworthy, but not particularly exciting or innovative (like many of the new Nike running shoes or a pair of On Running shoes).
My first impression of these running shoes was that they are very soft yet still responsive with decent energy return. The biggest thing I noticed is that they are so lightweight! My Asics running shoes can feel quite heavy, so going by design alone I expected these to be the same, but they are incredibly light and bouncy which I loved.
361 Degrees say that these shoes are designed to be fast and they definitely are. I was able to do tempo and threshold runs in these shoes without feeling like they were holding me back, but I was also able to run slightly longer distances of up to about 10 miles.
Unfortunately, these shoes did not provide quite enough support for my over-pronation. In all fairness, these are marketed as 'neutral' running shoes and for neutral runners or under-pronators I'd say they would be perfect. However, for beginners who have not worked on their running form they may cause injuries and I found my feet rolling inwards very severely when wearing these shoes. As such, I didn't wear them for more than 10 miles at a time.
The 361 Degrees Meraki running shoes are super lightweight. everyday running shoes which are perfect for shorter runs as well as quality sessions. This is a neutral shoe so would only be suitable for people who do not over-pronate and are able to run with good form. I was able to appreciate the good energy return of these shoes but would only wear them for shorter runs of under 10 miles. Overall, I was hugely impressed and have added them into my weekly running shoe rotation!
At Sundried, we're always on the look out for our next healthy snack or awesome training fuel. We were really excited to try these almond snack bars by KIND and test them out on some long runs and bike rides. Here's our verdict!
Dark Chocolate Almond Mint
I was really excited to try the dark chocolate almond mint bar from KIND as I adore anything chocolate mint flavoured and I am a recent convert to dark chocolate – especially as it has some real health benefits.
This snack bar is comprised of mostly nuts (60%) so it is a wholesome, healthy snack to be enjoyed in a number of settings. It is also gluten- and dairy-free so is suitable for those on free-from diets or who suffer from a food intolerance. At only 200 calories per bar you can certainly say it is 'guilt-free' and is fairly low in sugar at only 5g – which is 40% less than some similar snack bars. That's the same amount of sugar in 100g of strawberries to put it into context.
As soon as you open the packet, you're met with a glorious minty aroma which is really fresh and inviting. The almonds are held together with a dark chocolate coating which is chewy but not too harsh on the jaw, which can be a pitfall of some nut-based granola bars. The dark chocolate is not too bitter and the whole bar is really tasty. This bar is really moreish and as soon as I finished it I found myself wanting more! However after about 10 minutes I actually felt really full and satisfied which is perfect for that mid-afternoon slump at work. This bar gets a big thumbs up from me!
Caramel Almond & Sea Salt
The caramel almond & sea salt KIND bar was my favourite out of the three flavours I was sent to try and I absolutely loved it! The generous chunks of sea salt dotted amongst the nuts add a delicious, tangy bite while the caramel gives a luxurious, decadent texture. As with the dark chocolate mint bar, this healthy snack bar contains only 5g of sugar and is only 200 calories, making it the perfect afternoon snack or fuel for adventure.
I ate this bar while on a 12-mile hike along the South Downs Way and it was the perfect treat to perk me up when I was starting to lose energy after an hour of brisk walking up tough hills in the blistering August heat. KIND pride themselves on only using 'ingredients you can see and pronounce' which is certainly true of this bar, which is 64% nuts as well as being high in fibre – something a lot of the population could benefit from!
I absolutely love the taste of this delicious bar and with such great health benefits, it's the perfect indulgence when you're feeling peckish or in need of a pick-me-up while exercising or out on an adventure. Thanks to the nuts, it's really filling and left me feeling satisfied for hours.
Crunchy Peanut Butter Protein
Having a quick, easy grab-and-go bar that packs an impressive 12g of protein is really useful for an athlete and I found this bar was perfect for a post-workout protein hit as well as refuel. The smooth and creamy peanut butter coating is really delicious and the crunchy yet chewy texture was easy to devour even during or after a tough training session when your stomach is feeling a little delicate.
Each 50g bar contains only 250 calories so it's definitely a guilt-free snack if you are just on-the-go or at your desk working, but it contains a high amount of protein and fibre so is excellent for athletic performance. It contains 8g of sugar which is perfect for refuelling after a draining workout and it is completely plant-based and unrefined so you know there are no nasty surprises.
The sweet yet salty taste is delicious and this versatile bar is perfect for all number of occasions, from a quick breakfast to afternoon snacking to popping in kids' lunch boxes.
I have truly fallen in love with these KIND bars and they will definitely be my go-to snacks from now on for all number of occasions, from fuelling adventure and stashing away for long runs and bike rides to snacking on at my desk for a guilt-free mid-afternoon snack.
KIND snacks are available in the UK in Tesco, Boots, Sainsbury's, Waitrose, and WHSmith.