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!
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!
New Balance has a new pair of running trainers on the market and they're every bit as comfortable as they say they are. Retailing at £75 and with a version for both men and women, these trainers boast a modern 'bootie' design meaning they are super snug and slip on and off with ease. They are marketed as a running trainer, but they are as trendy and attractive as a pair of fashion trainers meaning they're perfect for all-day active use. New Balance emphasises the minimalistic design of these trainers, meaning they are very lightweight and include a breathable overlay which expands with the shape of your feet.
The sole of the shoe is reminiscent of the Nike Roshe Run trainer, with a thick heel meaning they provide lasting comfort and are great if you are on your feet all day. When it comes to actually running in them, the comfort is unbeatable. They are very soft and durable and the cushioned landing means that you feel like you're running on air.
I did find that these trainers come up small - I usually wear a UK Women's Size 7 but I found that this size for me was too tight and it made my toes go numb after a while. So I would recommend sizing up when buying these trainers.
The 'bootie' design is a new trend for a lot of trainers and I personally think it's fantastic. There is no separate tongue and instead the entire upper of the trainer provides a snug and supportive fit around your foot. It means that the trainer is more supportive and is easier to slip on and off. It also prevents your heel from slipping up and down which can be a real annoyance so it's good that you don't get that with these trainers. The heel tie also means you can easily slip these trainers on and off with just one hand which is a great benefit.
I am really impressed with how attractive these trainers are, especially as a lot of running trainers can be bulky and unappealing. They could easily double up as fashion trainers and could be worn at the gym, to a yoga class, or just out and about. They provide a very minimal level of support, so if you have specific needs for your running trainers - such as built-in arch support - then these trainers wouldn't be suitable for you to run in. They'd still be great for walking or for wearing on a day out, as the comfort they provide is fantastic.
VerdictOverall, I am really impressed with these trainers. They are very attractive and their bootie design means they are super comfortable and shape to your feet. They lose marks from me on the fact they come up so small and tight, and the fact that they are not high-tech running trainers so if you were training for a half marathon or marathon they would not be suitable. However, for all-day wear and shorter runs, they're perfect. The cushioning is fantastic and they are very lightweight. The thick sole means your heels don't ache after being on your feet for a long time. It's a 7 out of 10 for me.
If you're looking for a new CrossFit shoe, look no further than the Nike Metcon 3 shoes. Perfect all-round trainers, you can run, lift, and jump with confidence in these shoes. We take a closer look at CrossFit's favourite trainer.
When it comes to CrossFit, you need a shoe that can do it all. One minute you'll be running, next minute you'll be on the floor doing burpees, then before you know it you're on the platform doing max rep snatches. That's where the Nike Metcon 3 shoes come in.
The first thing you need for CrossFit is a weightlifting shoe style heel. You need a solid base for your heels and something that feels like a weightlifting shoe that you're used to lifting in. With a drop-in mid-sole, the Nike Metcon 3 has a very sturdy heel and when you slip it on, it feels exactly like a lifting shoe. The clincher, however, is in the softer forefoot. When you're wearing the Metcon 3 you can almost feel the difference in the mid-part of the foot where the solid heel turns into a soft forefoot for running and sprinting. You would never run in your lifting shoes - it doesn't even bare thinking about - so you need a shoe that has the flexibility needed for running and jumping and the Metcon 3 has this. The front of the shoe feels just like a regular trainer, with the flexibility you'd expect for athletics.
The sole of the shoe is made from rubber and the grip on the platform is exceptional. I've gone through numerous different shoes to find the perfect deadlift shoe. Converse (Chuck Taylors) gave me blisters and boxing boots didn't have enough support. The Metcon 3 trainers have incredible stability and I felt really steady on the platform. This is crucial when it comes to heavy lifts.
There's even a textured rubber area in the mid part of the shoe to give excellent traction while climbing a rope. Nike really have thought of everything for this shoe, and it shows. CrossFit is a challenging sport - that's why we love it - so it's tricky to find the perfect shoe for all the different movements you'll be doing. Thankfully, Nike has everything covered.
For me, the only drawback to this shoe is the low heel. I would assume this design is so that you have more freedom of movement and flexibility while training, however I found it made the rear part of my foot feel very unsupported. The front of my foot felt great, very locked-in, but then my heel was slipping out the back a little.
I also found that during the first couple of sessions wearing them, my big toes ended up a little bruised. The front part of the shoe is pretty solid, and moving around doing burpee box jump-overs caused a fair amount of pain to my big toe. I understand that all trainers need to be worn in so I'm sure they'll be fine after a while, but just be warned.
I'm usually a size 7 in trainers but for some shoes (especially New Balance trainers) I find I have to size up to a 7.5. The Metcon 3 trainers are very true to size and I have plenty of space in a size 7 so my advice would be to stay true to your size as it'll be a perfect fit. I definitely wouldn't have wanted them any bigger. They're also very generous width-wise so if you have wide feet you can be confident that these shoes will fit you well.
Nike is a huge brand, we all know this, and all the big CrossFit stars from Mat Fraser to Sara Sigmundsdottir can be found wearing the Metcon 3 shoes. You feel like a real pro strolling in to train in these shoes. There are lots of different colourways to choose from and you can even customise and design your own with Nike iD.
You're never really going to go wrong with a pair of shoes from Nike, that's why they're one of the biggest brands in the world. They've really thought these shoes through and they're designed with true CrossFitters in mind. Being backed by the big CrossFitters gives these shoes a big boost but the flawless design and superior comfort stands alone anyway. The RRP is £114.95 but you can find most pairs on sale now at around £79.95 putting them in the same price range as a pair of Reeboks.