Quick Review: PATH Projects Prospect PX2 Shorts

I’m a big fan of PATH Projects shorts, and as I’ve been running this summer, I’ve realized that I don’t own enough of them. My favorite pair has been the Graves, however, I discovered that they’re in the middle of a fabric change, so I wasn’t able to order them right away. Instead I opt’d to try the new Prospect PX2, 8″ shorts.

img_4918I don’t often run in a longer inseam short like these, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. In reality, it’s not much different from a 6 or 7 inch short, at least not for quick training runs. I always wear a liner that goes down my leg a bit, so at least with a longer inseam I don’t risk showing off my colorful underwear.

One of the things I love about PATH are their thoughtful pocket designs. The Prospect is no exception. There are two pockets in the front, both with zippers, and an additional, smaller, side pocket that is a great size for my wallet. Having everything zipper means that I don’t worry about what I’m carrying in my pockets. I don’t usually run with a lot in my pockets, but having options for post-run hanging out is great. I can treat these shorts just like my street clothes and stuff the pockets with my wallet, keys, and phone, etc., and it’s just like my regular daily wear.

DSC01554.jpgFor running there is also a great rear pocket for your phone, and it’s clear that they’ve expanded the size to accommodate newer, larger phone sizes. For this model, the pocket is offset onto the right hand side, and I assume that’s because it’s larger. Putting a big slab of a phone on your lower back probably isn’t the most comfortable all the time. The rear pocket works well, and I didn’t notice any bounce.

Overall, another great PATH Projects product. If you’re a guy who runs, I encourage you to check them out. They’re some of the best designed shorts I’ve ever used.

 

Quick Review: KÜHL Parajax jacket

A couple months ago I started my search for a nice lightweight shell to use when running on cool mornings, or in light rain. I finally made my choice, and I’ve been using the KÜHL Parajax for the past few weeks while Minnesota has been transitioning from Winter to… kinda Spring? Suffice it to say, we’ve been having some odd weather this year, and so having a nice shell has been a huge benefit.

DSC09978-2.jpgI had been weighing my options for a while and settled on the Parajax for a couple of reason. First, like the Houdini it folded into a pocket, but unlike some of the competition the Parajax has a couple of really nice front pockets that have zippers. It was this pocket configuration that really sealed the deal for me.

DSC09985I’ve taken the Parajax out on quite a few runs now, and I’m really liking it. It’s very lightweight, and breathable, but like most shells it helps trap heat next to your body to keep you warm. My usual strategy is to wear it for the first 1-2 miles of my run, and then stow it before it gets too hot that I soak the inside of it with sweat. I missed the window on one particular run and by the time I had taken it off, it was pretty wet inside. Thankfully, the material dries really quick and easy, so all it took was airing it out once I got back home.

DSC09982I haven’t yet tried it in the rain (beyond a quick picture for this post), but like most of these shells, it’s mean to be water resistant, not fully waterproof. For something that is fully waterproof I’d need to look at other option. I’m OK with that though, and I’m sure if I got caught in a rain storm it would provide enough protection to help get me back to safety.

The Parajax is a bit more expensive than some of the other options, but you can usually find it on sale, or discounted with a coupon. It’s a great, durable, jacket and my only regret is waiting so long to pick one up.

 

The search for a rain/wind shell

Something that I’ve been on the hunt for, for many years is a ultralight rain and wind shell to run with. The go-to jacket for this has always been the Patagonia Houdini. This ultra lightweight jacket stuffs into its own pocket for easy storage and portability. I’ve always meant to pick one up, and have done some clearance rack browsing, but just have never pulled the trigger.

This morning I went for a great 10 mile run with my buddy Mike B. around the chain of lakes in Minneapolis. Despite being Spring, and nice warm afternoons, this morning was downright cold. The air temp was around 30F, and there was a strong, brutal wind out of the north. This wasn’t a nice summer wind, this was an arctic blast of frigid air that sucked away any warmth that the sun might be providing.

I decided to wear my go-to, cheap, sweat jacket because I knew I needed something to block some of the wind. However, that jacket is heavy, and overkill for the type of temps I was dealing with today. What I really needed was a nice shell, like the Houdini. That has me doing a bit of window shopping today to see what’s out there. Since the introduction of the Houdini, many other manufactures have started to release their own versions of this classic shell. One of my favorite brands, Kühl has the Parajax, and Smartwool has their PhD Ultralight. Outdoor Research’s Helium II is another strong contender.

That brings me to my question… blog audience… what have you used and what do you like? With so many choices out there right now, I feel like this is a good time to pull the trigger and pick something up, and I’d like to get reactions from folks on what has worked well for them. Share your thoughts! Ready, set, GO!

Quick Review: PATH Project

A friend Mike B. mentioned PATH Project shorts to me a couple of months ago when we were out for a run. He really enjoyed them, and loved the pockets, so I finally decided to pull the trigger and pick up a pair of their Sykes shorts and take them for a spin. Initially I bought the wrong size. However, when I contacted PATH, they went out of their way to make sure I got the right size in time for an upcoming trip I was doing. I can’t stress enough how awesome their customer service was for to me on this occasion.

I’ve had the shorts for about a month now and feel like I’m ready to comment on how they’ve worked for me. First, one of the unique things about PATH Project shorts is the pockets. The model I picked out is more akin to a biking jersey style, with three pockets on the back. I really like this style, as it allows you to secure valuable things, like your ID and keys, without items banging against your leg in a loose pocket. The zippered pockets feel secure and hold everything tight against my hip.

img_3338My only issue with the pockets is for regular day-to-day wear. Lacking pockets on the side of the shorts means that it’s not as comfortable and convenient for me when I’m driving to/from the trailhead. Sitting in my car with my bulky phone up against my back works, but it’s not the most comfortable. Thankfully, this is only one of the styles that PATH has, and I’m thinking the next pair I pick up will be the Graves model which has one large zippered phone pocket in the back, but also has the traditional open side pockets. Despite this, the Skyes model works great for running, and it’s been very handy for when I’m running at lunch at work. No more worrying about forgetting my waist pack.

In terms of fit, the PATH Project shorts are great. They are cut just right for running and at no point have I ever felt like they’re shifting when I’m running in them. Some other shorts I’ve worn will bunch up between the thighs when I’m running. That’s not an issue I’ve encountered with these. The leg length also works well for me, and the fit around the glutes is comfortable. Overall, I have no complaints about fit, and once I got the right size for me (large) they’ve been nothing but a joy to wear.

Although I’ve only had the shorts for a month, I’ve put them through their paces at some local parks, as well as the Porcupine Mountains. The build and material quality feels top notch, and I haven’t had any issues with any seams splitting or fabric tears. The waistband elastic seems fine, and the cinch ties are pretty standard. The zippers feel pretty solid and not flimsy, which is a nice perk. This is one area that could easily have been skimped on, but I’m glad that they didn’t. It’s hard to predict how the shorts will wear over the long term, but after 30 days, things seem good. I’ve still got shorts I’m wearing from 7 years ago, so I’m hopeful these PATH Project shorts will be able to go the same distance.

img_3335Something that I really like about PATH Projects is that their shorts do not come with a liner. I’m one of those people who hate how many running shorts come with a liner built-in. I prefer to run with running underwear that goes down my legs a bit. Many of the running shorts you find have a simple liner that doesn’t mimic a boxer brief at all. In fact they feel more like a simple hammock for your goodies, than anything that would give real support or protection. I end up avoiding shorts that have liners for this very reason.

PATH has decided to separate the liner from the short, and let you pick what you want for either. They sell liners, but if you already have your base layers that you like, then you can just go with them and not worry about it. This allows me the freedom to chose what type of underwear I want to use, and even tailor it for the type of running conditions I’m in. Colder weather? I can use something a bit thicker. Hot and muggy? Pull out something thinner with a smaller inseam. I like being able to choose.

Overall, I really like the PATH Project shorts. They’re comfortable, appear durable, and have lots of great features when it comes to pockets. They are $40-50, but if they last me for many years, I’m OK paying that price. They’re tailored to the sport that I do, and for me that’s worth paying a bit of a premium. If you’ve never tried these before, I’d encourage you to give them a shot. I think you’ll like the result.

 

Quick Review: Camelbak Octane XCT

At a recent Endless Summer Trail Run, I won a prize in the drawing after the race; a Camelbak Octane XCT hydration pack. Up until this point I’ve been using a Mountain Hardware vest with a bladder, that works mostly OK, but I was excited to try something new, that was meant more for carrying a large amount of water.

I’ve had a chance to use it on a couple occasions now, and in particular at the Afton 25K race last Saturday.

The Good

One of the coolest things about this pack is the fact that it can carry a 2L bladder. This is more than enough for any of my runs, and the distances between aid stations. Despite being more water (and heavier) than my previous vest, the Camelbak rides better because the lower strap is at waist level. This makes it more akin to a hiking pack where you can tighten the waist strap and carry the weight on your hips. This didn’t impair my movement at all and kept the pack very comfortable on my shoulders.

Speaking of the waist strap, it holds two awesome pockets that are plenty large for modern cell phones, as well as a key clip, and some snacks for in between stations. It was very easy to get things in and out of the pockets, and they held tight against my body to keep things from rattling. There is also a small pocket on the back for less needed items. The entire bladder system is held tight by an system of elastic straps that you can use to keep everything tight.

The Bad

There were only a couple small annoyances with this vest. The first was the length of the bladder hose. It was just slightly longer than needed, which meant I kept having to push more of the hose back into the pouch or the loop would be too big and annoying. It seemed to be a greater problem as the water supply depleted later in the race. I was able to tighten the elastic which helped some, but I may try and cut the hose down just a bit for the future.

My only other complaint was that some of the straps did not have cuffs to keep the ends from flopping around. This was easily rectified by tucking the ends around the straps and keeping them tight that way, but if you have to remove the vest you have to re-tuck everything back away. It’s not a terrible problem, but some people might be very annoyed by it.

Verdict

I like the Octane pack, and I can see myself using it on long runs. It doesn’t have pouches for water bottles, so my old pack will still see plenty of use, but the Octane fits the bill for long races for sure. It rides comfortably and has the storage space that I need, along with a large bladder for longer jaunts. Since I received it as a prize I can’t really make a judgement call if it’s a good value, but I would encourage people to add it to their list to check out the next time they’re looking for a new hydration pack.