Category Archives: review

Summer Running And Rain with Helly Hansen.

A few months ago Beki from Helly Hansen contacted me to enquire as to whether I would like to review their running products. I don’t tend to do a huge number of reviews but I was intrigued to see what their products were like, especially as an alternative to the larger ‘all powerful’ brands more commonly known to runners.

I really had no idea which items to review as everything looked really attractive to be honest. The obvious pinks were there, which for some reason running brands feel obliged to include when making clothes for women, but there was a fair bit of blue, purple and the staple black too. Beki helped me pick out the items and she sent through a few items of clothing and a pair of their running shoes.

As I mentioned I’ve had these items for a few months so that I could give them a decent review.

Loke Jacket £85.00

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I live in Wales. There is a lot of rain. I’m out a great deal with the kids and the dog so I am always in need of a decent rain jacket. I have to say I was pretty pleased with the Loke Jacket. It’s light weight and attractive. It has a nice feminine fit and it didn’t drown me. The colour I was sent is called ‘Pink Glow’ but it doesn’t scream out and out pink to me. It has a bit of a red/orange glow to it.

It’s not massively warm, I would definitely layer up underneath on colder days or if you know you;re going somewhere with a lot of cross winds, like the side of a rugby pitch perhaps! The pockets are nice and deep but there are only your standard two which is fine for a basic rain jacket. If I was going further afield hiking I would like a few more pockets.

If however you end up in a torrential downpour for a fair amount of time expect the rain to start to come through. It’s fine for showers but not the valleys monsoons we sometimes have this way.

Overall though, really nice comfortable rain jacket which I have found perfect for dog walking, summer showers, beach visits and attractive enough to wear day to day. Plus at £85.00 I think it’s a reasonable price to pay for a rain jacket and really good value.

Aspire Flex Hoodie Usually £55. Heather colour now reduced to £33.00

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I LOVE this hoodie. I have practically lived in it since I got it. It’s essentially a training top but I tend to wear it for cool downs. It’s also become my go-to hoodie when I went something to throw on to head down to Porthcawl beach or with a pair of jeans on the school run. In fact I’m wearing it right now. It has become a wardrobe staple for me.

It’s made out of their X-Cool quick dry fabric which I assume means it is a wicking fabric. Whatever it’s made of, it’s soft and comfortable and I love the heather colour that I was sent. It’s also got those thumb holes that you can pop your thumbs through if you’re a bit cold or just feel like snuggling. Will be interesting to see how it fairs for training runs once the weather starts to turn a bit. It washes well and it hasn’t bobbled or become smelly (as I said I’ve worn it A LOT). No pockets though but I can forgive this particular hoodie.

Aspire Jacket Currently reduced to £54.00.

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When I first saw this jacket I wasn’t sure if I like it. It’s not your typical running jacket. The lining is a what I would describe a silver foil lace pattern and the jacket itself is not opaque. Initially I thought it was reversible but it’s not. But when you put your colorful running tops on underneath it, the appearance from the silvery lace lining against the colour is quite effective. It’s definitely a fashion item as much as it’s a running jacket, reminding me a bit of cat walk ‘sports luxe’ clothes.

I’ve had to run in this jacket a few times since summer began due to Welsh rain and I can honestly say it keeps you nice and warm. It definitely kept out a down pour at the track one session.

The drawstring gives it a nice fit but…….there are no pockets. I’m a runner that needs pockets. If you’ve got pockets in your tights or shorts then fine but if that’s not the case I need a handy pocket in my jacket for my phone and keys. That’s the only negative I have about it otherwise it’s really nice, comfortable, attractive to look at and definitely suitable for running in the wind and rain.

Wicked Pace R2 Running Shoe

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I’ve been wearing this running shoe and alternating it with my usual Saucony shoes. Helly Hansen refer to it as having stability and responsiveness. It is definitely light weight and not in the least but bulky. As stability goes I’m not so sure. I find that I get a little bit of foot pain when I’ve been wearing these for distances over 3 miles. I think that is purely down to the fact I’m used to a little bit of lateral stability in my shoes. I have used them for speed sessions though and they are light as feathers. I think if you were used to minimalist shoes then these might be good for you.They’re also not bad to look at and I’ve teamed them with jeans and summer dresses, something I wouldn’t do with my bulky running shoes, so they’re definitely versatile. However if you’re used to a little bit more support I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them. Definitely a shoe for neutral, mid to forefoot runners who are used to minimalist shoes. 

Overall I think Helly Hansen are ones to watch in terms of running gear. It is tough for any company to find a place in that market with the obvious behemoths who monopolise that section in sports wear. However if you’re looking for good quality running clothes with a great variety of colours for women, away from the standard ‘pink’, then it would be definitely be worth visiting the Helly Hansen site for a browse (the hoodie, the hoodie….who said that?)

Helly Hansen are also the extreme weather specialists so I look forward to seeing what they come up with for us runners for the Winter.

Sorry about the lack of ‘real photos’. Struggle with selfies and don’t always get the chance to get family to take pictures.

I was sent all the items above to review. I have not received payment for this review. All opinions are my own and I have been honest in my views about the products. 

Loving Short Shorts: Things I’ve Tried

I love shorts weather. May was a bit chilly and at times the wind felt quite icy here in Wales so I would often chicken out and where leggings and capris. But finally we have some ‘Sun’s Out, Legs Out’ weather. Once I’m running in shorts I really feel like summer could be on the way.

I have a few pair of shorts, mainly by a brand that I’m not naming and is now on my personal blacklist for purchasing running gear. Which means I need to branch out into other brands. Once you’ve got used to one type of gear it can always be a bit awkward looking at new names. In recent weeks though I have been able to give a couple of new shorts from both ends of the price scale a road test.

Helly Hansen VTR Soft Shorts £35.00

When I was contacted by Beki at Helly Hansen to test some of their running gear I honestly wasn’t sure. I didn’t pitch Helly Hansen as being involved in the design of running gear, picturing the Norweigen brand as being almost exclusively into skiing and sailing. However I was intrigued and keen to have a go.

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I was pleasantly surprised by these shorts. They are indeed very soft. I can often find myself fiddling with the waist band of a lot of shorts but  it wasn’t the case with these. The waist band is really comfortable and while I’m running I’m not ‘aware’ of them at all, which I always think is a good sign.

There is a lining like most other shorts of this style, which is handy because the hem line of the shorts scallop a little bit at the back. To me this made them a bit ‘skort’ like. I’ve never been fussed to try a skort so this is a good compromise for me. There is a small pocket in the back of the waist band for a key and maybe some change or a folded up note but nothing else. Since I started cycling I have an obsession with pockets so if these shorts needed anything I would say another pocket in the waist band.

These shorts are incredibly comfortable to the point that I’m not in a rush to take them off. The waist bands of other shorts can become really sweaty and uncomfortable but not so with these. The lining doesn’t pinch either which is something I’ve found with other lined shorts. I would easily wear them for other sports too. But not cycling, no padding and not enough snack pockets. The X Cool fabric did keep me cool but this feature isn’t unique to Helly Hansen as most brands now use wicking type fabric.

At £35.00 they are at a similar pitch to the ‘brand that shall not be named’ but maybe more reasonable than other brands which offer similar soft shorts at above £50. I would say that they run true to size. If you’re looking for a comfortable, flattering, no frills, functional pair of shorts then these might be up your street. I would definitely consider them as a race day short.

Kalenji Elioplay Tight Shorts £10.99

A few weeks ago I made my first visit to Decathlon. I had intended to buy a wet suit for myself but came away instead with bags full of sports gear and equipment for the boys plus a few bits of running gear for myself. And at the price how could I not: £10.99 people! The Elioplay shorts are part of French brand Kalenji’s Elioplay collection which have been designed to allow runner’s to listen to music with ease.

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I usually go for the baggy type of race shorts, I’m not a tight shorts person, however these were a compromise for me. Not too short to be obscene but not too long to make me look like Mr Motivator (if you’re over 35 you’ll remember). I’m not really into listening to music while I run very often but the pocket on the right leg intended for runner’s to use for their music players was a snug fit for my Samsung. They’ve washed pretty well too which I am surprised at with the price being at the lower end of the scale and they haven’t shown any sign of bobbling. I’m a size 8 and wear the XS which isn’t me showing how ‘small’ I am, rather their sizes seem to come up fairly roomy as opposed to other running brands which are apparently doing a TopShop and are sizing things smaller and smaller.

Overall, these are a pretty nice pair of running shorts for summer and they leave you with a bit of change for a vest and maybe a t-shirt too! The only down side for me is that Kalenji is exclusive to Decathlon in the UK so it’s either online shopping or an excuse to pop to Canada Water when I visit London.

Both pairs of shorts are going to feature for the next few months as long as long as the sun stays out. Roll on Summer, may the sunny days last so the legs can go from porcelain to magnolia!

This is a review post. I purchased the Kalenji Elioplay shorts myself from Decathlon. I was sent the VTR soft shorts to review by Helly Hansen. I have not been paid for this post and all words, views and opinions are my own. 

Things I’ve Tried: Salomon X-Scream 3D

I think it’s two years since I went along to the Salomon CITYTRAIL event. If you haven’t heard about Salomon or indeed their CITYTRAIL events you can read more about my experience here. I remember thinking what a great idea it was, to get runners along to a local event where they could try on shoes, have a play around with accessories and enjoy a run through local city trails. If you fancy joining Salomon for a CITYTRAIL run then you can keep a look out for their Community Runs (http://citytrail.salomonrunning.com/en/register-community-run) which pop up in cities around the UK.

Since then I have been very lucky that from time to time Salomon have asked me to try out their products as part of their Insider Project. I have tried the S-Lab which is essentially a minimalist trail shoe. Not being a minimalist/barefoot runner I wasn’t overly keen on it. I found it far too wide which I know was the intention of the designers but it really didn’t float my boat.  However last year I got to try a pair of the X-Scream shoes, a sort of hybrid road/trail shoe. I really liked them and was pleasantly surprised by its lack of bulk. I have run in them many times and cross trained in them and they have been fantastic. So I was very fortunate to be able to try this year’s model, the X-Scream 3D.

I wasn’t sure how they could improve on last year’s model but in comparison it seems lighter and a bit sleeker than its predecessor. I would say it is probably more suitable for neutral runners, there doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of build up medially or laterally. They have retained the quick lace mechanism which is probably my favourite feature of this shoe and therefore might make it a front runner to consider as my go to triathlon shoe for my upcoming challenges later this year.

I’ve tried it on a variety of surfaces: beach, road, grass and trail. So far so good on different terrains. I have however kept my distance in them fairly short, I’m always a bit wary of taking a new shoe too far too soon and it remains to be seen if they withstand higher mileage.

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Salomon describe a variety of features including Sensift and Molded Eva but I think what they’re getting at is that the shoe aims to cushion your foot and to be a secure fit. As fit goes they run pretty true to size. I tend to be a 3.5 in trainers and the X-Scream 3.5 fits really comfortably. I would say their sizing might be typical of Nike and Saucony, so if you were thinking that you needed to go up a whole size you might not have to with the X-Scream. Obviously though this is dependent on the individual and how you feel most comfortable running.

If you’re looking for this to be a trail shoe I think you might need to reconsider. I really do think it is best suited for road to some gravelly trails or some grass. I don’t think it is intended to be a pure trail/mountain shoe and that is evident in its lack of grip. It would definitely be suited to what Salomon refer to as a ‘diverse urban landscape’.

The X-Scream 3D is retailing at £110.00 on their website which is more than I would tend to pay for a running shoe myself. I’m possibly a bit stingy that way, but if you are keen to try a Salomon shoe then maybe find a Community Run or City Trail run to try them out first. This shoe is good and does what it sets out to do which has actually surprised me. I’m usually prepared to dislike trainers that aren’t my usual favoured brands.

Overall Salomon are a great brand. I love their outdoor ethos and the fact that they cover sports from running to hiking to skiing and mountaineering so it’s great that they are becoming a bit more mainstream. If you’re not sure about trail running or trail shoes then it’s possible that this shoe may be a way to ease you in.

Disclosure: I was sent the Salomon X-Scream 3D to review by the Salomon Insider Project. All words and opinions are my own and I have not been paid to write this review. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me.