Trail Running Kit Picks – Lowe Alpine, Smartwool & XSocks

Having started running regularly in preparation for the upcoming Black Death Run, I’ve bought a few essential clothing items from Webtogs to equip me for the trails. Luckily I’ve had lots of chances to test them out over the past few weeks thanks to the recent (sadly now ended) sunny spell. So, here are my first trail running kit picks from Lowe Alpine, XSocks and Smartwool – expect more from myself and Mike over the coming weeks!

 

1. Lowe Alpine Lightflite Hydro Belt Pack

The Lowe Alpine Lightflite Hydro in Olympian Blue/Cider
The Lowe Alpine Lightflite Hydro in Olympian Blue/Cider

I bought the Lightflite Hydro to provide storage for a lightweight wind shell, snacks, and most importantly a drink, so that I could be completely self-sufficient (and safe) on longer training runs. It ticks the boxes on all of these counts, with its large 3-litre zipped compartment providing ample room for either my Montane Fireball Smock (lightweight Pertex/Primaloft pull-on), or for a smaller windproof such as the Rab Cirrus. My phone and an energy bar/gel/snack of choice comfortably slide into the smaller 1-litre zipped compartment, with the two remaining external mesh pockets being the perfect size for other small items, such as sunglasses, snack wrappers, etc: in short everything most people would want on a moderate training run.

Just some of the things you can fit in a Lightflite Hydro
Just some of the things you can fit in a Lightflite Hydro

The defining feature of the Lightflite Hydro, as the name suggests, is its central, asymmetrically-angled drinks bottle holder. It comes with its own 550 ml plastic bottle to fill it too, providing perfectly adequate fluid capacity for the majority of runs. However, if you think you’d like to take more liquids, taller 700 – 750 ml sports bottles will also fit into the belt pack’s bottle holder. The Camelbak Podium bottle for example is a good larger alternative, which I have tried out with the Hydro myself.

Out for a run in the Blackdown Hills with the Lightflite
Out for a run in the Blackdown Hills with the Lightflite

 

Thanks to the slanted angle of the Hydro belt pack’s bottle holder and its pre-curved shape, drinks bottles slide easily in and out of it, nestling neatly between the two main storage pockets when in position. They can be secured as firmly as desired with the inbuilt drawcord, complete with large, easy-to-adjust toggle. As is the case with most attempts to multitask whilst running, there’s a knack to drinking on the move with the Lightflite Hydro: but after a bit of practice, you’ll rapidly pick it up.

 

 

Bottles are easy to slide in and out - then tighten with the toggle
Bottles are easy to slide in and out – then tighten with the toggle

One final point about the Lightflite Hydro: due to the angle of the bottle holder (slanted to the wearer’s right), it is a RIGHT-handed belt pack. Whilst this makes it very easy for me, as a right-hander, to drink on the run, left-handers will either have to adapt or seek out a more left hand-friendly pack! Check out the Montane Batpack 6L, or The North Face Enduro Belts 1 and 2, both great alternatives, in the Bum Bags section on Webtogs: www.webtogs.co.uk/bum-bags

The external mesh pockets, and internal key-clip
The external mesh pockets, and internal key-clip

In terms of how the Lowe Alpine Lightflite feels on the back whilst running, I have no complaints. After long trail runs and quick 5k blasts alike I was left with no back pain or rubbing, largely thanks to the simple adjustability of the pack on the move, and the foam-filled lumbar pad, which though quite minimal delivers surprising comfort. Finally, when your hot tiring run is at an end, it’s a relief that the Lightflite Hydro comes off easily, thanks to its chunky no-nonsense buckle.

Padded lumbar pad and easy-clip buckle
Padded lumbar pad and easy-clip buckle

The Lowe Alpine Lightflite Hydro is part of the Lowe Alpine Lightflite range, which includes lightweight backpacks and bum bags from 28 litres right down to 2 litres in size. All share the same fast and light ethos, being well suited to trail runners, adventure racers, mountain marathoners and lightweight hikers. Feel free to view the other Lightflite packs at your leisure, via the following link: www.webtogs.co.uk/catalogsearch/result/?q=lightflite

 

2. XSocks Speed One Socksxsocks-speed-one-socks-white-black

Webtogs Mike recommend the X Socks Speed One running socks to me, having used them himself for some time. Lightweight, yet padded in all the crucial areas, including with the high-tech-sounding “Lambertz-Nicholson Achilles heel protector”, the Speed One socks have performed fantastically on every run I’ve taken them on so far. Though XSocks market the Speed One as a short or middle-distance sock; having used them on 2 runs of over 10km without any issues (in fact they performed like a dream) I can confirm that they’re a great general running sock. On my last run I ran at least 6km with completely wet feet in the Speed Ones – no blisters or rubs ensued. In short, I’m impressed!

XSocks produce a wide range of running socks, as well as socks for hiking and biking, all of which take the same high-tech approach to comfort. From over-the-calf compression socks to marathon socks with 99.9% pure silver in their footbed, they’ve got a range to suit all types of runners. Even if you decide they’re not for you, they’re at least worth a look.

Satisfy your curiosity here: www.webtogs.co.uk/xsocks-socks

Or head straight to the XSocks Speed One: www.webtogs.co.uk/xsocks-speed-one-socks.html?sim=3820

 

3. Smartwool PHD Calf Compression Sleeves

smartwool-phd-compression-calf-sleeves-blackHaving not been much of a runner for most of my life, I’ve never used calf compressors before. However, when I received a pair of Merino Wool ones from the Smartwool brand rep., I thought I might as well give them a go! And I’m glad I did: since using them I’ve found that my recovery times have shortened (at least I feel like they have), and I now wouldn’t go on a long run without them.

The idea behind them is that they improve blood circulation in the lower legs and reduce ‘muscle wobble’, improving performance and shortening recovery time. They have the added bonus of keeping your lower legs warm when the weather is a bit chilly, and when you’re running off-road they give you a bit of extra protection against brambles, nettles and the like. The Smartwool PHD Calf Compressors are a much more useful, versatile and comfortable garment than you’d expect!

You can check out the Smartwool PHD Calf Compression Sleeves on Webtogs here: www.webtogs.co.uk/smartwool-phd-compression-calf-sleeves.html?sim=4306

 

And that’s the first batch of kit I’ve appreciated the most. I should mention that all 3 of the aforementioned products have not only performed well, they’ve stood up well to repeated use so far, including muddy soakings, exposure to sharp foliage, careless laundering, and more…

 

More kit ideas to follow!

Phil

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