Looking for that big gift to make your favorite athlete’s eyes glow on Christmas morning? We’re going to make it easy for you. No special technical lingo needed here, just some really cool stuff your triathlete will be giddy to add to the mounting pile of happiness in their gear closet. So, athletes, pass the link on, drop the hints and sit back and prepare to polish your new shiny helmet. Happy holidays!
The North Face- Illuminated Reversible Jacket
Retail $200.00, www.thenorthface.com
Available in men’s and women’s sizing, The North Face Illuminated Reversible Jacket was created for avid runners, looking for a multi-use option to add to their gear closet. Crafted with Apex ClimateBlock, the jacket is windproof and almost completely waterproof, while still maintaining a surprisingly breathable interior when running. It includes secure hand pockets and sports an athletic fit, with a shaped hem. An athletic fit can be tricky for some athletes, luckily, The North Face offers the jacket in sizes small to XXL, to help you find the perfect fit.
What made this tester do the giddy dance for the Illuminated Reversible Jacket was the overall versatility of the piece. There’s a well-designed, understated heathered side when you’re hanging out with friends or running errands. When you’re ready for a run, the neon hued side provides 360 degree woven visibility, as well as reflective logos. “It was a great travel jacket for a light packer, like me,” our tester commented. “Even in the early fall, the canyons in Moab can get darn chilly in the mornings and evenings. It was great to have something that would work for my morning run, and then could easily be reversed, to throw on and get some grub with friends in town. It really is, two jackets in one- more bang for your buck.”
Louis Garneau Course Cycling Helmet
Retail $239.99, www.louisgarneau.com
It’s likely your athlete’s helmet is showing mileage, making Christmas a great time to trade up to the Course Cycling Helmet from Louis Garneau. There’s nothing like opening a package and seeing that Garneau red and black staring back at you- pure bliss.
Designed and molded directly on the head of a rider in a cycling position, Garneau also utilized computational Fluid Dynamics Software to simulate aerodynamic performance. The result, is a cycling helmet that optimizes performance, while reducing the highest pressure zones and allowing optimum air flow. An aerodynamic inner-nerve system molded inside of the liner, forces air inside the helmet to cool the rider. The inner mold then evacuates the air through the back of the helmet to eliminate moisture.
The Spiderlock PRO II closure system features a polymer neck support, and the wheel can be easily tightened or adjusted with one hand. At 8.8oz, the helmet feels super light, but offers maximum impact protection with a ring-shaped, reinforced perimeter at the base. Our tester explains the significance: “Entry-level helmets are a great protection, but can be bulky and uncomfortable as you add heat and mileage. Pads wear thin and hot-spots become more and more uncomfortable. I had no idea what I was missing. The Course Cycling Helmet felt like a HUGE step up from my last helmet. It was incredibly comfortable and light on my rides, and was easy to adjust. My favorite feature is the 31 vents that keep me at a very comfortable temperature when I was at maximum effort.”
The Louis Garneau Course Cycling Helmet is available in three colors and sizes Sm., Med. and Lg.
Hoka Mafate Speed
Retail $170.00, www.hokaoneone.com
Our tester was in trail-running heaven with Hoka’s Mafate Speed. “I absolutely love trail running in the Mafate Speed! I was afraid at first, that the extra cushion would feel bulky and I would end up on my face within the first few minutes on the trail, but it only took seconds to get the feel of the shoes. I can run for much longer without the pounding I was putting on my knees and hips. Love them!”
At only 9.6oz. (size 7), the Mafate is a lot lighter than it looks, but don’t think that it means the shoe is lacking in substance. Strategic, hi-abrasion rubber zones and healthy lugs, keep ground contact secure and prevent slipping, while their state-of-the-art outsole makes the shoe more durable. The balance of durability and light-weight can be tricky, and our runner had some concerns about the lugs that were quickly resolved, “After a few miles, I checked out the lugs and they looked like they may be wearing already, but I’ve been running in them for weeks, they aren’t showing many signs of wear.”
The CMEVA top midsole is a little bit stiffer than the super cushion they’re known for, and the seamless upper is constructed to keep the wearer comfortable for the long haul. A sculpted Arch Pod Support and adjustable race laces make it easy to dial in the perfect fit for your feet, although our tester does recommend going a half size down. While the Mafate Speed won’t fit the bill for hardcore, minimalist trail runners, our tester has dialed in the reason Hoka’s are so popular with endurance athletes, “Comfort. That is the perfect word to describe these shoes. Easy on my joints, and a smooth ride. I don’t want to run without them anymore.”
Hoka’s Mafate Speed comes in men’s and women’s full and half sizing, and two colors.
Switch Arya Sunglasses
Retail $189.95, www.switchvision.com
A perfect example of fashion and performance, the Arya almost caused a riot among our female testers when assignments were being decided. While Switch has many styles available for men as well, we just loved these women-specific frames so much, we had to add them to the list for your favorite female athlete.
Infused with the high standards that Switch eyewear is known for, the panoramic, 8 base lens profile and patented light management lens offer maximum protection, coverage and fantastic visual clarity. In addition to looking great, the Arya can be used for performance as well. “The frames are snug enough to stay on while running and biking without being too tight. The fit was just perfect, and I love that I don’t have to sport the ‘hardcore runner’ look just to find sunglasses that will stay on during training.” While we did have one tester that said her bike helmet was knocking the sunglasses a bit, we couldn’t pry them out of her hands to let her try another style, and she insisted that she must have a defective head. We think that speaks for itself.
Another benefit of the Arya, is the interchangeable lens system. Instead of the usual profanity-laced, lens changing dance we’ve all done, Switch has another option. A powerful, magnetic interchangeable Chassis keeps the lens in place when you need it, and easily comes out when a different lens would be ideal. Each pair of Arya’s comes with two lenses, Polarized and low-light Rose Amber as well as a hard case and a cleaning cloth. You’re extra set of lenses come in a small hard case, making it easy to drop into a jersey pocket for quick changes. Another tester said it best, “I’m in love- these are so cute! No one is allowed near my Arya’s. It’s taken me so long to find the perfect pair of sunglasses, and I’m not losing them. I can run, bike, kayak and spend a day on the boat, without having to trade out from fashion to sport.” Another added, “…the clarity is fantastic; no glare at all. They feel ultra-light and comfortable.”
The Arya is a brand new style for Switch and currently comes in four colors. While there is one lens package option available now, keep your eyes open as additional lens options become available. Many Switch fans will buy additional lens combinations once they’ve found the frames they love.
Hillsound Trail Crampon
Retail $59.99, www.hillsound.com
As more triathletes than ever are headed to the hills for training, searches increase for products like the Trail Crampon from Hillsound. Used for everything from backcountry winter hiking and running to all out glacier scrambling, the micro-traction, trail crampon offers enough bite for the ice without tripping you up.
The Trail Crampon offers 1.6 cm spikes, made with heat-treated S50C carbon steel. An ergonomic plate system adds stability and prevents the spikes from shifting during use. They are also compact enough to throw in a small pack. Weighing in at only 460g per pair (size med.), they are easy to put on and adjust with a velcro strap, although we do recommend putting them on for the first time at home or the trailhead. Once fatigued, it can be a bit tricky to maneuver on trail if you haven’t done it before. “The rest of my group was sliding all over the trail when it got tricky, even with their Yaktrax. All I could do was laugh and give them some stabilization, because the Trail Crampons were holding me rock solid. They’re a little bit bigger spikes than I would have picked out myself for all-out running, and they took a few minutes to get used to but I’m fine now. I fell right into an easy, jog and would even recommend them to anyone wanting to do some serious speed hiking through the winter, to build strength.”
Another tester added, “I used the Trail Crampon through last winter to speed-hike the same trails I run in the summer. It was a great experience, and a lot tougher than you would think. The crampons were fantastic and even after a full winter they’ve held up really well, there’s no signs of rusting.”
The Trail Crampon comes in sizes XS-XL, with proper sizing information available on their website. If you’re looking for something a little less aggressive, also check out the FreestepS6 Crampon, also available from Hillsound. Think of them as a step up from the standard Yaktrax you’ve seen runners sliding around with.