Best in Test 2018 - the Winners
Firstly, what a year! Snow. Ice. Snow. HEATWAVE. Now rain....
New brands. New groups. New ventures. But above all else, plenty of new toys in-store.
So the challenge as ever.... decide which are fit for the title 'Best in Test', while none has so far proven any less than perfect. That is, after all, why we choose to stock them in the first place.
But there's always a favourite among them, so without further ado, here's the list:
It would be an understatement to say that this Montane jacket has gone down well with people in 2018. Introduced as the replacement for/evolution of the classic Minimus that was a big success for us over the last 7 years, we had reservations about altering the design. But in a word WOW. Stretch fabric, front pockets, technical wrist and hood adjustments, reflective detailing and vibrant colours. And the cherry on top, fitted, warmer to the touch and less 'rustley'. The classic is still recognisable, but the tweaks are a stand out. For the asking price of £165 it still under cuts others for rrp and definitely passes that kit check come race day.
Montane again - but this time they scoop the award for top vest pack in our rundown of 2018's finest. The Fang5 isn't new this year, but boy has it come of age! Originally available in black and very effective for those who had one(me), but eye catching in the new red for this year and impressing all who tried it on. Stretchy for comfort, but secure without bounce. Roomy for a 5 litre pack and access to all pockets seems free of hassle. 500ml bottles included and features such as pole holders, whistle, secure zip compartments and external bungee/compression system. A very versatile and now attractive looking piece of kit.
Your eyes do not deceive you, the Scott Supertrac RC wins Best in Test for its second year on the trot. With comfort, cushioning, secure foot hold, traction and grip in spades and a lightweight racing feel for multi terrain training and faster runs over any surface you care to try. 5mm drop for a natural running style, this shoe is going to take some beating. Right now, more than half the staff team, our community leaders and our supported athletes are wearing the Supertrac RC and loving them. Just superb.
Kinvara 9 from Saucony. A shoe which changed a great many lives. After the first year of trading, Accelerate took the Kinvara into stock and gave it a chance, with its lower than average heel-to-toe 'drop' and deep, lightweight, cushioned midsole material making it a high mileage possibility, while retaining the 'fleet of foot' feel of a racing flat.
Now in its 9th incarnation, with a retro colourway(mimicking the original). 10 years strong and still a massive seller at the store, for those who like to feel plenty of shoe under their feet, but without slowing down. Outselling newer footwear and with its own fan base.
Pride of place this year then, for a relatively unique design which has endured and is now making something of a comeback.
Newly introduced this year, during the heatwave and showcased at our Tuesday evening Trail Group (Accelerate Trail Runners). Active Root doesn't sound like much on paper. It's a ginger flavoured sports drink. With Sea Salt for electrolytes. And natural cane sugar for steady energy delivery. Oh and it's Gluten free. And suitable for Vegans. It is also proven to reduce nausea during running.
Doesn't hurt that when tested at our group session, all who tried it said they found it tasty, effective and easier to get on with than their current/previous choice. Since I've had to endure bouts of sickness and convulsive dry heaving on more than one occasion, I know what I'll be packing from now on. Active Root is now a permanent fixture in our nutrition/hydration section.
Timing is everything, or so they say. But the fact is, these days, your humble watch can tell you where you're going, how to get there, what the altitude is, distance covered, pace achieved, who's calling or texting on your mobile and more. For many, there's nothing more important than heart rate information and that's what takes a giant leap when it comes to Polar's new Vantage V multi sports watch (and Vantage M in fact). Because they've developed a more accurate measure of heart rate through the skin. Underneath the watch itself are an impressive 9 LED sensors and 4 electrical contact sensors, for state of the art reading of blood flow.
But this isn't the big news. Vantage V is also the first watch to provide Power information from the wrist, which can assist in identifying fatigue in your performance as well as spelling out a much clearer view of recovery targets or timescales. Not just any watch then - and all housed within what has to be one of the neatest, most attractive little bezels. A tastefully conceived piece of technical wizardry.
Finally, we've another 'oldy but a goody'. Brooks(back in store after some years) Cascadia is a legend in its own lifetime. 13 versions in and stronger than ever. A shoe which we sold back in the early days at Accelerate, for its door-to-trail worthy midsole, which is stiff, but deep enough to damped down the lumps and bumps once you hit the tracks and paths in the parks or further afield. Grippy, with bags of traction on hard trail, or road sections alike. Shallow mud and grassy areas are nothing to shy away from, while the sturdy toe protection at the front end offers confidence to those hoping to scramble through lose rocky terrain on occasion, or fight through prickly undergrowth without fearing that their footwear will be in ribbons. Literally a very strong entry and winner for 2018.
So there it is. Our pick of the crop. Available in-store where you see the 'Best in Test' button (see top of article).
Tuesday 18th of December 2018