Category Archives: Clothing and Accessories

Bottle Shock: What We Waste

Reusable bottle with filter is a sensible alternative to disposables

I know that a lot of plastic ends up in landfills, though living in Boulder with its zero-waste goals and wide-ranging recycling program that includes most plastics, I wasn’t aware how much. The numbers are shocking. I did a double-take when I read that bottled water is a $15 billion industry these days, and it’s not a very environmentally friendly industry either. More than 60 million plastic bottles end up in U.S. landfills every day. They are the remains of the 1.5 million tons of plastic that goes into bottles just for water each year, and Less than 5% is recycled. Toto, we’re not in Boulder.

The new reusable American-made Hydros Bottle from a socially driven and eco-conscious company ( i.e., a Boulder-type enterprise) provides an alternative. With innovative side fill port and twist cap, Hydros helps to eliminate the temptation to buy disposable bottled. Each bottle accommodates a filter that which lasts for three months or up to 200 uses, which not only offers an average savings of $400 but also keeps 200 plastic water bottles out of US landfills. It might be akin to a pinprick on an elephant hide, but every single thing that helps reverse the trend of unconsionable waste is worthwhile.

Hydros is a do-good company too by helping to fund sustainable water projects like Gondum, Nigeria. One dollar for every bottle sold goes to global clean water initiatives, so someone in need can have clean, safe drinking water.

Hydros bottles sell for $23.99 or $29.99  (seemingly depending on color and whether it is a side-fill or top-fill design). Replacement filters are $9.95 for a single to #23.95 or $24.95 for a three pack. Buy online or in retails stores.

ThermaJock Keeps Male Body Part Warm in Winter

Product protecting private parts could be man’s best friend during winter workouts

Today was the season’s first cold — well, almost-cold — day here in Colorado’s Front Range. It means winter is really nearly here. No matter the weather runners run and Nordic Walkers walk with poles. 

ThermaJock is not a product that I am able to test, so I’ll  just quote from its promotional information, which describes this base-layer fleece item as “a patented revolutionary product specifically designed to protect the penis from cold and chafing during cold weather activities. Our technologically advanced Polartec Thermal Pro material helps to prevent pain and frostbite while providing comfort and warmth to every man’s most sensitive area. ThermaJock will protect during any cold weather activity! Perform at your peak knowing ThermaJock’s got you covered!”

Thermajock costs $14.99 and can be ordered online.

Skike: When Nordic Walking Isn’t Enough

Blading with poles is top-level aerobic workout on-road or off-road

For super-fit Nordic Walkers who want to get leaner, stronger and even fitter, Nordic Blading represents the next level. The use of inline skates and longer poles is known to be an extremely effective form of exercise. Wheels instead of shoes and poles for propulsion bring extra speed to blading. Skike (skate + bike = Skike) is the brand name of a European product with larger pneumatic tires for cross-country capability, brakes activated by pressuring with the back of the lower leg and a semi-cuff that works as a lever to transfer that pressure from the body to the brakes.
Skike, which was invented by an Austrian named Otto Eder (above), has now joined Nordic Walking and other fitness activities with a training and instruction model that can accommodate trainers, coaches and instructors. The American Nordic Walking Association is offering a four-hour blading workshop on Friday, June 4, from 2:00 to 6:99 p.m. in Pacific Palisades, California. It is unclear whether this is Nordic Blading in general or Skiking in particular. The workshop costs $149 (discount for ANWA members).

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million. Click here for links to Skike videos. The one in the upper lefthand corner has music but no voice-over, so language is not an issue.

A Bit About Equipment

There are currently three Skike models on the market, in Europe anyway, all featuring two pneumatic tube tires, industrial-quality ball bearings, “a robust and stable lightweight frame” made of aluminum that is said to be produced exclusively for Skike. Three colors and two sizes are offered. In addition, there are spare parts and accessories, special poles by Pole4 and assorted safety equipment, sportswear, accessories and bags. 
The US. distributor is Pan Trading LLC (contact Franz Zarda), 26723 Lucas Canyon Lane, Kathy, Texas 77494; 713-458-0905 or franz@skike.com. It is carried at retail by Skates.com, which also handles rollerskates, inline skates, ice skates and “aggressive skates.” Click here for the Skike trail skates page on their website.

Other than that, the Skike website also does have a link to Skike USA with a phone number (888-460-8789) but no other contact information. That number reaches an “ATT virtual receptionist” who informs callers that no one is available at the number but requests that a voice message be left.By contrast, the list for Germany, where it is promoted as “Der neue On- und Offroad Skater”  includes 288 trainers, instructors and coaches, both individuals and sports training facilities or physiotherapy clinics.

Meanwhile, a training course has already taken place in Nanjing, China (above). I’m betting that it won’t be long, trademarks and pates notwithstanding, before Skike clones appear in the People’s Republic — if they haven’t already.

SPIbelt Holds "Stuff" While Nordic Walking

Convenient, commodious and comfortable sports belt comes in various styles and sizes

When I go out for a two-mile morning walk with my neighbor, I grab my poles, stick my house keys in the pocket of whatever I am wearing (and I make sure it’s not a pocketless tights/T-shirt combo) and off we go. When I jump into the car and head out for a longer walk on a trail somewhere in the area with my husband and/or friends, I usually take a fanny pack so I can carry a water bottle, a wallet, sunscreen, an energy bar and so forth. It’s a little bulky and awkward, but I’ve gotten used to it.

I didn’t know there was anything in between until SPIbelts hit my radar screen. They are designed for runners, so they reportedly do not bounce or shift and even the simplest of the several models can expand to hold an iPod or Blackberry, cell phone, keys, up to five GU or other energy packs, and other small personal items such as lip balm or sunscreen.They come in several models, from a simple belt  in a rainbow of colors ($19.95) to a SPIbelt with an inner pocket ($21.95). There’s a SPIbelt that holds a water bottle, a SPIbelt with secure loops for holding energy bars, a SPIbelt with some sort of clip to accommodate a racing number and a pink-trimmed SPIbelt whose sale benefits the Susan G. Komen Foundation and which would go splendidly with the Exerstrider poles I wrote about yesterday.

I have no idea whether they are pronounced “spy-belts,” “spee-belts” or something else entirely, and I haven’t tried one, but despite the gap in my knowledge and experience, this seems like an excellent accessory for Nordic Walking. It is available in adults’ and children’s sizes. Click here for a list of retailers that carry SPIbelts and here to order online. The phone number is 866-966-4440.

Winter Walking at Coot Lake & Boulder Reservoir

Flat, snow-covered trails make for fabulous winter walking

 I live in dry climate where even the cold tends not to be biting, so fleece gloves do the trick, even for a my daily early-morning two-miler. Over the weekend, my husband, a friend and I took a mid-day walk on the Coot Lake/Boulder Reservoir trails. Modest-size Coot Lake was frozen over with the ice thick enough to hold an adult’s weight and even to allow for some ice fishing.

The reservoir is too large to have frozen over, but in addition to Coot Lake, the surrounding wetlands were frozen solid and the foothills to the west were powdered in white.

The unpaved trail was covered with packed yet soft snow, with no icy spots. Such traction devices as YakTrax underfoot and studded paws on the poles were unnecessary, as were warm gloves, warm hat, gaiters, neck gaiter, scarf or any other real cold-weather wear. A basebell cap with a visor, sunglasses and sunscreen were useful.

Our charmed climate was brought home with a current discussion on the Nordic Walking eCommunity about winter walking and cold hands. Co-moderator Ed Urbanski wrote, “I always wear heavy down mittens when the temps drop below 20 degrees or so. Also I always use my Exerstrider poles with the ergonomic handles and no straps. Straps can cut off the circulation in the hands.” He also suggested, “hold the poles like you would hold a bird, tight enough so that the bird does not fly away, but loose enough so that you do not hurt the bird.” Yet another moderator, Marek Zalewski, suggested glove liners inside mittens.

Exerstrider‘s Tom Rutlin suggest bikers’ mitts, and I found a list of several makers on grad student/bicyle commuter John Martin’s blog called Regarding John. Click here for a 2008 post on the subject with his list and prices at the time (Googling to find links is up to you):

•Gallon Jug Pogies  (~$6/pr)
•Cabela’s Handlebar mittens ($20/pr)
•Climitts ($36/pr)
•Moose Mitts ($60/pr)
•Bar Mitts (for drop bars) ($65/pr)
•Apocalypse Design Bike Toasties ($84/pr)
•Dogwood Design Pogies ($90/pr)
•Expedition Pogies ($200/pr)

Am I gloating because I don’t usually such gear? I guess a little. I love to ski, cross-country ski, snowshoe and Nordic Walk in winter, and I’m happy that Boulder’s winter’s are benign enough to do so without having to dress as if for an expedition..

Origo Pedometer Watches

Wear the Origo on your wrist for ease of use

The Origo Paso pedometer/watch is a full-function and very smart watch. It is worn on the wrist, like a conventional watch, which makes it easy to check for steps taken, distance traveled in kilometers or miles (reportedly accurate to within two feet per mile), target step count, timer, alarm and calories burned. If you alternate running and walking with your poles, the smarts come in because it can distinguish between the two gaits and keep measuring without reprogramming the settings.

The display is a readable soft blue EL backlight, and the battery life of the CR2032 is up to one year. And if you for some reason you decide snorkel or even dive with it, or more likely Nordic Walk in the rain, the Origo is water-resistant to 50 meters (about 160 feet). It retails for $40 and comes with a one-year warranty. The distributor is North American Gear, 645 Main Street, Lander, WY 82520; 307-332-0901.

The iTunes Revolution Has Come to Nordic Walking

Downloadable music for Nordic Walkers

I hardly ever Nordic Walk alone, so I’m not personally plugged in to the iPod culture. In fact, I got one as a gift more than a year ago, and it’s still in the box. But of course, I know that runners, fitness walkers, treadmillians, stationary bikers, human ants toiling in cube farms and others  love their iPods and other digital personal listening devices. So I suppose it was inevitable that someone would assemble music aimed at Nordic Walkers. “Music for Nordic Walking” is now available for downloading for $9.99. There are 16 songs by 16 artists that otherwise are 99 cents each.

Lumbar Packs for Green-Thinking Nordic Walkers

Pack-maker Mountainsmith’s small packs made of recycled plastic water bottles

Mountainsmith has been making quality backpacks, camera packs, day packs and more for years, but now, they are utilizing material fabricated from recycled plastic bottles. Hooray!

The Process

The bottles used in the recycling process come from Japan, China, Taiwan, and Korea, countries that have pioneered refabricating plastic bottles into fabric. The bottles are processed, cleaned and converted to flakes before being shipped from these countries to Taiwan, where the material is spun into fiber that in turn is woven into Mountainsmith’s proprietary ReDura fabric and then triple-coated to increase the material’s overall strength and durability.

For the chemistry savvy, the material is polyethylene teraphthalate (PET), a thermoplastic resin in the polyester family used to make beverage, food and other liquid containers and synthetic fibers.

The Packs

Of Mountainsmith’s extensive product line, the smaller lumbar packs are ideal for Nordic Walking. If you’re in the market for a utilitarian lightweight lumbar pack to hold the necessities for a few hours of walking, take a look at the Buzz II, a 7-ounce featherweight and the smaller, lighter (only 3 ounces) Vibe II. The Buzz II (right) features air-mesh foam back panel, zippered mesh pocket on waist belt, reflective highlights (not trivial with short days coming up), zippered main compartment, two compression straps, key clip, headphone cord port, mesh sleeve gel pockets, elastic rigging on front panel and quick access to two water bottles in foam-padded water bottle pockets. It retails for $45.

Mountainsmith calls its Dart II a “minimalist hydration pack” for shorter shorter Similar features include air-mesh foam back panel, adjustable waistbelt with elastic webbing keepers, reflective highlights, one foam-padded water bottle pocket for a 22-ounce bottle, zippered mesh main compartment, key clip and headphone cord port. It retails for $25.

Available colors are pinion green, heritage teal, red, black, charcoal, cobalt and lotus blue. And the good-conscience value? Priceless.

Pedometer for Poles


Pedometer designed for Nordic Walking

Maybe a pedometer that fits on a Nordic Walking pole should be called a Pole-ometer, but Silva chose to name its dedicated pedometer: Pole Mate 1 (or Pole Mate 1) — or maybe Polemate.
The online product description reads, “If you are a dedicated Nordic walking enthusiast then Pole Mate I is your next step. Attaching to your current nordic walking poles, the Silva Polemate 1 is an integrated pedometer, distance measurer, automatic timer and it calculates calories consumed during the workout. With its water resistant design it is robust for the job. With its backlit display and simple controls, it is easy to use. “

There seem to be two models, both described in the online sell copy as: “If you are a dedicated Nordic walking enthusiast then Pole Mate I is your next step. Attaching to your current nordic walking poles…” The Pole Mate 1 (model 56060) is offered through amazon.co.uk for £13.99, and Pole Mate 2 (model 56061) is also available from amazon.co.uk, which sells it for £24.99. I don’t know the difference, since both are described online as a “multi function-exercise management system…pedometer and distance measurer [that] calculates calorie consumption [has an] automatic timer…[a] water resistant design [and] fits most Nordic Walking poles.” The images for both book identical on the Amazon site.

I’ve tried to find a US or at least North American company that sells it but have so far been unsuccessful. Amazon here does not show it. Off the top of my head, I think the Pole Mate is most useful for someone who just wants to track his or her Nordic Walking steps, distance and/or calculated calorie consumption, but not for anyone who want to keep track of the day’s total steps.