Category Archives: Clothing and Accessories

Make Your Shoelace Stay in Place

When I was walking this morning, first my left lace came loose. I stopped and retied it. Then my right lace came untied, both ends flopping on the pavement. I stopped and retied it. With Nordic Walking poles in hand, each stop and retie is just a bit more involved that simply propping a foot on curb or rock. I’m not whether would have flunked Shoelacing 101, or whether the round laces just loosen more readily than flat one. In any event, I was intrigued to find a small ad in the back of a sports publication for Lock Laces, a clever device to solve small problems like mine.

Lock Laces are elastic replacement laces with a slidable disk that uses tension springs to hold the laces in place and maintain the desired fit on the foot without loosening. When you are finished walking, unlock the disks to slip your feet out. When you’re ready to go next time, slip your feet back in and lock the disk. I joked about Shoelacing 101, but the company’s website actually has step-by-step instructions on how Lock Laces work. The laces come in seven colors and cost $4.99 a pair.

Identification for Emergencies

Our dogs can’t go out without identification tags, and many of us put them on our cats as well. But most of us blithely leave the house anonymously — and most of the time, we all return unscathed. But as occasional advocate of being a better-safe-than-sorry Nordic Walker, I’m intrigued by a line of identification accessories that don’t interfere with the activity but are there for you in case of an emergency. If you’re walking with a group or at least one other companion, this probably won’t be necessary, but if “something” happens when you’re out on your own, wouldn’t you want emergency personnel to know who you are and whom to call?

Road ID makes several stainless steel “people tags” laser-engraved with your name, address, emergency contact information or medical alert (epilepsy, insulin-dependency, etc.). The band for the Wrist ID (right) comes comes in a choice of five colors and two sizes, and also features reflective Scotchlite for night-time safety. The Ankle ID is a similar concept but made of neoprene and offered in three colors. The Shoe ID is a simple ID tag that is attached to the lace of one shoe via a small Velcro strap, while the Shoe ID pouch is attached the lace in a similar way and also can accommodate a credit card, key and a bit of mad money. Each of these identification products has room for six lines of information and costs $19.99.

Two for Tunes

If you like to take an iPod along music to set your Nordic Walking pace (or just as diversion), you’ll be interested in the SportWrap, a slimmed-down version of a holder that can be worn on the upper arm or form. Two adjustable Velcro straps secure the iPod nano or other player, no matter how agressively you move. A little built-in cleat keeps any excess earphone cord out of the way. The pouch is water-resistant and allows full access to the controls — though it won’t hold your poles for you while you tinker with the buttons. The SportWrap sells for $29.95.

Another option is Sugoi’s Audio T shirt with a pocket on the sleeve for an iPod or MP3 player. The earpiece and wire feed from the pocket and through the shirt and loop round the collar. Made of performance fabrics called TechniFine Mesh and TechLite, the shirt features ventilating mesh inserts. It comes in four two- and three-color combinations and is sized from men’s XS – 2XL; there are also kid’s sizes from age 3-4 to 11-12. I don’t know a lot of kids who are dedicated Nordic Walkers, but they might just like tunes to go as well — and also to dress like the parental role model. The web page features a fit guide. The Audio sells for $45.

High-Tech "Conditioning Wear" Debuts

If you are fond of wearing insulated tights for cold-weather walking and snowshoeing, take a gander at the new CW-X line of “conditioning wear” from a five-year-old company called Wacoal Sports Science, which grandly proclaims that its patented Conditioning Web, gives the body “two layers of support [that] band the joints and muscles into a unity that nature didn’t see fit to provide.” Built-in stretch waterproof, windproof panels add the insulation element to an existing concept, originally designed for runners.

Stabilyx Insulator tights (right, available in men’s S, M, L and XL; women’s S, M, L and LL) support the lower backbone and knee joint areas. Retail price is $95-$110. The Insulator Pro Zip-T (zippered and not) for men ($85), and a support-top Zip-T ($80) and sleeveless support top/bra ($60) for women.

The stuff might seem pricey, but when you want to get out in the cold and also want an extra edge comes to protecting iffy joints, such technology is actually priceless.

Pedometer Primer

I picked up a Walking Advantage by Sportline pedometer on sale at REI before Christmas, and I’ve finally gotten around to setting it for my stride and using it. And I love it. The model I bought is #353, which not only was well priced but also had features that appealed to me. It is lightweight and clips firmly onto a belt or waistband. It counts steps, distance (after be calibrated to the user’s stride length, which is why it took me a while to get around to using it) and calories burned. Also, its FM radio feature is a nice extra when I’m walking alone.

Perhaps this would be redundant for an iPod owner, but for me, it’s great. Now, I can’t claim not to know how much I’ve walked and use that as an excuse for not logging at least 10,000 steps a day. Pedometers are pretty inexpensive too. The most expensive mainstream, general-purpose instruments sell for less than $40, many are between $20 and $30, and some retail for under $20.

Sportline makes pedometers from a SpongeBob Squarepants model for children to more sophisticated models. The #360 can track walking/jogging/running and also measure steps, distance, calorie burn, speed and time spent on those activities. The #355 is similar to mine but instead of an FM radio, logs time expended, displays the time of day and also has a way to adjust the stride setting.

Heart Rate Monitor + Sports Bra

It may seem odd I am writing about a sports bra when I haven’t yet addressed the topic of pole brands and only yesterday tipped my toe into the pool of dedicated Nordic Walking shoes. But I don’t want to lose track of a product for female Nordic Walkers who appreciate the comfort of a well-made sports bra and yet want to measure their heart rates while exercising.

NuMetrex is a seamless, T-back sports bra (left) with electronic sensing technology integrated right into the fabric to pick up the heart’s electrical pulse and radio it to a watch via a tiny transmitter inerted into a special little compartment in the front of the bra. It is able to combine the traditional comfort and support of a sports bra with built-in accurate heart rate monitoring, thanks to the fabric’s “e-textile” properties that enable it to sense and transmit. Since many women care about color, let me tell you that it comes in white, black and blue, plus a red model with $5 of every sale supporting the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women program to combat heart disease.

NuMetrex is the brainchild of the creative minds at Textronic Inc., a spin-off from DuPont Textiles & New Materials. When it was introduced to the trade, the NuMetrix bra was named by the National Sporting Goods Manfacturers Association as one of the top five new products of the year. The company is currently working on a men’s “cardio shirt” to serve the same function.

The basic model costs $115 for bra and monitoring watch, $145 for a system that includes a caloriepcounting feature and $45 for just the bra, practical for women who like to have two or three sports bras rather than rewashing the same one after every Nordic Walk. Ask for it at your local running stores and or at REI.