Thursday, April 28, 2016

Hoka Challenger ATR 2 review

Hoka OneOne Challnger ATR 2 (2016 model).

Hoka OneOne's new Challenger ATR 2 for 2016 is pretty much the same as the 2015 model we all loved so much (my review here). But there are some differences that are worth pointing out.

  • The shoe has wisely been kept mostly the same as last year's successful model
  • It's still in the same price category (about 130)
  • Early Stage Meta Rocker for that fast smooth ride is still there
  • 29mm heel and 24mm forefoot = the same 5mm drop remains unchanged
  • Similar 4mm lugs for traction in the outsole
  • The same size as before works for me (US10.5 - but please note the differences below and the fact that I buy my shoes one full US size bigger than my foot, which is actually US9.5 only).
Testing Challenger ATR 2 in challenging terrain. 

  • New Closed Air Mesh upper for added protection
  • Slightly more padded tongue for more comfort
  • "More supportive fit through the midfoot", ie. tighter fit around your foot - possibly helps prevent blisters
  • Stronger front tip (this was the point that broke first last year after kicking a few rocks)
  • Thicker Ortholite insole (I already had changed a thicker one into last year's model as it didn't work)
  • Slightly heavier (284g per shoe in my size US 10.5, a 6g increase from 278g - this 2% weight increase is not noticeable when running)
  • The laces are slick and will loosen up in no time if you are not careful - better make sure to tie them well before starting to save lots of time later)
  • Hopefully more long-lasting (my last year's Challenger ATRs are already in the trash after getting 1100 km out of them, which is more than I get out of most other shoe brands - but I've ran about 2000 km from my 2015 Stinson ATRs and they are still being used occasionally)
  • New crazy 'Astral Aura/Neon Green' color combo - doesn't make any sense to me, but the shoe actually looks pretty cool.

It's fun flying aboard Hoka Challenger ATR 2!


  • Last year's model was already a great success, but this is new model fits my foot just perfectly
  • In my opinion, Challenger ATR 2 is the best trailrunning shoe by Hoka
  • After testing the shoe in steep muddy uphill and downhill, I was surprised how well it performed
  • The shoe feels very safe and stable even when sliding down in mud on one foot
  • Just the right amount of cushioning - these shoes are definitely not too soft
  • Even when you are getting tired, the shoe makes you feel like you could keep on running forever
  • Makes running so much fun it's really hard to stop
  • Good for all distances, but in longer ultra races you might need more than one pair of them
  • Challenger ATR got me through the super tough Swiss Irontrail 2015 in 55 hours, and I expect this new model to perform even better this year.

Hoka Challenger ATR running in Swiss Irontrail 2015.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Lumonite Compass R review

I've been looking for a powerful headlamp mainly for all-night (actually a couple nights) Alpine ultra trail running. Now I've found it: Lumonite Compass R. Yes, I'm a sucker for simple design - guilty as charged. I don't want any bells and whistles like computer software to program the light. I also don't like external battery packs. Just minimalist functionalism and nothing more.

Lumonite Compass R with headband and battery inside: simple all-in-one design.
  • simple minimalist Finnish design for extremely tough situations
  • all in one body made of type III anodized aluminum (impact resistance 2m)
  • waterproof (IPX8)
  • relatively lightweight: 159g (lamp + headband + 50g battery)
  • just one rechargeable 3600 mAh/3.6V battery inside the main unit, no external battery pack
  • USB SnapCharger is easy to use (just snap on the magnet connection)
  • only one big orange button (single click ON is the last brightness level used, another click is OFF, press long to change brightness levels, 2 clicks for TURBO) 
  • 3 powerful light modes:  LOW 85 lumen, 28 meters (24h) / MED 230 lumen, 40 meters (8h) / HIGH 630 lumen, 65 meters (2h50)
  • TURBO mode available for special situations (measured max 1054 lumen)
  • the light can be easily detached from the headband (stainless steel Releasy holder)
  • can also be manually used as a flashlight 
  • can be attached to any metal surface (magnet holder)
  • the top of the headband is detachable 
  • powerful enough to also serve as my main bike light 
  • warranty 2 years.
  • definitely not one of the cheapest LED lights out there
  • Customized Lumonite Battery required (the light actually works with any standard 18650-type battery, but those can't be charged with USB SnapCharger, so I probably won't be using them)
  • the powerful Cree XM-L2 CW led can be dangerous - for security do not leave anything in front of the light within 5cm when turned on, slightly turn the battery cover open when not in use to avoid it turning on, don't let kids play with the light and never point the light directly into eyes. 
Midnight test: competing with the full moon! The beam lights up the trail ahead clearly.
I've briefly tested Lumonite Compass R at midnight and the results seemed very good. The beam lighted up the trails and boulders ahead nicely. The final test will be Swiss Irontrail T201 in August.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

RIP Silva Trail Runner 2

RIP Silva Trail Runner 2, the brightest thing on my head. You guided me through some crazy races in 2014-2015:

  • Lavaredo Ultra Trail
  • Eiger Ultra Trail
  • Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB)
  • EcoTrail Oslo
  • Zugspitz Vertical Challenge
  • Swiss Irontrail T201
  • Ultratrail Collserola
I'll miss your lumens.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

All Aboard The Bouldering Train

Kylmää kiveä, a Finnish climbing documentary film is finally on TV now.

Matti A. Jokinen (1932-2014), the pioneer of Finnish climbing lived by Taivaskallio boulders. His Hakahalkeama is the first crag here. That's where it all started over 60 years ago.

Matti A. Jokinen training at Taivaskallio.
It may not be a coincidence that bouldering - the simplest form of climbing - appeals to us trailrunners. I've noticed that climbers resemble us, because they are always looking for the hardest routes. Both bouldering and trailrunning seem to fit the Finnish mentality well.

Me at Taivaskallio yesterday. The weather is ideal now. All you need is a pad and shoes to get started.
I got myself climbing shoes and a crash pad to fall safely on. That's all the gear you need to get started. I also moved close to Taivaskallio, so I can bike to the crags in a few minutes with the pad on my back.

All aboard the bouldering train. Next stop: Taivaskallio crags.
All aboard the bouldering train! Next stop: Taivaskallio crags. Nice training project for 2016.