Friday, July 6, 2012

Product Review - GU, Injinji, and Hydrapak Soft Flask

Part of the fun of blogging comes when companies want to send me things to try out.  And, presumably, write a review on - although by now I hope it's obvious that my reviews are not the "Product XYZ is fantastic, here are the stats on it directly from their website, you should all buy it!" because you know I'll say what I really think, at the risk of not getting more stuff to review.  On that note I would like to ask, what's the holdup, Mini Cooper???  I am waiting for my review car!  ::taps foot impatiently::
Today's review comes courtesy of Scott from Outside PR, who has sent me some pretty nifty things in the past, including a pair of sunglasses that Jeff promptly stole from me and is wearing to this day.  Thanks, Scott - I always appreciate being on your radar, even if I don't get to keep everything!


First up, we have a pair of Injinji toe socks.  Right away, I have to give a shout out to Mike at Brazos Running Company, who let me swap out the pair I was sent for a pair in my correct size - thank you!

If you're a child of the 70s then at some point you may have owned a pair of rainbow-striped toe knee-socks, and while they were the height of coolness, they weren't exactly the most comfortable things to wear.  The Injinji socks are really thin and were pretty easy to put on...according to the directions, you're supposed to get each toe situated before pulling the sock on the rest of the foot, and whaddya know, that worked!  I wondered if I'd be bothered by the individual toe coverings, but honestly, after a minute, I didn't even notice them.  I wore them on a couple of short runs - they felt fine, but were thinner than what I'm used to wearing, and I missed the extra padding on the ball of my foot that I get with my Thorlo Experia's.  One big reason that I was interested in trying out these toe socks is that I developed a blister on my baby toe during one of my long runs, and it kept recurring after that, until I had to stop running for a year.  These socks are definitely going into my reserve for my long runs - while I'm not up to a double digit run yet, I will be soon, and I'm hoping that by wearing the Injinji socks I can prevent my toes from rubbing and be blister-free.
Naturally, Paco wanted to get his feet in on the photo shoot!  Please note that socks with flip flops were worn for photo-op only; I may be dorky, but I'm not at the black-socks-with-sandals level...yet.


The strangest thing that I tried out was the Hydrapak SoftFlask gel flask. The concept behind the Soft Flask is that you can fill it with your favorite energy gel for quick refueling while you are on the go.  It has a bite valve, similar to a Camelbak, where you use a bite and suck method to get the gel out (and, yes, my inner-twelve-year-old-boy is giggling as I write this).  A benefit to having all of your energy gels in this product is that you don't have to mess with tearing them open as you need them, or hold onto the empty packets until you pass by a trash can.  Seems like a good idea, right?  Well, I don't think it's a necessary item for runners.  Bicyclists, maybe - they really need to be hands-free (and they can store the flask in a bike pouch when they don't need it).  Runners would most likely have to carry this, unless they put it in a pocket, but I think that might get messy, plus I don't like to have anything bouncing around in my pockets when I run.

I tested it out with a GU, and quickly discovered that GU does not work very well in the flask - it's too thick, and I nearly popped a blood vessel trying to suck it out.  A couple of days later I tried using some Accel gels - Jeff and I ended up not liking the consistency of these (too runny) but I figured they might work better in the Soft Flask.  I was right - the gel was much easier to get out.  Max and I had a good time testing it out - I got some funny pictures as he gave it the old college try (very appropriate as he's in college, lol):
Then he handed the Soft Flask to me and took the camera - I have to say, I'm not a fan of flavor (strawberry kiwi), plus it was just weird to do the whole "bite and suck" thing:
Also?  I had gotten very little sleep the night before, was up early to run, and had showered, but had no make up on and let me tell you, I looked hideous, so I ended up running this collage through the "posterize" process on PicMonkey.  These are bad enough - trust me, you did NOT want to see the originals.

We then took the Soft Flask to Jeff to test out - sadly, no pictures turned out as the cameraman (Max) was laughing too hard at Jeff's reaction.  Although you could also use it for water, the floppiness of the flask would be weird to try and manage while running, so I'm going to call this one just not a winner in our household, and I wouldn't recommend it for other runners of our level.


Last up is the GU Roctane Energy Drink and the GU Recovery Brew.  I tried the Roctane in Lemon Lime flavor and liked it - I had it after a sweaty 45 minute run, and it did the trick for rehydrating me.  While it has lots of sodium (320 mg) and carbs (59g), it also has a lot of calories (240) and for me, that's too much.  Runners/athletes who don't have to be so watchful with their weight probably wouldn't have a problem with this, but I do and wouldn't make this my first hydration choice during a longer run.

I tried the GU Recovery Brew, which can be mixed with milk or water.  Since I hardly ever have milk in the fridge, I used cold water for the mix, and it wasn't bad...I mean, you're not going to mistake this for a milk shake, but it tasted pretty good...just make sure that you use cold water - room temperature water does not do this mix any favors.  The Recovery Brew has 240 calories, 46g carbs, 8g protein, 2g fat, 190 mg of sodium and 390mg of potassium - pretty good bang for the buck when it comes to a recovery drink!


If you've made it to the end of this review, thank you - I know it got wordy.  I have some extra packages of the Roctane and Recovery Brew, and I'll be glad to drop them in the mail to anyone in the U.S. who would like to try them.  Just leave a comment letting me know you're in, and I'll do a random draw in a week and send them out when I return from my vacation.

FTC:  I was sent all the products listed for review - opinions are strictly my own.


  1. Ive never GU'ed (shocking I realize :)) but I LOVE MY INJINHIs!! For my VFFS and with flip flops and birkenstocks and...

  2. I have a friend who swears by the Ininjhi socks. Says she's never had another blister since she's been wearing them and she was a person who blistered every. single. toe. on a 10 miler if you can imagine that pain.

    I know you think the energy drink calories are high but honestly, if that drink was being used as it's intended: as energy and electrolytes on a distance run, 240 calories is nothing. Think about it, if you run 10 miles, you burn around 1000 calories. When I regularly did distance training and was trying to lose weight, I never even counted the calories from my energy drinks because I burned so much more than I took in.

  3. I've tried Gu Brew (and like it better than, gulp, Nuun), but have never tried the recovery brew. Toss my name into the hat for the giveaway.

    Have a great weekend! No race this weekend?

  4. Thanks for the great reviews! I'm not too crazy about my toe socks, I don't like fabric between my toes I guess. I'll have to check out those GU products, I love my GU tri-berry gel when I run.

  5. I actually love the way you altered your pictures - so fun! And I agree, it would be weird to run with it.

    I am so glad you are having a great time in Cali!

  6. I'd like to try those flavors!

    I think that flask sounds SO weird and I don't know how much I'd like running in toe socks (but I wanted to mention that I am an 80s child and toe socks were all the rage when I was in grade school!)

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. hmmm I didn't remove my here goes.
      Many runners use gel flasks - especially ultra runners and those who are doing longer triathlons. It's impossible to carry all you need at the end of a 112 bike ride for the run. I have to get fuel in every 30 min. so the flask is great for people like me!

  8. Nice products Shelley - I didn't know some of those things existed. My daughter Claire has TONS of toe socks in the winter time, she loves them

  9. ROFL at the Posterized collage!!!!

    I dunno about toe socks; I remember the striped ones we tried to wear when I a preteen, and I still feel dorky about it. :)

  10. Great reviews! And I love the posterized collage. I want to do that for all my pics. You look andy-warhol-ed :) I've never tried socks with toes and I don't run, but I'd love to wear them when the weather gets cooler with my flip-flops. Notice I didn't say winter as this is Texas, haha)

    Thanks so much for your sweet comment on my blog. You have been an inspiration to me :)

  11. I got a pair of those socks after losing 2 toenails on simple 5Ks, and they made a world of difference- no toe issues at all when I wear those socks!


Comments are now moderated to prevent spammers from leaving, well, spam - but rest assured that as soon as I read a real comment, I will publish it. So please, comment away, even though the blog is officially closed. Thanks!