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Manduka eKO Lite Yoga Mat

I’m not going to pretend that I’m some experienced yogi because I am far from it. I’m as newbie as they get. What I do know is comfort though, and I’ve struggled with a few things in my practice. The biggest being a comfortable mat.

My wife will be the first to tell you, I’m a tightwad when it comes to spending money. I’m cheap, I get it. I will painstakingly admit it!

The first mat I purchased, and that I’ve been using for a few months now, was under $20. Maybe even $10 on Amazon? I figured I just needed a mat right? What ‘s the difference, any mat should do ya? Well since the jump it’s been super thin and it hurts if I’m practicing on a hard surface, which most studios have hardwood so there’s that. But I’d just grin and bear it.

After Wanderlust and using it quite a bit there, I noticed the mat was no just thin but it was dangerously slippery. Any amount of sweat would turn into a skating rink. Simple poses like downward dog were nearly impossible to hold without my hands sliding. I went and did a power yoga flow class at a local studio and it was nearly impossible to stay still since it was very warm and I was sweating profusely. I had enough and ordered a new mat.

I splurged on this buy. I bought a Manduka eKO Lite 4 mm mat. I think it was nearly $50 on Amazon. My wife would be proud!

After researching the heck out of this mat, it seemed like the one for me. I kept reading how stable it was and how it held up to sweat. After a few sessions at home I took it to the studio and surprise; it held up. My downward dog was tight, my planks were stable my flow was clean and efficacious.

I like that the mat is eco-friendly too. I can’t say Manduka is a vegan company, they sell some products made of wool, but from what I could tell the mat itself is. I’m as conscious as I can be when it comes to making purchases. Whether its clothing or whatever, making sure the product I purchase causes the least amount of harm as possible is important. Supposedly this mat is biodegradable as it’s made from tree rubber.

Regardless, if you are a monetarily modest person like me, this is a very affordable mat. If you are still new to practice and don’t won’t to spend a ton of money, this is a great mat. A do wish I maybe got a thicker one, but 4 mm is too to. It is also a bit stinky but it’s already starting to go away. Being a rubber based product I expected it,

All in all, I’m happy with my purchase and look forward to many hours on the mat!

7 Top Vegan/ Cruelty Free Deodorants

Vegan and cruelty free products are seeing a huge demand recently not only for food products but for clothing and health care products such as deodorants/ antiperspirants. There have been natural deodorants for some time now as the worry about aluminum exposure (right or wrong) has people concerned enough to not use products containing it. As the vegan movement grows, though, people are asking for more products that are not tested on animals or containing animal products.

This list of deodorants I’ve compiled are all vegan and cruelty free. A couple may have aluminum and I will point out which. I’m not going to get into a debate or talk about the risks of aluminum, you can do your own research. I try to minimize the amount of chemicals my body is exposed to so after this test I will put the aluminum one’s to rest. I did test them so that way I could fairly comment on whether they work or not as far as combating odor and curtailing sweat. Again, you decide whether or not you want to use them.

Do you use a vegan deodorant? Which one is your favorite? Comment below the article!

SCHMIDT’S : Schmidt’s has been around for less than decade. Quickly though, the company grew because the products work. Schmidt’s was founded by Jamie Schmidt in 2010 and the recipe for her deodorants were formulated in her kitchen. Recently, much to the chagrin of some users, they were purchased by Unilever. I’ve been testing out the activated charcoal and magnesium and really like it. The scent is very refreshing and doesn’t feel like it is overpowering after applying. It goes on easy enough although you have to hold it to your skin for a couple of seconds to soften it a bit. Good thing is you don’t have to slather it on too much, just a couple swipes and you are good to go. I have found that if I put more than a couple of swipes on it does irritate my skin a bit and i have had a small rash from time to time.

This is an aluminum and paraben free product with all natural ingredients such as:

  • Maranta arundinacea (arrowroot) powder
  • Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
  • Cocos Nucifera (coconut) Oil
  • Butyrospermum parkii (shea butter)
  • Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (fractionated coconut oil)
  • Euphorbia Cerifera (candelilla) Wax
  • Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil
  • Magnesium hydroxide
  • Carbo activatus (activated charcoal)
  • Natural fragrance
  • Tocopherol (vitamin E; sunflower-derived)

I really liked this product and will surely try out other scents too see if the minor irritation is exclusive to the activated charcoal.

You can find Schmidt’s at https://schmidtsnaturals.com 

HERBAN COWBOY : Founders of Herban Cowboy, Luke and Lisa say about the company, “We wanted to create personal care products that are both healthy and have minimal environmental impact. We believe small changes in our everyday routine, like switching a can of aerosol shave cream to a recyclable tube of natural shave cream, can collectively have a long-term dramatic benefit to human health and our environment.” With an almost mythological like founding, Herban Cowboy has a full set of grooming and personal care products.

I tested out the unscented deodorant. It was one of the first sample I received for this test. I stopped applying any deodorant at all for a couple of days and luckily they were not stinky days, for my wife and kids sake. I started using this shortly after and was impressed on the very first day. This glided on well and really only needed a pass or two. Anything more than that and I felt like it was too oily and was darkening the pits of my lighter shirts.

That said, it worked. Most of these deodorant tests were done under duress. Whether that was a workout, on a run or through a whole day of cable guy work; I put this stuff to the test. Herban Cowboy came out on top of most as it not only keep my stink free but kept a good amount of sweat at bay. I work ten-hour shifts so the limits were truly tested here and passed with flying colors. On runs and during workouts, I sweated my normal amount but again, the stink was kept to a minimum. I’d really love to try a fragrance stick, I have a felling I’d really like it.

This is an aluminum and paraben free product with all natural ingredients such as:

  • Propanediol
  • Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice
  • Aqua
  • Sodium Stearate
  • Oryza Sativa (Rice) Starch
  • Ethylhexyglycerin
  • Zinc
  • Rosemary Leaf Extract
  • Parsley Extract
  • Sage Leaf Extract
  • Allantoin
  • Silver
  • Bisabolo
  • Citric Acid

I’m really interested in checking out more scents as well as the rest of the Herban Cowboy products. I think the shampoo and conditioner are next on my “must try” list.

You can check out there website at https://www.herbancowboy.com for stores online as well as brick and mortar that carry the products.

NORTHCOAST ORGANICS : These guys have an interesting story; the fact that they are a mom and son team makes it even cooler. Their story starts when the son, Nathan, decided after many years of using deodorant that it was time to start. He didn’t want to just use deodorant for the sake of keeping him stink free but to do it with the least amount of ingredients and to do it as natural as possible. That still holds true today and the formulas are all the same 5 ingredients, plus whatever essential oils are used for fragrance. To top it off, the ingredients are so organic and safe that you can eat them! Yeah, you can eat your deodorant! I wouldn’t make a meal out of it, of course, but god forbid you get it in your mouth you don’t have to run to poison control.

These guys sent a bunch of different samples so I got to try more than a couple different fragrances. The one I enjoyed most was the Douglas Fir, maybe it’s because I was testing it during Xmas season? I don’t know but it smelt great. When I applied it, similar to Schmidt’s, you have to hold it to your skin for a couple of seconds to warm it up. The shea butter (or carnauba wax) in this make it really hard and if you try to apply it before it warms, and you have hairy man pits, it’ll pull and hurt  a bit. I feel like this one might have lasted the longest as far as “protection” goes and I didn’t have to reapply when I came home from work after a 10 hour day.

This is an aluminum and paraben free product with all natural (organic) ingredients such as:

  • Coconut Oil
  • Carnuaba Wax
  • Arrowroot
  • Shea Butter
  • Baking Soda
  • Essential Oils (for fragrance)

You can check out their site at http://northcoastorganics.us and order online. What makes these guys different is they have a “$2 Deodorant Club” where you prepay $24 for the year and every quarter they send you a new deodorant. When you price these bars individually they are over $10 so joining the club saves you big $$!!

Fed up with deodorants that had harsh chemicals and irritated her sensitive skin, Jess grabbed her kitchen mixer and start formulating something that not only keep her skin feeling good but made her feel fresh. Using a variety of essential oils, activated charcoal and other natural ingredients she was then satisfied and had her friend, and future business partner, Sarah test it on a trek in South America. It held up and they moved forward with Piperwai.

They’ve kept things as simple as can be and made one stick and one jar of their deodorant, both with the same fragrance. I did have a preference when I compared them and that’s the jar. I have never used a deodorant that you have to spread yourself that is not stick form. I felt like I had more control over how much went on when I applied it and I knew I got it all over my pits. The stick was nice as well, but like others, had to be warmed against skin to spread on. I felt like Piperwai irritated my skin the least, it actually didn’t at all.

Cool thing that I just learned about these guys, they appeared on Shark Tank and reached an agreement with one of the sharks.

This is an aluminum and paraben free product with all natural ingredients such as:

  • Tapioca Starch
  • Coconut Oil
  • Water,
  • Shea Butter
  • Sodium Bicarbonate
  • Rosa Centifolia Flower Water
  • Witch Hazel Extract
  • Cacao Seed Butter
  • Tocopheryl Acetate
  • Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract
  • Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract
  • Magnesium Hydroxide
  • Activated Charcoal
  • Essential Oils: Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Eucalyptus Radiata Leaf/Stem Oil, Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Leaf Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Peel Oil, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Oil, Cymbopogon Citratus (Lemongrass) Leaf Oil, Melaleuca

You can find Piperwai at https://www.piperwai.com and order direct from their website.

pHresh : The story of pHresh is much the same as the previous companies, owner Hilary wanted to create a product free from contaminants that was not only safe for herself, but for her family and friends. She has created a variety of deodorants from sticks to cream to a roll-on in a variety of fragrances for men and women.

One of the big claims with pHresh is that some of the products are long-lasting and should protect you for 24 hours. Like I said above, I tested most of the products pretty harshly. I applied before running hard miles, before an 1 1/2 hour weight session and HIIT training. The fact is the stuff held up! Again, like the others deodorants tested, you had to hold this on the skin before applying.

That said, this stuff was hard and took a fair share longer to warm up. I easily tore some hairs of trying to spread it the first few times and that did not feel good at all.

One major ingredient difference between pHresh and others is that they do not use baking soda, as they claim if causes rashes. I’m not sure if it was the baking soda, but after testing a couple of the others I did have a slight rash that did eventually go away, with pHresh I did not.

This is an aluminum and paraben free product with all natural ingredients such as:

  • Fair Trade Certified Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)
  • Fair Trade Certified Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa Butter)
  • Maranta Arundinacea (Arrowroot) Powder
  • Fair Trade Certified Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil
  • Magnesium Hydroxide
  • Oriza Sativa (Rice Bran) Wax
  • Vegetable Glycerin (NON-Palm)
  • Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla ) Wax
  • Alpha-Glucan Oligosaccharide
  • Essential Oil Blend
  • Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil
  • Triethyl Citrate
  • Sodium Caproyl/Lactylate
  • Vitamin E.

You can find pHresh at http://honestlyphresh.com or search for them on Amazon.

Jack Black : Having one of the largest selection of products, exclusively for men, Jack Black claims to be the little guy in a neighborhood of “behemoths.” That is true as companies like Unilever and more can easily price out competitors. It’s amazing though that Jack Black has such high prices then. This product is by far the most pricey of them all at nearly $20 a bar. I get it, with quality comes a higher cost but that’s pushing it.

How does the product work? After a couple of applications my skin was super rashed and it felt like my skin was burning every time I put this stuff on. It’s a shame too because I really liked the scent. I wonder what is in it that caused the burning. I did a bit of research and it’s possibly that propanediol could be the culprit or the glycerin which are not in any of the other deodorants that I tried out. Regardless, it did not feel good.

This is an aluminum and paraben free product with all natural ingredients such as:

  • Propanediol
  • Water
  • Glycerin
  • Sodium Stearate
  • Silica, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch
  • Zinc Ricinoleate
  • Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract
  • Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil
  • Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil
  • Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice
  • Juniperus Communis (Juniper Berry) Fruit Oil
  • Rosemarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil
  • Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil
  • Menthol
  • Abies Balsamea (Fir Balsam) L. Mill
  • Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil
  • Methyldihydrojasmonate
  • Dihydro Pentamethylindanone
  • Allantoin
  • Sucrose Cocoate Polyglyceryl-3 Caprate

You can visit their website at https://www.getjackblack.com to check out their wide range of men’s products.

EO : EO’s plan from the beginning was to create a family business that meshed with their lifestyle rather than creating separation. They believed that by having cohesion between work, family and friends they could create a sustainable lifestyle that allowed them the free time to “love life and live clean.”

The ingredient list on EO is the shortest of them all. Rather than being a bar or roll-on, which is probably why all the other stuff needed to be there, as a spray they keep things to a minimum. Out of all the deodorants, I had to apply this more often than not. It worked really well for everyday use but if I got more active than just walking around I started to notice a little body odor and needed to reapply after 4-6 hours. That didn’t bother me to much as I really liked the smell of these. The ethanol ingredient scared me a bit but after some research it seemed like it was safe enough to use and I didn’t experience any irritation at all or burning.

One night I overcooked something and there was a bit of a burned stink in the air. Besides household cleaners, I didn’t have anything to freshen the air. Even though EO’s purpose is not as an air freshener, I used it and it worked amazing in a pinch!

This is an aluminum and paraben free product with all natural ingredients such as:

  • Organic Ethanol
  • Purified Water
  • EO Essential Oil Blend [Organic Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Organic Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Organic Geranium Maculatum Oil, Organic Vetiveria Zizanoides Root Oil, Organic Cedrus Deodara Wood Oil, Organic Cananga Odorata Flower Oil, Organic Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil]

You can find EO online at https://www.eoproducts.com where they list stores nationwide that carry their products.

Do you use a vegan deodorant? Which one is your favorite? Comment below!

The Grandpa Soap Co. Pine Tar Shampoo

My wife nailed it this xmas with a variety of gifts. She got me an air fryer, a small meat slicer for making deli seitan, some clothes and a bunch of other great stuff. In my stocking though she put some hair products that I have never heard or tried before.

I’ve been trying to find something that will stand up to shampoos like Head And Shoulders or other medicated dandruff shampoo and of course be cruelty free and vegan. This is a bit of TMI but I have a dandruff/ dry scalp issue and nothing, I mean NOTHING, has ever worked except for the H&S.

Until now.

In my stocking was a tube of Witch Hazel shampoo and some Pine Tar conditioner, both products made by The Grandpa Sopa Co. The products are not only cruelty free but the ingredients are vegan as well. I know that sounds redundant, but there are companies that will list one without the other. For instance, these guys have a buttermilk shampoo that is obviously not vegan, but they claim is cruelty free. Semantics aside, these products have been great.

I wanted to wait a couple of weeks to share my opinion on them. To be honest, if I stop using my old shampoo for less than a week the flakes come right back. I have not seen any yet and am amazed. My hair feels super clean and I feel great knowing that I not using products made from or tested on animals.

The Pine Tar conditioner has a scent that’s very “woods like.” Almost smells like I’ve been hanging around a campfire for a few hours and the smoke has attached itself to my hair. I feel like I should have a big ass beard and a backpack and be on a hike. Alas I cannot grow a beard and it’s cold AF to be out there hiking right now. The Witch Hazel smells nice and I can tell it’s doing it job because it tingles a bit, but the smell of the conditioner over powers it in the end.

Anyway, I’m very excited to try out some more products from these guys.

Quick Bites #5: So Delicious Cheese Shreds

Just a few short months ago the internet starting buzzing about a new cheese product and then all of a sudden; it was everywhere and people were maniacally seeking it out. It really started to hit when Daiya had just been purchased and some folks were looking for something to purchase in Daiya’s stead (read my opinion on Daiya being purchased here).

I don’t get to Whole Foods in Hyannis often, it’s not like it’s far it’s just… well… I can procrastinate quite a bit sometimes ok?! Anyway I went recently and picked up a few bags (the mozzarella and the cheddar jack) of this new cheese alternative. Was I excited? I sure was. I don’t know about you all but I get overwhelmingly elated when I finally get my hands on a new product. I don’t remember that feeling when I was not vegan, maybe the same old sh*t doesn’t get too exciting? Anyhow…

I don’t use shredded cheese on many foods except for the usual foods like tacos, nachos and pizza. So that’s how I tested these. A local Greek pizza joint allows me to bring in my own cheese when ordering pizza so I brought the bag of mozzarella shreds to them and got a plain pizza. One of the first things I noticed when I opened the pizza box was how well this melted. I’ve brought a couple other cheeses in to have them make pizza for me and none melt like this. Taste wise it very unique. There is a sweetness to it, probably because it made from a coconut base. But there is also a sharpness to it, very reminiscent of what I remember cheese tasting like. Not that it’s been a long time, but even after four years my taste buds have changed dramatically.

How is it on tacos and nachos? Again, the melt that you get is great. You have to remember folks, this is not cheese but a cheese alternative. There really is no way to make an exact replica without using animal products. But if we were to compare apples and oranges, this stuff has some of the best flavor on nachos and tacos that I’ve had. Like I said in the last paragraph, it has a very unique flavor. It’s not bad, absolutely not. It certainly separates itself from other brands though and I think that is a good thing.

I’ve tried a variety of shreds and they all have their uses, but so far these are my favorite. It’d be nice if my local Stop and Shop started carrying it so I don’t have to drive to Hyannis to re-up when I need more!

Tonight I’m making a mac and cheese and plan to use these shreds on top. I can’t wait! So Delicious cheese shreds are legit!

Review: Sanuk Admiral Boat Show

My closet houses upwards of 15-20 pairs of shoes; at least 18 of them are sneakers I’ve either purchased or have wear-tested for a few different companies. 2 of those pairs of shoes are old dress shoes. They are more formal than I chose to wear to a friend’s wedding in Brooklyn, NY. It was time to add another pair to the growing collection.

When I was looking for something new I wanted a boat shoe style but it was also important that they be ethical and made from only vegan materials. While not all of Sanuks designs are vegan, the few that aren’t use wool. Wool is the end though, they do not use any other animals products including in their glues, etc.

I chose the Admiral Boat Shoe and went with the brown. Amazon Prime is pure genius, and I had my shoes in two days after ordering. When I pulled them from the box I could tell how much care was put into them and that they were well put together. They were not heavy, were quite light as a matter of fact. The material did seem a bit stiff, but they hadn’t been worn. I think as they break in, also, that the sizing won’t be as big as they seem. I wear a 9 but think I could have gotten away with an 8 1/2 as they seem to be a bit larger.

After breaking them in a bit we went to the wedding.

Let me say how unbelievably comfortable the soles are. They are really bouncy and it feels like walking on air. While they still feel a bit big, because of the loosening of the material, I feel like they fit better and I can tie them a bit tighter to get them snug and comfy.

The only negative thing I have to say about them is they do not breathe very well. My feet were really sweaty after wearing them for a few short hours. I’m hoping as they break in more and more that this won’t be an issue.

All in all I love these shoes a lot and have been eye-balling the TKO model. Maybe those will be next?

You can check their styles out at http://www.sanuk.com/

Do you wear vegan specific shoes? What are your favorite brands?

Review: Revy’s Wallet

After making the transition to veganism, I’ve distinctly tried to not only keep animals out of my body; but also off of my body. I am aware and conscious of products made with wool, leather, fur, etc and stay away from them; obviously! One thing in particular that I had a hard time finding a decent replacement for was a wallet. I’ve tried all sorts of material, synthetics and whatever — none of them lived up to what I was looking for.

Until now that is.

It was either this past Christmas or the year before but I received a wallet that totally fit my needs. I’m a simple guy and just need a bi-fold wallet. It has to be able to carry my ID, credit and debit cards, as well as a couple other business cards or friends cards. Oh and of course it has to be able to carry cash, although I honestly never have dollar bills in it; I use my debit card all the time and couldn’t tell you the last time their was money in my wallet.

It’s a Revy wallet and if you don’t know what that is, I’m going to explain. Revy is a company based in El Salvador that makes products from recycled material. A good amount of what they do is make products that are made from recycled bike tires, like my wallet. I thought for sure after a good amount of time it would stretch out and my cards would be falling out all over the place. That is so far from the truth; it’s remained tight and firm. The workmanship is phenomenal and you can tell these are all hand-made.

Revy works with a variety of coops throughout El Salvador and believe in Fair Trade practices. From their site here’s is what their company stands for:

“All workers have the right of association to form their own coop, receive a living wage, and work without fear of abuse or their own safety. Economic justice and social justice cannot be separated.”

  • A fair price with cash advances and prompt payments
  • Collaboration on designs and production methods
  • Transparency by sharing costs and pricing
  • Long term relationships with job security

Have a guy or gal in your life that needs a practical and amazingly well crafted wallet? I can’t recommend these guys more than I already have here. I’m in the market for a new belt and will be ordering theirs soon, it looks just as amazing!

Website: http://www.revydirect.com/

Review: Sam’s Naturals Campn Stick

Just a few short weeks ago, my boys and I went on a camping journey to Lake George (in upstate NY) with some of my friends/ teammates from Strong Hearts Vegan Power. We spent the weekend eating glorious vegan food on the campfire. We swam in Lake George. Some of the group ran, while others hiked Mt Algonquin. My boys and I spent some time at Fort Ticonderoga and Ausable Chasm. And, in our “downtime”, we tossed some games of washer toss with Andy. It was an amazing weekend for sure.

I could create a long post about the timeline and exact details of the weekend but that’s not why I’m writing this. I had brought just about everything I could think of on this trip; except bug spray. Luckily, one of my friends/ teammates is Jess Ryle from Vegan Outdoor Adventures.  If you don’t know Jess, check out this chat I had with her a while back and get to know her. Anyway, she had brought some bug stuff and offered me a container of Sam’s Naturals Campn Stick.

My boys and I were getting eaten alive as darkness settled in and I applied some of the stick to us all. It’s reminiscent of a deodorant stick, which is pretty appropriate since they have a whole line of deodorants I guess (I have yet to try those). It went on smoothly, a little tacky at first but as it warmed up on the skin it was more fluid and spread very evenly & easily. The smell was nice as it’s DEET free and doesn’t have that nasty chemical scent to it. Being vegan and all natural, it of course had ingredients like citronella which are known deterrents, especially for mosquitoes. The smell of citronella and eucalyptus was certainly pervasive, but subtle enough that it wasn’t bothersome.

It seemed to work really well as the bugs started staying away as soon as it was on. I certainly felt good about using it not only for ethical reasons, but I hate putting chemicals and other protectants on my kids that does more harm to them then good. Sure, those other products work but the negatives surely outweigh the positives when it comes to DEET and chemicals like that.

It is surely satisfying knowing that a product that can be effective and still not cause harm to animals in any way yet do what it’s asked to do. I’m going to start looking around locally and see if I can’t find some more products by Sam’s Naturals. I even saw on their site that this offer this in a lotion now, that would be amazing!

I recommend this for you and your family!


Freakin’ Out Friday 10.7.16

justranchToday was a “two-fer” so I haven’t had too much time to settle in and get this post done. It was super gorgeous outside and I’ve been dying to get out on the trails again. With all the training leading up to Ragnar, it’s been quite a bit of time since I’ve been in the woods. So I did that and then a few hours later got in a decent workout in my ever-expanding home gym.

Mid-day I was reminded of something I’ve been freakin’ on for a couple of weeks now. I filled a bowl full of carrots and poured out a little ranch. You see, that’s the sh*t; the ranch! VEGAN ranch!

I’ve tried some other companies ranch dressings and no one has hit it yet; NO ONE! One company was a little too thick and was more like cream cheese than ranch. Another was like water and it was like dipping a salad into soup. Neither of those had a flavor that resembled ranch at all. One of them, a leading brand in vegan dairy items, tasted super synthetic and I honestly tossed the bottle after trying it one time. It was nasty!

During one of our breaks at Ragnar ADK we stopped at a Target in hopes of finding Hampton Creek’s Just Cookie Dough. We had a major success on that front and most of us bought a jar. Since I do not have a Target close to my house, I figured it was an opportunity to see what other Hampton Creek products they had. They had a few of the salad dressings, including ranch!

When I got home after the weekend and was unpacking all of my stuff I cracked open the ranch and tried it.

It was delectable!

It was heavenly!

It was absolutely, marvelously, extraordinary!

It was ranch!

The texture was there. The flavor was there. The thickness was spot on.

Blessed be, ranch is back in my life!! Thank you yet again Hampton Creek for absolutely hitting a product on the mark. I can’t wait to try more!

ps. I also grabbed the Just Thousand Island and it was glorious too!!!

Actions Wipes!

action-wipes-logoI have A LOT of stuff to go over that I tried for the first time at Ragnar ADK, but those are from sponsors of the team and I want to give them all one GIGANTIC write up all together. I did have the opportunity to try out one product that was sent to test specifically at Ragnar. Let’s get to it.

Have you done a Ragnar?


Well let me fill you in on a few things that are extremely important to know. First and foremost, it’s a 24-30 hour event! You are in a van with 6 people for those 24-30 hours and you run three separate times.

You get sweaty.

You get smelly.

You get dirty.

During a Ragnar there are locations that allow runners to sleep and rest. If you are lucky, some of the major exchanges even have showers; that’s a luxury for sure. But what do you do if you don’t have that capability, or if you are a little prideful and not into taking public showers with people you don’t know? In the past I’ve packed baby wipes and they did alright for quickly “sprucing up,” but I never quite felt clean and refreshed. There was residue and it just felt like I was moving the filth around. I apologize for the visual, but you see where I’m coming from right? You never really get clean. Baby wipes don’t do much for sweat odor either, so there’s that as well.

BOOM, here comes Action Wipes! What is an Action Wipe?

Inventor Martha Van Inwegen saw the need for a natural wet wipe to clean and refresh the body after a ride, run, hike or a long plane ride. She wanted a wipe she could use on her entire body, good for her whole family and safe for the environment. It was important that it remove dirt, sweat and odor REALLY WELL without chemicals that could be absorbed into her system. Martha mixed potions in her kitchen before hitting on just the right combination of essential oils that could do everything she envisioned. And that “potion” became the secret sauce behind Action Wipes. (https://actionwipes.com/pages/about-us)

After my first leg of the relay, a 6.5ish miles run, I wasn’t feeling that bad but I still needed to wipe away the sweat. Test number one was successful and I felt refreshed. I wasn’t that sweaty or gross just yet, so it was simple test to pass. My next leg though was 8.7 miles and at that point it’d be nearly 18 hours in a van with other stinky runners.

img_1676After that run we were at one of the major exchanges with showers, but again, I’m not into showering with a bunch of strangers. So I brought a couple wipes into the bathroom stall with me and got down to business. I have to say, Action Wipes worked a ton better than a baby wipe. I felt clean. I smelt clean. Most importantly, there was no funky residue. The Action Wipes actually cleaned my body not just wiped the filth around.

I know the rest of the van smelt ripe, but I felt like a champ and smelt like a rose!

You can check out the Action Wipes website for more info but there are tons of reasons you should support them besides the fact that their product works exactly as they claim it to! The ingredients are all 100% verified vegan. Plus, “one Action Wipes can equal up to 25 gallons of water, which is the average amount used in a 10 minute shower.” Considering the droughts we’ve been dealing with in various parts of the country, that’s a good thing!

They give back to the general community. For example, they provided cases of wipes to those people in Nashville who were affected by the floods a few years back. Many people didn’t have running water, so Action Wipes were their only form of cleansing.

We’ll wrap this up by saying this product is as legit as they come. Today it was announced that the team (Strong Hearts Vegan Power) will be taking on the Ragnar in PA (2017) for our next race. Guess who’s ordering a bunch of Action Wipes for the team?

Website: https://actionwipes.com

Review: MudGear

mudgear logo

ColdSSSide_largeAs the sport grows, so does the variety of gear that is available. We’ve seen a few companies pop up and make waves such as OCR Gear and Xracewear for their bib pouch shorts and shirts.  MudGear enter the fray and are handily holding their own as far as I’m concerned.

When I reached out to them to test some stuff out they graciously sent over a few different products.

First, let’s get into their fitted race jersey.

This is not a compression top, but is definitely snug. Not snug like a woman’s bustier or anything, but just enough so that when you’re doing work, the sweat can catch and wick away. It’s extremely comfortable and very lightweight.

While I haven’t used it in an OCR, and likely will not because I gotta rep my Spahtens, I do use this every time I am out running or doing an outdoor workout. One of my favorite shirts I own is one made by Asics and this one is exactly the same material. Superb quality!

TrailSockQuartCrew1_1024x1024Secondly, let’s go over some sock options.These guys not only offer a long sock, which we will go over in a minute, but they offer an ankle sock that is superior to anything I have tried so far.

These 1/4 ankle socks have a cushioned foot-bed which is nice for those that strike more toward the front of the foot as you run. I’ve done the minimal thing, and it was fun while it lasted, but I need a bit more up front. Heck, I need a shoe with more cushion all around. There is also some cushioning on the front top of the sock. Depending on how I tie my sneakers, I get quite a bit of rubbing and friction. Sometimes it can get rubbed raw. These socks though offer a ton more cushion and I can tie these as tight as I want with no issues.

Speaking of the top of the sock… These were made for those that prefer a lower sock but still want to race in the mud with them. The collar of the sock is nice and tight. Not elastic tight as in it’s not comfortable, but super snug and, wait for it, keep rocks out and dirt out! I’ve yet to wear these particular socks in an OCR but use them on the trails often, even in wet conditions. My feet always feel nice and dry, from the wicking and drainage, but they also feel great without being demolished by gravel and pebbles.

MudGearCompressionRaceSockboth_largeLastly, the high compression sock…

I have tried multiple socks in this range and so far I have yet to find one I can fully stand behind. I may even have reviewed a couple in the past maybe a little on the hasty side. After a few uses of the others I found things I did not like. One of them for instance was way to sheer and was super tight. The other, while I loved the fit and the feel of it, they split rather quickly in the toe-box after an OCR or two.

I put these Mudgear one’s through the Tri-State Super this weekend though and they came out on top of any of the others. Not only are they made for OCR’s, which the others were not, but they are awesome quality. I spoke about cushioning in the 1/4 ankle socks, these have it too. Ever get ropeburn from a rope climb or rope traverse? Yeah, that isn’t happening anymore. Along the backside, the calf, of these socks is some extra cushioning. While there wasn’t a traverse rope at the Super, there was a rope climb and I intentionally put a little extra pressure back in the calf to see how they felt and there were great.

The material was great for wicking away water, I didn’t feel like they were super heavy or weighing me down at all.

One thing I really liked was taking them off. Not because they were uncomfortable or anything but because they actually came off with minimal effort. The others were not easy to get off, especially the sheer one’s. These rolled on down the calf and my feet were free.

All in all, if I were to rate the quality of Mudgear it would get the highest of marks. I really think these guys are on to something and think you’ll agree.

Product info: http://mudgear.com/

ps. Loved the bonus beer coozies they sent!! Now I can rep my favorite OCR gear company while sipping on a cold one!!