Sunday, April 28, 2013

Apex Trail- Snowy Wonderland

Last week we got hit yet again with a load of snowy weather. Although most of us in Colorado are groaning over the ever rising false hope of summer followed by getting kicked in the balls with snowy weather in the 20s, I tend to rejoice in the little things. Things such as silent trails and breaking new trails (being the first to run through the snow). Here was my 9miler at Apex, I wore running pants and a t-shirt with Zoot sleeves. No need for a jacket, the sun was glaring so brightly off the snow I had to put my special snow lenses in my sunglass frames, and I only slid on my gloves for the first few miles to warm up.

 Not a footstep in sight

The "Enchanted Forest" trail was stunning. It was so silent and beautiful. Every few minutes some snow would be knocked loose from atop the trees and slowly cascade down in a billowy cloud. It was breathtaking and I had to stop many times to just stare and feel happiness in my soul.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Snowy Trail Run- A Bit of Bliss

Tuesday's trail run was with a good friend and her pup at Deer Creek Canyon. It was a perfect trail running day: 10.5 miles while the snow was gently falling around us in big fat flakes and licking our eyelashes. The run ended in a muddy downhill, as is usual for DCC this time of year. It was so much fun. The "kids" were happily running ahead then circling back to check on us. Argos dove in the snow a few times and Denali bounced around playfully. I got to share one of my favorite trails and we successfully avoided the park patrol officer who had been seen frequently at the bottom loop.

I felt winded a little too easily (very frustrating) but given my lack of intense exercise I had been so used to lately due to my IVF treatments and restrictions I had to allow myself a little slack.

We ended the perfect day at DaKind Soups to knock the chill that set over us post run. Hot tea, delicious soup, and a melty sammich!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Gear Review: Hill People Gear Snubby Kit Bag

I have finally, and I mean FINALLY (said with exasperation because baby it's been a long road) found the perfect way to run my trail runs and still comfortably carry a firearm. No chafing, no bulk, and yet easily accessible with a relatively fast draw.

Introducing the Snubby Kit Bag by Hill People Gear, a local company here in Colorado (yay!).

 -stock photos from HPG website-

I have tried all sorts of different ways to carry while trail running and all of them failed miserably. Hip grips rubbed open wounds into all parts of my waist, a fanny pack bounced around and was too bulky, and the revolver cylinder poked out like a tumor with a belly band. I considered those 5.11 concealed carry shirts they just came out with but unfortunately they don't make them for women and they only make them down to a men's medium. I also sweated fiercely through my belly band which isn't real good for the working parts of the firearm. Through this I found out that it is important to frequently check your ammunition if you wear it while sweating. The salt and moisture of the sweat can cause your ammo to expand. The option I had been left with for running armed was to have the firearm in the back pocket of my running pack. Not easily accessible but still able to be armed nonetheless.

Enter the HPG kit bag: a while back my husband sent me the link to the HPG stating he would love to get one of these bags to try out. I went to their website and found they also had a community board discussing their products. I asked a few questions about running and whether it would be a good size for a female runner. I immediately got an email from the very guy who designed the runner's kit (the snubby bag is a smaller version of the runners kit) who stated he lived in my neck of the woods and would be happy to lend me his bag to try!! WOW!! Now that is some impressive customer service!

Long story short, he not only lent me the runner's kit bag but he also lent me his Tarahumara pack and eventually ordered a snubby bag which he passed on to me. I was impressed with all three products. They were very sturdy gear without a whole lot of bells and whistles; I did not want bells and whistles.

The first few days of borrowing the runner's kit (bigger sized) bag it rarely left my body. My husband got kicks out of seeing me walking around with the bag strapped to my chest. I cooked a mean breakfast scramble with the bag on:

I did yard work, folded laundry, took out the garbage, and many other daily activities with the bag attached (and loaded firearm...did I really need to say this?).

It was extremely comfortable. Extremely comfortable. I even tried my hand at "concealed carrying" it:

-unzipped slightly to show I have the bag still on-

Next was to try it running.  The halter system is fabulous- fully adjustable on each shoulder as well as around the sides of your chest. For running, there is an elastic adjustable cord (optional for runners kit bag, although comes standard on snubby kit bag) that attaches to the bottom of the bag and wraps around your rib cage area. This prevents the bag from bouncing and works great. The harness straps wrap around to meet in the back and attaches to a mesh panel for breathability.

The firearm is obtained rapidly by leaving a slight gap in the top left or right (depending on left or right handed draw) of the compartment. Quickly grasp the open flap with your opposite hand and tug hard while sliding in your draw hand and grasp your firearm. You could also grasp the pull tab strings to open the compartment but I found I didn't want to rely on strings and the flap grasp works really well for me.

For me (and this is specific to me and my body size) the runners kit bag was just too big and bulky to run with, plus my compact firearm that I only use for trail running bounced around inside the bag as there is no velcro holster in the main compartment. At first I was against not having a holster in the main compartment but after becoming more familiar with the bag I can see the benefits of not having one. This compartment is designated ONLY for the firearm. No extra mags, no lip balm, no keys, no credit cards etc. JUST THE FIREARM. Therefore, if there is nothing in the bag to enter the trigger, why is a holster really needed? This allows you to get a quick, firm, fighting grip on your firearm without fussing with a holster.
There is a full front zipper for things like an extra mag, keys, phone, or such.

A few weeks later when the loaned snubby bag was in my hot little hands I rushed out for a trail run. The snubby kit bag completely fit the bill. It wasn't too bulky, didn't bounce, and didn't chafe. I did 10 miles very comfortably once I adjusted the harness to my liking. I only needed a handheld water bottle for those 10 miles, so obviously if you need more water or a water bladder for a longer haul then you might need to consider other options. I was able to strap on my Ultraspire Spry over top of the HPG snubby kit bag. It was a little bulky and awkward but still was very successful in allowing me to have a good run and still remain armed. The Spry gave me the option of tucking in my jacket (it was cold weather and I was pretty sure I would need it at the summit of the mountain I was climbing) and giving me more pockets to carry my nutrition in for the longer run.

I handed the bag back and promptly ordered myself a snubby kit bag and a runner's kit bag for Cowboy which fit perfectly for his big burly frame. He currently runs with it and loves his. Now he is the one who rarely takes off the bag! Happy times for all.

The only improvements I would make on the bags would be to include a criss-cross elastic cord, similar to the anti-bounce running cord, on the back where the mesh panel is. This could be removable (for those who just want to bag to hike and have his backpack attached to the back) by having four or so fabric loops in each corner to thread the cord through. The cord would have a cinch toggle to allow the runner to cinch in a rain or wind jacket onto ones back for changing weather. As a runner this is very necessary, especially in Colorado's ever changing weather with multiple levels of elevation.

Another idea though not quite as important: The front pocket doesn't hold very much and it would be neat to be able to purchase optional removable mini ditty bag type of cinch pockets that would attach to the upper shoulder areas of the harness for GU packets, salt, etc.

I would still like to eventually purchase the runners kit bag for everything but running. I can see going camping, hiking, and other activities with the larger bag which would allow me to carry my daily carry fuller sized firearm in.

Through all this not only did I find an awesome running CCW pack but I also came out with a new very cool friend. Thanks HPG!!