Sunday, November 21, 2010

Running in Mukluks; Snowshoeing,–20, and Snowy Reviews

Last week when I went out for my run, I was so disappointed that snow had not yet fallen, and that it was still relatively warm, and that the mukluks would not be used for their original intent.However, a week of Alberta weather changed everything by dumping over a foot of snow in the Bragg Creek / Cochrane area and plummeting temperatures to where they should be. Yeah, yeah, let’s go snowshoeing.


Four of us headed out to Silver Line in West Bragg creek to take advantage of cold weather. The temperature in the vehicle says it was –23 on the way out there. Oh yeah!!!


Over the past summer, I went mountain biking here. Those details can be found here. This area in West Bragg Creek is known for it’s cross country ski trails, and I was surprised to find unbroken trails. I thought that the recent snowfall would have brought the xc-skiers out sooner, but lucky for us they had not broken all the trails.


Friends of mine came with me. These two love the outdoors (moved all the way to Canada for it), but this was their first time snowshoeing.


This guy came on the Baldy Scramble with me back in August. I told him there would be no injuries this time. It was his first time snowshoeing as well, and he had very stylish faded red snowshoes. Snowshoes don’t really do much in a few inches of powder snow, until you take them off and try walking uphill. It’s amazing what those beasties can do for you on a slope.


There obviously were some skiers out ahead of us, but we didn’t run into anyone until later on in the hike. It was absolutely gorgeous out! The snowfall made for some very cool looking trees.


My snowshoes of choice are GV Huron’s. Traditional style baby. I used to use lampwick as my binding, but I did modernize a bit and do a ratcheting binding. Since the mukluks are soft, the straps tend to dig in to the top of my foot and reduce circulation. My toes got cold quite quickly. I expected this anyway.


So much snow in less that one week. Love it!


Hard to wipe that grin off my face. My hair got streaked grey by my breath, giving me frosted tips to my hair. Oh how vanity can prevail in nature.


I definitely feel in my element in the snow and cold! I always tell people I need to take a week off every winter so I can frolic all day in the snow.


It was suggested to me by someone to fix the problem of flopping mukluks to use hockey tape to hold them up. What a great idea, except that I forgot to do it this time out. No big deal cause my snow pants have elastic cuffs that held the mukluks in place.


Snowshoeing downhill and bushwacking is tons of fun! I got a C+ for navigational skills! (It started as a C-).


Since mukluks are soft soled, it’s very neat walking in snowshoes with them. I can feel all the webbing under my feet. I can also feel the spring of the webbing as I walk, something that I never really noticed. Perhaps I was more aware of what to look for. Regardless, after some adjustments to the binding straps, my feet quickly warmed up and the mukluks kept me toasty. I was quite amazed at the warmth of the mukluks as I was only wearing a stretch polyester sock. No wool or anything.


We stopped a few km’s into the hike for some tea and goodies. When I pulled off the snowshoes and loosened them off, my feet instantly warmed up. The mukluks proved themselves extremely warm in cold, static conditions. Proof that circulation being cut off causes cold toesies! I tried running for a bit and found that they performed extremely well for that as well. Again, as close to barefoot as you are going to get in sub zero, snowy conditions (and on trails to boot!).


We eventually ran in to some cross country skiers. Actually, lots of them. Probably 30 or so. It looks like fun, but I am going to keep my focus on shoeing this year. Can’t afford skis (yet).  I used to XC ski all the time as a kid and I would love to get back in to it as we live in such a fantastic area for it.


If you’re ever in West Bragg and need someone to go snowshoeing with, look me up! I’ll be there, cold weather and all!

Manitobah Mukluks Hunters: Cold, Snowy and Snowshoeing

Pros: Extremely warm. Soft soles in snowshoes provides unique feel. Still stylish. Running stills feels barefoot-ish, as close to being barefoot in winter as possible. Very grippy on snow trails while running.

Cons: Soft mukluk not the best choice for snowshoe bindings. Perhaps a binding that covers the whole foot, rather than uses straps would do better. Mukluks still flop (but that was my fault due to no hockey tape). Once wet, the mukluks stay wet and aren’t waterproof.

Overall: With the right binding, these mukluks would provide the recreationalist with a very unique snowshoe experience. For the conditions listed (snowshoes, snow, –20), I would give the Hunter’s a 8.5/10. Very pleased.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Running in Mukluks, first run Review

Here it is, the first running review of my Hunter mukluks. I can’t wait forever for the snow to run, so I figured cold weather would be good enough. So I finally headed out to the Ranchehouse Ravine for a good running loop. Relatively cool, somewhere around the 0 mark, and easy, rolling terrain of various surfaces (dirt, pine needles, rocks, roots, gravel).

Run data can be found here.

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Not exactly what I would call appropriate dress attire for running (cargo pants aren’t good enough), but a wool top and toque will suffice for now.

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The mukluks fit nicely under the cargo pants. I tied up the calf drawstring and actually broke one. I have to remember that they are made of leather, not shoelace. My main concern was the the boots would “flop” as I ran, and sure enough they did. I have to find a way to hold the boot on the calf so that doesn’t happen.

First run in the new mukluks. Not much but a blur. I must be a super fast runner.

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The Ranchehouse Ravine has such a great variety of trails, from single track through the grass to pine needle and rock. The thing I really noticed was that I could still feel the ground through mukluks as I did in my 5’s. A definite plus for anyone used to barefoot / minimalist footwear.

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Roots and rock. The flat soles of the mukluks didnt’ disappoint with over-cushioning and such. I like feeling the ground, and these mukluks still allowed me to do that all the while keeping my feet insulated from the cold.

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One thing I did notice in the mukluks was that walking up a very steep incline, my feet would slide back in the boot. This is largely due to the soft sheepskin lining, which I am sure will become a little more coarse as I wear the mukluks. It’s not too big of a deal, and I’m thinking of ways to keep my foot secured in the mukluk without compromising the feeling.

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More variety of trails. So nice out, it felt great to run again.

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No leaves, but what do you expect for November? I’m still waiting for snow. Forecast looks good. It was bit chilly, but the mukluks proved themselves VERY warm and soft. Nice.

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Me running. I was able to keep the stride identical as if I were wearing my 5’s. The weight of the mukluk was not noticeable until they started bunching up around my ankles. Again, something I am trying to remedy.

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My beloved mountains, always beckoning me to visit them. Soon enough. I have some trails that I want to try running in winter. Anyone care to join?

I would like to add that descending the grassy hills was a breeze. The Vibram sole in the mukluk provided TONS of grip, especially on the path covered in grass. No slippage or anything, and as I expected, my foot stayed planted in the mukluk. Points for that.

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The Horseman, ever so faithfully watching over the town. Nice photo op too.

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Looking up at Mr. Horseman of Cochrane.

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All in all, an excellent run. You can see how the mukluks bunched up around my ankle. Not too big of a problem and it’s something that I am trying to solve. I am going to look for cinch straps to put in place of the leather lace. Ideally, if the boot came up to just below my knee, keeping the mukluks in place wouldn’t be a problem. But I am testing these out for this purpose exactly.

Total distance and time of my run was 4.5km and about 27 minutes.

Manitobah Mukluks Hunters: Flat and Cool

Pros: Super comfortable, stylish (always a bonus), warm, soft, as close to barefooting as possible in sub-zero temps, superior grip

Cons: Boot bunches around the ankle, leather lace more of a decoration than practical, sheepskin lining causes foot slide in boot on steep inclines

Overall: For an off the shelf mukluk that wasn’t made for running at all, these boots held up great. With a few tweaks and mods, as well as some snowfall and suede protector, these could be the start of something fantastic for those who wish to continue minimalist running in sub zero temps. For the conditions listed (dry, cool, relatively flat), I give these mukluks a 7/10.

I’m not done reviewing. I still have to see how these hold up on true trails (mountains), in snow, and in –10, –20, –30, –40 and perhaps –50 degree weather (that’s Celcius, my friends). I am also going to try them with snowshoes, on ice, and for sprint and interval trials and also with stationary workouts. So stay tuned and I will keep the reviews a comin’.

I would also like to add to the variety of locations that pushups can be done. Enjoy!!

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Pushup #12 – Outside on a wooden deck.

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Pushup #13 – On a fence. Challenges balance in many ways.

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Pushup #14 – In the leaves. Man these leaves smell good.

That’s all from me. Coming up are more mukluk reviews and Parliamentary Pushups, French Pushups, perhaps pushups IN a plane and terminal pushups. Still open to suggestions,


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Holiday Gift Ideas

Well, Christmas is not too far away right now, and I’m thinking it would be a good idea to send out some Christmas cards. Perhaps I can even get them out without the last minute rush. Who knows. But through reading other’s blogs, I have found that the website Shutterfly is giving away 50 free photo cards (your choice, as well). Sweet! That saves the boring generic cards from being shipped and actually gives you something personal to give away.

Christmas Card

So you can send a Christmas Card. (There are more options than Tori, Blaine, Matthew & Kelley, although I do thank the Henshaw Family for their well wishes).

Photo Christmas Card

Or you can send a Christmas Photo card, which is a fantastic opportunity to dress you chihuahua up like an elf and your cat as Santa Claws (pun intended).


There is also the Chanukah cards, which means 8 days of awesome cardness.

New Years

Or you could send a New Years card, nicely made by the Peterson Family.

Obviously, the cards can be personalized, and there are a ton of options. I’ve found that my digital photo files have been piling up on my computer, so now is the perfect time to print some off and send them out in beautiful card format. I have a holiday coming up next week and I know the three of us will probably get some super-awesome-happy photo taken of us which will make the perfect Christmas card. I know it. You’ll see, but only if I send you a card Smile with tongue out.

You can get your 50 photo cards by clicking here. Check it out, it may be just what you’re looking for. And it’s still early November, so plenty of time to send out that photo card to your great aunt thrice removed in the Netherlands. She’ll appreciate it.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Guess What Just Arrived?


Ahhhh yeah! The Mukluks have arrived. Here is my initial review.


I am impressed! Nice box, looked good, and they didn’t have that new shoe smell that I so despise! I think I will, however, have to treat them with some form of protection for suede. They may get wet.


Super good looking boots. These are the Hunter Mukluks by Manitobah Mukluks. My requirements were Canadian Made, soft & flat sole and natural materials. The footbed is lined with sheepskin, and they are made of cowhide.


They have a drawstring around the calf which will be great for keeping out snow and keeping the mukluks in place.


This was a major selling feature of these. Vibram sole! And not to mention the beautiful artwork! Very nicely captured! Earth, wind, fire, mountains, tipi, water! It’s all in there.


Initial fit? Excellent! If you do order some, make sure to measure your feet first! I ordered size 10’s (EU 43) and I normally wear a size 10.5 (EU 45). Manitobah recommended the 10 based on my foot length (11 1/8”).


The sheepskin sole is so soft and comfy! And they look stylish with my jeans! What can I say but comfy comfy comfy? Too bad I have to put these through their paces. I would hate to wreck them. Oh well, that’s what I’m doing! Perhaps I will order an additional pair for everyday use.


Well, this isn’t really what they were built for, but I’ll take it. They are so warm and cushy that I could cry. Seriously.


My main concern with running in them is suede and seams. But a closer look at the seam work and eases those worries. Not to mention the beautiful detail in these mukluks. Also, suede can be treated to repel water, and there is a care section in the paperwork that came with them.


The toes will take a beating, but that will be reviewed once I get some running done.


Not the proper way to use them, but I am showing the soft and plush lining that these have.


The top cuff comes just above my calf, so it will be perfect for keeping out snow and keeping the mukluks on my feet. I was a bit surprised at how loose it is around the ankle, but this is excellent for mobility and keeping the barefoot running feel.Oooh, I am so excited!!!!


Flexible Vibram sole! What more can I say?


Shown in my ball-of-foot running position. This is gonna be great!


They even came with a certificate of Authenticity. Now I know they’re the real thing!

So after wearing them for a bit last night, I am confident that they will hold up to my running. I am excited to try them out and put them through their paces, but like I said I am sad that I could wreck them in the process. No biggie though, cause if I do I will order some more so I can wear them day to day. I know it will be the next best thing to barefooting in winter, minus the frost-bitten toes.

The only problem I have right now, we are in November and it is supposed to be +16 Celsius this weekend. Hmmmm…

Stay tuned for more updates, but a special thanks to Tara and Josh at Manitobah for giving me this opportunity!

Check out Manitobah Mukluks when you get the chance. A beautiful website with some fantastic products. I think I will need to order some moccasins soon. I miss my old one’s.