2014, the Gear (and Apps) in Review

When I kicked this shit off, I was a hefty dude. There’s not a lot in the way of fitness gear for 5x Tall guys with big feet, but I managed to find some, and it helped considerably in the way of comfort while sweating my ass off. I also had the opportunity to check out a few different wearables and use several different apps along the way.

Apparel:

Reebok Play Dry
Pros: Reebok produces this stuff in sizes up to 6X Tall in everything from tees to golf shirts, and it’s fantastic for wicking and keeping cool in the heat. The material is also quite durable and can stand up to a hojillion washes without fading. It fits well and is accurately sized.
Cons: Some rather severe nipple irritation when sweating, and I have no idea why. They don’t irritate any other skin, and I have tried washing them sans detergent and softener, and the problem persists. It doesn’t appear to be from abrasion, just contact, and it does seem to go away after a while. Despite that, I still rate it highly for its other properties. – 9/10

Asics GT 1000 and 2000 series
Pros: Available in large sizes (14-18 US) with accurate width fitment.  Very comfortable for all-day wear, running, walking, and hiking, and durable enough to stand up to a lot of weight over a lot of miles. I put over 250 hiking miles on a pair of GT-1000-2’s when I was over 300 pounds and still wear them regularly. Their mesh upper also breathes very well (to the point that you can feel wind on your feet through socks) and they’re great for keeping the sweat and stink down.
Cons: The 2015 versions of the GT-2000 seem to be slightly narrower than their predecessors. After several days of wear, I’m dealing with some foot pain. To be fair, I have a size 17 alien-width foot. – 10/10 because I can’t destroy these shoes.

Columbia Hiking Sandals
Pros: Extraordinarily good traction. Very flexible yet firm.
Cons: I don’t know who handles the sandal sizing there at Columbia, but they’re insane.  I ordered a pair of size 17 sandals, and they went nearly 3 inches beyond my toes. I made a trip to their outlet, and the 15s were also too large, while their size 16 boots won’t even fit. I finally settled on a pair of size 13s because they fit my feet, and after a couple of hikes, my feet hurt so badly that I could barely walk the next day. I assumed maybe that was just them breaking in, so I tried them one more time and switched to my shoes a mile into the hike. Great traction, awful fit and sizing. – 2/10

Columbia Omni-Heat Base Layer
Pros: Great fit, extremely thin, unexpectedly warm.  I love the way these shirts fit.  With any fitted base layer, long arms can be an issue.  These have thumb holes in the sleeves to remedy that, so I don’t have to reach under my sleeves to pull the base back down after stretching out, and can pull gloves over them without having to spend two minutes tucking them under, and they stay put.
Cons: The only issue I have had is that after a few stretches, they don’t recover as well, and the foil lining the inside affects wicking negatively.. – 9/10

Under Armour ColdGear (Everything)
Pros: Just fan-damn-tastic gear. Under Armour clearly puts a huge emphasis on quality. Their Evo line of base layers is good into the teens with little outerwear, and the Base 4.0 compression shirts and leggings could take me into the Arctic Circle. Excellent wicking properties as well, and breathes well enough to keep on indoors. This stuff is Colorado-ready and Berk approved.
Cons: Not available above 2X and Tall sizes are difficult to find, though their standard sizes are generally long enough. – 10/10

Under Armour HeatGear (and “Charged Cotton”) lines
Pros: Excellent wicking, smooth fabric, and very breathable. Another win for Under Armour.
Cons: Even the “Loose” fit wears a little small. Not a major issue, just something to be aware of when buying. – 9.5/10

Under Armour Infrared Escape and Infrared Engage Run Gloves
Pros: They’re really comfortable and work flawlessly on every touchscreen I have tried them with.
Cons: They breathe a little too well, which is a negative for gloves. With the Escape model I can’t keep warm below 20 degrees, and the Engage works fairly well down to the low teens. Below that and I’m numb inside of 20 minutes. Running gloves should be centered around warmth. – 6/10

Reebok One Series Hoodie
Pros: Normally I wouldn’t bother with putting a hooded sweatshirt on this list, but this one really stands out. It’s neatly fitted, extremely lightweight, flexible, and the front pockets are sewn together inside to keep wind from blowing through. The drawstrings also have retainers and are sewn in on the “loose” end to keep hanging strings out of your grill.
Cons: None. Get this. – 10/10

Apps and fitness tracking:

MyFitnessPal
Pros: It does it all and makes it easy. It syncs with most other fitness apps and a few trackers. Over 3 million foods in their database, and barcode scanning is included. There is simply no better way to track nutrition and bounce it against calorie burn.
Cons: They’re a little slow to resolve bugs when they do happen, but for the most part, the app works very well. – 9.5/10

FitBit Flex
Pros: Great app support. Simple, compact, easy to use with 5-7 day battery life. Water resistant. If I’m being honest, this thing was an amazing tracking tool, especially coupled with MyFitnessPal, for really pushing me to the next level.
Cons: For the price tag of $100, it should have an altimeter like many other FitBit products. The bands also break rather easily, and although I didn’t have the issue, many users reported losing theirs to the clasp not being reliably secure. – 8/10

FitBit Surge
Pros: Lots of data. Simple, intuitive interface and fairly customizable watch face. Excellent battery life for a smart watch. The app is also intuitive and easy to use.
Cons: There is a design flaw present which causes heart rate to read erratically above 130 BPM and stop reading it altogether if sweat gets on the optical sensor. It’s also quite pricey for a fitness tracker with these features, especially when they don’t always work correctly. – 6/10

Basis Peak
Pros: Accurate heart rate monitoring, replaceable band, water resistant to 5 ATM, LOADS of data, and outstanding sleep tracking. This thing is pure science if you’re into numbers.
Cons: Lacking GPS and altimeter, but it’s also $50 cheaper than the FitBit Surge. It also has a bit shorter battery life at 3-4 days. Lack of API to sync with MyFitnessPal also cost it a point, but Basis reports that it’s on their to-do list. – 8/10

RunKeeper
Pros: Syncs with other apps like MyFitnessPal, accurate calorie estimation, takes elevation gain into account when calculating burn, and includes heart rate data from a plethora of trackers. Can access music and camera directly from app. This app is fantastic, especially as a standalone for those without fitness trackers.
Cons: None. It does exactly what it says, and does it well. – 10/10

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