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Rob Youngren

Rob Youngren

Out of Huntsville, Alabama but travel world wide!

Rob Youngren's Passions

Running
Climbing

Rob Youngren's Bio

As member of the Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team, I'm an avid ultrarunner and off-road unicyclist. I've competed in some of the most difficult ultra marathons in the world including the Hardrock 100 Mile and the Badwater Ultramarathon. I've traveled as far as Antarctica to compete in races.

When I'm not running I like to ride my off-road unicycle. Yeah you heard me right! From descending the tallest mountain in Colorado, or riding the Monarch Crest Trail, or the famed Slickrock Trail in Moab, Utah, to competing head-to-head against mountain bikers in 12 hour off-road races (and finishing far from last!) I've ridden all over the U.S.A. on my trust 24" Kris Holm Mountain Unicycle.

However I've also endured some of my toughest training runs and rides (some ultra distance in length) literally right out my back gate. I'm tough on my gear and really appreciate the most value out of my money; I don't settle for what doesn't work!

Rob Youngren

Rob Youngren wrote a review of on May 30, 2012

5 5

As awesome as my fleet of Patagonia Trucker hats but at a fraction of the cost. Very simple, very comfortable what else is there to say? If you're into trucker hats this is the hat for you. I've worn this hat on several long distance running adventures and it's still comfortable even at the end of the day. Rocks!

Rob Youngren
Wasatch Speed Goat Ultrarunning Team

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Rob Youngren

Rob Youngren wrote a review of on May 7, 2012

5 5

I've long been a fan of thin material, wicking shirts (Patagonia et al). Just got to try out this shirt on a very hot & humid 50km+ adventure run and I was pleasantly surprised how well the shirt did. In the exposed sections of the route when it was very, very sunny I still felt relatively cool in the shirt and after getting a good soaking under a waterfall or two the shirt still dried out within a mile or two. Pretty amazing coming from a guy who's used to being mistaken for the "Swamp Thing" this time of year because I sweat so much I'm constantly soaked through and through! I like the thin, stretchy material, feels great against the skin. So far so good, can't wait for my next ultra adventure, this shirt will definitely be on the top of the pile!

Rob Youngren
Wasatch Speed Goat Ultrarunning Team

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Rob Youngren

Rob Youngren wrote a review of on April 16, 2012

5 5

Background:
I tried to like the Hoka Mafate but they just didn't work for me; caused Achilles irritation almost every time I wore them; even just walking the dog! However that was only MY experience as I know lot's of people have had great success with the Mafate. I was a big fan of the Hoka Bondi B for all my long distance training runs (over 20 miles) and ultra marathons. The Bondi B played a big role in helping me survive the 135 mile Badwater Ultramarathon as well as all the high road mileage leading up to it.

Now for the Stinson B Review:
I got my pair of Stinson Evos last week and have already put in enough road & trail miles in them to know I'm really going to like them. To me they feel just like the Bondi B even though in terms of thickness, according to the Hoka One One European website (http://www.hokaoneone.com/en/catalog.html), they fall in between the Bondi B and Mafate at 2.2 times as thick as a normal cushioned shoe (Bondi B is 1.8 and the Mafate is 2.5). You definitely need to order a half size larger your normal shoe size; I actually ordered a couple, one at my normal shoe size and one half size larger just to make sure I got the right fit; sending the smaller one back.

Definitely feels like there is a bit more toe room in the Stinson Evo compared to the Bondi B and the overall fit is nice; the all mesh upper feels nice. The rubber outsole is a big improvement over the mostly foam outsole (really just midsole) of the Bondi B; should help with shoe life and wear. Haven't tested the grip yet on any really serious trails but that's coming soon.

Stinson Evo comes with an additional pair of thin foam insoles to replace the traditional foam insoles. Also this shoe comes equipped with a speed lacing/locking system that I wasn't sure about at first but it's growing on me. If you don't like the system it can easily be removed and replaced with the provided normal shoe laces.

So if you liked the Bondi B but wanted better traction for off road use you'll probably love the Stinson Evo.

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Rob Youngren

Rob Youngren wrote a review of on March 7, 2012

5 5

Simply the best over the counter arch support / orthotic I've ever used. Been using these since Montrail first came out with them probably over a decade ago; not much has changed. Can't beat the price and comfort IMHO. The thermo-moldable sole isn't just a gimick it really works; just pop them in the oven for a couple of minutes and it makes the footbed very soft, simply stick them in your shoe and step into them allowing the footbed to conform to your foot shape and depth. OR don't bother with the oven customization and just let the adjustment happen simply by wearing them in you shoe; was what my wife always does and it works the same.

Rob Youngren
Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team

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Rob Youngren

Rob Youngren wrote a review of on February 8, 2012

5 5

Haven't used the Oroc 340, but have used the Oroc 280.

**First of all I believe the product description above is in error: according to the Inov-8 website the Oroc 340 is a Three Arrow Midsole not a Two Arrow.

http://www.inov-8.com/New/UK/Product-View-Oroc-340.html?L=26

This is significant as it means there is significantly more cushioning than the Oroc 280 and a bit more heel-to-toe drop.**

Anyhow, I bought the Oroc 280 last year to train for and use at the extremely brutal Barkley Marathons:

http://www.mattmahoney.net/barkley/index.html

I needed an orienteering like shoe that had a stiff sole, ample cushioning and awesome traction. The Oroc series has all that and the tungsten carbide dobs in the shoe (yes be careful wearing them inside! doh!) do wonders to aid traction in steep and loose terrain. These shoes performed flawlessly at the Barkley Marathons (unfortunately my body and mind did not!). Now as I begin my training once again for this race I'm considering buying the Oroc 340 as it would be nice to have a bit more cushioning.

If you like to fully off trail, bushwhacking, cross-country or even just want a shoe that will work well when running in snow and ice; look no further!

The only downsides are running on pavement or normal, rocky trails as you get the "clack clack" of the spikes on the hard surface. But really no big deal.

Rob Youngren
Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team

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Rob Youngren

Rob Youngren wrote a review of on January 26, 2012

2 5

Bought a pair about a year ago. Definitely works as intended but is very pricey. There are plenty of alternatives these days at a fraction of the cost i.e. Merrel Trail Glove et al. However, this shoe is very stylish and a good alternative to Vibram Five Fingers. The overall ground feel, w/o the insole, is very close to the KSO, perhaps a bit thicker. Can be worn sockless of course which is nice.

I did have some issues with the construction however.
1. The very first time I laced them up I broke one of the eyelets! WTF! Rather than cry about it I just punched a new hole... Probably should have tried to return it but oh well!

2. When wearing sockless, I notice that the top of my foot above the metarsal flex point is coming into contact with a bunch of the folded upper fabric. I did end up with some chafing when I ran in them sockless so I wouldn't run in them w/o socks! Too bad...

If the Merell Trail Glove or other "barefoot running shoes" had been around at the time I bought these I probably wouldn't have bought this shoe.

I still wear them around on occasion, they do look pretty cool but just too expensive and the construction seems a bit lacking.

Rob Youngren
Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team

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Rob Youngren

Rob Youngren wrote a review of on January 18, 2012

5 5

***This is a review of the Bondi B as at the time of this writing there was no men's Bondi B in stock where I could write a review, but this review is relevant to Hokas in general I think.***

Was skeptical like most folks when I first saw this huge clown shoe! And even as a self professed "early adopter" the relatively high price point was dissuading at first. However, once I got accepted into the Badwater Ultramarathon I knew I needed a shoe that could save my legs from the brutal pounding of 135 miles of asphalt in extreme heat. I'm happy to say the Bondi B worked very well. Finished the race in fine form and with far less leg fatigue and soreness than I expected (or had from other tough 100s I've done n the past). Felt so good that went out the next morning and hiked up Telescope Peak with some friends.

Yes it's expensive but it really is an investment for your ultra distance racing. I consider it like a ultradistance racing flat; only use it when I'm running the big miles in training or for the event itself. If you think about it like that it's totally worth it and the shoe will last for many races.

Don't hesitate, try them out you'll be surprised how much you like them.

Lastly the heel-to-drop is indeed a scant 4mm thus promoting a good and healthy midfoot strike.

As for the Mafate itself? For me at least I couldn't get this shoe to work for me. Caused Achilles and under the arch irritation almost immediately! Don't quite understand why. Perhaps the thicker foam of the Mafate versus the Bondi B? I've had none of these issues with the Bondi B and I know the Mafate is really popular so obviously it's not causing widespread issues. Probably just the mechanics of the way I run don't agree with the Mafate.

Rob Youngren
Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team

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Rob Youngren

Rob Youngren wrote a review of on January 12, 2012

5 5

Along with the Patagonia Houdini Jacket the Rain Shadow Pant is another piece of essential gear I always throw in my pack when heading into unpredictable conditions in the mountains. Waterproof and windproof they are still fairly breathable; nice additional layer to have when conditions turn nasty. I know they've really saved my bacon more than a few times!

Rob Youngren
Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team

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Rob Youngren

Rob Youngren wrote a review of on January 12, 2012

5 5

Seriously, you won't regret it! I've owned the various iterations of this Patagonia jacket over the past decade and it's always comes along in my pack when I'm out in questionable conditions in the mountains. Heck, since I own a couple I toss one in my work back pack for "just in case" rain moments. So compact and lightweight you'll hardly know it's there. While it isn't rain "proof" it is very water resistant and just as a shell to block the wind it's awesome; really holds your moving body heat in nicely so even if you're soaked through it does fairly well. Really no detractors from this jacket... just get one already!

Rob Youngren
Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team

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Rob Youngren

Rob Youngren wrote a review of on January 11, 2012

4 5

Before I discovered the Inov8 X-Talon 212 this was my favorite line of trail shoes (RocLite). The "comfort last" means there is more room in this shoe than the other Inov8 models. This can be good and bad thing depending on the shape/size of your foot. With my relatively small feet I had to tie the laces very tight to keep my foot from moving around (especially when the shoes got soaking wet); I mean the eyelets on the shoe were literally coming all together! However, I'd still recommend this shoe, very comfortable and the sticky rubber outsole, extreme flexibility and deep lugs mean for very awesome traction in just about all conditions and terrains.

Rob Youngren
Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team

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Rob Youngren

Rob Youngren wrote a review of on January 11, 2012

3 5

Like others have said, know what you're getting into with this shoe. There is no midsole cushioning and it is zero drop so it takes time to get accustomed to this shoe. Use only in moderation and rotate in with your other trail running shoes.

I liked this shoe almost as much as the Inov-8 X-Talon 212 but the real issue with this shoe, along with the X-Talon 212 and the whole F-Lite line is that the uppers wear out too quickly when used on really tough trails. The problem is the uppers are 100% mesh and in my experience shoes constructed like this tend to have their uppers start tearing fairly quickly. Same was true with this shoe unfortunately. Got a hole in both shoes at the metatarsal flex point after only 100 miles of use. Disappointing. I really want to like this shoe but I think Inov-8 went too far in trying to make it as light as possible. Substitute the F-Lite upper for the X-Talon 212 upper and they'd have a 5-Star shoe.

Rob Youngren
Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team.

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Rob Youngren

Rob Youngren wrote a review of on January 11, 2012

5 5

I've worn a ton of trail shoes in the past 21 years but nothing performs, on all levels, like the X-Talon 212. First of all the low heel-to-toe drop and low stack height (height of your foot above the ground) make the shoe very responsive and sensitive to changes in terrain. The extreme flexibility and wickedly sticky soft rubber compound sole is the best I've encountered for most everything you'll come across on/off trail. The deep lugs along with the flexibility and sticky rubber mean great traction everywhere; the shoe literally deforms around objects to apply more surface area (i.e. friction) for increased traction. Really very impressive. Another often overlooked feature of the X-Talon 212 in particular (over it's lighter brother the 190) is that it isn't all mesh in the upper. Instead it is wrapped around the sides with some much tougher material that holds up so much better to the metatarsal flexing that so often causes tearing of the fabric/mesh at that point in the upper (a real issue with the X-Talon 212 and Bare-Grip 200). I've run well over 1000 miles in multiple pairs of X-Talon 212s (I rotate shoes) including several 50km and 50 mile trail ultras. I have had nothing but success with this shoe. About the only detractors I'd say is that it would be nice if this shoe had a rock plate or was a tad thicker. You do really feel the rocks and roots because it is so thin and deforms, but a simple rock plate over the midfoot/forefoot area would be good. I also wish the toe box was a bit wider allowing a bit more natural toe splay. But all in all if you're looking for a good trail training shoe with a range of up to 50 trail miles look no further. Get this shoe! I started using it a few years ago in my area and now most of my trail running buddies own a pair.

Rob Youngren
Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team.

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Rob Youngren

Rob Youngren wrote a review of on January 10, 2012

5 5

Flawless in my opinion. Insulates much better than typical bottles and is very rugged (can handle being crushed while falling on it during a trail run!). Would be nice if it had a finger loop on it so could clip to a pack, or make it easier to fast draw out of a waist pack but it's not a big deal. As a member of the Wasatach Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team, this was the only bottle I trusted at the Badwater Ultramarathon last summer; actually kept ice in it much longer than expected even at 120°F during the day!

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Rob Youngren

Rob Youngren wrote a review of on January 10, 2012

5 5

While not the best choice for slick trails, this shoe handles most terrain well; roads (paved & gravel), trails, off-trail, etc... The fit is very comfortable, and is lighter in weight than it seems. For anybody wanting a very long distance trail running shoe this is a good choice. As a member of the Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team I've gone through A LOT of different trail shoes. I can honestly say that the Fireblade is one of the most comfortable trail shoes I've ever worn. The really saved my bacon over the last couple of days of my speed-hike of the 335 mile Pinhoti Trail a couple years ago!

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Rob Youngren

Rob Youngren wrote a review of on January 10, 2012

4 5

While not the most "minimal" with a 10mm heel-to-toe drop, this shoe provides ample underfoot protection and cushioning for those looking for a very long distance trail/gravel road running shoe that is also extremely light weight and breathable. It is a true hybrid shoe in that it works equally well on the roads as it does on the trail. The shallow micro lugs aren't the best for extremely slick trail conditions but they do fairly well all around. In dry conditions this shoe rocks. Fit is a personal thing; while the toe box is a bit narrow the amount of open mesh allows for some give after ample break in. As a member of the Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team I've run in ALOT of trail shoes over the years. I can honestly say this shoe fits the bill on many levels; a good all around, long distance, mixed terrain running shoe.

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Rob Youngren

Rob Youngren wrote a review of on January 9, 2012

3 5

Overall a pretty good pack. I like the volume of the pack; good enough for a long day's run; plenty of pockets. Because I hate having a belt around my waist on a pack, I really love the vest concept. Doesn't bounce or cause any undue stress. Rides really well.

However, as others have mentioned the pocket for the hydration bladder is in an awkward position that makes removing/placing the bladder with a full pack next to impossible. Would be better if the hydration bladder pocket was either on the outside or the position of the main compartment zipper was a bit higher up on the pack for easier loading/unloading.

The other criticism I have is with the bladder itself. Sorry but it's too complicated! I like the concept but in practice I think it's just too messy and awkward to use. K.I.S.S.

Other than that I really have enjoyed using this pack for the past couple of years including several ultra marathon training runs and races as a member of the Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team. This was my go to pack during my speed-hike of the 335 mile Pinhoti Trail a couple years ago.

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Rob Youngren

Rob Youngren wrote a review of on January 9, 2012

5 5

Bought a couple of the 1L Platypus soft bottles as an alternative to using traditional hydration bladder. Also bought this hydration tube kit that allows you to use these bottles just like a hydration bladder. I like the simplicity and the fact that as bottles they are easy to fill and are collapsible. Stuff them in my pack and use with the hydration tube they are just like my old hydration bladder but better! I'm definitely going to be using this system at the Barkley Marathons later this year representing the Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team.

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