You’ve heard us all chirp about what we’re wishing for most this holiday season. Here are a few more standout products we’ve been playing with all year. Consider one of them for the triathlete on your list.
Injinji socks (various prices, Injinji.com)
For those of us gravitating towards more and more minimalist shoes in our quest to get closer to the road/trail/sidewalk/beach, Injiji socks (pronounced “in-gin-ji”) make the perfect companion. As any serious runner knows, running is about as bad for your foot cosmetics as it is good for your heart, physique, and overall well-being. The toenail on both of my second-biggest toes, like that of many runners I know, gave up on life long ago. Those ten little toes protect our balance, bear a lot of weight, and enable us to do what we love day in and day out. So why not treat them extra-special with socks from Injinji?
By giving each toe its own seamless compartment, Injinji virtually eliminates the blister factor. With my toes freed from the constraints of traditional socks, I discovered a greater sense of gripping, even within a pair of regular shoes (as opposed to the “matching” Vibram Five Fingers). It’s not scientific, but when I wear my Injinjis, I feel like my feet are more spread out and balanced, like each toe is doing an equal amount of work. Think of how you’d spread out your fingers if asked to imitate a tree frog or lizard. Squeezing everything together isn’t a recipe for good traction.
As for options, the Performance Lightweight No-Show is ultra thin and made of CoolMax, making it perfect for those sweaty summer runs. They also come in some fun colors to compliment your bright Newtons or Zoots. I prefer the Midweight Mini Crew, however, a beefier option for trail or longer runs. With light compression, a bit of arch support, and a honeycomb weave on top to keep the foot cool, Injinji’s are all about function.
XLAB Delta Wing ($75 online)
If you’ve heard the words “Ironman” or “70.3″ come out of the mouth of your beloved triathlete lately, chances are they’re going to branch out beyond 30-mile rides in the new year. In short, they’re going to need space for more water and sports drinks than their standard frame bottles provide—and appreciate the added aerodynamic advantage, to boot. Help set them up for success with a great entry into the bike buffet world with a rear bottle cage from XLAB. Known for their dual-cage, behind-the-saddle bottle cages that are practically required buying for Ironman triathletes, this past year, XLAB released a slightly more minimalist single-bottle rear carrier. Perfectly suited to half-Ironman racing and training, the Delta Wing is available in either the 100 iteration, or the lighter, fancier 200. By adding on the CO2 mounting kit, you can make the elegant rear cage into an flat-911 kit. Learn more about XLAB’s full suite of hydration options at www.xlab-usa.com.
Fuel Belt Chain Reaction wipes ($8.95 at Chainreactionwipes.com)
Fuel Belt founder Vinu Malik knows what it’s like to get dirty wrestling with a bike. At one of his 36 Ironmans, Malik was changing his back wheel with the help of his 2-year-old son, and both ended up with grease all over them. Malik reached for one of his wife’s natural peppermint Fresh Feet Wipes, and an idea was born. Keep a canister of these wipes (which contain Aloe and vitamin E) in your garage and tri bag for a quick and easy removal of grease, or use one to give your bike a quick polish before meeting your neat-freak riding friends.
Underwater Audio waterproofed iPod ($160, Underwateraudio.com)
There are lots of waterproof music systems out there, but Underwater Audio’s option is best for the die-hard Apple iPod fans among us. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, Underwater Audio took the music player so many know and love and waterproofed it. It’s that simple. Designed for swimmers and anyone who loves the water, this compact music player has all the features of the latest 2GB iPod Shuffle. Using a proprietary process unique to the industry, your iPod arrives waterproofed from the inside out. It looks just like a regular iPod, but the magic happens when you jump in the water.
For an even better holiday deal, purchase the mega bundle ($175) that comes with a fifth generation, 2GB iPod, original Apple USB cable, three sets of earphones (dry-land, Swimbuds waterproof, and Aquasonic waterproof), plus four sets of ear flanges for a customized fit. Visit their website for more information on the waterproofing process and warranty.
Clean Bottle’s The Square (available for pre-order, at Cleanbottle.com, shipping in December)
Forget all those cheap plastic bike bottles, if you want to hydrate at your board meeting in style, your quest stops here. Not only does this bottle match my MacBook Pro, I find it incredibly easy and comfortable to transport with its wide, ergonomic handle. Following Clean Bottle’s genius dual-topped system, the Square also unscrews from both ends for easy cleaning. (No more bottom-of-the-barrel ickies!) It won’t roll away if dropped, and 10 percent of profits are donated to eco-friendly charities you vote for at Clean Bottle Charity.