The Chronic Consumer

I buy things — all the time!

Nike Max Air Team Training Backpack

nike team training Most backpacks available today are more or less the same. You can expect a couple of main compartments, exterior water bottle holders, and a laptop/tablet sleeve in almost every model. So when I recently started shopping for a backpack, I wanted something with a feature or two that really set it apart from the rest. I found it in the Nike Max Air Team Training pack.

This backpack comes in several different sizes, including Medium, Large, and Extra Large. I went with the Extra Large version because I plan to use it for lugging my workout gear (including clothes, shoes, and towels) to and from the gym. I couldn’t fit all that stuff in my last backpack, and ended up having to walk with shoes and a wet towel in my hands.

So besides the size, the other thing that drew me to this particular backpack is its “hydration pouch”. This is an insulated pouch at the front of the pack that is meant to hold a Camelbak hydration device or something similar. I’ve been using it to keep protein shakes, extra water, and even sandwiches nice and cool until I’m ready to consume them. So far it’s working out great!

This backpack cost about $60, which is reasonable for the size. I think I’ve got a good one here, and just hope it lives up to expectations for at least 2-3 years.

Memorial Token from Etsy

custom token I don’t shop on Etsy very often, but the few times I have purchased items from there have been good experiences. So when I was in the market for a pocket token with custom text to use as a memorial piece, I decided to go there first.

After a bit of searching I found a store that had just what I wanted. I ended up ordering a token similar to the one pictured here. I was able to select the metal and finish I wanted, as well as the font for the engraving. I then input my custom text, made my payment and waited.

This particular store required a 3-week lead time. That’s a little longer than I’m used to, but since they are very up-front about it and since I wasn’t in a real hurry, I decided to go with them anyway.

I’m glad I did. The result was a very nice piece that came out exactly as advertised (and expected). It’s 1-1/2 inches across, about 1/4-inch thick (or less; probably less), and feels quite weighty and substantial. The engraving is readable and the text was rendered perfectly. I plan on giving this as a gift and am sure the recipient will love it!

Moleskine Pocket Notebook

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 4.16.19 PM I’ve been hearing about Moleskine notebooks and how *special* they are for a while now, but had always been too put off by the price to actually try one. I just didn’t feel that I used notebooks enough to justify paying $14 for a pocket-sized notebook when I could just as easily get a pocket notebook at any dollar store. But finally I decided to see what the fuss was about and purchased a soft-cover ruled notebook of the aforementioned size (3 1/2 x 5 1/2).

The notebook comes with 192 ruled, acid-free pages and has a string bookmark, elastic closure, and expandable pocket inside the back cover. I actually didn’t know that Moleskine was famous for this back pocket, so I had no idea what to make of it at first. But the handy enclosure said it was good for receipts, business cards, etc, so that’ exactly what I’m using it for.

I’ve been carrying around my Moleskine and writing in it for a few weeks now, and I do have to admit that it feels kind of good to have it. Like a quietly luxurious item that 99% of other people wouldn’t recognize as such if they saw it. I can’t say that I’ll continue buying Moleskines exclusively, but if I manage to keep going and fill this notebook up, I might go ahead and replace it.

Crocs Convert

crocs I don’t remember exactly when Crocs first came on the scene, but I immediately disliked them. I thought they looked cheap and ugly, and I hated the fact that they were everywhere. So I resisted. And resisted. And resisted some more.

Until now.

I finally bought my first pair of Crocs a couple weeks ago — not because I set out to do so, but because I had been looking for a very casual mule/clog/sandal type shoe to slip on when going to the store or running quick errands. The problem was, almost everything (except the super cheap/cheesy crap) cost $30-$40 or more, which I wasn’t willing to spend.

But then The Sports Authority was having a sale on Crocs, and I just decided what the hell. My old mules were absolutely ratty looking, so I had to buy something. At $15, the Crocs were worth a try.

And you know what? They’re not too bad! They really are comfortable, and go with a lot of different outfits. They’re also easy to clean and seem to be holding up to wear and tear remarkably well. If I get two summers out of these, I’ll be happy.

So, while I haven’t quite come around on the look of Crocs, I consider myself a convert in that I like my current pair well enough and wouldn’t hesitate to buy another pair — at the right price!

Under Armour Mid Sports Bra

UA Sports Bra I exercise a lot, but like most women, have a difficult time finding “good” sports bras — which basically means a bra that provides the right blend of support and comfort. For the past few years I have just been wearing a cheap cotton model from Champion. But when I saw UA sports bras on sale recently, I decided to spend a bit more money and give one a try. I’m glad I did!

I went with a mid-support bra to wear while running and playing sports such as tennis and basketball. The one I chose is from the HeatGear line and is supposed to keep me feeling “light and dry” due to the moisture-wicking properties of the fabric — and the bra actually does just that!

There is a HUGE difference between wearing my old cotton sports bras and this UA one. The cotton bras would start to feel heavy and uncomfortable after becoming soaked with sweat, but that doesn’t happen now. The moisture-wicking fabric actually works, and feels SO MUCH BETTER, especially now in the summer.

The support is great, too. I’m a B cup/C cup in most brands, so I admittedly don’t need tons of support. This bra offers just the right amount without feeling too restrictive.

Now that I’ve experienced firsthand the difference a good sports bra can make, I’m not going to settle for the cheap stuff anymore. The extra comfort is definitely worth the extra dollars, so I’ll be buying Under Armour bras from here on out.

Ohnitsuka Tiger Machu Racer

machu racer I was recently in the market for a new pair of flat running shoes to replace my New Balance Minimus shoes that I finally wore out. I originally wanted to stick with NB for my new shoes, but couldn’t find anything I liked. A majority of their shoes seem to have that “Fresh Foam” bottom, which doesn’t suit my purposes.

So after a ton of shopping I settled on a brand I’d never tried before: Ohnitsuka Tiger. I guess they’re well known in Japan and are now made by Asics or something. I just chose them because they were on sale for 50 bucks and were as flat and light as I wanted my running shoes to be.

The particular model I selected is called the Machu Racer, and I’ve trained in this shoe for about a month now. I really like it! It’s roomy and comfortable without being loose to the point of feeling like it’s flopping around on my foot. And it’s extremely lightweight, which allows for quicker turnover/higher cadence and faster speeds.

There’s no kind of cushioning to speak of, and not a lot of support anywhere in the shoe. But again, this was the kind of shoe I was looking for. I do have other shoes that provide greater stability and support, and believe they have their place and time (on longer runs, for instance). I just didn’t need those features here.

So far, I can say that my Machu Racers are a very good shoe for the money. I obviously don’t have enough time or miles in them to attest to their durability, but if I can get 400-500 miles out of these, I’ll definitely buy another pair!

PanaVise Miniature Vise

PanaVise_Model_201 I occasionally have need of a vise for light filing work, and didn’t want to shell out big bucks for a top quality one that you’d find in woodworking shops or whatever. So after a bit of searching I came across this PanaVise Mini Vise on Amazon. The reviews sounded good and the $30 price tag was acceptable, so I bought it.

It’s been pretty much what I expected/hoped for. The base is made of metal, which gives it some heft. And since I’m not wrenching on whatever is clamped in the jaws, this means I don’t have to secure the vise to the table in any permanent way (though there are three screw holes in the base if that were required). In addition, the vise jaws are mounted on a nicely rotating ball joint, which allows for 360-degree turning and rotating, as well as 350-degree tilting. This is more than adequate for my purposes.

All in all, this little mini vise has been a good buy. For very light, non-impact work, it’s a good buy.

Garmin Premium Heart Rate Monitor

hrm-garmin I have a Garmin Forerunner watch that I use for jogging. One of the features that I heavily rely on for my training purposes is the heart rate monitor. This is an optional accessory that was bundled with my watch at the time of purchase and added approximately $100 to the price (I’m not sure without having to look it up).

I do my marathon training strictly by heart rate zone, so I need the data to be accurate. After about a year of daily use, I started getting extremely erratic readings. I did everything you’re supposed to do in those situations: changed the battery, washed the strap, did a hard reset, etc. Nothing worked.

Since I was just under the warranty period, I was able to send the strap in to Garmin for a free replacement. The thing is, that would take 2 weeks — and I couldn’t afford to lose that much training time.

So I bit the bullet and bought another HRM and chest strap. This time I paid something like $70 on Amazon, and splurged for Next Day shipping so as not to lose any more training opportunities.

The new strap and monitor work flawlessly. I’m now back to getting the data I need to hit my personal best for my next race, and am happy with the product. I just wish I didn’t need to replace the thing so fast in the first place.

I did receive a free replacement from Garmin, as promised, so now I have two chest straps and two monitors. I’m using my old one again (no problems so far) and am keeping the new one as a backup.

Again, I like what the Garmin HRM does (I think it’s one of the most accurate products on the market), but wish it lasted longer. The same thing happened with my old HRM (with the plastic chest strap) from a previous watch model.

With the optical HRMs that are coming out now, I doubt I’ll be using these chest strap-types much longer. But hopefully they’ll last at least one more year each!