Midseason equipment grades
Trail running isn't about the gear, but I find it useful and safer to have some gear, especially in winter when I'm miles from shelter, water, or transportation.
I've put 3 miles short of 200 on the Hoka ONE ONE Speedgoat 3 and am pleased with how they are holding up. The uppers are like new with the exception of matching worn spots above the top inner eyelets. Evidently I clip the top of each shoe with the sole of the other when I run. My telemark boots are even more beat up on the inside than my running shoes, which suggests to me that I could pick my feet up a little more on trail. Maybe?
The lugs on the bottom are showing some wear. I expect them to go long before the uppers do, which seems normal for the trails I'm running this winter. I was out on snow and ice last weekend and the shoes still have plenty of grip. I've been able to keep up with folks wearing lightweight crampons.
I overstride and I see this in my bottom of my shoes. My heel lugs are slightly more worn than my forefoot lugs. But not by much. I've been working to increase my cadence and am slowly improving.
I expect to use these shoes up before Quad Rock and will get another pair for the race. I like them a lot. A little more toe room would be nice. 8/10.
I'm happy with my Smartwool "PhD" cold weather wool and nylon socks. My feet are comfy and don't blister, and the toe fabric has no signs of holes yet. 9/10. I carry a second pair of socks in my pack on long runs, but haven't had to use them yet. I don't have blisters, but do have black and blue toenails that I've had to tape down. I found the toe taping instructions in the Trail Runners Companion to be very helpful. Intervention can snowball, of course, and use of tape then requires lubrication. Squirrel's Nut Butter, which I've been getting as swag for years, turns out to be good for this. 9/10, a little grainy when cold.
Compression shorts and tights are off my gear list now. Capilene boxer briefs from REI (10/10) and SNB are my recipe for comfort. I like warm legs, and my Patagonia Crosstrek fleece tights would be perfect if they were 1" longer. 9/10. I usually wear a 150 or 250 weight wool top (7/10) and carry a light nylon windbreaker from Patagonia that I love but almost never wear. 9/10. I also keep a basic capilene cap and gloves from REI (6/10) in reserve, in case I get caught out in changing weather. Mostly, I don't need them when I'm on the move in daylight.
The vest I plan to wear during the Quad Rock to hold water, spare socks, and such is too small for long, self-supported, training runs. I've been using my bigger, heavier Camelbak. I take 2+ litres of water, a nutella sandwich, gels, a mini first aid and toilet kit, jacket, gloves, hat, extra socks, and my phone when I go out for 4-5 hours. My minimal vest is Camelbak's Ultra Pro (from 2017). It's breathable, fits me well (I am big but not a bodybuilder, so YMMV), and is well made. It's completely fine. I read that some people like to attach straws to their soft flasks, but I've become adept at slipping them out of and back into their pouches. Camelbak should make a Colorado edition with a frightful demon face printed on the back to ward off mountain lions. 11/10 with demon, 8/10 without.
Speaking of gels, GU brand Campfire S'Mores and Gingerade are the least terrible flavors and I carry 3-4 on a long run in case my breakfast and sandwich aren't enough. 6/10. There will be VFuel at Quad Rock and I should start getting used to that unless I want to carry my own fuel for 50 miles.
I mentioned previously that I've been wearing a Garmin Forerunner 35 since Christmas. It's not fancy at all, but is reasonably comfortable, and the battery life is good. The GPS is reliable, only flaking out on me one time in 50 runs. The heart rate monitor is less reliable. It has gone out of whack during one workout and briefly during 3 long runs. I don't know whether this is good, fair, or poor compared to other similar devices. 6/10 or 8/10 depending whether I'm feeling sentimental about 80s watches or not. The Garmin Connect app is fine. Better than many other apps on my phone. 8/10.
Coppertone Ultra Guard 50 sunscreen (7/10), trucker hat (8/10), Thermos vacuum mug of third wave coffee (10/10) for the drive to the trailhead... that's it, my current list of equipment, rated.