I’m beginning to fall behind on my product review obligations, so I thought I’d combine a few into a single post since they are relatively short and easy, and don’t necessarily warrant a full post as do some of my my more in-depth product reviews. In this post I’ll be reviewing three products that were sent to me by manufacturers to try out over the past several months: Stuffitts Shoe Savers, YurBuds Earbud Enhancers, and Rockin’ Refuel Protein Fortified Chocolate Milk.
1. Stuffitts Shoe Savers. Stuffitts are a simple product with a simple purpose – they dry out wet shoes and make them smell nice. Essentially, Stuffits are little fabric “feet” that are filled with absorbent material and cedar shavings (the cedar is replaceable). You stick them in your shoes after a run, hike, etc., and they absorb moisture from the shoe. They come in different sizes to accommodate different size feet, and the Stuffitts folks were kind enough to send me a few sizes so that I could use them both in my running shoes and my Vibram Fivefingers (VFF stink can be a big problem!).
For a product like the Stuffitts, the key question is simply whether or not they work. My answer is absolutely – I use them frequently (which is the mark of any good product), and usually they can dry my shoes out overnight (I’ve heard that balled up newspaper works as well if you’re into cheap alternatives, but haven’t tried that myself). They come with a strap that can connect them together, and often what I do is shove them in the shoes and hang them via the strap on a door handle. As far as odor-control, my shoes smell sharply of cedar after a night inhabited by a Stuffitt. My overflowing running shoe rack is in a central location in my house, and I haven’t been spoken to about any odor issues by my wife, so perhaps I can give some credit to the Stuffitts for that. All in all, a well-made product that does what it’s advertised to do. For more, visit http://www.stuffitts.com/.
2. Yurbuds Earphone Enhancers. One of the things I have noticed about some of the newer Apple earbuds that have come bundled with recent generation iPod Nanos or iPod Touch devices is that they don’t stay in my ears very well (older Apple earbuds were much better in this regard). Yurbuds aims to help with this by offering a universal rubber attachment for earbuds that fits over the earpiece and snugly inside your ear. Their claim is that they are guaranteed to not fall out, and I would have to agree based on my experience using them on the run. As a bonus, they funnel sound from the earbuds directly into the ear canal, which helps to amplify and improve audio quality.
Yurbuds sent me a set of the rubber enhancer/adapters, as well as a pair of earbud headphones. The rubber adapters work great and are quite comfortable (they customize fit by having you send an image of your ear with a known size object like a quarter to them before you buy), but the earbud headphones they sent are the kind with unequal wire size on the right and left sides. I find that style of earbud headphone to be rather annoying to wear (my OCD likes symmetry in wire length!), so I have only used the rubber enhancers on my Apple earbuds, and they work great with them. Thankfully, you can buy the rubber earbud enhancers separately, but the $19.99 price tag seems a bit steep for what they are. However, if they allow me to wear all of the Apple headphones that I had previously shoved in a drawer never to be used due to poor fit, maybe that’s not so bad. At the moment, I’ll probably continue to wear the cheapo Philips over-ear headphones that I bought for <$10, but when those die I’ll resurrect my Apple buds and the Yurbuds will get plenty of action. For more information, check out http://www.yurbuds.com/.
3. Rockin’ Refuel Chocolate Milk. I’ll be honest at the outset of this review – I am not a nutritionist. I couldn’t tell you how much protein or fat I should take in on a given day, nor do I really track such things on a day to day basis. My basic thinking on protein supplementation is that since I’m fairly active, maybe I should strive to take in a bit more. One area where I do believe a bit of added protein can be helpful is post-workout. Muscle damage incurred during hard workouts like long runs or speed sessions requires protein for repair and rebuilding, and thus I try to make sure to have some form of protein shortly after a tough run. My protein source of choice used to be Muscle Milk protein shakes, but I’ve stopped buying the stuff after Consumer Reports released a study showing elevated levels of some potentially harmful metals in it (cadmium and lead). While it takes 3 servings a day to reach those harmful levels for Muscle Milk, I figure if I can avoid ingesting heavy metals, I will.
Shortly after the Consumer Reports article on protein shake dangers came out, Shamrock Farms sent me some samples of a product called Rockin’ Refuel Protein Fortified Chocolate Milk. Essentially, Rockin’ Refuel is just standard chocolate milk plus 20g of added whey protein (and they use no rBST growth hormone on their cows). The coach of my local running club used to swear by plain-old chocolate milk as a recovery drink, and Rockin’ Refuel might be a good choice if you are looking for something with a bit more protein. It tastes good, more-or-less like a thick glass of chocolate milk, and it comes in prepared bottles that you can buy in convenience stores. Lately I haven’t really been taking added protein in drink form, as I have plenty of other whole food options I can choose from without having to go out and buy a bottle of fortified chocolate milk. The advantage of Muscle Milk was that it was powdered and I could mix it up when needed, so the fact that Rockin’ Refuel comes in small bottles makes it unlikely that I will buy it very often – it’s not that I didn’t like it, just that it’s not convenient. However, if I were at a convenience store and had to choose between a bottle of Muscle Milk and a bottle of Rockin’ Refuel, I’d definitely go with the latter at this point. For more on Rockin’ Refuel, check out http://www.rockinrefuel.com/.