The Gear I Use

If you have any questions about my experience with any of these products, don’t hesitate to ask. Also, if you’re interested in purchasing any of the products mentioned in this post, using the Amazon affiliate links below supports the site and is greatly appreciated!

Garmin

  • Forerunner 935 – Yes, it’s basically a fēnix 5 with a plastic case.
  • fēnix 5 – Upgraded from a fēnix 3, this was the first device where I really began using some of the more advanced features regularly (ie: structured workouts for running and swimming). As for swimming, it’s quite obvious that Garmin is the only device that seems as if its software (both on the device and the workout builder) were designed by folks with a swimming background. Other than the occasional missed lap and stroke-detection errors (most likely caused by my sub-par freestyle stroke), it’s practically perfect. I will say, however, compared to activities like running and cycling, it takes some effort to figure out how to use the various swim features.
  • Forerunner 245 Music – This is the watch I was hoping for with the vívoactive 3 Music. Full featured running and pool swim modes, music (Spotify), and advanced metrics. If it weren’t for the fact that it has WiFi (required for loading music via Spotify but not allowed where I work), it would be my daily watch as well.
  • vívoactive 3 Music – I originally thought this would be a nice addition for those times that I wanted to run with music but without a smartphone. It’s definitely a capable device but I find that I’m just not that crazy about the touch screen. Otherwise, it’s a perfectly acceptable device to the casual runner or cyclist.
  • vívomove HR – Since I work in a facility that prohibits any devices with WiFi capability, the vívomove HR strikes a nice balance between traditional styling, activity (step) tracking, and just enough smart-watch features to be my daily watch. Sleep tracking, at least for me, is surprising accurate. Stress tracking, as shown in this Tweet, seems have some validity as well.
  • Edge 1000, Edge 810, Edge 530, Edge 520, Edge 500 cycling computers. They all just seem to work as intended.
  • Varia RTL510 Radar Tail Light. Probably one of the best investments I’ve made as far as safety is concerned. Definitely worth the money. Check out GPLama’s video for a ringing endorsement.
  • HRM-Tri, HRM-Swim – Most of my swimming is fairly low intensity but it’s nice to occasionally see what the heart-rate hits during intervals. Also provides a bit more accurate calorie estimate (in my case, usually lower).
  • HRM-Run
  • Foot Pod and Running Dynamics Pod
  • Index Smart Scale
  • Numerous Speed/Cadence sensors including the new Speed Sensor Version 2 (on the Cannondale T-700 errand bike)

Software

  • Garmin Connect – I’m obviously firmly entrenched in the Garmin ecosystem so it only makes sense to use Garmin Connect for my primary data collection hub.  It’s also my primary reporting tool to look at long-term (year over year) results.
  • TrainingPeaks – I primarily use TrainingPeaks for scheduling and for building structured workouts.
  • Final Surge – Fills a very nice gap between the free and premium versions of TrainingPeaks. Has the ability to schedule your training plan/workouts but without the data visualization available in TrainingPeaks. Definitely worth checking out.
  • Strava – Strava is, at least for me, the “Facebook for Athletes”.  Nice way to keep up with what your friends are doing and offer motivation through “Kudos” – but without all the political chatter.
  • Elevate for Strava – This Chrome extension brings serious data analysis to Strava. The only down-side is that it’s limited to Chrome and the activities must be brought over to “local storage” within the Chrome browser which means the advanced analysis is only available on that particular computer (as opposed to being cloud-based). If you have multiple computers, you simply have to sync the activities on those computers as well. Depending on the number of activities in your Strava account, it can take a bit of time and a little bit of disk space – but definitely worth it.
  • Smashrun – If you’re a runner, a true data junkie, and have a bunch of data sitting around in your Garmin, TomTom, or some other repository, give Smashrun a look.  Very nice interface and some features you just won’t find anywhere else.
  • Zwift – This application has totally changed indoor cycling for me (and many others.)  Between the convenience, safety, and immersive nature of the experience, indoor cycling is no longer the drudgery that it was. And with the running module coming along nicely, it has a chance of doing the same for the treadmill.
  • Rouvy – Primarily for use during my Virtual Lake Superior project since it allows custom routes to be easily imported and the satellite view provides the “real world” immersion I’m looking for.
  • TrainerRoad – Where Zwift focuses primarily on immersion, racing, and brings a social aspect to indoor cycling, TrainerRoad is all about providing a structured approach to your training. I’m not ready to give up my Zwift subscription, but I have to admit, TrainerRoad is a lot more engaging than I expected. Definitely seems more appropriate for the serious cyclist as opposed to a “fitness enthusiast” like myself. I’ve currently suspended the account but there may come a time when I decide to ramp up the cycling get back into TrainerRoad. In the meantime, I’ll probably just use MaximumTrainer for those times I want a structured workout without the immersion of Zwift, RGT, or Rouvy.
  • MaximumTrainer – Basically it’s TrainerRoad Lite. Not nearly the amount of pre-made workouts and much more limited post-ride analysis, but a similar workout experience. I don’t think Zwift or TrainerRoad have anything to worry about, but it is free, so there’s that. If you want to do the occasional structured workout, don’t mind building it yourself, and aren’t in the mood for a 3D world, give it a try. There’s also a nice review over on SMART Bike Trainers. With the release of version 3.05, they’ve incorporated 3000+ workouts from ERGdb.
  • RGT Cycling (formally Road Grand Tours) – RGT Cycling has the potential to be strong competitor in the virtual cycling market. From my perspective, they don’t seem to be simply trying to copy Zwift but possibly offer those features that Zwift either chooses not to offer or just hasn’t gotten around to doing. They’ve recently re-designed the application to be used in two parts: the primary “display” running on your PC or Apple TV and a control app that runs on your Android or iOS device. This first release has not been received particularly but an update that supposedly addresses many of the complaints is to be released soon. It’s no longer shown as being in beta but it’s not quite worthy of a subscription at this point.
  • VirtuGO – Currently in beta, VirtuGO is not quite as far along in development as RGT Cycling but does have a few interesting features. Certainly worth checking out.
  • GoldenCheetah – Probably the most comprehensive application for power-based activity analysis available. Opensource, free, and available on Windows, Mac, and Linux
  • FitnessSyncer – Although it can sync fitness data and metrics from and to quite a few sources and destinations, I originally just used it to get my Garmin Index Scale data over to TrainingPeaks. As I dig deeper into its capability, I’m finding more applications. I especially like the ability to easily archive my data from a variety of sources to a single cloud service such as Dropbox.
  • myfitnesspal – Sometimes I like to try to get a handle on my daily calories. Most of the time, I don’t.
  • EliteHRV – One of the earliest consumer-grade applications for monitoring ones Heart Rate Variability (HRV). Although it can be used with HRM straps that are able to accurately measure R-R intervals, they’ve recently produced their own wireless (Bluetooth) optical sensor, the CorSense.

Miscellaneous

  • AlienWare Alpha – Primary platform for all the PC-based applications (ie: Zwift, TrainerRoad, Rouvy, etc.). Other than Spotify, there’s nothing installed that’s not fitness or training related.
  • Apple TV 4K – At this point, it’s only running the ATV version of Zwift just to get some insight into how the platform handles it, but I may give Fulgaz a try sometime in the future.
  • Spirit XT285 Treadmill – I’ve never been a big fan of running on a treadmill, but it looks like Zwift can do for treadmill running what it did for indoor cycling. I’m definitely finding the convenience of getting in a quick run whenever the opportunity presents itself is a big benefit.
  • Polar Vantage V – It’s been quite a few years since I’ve had a Polar device (other than the H7 HRM) so I thought I’d give their latest-and-greatest a try.  Can’t say I’m overly impressed at this point. As a long-time fenix/Forerunner user, it seems like for every feature on the Vantage V that I really like, there are 2 or 3 things missing. Just doesn’t seem like a finished product at this point. For example:
    • Structured swim workouts don’t seem to have been designed by a swimmer. No options for type of rest interval (fixed duration, on the 30’s, etc.), lengths in kilometers or miles.
    • No way to simply power-down the device. Since I don’t wear it 24×7, I’d like to know it’s fully charged when I do decide to use it.
  • Samsung Galaxy Active – Just checking it out to see how it compares. Probably won’t be my everyday smartwatch and I suspect getting activity data off of it will be pain, but looks to be a nice watch at a good price–especially for the casual fitness enthusiast looking for a fairly full-featured smartwatch.
  • Amazfit Bip, Amazfit Stratos
  • Polar H10 and H7 heart rate monitors. The H10 has recently received a firmware update that provides ANT+ capability making it one of the best choices of HRM straps available.
  • Polar OH1+ Optical Heart Rate Monitor – Polar’s first entry into the ANT+ world. Other than the narrow strap which allows the sensor to flip over, no complaints.
  • Stryd Footpod – Being a data geek, the power measurement by the Stryd is pretty interesting. My primary reason for purchasing the Stryd, however, is it’s accuracy on the treadmill when varying speed (ie: doing intervals). It’s Bluetooth Smart and works very well with Zwift.
  • MilestonePod, ZwiftPod
  • TreadTracker – In my ongoing quest to determine the accuracy of my treadmill, I added the TreadTracker to my kit. From my preliminary tests, it looks like the belt speed is about 0.1 mph slower than what is displayed when “unloaded” (not actually running on the belt).  Once loaded, it drops anywhere from 0.2 mph to 0.3 mph.  The Stryd footpod, with no calibration offset, seems to be about 0.1 mph slower than the TreadTracker.  Based on this, I’m using a calibration of “065:064” in Zwift’s prefs.xml and “101.50” in my Garmin fenix 5 for the Stryd footpod.  You’d think that a piece of machinery as expensive and simple as a treadmill could manage to keep the belt speed (whether loaded or unloaded) within a percent or two of the displayed speed.
  • Wahoo Kickr 2017
  • Wahoo Tickr – It’s always nice to have a ANT+/BLE non-optical strap in the kit although the H10, with its recent update, is a slightly better choice.
  • Wahoo Bluetooth cadence sensor
  • GoPro Hero4, Hero5, and Hero7
  • Scosche Rhythm+
  • Scosche Rhythm 24 – Been very reliable for running and cycling but still waiting for Scosche allow the store-and-sync mode to work with a Garmin wearable like the HRM-Swim and HRM-Tri straps.
  • 4iii Viiiiva – A pretty good HRM in itself but it’s real application is bridging ANT+ devices into a single Bluetooth signal for use with apps like Zwift on Apple TV which have limited Bluetooth channels.
  • Favero Assioma DUO power meter pedals. Of all the fitness tech that I’ve owned or reviewed, these pedals are by far the best if you simply go by the lack of complaints. It’s hard to fault something “that just works” as expected. If you’re in the market for affordable, reliable, and accurate power pedals, you won’t be disappointed.
  • PowerTap PowerCal HRM/powermeter – Was mainly curious if it could be used as a power source for Zwift when using something like a stationary bike at a hotel. In my limited testing, it fluctuates way too much for Zwift. It might, however, give some reasonable data on real-world rides but, as you’d expect, it’s definitely not a replacement for a real power meter/source. Really not worth the trouble and there are much better HRM straps available.
  • Oura Ring – How can HRV, accelerometers, temperature, Bluetooth, a week’s worth of battery, and 6 weeks worth of data be packed into such a small package?
  • CorSense HRV Sensor – For use with EliteHRV.
  • OMRON BP654 Wireless Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor – Because everything is better with Bluetooth.
  • Jaybird X4 Wireless Sport Buetooth Headphones – Not quite sold on full/true wireless (ie: RUN XT) so, for the time-being, I’ll stick with these. I get some occasional drop-outs with both the VA3M and the FR245M, but haven’t quite figured out if its the headphones or the watch. At this point, I’m thinking it has something to do with my phone being within range even those the X4’s are actively paired with the Garmin watch. Need to do a bit more troubleshooting.

Running

  • Hoka One One Clifton 5 – This is my primary running shoe, especially for longer outdoor runs.
  • Newton Fate and Newton Gravity
  • On Cloudflow – They’ve been getting good reviews so I thought I’d try something new. Started out using them mostly on the treadmill but have lately found their way onto more and more of my outdoor runs.

Cycling

  • Cervélo RS
  • Specialized Camber Elite 29er
  • Surly Disc Trucker (touring)
  • Cannondale T-700 (commuter, errands, quick run to the beach, etc.)
  • Arkel GT-54 and GT-18 Touring Panniers
  • Redshift Sports Aero System – On the Cervélo RS, of course.
  • Specialized Comp Road Shoes
  • Specialized Comp MTB Shoes
  • Thule Helium Aero 2 hitch rack

Swimming

  • Blue Seventy Reaction wetsuit. Hopefully 2018 will be the year that I conquer my open-water anxiety.
  • Roka SIM Elite neoprene shorts – Gives the feel of wearing a wetsuit without all the added warmth. Plus, sometimes it’s just nice to use when I’m just wanting to take it a bit easier.
  • FINIS Freestyler and Iso hand paddles
  • FINIS Edge fins
  • Speedo Vanquisher 2.0 goggles
  • AMEO Powerbreather – Still haven’t quite gotten comfortable with this thing.

Gone, but not Forgotten…

  • Litespeed Tachyon (replacement: Cervélo S1)
  • Cervélo S1 (replacement: Cervélo RS)
  • Garmin fēnix 3 (replacement: fēnix 5)
  • vívomove (replacement: vívomove HR) – Nice watch if you want traditional styling along with activity (ie: step) tracking. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of getting the black dial which includes black hands. Just too hard to read in poor light.
  • Specialized Tricross (replacement: Surly Disc Trucker) – The touring bike used for Lake Erie, Michigan, and Huron.
  • Garmin Forerunner 920XT (replacement: fēnix 3)
  • Mio LINK Optical HR Monitors (2) – Probably the first optical heart rate monitor I ever used.

One thought on “The Gear I Use

  1. My former boss at work runs kayakvb.com and kayakvb.info sites. I saw his link and mention of your site and checked it out. Very nice! I do a little kayaking around Va Beach, as well as hiking on trails, biking and so forth. I don’t have gear as nice as yours but I make do. Anyhow, great site!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.