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Jan 25

Awe and Blah

Thanks to Ellen for the blog title. I hope she doesn’t mind that I am borrowing it.  I better watch my grammar and spelling now or risk ending up as a “blah” on her site.

Awe: LED Light Vest

Homepage: http://ledlightvest.com/
Rating: 8 out of 10
Cost: $59.95 for human vest, $39.95 – $44.95 for dog vest

Back in October, during the Grand Rapids Marathon, I saw a guy running with a dog.  The dog was wearing this really cool reflective vest with lights on each side.  After the race, I began looking for the vest online to no avail.  Then, back in December, Jennie and I were at a fun run for the opening of a new running store where I saw a dog with the same vest.  I asked the owner where she found it and she told me that I needed to find Gary because he makes them.  After the run, I found Gary with his dog (wearing the vest of course) to get some details.  He gave me his business card and told me to email him if I wanted to buy one.  He also showed me the led vest he was wearing himself.

I checked out the his website and found this video.

At the time, Gary hadn’t turned on the ability to order the vests online (it is available now though), so I shot him an email and arranged a time to buy them.  He lives nearby so I drove over to pick them up.  I ended up spending a good 30 minutes talking to Gary about running and the vests.  His passion for creating a great product was very evident in our conversation.  He has worked in the lighting industry (think car headlights and brake lights) for years and has spent countless hours making sure that he is using only the best quality electronics.

Technical Details

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Human Vest
Usage: 4+ hours on single charge
LEDs: 12 front white Super Bright LEDs output 60,000 mcds (a butt load of mcds).  The 12 back red Super Bright LEDs have the same output as automotive tail lights.
Sizing: One size.  The vest itself is the Runner’s World reflective vest

Dog Vest
Usage: 2+ hours on single charge
LEDs: 6 red Super Bright LEDs on each side, 12 total
Sizing: 3 sizes available (Bailey is a medium)

Both vests come with a rechargeable Nimh battery which means that you can recharge them whenever you want without having to worry about affecting the longterm life of the battery.  The charger is the same for both vests so even though we have two chargers, only one is necessary.  Also, the battery pack is completely removable in each vest allowing you wash them. 

Updated 1/25/2012 10:17AM

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MattyO asked about charging the vests and whether or not both vests could be charged at the same time.  The answer is yes.  In fact, you don’t even need to remove the batteries to charge them.  Each vest has a charging port (in between the toggle switches above) so you essentially plug in the entire vest to charge it.  As long as you have as many outlets available as vests you can charge them all at once.

The human vest has a zipper storage pouch that stores the battery pack but still has room for keys, Gu, etc.  The human vest also has two toggle switches, one for the front lights and one for the back.  That way, if you are running in a group you can turn off the back lights to avoid blinding those behind you.

My Thoughts

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Overall, I am super happy with both the human vest and the dog vest.  I can only assume that Bailey approves of the dog vest because he knows that when we get it out that it is time for a run. 

See…

This is Bailey’s pathetic, “hurry up, I’m ready to go” whine.

I have used the vest for both running and biking multiple times and it works great for both activities and I have never felt safer.  Not only does the vest emit an intensely bright light to make yourself visible, but it is also bright enough to light your path.  The front LEDs have “caps” on them that help to direct the light forward and down so that they don’t affect your vision.

The vests are both head turners.  So far, Bailey and I have been called “Tron and his dog” and likened to to 1970’s era aliens.  I have also noticed cars slow down and stare as they drive by trying to figure out what is so bright and even had people yell, “Love the vest” from their car as they drove by.

While slightly bulky feeling at first, I quickly became used to the feeling and it doesn’t bother me at all now.  The bulkiness is a bit more evident when running versus biking because you are bouncing around more. I think some of this bulkiness could be lessened with a better fitting vest.  The Runner’s World reflective vest is a little bulky on me to begin with and only comes in one size.  I may eventually try to modify the vest a bit to tighten it up around my torso.

As bright as the human vest is, it doesn’t entirely eliminate the need for a headlamp.  If you are running on familiar streets/sidewalks then you are probably good running without a headlamp.  However, if you are on unfamiliar trails, you may still want a headlamp so that you can look around.  The vest is super bright, but if you want to look left or right, you need to turn your entire torso rather than just your head.  I did a couple runs on a some dark trails and wished I had my headlamp so that I could determine whether the rustling I heard to the side of the trail was a cougar or a squirrel.  I really hope it was just a squirrel.

If you are an early morning or late evening runner, I can not recommend these vests enough.  Like, I said, I’ve never felt safer and you can’t put a price on safety. Especially when it comes to our 4-legged friends.

Blah: GearAndTraining.Com

Edit: So, I typed this whole “Blah” up only discover the following when I went to the gearandtraining.com web page. 

image

I guess I wasn’t alone.  Any ways, feel free to read on if you are bored, but now you don’t have to worry about getting screwed over.

I mentioned back in November the problems I was having while buying a new trainer.  Well, over 2 months later, I am happy to announce that everything is finally worked out.  It started on October 31st when I ordered a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine trainer from GearAndTraining.Com. The product was listed as “In Stock” on their site and they had the best price.  After ordering the product, my credit card was charged the next day.  Ten days later, I still not received any shipment or tracking number for that matter. I called customer support and was told that they were awaiting a shipment from their supplier.  So, apparently “in stock” doesn’t really mean in stock. I decided to cancel my order and order from another supplier (Tree Fort Bikes) who actually had the trainer in stock.  Problem solved, story over, right? Wrong.

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(This trainer deserves a review of its own. It rocks!)

When the credit card bill came, I noticed I was never refunded the money for the original trainer purchase from GearAndTraining.Com. (Note to online stores: don’t charge me before you have the product ready to ship).  I contacted GearAndTraining.Com and was told that they would correct the problem immediately.  So, I waited another week and still no credit was applied.  Subsequent phone calls went straight to voicemail stating that it was a busy time of year (Christmas) and to leave a message and they would call back.  Did that. Multiple times actually and received no reply.  I eventually had to officially dispute the charges with our bank.  While that process went surprisingly well (Yay PNC!) it was something that I should have never had to do in the first place.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2012/01/25/awe-and-blah

23 comments

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  1. Carolina John

    I think that vest is a fantastic idea! Very cool.
    Carolina John recently posted..A Week?

  2. DR

    there’s just something weird about reading “human vest” lol
    I’m in need of a vest for winter for sure

    omg on Gear & Training! I have actually been to their store about a year ago when I was shopping for a wetsuit. It was mostly a online warehouse outfit with a small storefront, owner was super cool and they seemed to be doing pretty decent buisness …they had an okay reputation here in Mpls. Great news on PNC taking care of it!

    D

    1. Ironman By Thirty (Kevin)

      HAHA! Yeah, it does sort of have a little bit of a Silence of the Lambs sort of vibe doesn’t it? Didn’t know how else to differentiate them though.

      You better get a vest. We need to keep you safe and healthy for the next 15 weeks.

      It is sort of my own fault with G&T. After my problems, I researched them and they were getting bad online reviews all over the place. I spent so much time researching the product that I didn’t research the seller.

      Any idea if their store front is still open? I wonder if they closed up entirely or just online.

  3. Lisa

    vest looks great.
    bummer that you needed to resort to disputing a charge to get that refund. that’s just not right…
    Lisa recently posted..Questions, Questions, and more Questions

  4. Lauren

    ooooh! I love the vest! I wish my dog would want to wear a vest but she never goes for runs with me. damn pug. I do dress her in cow costumes and other such things just for my own amusement.

    anyway- i am in need of a vest, and this looks pretty awesome!
    Lauren recently posted..Birthday Surprise #2

  5. Matthew Smith

    Your vests are so cool! Not only are they functional, but they make you look like a super hero! That’s so cool.

    I’m glad you finally got your money back for the trainer. I remember when we were at your place that you were still working it out. I’d love to have a full review of your trainer..next post maybe?
    Matthew Smith recently posted..Stop the Randomness!

  6. Mark in Ottawa

    Wow! I thought I recognized the traininer from your twitter pic showing a good use for the Yellow Pages. Congrats! I’m just sorry that it was just such a hassle. Good on your bank for reversing the charges…that’s the benefit of the credit card I guess…high interest rates in exchange for good protection?

    I’m looking forward to full review of the trainer. I was lucky enough this fall, when I was buying my tri-bike, to mention to the LBS manager that my 10 year old CycleOps fluid trainer wasn’t working right and that the handle broke – he told me to bring it in, and said that it was warranteed for life…so I did and he gave me a brand new CycleOps Fluid 2 trainer. I love it (and it’s kicking my butt). Pair that with Trainer Road (I subscribed after you mentioned it here a while back), and I’ll be in great shape come April!

    Those vests look great. Around where I live (read suburbia) all the streets I tend to run on are lit, but I can definitely see this as an added safety feature, especially for Bailey. How far do you run with Bailey now? Do you need to use special booties to protect his paws from the snow/slush/salt?

    Mark (in Ottawa, Canada)

    1. Ironman By Thirty (Kevin)

      The YP picture was actually the guy in front of me but it is probably the most popular trainer in the spin class. Between it and the CycleOps, you’d have about 2/3′s of the trainers in class.

      I’ll hopefully get a full review done sometime. My previous trainer was an $80 mag trainer that worked great but you ran out of resistance around 18-20mph so it wasn’t much of a workout. I think this trainer is rated at something like 3000W so there is no chance of me ever running out of resistance on this baby.

      It honestly came down to the CycleOps Fluid2 and the KK Road Machine. Everything I heard about them was basically the same. I found a slightly better price on the KK so I went with that. I’m sure I would have been equally happy with either.

      Glad you are liking Trainer Road! I brought my laptop with me to the spin class yesterday for our VO2 test. It was a little bulky but I got the virtual power data I wanted.

      We are up to a max of 6 miles with Bailey. Usually it is only 3-4 and if he goes on a long run we make sure he has at least 2 off days to recover. So far we haven’t had any paw issues with him. We run him at at 9-10 min/mile pace and for the most part, he is really just walking fast. His legs are so long he doesn’t really even need to run.

  7. Matt Oravec

    dude. Dude… DUDE!!!!!! I SOOOOOOOO FREAKING NEED THIS THING!

    Ummm I honestly was just thinking about this last night as I was running in the pitch black and trying to figure a way to put my bike red LED light on my coat somehow. I almost got laid out …. well, a car almost got demolished worse than a deer hit last night, it actually was the closest I have come to getting hit to the point that I jumped into a yard to avoid imminent paralysis.

    I honestly am going to look this up today. Love this post, my vote for post of the year, Gary you are PURE awesome for doing this.

    Frank and Sophie do the same thing, as soon as we open the drawer for their leashes they FREAK the heck out. I can open the drawer above and below the leash drawer and no reaction… how do they know? And they wine to the point that you rush to get your crap together because it’s sooooo loud and annoying you just want them out the door haha.

    Thank you for posting this. Can you charge both batteries at once or are they not wired that way?
    Matt Oravec recently posted..Hills for dinner?

    1. Ironman By Thirty (Kevin)

      Great question about charging! I actually updated the post with an extra picture and more info. But, to answer your question, yes, you can charge both at the same time. You actually plug in the entire vest to charge and don’t have to even remove the battery. Each vest comes with a charger so you can charge them all at once if you want. The chargers are low profile chargers too so they only take up a single wall outlet and don’t block the rest of the outlet like some chargers.

      For Bailey, all we have to do is say turn on the Garmin, grab his leash, or say the word “run” (which makes it interesting if we say “Did you run the dishwasher yet?” haha)

      I agree about using it mostly in the winter. It would be even bulkier feeling in the summer with only a t-shirt under it. But like you said, I hardly run in the dark in the summer any ways.

  8. Matt Oravec

    Also, I only run in the dark in the winter… so I am already layered up w/ a wind breaker and what not, I can’t fathom feeling any bulkier than I already do. I think this would be perfect for winter running.
    Matt Oravec recently posted..Hills for dinner?

  9. Viper

    Definitely a cool vest. I might have to invest in one of one those. Cheers!
    Viper recently posted..Pushing the Pace

    1. Ironman By Thirty (Kevin)

      Maybe you can save up all the money you aren’t spending on running shoes and buy a vest. Maybe if you ask nicely, they could customize one of the vests with a rainbow of colors. That would be perfect for your inner hippie.

  10. amy

    I love the dog vest! Ours hate them though – they just stand there looking pathetic until we take it off.
    amy recently posted..Non-Race Race Recap: NYRR Manhattan Half Marathon

  11. kc

    Those vests are genius! You make me wish I had a dog now too. I’d be the talk of the town …Housewives of New Tampa! The Bailey video is so cute. He is all dressed up and ready to sprint!

    I have a feeling that HITS is next up on the Not Found HTTP error 404 list.
    kc recently posted..welcome to my new place!

  12. katie

    Oooh, cool vests, but if I put them on all three dogs I might be blinded….
    katie recently posted..mostly puppy wordless wednesday

  13. Jason @ Cook Train Eat Race

    Definitely getting two vests now since we are running in the dark all the time.

    And I’m sure blah was not the first four letter word that came to mind but this is a PG-13 blog so I understand only using that one.
    Jason @ Cook Train Eat Race recently posted..Frugal Grocer – Week #3

    1. Ironman By Thirty (Kevin)

      What four letter word are you referring to??? haha

      The really crappy thing is that I did my best to maintain my composure and be nice when talking to customer service the first two times. By the third time, when I was ready to go apeshit on them, they stopped answering the phone. I feel like I missed out on a good chance to blow off some steam.

  14. Jon

    You have now Pavlovian-ed Bailey with the vest! haha! And he also looks like a 1960′s Sci-Fi space invader.

    Glad you that got your money back and also HAPPY that place went bust. Perhaps their AWESOME customer service was to blame? Hhmmmm
    Jon recently posted..Waffles

  15. Ellen

    Sweet vest! And no, I don’t mind at all that you borrowed the Awe and Blah concept. I’m flattered!

    And I recently bought 2XU compression tights off of gearandtraining.com using a Living Social coupon so it freaks me out that the site is gone. Guess I won’t be returning those if something goes wrong!
    Ellen recently posted..Awe and Blah: Household Tips and Tricks for Winter and Headhunting, NFL Style

  16. lindsay

    those vests sound pretty good. i never worried too much about myself when i ran in the dark (am or pm) and just assumed my road id and a few reflective bits on my clothes was sufficient. now that josh runs i worry the whole time he’s gone. at the same time, i don’t know that i could get him to wear something like this or even just a reflective vest. ha.
    lindsay recently posted..i can and i will

  17. Colleen

    I’m loving those vests and am glad that you posted more info on them. Now if I can just stop being lazy and get one (or four). :)

    Ugh… blah is right for poor customer service! Glad that you got things straightened out through PNC.

  18. Beth

    Thanks so much for posting the website for the vest. Ever since I saw one of your posts with you and Bailey wearing it, I have sooooo wanted one. Me and my pup wear reflective clothing now, but still almost was hit by some stupid driver not paying attention and actually started driving on the wrong side of the road. Luckily we jumped in someones yard right in time.

    I cannot wait to get my vest and Reagan (the yellow lab’s) vest :)
    Beth recently posted..Wordless Wednesday

  1. Race Report: River Bank Run » Ironman By Thirty

    [...] spin around the expo with Jennie. I was happy to see Gary from the LED Light Vests had a booth (review here). He had already sold out of all of his human vests and only had dogs vests [...]

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