The Hall of Lame Sauce

Not all of my gear purchases have been winners

One of the downsides that comes with living on the frugal side (*cough*, cheap, *cough*) is that sometimes you’re going to purchase some real stinkers.

That sucks because you’ll end up buying a cheap P.O.S. and a decent replacement for what the higher-end item would have cost the first time around. And then for the same price you still don’t have the best gear possible.

I’ve found that my frugalness has led me to some really good scores but occasionally I just end up with either a piece of garbage or an underwhelming piece of gear.

Even worse is that sometimes I’ll make a non-frugal purchase that also sucks which really pisses me off. I accept the fact that there’s a decent percentage of suckage when purchasing cheaper gear but if it’s pricey and lousy then you can be damn sure I’m listing it here.

So to keep you from making the same mistakes I’m creating the Hall of Lame Sauce and listing these sorry purchases. If you have a piece of gear that you’d like to list please contact me with a write-up and I’ll consider it.

You won’t see Seymour in too many of these pictures because most of these items have been sold or aggressively thrown into the garbage.

Apologies ahead of time to some of the companies listed here. I like some of their stuff but not everything they make is a home run.

Mizuno Calf Sleeves – $15

Calf sleeves are a post in themselves as I’m starting put them in the “snake oil” bucket of products. With that said, early in my running career I tried them out and found a Running Warehouse special on some Mizuno Calf sleeves. I can’t remember what I paid, maybe $15, but they were the cheapest ones out there.

Now I love me some Mizuno running shoes which I’m generally able to score for about $65 but these compression sleeves were just not up to snuff.

After about 2 trips through the washer they started to unravel and come apart. I continued to wear them as they unraveled until it got too much for me and I threw them away. I was so disappointed with them that for the first time I went online and wrote a product review.

After a little research I found there’s a million 40% off codes for Pro Compression sleeves which I purchased as a replacement and have had no issues with. No issues except that I don’t really think they’re necessary. But well save that for another day.

Random Ebay Construction Vest – $2

My favorite race to date is the Blue Ridge Relay which is an 208 mile overnight relay that has become a yearly tradition for my brother-in-laws and some crazy friends. It’s an awesome race with a hard-to-argue-with rule that requires you to wear a reflective vest and blinky lights when running in the dark or on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Makes sense.

I had one of those “ah, it doesn’t matter” type of moments and bought a construction vest on Ebay for $2 instead of a “running” vest.

Well that thing was a pile of hot garbage. It was HUGE and was flapped in the wind like I was wearing a cape. We tried using safety pins to make it tighter but it was a useless endeavor. This silly piece of crap also did an amazing job of holding in all my body heat which was awesome since I was running in North Carolina during the summer.

After I finished my last leg that required a vest I hastily took off that sweaty piece of junk and threw it into the closest garbage can.

Amphipod Xinglet Flash LED Vest – $40

Oh man, 2 reflective vests made it into the hall? That sucks.

After the disaster that was the construction vest I decided to buy a “good” running reflective vest. After all I do this race every year so it’s probably a wise investment.

So I came across the Amphipod Xinglet Flash LED vest which has BUILT IN BLINKY LIGHTS! That was enticing because I kept buying bulky lights that would bang into my chest and then fall off after about 8 steps.

My whole team bought these. And a year later we all had the same complaint.

The battery and electronics are placed right at your sternum which is where all your sweat flows. And pardon the technical speak but all that sweat jacked up the electronic stuff and the lights stopped working. So it essentially became a standard, light-less vest that we then needed to purchase additional lights for.

Now the vest is nice in that it’s not too bulky and allows body heat to escape but it ran us $45 (before runblog10). Amphipod already sells a vest without lights for about $29 which is essentially what we ended up with. But instead we paid $45 plus another $15 or so for replacement lights.

Grr.

Citizen Miami Folding Bike – $250

I already talked about this bike a bit in my Dahon Speed P8 Review and struggled with whether or not to put this bike in the hall.

Why did I struggle? It was a really pretty bike and the Citizen customer service was great. They even threw in a free pair of silly-looking socks as a gift with purchase.

But purchasing a folding for $250 is a perfect you-get-what-you-pay-for situation.

This is not a high-end bike but maybe it serves a purpose?

Well I thought about the main reasons people buy folding bikes and I can’t find a niche for a heavy, slow and difficult-to-collapse folding bike made with lower-end components.

At 32 lbs (34 with rack) this bike is a tank and the folding mechanism is a pain when compared to my Dahon. It has low pressure tires and I was getting passed by all sorts of lousy cyclists.

You can’t find this bike in stores but if you could it would probably be sold at Walmart. And not even The Cheap Athlete recommends buying any sort of bicycle at Walmart.

But it did save me some money during its short tenure in my fleet, so for that I thank it.

Sof Sole Shoe Insoles – $20

Every shoe insole I’ve ever tried sucks but I was having Bursitis issues and was desperate. Since I didn’t have any success with the super-cheap insoles I figured I’d give the $20 Sof Sole insoles a try.

I freaking hated these things and the pain they caused in my arches was unbearable. I ran in them for 4 miles before I came home, switched my shoes and never used insoles again.

Screw these things.

Nashbar Essential Tool Kit – $50

This is another purchase that gets filed into the What did I think I was getting category. I had lofty intentions that I would get into restoring old bikes and therefore needed a set of bike tools. But, of course, that never materialized because I have a job, commute, wife and racing addiction.

When was I going to find time to do this?

And given that literally every mechanic uses Park Tool kits that are really expensive why did I think this $50 tool kit would work? Did I know something they didn’t?

The majority of bike maintenance I do requires a pedal wrench, Allen wrench and tire levers. And I already had tire levers and Allen wrenches. Worse yet was the fact the pedal wrench in this kit was so flimsy that I separately bought a Park Tool wrench.

So what do I use this kit for?

A whole lotta nothing.

Ultimate Direction Water Bottle – $20

I wanted a handheld water bottle and this product had Scott Jurek’s name on it. Figuring an endorsement from an elite ultra-runner would make it awesome and perfect for my long runs I purchased it.

For the life of me I could not figure out how to actually get water out of the nozzle. Which is literally its only job. So I just kept the little straps that went around the bottle and slapped them on a $5 bottle that lets me drink from it.

I guess you need to be an elite ultra-runner to understand how to drink from this thing.

Probably to be continued, hopefully not but I doubt it…