May 27, 2015
Reviews: Endurance Caged Stirrups and Garmin 310xt
First, the stirrups:
For the last year and a half I have been using the black, plastic EZ Ride stirrups that a lot of endurance riders use. I have been wanting cages though, so when these popped up on Facebook (in many colors and in a western version too) for only $50 I thought why not? I had some money left over from the sale of my Fusion Jogging Boots that wasn't book marked for the new boots anyway. They came quickly and Monday was the first time I tried them out.
Before purchasing I researched the aluminum versus plastic stirrup debates and came away with this: plastic will become a million sharp shards piercing the horse's lungs and killing them and aluminum with flatten trapping our foot and dragging you to your doom if your horse should fall and land on its side with you aboard. It really seemed 50/50 on who liked which best. I decided to take the chance on these aluminum stirrups.
They are well made and probably weigh 1 lb each, so heavier than the plastic ones but really not heavy. I am not close to a weight division line, so adding some weight to my tack isn't a big deal to me, but if you hover between two divisions you may want to consider the added weight. The cages themselves are a thick material and hold their shape really well.
I like the cut of these versus the classic western shaped ones and they sat on my leathers facing forward without any convincing. The foot bed is 5" with a thinner but denser foam than the EZ ride ones. I was worried that my feet would start burning and go numb like in my regular irons, but I think the denser foam prevented this. The foam is just glued on and I have a ton of materials and super awesome contact cement at work to make orthotics, so I could easily change out the foam if need be down the road. Overall they were really comfortable and I didn't notice much of a difference from my EZ ones. If you are looking to spruce up your tack colors or want cages, for $50 I think they are a good buy. I'd recommend the seller too since she got them to me quickly and without hassle.
Second, the Garmin 310xt:
The Garmin Forerunner 410 has been on my wrist for most of my rides and runs for the last 4 years and I really liked it. The only reason for upgrading was the 8 hour battery life. It shut down on me at the last 50 mile ride with a few miles left to go and that was with shutting it down at the holds. I had plenty of time to spare and it was on a loop I had done twice already on that ride so I knew exactly how far I was from camp without it, but had it been on a new loop or close to running over time I really would have needed it. The 310xt has a 20 hour life.
Dusty got me the Garmin 310xt for my birthday and I took it out on a ride wearing it on my left wrist and the Forerunner on my right. I also used the new one during the Equathon on very familiar trails and on Monday on the new trails. I have to say that I really like it.
In general, the fit is much like the Forerunner. The band is much softer and more flexible, but the face is larger.
It is easy to read and will show up to 4 different data points at one time. I have mine set for the current time, ride time, distance and average speed for that lap. It can show any number of things from current elevation, elevation gain or loss, heart rate if used with a monitor, overall speed/pace, current speed/pace, and a host of others. Lots of options.
The thing I like the best though is the lack of the stupid touch bezel to control it. It actually has buttons! Turing it on/off, starting it, pausing, stopping and resetting all occurs through buttons instead of attempting to use your fingertip around the bezel and scrolling endlessly through options.
It grabs the gps signal faster and maintains it better versus the Forerunner as well. When I wore them both the 310xt was much closer to the real life measured distance than the Forerunner. I think some of that has to do with elevation as well. It doesn't have an altimeter which gives the best elevation readings (you have to jump up in series for that and get a super large watch for big bucks) but it records more accurately and therefor loses less trail distance.
What don't I like about it? Two things:
1.) It uses a heart rate monitor, but even though I told it I wasn't using one and supposedly turned it off, when I came across a runner who was wearing one it picked up his data. It was very odd downloading my data to see a random heart rate reading. I have been told that I can't fully turn this feature off.
2) The Forerunner defaults to just being a watch when it is on but not connected to satellites for a work out. The 310xt does not. I miss using the watch feature when wearing it which is why I set the 4th data point to the time of day. It takes up space that could be better used for something cool like elevation data or left open to allow the other points to be larger.
So all in all the two buys have worked out so far. If you are looking into getting a wrist GPS for riding, the 310xt provides a lot of good features and has a great battery life for the price point.