The North Face Thermoball™ Eco Traction Mule V Review

The North Face is making our feet comfy, one traction mule at a time. What is a traction mule anyway? This short review will explore these slip-on mules that are great for camp, wearing around the house, or even après-ski.

I purchased and tested the Thermoball™ Eco Traction Mule V for this review, but first things first: The term “mule” can be defined as a slipper or light shoe without a back. The product name confused me at first, but as soon as I used my trusty friend Google to define the term, I felt instantly better about performing this write-up. Once an outdoor enthusiast slides on these mules, they will quickly realize that they are light, comfortable, warm, and perfect for just about any adventure.


Thermoball™ Eco Traction Mule V

Price:

$55 MSRP
Available colors:

  • BURNT OLIVE GREEN WOODLAND CAMO PRINT/TNF BLACK
  • URBAN NAVY/PICANTE RED
  • ZINC GREY / HIGHRISE GREY
  • TNF BLACK / TNF YELLOW

Ratings:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5) Weight & Pack-ability

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5) Comfort & Fit

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5) Warmth

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4/5) Protecting Our Planet

Overall Rating: 4.8

Summary:

These have to be the most comfortable slippers on the planet. They are cozy warm, easy to slip on and a joy to wear. Overall, I enjoyed testing these mules indoors and out. Keep reading to find out how they performed in each of the rating categories.

MY REVIEW

When I removed these slippers from the packaging, the first thing I noticed was how light they were. At 8.1 ounces each, I immediately began to daydream about taking them on a backpacking trip. These mules are definitely pack-able and perfect for sliding into a backpack.

The design has a relaxed fit, but they don’t feel sloppy at all. The sidewall gives just enough support for lounging around camp and the collapsible heel cuff can be worn around the heel or underneath for easy on-off scenarios.

The 100% recycled ripstop nylon upper, Thermoball synthetic insulation, and the Oso-fleece lining make this product very comfortable. When sliding in, they instantly feel comfy on the bottom of the foot and the insulation hugs the top of the foot just like a puffy jacket does on an upper torso.

From the perspective of protecting our planet, The North Face is up for the challenge of creating environmentally friendly products that perform well on all types of adventures.

I was impressed by the PrimaLoft® ThermoBall™ Eco synthetic insulation that is made from recycled polyester fabric and recycled insulation. The recycled insulation is spun from recycled bottles, making this material even more responsible. In addition, the 100% recycled P.E.T. ripstop nylon is ECO friendly while the sole is made from 40% recycled rubber.

Pro Tip:

Head over to The North Face official website and sign up for their VIPeak Rewards program before you order. They will send you an email with 10% off your first purchase.

Here’s a quick list of features about the Thermoball™ Eco Traction Mule V direct from The North Face website:

  • Water Resistant – Partially blocks rain/snow to increase breathability.
  • Insulated – Insulation traps hot air for reduced heat loss and increased warmth.
  • Recycled Content – Helps reduce landfill waste and the use of virgin materials.
  • Upper: Durable, water-resistant, 100% recycled P.E.T. ripstop upper
  • PrimaLoft® ThermoBall™ Eco synthetic insulation
  • Cozy Oso-fleece lining
  • Collapsible heel with elastic side gore panels for easy on/off
  • Sole Unit: 40% recycled rubber outsole for supreme traction

Pros & Cons:

👍 Pros

  • Simple, yet effective design.
  • Lightweight and breathable.
  • Great fit and comfort
  • Collapsible heal for flexibility
  • Like walking on the clouds

👎 Cons

  • Limited color options

Thermoball™ Eco Traction Mule V. Never stop exploring comfortably when you wear these well designed mules on your next adventure.

Visit your local shop or order online. Head on over to their site now and check out these great indoor/outdoor slippers.

➳ All photos are a courtesy of LaGuardia Adventure Photography. That’s me!

Ride Concepts Livewire Mountain Bike Shoe Review

Ride Concepts advertises their shoes as premium footwear for mountain biking. I set out on this review to either confirm or deny this claim and to give an honest rating based on my experience using their product.

I had the privilege of testing out the Livewire model for this review. The Livewire is part of the men’s Session Series products from Ride Concepts. The models in this series of mountain biking shoes cover park pumpers, single track riders and casual cruisers.


Ride Concepts Livewire

Price:

$100 MSRP

Ratings:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4/5) Comfort

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5) Traction

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5) Durability

Overall Rating: 4.6

Summary:

I was pleasantly surprised with my experience testing these flat pedal shoes. I wore them in a number of different situations including cross-country and downhill riding as well as post-ride walk around town.

The Livewire is a do-it-all, flat pedal, mountain bike shoe with an impressive amount of technical capability and comfort.

MY REVIEW:

Overall, I found myself more impressed on each ride with this mountain bike shoe compared to others shoes on the market.

The first thing I noticed about the Livewire was the build construction when I pulled them out of the box. I noticed that the soles looked extremely durable and I could tell that all of the glued seams were there to last.

The toe box was cleverly constructed with molded toe protection and a durable mesh top cover.

As I loosened the laces and slipped my foot inside, I felt the wide tongue mold around the top of my foot.

The heel cup fit snug and I had no slippage when walking. The shoes felt like they were custom fit to perfectly match the shape of my feet.

The insoles felt soft and comfortable, both under the ball and heel of each of my feet.

Pro Tip:

After you lace up these shoes, don’t forget to place your tie loops underneath the included elastic band. It is located on the tongue between the third and fourth lacing holes and has a pull tab for easy use. This will keep you from catching those laces on your pedals or in your front chain ring.

What about on-the-bike performance?

On the bike, I could tell immediately that the DST 6.0 soles were not going to fail me when riding aggressively. They were tacky, yet firm, and the hexagon lugs matched up well with the pins on my flat pedals. On climbs, my feet stayed connected with the pedals on both the downstroke and the upstroke. I asked myself, “Why do these feel just as good as clipless-pedals and shoes?” Traction was amazing both on the pedals and on rocks when hike-a-biking uphill on gnarly sections.

When descending rocky, technical terrain, I never felt like my feet were going to slip off the pedals. I could place my feet on the pedals at the beginning of a downhill, quickly twist my heels back and forth a bit and then I felt connected and in total control. The shoes performed amazingly well in dry, wet and muddy conditions.

Bunny hopping and launching off rocks was satisfying in these shoes too. They gave me complete confidence that my feet would stay positioned correctly and that there would be no slippage upon landing. This proved to be true each time I launched into the air.

Here’s a quick list of features about the Livewire:

  • Rubber Kinetics | DST 6.0 HIGH GRIP Rubber Outsole
  • D3O High Impact Zone Insole Technology
  • Durable, synthetic upper with anti-abrasion mesh
  • Custom molded toe and heel guard protection
  • EVA midsole provides support and shock absorption
  • Fully gusseted tongue prohibits intake of dirt and debris
  • Modern lifestyle Performance Fit
  • Approximate weight – 16 oz (455 g) 

Pros & Cons:

👍 Pros

  • Excellent comfort on and off the bike.
  • DST 6.0 Rubber performs well in all conditions.
  • Comfortable insole and form fitting outer shell.
  • Convenient elastic band to keep tie loops tucked in.

👎 Cons

  • Long tongue tends to rub against top of the ankle until broken in.
  • Elastic band should be a different color. It’s hard to spot but a great feature everyone should use.

Ride Concepts Livewire Mountain Bike Shoes. I found them to live up to what is being advertised. Ride Concepts could very well produce the most comfortable, most durable and most reliable mountain bike footwear on the planet. I highly recommend these shoes. They took my riding to the next level.

Visit your local shop or order online. Head on over to their site now and check ’em out.

➳ Outdoor Prolink provided equipment and associated materials for this review. All photos are a courtesy of LaGuardia Adventure Photography.

OtterBox Dry Box 3250 Review

Look no further. The OtterBox Dry Box 3250 has been redesigned with a more modern look, better functionality and up-to-date colors. This is the go anywhere box that will keep your stuff safe and dry in the outdoors.

OtterBox DryBox 3250 -JohnLaGuardia.com 4

Use:

Great for traveling, hiking, backpacking, hunting, fishing and outdoor photography.

Price:

$39.99

My Review:

My overall experience with the OtterBox Dry Box 3250 was an excellent one. I put it to the test both in my photography studio and on an outdoor micro adventure.

In the studio, I found the dry box to be just the perfect size for stowing all of my laptop adapters, memory cards, batteries and miscellaneous photography accessories. It allowed for quick access during a recent product photography shoot and when I dropped it on the concrete floor, there wasn’t even a noticeable scratch on the dry box.

On adventure, I carried some small photography accessories, car keys, wallet and a mobile phone safely inside the case. It was also the perfect size to stow away in my daypack. Opening the latches each time I reached for my gear was effortless, unlike past dry box models from OtterBox and their competitors. I want to emphasize here that the new design comes with thumb-saving latches. Yes!

The only thing that I found lacking was the fact that it had side loops without a real place to clip a carabiner and did not include a loop of paracord or rubber to secure a carabiner to it. Paracord would be a nice addition to the design in the future.

Although I didn’t get a chance to review flotation in water on this adventure, I tested this functionality at home and it passed with flying colors, keeping my stuff dry and floating at the top of the water. You would have to place something extremely heavy inside the case in order to completely submerge it, if that is even possible. After re-opening the box, I found that there was very minimal water beading around the seal and no water entered the inside compartment.

The OtterBox Dry Box 3250 is a killer design that not only exceeded my expectations, but looked cool doing it too. It’s available in Hudson (white/blue) which is my personal favorite, Ridgeline (tan/green), Black (black/black) and Trail Side (RealTree camo).

OtterBox DryBox 3250 -JohnLaGuardia.com 2

ProTip:

If you stow your mobile device and keys in the dry box together, protect your device’s screen by first wrapping it in a small microfiber cloth so it doesn’t get scratched.

Rating:

👍 size, easy open latches, durability, waterproof design, weight and great color choices

👎 side loops are too narrow for a carabiner and require a loop of paracord or rope (not included)

Specs:

  • Waterproof & stackable with 55 cubic inches of storage space.
  • Can be submerged up to 90 feet deep for 30 minutes.
  • Ultra durable polycarbonate construction.
  • Stainless steel hinge and latch pins.
  • Lock holes for security.
  • Lined with polyethylene foam.
  • Backed by an iron clad, one year guarantee.

The OtterBox Dry Box 3250. I strongly recommend you take it on your next adventure!

➳ Otter Products, LLC provided equipment and associated materials for this review. John LaGuardia is an employee of Otter Products. All photos are a courtesy of LaGuardia Adventure Photography.