Review: Spring Strength

The season's best health & fitness products. 

When the sun finally shines after a cold winter and wet early spring, we rush outside like kids who have just finished their chores. But we're not 12 anymore; we need to take care of our bodies in order to maintain both enthusiasm and overall health. From nutritional supplements to injury-prevention tools, the following products will help you keep the momentum well into summer.

Compression Socks—VIM & VIGR
For runners, gear is always a hot topic, particularly footwear. An item I've always questioned is the compression sock and its claim to “fresher legs.”  Instead of relying on the experience of others, I decided to contact Vim & Vigr Compression Legwear, based in Missoula. Following a brief conversation concerning my doubts, I had a pair of moisture-wicking nylon compression socks (for running) and a pair of wool compression socks (hiking and everyday use) on the way. After wearing the socks, my initial thought was, “My legs do feel fresher.” To further test the product, I decided to do a couple of runs alternating which leg I wore the sock on. Again, the leg with the compression sock consistently had extra spring in its step during and following a run. Still, my doubts lingered, so I tried one final test. The theory behind compression socks is increased circulation. Increased circulation should lead to warmer extremities, so I wore the wool compression socks under my waders while fishing. Other parts of my body felt the chill, but my feet remained warm and toasty submerged in just-above-freezing water. $35; —Chris McCarthy

Vim & Vigr Compression Socks

Garbage in, garbage out—so goes the maxim, and there's no more important application than one's personal diet. For a quick breakfast, pre-outing energy boost, or post-workout re-fueling, a protein shake just can't be beat. I prefer Designer Whey, because it's chock-full of nutrients to help my body recover from a prior workout and prepare it for the next. Each serving, when mixed with water, provides 32 grams of native whey isolate plus loads of essential amino acids. Designer Whey is also all-natural, with no added sweeteners, growth hormones, or antibiotics. The result is a clean, healthy dose of everything my body needs to build muscle and increase strength, and nothing it doesn't. $50 for 1.85 pounds (21 servings); —Mike England

Designer Whey Protein

For a long time, I'd forget to carry food on the trail. My lack of preparation stemmed from several places. One, I didn't want to spend a bunch of time getting food ready; two, I didn't want to eat something I wouldn't enjoy; and three, I wanted something easily digestable that wouldn't weigh me down. The easiest answer was bars, but with the market overrun with options, I didn't know where to start. After sampling several, I landed on Macrobars from GoMacro. What got me was the flavor. There are so many options that no matter how picky you are, you'll find something that fits your tastes. The bars are packed with protein, so I eat one after I'm done riding as well; they help my legs recover so I can get back after it the next day. My favorite flavor—peanut butter and chocolate chip—packs 290 calories and about 20% of your daily protein needs. $3 for one, $35 for 12; —David Tucker

GoMacro Macrobar