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MONKII BARS 2: The Ultra Portable Gym – Gear Review

The two of us have been a huge fans of Monkii Bars right from their very first product the Monkii bars versatile training tool. It’s not only that they make innovative workout equipment that lets you get fit anywhere you want without the need for a gym, but the entire driving factor behind the company is truly inspiring.

Their creativity and aspirations to bring fitness to everyone, everywhere has spawned yet another super innovative training product. The MONKII BARS 2 is their modified and updated portable suspension trainer that acts as a gym you can bring anywhere.

With a lifestyle that included a lot of travel, but the drive to maintain a high level of fitness even while we’re on the go, the Monkii Bars 2 are an¬†incredibly fit for us.¬†We want to share some of our thoughts on them to help you decide whether they’d be a great addition to your home gym/travel gym arsenal.

monkii bars review of version 2.0

Monkii Bars 2 – Technical Specs

Monkii Bars 2 are a pair of lightweight suspension style workout equipment. They act similar to a pair of gymnastic rings or TRX, for bodyweight training. To put it very short, they basically took all the great things from the original monkii bars, improved some of the drawbacks, and released a game changing product into the calisthenics world, the way people see home gyms and fitness industry in general!

The bars themselves are 8 inches in length, weigh less than one pound as a pair, but they are strong enough to hold up to 220 lbs.  How can something so lightweight be so STRONG?  Monkii bars are made with some incredible materials, including hard Maple wood for the handles, Spectra materials in the line, and aerospace aluminum for the attachment hardware.  The lines that come standard with each pair of Monkii Bars is approximately 18 feet, making it extremely versatile to do all kinds of exercises, attached to all kinds of things!

Awesome Workouts Without the Gym monkey bars 2

 

Pro’s of the Monkii Bars 2

Compact Design

The original Monkii Bars were a super compact piece of workout equipment, but even with  having  some features added into the second version, the monk bars 2 keep their incredibly compact design, and even now come in a compact carry case that helps you store away or pack your portable gym in a very convenient way.

Intuitive Setup

If you’ve ever strung up a set of gymnastic rings then the monk bars 2 will feel like second nature to you. They utilize as similar clasp for the main suspension strap that let you string it together very quick, and adjust even quicker. The foot attachments and all other ¬†connections or storing features are super obvious on how to work them, which makes these things overall a 5 ¬†star ¬†product when it comes to “ease of use”.

More Complete Package

Ordering, receiving, opening and using the monkii bars 2 is quite a fun journey. It’s a bit odd to say, but using these felt like a wicked experience and it was due to the complete package that was delivered. When we first tried using the original monkii bars, it took us a bit to figure them out and think of the best ways to work them into our fitness routines. With the monkii bars 2, they’ve delivered an entire fitness app that offers you guidance and direction to leverage all you can out of your new portable gym and really stimulate your fitness to a new level. Even from the first time we opened the

Monkii Bars’ New Fitness App

calisthenics training equipment - monkii bars

Videos are super easy to follow and give you a great workout!
monkii bars promo code

 

Monkii Bars 2 Drawbacks

Slightly larger than the originals

2.0 comes with thicker straps and more “extras” meaning the complete package is a bit bigger than the original monkii bars which were capable of packing up entirely into the two bar handles themselves. The added functionality and easy of use are far worth it in our opinion, but for any trips where we want to keep things extremely minimalist, or even if we are planning to bring them out for a run with us, we might still opt to use the originals as they are a bit easier to slide into a running pack or small carry-on luggage.

Extra Stabilization Needed

If you’ve ever used rings you may find these even a bit less stable and ¬†require you to not only stabilize your arms that are hanging by the monkii bars suspension system, but you will also have to stabilize a bit ¬†with your wrists, as the handles will rock side to side more than a round ring which you are holding the ¬†bottom point of. If you see this more as a challenge and fine tuning all of your stabilizer muscles even more, then nothing to worry about! If this is your first time using any type of suspension or hanging workout gear, then just be patient as it may seem more difficult than you expect. Your muscles will adjust and get used to it.¬†

 

Would We Recommend Monkii Bars II

This may be one of the most useful pieces of portable workout gear we’ve came across. Nothing gives you the breadth and depth of exercises that this rig can. We would absolutely recommend Monkii Bars 2 to just about anyone semi interested in fitness. For those of you who like hitting a workout at home or like to squeeze in a quick sweat session while traveling either for business or pleasure, these are worth their weight in gold. For the room they take up in your suitcase, they’ll deliver so much more in terms of ¬†keeping you feeling strong and fit wherever you decide to break them out!

If you feel like giving them a try, we’ve got a promo to get you all 5% off!!
 Get your set of Monkii Bars 2

9 Tips for Taking the Best Care of Your Adventure Dog

We have had many dogs in our day, and we’ve always been advocated of bringing them outdoors so they can experience as many of the adventures that we do. Whether it’s running, hiking, biking, SUPing, or even just some relaxing camping, it makes it just that much better with your adventure dog by your side. These are some of the tips we’ve learned from experience can keep your adventure pup as happy and healthy as possible!

caring for your adventure dog

1. Don’t Cheap Out on Dog Food

It falls within the theory that we say with our own bodies, that the quality of nutrition you put in will be correlated to the quality of output the body can generate. There are lots of great dog foods available out there, but there are also LOTS of low quality ones. If you’re looking for the best fuel for your adventure dog and you’re know sure which ones are good, we’d recommend finding a local pet store that seems to really know their stuff (avoid the big box places like Petsmart) and ask them for some guidance. We’ve had great success with some of our dogs feeding them Orijen and Acana (sister companies I believe), and recently we’ve switched Ndeze over to a newer company called GO, who make food specifically for highly active dogs!

We also supplement Ndeze’s regular food on days of higher levels of activity by either adding some fish oils on top of her kibbles, mixing in some wet dog food that’s a bit higher in cals, or simply giving her a peanut butter filled Kong to snack on.

 

2. Invest in quality gear for them

They’re trying to keep up to the high performance training you might be doing (or any training really) so we always recommend to get the best quality gear for your adventure pup, so they stay healthy and happy. A couple that would be good things to consider would be;

best gear for running dog1) A good harness for them, no matter of their size – reason for this is even if they have a thicker neck, by the time the speeds increase to running speed, a jolt on the leash can really start to cause harm to their neck. Hands down the best harness’ we’ve ever used are made by a Finnish company called Hurrta (the simple one we use and love with Ndeze is their padded harness,¬†though we’re interested to try their new active harness!)

2) Running leash Рfor similar reasons to protect them for higher speed jolts on the leash, running leashes simply have an elastic component to them that allow them to stretch. We use one from Ruffwear and it works great.

3) Winter coat – find a good quality one that won’t chafe as your dog starts to increase their mileage.

Lots of other items to consider depending on your activity of choice; maybe a flashing light for them to wear at night, a reflective vest for night time runs/walks, an orange vest for out in the forest, lifejacket, and the list goes on.

 

3. Understand the Differences in Physiology

Dogs are very different from humans anatomically, so you should be aware of some of these differences as you start to push your dogs physical limits. Dogs run more in spurts with rests here and there rather than a steady pace. So if you leash up your running dog and head out the door for a steady 10k run, that might push them for too long that they can’t keep up or catch their breathe, and even make them start to fear or not enjoy running. We aim to keep our on-leash runs a bit milder and shorter (1ok max and no more than 80%), then scale up a bit whenever we go run trails in the forest somewhere that she can be off leash (Ndeze can handle a good 15ish km run when she’s free to run however she wants. That’s a big difference!).

 

4. They Don’t always understand “It’s only one more mile”

Running adventures in the snow with dogTowards the end of a workout (run, bike, hike, etc) you might feel the urge to hold your pace or even step it up a bit. That’s a very human trait that has been programmed into our heads. Try not to let that forget about your dog who’s along for the ride and might be feeling tired. They don’t understand that they’re almost done, so just hang in there. If your adventure dog is looking tuckered out, you might have to check your own agenda and take it easy until the finish line. Best to keep your dog healthy and happy for all the workouts coming in the future.

 

 

5. Flea and tick meds are a Must

An active adventure dog will likely not only be coming out on the trails with you, but will probably venture off the beaten path more than we ever could imagine. As they push through all that thick brush, the chances for picking up flea’s and ticks are super high. So if you live in areas where these are present, do your dog a favour and get them some meds to help fight these off. And even if you’ve used these preventative measures, we still highly recommend that when you get home you check for ticks and other bugs, as well as any scraps or bumps they may have acquired on your adventures.

 

6. Wildlife

This is a tough one, because there is no easy way to train your dogs behaviour around a bear or snake. It’s something you just have to be aware of in your adventure locations. Know what wildlife you¬†may come in contact with, and do some research for how to react if you run into one on the trail, or care for your dog if they have a confrontation.

Real Life Example: While hiking one afternoon, we came across the biggest pissed off rattlesnake either of us had ever seen. Somehow Ndeze snuck by it and was now on the other side of it from us. The “Oh sh*t” moment was that we never trained her to “stay over there away from us..??..??” so her reaction to us yelling at her to stay there, or pointing to go to the side, was to walk up and sniffed the rattlesnake. She was definitely within easy striking range, but I think the snake was focused on the two yelling humans, that Ndeze managed to sneak by unharmed. On our walk home, we realized we didn’t have any clue what we would do if Ndeze was bit by a snake.

–> Learn from our mistakes, do your research and prepare as much as you can¬†before¬†you hit a situation like this.

 

7. You’re dog won’t know when to carb load or rest up for that long Saturday run

As smart as they are, domesticated dogs can’t exactly make the schedule, you do. So if you’re planning for a big adventure the next day or that afternoon, think about your dog the same way you would think about getting yourself prepared. Feed them a bit extra that morning, make sure they have lots of water available to keep hydrated, keep the prior days exercise pretty light for them. It’s funny to think about but put yourself in their shoes (figuratively) for one second, every time you put them in the car, they have almost NO CLUE where they’re going. We’re so fortunate that just go with the flow with a smile on their face, but do what you can to help make sure they’re as prepped as you are for the adventure ahead.

8. They might need a rest day when you don’t

This one is pretty obvious, but always respect that your dog might need to take a day to rest, even when you were planning a workout. They are obviously loyal animals that will probably suit up and push through the pain if you bring them, but if you notice a low energy or an unmotivated dog one day, they might just need a bit of rest.

 

9. Plan in some Dog Fun

Sure the outdoors is a haven for dogs as much as humans, but plan out some fun times for them along the way; bring a toy, stop in the dog park, let them jump in the water. It’s amazing how much of an energy boost they can get from a bit of fun!

beach adventure pup - running partner

If anyone has any tips they want to share on how you keep your adventure dog running at max capacity, we’d love to hear them!:)

Ultra Mel & Jon

The Ultimate Travel Shoes

I recently read a great article from the team at Rogue Expeditions with packing tips for your next adventure. It was a great article on packing minimally even if your taking off on a trip headed for adventure. Now let me first be clear, this is definitely not speaking to the “backpacker” audience of young travellers trying to live out of a bag. The trips put on by Rogue are almost the opposite of backpacking trips.

If you are the type of adult that plans their vacations around adventure, races or any other style of extreme physical, recreational work, then you’ve probably faced this dilemma of what to pack. Bring too much and you’ll get weighed down, but forget a single essential and it could ruin your trip or even worse put you in danger. Where this article really stood out to me, was that Allison from Rogue had a really good take on footwear. You’ll need tough versatile footwear than can handle the physical challenges you’re about to take on, but you’ll also want to have some things that are nice to put on back at the hotel/camp, or even something relatively nice looking to wear if you go out for dinner.

This is where it hit me, just how far Xero Shoes have developed their footwear line to fully serve the adventure traveller. Let me break it down. To prevent half of your suitcase from filling with shoes that you might wear once on your whole trip, you can aim to find three pairs of shoes.

 

1) A running/adventure shoe

This one is pretty obvious, and you can sub this out for hiking boot or whatever else you’d need it to be.

best lightweight running shoe

Xero Shoe Option = Prio Running Shoe

Their recently released Prio’s are an incredibly comfortable running shoe that is built to last. We’ve already taken them through multiple trail ultra’s, countless miles of mountain biking, and our day to day training runs, and they feel as good as new. (A bit dirtier of course!) If hiking is more your thing, Xero shoes still have you covered, as they have just released a new minimal hiking boot (the DayLite Hiker). The beautiful part of these is unless you get them covered in mud or soaked, these are still slick enough to wear out and about, unlike some other super loud trail running shoes.

 

 

2) A pair of comfortable sandals

best outdoor sandals - best travel shoesXero Shoe Options = Z-trek, Z-Trail, DYI, too many to list!

Just about any of their sandal line will fill this, so it relies a bit on your preference. I personally love the new Z-Trails, but some things to think about would be; where will you be? Think about the ground you’ll be walking around on. How much running/hiking are you doing? A super thin sole might not be great if your feet are killing after a day of running, the Z-Trails have just a tiny bit extra thickness for this case! And will you be using these for any of the running? This is one of the main reason I love the Z-trek and Z-Trail sandals, as they are probably the most robust sandal for Xero shoes, meaning we can wear them on more extreme terrain than the other models. Again the beauty is in the multi-use, as you can wear them for walking around the hotel in the evenings, but can use them for some of the running days as well, making them a great pick to pack for your next adventure.

 

3) A pair of non-running or non-adventure shoes

minimalist loafer - zero dropXero Shoe Option = Hanna + Lena

These are their slick looking urban shoes that look more like a light loafer. They are super minimally built so lightweight and flexible to pack, and can serve as a great looking shoe if you head anywhere relatively nice on your trip. And although we haven’t, many people have done lots of running in these, so there you go, multi-purpose yet again.

 

 

Still not convinced that these are quite the¬†ultimate travel shoes? Well if you take a mens size 11 version in the Prio, Z-Trail, and Hanna, you’d be looking at a grand total weight for all three pairs of shoes of 2.6 lbs (or 42 oz). Considering you’ll be wearing one of the shoes, you’re really only going to adding 1.66 lbs (26.6 oz) to your suitcase. If that isn’t a travel hack then I don’t know what is!

 

Ultra Mel and Jon

Monkii Bars Versatile Fitness Tools – Gear Review

We’ve been using the Monkii Bars ultra-portable bodyweight training device for a few months now and have really found, among all their benefits and features, their versatility to be what serves us the most. ¬†Always wanting to find new gyms out in nature and frequently wanting to workout while travelling, have made the Monkii Bars incredibly useful for us. ¬†Now we could go on all day about every detail in a super nit-picky review, but we just want to touch on the aspects of this piece of equipment that affect us¬†the most, being ultra marathon runners, yoga and acroyoga practitioners and world travellers.

 

PRODUCT UPDATE: Since writing this post, Monkii Bars 2 has been released, and they are a serious improvement on the incredible originals. Shop Monkii Bars 2 Now and get 5% OFF

travel workout equipment

Monkii Bars – Technical Specs

Just so you have a good idea of what we’re talking about. ¬†The Monkii Bars are a pair of super lightweight suspension style system, that act similar to a pair of gymnastic rings, for bodyweight training. ¬†They would be almost like an incredibly lightweight TRX system.

The bars themselves are 8 inches in length, weigh less than one pound as a pair, but they are strong enough to hold up to 220 lbs.  How can something so lightweight be so STRONG?  Monkii bars are made with some incredible materials, including hard Maple wood for the handles, Spectra materials in the line, and aerospace aluminum for the attachment hardware.  The lines that come standard with each pair of Monkii Bars is approximately 18 feet, making it extremely versatile to do all kinds of exercises, attached to all kinds of things!

ultra marathon runners

 

 

Monkii Bar Pro’s

Compact Design

The technical specs above give you an idea of how lightweight the materials these bars are made out of really are.  But the beauty part of them is the entire line and attachment piece stuff into the handles themselves, so when all packed up you have to 8 inch handles!  These are super easy to carry in your hands as you run, toss in a pack, and of course pack into a suitcase for travel.  They also come with a small piece that attaches the two while being stored/carried to help keep them together.

Simple Setup and Take Down

The attachment piece of hardware can be a bit unique if you are used¬†rock climbing hardware, but like anything new it only takes one or two times before its almost second nature to it. ¬†The instruction card that comes in the box gives some super easy to follow instructions that get you setup in just a few minutes. ¬†Now that I understand how the mechanics of the attachment piece work, and I’ve set up and taken down our Monkii bars a bunch, it will usually take me between 3-5 minutes to set the bars up to be ready for a workout.

VersatileBodyweight training monii bar promo code

The one thing that stands out with the Monkii bars when you compare it to things like gymnastic rings or a TRX system, is their simple versatility. ¬†Rings are designed to be used a certain way. ¬†TRX you have to set up your anchor and can only attach to that. ¬†Monkii bars you can literally wrap that line around anything you can think of then hang, pull or drag until you’re done training. ¬†We’ve obviously attached it to high hanging poles and tree limbs, we’ve used the door attachment which makes it easy to hit an indoor workout, we’ve strung it to stairwell railings, we’ve hung it off a boardwalk and propped out feet up on the railing up the boardwalk to get a bit more difficulty in the workout, we’ve even wrapped the line around a big log to drag it along the beach. ¬†I’ve seen some of the wild Monkii Ambassadors rig up huge boulders to do farmers walks.

And I know what you’re thinking, if this thin little line is being dragged and strapped to so many things, won’t it break. ¬†Well right out of their websites FAQ; “Our Spectra¬ģ¬†Line is insanely durable and strong. However, we‚Äôre certain that some of our users will be wild enough to wear down the line. If this happens, we have you covered.” ¬†So if you ever do break the line, it will be replaced free of charge!

 

Monii Bar Drawback

As we mentioned above, we like bringing our bars with us on runs so we can find something to strap onto along the way, and get a bit of calisthenics worked into our workout. With the bars taking 3-5 minutes to setup, it creates a bit of a downtime, allowing your heart rate to drop down. This might be good to build up some energy for your bar workout, or bad because now you have to get your heart rate back up. Small thing that really has no easy fix, and no other product can really handle this issue, but just one thing we noticed.

 

Would We Recommend Monkii Bars

Whether you are a big calisthenics fan, an endurance athlete looking for some fast and light ways to keep muscle mass balance, a big traveller who is always on the go and living out of a suitcase, or even someone who just doesn’t like going to a public gym, the Monkii Bars would suit you well! ¬†They have created a super innovative product to make fitness simple and accessible for everyone, no matter where you are, and the makers themselves are great people who really believe in their product and what it can do to the fitness industry. ¬†If you feel like giving them a try, we’ve dug up a promo to get you all 5% off!!¬†Get your set of Monkii Bars

ultra mel and jon training monkii bars vs trx

 

Prio Performance Running Shoe by Xero Shoes – Product Review

The two of us have been running in minimalist footwear for many years now, and the vast majority of the miles we run are in running sandals made by Xero Shoes. Two of our favourite are the simple DIY Xero Shoe, likely the closest you will ever come to running barefoot, and the newest of their sandals the Z-Trek and Z-Trail, which are both a bit more robust for technical running or hiking. There have always been certain circumstances which prevented (or at least made it difficult) to run in sandals. Whether it was training in the cold Canadian winter, extremely muddy training, or some intensely technical trail where we felt we needed a bit more protection for our feet.

Well we’ve been asking (and let’s be realistic, many people have been!) and Xero Shoes has finally released their first performance¬†shoe called the “Prio” and we’re going to share some of our thoughts on them.

Xero shoes prio running shoe

 

We’ve had our Prio’s for about a month now, have put quite a few miles on them including big ascents and descents, muddy runs, rainy runs, outdoor agility cross training workouts, so in our minds, have got a really good feel for their strengths and weaknesses.

 

Prio Pro’s:

  • The overall FIT

    • Stating the obvious, they have a nice wide footbed, a true zero drop sole, and no unnecessary arch support, meaning your feet will feel as comfortable as they are when barefoot. The thing we noticed though, that blew us away, is just how well the shape and fit of these shoes have been designed to give you all the room you need to move freely, but don’t allow your feet to slide around when going up or downhill or running along technical tracks.
  • Durable but Flexible materials

    • You might hear other shoe companies promoting their zero drop shoes with widefoot beds, but let us be the ones to tell you the biggest difference between them and the Prio’s. The other brands shoes are made of rigid materials that will feel like boxes on your feet. Don’t believe us, we’ve been getting holes in our socks wherever our foot toes touch the inside of the shoe. That to us doesn’t seem at all like a shoe that moves WITH your feet. They’re containing them, and therefore restricting them. The Prio’s feel like a kick ass pair of socks because they are so flexible.
  • Super Breathable

    • We started wearing the Prio’s during the melting of all the winter snow, meaning it was a time when the trails are muddy and wet. We noticed how breathable the Prio’s were, first when we kept getting out feet wet on the mucky trails, but noticed our feet were drying up faster than we expected. This helped a ton to prevail blisters from forming (even though with how well these shoes fit and flex with us, we’ve never even experienced a hot spot!). However, now that we’re starting to see warmer weather, we’re liking these shoes even more for how cool our feet stay during runs. This was one thing that we HATED about wearing shoes, is how your feet start to burn up and throw off your mindset.
  • lightweight running shoes - prio from Xero shoeTraction without¬†bulk

    • The Prio’s use the same chevron-like tread on the bottom of the soles as all the Xero Sandals, and we put it to the test during a technical and very muddy 50k race in Washington. Not once did I feel that the Prio wasn’t giving me enough traction. For being an extremely lightweight sole and overall shoe, it’s quite impressive that they have the same level of traction as some of the bulkier trail shoes with “gnarly” treads.
  • ¬†Affordable
    • The price of shoes seem to be rising all the time, so having a performance running shoe for under $100 is almost unbelievable. At only 89.99 (if Xero Shoes isn’t running a sale!) you almost can’t go wrong buying a shoe that will strengthen your feet and look pretty badass! Not to mention your 89.99 will go so much further than other shoes. While other shoe companies are recommending you switch out your shoes every 300-500 miles, Xero Shoes offers a 5,000 mile warranty on their soles! That’s not a typo, a FIVE THOUSAND mile warranty!!! The “price of shoes” no longer has to be a limiting factor to your training.

 

Prio Con’s:

  • They are SHOES

    • Although this is obvious, and a pathetic topic to label as a “con” the fact that the Prio’s are a performance running SHOE, means they will catch rocks, will keep your feet wet for longer after a water crossing, will have more contact on your feet to possibly cause blisters. This is all comparing them to a running sandal though, and not to any other¬†shoe.
  • Limited Traction¬†on Extreme Terrain

    • Even though I’d rate their traction as pretty stellar, the fact that the treads are “minimalist” in nature, means if you were needing to trek through thick mud or deep snow, you might be better off with something a bit more gnarly on the bottoms.

 

Who would the Prio Minimalist Shoes be perfect for?

Runners and walkers (obviously!) > These are top notch running and hiking shoes

Crossfitters or Gym-goers –> With the Prio’s being zero drop they are great for stability during cross training workouts

Travellers –>¬†Lightweight and easily packable, and you can use them for just about anything along your travels.

We probably don’t have to even say it, however, if anyone asked us if we would recommend these, we would tell them we already have! Many of our friends, family, fellow runners, or social media followers have ordered themselves a pair and have told us they’ve been loving them. So if you’re looking for a new shoe, and the Prio’s are sounding like a good fit (get it!) we’d say to give them a try. They really are as awesome as all the review and promotions are saying they are.

Run free!

Ultra Mel and Jon

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