May 15, 2014

Apera review and giveaway!

Sturdy, classic, functional: that's how I would describe Apera in three words. When I first got this bag in the mail, I was pleasantly surprised at the exceptional quality of workmanship and materials. This bag was built smart and built to last, but I wanted to take my time testing it to see how functional it was in my running world. 

Fresh out of the box.

I ordered the Performance Duffel in black ($124), which I thought would come in handy for ultra running because of the overall size and the various types of storage it offers. It has double pockets for shoes, one on either side. These pockets are vented, perfect for airing the shoes out after a long sweaty run. Plus the lining in this bag, and all of their bags, is antimicrobial. 

Vented shoe pouches.

Running an ultra requires lots of everything. Lots of fuel, lots of shoes, lots of socks, lots of shirts, lots of shorts, lots of towels, lots of skin sake, lots of sunscreen, lots of medical supplies. You are like Noah getting onto an ark of running, two of everything required -- at least. Even if you only use a few things that you actually bring, you still bring it because life gets a lot uncooler on the trail if you realize six hours into a 12-hour run that you need new shorts. 

I used this bag for a few practice, shorter runs (and trips) before my big 12-hour run because I wanted to get to know all of the available space. Every time I used it, I discovered something new. 

First, it's a perfect fit, with plenty of room to spare, for overhead storage bins on a plane trip. 

Fits easily into the overhead bin on a plane.

Next, one of my absolute favorite features as a glasses wearer: padded pockets. I felt safe putting my glasses in without a case. I would have opted for a case if I were going to check my bag onto the plane, but this was a great temporary solution for glasses storage. 

Padded pocket that can work for your glasses.

Or you could use the padded pockets for your other most important things, like bags of maca powder and hemp hearts. 

Or a padded pocket for your weird runner food.

Now if I could get a pocket for this cheeseburger. Apera, can you help me out?

This burger deserves its own pocket.

But back to for real, if you want to keep your glasses in their case, these side mesh pockets make a great nest for your shades. 

Mesh exterior pockets.

During my sunny 12-hour race, I also opted to keep sunscreen in my easy-to-access exterior mesh pocket. 

There are even more options inside the bag. Large pockets, medium pockets. All made from an antimicrobial fabric that was designed to be wipeable. 

Small pockets and a key attachment. 

It also comes with an extra wipeable insert/bag that I use to store my wet clothes in for the ride home. 

The strap on the bag is built like a seat belt, thick and sturdy material that will definitely hold up to wear and tear. I can say the same for the rest of the material used on the bag. It all felt sturdy, and the stitching and workmanship on the bag was excellent. There are basic bags that will get the job done, and then there is the Apera bag, that will get the job done in the best way possible. 

Along with the quality strap comes a quality shoulder protector to keep you comfortable en route. This picture is from our last day in Boston. 

Sad to leave Boston but glad that all my Boston gear fit in my bag.

While I was at the marathon expo, I was happily surprised to find an Apera booth. It was fun to put a face behind the quality bags, and I got a little more back story of the people who designed the bags. Not surprisingly, their designers have been on the bag designing scene for a while, and with over three decades of experience, they were able to give athletes superior function and superior quality. 

They weren't the only booth I was interested in at Boston. Remember when I bought all the things there? Luckily all the things, plus souvenirs for my kids plus all of my clothes for the week, fit into this bag.

Will it fit? Yes, it will.

If you are my friends and family who have been around me while using this bag, you know I can't stop talking about how much I love it. Kind of annoying when you're trying to talk to me about family reunion planning or about whether or not Aunt Luanne needs to switch to new psych meds. Sorry, guys, but this bag is boss and I need to talk it out. 

These bags are not the cheapest. The one I received retails for $124, which I thought was high for a gym bag. But after receiving it, I can confirm that the quality matches the price point. If this bag ever wears out (doesn't appear likely anytime in the next century), I would definitely go back to Apera for a new bag.

Here are some other things you are going to want to check out: 

* They currently are offering 40% off of their blue line of bags

* Free shipping on all orders and no hassle returns. 

* Win a duffel pack this month by signing up for their newsletter. 

* They might sell them in your area. I was surprised to find two retailers, Birmingham Trunk and Mori Luggage & Gifts, listed in Birmingham. 

Also, Apera supports the Special Olympics by donating a bag to a Special Olympics athlete for every three bags they sell. 

To help spread love and support for Special Olympics, we are giving away one of Apera's Special Olympic sprint packs, a vented pack for a quick trip to the gym, including a zippered pocket and divider to keep your shoes separate from everything else.

If you're interested in winning a Special Olympics sprint pack, use the Rafflecopter below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received this bag for review from Apera. They did not otherwise compensate me for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.