Trail run coach Caine Warburton clocks on for a review of the Soleus Dash running watch. No it doesn’t have GPS – it’s new school old school like that…
Soleus is not a brand you may have heard much about (only launching in 2008), but it is by no means a newcomer to the business of running watches. Soleus’ ‘Think Tank’ designers and engineers who once worked for Nike timing and currently work on Columbia and Converse watches. This ‘Think Tank’ of experience has been toiling away to produce some of the more recent additions to the Soleus line-up, including the Dash
The Dash comes in a number of colour options in both male and female models. It has a PU strap which is well ventilated, light and comfortable. It has a durable plastic face and is 50m water resistant. The numbers on the Dash are oversized, a real plus for reading on the run and a back light function plus specific “Light” button on the bottom of the face. One unique thing I really like about the Dash is the backing plate and its motivational inscription “If you can read this, you’re not running”, for me it’s these little additions that prove the brand is made by runners for runners!
The Dash is a non-GPS watch offering a number of timing features including Chronograph, Data recall, Timer, Alarm, Time and Night mode.
Chronograph (Chrono): With a 30 hr Chrono timer the dash is capable of some serious workouts. It has two display areas one larger than the other and you can switch either lap or overall time into the larger display depending on your workout. The Chrono also has a 30 lap/split memory storage per workout which is more than I needed for my usual runs.
Data: The Dash will store up to 10 separate workouts (from the Crono) with all lap splits included. The data function allows you to easily analyse your run back at home and see your individual splits. I found this most useful for track sessions, hill reps and trail efforts as it allowed me to compare my effort against previous attempts.
Timer: With 6 separate programmable and looped countdown timers the Dash has you covered all the way up to 9hrs and 59min of countdown glory! I used these specifically for hydration reminders on long runs or as workout functions reminding me when to put an effort on or take a recovery during tempo or hill efforts.
Time: Soleus has managed to add functionality to the simple time display. On the dash you have a choice of two time zones which you can switch between easily. The time display incorporates the date and a battery life display. The Soleus is not rechargeable and expected battery life is 3-4 years but it’s nice to know when the time is getting close for a new battery, no surprises = no excuses.
Night Mode: The Dash has a dedicated light button on the face of the watch but it also has a night mode function. When activated this function causes the light to turn on when any button is pressed.
Over the past 3 weeks I have found that I get the most use out of my Dash during my track sessions (yes even trailites need some speed). The ability to log all my laps then review at the end via the data function has been a real help. I also found the Dash to be a great companion for my tempo trail runs as I could easily set parameters for my trail run workouts (such as 3min Hard 1min Easy) via the timer function and not have to worry about constantly looking at the watch…a movement we all know can end in disaster when running fast on the trail!.
Without a GPS function I tended to shy away from the Dash when exploring new trails or doing goal long runs as being a data freak I always like to know how far/high the new trails or goals where. However for courses that I knew or doing timed efforts on the trail I found I preferred to leave the bulky GPS at home and head out instead with the Dash for a less encumbered run.
The End Verdict
Overall I was impressed with the Dash, in the realms of non GPS watches it goes head to head with Ironman Timex and holds it’s own. It is stacked with functionality but retains the simplicity needed for effective use and acceptable style of an everyday watch. I see this watch as a good choice for runners doing any type of speed work, tempo runs, hill reps or efforts on the trail as well as those runners who prefer a less encumbered run without the constant buzz and beep of most major GPS’s.