|Completely assembled and ready to go.|
|Back view showing stretch mesh outer pocket, trekking pole retainers, bungee webbing and tow loop.|
What it is: A lightweight backpack with integrated 2 litre bladder for beverages and lots of storage capacity.
Why you want one: To stay hydrated and carry extra nutrition or other gear on long training runs or while racing.
|Open bladder removed and hung by the hole thoughtfully included for the purpose.|
This is how I store it whenever it's not in use.
|Full view of the closed bladder and insulated hose.|
Price paid/purchased from: I believe I paid about $70 on sale from ZombieRunner.
|Top, smaller (maybe 5"x5") zip pocket with main compartment open in behind.|
|Side zip compartment with elastic webbing loops and hook and loop-flap valuables pocket.|
|Bladder installed inside dedicated pouch in main compartment & hung from hook and loop strap.|
|Hose routed through the "shingled" overlapping elastic webbing of the exit port, and up through the hole in the vest.|
|A single strap on each side slides through the piece by my index finger to help the pack move with you.|
|Detail of the hook and loop closure on the bladder - the roll-top has yet to leak on me.|
You can also see the top of the centre baffle.
|Detail of the 4 front pockets - great capacity and decent placement.|
|A vest for all seasons.|
|Best photo I have of how the pack sits on me.|
What I'm saying: This is a really versatile bit of kit! I reach for it whenever a hand bottle would either freeze, be inconvenient or simply not have the capacity for the duration of my workout, or if I need to carry extra gear (like a rain jacket or spare gloves). I have got a lot of great use out of this pack and have never had an issue with it that really annoyed me. That being said, I feel like it could fit me a bit better and offer some faster access (but still secure) storage that is reachable while running. I am very tempted to buy a Surge from newcomer UltraSpire, but having seen how functional my Wink is Tanker has said that he'd happily use it if I buy a new pack! It does an admirable job of keeping what you need readily at hand without any fuss, and it's just the spoiled brat in me that wants to try something new. UPDATE March 2014: After falling on my back while cross-country skiing in the pack, first the centre baffle in the bladder let go on one side (leaving it waving uselessly inside), then the bladder developed a slow leak at the top of the heat seal seam on the still-attached side of the baffle. I did try using a Tear Aid patch to seal it, but it failed during the course of a 20 mile run directly afterwards. It appears that this type of bladder is no longer available, so I will have to experiment with something else (unless I can stop the leak by other means). Unfortunately, very little seems to be available with the original bite valve - I've tried the push-pull type of valve since and hate it, so it looks like I'll have to do some surgery to whatever new bladder I end up using. I cannot say whether the indirect impact of me falling on the pack was responsible for this, though the timing does correspond. I still got approximately 3.5 years of use from the bladder, and the pack itself is still in perfect condition.
|Yes, I do run with it, too.|
|Cold weather trail run.|
For further edification: Read reviews from Snowshoe Magazine, Running Institute of San Diego and Half-TRIing.
As this will probably be my last blog post beforehand, I'd like to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas (or other winter holiday according to your preference) - hope this is a time filled with joy for you and those you hold dear!