Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Product Review : Orange Mud HydraQuiver (Single Barrel)

My friend and running buddy Jacob 'Jake' Dinardi (http://HikeItLikeIt.com/) and I were talking the other day and thought it would be rad to do some sort of collaborative post since both of us are blogging nuts. We put our heads together and came up with the idea to talk about some hydration vests. BOOM! I'm going to talk about the Orange Mud HydraQuiver Single Barrel and the Ultimate Direction Anton Krupicka (“AK”) Race Vest; whereas, Jake will be covering the Ultimate Direction Peter Bakwin (“PB”) Adventure Vest, and the Nathan HPL 020 Hydration Vest. There are a lot of hydra-vests on the market of course, but this small group covers the bases pretty well from the most minimal all the way up to something an adventure racer would reach for. In this installment we'll review Orange Mud's Single Barrel Quiver. Check it out and let us know what your favorite vest is!

Overview of The Hydra Vests in this Roundup

  • Orange Mud Single Barrel: A minimalist vest that offers an alternative to carrying a handheld. 
  • Nathan HPL 020:A small vest that carries a 70 oz hydration bladder and provides just enough room for some snacks or small items. (Read more at Hike It Like It!)
  • Ultimate Direction AK 2.0: A small vest with the ability to carry two 20 oz bottles AND up to a 70 oz hydration bladder, or other gear. (Read more at Dirty Trail Shoes)
  • Ultimate Direction PB 2.0: A large vest with the ability to carry two 20 oz bottles, up to a 70 oz hydration bladder, AND room for clothing/other gear. (Read more at Hike It Like It!)

Orange Mud HydraQuiver (Single Barrel)

Like many of us Josh Sprague, founder of Orange Mud and developer of the Quiver, was frustrated with many of the existing hydration packs of the day (fanny packs, hand-helds, back packs) and decided to build the ideal means of carrying water and supplies that minimized the negatives. What was born was a Quiver, something completely unlike anything else on the market and sure to turn peoples head at the next training run or race!
Skyline 50k

Specs at a glance

The single barreled Quiver is Orange Mud’s first hydration pack and signature product.  Just like an arrow quiver, the bottle holder sits high on your back ready for the bottle to be quickly pulled to quench your thirst.  Putting the bottle on your back does two things : it obviously frees your hands but also uses your powerful shoulder muscles to support the weight.  The single 23 oz water bottle fits nicely for a routine 10 mile run or half marathon through ultra trail run (aid stations every ~6 miles).  The foam padded mesh harness is so comfortable you can wear it shirtless (even better with optional Padded Sleeves to remove any possible strap chaffing).
  • Fluid Carrying Capacity: 23 oz water bottle
  • Pockets : two spandex pockets on shoulder straps
  • Storage : single rear 54 cu ft zippered pocket with key keeper
  • Weight: 304 grams (10.7 oz)
  • Colors : Comes in six colors : Black, Grey, Orange, Tan, Pink, Royal Blue
  • MSRP: Single-barrel Quiver ($84.95) including bottle
  • Optional : Padded Sleeves ($9.95), Cord and cord lock set ($4.95)

Impressions

Having run many long runs using just a hand-held I was eager to try something that would free my hands but not weigh me down like a traditional hiking backpack.  The first time I saw an Orange Mud quiver on the trails I just stopped in my tracks to gawk at the runner. [Latter to be named the Quiver Gawk] I knew I HAD to have one and bought one that same week.  The first race I used it on was the last 25 miles of American River 50 in Sacramento, then on the San Francisco Marathon, Skyline 50k, Overlook 50k and worked perfectly. 

Fit

The HydraQuiver comes in a single unisex size with two very simple side adjustment straps.  The straps do dangle and may lead to chaffing if used shirtless but both are solved buy buying the optional padded sleeves (highly recommended and comes supplied with dual quiver).   


Once strapped down there is no harness bounce and little bottle sloshing.  The bottle should rid high on your back but not so high that if you lean your head back you make contact with the bottle top.  Once you get it adjusted it will stay and you’ll forget you’re wearing it. The foam padding allows for one of the best fitting packs I've ever warn and since it breaths via the mesh surface and air channels you shoulders and back won't get too sweaty.  It will take a few steps to learn how to reach your arm back to pluck the bottle from quiver and return it but is rather easy to learn to do.  



There is no cross adjustment in the front between straps as you would expect in a backpack but don’t think I ever thought I needed one.  There are two easy to reach shoulder pockets that Orange Mud states you can pick 8 GU gel packs per but I was only ever able to get two per.  I wish there were pockets on the sleeves.

The rear cargo area is well in the rear so pretty much useless whilst running.  Also if you cram a bunch of stuff into the storage area expect to readjust the straps due to bulk and weight.  However, it is such a luxury to have so much optional storage space to store emergency supplies (medicines, extra food, etc).

Finish

The Quiver is made in the USA. I used it for training and racing for a full year and the quiver pretty much looks the same with no wear spots, no tears, no stitching coming undone. Very well made.  I own the ‘black’ colored version so I can’t comment on how lighter colors hold up after being exposed to trail dirt or repeated hand washings. My black quiver is still black.

Features

The quiver is a minimalist hydration backpack!  There is no skimping on comfort, but there are only two shoulder spandex pockets to hold small items like GU packets.  There is a large 54 cu in zippered storage pouch in back that is excellent to store emergency items. There are also 'tie down' holes on the bottom where in theory you could use the optional cord set to possibly strap down another bottle, jacket or other items.  I have not tried this and would be concerned about bounce and the extra weight ruining the very comfortable fit.

Wish List

I’d like to see two additional pockets on the padded sleeves or on the straps that could hold GU or salt capsules, etc.

Final Thoughts on the Orange Mud HydraQuiver

If you are tired of sore wrists after long runs and don’t want to wear a full hydration backpack then the Quiver is for you. The shoulder harness is so comfortable you can wear it shirtless and the two front pockets offer enough space to hold a few gels.  The 23 oz water bottle is enough to get you from one Aid Station (AS) to the next ~six miles away on your typical supported trail run – depending on heat and your own personal hydration needs.

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Product Review : Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest (2.0)


My friend and running buddy Jacob 'Jake' Dinardi (http://HikeItLikeIt.com/) and I were talking the other day and thought it would be rad to do some sort of collaborative post since both of us are blogging nuts. We put our heads together and came up with the idea to talk about some hydration vests. BOOM! I'm going to talk about the Orange Mud HydraQuiver Single Barrel and the Ultimate Direction Anton Krupicka (“AK”) Race Vest; whereas, Jake will be covering the Ultimate Direction Peter Bakwin (“PB”) Adventure Vest, and the Nathan HPL 020 Hydration Vest. There are a lot of hydra-vests on the market of course, but this small group covers the bases pretty well from the most minimal all the way up to something an adventure racer would reach for. In this installment we'll review Ultimate Direction's AK Race Vest (version 2). Check it out and let us know what your favorite vest is!

Overview of The Hydra Vests in this Roundup

  • Orange Mud Single Barrel: A minimalist vest that offers an alternative to carrying a handheld. (Read more at Dirty Trail Shoes)
  • Nathan HPL 020:A small vest that carries a 70 oz hydration bladder and provides just enough room for some snacks or small items. (Read more at Hike It Like It!)
  • Ultimate Direction AK 2.0: A small vest with the ability to carry two 20 oz bottles AND up to a 70 oz hydration bladder, or other gear.
  • Ultimate Direction PB 2.0: A large vest with the ability to carry two 20 oz bottles, up to a 70 oz hydration bladder, AND room for clothing/other gear. (Read more at Hike It Like It!)

Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest (2.0)

The "AK" is Anton Krupicka's signature vest. For those wondering "who is Anton Krupicka", he's an ultra runner / mountain runner who has won many over the worlds toughest ultra races including but not limited to: Leadville 100, Miwok 100k, and Rocky Raccoon 100. He's also featured in the film, Indulgence: 1000 Miles Under The Colorado Sky, and of course an Ultimate Direction sponsored athlete. You can read more about Anton here if you're interested, as our segment is less about him and more about the AK vest.
Northface Endurance Challenge SF 50K #NFEC

Specs at a glance

The AK is the lightest of Ultimate Direction's signature series hydration vests, weighing in at 7 ounces (12.5 with supplied hard bottles) and claimed 4 liters of storage capacity. As running vests go, this is pretty light and is suggestively called a ’race’ vest. 

Impressions

I didn’t own the first version of the vest but from what I read of the manufacturer’s website the only functional difference is two rear zipper pockets. I’ve only ever used the race vest with the optional 70oz bladder and the look is very minimalist.  I tried running with the two front bottles but no matter how I orientated the vest the bottoms of the bottles would always leave wear spots on my chest. I finally ended up buying 8 oz soft flasks by Salomon.  

Soft vs Hard flasks
 
 I have not tried the much larger 14 oz Body Bottle but the 12 oz Salomon flasks would sometimes fall out.  The chest pockets are sometimes hard to get things out because of the Velcro and angular size but manageable.  The hose loops allow for right or left handed runners which is nice but I would like to see magnetic clamps like some of the higher-end race vests.

Fit

The PB comes in two size offerings: S/M (23 - 36 in. / 58 - 91 cm ) and M/ (32 - 44 in. / 81 - 112 cm). I am average height and thin (5'-10”, 153 lbs) and chose the S/M. When it's all said and done, the vest rides very close to my body with minimal bounce and the fit works well for me, however there are some specifics you should be aware of.
The adjustment system consists of a double sternum strap up front and one side adjustment strap on each side. If you use the supplied hard bottles you have to be very careful to orientate the bottles high and off to the side – otherwise the bottles may bounce on your rib cage.  There are no shoulder adjustments on the AK.
Stock Photos of AK Race Vest from UD

After adding the 70 oz bladder to the back there isn’t much room in the back but you can put some emergency supplied like TP, lightweight wind breaker, etc.

70oz bladder half full with top view after inserting to pack

Finish

Craftsmanship is very good overall. All body-contact areas are a large mesh with decent breathability, and the storage compartments are made of a stretch material and/or Silnylon in areas that don't need to stretch much. I did find one issue... Where the vest contacts my shoulder blade area, there were seam on both sides that could result in hot spots.  When I wear technical shirts I generally have no issues but if you are bare-chested I could see problems. [I wonder how AK handles this who is famous for running shirtless!]  

Seam under shoulder

A change from the "1.0" designs is the lack of Cuben Fiber in all 2.0 models. Cuben is a very light and waterproof material, but it's tricky to work with and thus is uncommon in many "mainstream" retail products. Hats off to UD for picking up on the ultralight nature of Cuben Fiber and taking a shot at it, but the vests had issues with tearing at the stitches and so has been replaced with Silnylon. For this application, Silnylon is the way to go, the difference will be negligible in almost all respects but the vests will benefit from greater durability. 

The shoulder pockets are angular and Velcro, which is secure but sometimes a pain to dig things out of.

Shoulder pouch

Features

The AK is a minimalist pack so don’t expect too many ‘bells and whistles’.
Up front there are of course 2 pockets for your bottles. These have 2 small vertical pockets along each side which are handy for stuffing energy bars, shot blocks, or gels into. Below each bottle there is yet another small (horizontal) pocket which are handy for things like chapstick, medicines, etc. There are no rear zipped pockets like its big brothers : Scott Jurek (SJ), Peter Bakwin PB).  There’s a net on the back to tie down a jacket, etc but if you add a bladder (and that is kinda the point) there are no internal pockets and not much extra space so you have to get creative to store any extra items.  I like to put extra TP etc into ziplock backs and simply use a safety pin to secure to the side wall.

Wish List

The three hose loops to secure the bladder hose do work but can be a bit awkward sometimes to keep the bite valve (Hypervalve) right where you want it.  As an option I’d like to see a magnetic lock that you find on some higher end race vests (like Salomon).
I’d also like to see the two rear zippered compartments come back from V1 so I don’t have to wear my optional Scott Jurek Essentials RunBelt.

Final Thoughts on the Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest (2.0)

It's a nice race vest. This is my ‘go to’ vest for all self-supported training runs and 50+k races where there could be many miles between AS.  The 70 oz bladder fits well but doesn’t leave much space for anything else in the ‘cargo area’.  Zippered rear pockets and magnet holders for the Hypervalve. If you use the supplied hard bottles make sure you position them carefully to minimize bounce on your rib cage. As an alternative use soft flasks.

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