Part of the perks of running a street race is that they cater to runners by setting up the aid stations. Prior to a race I check to see what supplies they will have on hand at the event and how spread out the stations will be. I have taken a back seat approach up to this point in regards to my fuel/hydration needs, but that has changed over the last few months since I have registered for several events that will require me to support myself while out on the course. To tackle this I have done a ton of research and also bought a few hydration packs. I like to use the trial and error method to figure out what works best for me to become a well oiled machine come race day.
I stumbled upon Orange Mud products of all places on Instagram! Their customers are diehard runners that post amazing, fun pictures of their adventures…most of which are on trail runs. Since many of training runs are solo on the Anhapee Trail by my house these products intrigued me. I have tried several handheld options, but don’t like to carry a bottle past a 10 miles. In playing around with vests I found that cleaning the bladder became cumbersome since I run almost everyday. I want the best of both worlds…the capacity of a vest and the ease of a bottle from a handheld. The HydraQuiver from Orange Mud fulfilled all the wants and needs I was looking for, but an online description can be all rainbows and sunshine – I need to battle test this stuff myself before I back a product as wonderful.
I’m hard on my running gear and demand a lot from all the stuff I buy. I was intrigued to see if Orange Mud could deliver on the promises made in their product description. Before ordering I had a few questions which I shipped off to customer service. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly CS responded. Upon getting my questions answered I ordered the HydraQuiver VP2. It arrived with in 3 days…super fast. Out of the box I removed the bottles and sent them through the dishwasher to remove the plastic smell. The fact that cleaning the bottles so easily right off the bat made me exceptionally happy. It only took one washing to get the bottles cleaned out and ready to be filled. I love using Nuun on training runs, the product dissolves in 2 minutes which was all the time I needed to put the VP2 on and adjusted the straps to fit my body (for a reference point I am 5ft 3in & weight 120lbs).
Let’s talk logistics. The material of the vest is a combination of stretch and support. For comfort the back plate that sits between the shoulder blades has a padding, but is vented to not add weight and allows for cooling (which is awesome – I sweat a lot). Tightening up the vest was a quick and easy process. I was surprised that I was able to get such a good fit, I’m not blessed with a huge chest and vests often slide around. After adjusting I was left with relatively long, dangling straps, but there are clips for the extra material. Tucking the straps into the clips secured them and they have never fallen out of caused a problem. One of my favorite features on my previous hydration vests is having pockets to haul all my necessary “stuff” – inhaler, keys, lots of snacks, chapstick, iPhone, and salt tabs. Both vest options (1 or 2 bottles) in the Orange Mug HydraQuiver VP line have 2 deep front POCKETS that have a ton of stretch! I was able to cram a ton of items in them with room to spare. The clip for keys and elastic cords to close the pockets up is a nice touch. In wearing the VP2 I have tripped a few times (I’m really, really clumsy) and all of the stuff in my pockets stayed put. The chest clip is made out of a sturdy plastic but is small enough not to be obtrusive or rub against the skin to cause chaffing. The bottles in the VP2 sit just over the shoulder blades and have an adjustable strap located at the bottom to allow for adjustment to the bottle height. I don’t have long arms and was concerned about being able to reach behind me and grab the bottles quickly and easily. After moving the bottle straps up a bit I could efficiently reach back and grab hold of either bottle all while running. The ability to stay in motion and still have access to my fluids was important as I could do that with my previous vest with a bladder/straw system. Safety is also an area of concern for me since I do log a great deal of miles at night. It was nice to see that there are reflective strips on VP models for additional visibility. So far all my wants and needs have been met, but I had not yet left the house. Hitting the trails would be the true test.
Round #1 – To be completely transparent with this I want to set the stage a bit with more info about – I did not use any anti-chaffing product in the usual locations (under the straps) to see if I would have any skin issues or hot spots (I wore a long sleeve shirt & vest) . I like to throw caution to the wind from time to time so I took the VP2 out for 20 miles…it was on my training schedule for the week. Out of the gate I could hear the liquid in my bottle sloshing around, but it was no more annoying than the sound that liquids made in my previous vest with a bladder. Music up and I was good to go, after while I did not even notice it. The weight of the 2 bottles (24 oz) was evenly distributed over my shoulders and sat flush with zero bounce. I did learn very quickly to alternate between the bottles to keep the weight distributed evenly. I have relatively long hair which I was concerned about getting wrapped in the bottles. Being that the bottles sit far apart this was not a problem and my ponytail was able to rest in the middle of my back with out tangling. 2 bottles worked awesome for me to stay hydrated throughout my 20 miles. In a 50k I may need more, but with aid stations to refill I cannot see this being a problem. I am looking forward to the simplicity of being able to unscrew the top of the bottle, fill, replace, and be on my way. I have used a vest with a bladder in a race and filling it back up was a nightmare, it was cumbersome and cost me several minutes on the course when I wasn’t moving forward. I’m not a fan of inefficiency while racing, especially as I try to PR this year at various distances. Along my run I was able to get in and out of the front pockets to pull various items out. I liked that the elastic cord was easy to operate and tighten quickly. Upon returning home I removed the VP2 to inspect for any chaffing issues. I had felt a hot spot under my arm, but did not have any chaffing, marks, or lines on my back from where the vest sat on my shoulder blades either. In the future I will apply a thin layer of Trail Toes lube to this area. 2 thumbs up so far! Being that I am sweaty beast the VP2 was drenched when I finished. I removed the bottles and sent them back through the dishwasher and hung the vest up to dry. There is not a typical loop to easily do this though so I messaged customer service, they responded quickly and logged it as a suggestion next time they update the vest. In the meantime I hung it up by one of the straps. When I checked the vest 4 hours later it was completely dry and ready to be refilled for another run.
Round #2 – Time for a short recovery run. I wanted to see how it felt to wear the VP2 shortly after a long run. I was curious to see if my shoulders or back would have any residual soreness from the weight of the bottles. I repeated all the test that I previously took the day before for my long run with the addition of adding a bit of Trail Toes under the straps that made contact with my underarm area. I was out the door in less than 5 minutes start to finish – bottle filling (this time with Tailwind), adjusting, and lube application. That’s quick in my book! Other than my legs being heavy from 20 miles the previous day I felt great. My shoulders and back felt awesome with no signs of soreness from the vest. I did a short 4 miles and headed home.
Since my initial trial run with the VP2 I have used it numerous times on training runs, but have yet to christen it in a race…maybe this weekend at the Trailbreaker Marathon. I found that 2 bottles are great especially if I want water & electrolytes, but a bit of overkill for day to day runs. I ended up ordering the VP1 (single bottle system) for shorter training runs and recently ran wore it during the Dick Lytie Spring Classic 1/2 Marathon. Check back for a review of the VP1 in a few days once I catch up from Spring Break!
#BeHappy #BeKind #BeActive