hydration systems

Review: Orange Mud HydraQuiver

Orange Mud

I’ve been testing my new Orange Mud HydraQuiver hydration pack for the past week or so. I’ve done all of my training runs with the HydraQuiver, on the treadmill (I don’t run outdoors in the winter, especially when it’s -30C, as has been the case lately), at different distances (between 8K and 19K), at various paces, and both shirtless and shirtless. (I’m longing to do some long outdoor runs with the HydraQuiver, but that’ll have to wait until the temps are more reasonable.)

The verdict? The HydraQuiver is a clear winner!

As I mentioned in my HydraQuiver teaser post, my Nathan hydration vest wasn’t meeting all my long run/race needs. I don’t like wearing waterbelts, and I don’t want to carry large handhelds. The HydraQuiver, though, does the needful, and, I think, comes pretty close to perfection.

HydraQuiver front

With the HydraQuiver, there is, remarkably, no bounce, no slosh, and no chafing at all. It sits high between my shoulders. It offers quick and easy access/return to a big water bottle. Each shoulder strap has a pocket made of a stretchable material; each pocket can hold six gel pouches. That means I can carry up to twelve gels, which will come in handy on those ultras where I have to carry my own fuel, such as the Elk/Beaver 50K in May. On such races, I can also carry a couple or three packets of Hammer HEED in the HydraQuiver’s main body pocket, and add water at an aid station. Again, this will work at Elk/Beaver, where, for some bizarre reason, only the dreaded Gatorade is on offer at the aid stations.

There’s also a neat little hole (X marks the spot in the photo below) for my iPod Shuffle/Yurbuds cord – a necessity for this season’s long training runs and ultra races.

HydraQuiver headphone port

A small footprint is part of the HydraQuiver magic. And the sweat-absorbing foam on the back of the pack really works! (One advantage of doing my testing on the treadmill is that I get really, really sweaty doing that. If there was ever a good test of comfort and non-chafability, this was it!)

HydraQuiver back

And let me say it one more time – no bounce, no slosh, and no chafing. In my experience, that’s something of a miracle.

In the course of the testing, I discovered some interesting things:

It was really easy to reach back and grab the water bottle. As the Orange Mud folks say, “If you can scratch the back of your neck, you can reach the bottle.” Putting the bottle back is simplicity itself – it’s “dropback by proprioception” (the ability to know where our limbs are without having to look).

A 24oz bottle full of water weighs 1.9 lbs. But it feels absolutely weightless in the HydraQuiver!

The absence of a sternum strap on the HydraQuiver makes it vastly more comfortable. Once I put on the HydraQuiver, I forget about it. With my Nathan hydration vest, I was always fussing with the sternum strap. (I suspect that the lack of a sternum strap will also be much appreciated by women runners.)

Last but not least, wearing the HydraQuiver helps me with my form. Like most runners, I tend to hunch my shoulders forward when I’m tired. When that happens, the HydraQuiver feels a little tighter. It’s a nudge in the right direction, which is to keep my shoulders down and back. Bonus!

The HydraQuiver is, in my humble opinion, one of the best ideas in hydration to come along in a very long while. I’m going to use it on my long training runs and my upcoming ultras. Good on you, Orange Mud!

Note: I ordered my HydraQuiver from the Running Room rather than directly from Orange Mud (cheaper shipping, no duty, quicker delivery).

Coming Up: HydraQuiver

HydraQuiver

I recently ordered an Orange Mud HydraQuiver, and expect it to arrive any day now.

I’m excited about the HydraQuiver. It’s a fresh take on hydration systems, and I think it’s going to replace my Nathan hydration vest on long training runs and short ultras.

I bought the Nathan because I wanted (and needed) something that would carry enough fluid to last on runs longer than 40K. I’d been carrying two small handhelds, but that got clumsy. I don’t like wearing waterbelts, and I didn’t want to carry large handhelds. The Nathan hydration vest ticked those boxes. When its 2L bladder was full, though, it rode hard on the small of my back, and I never quite managed to adjust it so that wouldn’t happen. And, though it has a small outer pocket for carrying a bit of extra stuff, I couldn’t get to that pocket without taking the vest off. To its credit, the Nathan fits well, and, once adjusted, doesn’t bounce much – at least until it’s almost depleted.

Enter the Orange Mud HydraQuiver. It’s a new product, launched in December 2013, that was born out of a desire to have a hydration system that doesn’t bounce. It carries a single 24oz water bottle (Orange Mud’s DoubleQuiver carries two such bottles) high between the shoulders, with a storage pocket big enough for a light vest, gloves, etc. in the pack’s main body, and gel, cell phone, etc. pockets on the shoulder straps. It’s a good theory, and all the reviews I’ve read of the HydraQuiver suggests it works as planned.

As I said, mine is on its way. I’ll do some testing, and post a full review soonest. Stay tuned!