Review: AMPLA Fly Shoes

Disclaimer: I received one pair of AMPLA Fly women’s sneakers to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I’m always looking for ways to improve my running form and cadence, so I was really excited to try the AMPLA Flys. They are supposed to make it uncomfortable to heel strike, so they keep you on the front of your foot. The plate that sticks up is supposed to give you extra power and boost. They come in red and black, so I went with red (and was not disappointed).

What I received to review

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What’s so special about the AMPLA Fly?

Right away, you’ll notice that they look a little different than other sneakers.

According to the website,

The AMPLA FLY is a running shoe that encourages the efficient use of force and provides the most powerful running experience possible. The full length carbon fibre Forcepower plate technology guides upon foot-strike and releases stored energy at toe-off. Dual density AMPLA EVA provides lightweight cushioning and a seam free Diamond mesh and Micro-Suede upper provides comfort and support.

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The Good

I went with a half size smaller than I usually wear, and it fit perfectly. I typically wear a 9.5, so I have a little extra room in my running shoes, but a 9 fit great. The upper was thin but felt like a glove.

The AMPLA Flys definitely keep you moving forward on your toes. I tried to wear them out and about and it’s tough to walk in them. I thought they were great for speed training on the track. Note: If the shoes feel comfortable, you can technically wear them on longer runs. Cassie wore them on a 5-miler and felt fine. I kept it to the shorter speed sessions.

If you aren’t sure about the plate technology, AMPLA is planning to release two more styles before the end of year—AMPLA Cushion (better for long distance) and AMPLA Light (super lightweight without the carbon fiber plate).

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The Not-So-Good

They are not designed for long runs or casual wear, which kind of stinks because they feel great and they look great.

The Bottom Line

The AMPLA Flys are great for speedwork and practicing your form. They are a relatively comparable to higher end shoes as far as price goes ($120), but they are a smaller company that deals directly with the customer, which is another plus for me.

Join us and AMPLA for #Bibchat on September 20! I can’t guarantee that they will be giving away a pair, but there are often sweet giveaways during #Bibchat, so come hang out with us on Tuesday at 7 pm MST!

Race Recap: Ventura Marathon 5K

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Ventura Marathon 5K as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

The summary

The Ventura Marathon’s 5K was well-organized, had great swag, and is a mostly flat course by the beach. What more can you ask for?

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The long version

I picked up my packet on Saturday, and the expo was in full-swing. A friend picked up her stuff on Friday, and said they were still putting it up, so I think Saturday was the better day. There were also some events on Saturday so that’s probably another reason why everything was going full-force. The packet pick-up process was easy – it was by bib number instead of last name, but they sent you the bib number in an email the day on Thursday or Friday.

I knew there was supposed to be a bunch of swag in the bags, but I was super impressed. Everything came in a big reusable shopping bag that I will definitely use again. Inside the bag were my bib, a hat, my tech t-shirt, a couple samples (Clif gel, kettle popcorn) and a couple flyers. The expo was pretty good, too. There were quite a few vendors (Jamba Juice, local vendors) and other races. The live band was pretty good, too!

I decided to stay in a hotel that was within a mile of the start line so that I could warm-up on my way to the race. There was no parking at the start line/venue, but there was plenty of parking (both paid and free) within a half mile to full mile nearby. It was really dark the morning of the race, so have to really pay attention to your surroundings (I may or may not have walked into a cement bench on the walk there). There were plenty of port-a-potties, and short lines.

The 5K was the last race to start (after the marathon and half marathon), and started about 15-20 minutes late. Not the end of the world, but something to note. The race started in waves, which allowed everyone to spread out a bit, and started at the end of the pier. I don’t typically look at race courses before I run, so I was surprised that the race wasn’t actually along the beach. I thought it was going to be on the bike path along the sand, but it went over to the road. You could see the ocean for a mile or so, but it wasn’t along the beach as I expected.

There were a couple gradual “hills”, but you got to go back down them, so that wasn’t a big deal. The course was on one lane of the road, and it got a little congested when people started turning around and doubling back (it was out-and-back). But the course was fast, and the aid stations had wonderful, high-energy volunteers.

The finish line!

The finish line!

The medals were super cute, and given out right after the race. The actual medals seemed to be the same for every distance, but they changed the ribbon that the medal was hanging on, which is a great idea. I was also handed a bottle of water after the race. I didn’t see anyplace to fill up a water bottle, but I didn’t look either, so it could have been there.

There was quite a bit of food after the race: bananas, pineapples, Nutri-grain bars, Cheez-its, and chocolate, plus the samples at random vendors and a food truck.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this 5K if you live locally. Check out the BibRave reviews for more information about the 5K and about other races.

Introducing Aftershokz #AwareWithPink Campaign

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Wireless Headphones to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

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You may remember my review of the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium wireless headphones a couple months ago? They are the ones that work with the (seemingly) magic bone conduction technology, which “guide mini vibrations through the cheekbones to the inner ears, delivering sound without plugging or covering them.” See the orange sounds lines below, vs. the traditional headphones/earbuds with the blue sound lines..

Photo from Aftershokz website.

Photo from Aftershokz website.

Growing up, I was too much of a tomboy to be interested in the color pink, but now that I’m an adult, I LOVE IT. I can’t get enough of it. So when I heard that Aftershokz was coming out with a pink version of their headphones, I knew I had to get my hands on a pair.

I already loved the product, especially because it’s a much safer way to listen to music, but when I heard about their partnership with Bright Pink, I immediately signed up to help spread the word.

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So here’s the scoop.

For every Trekz Titanium Pink that is sold between now and October 31st, 25% of the proceeds will go to Bright Pink, a non-profit that focuses on breast & ovarian cancer awareness & education. In fact, just by tweeting or hashtagging #AwareWithPink, they will donate 25 cents!

These headphones are limited edition, and cost $129.99. Use the code “PINK” at checkout for a free portable storage case (an $11.95 value, like the one in my photo above).

If you’ve been thinking about trying a pair of bone conduction wireless headphones, and want to support a cause at the same time, you should definitely check these out.

And come to #BibChat on Tuesday, 9/6 at 7 pm MST for the chance to WIN a pair!

Review: OOFOS Ooriginal Sport

Disclaimer: I received a pair of OOFOS Ooriginal Sport to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I was really intrigued by OOFOS because they are designed to “absorb impact” and “aid recovery”. I love flip-fops anyway, so I’m not likely to turn down the opportunity to test out a new pair, especially one that will make my legs feel good after a long run. Right now, I’m only training for a 5K and a 5-miler, so I didn’t have any super long runs, but I feel like I was still able to get some benefit from the sandal’s design. Read on for more 😉

What I received to review

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What’s so special about the OOFOS?

According to the hang tag that came on the sandals, OOFOS is “recovery technology for your feet” and works by:

  • Absorbing shock with every step
  • Cradling your arches
  • Reducing stress on feet, knees, and back
  • Enabling more natural motion

The foam absorbs 37% more shock than other materials.

The Good

The first thing I noticed about OOFOS was it’s unique design, and I honestly wasn’t sure how it would feel. The sole is bulkier than most flip-flops, and is thicker in the middle than on the front and back, which I assumed was to help the foot roll more than heel strike (which it did).

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The sandals are super cushiony and comfortable. It felt like I was squishing down into the cushion and then rebounding with each step.

The fit was great, and they are true to size. The website suggests ordering your true size if you are a whole size, or a half size up if you typically wear a half size.

I wore them after a few of my longer runs (about an hour), and while my legs don’t get super sore, they do get tired. I put on the sandals immediately post-run—my legs and tired feet felt supported. It was great.

Another plus to the OOFOS Original Sport? They are moisture resistant and don’t get stinky. Always a good feature when you are dealing with smelly, sweaty feet.

The Not-So-Good

They are supposed to have an anti-chafe toe, and while I wouldn’t call it chafing, there was a bit of discomfort if I wore them all day long (which I wanted to do because they were so comfortable!).

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The Bottom Line

I loved the OOFOS Original Sport sandals for after runs, or on days when I was walking around or on my feet a lot. They retail at $59.95, and while I can’t attest to how long they might last since I haven’t had mine that long, they seem to be well made and with quality materials.

Join us and OOFOS for #Bibchat on August 30! I can’t guarantee that they will be giving away a pair, but there are often sweet giveaways during #Bibchat, so come hang out with us on Tuesday at 7 pm MT!

Review: UV Half BUFF®

Disclaimer: I received a UV Half BUFF® to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

If you’ve seen any of my other reviews, you may have seen me post about the Hoodie Thermal BUFF® in January, and the UV Full BUFF® in May, and you also may know that I love them. I love the colors and the function, but they can be a little bulky for the summer, so I was excited to try out the half version and compare the two!

 

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From Buff, Inc.:

“Shorter than the Original BUFF® , the UV Half BUFF® offers style and sun protection without weighing you down. It wicks away perspiration to keep you comfortable in the gym, on the road, at the yoga studio, or on the trails. Cyclists especially love the way it sits comfortably under a helmet without bunching. “

The Good

I love all of the features that my UV BUFF® offers:

  • 100% Seamless. We can all agree that tags and scratchy seams are the worst.
  • Breathable & moisture-wicking. The Half BUFF® is even lighter than the full.
  • Odor resistant. I’ll be honest. I don’t wash my running accessories as much as I should, so the longer they go stink-free, the better.
  • Stretchy. It’s easy to get over your head, and the Half BUFF® doesn’t scrunch or get bulky.
  • Wind resistant. Not as much of an issue in the summer, but man do I hate wind when it’s cold.
  • UV protection. The UV BUFF® blocks 95% of UV radiation.

I think I’m a bigger fan of the Half BUFF® than the Full BUFF® for the summer. It’s lighter and easier to wear as a headband (my favorite way to wear it). It’s also easier to lose, as I thought I had almost lost my first one!

Even though it’s smaller than a full-size BUFF®, it still stays in place, which is important, too!

The Half on the left and the Full on the right.

The Half on the left and the Full on the right.

The Not-So-Good

Nothing – I love it!

The Bottom Line

I’m already a huge fan of BUFF® products. You can wear them all kinds of ways in any type of weather. The Half is perfect for summer activities because it’s smaller.

Like I said in my Full BUFF® review, living at altitude in Colorado means an increase in the strength of UV rays, so I will take all the protection I can get!

The UV Half BUFF® retails for $15, has a ton of cool designs, and they last for years.

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Run to Help Eliminate Hunger

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Did you know…

that hunger is the world’s most solvable problem?

That 1 in 7 Americans are wondering where their next meal will come from?

That 16 million children are at risk of going hungry?

Hunger isn’t something that just happens in “those other” countries, it’s happening here, in our very own country.

When I was selected as a 2016 Women’s Health Action Hero, part of the agreement was that I would participate in Run 10 Feed 10, but to be honest, I would have participated anyway. It’s pretty simple idea – run a 10K and feed 10 hungry people in your community.

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Since the program started in 2012, Run 10 Feed 10 has raised enough money to provide 4.5 million meals to people in need!

There are three main events in New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco, and there are fun runs all around the United States (including Denver!). They all take place in September and October, and there is a 5K option, so check out the website to see if there is an event near you (or you can create your own).

You get a super sweet FEED bag with your registration, and a finisher’s bracelet when you complete the race (not to mention feeding hungry kids in your city).

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And, you can get $5 off with the code “WHMOOD, so head on over and sign up (and join my fundraising team if you want)! And you don’t even have to come to Denver – you can sign up for any city!

If you aren’t a runner or have another event that day, you can still donate to the cause on my fundraising page here -> https://www.crowdrise.com/abbiemood1/fundraiser/abbiemood

Review: SPI H20 Venture Hydration Belt

Disclaimer: I received a SPI H20 Venture Hydration Belt to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

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I am always looking for things that will make my run easier, or make a necessary part of my run easier, like staying hydrated. I’ve used the same waist belt hydration pack since 2006 (seriously), and I have a regular SPI belt that I use on shorter runs, so when I jumped at the chance to try something that combined the two.

For full transparency: I’ve been dealing with a quad strain since my half marathon last month, so I didn’t get out with the belt *too* much, but I did get to try it a couple times and feel the review is an accurate reflection of how it works.

What I received to review

Photo from SPI website.

Photo from SPI website.

From the website:

The SPI H2O™ Venture Series hydration belt is bounce-free, easy to use, and eliminates cumbersome bottle holders. The SPI H2O Venture Series is a unique product because the two, 8 ounce bottles that can be placed anywhere on the elastic allowing runners to maximize comfort. This running belt is built for durability and can keep up with your longest runs. Go for a hike, run a marathon, go mountain biking. The Venture Series will effortlessly keep your water and other essentials right where you need them! The belt pocket is big enough to hold the iPhone® 6S Plus or the Samsung Galaxy Note 5® as well as keys, ID, and more.

The Good

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Like I said, I’ve had the same hydration belt since 2006, so I was excited to see how they have evolved since then, and I was pleasantly surprised. I wear my belts low and on my hips anyway (which greatly reduces bounce to begin with), but I found that the SPI H20 belt was bounce-free, as promised. I varied my speed from walking to a brisk run and it stayed put (and didn’t leak, either!). 

The band is pretty wide, so it’s really comfortable, and fits waist sizes from 27″-48″, so it will probably fit you, too!

I love that the bottles just slide on AND there’s not lid to pop up! They are no-spill, and then only work when you squeeze them. And the mouth of the bottle is big enough to fit ice cubes!

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The plastic part that the bottle connect to the belt with is connected to the bottles, so it’s super easy to wear it as just a SPI belt, too. The stretchy pouch has enough room to hold a cell phone, key, and headphones.

While it’s not water proof, it does have a WeatherGuard design to keep out dirt, dust, and the occasional raindrop.

The Not-So-Good

There are two 8 oz. bottles, for a max of 16 oz. of hydration. While this probably isn’t a bid deal to most, and I don’t usually consume more than that on my longer runs, if you were heading on a lengthy adventure, you might want to have more water.

There are two loops on either side of the pouch that are supposed to be for gels. I couldn’t stretch either one out very far at all, so there was no chance that I was getting a gel in there. The good news, is that I could probably fit the gel in the main pouch with everything else.

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The Bottom Line

If you like hydration waist belts, this is a great choice. You can wear it with or without the bottles, and it holds just about everything you would need for a decent run. I definitely recommend checking it out and snagging a discount on one below!

The SPI H20 Venture Series SPIbelt retails for $44.99. You can get 10% off and free shipping with the code “abbie10” until the end of May!

Check out Christine’s review, too!

Join us on Twitter for #Bibchat on Tuesdays at 7 pm MST!

Review & Giveaway: UV FULL BUFF

Disclaimer: I received a UV FULL BUFF to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

***THE GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED***

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You may remember that I reviewed the Hoodie Thermal BUFF in January (and loved it). I’ve also worn BUFFs when I travel, because they are great to keep your hair back, keep dirt out of your face, and I have sprayed bug spray on mine so that I didn’t have to spray it on my neck. For whatever reason, I hadn’t tried a BUFF in the warmer weather at home, or on a run, so I was excited to try out the UV BUFF.

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From BUFF:

“No more excuses for sunburns. No more hiding in the shade. UV BUFF® headwear keeps the sun fun while blocking 95% of harmful UV rays*. Hour after hour, COOLMAX® Extreme fabric wicks away sweat to keep you cool and Polygiene® Active Odor Control neautralizes odor. Now that’s cool.”

The Good

I love all of the features that a BUFF has:

  • Seamless. Nothing is worse than a pesky tag or seam.
  • Breathable & moisture-wicking. The BUFF is so light, you don’t even notice it is there.
  • Odor resistant. We know how stinky our running stuff gets, so enough said.
  • Stretchy. It’s easy to get over your head and wear one of the many ways you can wear a BUFF. I think the stretchiness also helps with the comfort.
  • Protects from cold & wind. So not only does it block UV rays and help on those hotter days, you can wear it on cooler days, too.
Photo Credit: BUFFUSA.com

Photo Credit: BUFFUSA.com

The Not-So-Good

Literally, nothing. See above.

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The Bottom Line

I’m a huge fan of BUFFs. You can wear them 12+ ways in any type of weather. I’m especially excited about this UV BUFF for hiking and running in the mountains in the summer. Living at altitude in Colorado means an increase in the strength of UV rays, so I will take all the protection I can get!

The UV Full BUFF retails for $25, and they last for years.

I loved my BUFF so much that I wanted to give one away, too! And next week is my birthday, so it’s fun to give things away for your birthday 🙂

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It’s for a basic black FULL UV BUFF. This contest is only for US Residents, and a winner will be chosen on Wednesday, May 18.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review (and Giveaway!): Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running

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***CONTEST IS OVER***

I love trail running. Being in nature, cruising on some single track – there’s nothing like it. So when I saw that fellow freelance writer and runner Meghan Hicks and her partner Bryon Powell wrote a new book about trail running, I definitely wanted to check it out.

Meghan and Bryon are contributing editors for Trail Runner magazine, and are also the brains behind iRunFar.com, a trail running and ultramarathon website. Needless to say, they know what they’re talking about. Not to mention that Meghan was the first female finisher of the grueling Marathon des Sables in Morocco in 2013. If you haven’t heard of it, go check it out. I’ll wait.

As the title suggests, Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running is a comprehensive guide to all things trail running. The book covers everything from running & trail technique to gear to how to deal with weather conditions to avoiding injuries. The only thing this book does not offer are training plans, but there is an entire chapter dedicated to creating a training plan yourself, including how to organize training phases.

Gorgeous photos!

Gorgeous photos!

This book is very well-written, has beautiful color photos, informative sidebars, and a bonus “Places and Race to Inspire” page in every chapter!

And lucky for you, I’m giving away a copy! Check out the Rafflecopter below on how to enter, and I’ll be drawing a winner on Sunday, May 15! If you live where Amazon can deliver, you can enter! Even if you don’t win, I recommend buying yourself a copy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: I received a complimentary review copy from the publisher, but the opinions are my own and I’m fronting the cost for the giveaway because I want to support Meghan & Bryon.

Review: Orange Mud Single Barrel HydraQuiver

Disclaimer: I received an Orange Mud Single Barrel HydraQuiver to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

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As you may have heard, I’m training for the 3-day TransRockies Run in the mountains in August. I usually wear a waist belt with hydration, but have been looking for a lightweight backpack type option that would allow me to comfortably hold a little more stuff. When I saw the Orange Mud Single Barrel HydraQuiver, I was super excited to try it out and see if it would work for my big race.

What I received to review

From the website:

Tired of bouncing and sloshing hydration packs? Solution found, meet the HydraQuiver™. The HydraQuiver sports a silky smooth webbing, long spandex pockets to hold your phone while running, an interior rear cargo storage and a secure zipper pull.

Thick foam padding and big air channels provide ample support and maximum breath-ability. The running water bottle is easy to reach and replace thanks to a wide funnel opening and perfect retention. We use a reusable BPA-free water bottle to make refills quick and clean up easy. Unlike a hydration bladder, these are much easier to wash! For your nighttime safety we have a reflective logo on the bottle holder.

Features: Capacity – 140 cu in ~ Weight without bottle, 7.2oz/204 grams, with bottle 10oz/282 grams ~ Super breathable nylon ~ Secure storage with headphone port ~ Bottle: BPA Free 25oz ~ Patent pending

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The Good

It’s definitely light, even with a full bottle of water. Even though it’s light, and there is a minor amount of sloshing (it is a bottle of liquid after all), I didn’t feel like it was bouncing or moving at all.

It holds quite a bit of water. The bottle holds 25 oz. of hydration liquid, which is more than enough for me for pretty much any run or hike that I would be on.

The pocket was surprisingly big. I thought it would just be a small pocket, but it actually goes behind the bottle and spans the entire width of the pack. It can easily hold keys, a phone, and a snack. There is also a clip for your keyring to keep that in place, which is a nice feature. The headphone port made it easy to plug in headphones and string it through without having to leave the zipper open.

There are also a couple velcro pockets on the shoulder straps that are perfect for a gel. It was actually stretchy enough that I could fit my phone into it if I wanted to keep it close to snap pictures of my hike or trail run.

Under the velcro pockets is a little band that you can double up your straps, which kept them conveniently secure instead of flopping around.

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While I found it more difficult to grab my water bottle for whatever reason, it was super easy to get back in the pack. The top of the bottle holder is wider than the bottom, which makes it easy to pop back in and keeps it pretty secure. You can lean over or and it isn’t going to just fall out.

The padding on the back was comfortable and the air channel gave some breathability. Of course, it still got sweaty, but I didn’t really notice that my back was sweaty until I took off the HydraQuiver.

The materials are high-quality and the pack is durable. This pack is well-made and I can tell that it will last a long time. It’s sturdy and easy to clean.

Photo from Orange Mud website

Photo from Orange Mud website

The Not-So-Good

As I mentioned before, I am on the hunt for a solution that will allow me to carry more for my longer adventures and eventually, the TransRockies Run, so I was excited to see that the HydraQuiver has a built in area to strap down a jacket. Unfortunately, you have to purchase a separate “cord and cord lock set” for an additional $4.95. I was bummed that it was a separate purchase, instead of it being included with the HydraQuiver.

I had a big issue with the fit. It was easy to put on, easy to adjust, but chafed my armpits and rubbed the top of my shoulders (through my shirt). It didn’t matter if I tightened it or loosened it, the straps don’t have any padding beyond the shoulders and rubbed my inner armpit. If I tightened it to where it was close to comfortable, it restricted my arm movement. If I loosened it too much, I the shoulder padding/pockets were too far back. I couldn’t figure out what the issue was, but after several runs, I never felt comfortable with the pack, which was really disappointing.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that there are so many things that I really like about this pack, but when it comes down to it, if it’s not comfortable to wear, it’s just not going to work. I think Orange Mud is a great company, but this pack is not for me. That being said, there were other BibRave Pros that really loved the pack and didn’t have the same issue with the fit, so you may want to check out their posts, too – Katie, Samantha, Shannon, Jessica, and Emily.

The Orange Mud Single Barrel HydraQuiver retails for $84.95 and comes in black, gray, orange, and pink. There is also a double barrel version if you want to hold more water, and a Vest Pack that has a chest strap. If you want to try out Orange Mud for yourself, use the code “BIBRAVE” for a 15% discount!

Join us on Twitter for #Bibchat on Tuesday, May 3 at 7 pm MST – Orange Mud will be there and may be giving away a hydration pack!