Orange Mud HydraQuiver Review

Hand, waist, back… bladder, bottle… plastic, stainless… it seems that the options for hydration continue to expand with every new season. The reasons for this are simple: water is an essential part of our sport and a pain-in-the-butt to carry. While some folks get creative with water bottle drops and other trail-side solutions, most of us have to face the fact that we need to carry some water with us on a regular basis. And, thankfully, companies continue to try to give us options for doing so.

Orange Mud is a relatively recent entry into the market. Based in California, this small company is producing USA-made and endurance-athlete-specific products. Their current headliner is the HydraQuiver ($85): a single-bottle, back-slung pack.

Orange Mud HydraQuiver

The Orange Mud HydraQuiver.

The Ride
The HydraQuiver rides in relatively unique place. It is meant to sit between the runner’s shoulder blades. It accomplishes this with two shoulder straps. No sternum strap and no waist strap. The location is considerably higher than traditional hydration backpacks and a much simpler configuration as well. The straps on the HydraQuiver are long… really long. To alleviate any flopping or flapping around, the company stitched two shock-cord loops on each side of the pack. The loops do their job well, but take some effort to get used to using.

Of course, the big question with this new location/style of pack is: “Does it move/irritate/work?” In short, No. No. Yes. Using it both running and Nordic skiing, I never had to adjust the shoulder straps (once I learned the loop trick) and had no underarm irritation. What was really surprising was how comfortable the pack was. Its location, while a bit odd, does keep it from bouncing and trapping heat and sweat against your back. While it earned a few odd looks on the trails, it makes up for it with solid performance.

Orange Mud HydraQuiver - worn

The HydraQuiver being worn.

Orange Mud HydraQuiver - storage compartment access

Access zip to the main storage compartment.

The Features
The included water bottle is a standard tall bike bottle. It is held in its holster by both a wide elastic band and the gradual taper of the holster itself. While putting the pack on, bending over to put on spikes, and moving, I only had the bottle fall out once. And, it never fell out while I was in motion.

There are two mesh storage pouches located directly on-top of the shoulders. These can accommodate two gel pouches, a full-sized Snickers, or anything of similar size. Since the mesh is loose, keys aren’t recommended, unless you enjoy the sounds of clinking metal. The pouches are secured with ample velcro tabs.

The pack also has a generous storage compartment that can be accessed through two zippers on either side of the pack. The pocket easily handled a smart phone, keys, and a full wallet. I also stuffed a pair of gloves and a hat in it for testing without any issues. Orange Mud also claims that you can attach bungees to the outside of the pack to carry a layer or two. I didn’t have any bungees that fit this application, so that feature remained untested.

The Details
What really sets the Hydraquiver apart from other hydration packs I have handled recently are the small, but important, attentions to detail. Nobody wants to buy a piece of specialty gear and have it be “junk” on some level. The folks at Orange Mud did a great job seeing that this wasn’t the case. A few stand-out examples:

  • Double stitching on most seams – Durability without weight. Love it.
  • Specialized water bottle – There are a LOT of cheap water bottles out there. The fact that Orange Mud pulled a Specialized Bike bottle and branded it as their own shows they aren’t going cheap. And, yes, Specialized makes a darn good water bottle.
  • No “rough” edges – Turned it inside-out, looked all over… not a unfinished edge on the pack. Getting frayed nylon in a zipper just ruins an afternoon. No worries here.

Summary
The HydraQuiver is a unique and effective option for carrying water and a few other essentials. The quality and meticulous construction of the pack speak to a company that knows their sport and are looking to do things right. Once a person gets used to the placement of the pack, it is a light and simple option when you are heading out the door. I look forward to seeing what new innovations will come out of Corona, CA in the coming years.

Adam Barnhart

discovered from an early age that he loved running , but didn't like starting guns. As a result, he is frequently found wandering the area trails around Anchorage, AK, but only at races after considerable peer-pressure is applied. When not trail running, Adam keeps pace with his wife and kids, works as a pastor and, with the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group.

There are 46 comments

  1. art

    from the pictures, it looks as if when I fall (and I do that often) the back of my head will be impaled by the bottle top.

    that's a lot of straps and fabric just to carry 20-24 oz of water. if I want something on my back its to carry a bit more water and a couple items of clothing as well.

    1. Adam Barnhart

      That's a great concern Art. I tried to hit it with my head going backward. Maybe my neck is a bit stiff, but I could only brush the mouthpiece with my hair (and that was with a pretty significant snap of the neck). If you take a fall and actually do damage to the back of your head with the bottle, you likely going to have some other, more serious injuries.

  2. panos from greece

    when i run a steep long uphill, i often visualize a construction just like this, but instead of a bottle there would be a small rocket engine that would push me up the uphill :) …and i can tell you it works!

  3. Kim Neill

    I have a feeling that women with long hair will dislike this pack–hair getting caught in it, etc. Not to mention the shoulder wrenching to get the bottle in and out. I'll stick with my UD and Nathan packs.

    1. Amy

      +1 I can already envision having about 10 hairs caught around the mouthpiece and a level of disgust each time I drink hair, and then wrestling to get it and not my hair back into the holder. And from the comment below on hair in a ponytail–yes, I'm writing this envisioning my hair in a ponytail, which falls exactly where the bottle is no matter how high I place it. And like the comments above, looks like overkill to hold a single bottle.

    1. Adam Barnhart

      I can compare it with an Amphipod belt and North Face belt bottle holders I have used. It was/is significantly easier to get it out and in than the Amphipod (which had a horizontal mount). It's about the same as the North Face. Different movement with the arm, but equal difficulty/ease in getting it out for a drink and back in its home.

  4. Oscar Rodriguez

    I've been running with a HydraQuiver for about a year now and originally had all the concerns mentioned in the previous comments. The fact is that this pack works great. This is an awesome pack for big runs because your able to carry water, food, and a little more then the essential items (phone, keys, and music)without it being an inconvenience. There is still enough room to put a light running jacket. The water bottle comes in and out with ease while running. The women I've ran with usually pull their hair back in a ponytail. This really is a great pack!

  5. Nick J

    Personally I just need somewhere to put my handhelds when I need to use my hands for scrambling! At the moment I clip them to a biner that's clipped to the side compression strap of a basic waist pack, but I'm always on the hunt for THE perfect solution. I'm think for me this one looks too fussy and I'm not sure about the high position, I prefer my loads around the lumber area… This year might just be the year that I finally do a "Killian" and only drink from mountain streams, I've been trying this on and off for about a year and so far no diseases ;)

  6. Darian

    I'm not a fan of hip belts/packs. I dig this design and will have to give it a try. The placement of the bottle is way less awkward than some of the new vest configurations.

  7. Skydog

    I have been looking at this for awhile. Having a hard time with my current waist belt and considered the Ultimate Direction vest but can't get over the "breast implant" look of the bottle placement.. Anyone know if this thing is easily adjustable? I'm assuming you would have to slide it off to access the zipper pockets. Really on the fence with this. Someone help knock me off..

  8. Mike Bailey

    Adam,

    Glad to see this come out. Any idea if Orange Mud has, or will have, a two bottle design? Something like a hybrid of this and the Nathan Elite 2V, with the "V" angled dual bottle holsters. Being able to hold two bottles might be enough to justify the extra weight vs "only" having a one bottle capacity. It might also be easier to grab the bottles, especially for someone like me with zero flexibility in their shoulders to reach back. The pockets on the back seem like they'd be hard to reach on the go for a gel, or food. I also wonder if it is easier just to stick your bottle upside down so when you grab it it will be good to go. Saving a few seconds here and there doesn't matter for me, but for someone else it might. Thanks for the great review!

    1. Adam Barnhart

      Hey Mike!

      Thanks for the kind words.

      From Orange Mud's "Gear Labratory" page, it looks like they have a two-bottle version slotted for this spring:
      http://www.orangemud.com/pages/gearlab

      I can't reach the pockets on the back when it's on my shoulders. I don't have great range of motion (mnt bike injury), but decent enough. I suspect the mesh pockets were meant to help alleviate the need to get into the back pocket on the go.

  9. Josh

    Hi Skydog,

    It is very adjustable on the bottle holder and you do have to slide it off to access the pockets in the back. The mesh pockets on the shoulders can each hold 6 gels per pocket for keeping the top items at quick access.

    In full disclosure I am the designer of it, so thanks much to Adam for the awesome review!

    Josh

  10. Josh

    Hi Amy,

    We have sold many packs to ladies and I can't imagine that this pack or many others would be very good while wearing your hair down. Being in a ponytail however seems to work just fine. To all looking, if you buy it and don't like it, run with it at least for a while, torture it, then if you don't like let me know I'll give you your money back!

    Thanks,

    Josh

    1. Amy

      I guess that would be many ladies without much hair. Even pony-tailed, this would drive me bonkers. Luckily there are lots of styles on the market to choose from. Good luck!

  11. Ben

    $85 to carry a single water bottle and a few extra items? It's official…we've gone crazy.

    Some of the best packs on the market can be had for less and that do a lot more while still being very minimal and easy to run while wearing.

    1. Nick J

      Ben I agree. At the end of the day it's all about business. I'm not knocking the idea here, I think it's quite a good try but not for me and especially at that price point. Carrying water is always going to be a necessity – obviously some races require a minimum of water carried. But usually these sort of races also require a minimum of kit too so I'd probably go for a backpack. When I've carried a bottle in shorter races it's always been a handheld – I think that the simplest solutions are often the best (and the least expensive).

  12. Jack

    I've been using the pack for about 4 months, mostly trail running, a half ironman, and a marathon, and here are my thoughts –

    1) I used a lumbar pack for 10+ years before this pack and the limitations are that you can't carry much else than a set of keys and a gel or two. The never really sat on my hips well, so in order to keep it tight and not bounce around, I'd have to cinch it down around my waist, which ultimately caused uncomfort at the very least and GI problems at worst.

    2) I have a whole host of different size lightweight adventure racing packs that can hold from 70 – 200oz of water and much more gear. Never found a pack that didn't end up being hot, and bouncy. Bouncy also caused straps to dig in at multiple locations.

    3) Comments on the HydraQuiver – Most of my runs are under two hours, so having a 22oz water bottle is usually plenty, even in AZ. The water capacity, except for the long runs on days over 95 degrees is adequate. More and more, because of safety, Strava, access to a larger volume of music than my Shuffle holds, camera phone, Bluetooth, etc…I like to carry my iPhone with me on runs. In addition, a bar, gel, beanie, lightweight jacket are always on board, with no sensation that I'm carrying any more than when it's empty. If you carry enough stuff to require a backback, it's not going to replace that, but if you carry a water bottle, or just want to have some stuff with you, but be hands free, then it should work well.

    4) My biggest concern was the movement of the pack and rub issue. Since I mostly trail run, there is more potential for movement than on the road. The thing is damn near stationary the whole time, and without the straps cranked down either. The straps are tubular and soft, so no irritating edges to dig in. I gave one to my racing teammate and she's hooked as well. She wears a ponytail and has never had a problem to address a previous comment.

    5) Bottle replacement – After using it for one run you've already created the muscle memory on where the bottle has to go to be secure. It doesn't need to slide back in the whole way to be secure. I've never had a bottle fall out, although was paranoid about it for the first couple of runs. Actually the first time I ever used it was a half ironman. Said WTF and gave it a try. Much preferred having access to my own drink rather than what was offered on the course, and was able to access salt pills and gels in the top pockets very easily.

    Overall, it's a very well made and thought out pack that doesn't exist on the market right now. Made in the USA is pretty unique too. You'd be surprised how much you can carry and not know it's there.

  13. jenn

    Looking forward to the 2 bottle version coming out. I like bottles and hate carrying them, and I don't always want to carry a full pack. Thx for the review – I hadn't actually heard of this company before.

  14. Jigidy

    I am intrigued to say the least. I have never been totally sold with handhelds and can't stand a waist pack. $85 is a big pill to swallow but not if it fits my needs. I might hold off until the two bottle version is available. Great idea and good to see a made in the USA product.

  15. Nick J

    Life is already far too complicated, I'm gonna really try and start drinking from streams 100%. I think for me I need to radically downshift the amount of "junk" I need to take on a run. Do I need to take my smartphone? I didn't have one 2 years ago and I still managed to run. Sure, if the weather looks bad, I'll take some protective gear, a map and a compass, but really for an average 1-2 hour weekly run do I need to complicate stuff? I love the feeling of freedom I get from just slipping on a pair of shorts and shoes and heading up the hill.

    And returning on the subject of hydration we have to ask ourselves, "can we run longer with less water." After reading the excellent "Waterlogged" by Tim Noakes I'm inclined to believe that I can go 2-3 hours without keeling over from dehydration. I've managed a 5 hour run this winter on about 250 ml of water, half a bottle (I found that I had to eat real food or sweets instead of gels though.)

    Maybe if I ran in the desert my needs would be different?

    1. Jack

      Hey Nick J – I totally agree, especially the perspective about Waterlogged, which is a great book and made me realize that the urge to drink is mostly psychological, rather than physiological. AZ in the summer might be a bit different, but for most places in the country at most times of the year, its pretty accurate.

      I didn't want to get into the Waterlogged perspective for this pack, but since you brought it up – because our bodies don't absolutely require 24oz per hour, then you can easily bring just a 22oz bottle with some electrolytes in it for a 2 or 3 hour run. HOWEVER – when I'm going for a run that long, I wouldn't want to just bring a bottle. I'd want to have carrying capacity for my phone for safety, tracking and photo opportunities, be prepared for changes in temperature/weather, and some food, weather it be gels, bars, or gummy bears. If you're doing 2-5 hour loops around your neighborhood, then many of these things don't apply, but if you're out in the world where you don't have water sources, or do, but have a dislike for giardia, then super minimal isn't an option.

      I am definitely not doing long runs or any runs in any kind of adventure racing backpack ever again. The rhythmic and rubbing bounce of any of those packs drives me insane. I've done over a 100 adventure races and for half of them I could have fit my minimal requirements for the run and the bike in this little pack and I would have been far more comfortable. Even has room to clip on a tow strap on the back – haven't tried that yet.

      Anyway, thanks for the perspective on Waterlogged.

      1. Nick J

        Yeah, I guess it depends on how wild you run. For me a 2-3 hour run gets me up in the mountains but I'm never too far from civilisation. I'm pretty fat adapted so I find that for that length of time one or two gels are enough. I always check the weather forecast before I go out, but if I'm unsure I do carry some waterproofs. – I use this bag (I hope you don't mind the advert Bryon) http://www.peteblandsports.co.uk/products/pete-bl… this is pretty much standard kit for the UK sport of fellrunning which I used to do before moving to the Pyrenees. The great thing about this pack is that it has side compression straps that hold it tight around your sides but not across the tummy – no unpleasant aches there. You can't put water in it, but for carrying the essentials it's hard to beat. At the moment I use this pack with a biner on the side if I need to hang up my handheld to free up may hands for scrambling etc. You can't run like that but for scrambling it's fine.

        As far as giardia's concerned, I'm yet to get ill after drinking from mountain streams on and off for about a year. This winter I've increased my reliance on stream drinking a lot, obviously less chance of giardia in the cold. Hopefully I can slowly build up some tolerance for the summer as the whole super minimal concept is very attractive.

  16. Skydog

    Adam, please explain what you mean by "loop trick" in regards to the strap. I can't seem to find a good pic of the front view of someone wearing this and I'm wondering about the long straps that you mentioned and how they are tied out of the way. Thanks!

  17. Mike Papageorge

    I would imagine there is something to the "made in the usa" that sets the price point. My wife has a company here in Spain that makes shoes, and we looked at making packs locally, then contacted manus in China just to see what it would cost there… Lets just say it is a huuuge difference. And Spanish labor is not expensive.

  18. Curtis

    I really like my HydraQuiver. I struggled with it a bit on my first run, but once I had the straps adjusted to fit me properly, it worked great. I forget that the bottle is even there. It doesn't move, even when I'm bouncing around on a rough downhill. Yet the bottle is easy to access.

    My one complaint with it was the strap length, but I didn't realize I could loop the straps back into the shock-cord loops (I was wondering what those were for). It also slides on and off easy when I needed to access the back pouch. It really is a quality product.

    I've yet to try strapping a jacket to the outside of it with bungee cords.

  19. Wooderson

    Putting it thru the paces right now. Very well made, very comfy. NO bounce. Is a little hard getting bottle out. I am lean and fairly limber too. I think everyone is different. Dropped the Ultraspire Impulse and this will be my go to. It is so nice not having anything around my waist. Made in USA and really top notch build quality.

  20. James

    I have been running daily with the Hydraquiver for a little over 2 weeks now. I have logged about 75 miles with it and although I dont carry much in the way of Gels, Clothing, etc. I have found that this product works as advertised. No Bounce Hydration!!!! which was my entire reason for purchasing it.

  21. Josh

    I know this is a little last minute, but we're shooting a commercial this weekend and we just had the spot for the female model open up. The film crew is leaving this Thursday am, and won't be back till Sunday. We'll be shooting video of running scenes with our HydraQuiver in the mountains, desert and ocean. If interested let me know asap! We'll be leaving from So Cal.

    Thanks!

    Josh-Orange Mud

  22. Andy G

    If you look at their website, they actually make a "Double quiver" to carry two 20-24oz bottles. Combine that with a handheld and you're talking at least 60oz. And they are at opposite slight angles so directly behind your head there is nothing to hit your head on.

  23. Todd

    I'm surprised no one has asked this question yet…..do other bottles work in the holsters? I am very preferential to the Ultimate Direction bottles and would be quite interested in using them in this pack but I want to know if the holster is only sized for the provided water bottle or can the holster size be adjusted for other water bottles…like Ultimate Direction.

    PS…I've got a Scott Jurek UD vest for sale if anybody is wanting one….without bottles.

    1. Josh

      Hi Todd-The pack holds any standard water bottle that would fit in a bike cage. The ones in the pack are Specialized brand water bottles, but if it is a standard size bottle you'll be fine. Because of the position on your back the pack and water is very stable. As such we've used even undersized dasanti bottles from time to time and they even work great, even fitting loosely. We of course recommend using reusable normal bike bottles though!

  24. @eddyquik

    Just ordered the V2!
    I run with bottles only (no bladder) and have been using a 24oz handheld with an extra 24oz in the front pouch of my Salomon S-Lab pack, but the bounce drives me a little crazy.
    With the double bottles, and one in the hand, that's 3 hours of fuel & hydration (with Infinit Nutrition), plus the extra powered being stored, and I'm race/long run ready (since 7 hour training runs are par for the course these days).

    Looking forward to trying it out, and will post a review on my blog after a month of training with it.
    http://www.ultrainspired.blogspot.com

Post Your Thoughts