Orange Mud HydraQuiver Double Barrel Review

In March of 2013, iRunFar’s Adam Barnhart reviewed the single-bottle HydraQuiver from Orange Mud. Since then, the California-based company has continued to solicit opinions and suggestions from users, it has continued to offer a lifetime warranty on each product, and it states very simply that if you buy the pack and don’t like it after you’ve used it for awhile you can send it back. In response to the needs and wants of the Orange Mud community that fell in love with the HydraQuiver’s unique design, they have since released the HydraQuiver Double Barrel (two-bottle carrier) and the HydraQuiver Vest Pack 2. The OM Lab section on the website spells out the new products that are to be released in the next year. Suffice it to say, aficionados of Orange Mud have a lot to look forward to. I received the Orange Mud HydraQuiver Double Barrel ($109.95) to test and will highlight the features below.

Orange Mud HydraQuiver Double Barrel 2

The Orange Mud HydraQuiver Double Barrel.

Facts and Features

  • Orange Mud HydraQuiver Double Barrel 3

    Shoulder pockets on the Orange Mud HydraQuiver Double Barrel.

    The main difference between the Double Barrel and the single HydraQuiver is just that—it holds two 24-ounce water bottles. They are still the very high quality Specialized bottles that just don’t leak or break down if you ‘happen’ to throw them in the dishwasher more than occasionally.

  • With the position of the two bottles sitting solidly on the pack and slightly at outward angles between the user’s shoulder blades, there’s now a spot between the bottles with a bungee for stowing a jacket or other layers. It held my six-ounce waterproof, hooded jacket well plus a thin wool hat and gloves.
  • A large zipper across the upper portion of the pack which is theoretically accessible on the run (especially if you have more mobile shoulders than mine) gives you access to two pockets. The upper pocket has a key hook on a tether and room for a phone, a wallet, two or three energy bars, or three energy-block packs. The larger pocket layered in parallel has a central Velcro closure and provides more room for three to four energy-powder packages, thin clothing layers, or anything else without significantly rough edges. (My headlamp was irritating to my back when placed here.) Neither of these pockets is waterproof.
  • The shoulder pockets are still made with very soft, stretchy knit and a neoprene closure and can indeed store eight to 10 gels. The pocket opens forward and sits directly on top of the shoulder. When stocked completely full, an extra gel or two tended to slip out when I opened the pocket. It’s noted that you could fit a phone up here, but my bony acromion wasn’t a fan of that. These pockets are in no way water resistant, so a plastic bag would be essential to protect the phone.
  • The Double Barrel retains the padded arm sleeves, absence of a sternum strap, very long straps that can be hooked into two elastic loops beneath the front pockets to eliminate flopping, one-inch thick padding on the back with an air channel down the center, reflective hits on the bottle holders, and the reflective logo on the back.
  • At only 498 grams, this pack provides a significant amount of storage and 48 ounces of fluids.
  • The colors available are grey, black, orange, and pink.

Opinions

Orange Mud HydraQuiver Double Barrel 1

The Orange Mud HydraQuiver Double Barrel in profile, showing the contact it makes with the reviewer’s shoulder.

With the unique position between the shoulder blades and ride of this pack, I think you either love it or you don’t. I think it’s a brilliant and innovative design, and I’m impressed with the responsiveness of the company to consumer ideas and suggestions. I’ve also seen it inventively integrated into a ‘build-your-own’ pack for longer ultras by an ingenious local runner or two. Unfortunately, the pack doesn’t work for me. I tested it on trail runs, one road run, and two hikes on varying terrain and in temperatures between 40 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The hike was the only time where I didn’t get significant right shoulder (acromion vicinity) chafing to the point of skin irritation that left a mark. To be fair, there is nothing abrasive on the pack material that contacts the skin. I don’t have a completely neutral upper-body carriage when I run, and I was simply unable to tighten or load the pack in such a way that it didn’t chafe with running after 30 minutes. Colder-weather runs weren’t as irritating (60 minutes before I noticed discomfort) as I had two layers on, but with a short sleeved or tank top, the chafing began within 30 minutes. By 75 minutes (tank top) and 90 minutes (short sleeves), I had to remove the pack. Hiking or walking was fine, but it’s rare that I do that and need 48 ounces of water and lots of fuel and gear storage. One thing I tried was to use the extra-long straps to form a makeshift sternum strap to finish out the two most irritating runs. This did help somewhat, but I think ultimately, it’s just not a good fit for me.

Common Questions

  • Some readers of Adam’s review were curious if a ponytail would get caught in the water bottles. I never had any issues with that whether my ponytail was long or short, high or low, nor did I find any hair in the bottle mouthpieces after running.
  • Another common question was whether the bottles pop out on the run. Not at all. They are secure. I did have one tip out when I was doing a quick shoe adjustment with less than fabulous body mechanics (bending over at the waist). Thankfully, I didn’t take any face-plant falls while wearing it, so I can’t address whether or not the bottles shoot out with high-speed stops in the horizontal plane.
  • A third question I’ve seen: can you really get the bottles in/out without stopping? Yes, but the angle takes some getting used to if you’re lacking some arm mobility. I only missed once when returning a bottle to the holster.
  • Lastly, how does it fit with a woman’s shape? Admittedly, I’m not the best person to ask, but without having a sternum or chest strap, it seems that it could be ideal as long as you like the fit/ride of the pack itself. This probably falls into that ‘experiment of one’ realm, but try one out to be sure. The new Vest Pack 2 does have a strap which seems to be located high enough that I think would accommodate any chest size but might be interesting when it comes to deep breathing on steep inclines.

I know there are quite a few people out there that love the single HydraQuiver and the Double Barrel. I’d love it if you can add your experiences with the product below. With the new Vest Pack 2 and some other variations coming out in the next year, I think Orange Mud will continue to draw more people into their community of satisfied users who simply prefer the unique position and ride of their packs.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Have you tried the Orange Mud HydraQuiver Double Barrel? If so, what are the positives and negatives about the pack that you have experienced?
  • Have you experienced shoulder chafing like Kristin describes in her review above?
Kristin Zosel

is a mom, wife, ultrarunner, physical therapist (on sabbatical), and transcriptionist for iRunFar.com. Her love of steep uphills, high mountain environments, and Swiss “lovely cows” keep alpine visions dancing in her head and strong cappuccinos in her mug.

There are 15 comments

  1. @bpmortis

    I have not tried the double barrel, but I do have the hydraquiver (single bottle) and I love it. I was concerned about the chafing when I tried it on, but wore it for a 100 mile ultra and several other long runs (including hot and humid runs in Florida) and have not had any chafing issues that were different than wearing a shirt (I used anti-chafing gels around the arm bands). I have considered the double barrel, and I think one nice feature about it (over a bladder for instance) would be the ability to have water and a electrolyte drink.

  2. measinb

    Maybe you could swap it for the Vest model and do a comparative review. I'd guess that the vest style would have a better chance of working for you since it have both a sternum strap and more total surface area to distribute the load across your shoulders and chest. Thank you for the thorough reviews.

  3. David_Co

    I have had the double barrel for almost a year. My runs are mostly in hot, muggy conditions, but I have run with it through the winter including cool, wet conditions. I have worn it with short sleeves, no sleeves, and (egads!) no shirt. I have never had any chafing issues. I am 49 and expect I am average mobility – I have no problems reaching bottles or the zipper pocket.

    Things I really like about it.

    – It helps me keep my arms back and relaxed.
    – It allows me sufficient water for long runs in hot, hot Austin, Texas.
    – I put my iPhone in the zipper pocket and the speaker placement is perfect – back of the head between my ears – for those long runs where I like to lose myself in songs or podcasts. No headphones necessary and i can keep the volume low.
    – No bouncing nor I have noticed any excessive water noise from partially filled bottles.

    As a result of hot conditions and a heavy sweater – I do have to wash it occasionally or the smell can become noticeable.

    Regards,

    David

  4. @Sometimes_I_Run

    Add me to the list of HydraQuiver fans. I own both the single and double barrel models, and love them both for the following reasons:

    – There's no compression strap across the chest. I feel a little more open and tall when I run because the shoulder straps pull the arms back a tiny bit (not a forceful pull – more like a reminder to run upright). Other packs feel like they're pulling my shoulders forward and down, and I have to work to avoid a hunched over posture.

    – There's nothing around my waist. On longer runs my stomach can sometimes get a little squirrely, and I'm convinced that any kind of strap or belt around my lower torso/hips just makes that worse.

    – As @bpmortis writes above, the double bottle version allows someone to carry two different liquids. That's good not just for taste/variety, but also for function. I can use one bottle for my drink, and the second for water that I douse myself with in order to help stay cool.

    – I can quickly rinse out and clean my bottles during a long race, rather than constantly topping off a bladder with a non-water drink and having to deal with that funky ferment-y taste that warm drinks sometimes get.

    I'm surprised I don't see more people wearing these packs on my local trails and at the races.

  5. MOGBlogger

    I've got a paralyzed right hand, which makes me wonder if the right-side bottle could be reached and re-holstered while running. Can one of you who own the doublebarrel HydraQuiver please try accessing the right bottle with your left hand and let me know if it works? thanks!

    1. kjz

      I personally would not be able to (just tried), but I am not the most flexible person in the world. You might like one of the Ultraspire packs that have the 1 or 2 bottles stored on the back (revolution, kinetic, ribos) but lower so you can access by reaching across your mid-section rather than over the top of your neck. The other solution is one of the Ultimate Direction (or other brand) packs with the two water bottles in the front = way better body mechanics if you're only using one arm/hand to access bottles. If you have "swimmer" flexibilty with 180+ degrees of shoulder/scapular motion, you might be fine with the Double Barrel.

  6. David_Co

    MOGBlogger –

    I will be glad to run this test and get back to you. I believe have reached for the same side bottle and the opposite side bottle during runs – either intentionally or not….

    Having said that – the OrangeMud Customer Service is personable and highly responsive. I put them in the Tailwind category of customer service – if you have had any experience with them. I think they work with you to find the product that works for you.

    David

  7. UltraSlow

    One thing that will help a lot of people who have chafing issues or fit issues is to be mindful of how tight you cinch the straps. This can make a HUGE difference in fit and feel. When I really snugged up the straps, I definitely had rubbing issues. When Scott from Canfields (Local sporting goods store in Omaha, NE and all around good guy) told me to loosen it up, all my issues went away. Side note – I wear sleeved shirts all the time. My pack will actually droop down a bit in the back it's that loose.

    On the same note, if you are having issues with the Vest Pack (which I also have), the key for me isn't TIGHTENING the chest strap super tight, its keeping it rather loose. This lets the shoulder straps sit wider on your shoulders instead of being pulled way in. For me, the inside edge of the wide straps sit about as far out as my nipples.

    Hopefully that can help someone get a good fit. I always thought things needed tightening when they actually needed loosening up.

  8. David_Co

    MOGBlogger –

    I was able to reach both my same side bottle and opposite side bottle with little difficulty. I am a 49 year old male back of the packer with a torn labrum in my right shoulder.

    If you can reach over your shoulder and reach close to both of your scapula (right and left) with the same hand, then I doubt you will have any problems with reaching both bottles with the same hand.

    Regards,

    David

  9. jcwilsona123

    I use the vest pack and my wife uses a single barrel. I switched to the VP2 from the double barrel for the added pockets on the front and the chest strap. In fact, I was tying a piece of cord between the straps to get a better fit.

    I love having water and an electrolyte drink and all the added storage of the VP2. I have room for gels and bars up front, band aids and other packets on the shoulder pockets and the lashing between the bottles holds a jacket and hat or even a third bottle.

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