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 ($110) to test and will highlight the features below.
Facts and Features
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.
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.
- 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?