We’ve had our eyes on the Osprey Rev since we first heard about it in 2013, and I finally broke down and bought one to try it out. Though it falls under Osprey’s cycling category on their website, it is intended for trail runners and endurance athletes whose running needs include easy access to storage space and ample hydration.
One of the things I like most about the Rev is that it has so many different quick-access pouches. I love to be able to run without carrying things in my hands, but also be able to access certain items without loosening straps and removing my pack. The Rev has two different styles of side access pouches.
On the right side (while wearing the pack) is a medium-sized pouch made of stretchy material that expands as you put something into it, and contracts back down to look like a small flap when empty. This is an open-ended pocket with no closure, but the elastic does retract to keep things from falling out. It is perfect for holding sunglasses, a camera, or packable rain jacket.
On the left side is a nearly identical pocket. The only difference is that it has a zippered opening so that nothing will fall out.
Main Compartment and Top Access Pouch
Despite looking like a small, low-capacity pack due to the Rev’s somewhat floppy, softer construction materials, the main compartment holds an exceptional amount of gear. It easily fits a set of work clothes in a garment carrier, lunch, additional clothing, and even a pair of shoes, and the single top strap holds everything in place quite well.
The top access pouch (the gray area of the main compartment in the pic below) is reserved for smaller items which need a little more protection, and that aren’t needed during the run, like a wallet, identification badge, checkbook, keys, etc.
Back and Waist Strap
The back of the pack consists of tightly-woven mesh covering 1/8” of flexible, padded, breathable material. That’s it. Unlike the Manta and Stratos with their AirSpeed back panels that separate the pack from your back, the Rev comes in direct contact with your back. While still extremely comfortable, it does heat your back up quite fast.
The waist straps have wide, padded “wings” on each side where they attach to the pack. The connecting strap is narrow, non-stretchy, and the plastic buckle is small. On the outside of each wing, and within easy reach while running, are medium-sized, zippered pouches, capable of carrying a wallet, gels, energy bars, or any combination thereof. The whole setup is quite comfortable and I never once experienced any chafing or irritation in this particular area.
The shoulder straps are made from the same material as the back of the pack; waffle-like padding covered with a durable mesh material. One of the unique aspects of their design can be seen where the straps attach at the top of the pack. Rather than just have the medium-width straps rest on your shoulders, Osprey added some additional material that makes the top of the straps nearly as wide as the pack, making the pack rest very comfortably in an area that is prone to chafe and irritation, especially when carrying heavier loads.
On the left strap is Osprey’s DigiFlip™ media pocket. It holds smartphones up to 5 ½” long and 3” wide. It fit my HTC One M7 nicely, though without its Otterbox Commuter case. The pouch flips down and your phone is touch-accessible through a clear vinyl cover and the outside of the case is made from water-resistant material, as well, so the phone is completely enclosed and weather-resistant. On the outside of the DigiFlip pocket is another stretchy, storage pouch.
The right strap has two narrow, overlapping stretchy pouches which can hold anything from a flashlight, to gels, bars, or pens and markers. Each strap has two attachment loops above the pouches for routing the hydration hose, or attaching items such as blinking lights.
Connecting both shoulder straps horizontally are two stretchy, adjustable sternum straps. Both can not only be adjusted left and right, but can also be slid up or down along the straps. The topmost chest strap has a magnet on the buckle, and is used to hold the mouthpiece of the hydration hose while in use.
The Rev comes with a 2.5L Hydraulics™ LT bladder that is designed to keep the water from annoyingly sloshing around, as well as to keep the bag flat and from balling up in the bottom of the pack.
The hose has a cool quick-release feature, which allows it to disconnect from the top of the bladder, and end of the hose contains a magnet that attaches to the upper sternum strap buckle, which keeps the bite valve close to your mouth while running.
The backpack has a designated hydration storage section within it that is zippered at the top and rides close to your back when secured. The bladder slips easily in and out and since you can disconnect the hose, it makes for quick refueling stops along the trail.
How do you carry your clothes to work? Some people roll them. Others fold them and place them carefully inside their packs. But perhaps you work in an office environment that requires you to wear business attire and your clothes need to look good and freshly-ironed at all times. What do you do then? We recently tested out a product that was made to keep your clothes looking great straight out of your backpack.
Its semi-soft shell holds its form while inside the pack and, surprisingly, the clothing items remain in place after a long run without bunching up in the bottom. It does take up a lot of space, so it might be best to leave your shoes or other large items at the office.
I tested the IAMRUNBOX while run commuting in multiple packs for over a month. My clothes looked much better than they had while using the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter. This is no doubt due to the shell on the IAMRUNBOX versus the thin, poly material of the Specter that constricts the clothing in order to hold it in place. With the IAMRUNBOX, clothing and garment carrier coexist peacefully without the crushing and smashing involved with other products and packing methods.
It’s nice to finally see a product that is made for run commuting! It may be heavier than some runners prefer, but if you want your clothes to come out looking good at work, use the IAMRUNBOX on your run commute.
* Disclosure: IAMRUNBOX provided us a free garment carrier for this review.
A pair of shoes from a Swedish company named “Icebug” wouldn’t seem to be appropriate for running in the hot, humid summers of the American South, however, I was quite surprised – they’re pretty damned good.
Though you may not have seen anyone running in Icebugs lately, the company has been around for almost 15 years. They have only had a market presence in the United States for the past few years, however, and just recently opened a unique testing center in Shale Hill, Vermont where the public can try out the shoes at their on-site obstacle course.
I tried out a pair of their Mist RB9X shoes over the past couple of months. Here’s a summary of their performance for both running and run commuting.
Icebug Mist RB9X
Icebug Mist RB9X (US Size 10)
“We were frustrated by having to choose between slipping and saying [sic] no to outdoor activities because of the risk of slipping. The company started as a result of us wanting to be able to stay active year-round.”
– On the origin of Icebug shoes
Initial Wear and Run
The shoes fit great and are true to size. I love the off-center tongue loop and the cushiony feel of the tongue and collar. It makes for a very comfortable feeling around the ankles.
They’re slightly flexible. They initially feel quite stiff and you don’t really feel any cushioning underfoot.
The tread is amazing and makes Icebug shoes stand out from the competitiors. The crazy combination of rubber knobs, raised surfaces, little rounded buttons, and corrugations seem out of place on a road shoe, so I was a bit leery at first about how the Mists would run on streets.
The upper is made of a tough, durable mesh. While you would expect a mesh upper to be breathable, the Mists seem to surpass that expectation. I had a fan on nearby when I first tried them on and you could feel the breeze pass through extremely well.The only shoe that I’ve worn with a similar breeziness were the Salomon Techamphibians, which – oddly enough – were the shoes I used for run commuting when I first started almost 7 years ago.
5 mm Drop
9.4 oz. Weight
Rubber 9 Extreme Outsole
Minimal Cushioning (though listed as Medium)
One Color Option (Shell and Sapphire)
The tread pattern is grippy on flat, smooth surfaces and very functional on rough terrain. They worked extremely well in all conditions I tested.
Extended Test Period – Road and Trail
After running over 60 miles in the shoes, I’ve found that the shoes pair best with a slightly padded sock, such as the Thorlo Experia or Trail Runner, rather than a thinner one like the Drymax Lite-Mesh sock. The stiff insole allows the foot to slide around inside a bit too much otherwise. Buying a half size smaller may solve the issue, though I prefer a looser fit in the midfoot and toe.
The shoes are solid performers in the city. You never know what kinds of conditions or terrain you will come across during a run commute, and, in my case, whatever those happened to be, the Mists handled them exceptionally well. Here are some of the surfaces and/or conditions that I encountered:
- Wet and dry concrete
- Wet and dry asphalt
- Dirt trails
- Stream crossings
- Slightly muddy trails
- Heavy-volume rainstorms
- Medium-sized stone paths (think railroad grades)
- Dusty, pollen-covered, and wet steel road plates
- Wooden footbridges
On my trail test runs, I took them through several stream crossings and was amazed at how well they both shed water and returned to their pre-submerged state. With some trail shoes, the cushioning and upper retain moisture for a long time, leaving you with wet feet and soggy, squishy, heavy steps for up to a mile-and-a-half afterwards.
These shoes would be ideal for obstacle course racing, where the terrain and surface conditions change frequently and you are constantly getting wet. Apparently, I was not the first to realize this – Icebug was just signed on as the official footwear sponsor of the 2015 Obstacle Course Racing World Championships.
- Comfortable, airy upper
- Durable construction
- Rock-solid tread for any conditions
- Drains water extremely well
- Dries quickly
- Great for road and trail
- Little cushioning
- Rubbed a little on longer runs (8+ miles)
For the run commuter, the Icebug Mists will treat you well overall. They’re a good, all-around run commuting shoe, in which one can easily switch from hopping paver stones along a sidewalk, to bombing down steep trails and plunging through streams on the detour in to your office. Best for up to mid-distance commutes (5 – 8 miles), and those accustomed to running in minimal shoes.
* Disclosure: Icebug provided us a pair of Mists for this review.
The Hoka One One Cliftons are a lot of shoe. When I first pulled one out of the box and turned it over in my hands, it almost felt like I was holding a football at the park, preparing to throw it. But, that look and feel is exactly what makes Hokas, well…Hokas.
Hoka One One emerged in 2010 and turned the tables on the minimal shoe craze that was raging strong with their head-turning “maximalist shoes,” designed to provide the foot with maximum protection against the ground underneath. Since they hit the market, runners wearing Hokas have consistently been performing very well at both trail and road races throughout the years. They’ve been doing especially well in the last two years in ultramarathons, worn by such notable racers as Sage Canaday, Karl Meltzer, Dave Mackey, Darcy Africa, and Jen Benna (who recently placed first female at the American River 50-miler whilewearing Cliftons!).
With all that in mind, Hokas seem like they would be a fantastic shoe for run commuters. We run consistently throughout the year over terrain that, while not usually woodsy trail, can be quite similarly irregular, jagged, rough, and variable. And, unlike a nice soft trail, our commutes are spent pounding bone-shaking pavement day after day, usually with an additional 8 – 10 pounds in our packs.
So, when Hoka One One sent me a pair of their latest model Cliftons to try out, I was pumped. Here’s how they performed for run commuting.
Hoka One One Clifton
The Hoka One One Cliftons (US Size 10)
Initial Wear and Walk
Since the drop in these shoes (5 mm) was a bit more than what I normally run in, I wanted to start off by wearing the Cliftons for a short one-mile walk.
The shoes fit snugly and were slightly tighter in the midfoot region, with more ample space in the toe box. The first few steps were surprising; it was like walking across couch cushions on my living room floor – springy, bouncy, comfortable.
The midfoot region pushed up into my arch at first, but relaxed after about a half mile.
The tread pattern is grippy on flat surfaces and very functional on rough terrain
5 mm Drop
7.7 oz. Weight
24 – 29 mm Sole
Six Color Options
The Clifton’s thick sole provides impressive protection and comfort
Things I Noticed on my Run Commute
- When running, the shoes felt like they caught my foot as I landed, rocked it forward, and then pushed me off again. I’m not used to having such full foot movement, and it was cool to feel.
- Hills were the Clifton’s strong game. I felt like I had a distinct advantage, both in comfort and leverage, while running up and down hills. The Meta-Rocker geometry they tout actually works very well.
- I felt almost nothing underfoot. It took a while to get used to, but the sole thickness provides a ridiculous amount of protection, allowing me to run over large broken rock, pushed-up sidewalk, and a litany of other rough surfaces without discomfort.
- Great for running up and down hills
- I felt nothing underfoot, even while running over large broken rock
- Extremely comfortable
- Excellent tongue material
- Excellent overall construction
- Minimized surface impact
- May require an adjustment period if you were previously using a higher drop shoe
Overall, a great shoe with a unique design that feels like it gives the runner an advantage. A bit bulky at first, and may require a gradual build-up period, but it is worth it. The Cliftons are great on long runs and should have a long use-life (500+ miles?). Perfect for those looking for more foot protection in a shoe. Ideal for run commuters who regularly carry heavy loads.
* Disclosure: Hoka provided us a pair of Cliftons for this review.
Keen to try minimalist running? Interested in the latest biomechanical theories about how our bodies run? Want to get a sense of the range of contemporary running shoes that are out there and popular, but don’t want to blow the budget on a possible dud? Well, here’s how you can try out contemporary shoe ‘ideas’ without breaking the bank: it’s the eleventh hour for the old range of Altra shoes, with their 2013/2014 updates well and truly in the shops. But you may see the old range selling at bargain-basement prices at your local running store, and if you do, here’s a review that tells you why you should give them a try.
One of the best shoes for run commuters is the Altra Torin. Why? Because it combines ‘zero drop’ with major cushioning to protect your bones from the repetitive jarring of running on concrete and asphalt.
Many minimalist and barefoot shoes from the early years of the movement had very little rubber between your tootsies and the ground. This is not such a big deal if you always run on grass (though even then, the too-sudden substitution of conventional running shoes to FiveFingers etc. caused injuries in thousands of runners and the subsequent infamous lawsuit.) But when you’re running on pavements and roads all the time, ‘natural’ running can be a painful experience. Hence, the ‘second generation’ of ‘barefoot’ shoes, which some wag dubbed “maximalist shoes” – lots of cushioning, but not necessarily huge ‘heels’.
23 mm Sole
Uppers Keep Out Water
Altra Superior 1.5
These are the perfect shoe for run commuters who traverse sections of grass, trail, dirt track or road, rocks, fields, paddocks etc. as well as pavement and concrete on their way to work. The grip is definitely trail grip. It’s not going to stick you to the side of wet grass hills as you bomb down them at top speed, and you might experience the occasional slippage on wet rock. But I’ve worn these a lot on highly technical, steep and (dry) rocky single-track, and their grip performs really well. More than adequate for city parks on the way to work. They have the added benefit, unlike other trail shoes, of feeling like ‘normal’ road running shoes when you’re wearing them to run on road.
Like the Torins, the Superiors feature Altra’s wide toe box, zero drop, and enough cushioning to protect your tender footsies.
18 mm Sole
Extremely Wide Toebox
Quickly Wear Out
Altra Lone Peak 1.5
For run commuters who also run trails or those who are curious about beginning trail running, try the Altra Lone Peak 1.5s while they’re on sale.
If you don’t want to shell out the big bucks for the Lone Peak 2.0s, the 1.5s will give you a (cheap) sense of what it’s like to run in trail shoes capable of handling heavy-duty terrain.
22 mm Sole
Great Water Resistance
Run or hike with a pack long enough and you may begin to notice tiny annoyances about your gear transporter that are enough to drive you crazy.
For example, your zippers may make jingling, tinkling noises with each step. The quiet, sloshing water in your bottle or hydration pack might start to sound like you’re camped next to a gushing waterfall. You may even get noticeably angry at your straps that keep swinging into your arms as you move.
Some backpacks come with pre-built solutions for all these issues, but many do not. What can you do to keep yourself sane while out on the run? We’re here with answers!
In our first Pack Hacks instructional post, we’re going to show you how to deal with excess backpack straps.
Here’s How to Do It
All of us down here at The Run Commuter’s Atlanta, GA headquarters decided it was time to get some new packs to test out, so over the next few months, we’ll have some in-depth insight and detailed field test results from a handful of running backpacks. First up, the Deuter Futura 22.
Running on ice can be treacherous, and sometimes even dangerous. For many years, I have been carrying a set of Yaktrax for those days where the paths were just too icy to run comfortably. However, I never felt I had stable and solid footing while running with these on, and most of the time, I ended up running much slower than desired. Running intervals with these on was simply just out of the question.
Since running on icy and snowy surfaces north of the 49th parallel is frequent, I started looking for other options. Among them are the IceSpikes. Unfortunately, I was never able to test them since they are, at least in my area, only available through online purchase.
Last Spring, as I was resigned to keep doing my best with my Yaktrax for many more years, I stumbled on a very good deal for a pair of Salomon Snowcross CS. I had known about these shoes for over two years, but their price tag ($200) was, at least back then, just too high for the family budget. This time though (under 100$), I did not hesitate.
These shoes stayed in my closet until this past November, where Ottawa started having some relatively inclement weather, which left us with quite a bit of snow, lots of ice and some cold temperature, but still not enough to get the cross country skis out, for about a month.
Not expecting much, I took the Snowcross out for many spins over that month… and I don’t think I will be able to live without them ever again.
On the ice, the nine carbide spikes on each shoes offered unprecedented grip, to a point where my brain actually had problems adjusting to it (“lots of ice. Should be slippery. Very slippery, but… not slippery. Not at all… can’t compute.”) Honestly, it took me about four or five runs over a week to understand that these would keep me going on the ice as fast as if I was on clear roads.
In the snow, the aggressive cleat pattern also got me going pretty fast. The integrated gate design, borrowed from the cross country ski world, also kept the snow out while keeping me warm and cozy.
Frankly, I am now in love with these shoes. If you have to run on icy and snowy roads on your way to work, they offer amazing grip while keeping you warm.
Since I have to keep a minimum of critical sense, the low points of these shoes are:
- the integrated gate is water resistant, but not waterproof. It will keep you dry through snow, but not through puddle of slushy water.
- the white lines are not reflective. For shoes of that price, this would be expected.
Last, but not least; with the carbide spikes*, make sure you do not walk on wooden floors.
*The Salomon Snowcross CS share their soles with carbide spikes with the Salomon Spikecross. The latest are basically the same shoes as the Snowcross, but without the integrated gate. Therefore, a clever alternative to the Snowcross would be a pair of Spikecross combined with a set of short gators. The company Inov-8 also has two models with integrated carbide spikes (Oroc 280 and Oroc 340), which could also be used in conjunction with a short set of gators for similar results.