We were recently asked if we wanted a free RIBZ Front Pack (coordinated by Deep Creek Public Relations) in consideration for review publication. While it’s normally promoted as a product for a wide variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing and kayaking, we decided to try it out and see how well it performed for run commuting.
We ran it through two different scenarios: run commuting with the front pack/backpack together, and one with the front pack alone. The results were photographed and video-recorded on separate days.
Stored neatly in it’s own drawstring bag, the RIBZ Front Pack is made of lightweight nylon and overall construction is fairly minimal. It runs $59.99, comes in three colors, and two sizes (Regular and Small). Our review model was a Regular size in Alpine (Green).
The pack straps are thinly padded and narrow, with the ability to slide forwards and backwards freely from the middle of your shoulder blades to about the middle of your chest. The two main compartments are very roomy, with zippered pouches on the outside and mesh pockets on the inside. Both of these zip together in the middle with a large plastic zipper. The shoulder straps cinch down tightly, and a stretchable band behind the pack tightens down to fit it snug on your torso. It reminds me of my old LCE from my army days, in both form and function.
Test #1: RIBZ Front Pack with Backpack
Gearing Up: After putting on the front pack and zipping it up, I strapped my Osprey Manta 20 to my back and cinched down all the straps. The waist strap had to be secured a little bit lower that usual, so that it fit underneath the front pack which covered most of my stomach. The chest and shoulder straps fit like normal, with the front pack’s thin shoulder straps lying directly underneath the Manta’s. It felt good as a complete unit.
Running: I started out at an 8:30 pace and ran on the street, switching to sidewalk soon thereafter. Everything felt fine: I didn’t notice any spots that might chafe, my breathing wasn’t hindered, and it wasn’t uncomfortable on my torso. After about 20 minutes, I began noticing some small annoyances.
First, there was bounce. After the front pack started heating up and getting damp with sweat, the material became more broken in and flexible. The contents of one of my pouches began bouncing quite a bit. One item began hitting my side with each new step, and I could tell this would become a problem if left alone. I repacked the contents and it helped, but it didn’t eliminate bounce (see video below). A compression strap on each pouch would most likely take care of that problem.
Second, the RIBZ Front Pack’s shoulder straps drifted a lot. It wasn’t a major issue, but I had to readjust about every 5 minutes to keep them in check. I imagine hikers have this issue, too. A simple fix RIBZ could make would be adding small velcro straps to each shoulder strap; when a backpack was placed on top, they could wrap around and lock on to the straps, securing them as one unit.
The Front Pack covers a good portion of your torso, so keep that in mind if you are intending to use it during very hot summer days. I felt hotter than I normally do during my run commute in 60 degree weather. I imagine it would be pretty uncomfortable when it’s 90 with 85% humidity.
Overall, I liked it! Having access to items without taking my pack off was great; especially when I needed to get out the camera and tripod frequently. Distribution of weight was nice, too. I’m used to running with all of the weight on my back and it was refreshing to have some of that added to the front of my body. Wearing the Manta/RIBZ combination didn’t drastically alter my running form; however, as you can see in the video below, I had to run with my arms out a bit farther than normal. The change was noticeable enough to feel it in my shoulders afterwards.
Test #2: RIBZ Front Pack by Itself
It was OK. The same issues from before were only worsened with the removal of the backpack. The straps drifted backward this time, as opposed to sideways. The bouncing — well, just check out the video below.
Storage was awesome: 700 cu. in. was plenty of space for my normal run commuting supplies. The ability to easily access things was fantastic. No chafing, but my running form did change quite a bit. It worked, but I wouldn’t do it everyday.
Recommended for Run Commuting?
Not unless you combine it with a backpack. Great for hiking or biking, though.