Review: Osprey Rev 24

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.

Test Model

Osprey Rev 24

Size: Small/Medium

Carrying Capacity: 22L, 1,343 cu. in.

Cost: US $130

Add-on: Hi-Vis Rain Cover (X-Small)

Performance and Evaluation

I  ran over 100 miles with the Osprey Rev 24, carrying my clothing in the IAMRUNBOX garment carrier or the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter, lunch, rain jacket, hat, and an occasional book. The average weight for the entire setup was 7.0 pounds.

On the run, it felt great! The Rev’s fit is snug and secure against the torso when properly adjusted. I was a little concerned that the thin shoulder straps might rub, but aside from a little discomfort against my clavicle once or twice (which stopped after I readjusted the straps), it was comfortable, light, and chafe-free. The shoulder straps run close to the sternum, and then veer off towards the hips at the bottom. This provided my arms with a lot more freedom of movement than I’ve found in other packs.

Another initial worry I had was that there are no external compression straps on the sides. There is, however, a cinch strap/buckle at the top of the pack, and it pulls together the zippered areas at the top of the pack. It did not appear that it would do much for bounce though. The pack itself is made of thin material, making it floppy, and I thought the lack of compression straps would have made it overly bouncy while running. Surprisingly, it runs extremely well with very little bounce. I think that having a garment carrier inside helped the pack hold its shape and minimize up and down bouncing, and the waist/sternum straps eliminate any potential side-to-side movement.

When it comes to having items and storage at the ready, the Rev dominates its field of competitors. I loved having quick, on-the-run access to a hat, wallet, gels/bars, rain jacket, camera, and headlamp. In addition, the flip-down phone holster on the shoulder strap was great for checking emails/texts while waiting at long traffic signals. On one or two occasions, though, I found that the clear vinyl inside of the pocket fogs up, most likely due to the sweat emanating from my torso.

I don’t run with a hydration system unless I’m going long (10 miles+) so I only tried it out for one commute. I like the entire setup of the system, and found it runs extremely well. The quick-disconnect hose allows the bladder to go in and out of the pack with ease, and is ideal for trail races when you want to spend as little time as possible at aid stations. Though it is designed to reduce movement and noise, I still found I needed to burp the bladder before running to reduce sloshing

One thing missing from the Rev is a rain cover. I run commute year-round in whatever weather is occurring when I step out the door, so a rain cover is a necessity (and additional purchase). Osprey’s Hi-Vis Rain Cover in X-Small fits the Rev 24 perfectly. It has reflective markings, a light attachment, and it performs as advertised in wet weather.

What I Liked

Shoulder strap media pouch

Multiple run-accessible storage areas

Very lightweight

Advanced hydration system

No pouches on waist strap

Double sternum straps

Strap placement allows arms to move freely

What I Didn’t Like

Back heats up quickly

No rain cover

No pouches on waist strap

Heavy items in side pouches tend to bounce around

Backpack Details

Front

The front of the pack contains no pouches or light attachment points, however it does have an elastic band tie-down system that can hold many items of different sizes and shapes. It is ideal for holding a damp jacket or a pair of shoes. At the top of the pack is a triangular, black flap with a buckle and cinch strap that sort of pulls together everything at the top of the pack (zippers, pouches, and hydration pocket).

Sides

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 1/8of 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.

Suspension

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.

Hydration System

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. 

Additional Pictures

Running with a Laptop: Should you do it? Yes and No…(but mostly no.)

All computers eventually fail.  Ones that move a lot, fail a lot faster.  Backup your data.

– IT department email to a run commuter

Should you run with a laptop? Or, like the IT specialist’s email from above hints at, should you avoid it all costs? Buckle up, run commuters – it’s about to get a little bit wordy… and a little bit nerdy.

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Do you really need to run with a laptop?

We recommend that you do not run with a laptop. Yes, we know some of you do it, and I myself have run with one (well, a tablet/keyboard combo) several times, but the components are just not made for being bounced around regularly. Occasionally, perhaps, but not regularly.

In this rapidly-advancing digital age we live in there are many ways you can work without transporting a laptop back and forth to work every day – emailing documents, using remote/virtual desktop solutions, cloud-based applications, or simply transporting electronic docs and data by flash drive to work on at your home computer. However, we’ll just go ahead and assume that it is not possible or reasonable to use any of these options. You absolutely must transport a laptop to and/from work or school and you want to ensure that your computer is protected and your data is safe. So, I’m going to tell you what the ideal setup is, but again…not recommended.

Scroll down to the TL;DR if you don’t want to hear a bunch of computer/tech talk.

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The Old Standard: Hard Disk Drives (HDD)

Inside most laptops and desktop computers, you’ll find one of these. They store all the data of your computer and spin nearly nonstop all the while you are computing. When your laptop HDD is powered off, it is normally parked, or stopped in a position least likely to cause damage if bounced/moved/dropped or the head crashes.

After a very unsuccessful series of emails to the top four hard drive manufacturers’ (Seagate, Western Digital, Hitachi/HGST, and Toshiba) Departments of Shaking and Dropping to get more details, I ventured out on my own to find out what I could.

For run commuters who carry HDD laptops, the main factors that can lead to hard drive failure are vibration and mechanical shock. Too much of either of those can result in head crash or separation of solder points that hold the components of the HDD together, either within it’s own housing or within the laptop case.

Standard laptops are run through various tests to see how well the disc drives perform under regular and abnormal conditions.  Here is Toshiba’s laptop vibration test:


 

This is a fairly normal test in the industry and roughly emulates the slight-to-moderate bounce of a secured laptop within a backpack while running. Unfortunately, I could not find at what point a laptop will fail – only users or IT professionals saying not to bounce it if you can help it because there are many, many HDD laptops that just can’t hack the continuous beating.

A better HDD laptop, would be a specially-designed, super-rugged laptop, made for extreme conditions, high levels of shock, and harsh environments, such as those encountered during military field operations. These do exist, unfortunately, there are two major drawbacks: price and weight.

CF-29

A very basic heavy-duty, military-spec laptop such as the Panasonic Toughbook CF-29 (shown above) from ToughRuggedLaptops.com is $299 USD (that’s the refurbished price without upgrades) and weighs in at a hefty 8.5 pounds /3.9 kg. Add a few basic upgrades, though, and the price jumps to nearly $550 USD. Models with more features, better processors, and better components, not only cost more, but weigh more as well (the Getac X500 weighs in around 12 pounds/5.4 kg).

So let’s just forget about standard HDD laptops for run commuting. They are too susceptible to vibration and break too easily. And forget rugged laptops, too. Even if you can afford one, they are too heavy to run with. So, what’s left?

The New Edition: Solid-State Drives (SSD)

Unlike Hard Disk Drives, Solid-State Drives have no moving parts – no spinning discs; no heads that can crash or need to be parked – and use flash-based memory. They have many more advantages as well, including speed (both when starting up and accessing data), weight, energy-use, and operating temperature. Though they have been around since the 1970’s, SSDs have only become commercially available (and affordable) over the past few years. 

The reliability testing for SSDs is similar to that of HDDs, but to see how they stack up against one another, you should really check out the first dozen pages of this Super Talent Technology Environmental Testing Report (you can just look at the graphs). SSD is definitely the way to go!

Some rugged laptops are now being made with SSDs, but again, they are still pricey and too heavy for run commuting. The Panasonic Toughbook CF-30 starts at $570, and weighs 8 pounds.

You have several options for SSD computer. These include:

Chromebook – non-Windows operating system, uses web-based applications.

Ultrabooks – Windows-based operating systems, super lightweight, and thin.

Tablets – Android or Windows-based operating system, optional keyboard, extremely light, limited connection with peripherals, keyboard sold separately.

Macbooks –  Lightweight, expensive.

If you have to run with a laptop, make sure it has an SSD or other flash-based setup and you should be good to go. Or, so we’ve heard…

Running Backpacks for Carrying Laptops

An ideal running backpack for transporting a laptop back and forth from work should have two key features;  A laptop sleeve, and external compression straps.

Laptop SleeveOne of the categories we included in our Running Backpack Roundup indicates whether or not a laptop sleeve is present in a pack. A laptop sleeve is a designated pouch within the backpack (usually closest to your back) that can be padded or unpadded, and normally has a fastening mechanism on top (such as velcro or a buckle) to keep it closed and keep the laptop from slipping out if turned over. Even if you don’t run with a laptop, a laptop sleeve is a great place to hold documents or folders and keeps them from becoming crumpled or bent.

External compression straps on the Osprey Manta 20

External compression straps on the Osprey Manta 20

 External compression straps should be on any pack you use for run commuting, whether you carry a laptop or not. These straps can be found in one or more locations on the outside of the pack, and allow you to cinch down and eliminate any remaining empty space within the pack. Your pack might be tight as can be against your body, which is great, but if there is space within your pack that is empty, the contents will bounce around. By eliminating that space by tightening your pack’s external compressions straps, the contents of your pack (inluding your laptop or tablet) will be unable to bounce around while you run.

So, which make and model should you get? We can’t recommend one specifically, however, we recently asked our readers who run commute with laptops what they used. Take a look below and you might find a pack (or computing solution) that works for you.

TRC Reader’s Running Rigs

 Osprey Spin 22 and HP Pavilion

Gary uses an Osprey Spin 22 to carry his HP Pavilion DM4 laptop.

Osprey Raptor 14 and MS Surface

Randal uses an Osprey Raptor 14 to carry his Microsoft Surface tablet.

Manta and Asus T100

I use an Osprey Manta 20 to carry my ASUS Transformer tablet.

Another reader, Jeanne, commented that she uses a standard backpack, packing clothes around her laptop to keep it protected, and holding everything together using a race belt. There are plenty of DIY tricks like this that you could come up with yourself to make what you have now work for run commuting with a laptop.  

TL;DR: We don’t recommend running with a laptop. We don’t want you to lose your data! Find ways around it, like using your home computer, cloud-based services, email, web meetings, etc. However, if you must run with one… Hard drives (HDD) bad, Solid-State drives (SSD) good. Get a backpack with a laptop sleeve and external compressions straps, pack it tight, cinch it down, and off you go (as infrequently as possible)!

By | 2016-10-22T20:26:41+00:00 March 31st, 2014|Categories: Gear, General|Tags: , , , , , |5 Comments

The New Run Commuters – March 2014

This month on The New Run Commuters, we hear from Becky from Portland, Oregon, and Anna, hailing form Washington D.C. Both work in professional office environments and make run commuting a part of their day – even while living a considerable distance from the office! Becky combines driving and run commuting; Anna, running and pubic transit. 

Read up on how run commuting has helped these runners train for long-distance and ultra races, watch for a great tip on transporting food, and if you are interested in women-specific running gear, you won’t want to miss Becky’s gear list!

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Runner Basics

  • Name: Becky Leung
    run commuter, run commuting, running to work, alternative commute, Becky Leung, Portland runner

    New Run Commuter Becky Leung

  • Age: 30
  • City/State: Portland, Oregon
  • Profession/Employer: Public Relations at The New Group
  • Number of years running: 7
  • # of races you participate in a year: In the last couple years, I’ve been running 12-15 races a year!
  • Do you prefer road or trail (and a little about why)? I really enjoy both, but I fell in love with trail running after consistently training on Forest Park trails last summer. For years, I was strictly road running and tried to beat my PR in every road race distance. I loved getting faster on the pavement but wanted a change of scenery.

Outside of my obsession with running, I started getting into hiking and even experimented with some entry level mountain biking, but realized I could run those same trails! One day, I decided “that’s it, I WANT to be a trail runner.” I started running in Forest Park a few days a week and now I’m currently training for my first ultramarathon, the Gorge Waterfalls 50k!

Run Commuting Gear

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

I live in the suburbs outside of Portland which unfortunately happens to be pretty far away from my work. As I was beginning to ramp up on my 50k training in late January (of this year), I realized I didn’t have the energy to: get all my scheduled runs in, drive to work and sit in traffic for nearly 2 hours a day, work a full day, and cook and clean…among all the other important things I have to do each day.

As I drove to work one day, sitting in traffic for over an hour, I saw that there were plenty of safe, runnable sidewalks all along the way to work. I mapped out my route via Google Maps and found that if I drove 11 miles close to work and park 3.5 miles away, I could run 7 miles round-trip on each run commute day. Because the route I usually go to has traffic due to ongoing construction, I drive another longer route to avoid congestion which is an additional 14 miles each day. After doing some math, I realized if I run commute 5 days a week, I could save 100 miles each week on gas! And on top of that, I could get my runs in for my ultra and marathon distance training.

run commuter, run commuting, running to work, alternative commute, Becky Leung, Portland runner

Wearing the Osprey Sirrus 24

I would love to run 5 days a week, but sticking to 2-3 days a week as I nail down a consistent routine and schedule.

How far is your commute?

Each run commute is 6.6-7 miles round-trip, depending on where I park my car. I love being able to pick my distance by parking closer or further away from work.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I have been sticking to a solid routine in which I bring my lunch every day to work. I usually drive in on Monday and bring in all my breakfasts, lunches, and snacks to work. That way, I know I won’t have to worry about packing food in my backpack and accidentally spilling them all over my clothes. By Friday, all my food will have been consumed and I can pack up all my containers in my car to bring them back home.

What do you like most about run commuting?

What I love the most about run commuting is how great I feel when I come into work and when I’m coming back home. I NEVER regret a run even if I felt crappy during the run.

I also feel happy knowing I’m creating a better environment by reducing my car commutes with running. Other reasons why I love run commuting are because I can fit in a run for my ultra marathon training, stay fit, and compete with my Fitbit friends (another great motivator :)).

Do you know of anyone else in your area that runs to work?

I heard that Portland is one of the top bike commuter cities in the nation, but I only know of a few run commuters personally. I definitely see a lot of runners around the city, but not sure if they’re running to work. I want to help change that and hopefully motivate other Portlanders run to work!

run commuter, run commuting, running to work, alternative commute, Becky Leung, Portland runner

A scene from Becky’s run commute

When not run commuting, how do you get to work?

Driving my car the entire way to work since I live far away in the suburbs.

If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who was considering run commuting, what would it be?

Don’t overthink it, just try it out. That includes not overthinking the logistics and not thinking about what co-workers might think of you (if you’re worried about how you look after a run). Just map out your route, throw some clothes in a backpack, and run. Then through trial and error, figure out a run commute routine that works best for you! Theruncommuter.com is a GREAT resource for any questions you may have.

Anything more about yourself that would like to include?

I have been running for the Oiselle team for the last two years.. We have several ladies on the team from all over the country who run commute including another TRC contributor, Stephanie Devlin! They’re my inspiration and have been cheering for me in this run commute journey. I also plan to start a website around run commuting in Portland, Oregon specifically so I can inspire locals to run commute in real time!

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Runner Basics

  • Name: Anna Coffey
    run commuter, run commuting, running to work, alternative commute, Anna Coffey, DC runner, Washington DC runner

    New Run Commuter Anna Coffey

  • Age: 28
  • City/State: Washington, DC
  • Profession/Employer: Georgetown University Lombardi Cancer Center– Histopathology and Tissue Shared Resource Lab
  • Number of years running: 4
  • # of races you participate in a year: 3-4
  • Do you prefer road or trail? I prefer trail, but mostly end up on road because it’s the most prevalent thing around these parts.

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: REI Flash 18 Pack
  • Shoes: Brooks PureFlow 3
  • Clothing: Tights, base layer long-sleeved tee and sweatshirt, beanie, gloves
  • Outerwear: Lightweight jacket (when it’s < 20)
  • Headgear: None
  • Lights: None
  • Hydration: None for this winter, but I may add a Camelbak bladder to my pack for the sweltering DC summer.

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

After I finished training for the Marine Corps Marathon in October, I wanted to find a way to get back to a regular running routine. At the same time, I was frustrated with the nearly 3 hours a day I spent commuting on the Metro and Georgetown shuttle bus system. When I considered how much time the run commute would save, it was a no-brainer.

How often do you run commute?

Right now I run commute about 3 days a week, but I’m hoping to ramp up to all 5 days soon.

How far is your commute?

It’s a little over 3 miles each way, 6 miles total. I enjoy the option of being able to easily lengthen the runs if the weather is particularly nice or I just feel like swinging by the White House, Washington Monument, and Lincoln Memorial some mornings. One great thing about DC is that things really are not too far apart. It’s easy to get off at one Metro stop and run pretty much anywhere you want to go.

run commuter, run commuting, running to work, alternative commute, Anna Coffey, DC runner, Washington DC runner

Early morning view of the Washington Monument

I usually pack my breakfast and lunch. The easiest things to carry are sandwiches or wraps with carrot sticks or another veggie for lunch and oatmeal with possibly a boiled egg or 2 for breakfast. I’ve had a bad experience with a container of soup leaking all over my clothes, so now if I take soup, I make sure to freeze it before throwing it in my pack. It’s definitely heavier, but some soup is just worth it. Salad also makes for an easy lunch.

What do you like most about run commuting?

I absolutely love that it saves me at least an hour a day. Who doesn’t want more time every day? Even though my commute is still about the same amount of time, it combines my commute and running time, killing 2 birds with one stone. My old commute involved driving to the Metro station, taking 1 Metro line, transferring to another line, and then getting on a shuttle bus to get to Georgetown and then I would go to the gym. It was awful – crowded trains, hectic transfers, and lots of standing around and waiting for one form of transportation or another. The new commute allows me to avoid the crowds, transfers, and standing around.

Another thing that I’ve always enjoyed about morning runs in DC is that you get to experience the city when it’s still waking up. It’s quiet, traffic hasn’t gotten too bad at this point, tourists aren’t yet crowding the sidewalks, and you’ve got the best views basically all to yourself. We moved from DC to Maryland about a year ago and I thought I wouldn’t be able to enjoy these morning runs in the city anymore, until I started run commuting.

Do you know of anyone else in your area that runs to work?

run commuter, run commuting, running to work, alternative commute, Anna Coffey, DC runner, Washington DC runner

Anna’s clothes drying system

I don’t know anyone else that runs to work, though I’m trying to convince all the runners I know to give it a try.

When not run commuting, how do you get to work?

When I’m not run commuting, I’ll normally take just one Metro line and walk to the shuttle bus stop. My run commute has even helped me find better routes to walk when I’m not running! Once the weather gets warmer, and there’s more light early in the morning, I’m planning to bike to the Metro station instead of driving and then continue with my regular run commute from there. This will save me about $4.00 a day in parking fees, which I’m definitely looking forward to.

If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who was considering run commuting, what would it be?

The thing that has really made my run commute more enjoyable was finding a great pack that can easily fit everything I need and straps down securely to keep it from wiggling too much. The first few runs I tried with a pack that had way too much side-to-side movement. I felt some pain and tightness in my knee and had to back off for a few days, which was a bit frustrating. I think the key thing is that you want a pack that allows you to carry everything you need, but doesn’t change your form too much so that you can run as normally as possible.

run commuter, run commuting, running to work, alternative commute, Anna Coffey, DC runner, Washington DC runner

The Lincoln Memorial from afar

One thing I’ve noticed recently is that my pace for my weekend fun runs is actually improving. I think the twice a day running and the additional few pounds in my pack is helping me improve my time, and what runner wouldn’t want to do that? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you are a new or semi-new run commuter and want the running world to hear your story, let us know!
We are now accepting submissions for May and June. If you are interested, submit the form below and we’ll contact you.
 
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By | 2016-10-22T20:26:42+00:00 March 17th, 2014|Categories: General, News, People|Tags: , , , , , , |4 Comments
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The New Run Commuters – February 2014, Part 1

After a fantastic response to January’s The New Run Commuters post, we’re back with one of two TNRC features this month. In our first, we introduce you to Chris and Tarun, two runners from different parts of the world, united not only by run commuting, but by teaching as well.

Chris, an ultramarathoner, uses running for more than just run commuting – he runs errands and picks up his daughter after school in a jogging stroller; while Tarun, takes  a more laid-back approach to running and wisely suggests easing your way into running to work to give yourself time to figure out the logistics of it all.

As always, if you are interested in being featured in an upcoming TNRC post, please submit the form at the end of this post. Thanks to everyone who has contacted us so far! It’s great hearing all of your stories and your approach to run commuting and life!

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Runner Basics

  • Name: Chris Van Dykethe run commuter, run commuting, running to work, new run commuter, running to get places, osprey stratos 24, chris van dyke
  • Age: 35
  • City/State: Brooklyn, NY
  • Profession/Employer: High School English Teacher, New York City Department of Education
  • Number of years running: 7 ½
  • # of races you participate in a year: I used to race all the time – the first year I qualified for the NYC Marathon in 2008, I ran thirteen races.  Since having kids, not many.  I always try to do the Bed-Stuy 10K, since it’s the only road race held in my neighborhood, and I like that it’s small and local and in a neighborhood most people don’t think of when they think of running.  The few races I do tend to be really long – this year it was a 24-hour ultra, last year a 50K trail run and a marathon.
  • Do you prefer road or trail (and a little about why)?  Despite the current “correct” answer being trails, I have to say I love both.  Being in Brooklyn, I really wish I could get out and run more trails, but I honestly love running in the city.  I love discovering new neighborhoods or new routes to the same locations, and try to approach any of the “disadvantages” of road-running as opportunities in disguise: hurtling a pile of garbage blocking the side-walk adds a bit of flair to one’s run.

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: Osprey Stratus 24.  Super light-weight but massive capacity.  Lots of straps to keep things locked down, very roomy waist-pack pockets, and comes with a rain-cover.
  • Shoes: Mostly ultra-minimal, always zero-drop.  When the weather is warm, I wear Unshoe’s Pah Tempe sandals.  When shoes are required, I rotate between Merrell Roadgloves and Altra’s The One.  For trails or bad weather, Altra Lone Peaks
  • Clothing:  Until its freezing, shorts (Target brand) and either singlets or technical T’s, mostly just one’s I’ve gotten at races.  Basically I try to wear as little as possible whatever the weather, and push what most people think is reasonable to an extreme.  I’m used to people yelling, “Aren’t you cold?” as I pass.
  • Outerwear: When it drops into the 30’s or lower, I have a pair of CW-X tights and a Craft jacket I dropped some real cash on over five years ago and they’ve held up great.  I also have a crushable Sierra rain fly that I can toss in my pack if it looks like rain, and a pair of North Face water-proof pants.  For extreme winter weather, I’ve got a balaclava and facemask, a few pairs of layering gloves, and Yak Tracks for my shoes.  It’s all about layers; one of the advantages of running with a pack is you have somewhere to stash clothes if you get too hot, or keep a raincoat just in case.
  • Headgear: Normally just a visor.  Running hat in the autumn; skully when its freezing. 
  • Lights:  The streets of Brooklyn are pretty well-lit any time of day, so I don’t really use lights.  I do have a Black-Diamond head-lamp and a few clip-on flashing lights in my bag just in case.
  • Hydration:  Typically nothing, as my commute isn’t that long.  If I’m going longer, I’m a fan of hand-helds.  I have a 20oz Amphipod and an Ultimate Direction Quickdraw.  Mostly that’s for long weekend runs, not commuting.

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

I’ve been running for years, and it’s my favorite way to get around New York.   Once my kids were born it got harder and harder to find time to fit in runs, and at the same time I started teaching at a new school that was less than 3 miles from my apartment.  My school is in East Flatbush, which is nowhere near a subway line, so my only public transportation option is bus, which I hate: buses are crowded, slow, and you can waste so much time just waiting for them.   At first I biked to work and would run once in a while, but after my bike was stolen, I took it as an opportunity to step up my run commute.

How often do you run commute?

Five days a week, to and from work.  I’ve run both ways every day since the school year started, with only two exceptions.  I took off the Friday before a 24-hour ultra, and I got a ride after work to the staff Holiday party.  Other than that, I’ve run every day.

How far is your commute?

2.5 miles each way, so 5 miles total.  Sometimes longer if I have errands to run – if I have to stop by the post-office, grocery store, or pick up my daughter at school, it can add up to 2 miles to the trip home.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

Pack.  I actually make myself a massive salad every day for lunch.  I have a mini-fridge at work, and I run in supplies a few times a week.  Fridays I run my salad bowl, knife, utensils, and cutting board home to run them through the dishwasher, then run them in with lots of veggies on Monday.  Any day of the week my pack might have home-made baked tofu, garbanzo beans, a couple of avocados, spinach, carrots, or bags of brewer’s yeast.   I amuse my students by pulling just about anything out of by bag.

the run commuter, run commuting, running to work, new run commuter, running to get places, osprey stratos 24, chris van dyke, running with groceries

Chris runs his lunch supplies in to work every week.

What do you like most about run commuting?

What’s not to like?  I get to fit in a run every day and avoid a bus or car commute – it’s like finding free time in your day!  How often can you straight up trade something you hate for something you love?  I love starting the day with exercise, and ending work with some stress-relief.  And once I’m at work, it forces me to get in the run home and gets past excuses and lazy days.  Every so often I don’t want to run home but don’t have any choice, then end up loving my run. 

My absolute favorite part, however, is the small group of “friends” I’ve made over the last year along my route, strangers I see every few days who wave and say hi, since I’m the only person running in East Flatbush in the morning.  There’s a woman at one of the housing projects who calls me “sexy legs” whenever she sees me, and that always shaves a few minutes off my time.  Last week some guy stopped me to say I’d inspired him to start running again.  Then there’s a mom who walks her two sons to school in the morning, and I pass them almost every day.  We always say hi, and this year we exchanged Christmas cards.  It reminds me that Brooklyn isn’t so much one big city as a whole lot of small towns just crammed together.

Do you know of anyone else in your area that runs to work?  

No.  I’ve got a number of co-workers who bike, but I’m the only one who runs.  I’m pretty much the only person I see running in this part of Brooklyn ever. 

When not run commuting, how do you get to work?  

My school is a mile from the subway, so it would have to be the bus, as I don’t own a car.  The bus I’d take, the B47, takes me, on average, 45 minutes.  I can run my commute in 25 minutes if I’m lazy, sub-20 if I’m pushing myself.  If I wasn’t running I’d bike, but frankly I prefer running.  Much more relaxing, and a lot less maintenance. Basically, I don’t think of there as being options – I run, period.  I run in the snow, in the rain, in the dark.  I ran during the polar vortex in negative 15.  If there’s going to be severe weather or I have to take in books or clothes, I don’t think “How am I going to get to work?” I think “How am I going to do this while running?”  With the right gear and a bit of stubbornness, anything is runnable.

If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who was considering run commuting, what would it be? 

Just do it – the logistics really are a lot less daunting that you think.  Once you have a few work outfits at the office (and a can of body spray!) you’re set on that end.  A good pack is really the only essential “specialty” gear, and since you’ll spend a lot of time with it, try it on and spend enough to get something comfortable that suits your needs.  But you’d be surprised that, with a little planning a head, how little you actually need to get you to work.  I’m lucky, in that I’ve got an easy distance to do round-trip, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  Run to the commuter train or bus stop; get a ride and run the last 5 miles.  Break the route into a runnable chunk and then do it.  I’m also a huge fan of pod-casts when I run.  At some point, your run does just become a commute, some distance you have to cover to get to work or to get home.  I try to find enjoyment in every run, but sometimes, when its dark and cold, I just need to tune out with some NPR Pop-Culture Happy Hour and commute.

Anything else that you would like to include?

Work doesn’t have to be the only “practical” destination for a run – the post office, drug-store, even small grocery trips can be a place you can fit in a run.  I’m fortunate that New York City is so compact, so much of what I need is within runnable distance.  After you factor in how long you have to wait for a train or a bus, or to look for parking, running is one of the most efficient ways to move around the city.  Once I realized that, I started running most of my errands.  That’s when a good pack is essential.  I can fit most daily grocery needs in my pack.  At an extreme, I’ve run two miles home with 20 pounds of dog-food on my back and a USPS package under one arm.  I’ve got a massive BOB double-jogging stroller, so I can run my kids to the park, with me to store, to gym class.  If you decide to run home 4 miles after a staff happy-hour, I do suggest you stop after the third beer.

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Runner Basics

  • Name: Tarun Rajanthe run commuter, run commuting, running to work, new run commuter, running to get places, tarun rajan
  • Age: 31
  • City/State: Sydney/NSW/Australia
  • Profession/Employer: Biology Teacher at Macquarie University
  • Number of years running: 4
  • # of races you participate in a year: Did four last year, with hopes of doing more this year.
  • Do you prefer road or trail (and a little about why)? I like running trails, but for the sheer ease of getting out and doing it, road running works for me.

 Run Commuting Gear

  •  Backpack: I currently use a High Sierra 14L backpack that I picked up from Costco for not much. I removed the bladder from it to make room for things to carry to work.
  • Shoes: I have big dreams of running bare feet, but for now I pound the road in Brooks Ravenna 4.
  • Clothing: I use the running singlets that get given out at races and just about any shorts I have sitting in the cupboard.
  • Outerwear: It doesn’t get that cold in Sydney during winter. I don’t own a jacket or a base layer. Generally just run with a singlet or t-shirt on.
  • Headgear: Don’t wear one.
  • Lights: I run on dedicated cycleways which are well illuminated. Haven’t bothered purchasing one.
  • Hydration: I use a Caribee 1.5 hydration pack for my longer runs (15+km). I just drink plenty of water when I’m home or once I reach work.

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

It’s good from a time management and financial perspective (don’t have to worry about parking tickets, petrol). I’ve only been doing this for 3 months though, so am fairly new.

How often do you run commute?

I run commute thrice a week (to and fro.)

How far is your commute?

Distance ranges from 6.5 to 10km depending on which route I take. If I’m in a hurry, I take the shortest route, but some days I run the longer distance just to mix it up.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I bring lunch from home everyday. I’ve got some decent Tupperware boxes which I cover in a plastic bag and put in my backpack.

What do you like most about run commuting?

It’s cheap, convenient and faster to get around during peak hours and I’ve heard some say it’s not too bad for your health either! Other commuters (bike, run) acknowledge you and it provides some motivation.

Do you know of anyone else in your area that runs to work?

Glen, my mate, is a God at running. He clocks some amazing mileage. He’s a real inspiration. I’ve taken to run commuting after him. He’s just so good at it. At this point in time, I only know of us two commuting to work on foot.

When not run commuting, how do you get to work?

I ride the bike to work twice a week (on Mondays and Fridays). I get my clothes for the week in a bigger backpack and store in the locker. Work is great, in that we have showers and lockers.

If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who was considering run commuting, what would it be?

Logistics are definitely a big issue. It takes a few goes to see what works for you. Take only what is essential, try and get it to work on days when you aren’t running.  Try and ease into commuting.  

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If you are a new run commuter and want the running world to hear your story, let us know!
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Review: Osprey Manta 20

We here at TRC keep our eyes out for good run commuting packs, and have so far found the best ones are made by Osprey Packs or REI. With the exception of the Latloc E70 backpack, I’ve run exclusively with Osprey gear on my back over the last four years. I began with the now-discontinued Osprey Revo, and then moved on to the Stratos 24. I want to tell you about another great pack for run commuting – the Osprey Manta 20, and its female-specific counterpart, the Mira 18.

Osprey Manta 20

Osprey Manta 20

Review Model Details (Manta 20)

Carrying Capacity: 20L/1,220 cu. in.

Weight: 2 pounds/0.91 kg

Load Range: Up to 25 pounds

Color: Silt Gray

Release Year: 2012 (Note: the 2013 models have a few added features not listed below)

The Osprey Manta 20 shares many of the same great features as the Stratos 24: AirSpeed Suspension System; dual side compression straps; padded hip belt and shoulder straps; and built-in raincover; but it adds another feature that makes it a great multi-season run commuting rig.

It’s a hydration pack.

Gone are the days of the simple Camelbak. The Osprey Manta integrates a unique hydration bladder into a separate compartment of the pack which tucks it away securely and neatly, so it doesn’t get in the way of the rest of your contents.

The hose comes out of the top of the pack, curves around in front of your body, and attaches to the Manta’s sternum strap using a magnetic quick release system. The bladder itself has a rigid handle built its front it that makes handling and refilling a snap. Hands down, it’s the best hydration system I have ever used.            

During the hot, sweltering summer months down here in the south, adequate hydration during your morning and afternoon run commute is essential. Once the temperature hits 65 degrees, I usually carry a handheld water bottle (Nathan Quickdraw). When it climbs above 90 and 95 in the afternoon, I use two. But I like to have my hands free, so I prefer to carry water on my back and out of the way. There is plenty of space left over for your run commuting supplies, too.

My daily gear consists of a set of dress clothes (packed into the Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder 15), lunch, wallet, keys, IDs, and a few other odds and ends. With 1,220 cu. in. of space, everything fits, with some space leftover for a rain jacket or fleece. In the hip belt pockets, I keep my phone and bus pass. If I need to carry additional items at the end of the day, there is leftover space in the outside zippered pouches, or in the soft, stretchy front base pouch on which the Osprey Manta logo resides.

While I didn’t review the Mira, I definitely want all of the female run commuters to know about it! From Osprey’s site:

The Mira series is our versatile multi-sport hydration packs.The all-new Mira, with women’s specific fit, joins the Manta in a new line-up of volumes designed to span a wider range of hiking related activities. Highly ventilated and loaded with features, this series is unique in the world of hydration packs.

Product links for the complete Manta and Mira series are located at the bottom of this post.

Run Commuting Evaluation

I have logged over 200 miles of running with this pack so far, and honestly, I have nothing bad to say about it. So here are the things I like:

Strap Wranglers: There was always a lot of leftover strap once everything was cinched down on other packs (Osprey Stratos); I had to tie them together, tuck them, or roll and wrap them; the Manta, however, has added plastic buckles which secure the used and excess straps to each other, eliminating altogether the former danglers .

Adjustable Sternum Strap: Each side of the sternum strap is attached to a covered, five-inch-long bar that allows strap adjustment by sliding each side up or down. Sometimes, as you add layers, your pack fits differently, and this handy little feature helps maintain your comfort level no matter what you wear or carry.

Adjustable sternum strap with bite-valve magnet

Adjustable sternum strap with bite-valve magnet

Blinkie/Flasher Attachment: Something very simple, but useful. Stay visible!

AirSpeed Suspension System: The light wire frame and tight, mesh back panel together create a perfect bag-body connection, keeping you free from chafing and providing a space for air to flow freely in between you and the pack. I originally thought the mesh back panel would act similarly to a cheese grater on my back, but was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable it is while running.

In summary, it can carry a decent amount of gear and water, comfortably and securely, from your home to your office and back. We even recently took it for a long run in the mountains, where it performed very well over 65 miles and 20 hours of use.

Also, just because it’s a hydration pack doesn’t mean you should cross it off your list for a potential run commuting pack. I only use the hydration bladder during extremely hot days, or for long endurance events. It is a fantastic pack with or without it!

Recommended for Run Commuting?

Yes! One of the greats, in my opinion.

Note: This backpack was purchased for use by the author.

By | 2016-10-22T20:26:44+00:00 June 18th, 2013|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , , , , , , |12 Comments

Review: RIBZ Front Pack

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.

P1040037-600

Initial Inspection

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.

By | 2016-10-22T20:26:45+00:00 May 13th, 2013|Categories: Gear, General|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Pack Comfort Evaluation: Extended Ultramarathon Edition

Though we use them nearly daily on roads, our run commute packs are all designed for trails, for hikers, through-hikers, fastpackers. One can see in our reviews how well they serve their purposes and meet our run commuting needs; however, perhaps readers still wonder about their comfort and ability during those 3-6 mile runs. How about 65 miles in varied temps, wind, and sun? We are now able to offer better perspective on said service, after humping these packs over several mountains, for 20 hours, during the inaugural Georgia Death Race.

www.georgiadeathrace.com

You will forever afterward see in this “professionally designed” race logo a man farting streams of flame. Not a wholly inaccurate take on the race’s pains.

Hall, Josh, and Kyle lit out from Atlanta with crew chief Laura on Friday, March 15, to tackle this course up in the north Georgia mountains. We had all run ultras before; however, this one would be twice as far as the 50Ks we’d done, with 30,000 feet of elevation change: it was no joke.

The race was first billed as 55 miles; then 60-ish; but it turned out to be closer to 65 miles, and temperature fluctuations between elevations (sometimes 20°F difference, with wind and shade) would make for an extremely challenging race. The race began at 4 a.m. Saturday, March 16, and was open for 28 hours, allowing everyone some chance to finish. We’ll get up a race report if you want it, but for now we want to offer insight as to the run commuting/ultramarathon connection.

One: up to 50 percent of our training miles came from running to work, or from it. The remainder came from long road runs, hill and stair training, shorter ultras, and mountain training weekends.

Two: racers had a mandatory gear list to carry during the race. Part of it was due to the backcountry requirements of Vogel State Park and the U.S. Forest Service; and the rest was deemed necessary in case of injury; or if you could no longer run/walk/hobble, and were too far from an aid station. Here’s the list:

Mandatory:

  • 1 Space blanket

  • 1 Thermal top

  • 1 Warm hat (beanie)

  • 1 Pair of warm gloves

  • 1 Waterproof jacket (poncho not acceptable)

  • 1 Whistle

  • 1 Map (provided)

  • 1 22 oz (or greater) capacity for water.

  • 1 Food ration

Recommended:

  • 1 Working cell phone

  • 1 Extra set of batteries for your head lamp

  • 1 Thermal bottom

GDR-Packs2

Off to the pre-race meeting the night before, and for mandatory gear check. L to R: Osprey Stratos 24 (Hall), Osprey Manta 20 (Josh), REI Stoke 19 (Kyle)

And, three, while a lot of ultramarathoners wear hydration packs, like the Nathan Endurance Race Vest, Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 5, or the increasingly-popular UltrAspire Omega Hydration Vest, we would need to carry more than just water and gels for this race. But owing to our run commuting, we were already accustomed to running with full backpacks.

Would packs we use for run commuting perform well during this race? Here are our thoughts, in brief:

Tester:  Josh

Pack:  Osprey Manta 20

Comfort: None of the straps chafed at all.  I normally wear a short or long-sleeve compression shirt to reduce any possibility of chafing (usually underarms, or around my waist). With the Manta 20, however, the straps were adequately padded, positioned properly, and secured with non-irritating buckles, making it fantastic no matter what clothing was underneath. The weight of the pack was distributed very well, too.

Storage: With 17L (1,037 cu. in.) of internal storage, I had plenty of room for all the required gear, plus changes of socks and shirts, with additional space leftover. There are many outside pockets that are easily accessible as well, including dual waist strap pouches. These were perfect for gels, Clif bars, and other snacks. I could grab them on the fly, eat, and continue running without stopping.

Hydration: A unique 3L hydration bladder was standard on the S/M model.  This was more than enough to supply adequate hydration from one aid station to another.

User Notes: I love everything about this pack. In fact, I would choose this over my previous favorite, the Osprey Stratos 24. The hydration system features were ridiculously handy, the pack was super-comfortable, and I felt like if I were to changeover to another crazy sport – fastpacking, for instance – it would be a fantastic piece of gear for the job. I can’t say enough good things about the Manta 20. Seriously.

3:50 am - Race Day

3:50 am – Race Day

Tester:  Hall

Pack: Osprey Stratos 24

Comfort: Starting at 2lbs without any gear, or even a hydration bladder, this backpack was surprisingly comfortable over the 44 miles I covered before my eventual exit from the race (see Editor’s Note below). Due to a former injury, a broken collar bone to be exact, I am always wary of carrying anything on my shoulders for long periods of time. Especially with standard backpack straps. But the Osprey Stratos 24’s numerous options for cinching down the straps prevented any irritation. The large amount of straps and different ways to secure the gear and prevent any shifting or unnecessary movement helped keep it quiet as well. Once the temperatures warmed up and the sun rose above the North Georgia mountains, the stretched mesh back panel allowed my back to breathe.

Storage: At times I lost track of where certain items were in my pack due to the plethora of harness pockets, hipbelt pockets, and other compartments. It’s a good problem to have, and though I ended up having to wash out some of them due to carrying used gel packets, I was glad to be able to have most of what I needed constantly accessible.

Hydration: My Osprey Hydraulics 2 Liter Reservoir was a great purchase. The handle and rigid structure didn’t add much weight, but certainly made it a lot easier to fill at aid stations and even at home under the sink.

Editor’s Note: Hall neglected to mention that his reason for exiting the race at mile 44 was that his tendons were about to ‘splode. This is for real. He’d just finished a course of antibiotics, amongst the serious warnings for which was listed severe likelihood of tendons rupturing from exercise and strain. But from mile 44, without missing a beat or dropping a smile, Hall became crew lieutenant, and we were joyed to see him with Laura at the final crew station, and again at the finish! –KT

Twenty-five miles into the race, over the Duncan Ridge Trail, and onto Forest Service roads. Photo: Hall's mom

Twenty-five miles into the race, over the Duncan Ridge Trail, and onto Forest Service roads. The mountains we scaled and descended paled compared to Kyle’s forehead. Photo: Hall’s mom

Tester:  Kyle

Pack:  REI Stoke 19

Comfort: As mentioned in my previous review, the Stoke 19 lacks any kind of ventilation for your back. Lack of air flow yields plenty of sweat, and mid-race my shorts had an inch-wide salt band; however, my pack remained wonderfully cushy, and all the straps are wide and plush, so nothing cuts or saws into your torso. From the chilly morning to the mid-day roasting sun, I experienced no discomfort. I had one small chafe spot when I took stock of my ravaged body the next day: the right shoulder strap rubbed my collar bone, but that almost certainly owes to said clavicle’s odd shape.

Storage: So many pockets, filled with GUs, Clif bars, at one point an entire sweet potato. There was ample room for my required gear (and a safety whistle is built into the chest strap) and leftover space for fuel, though never did anything feel unsecured: all remained perfectly in place. The race offered a $100 bonus to whomever brought in the most trash from the trail; we retrieved multiple wrappers, spent GU packets, some beer cans, and more, and mashed them all into my pack’s side pockets. (The bonus went to a guy who dropped off at an aid station a 12-pack box he stuffed with garbage, and a freaking car tire, with which he’d run two miles — while then in third place: well-earned.)

Hydration: I’ve been using a Camelbak Omega 100oz. bladder for years now. By about mile 20, the hook by which it is secured at its top had twisted off, but, like I said: years old, so some failure is to be expected. It stayed put despite this. It was difficult getting the full bladder back into the Stoke 19 with all my gear inside. Often, I would have to pull it all out, slide the bladder back in place, then replace my gear inside.

User Notes: The Stoke 19’s biggest drawback was the difficulty replacing the bladder, and subsequently the time necessary to do so. Speaking with someone before the race about her Ultimate Direction SJ Race Vest, which in lieu of a bladder touts twin 22-ounce bottles, holstered on the shoulder straps. It was, she said, “the difference between a 30-second aid station stop and three minutes.” That was a prescient statement, I came to find. But the Stoke 19 allows you to maintain a higher center of gravity. Look again at the photo of the three of us above: note that mine (on the right) rides much higher and tighter than do Josh’s or Hall’s. That was on the trail, as it is on my run commute, an asset.

By | 2016-10-22T20:26:45+00:00 April 29th, 2013|Categories: Gear, General|Tags: , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Noisy Backpacks

Do you mind the sound of keys jingling?  No?  I bet you would after you heard them make that noise over 5,000 times in 45 minutes.  That’s how many times the loose keys in your backpack could make noise on a 45-minute run to work.  How’s that for some early morning ear candy?

Well, fellow run commuters, we’re going to show you how to silence your commute.  No more key jingle.  No more water sloshing.  No more tink-tink-tink sounds from your zippers – just a nice, quiet pack for your run to work.  Let’s tackle them in the order of annoyance:

Top Noise Makers

  1. Keys
  2. Belt Buckles
  3. Zippers
  4. Hydration Bladder/Liquid
  5. Loose Items/Food

Solutions

 

1.  Keys

I have a lot of locks to open, so I have a lot of keys on my key ring.  And, key ring cards.  And, doodads.  All of those together make for a baseball-sized bundle of noise.  I’ve found that there are two ways to effectively silence keys.

Camera Case

I had one of these lying around unused, so I tried it out one day and found it worked very well.  As a bonus, it has a small zippered pouch that my metal watch fits into nicely.  You can easily find one that will fit your keys, no matter what size they may be. Simply go to a camera case display at any store and try it out with your own keys to find the best fit.

Key SilencerRubber Band

For the especially frugal or minimalist run commuter, you can use a rubber band.  The one pictured here was holding some store-bought vegetables together (either asparagus or broccoli).  It’s wide, short and durable, making it an ideal combination to bind your keys together.

 

Belt Buckle Silencer2.  Belt Buckles

There is one particular type of buckle that will annoy the crap out of you when you’re running – the web belt buckle.  There is a little metal bar inside the metal buckle that will bounce around clanging and jingling, almost like the sound coins in a cup make.  For this solution, we turn to our old friend rubber band.

Once again, it does the trick.  Just be certain to pin the metal bar down under the rubber band or it won’t work.  You can also secure the entire belt by wrapping part of the rubber band around the coiled belt and buckle.

3.  Zippers

These pics should be self-explanatory.  There are probably a few more techniques I missed, but these are the main ones (and pretty simple and low-cost.)

 

Add a Zipper Pull

Use Some String/Cord

String Monkey Fist

Tie whatever works – just remember to burn the ends of the string so the ends don’t come unraveled.

Wrap Them With Tape

Tape Zipper

I used easy-to-remove painter’s tape here, because, hey – you might want to hear that noise again and don’t want to hassle with a difficult removal. (Note: the blue tape was used for the pic – choice tape is electrical or the king of tapes…DUCT TAPE.)

4.  Hydration Bladders

This one is pretty simple.  Turn the bladder upside down and suck out all of the air.

5.  Loose Food/Items

This one is sort of simple, too.  The key is to eliminate the empty space.

Loose Food

Loose Items

The first thing you can do is to ensure that the items in your pack are arranged properly.  One of our favorite companies, Osprey, created a handy graphic that shows you how to pack items based on weight.

Osprey Packs - "How to Pack Your Pack" http://www.ospreypacks.com/en/web/how_to_pack_your_pack

Osprey Packs – “How to Pack Your Pack”

When run commuting, however, we don’t always run with a full load.  So no matter how well you arrange things inside, there may still be plenty of empty space for things to bounce around.  That’s why we recommend a pack with compression straps:

Stratos Compression Straps

Top and Bottom Compression Straps

Compression straps allow you to change the size of your pack by squeezing the outside layer of material closer to your back, which in turn pulls items inside together tightly.  No more bounce!

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Hopefully you found some of these tips useful.  If you have any other suggestions, let us know!

By | 2016-10-22T20:26:46+00:00 March 4th, 2013|Categories: Gear, General|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |4 Comments

Review: Osprey Stratos 24

I finally picked up a new pack and retired my Osprey Revo after 2 1/2 years.  The Revo worked just fine as a simple run commuting backpack, but I was in the market for something a bit larger that had a chest strap for additional motion-control.This past summer when I was sweating more on my runs, I started to get some chafing action on my lower back from the Revo’s slight side-to-side motion.  Just a little bit of irritation can turn into a larger, more painful issue when you run twice a day, everyday, so it kept me from running a few times.

In addition, I couldn’t quite fit my work clothes, lunch and a pair of shoes in the pack, which I occasionally need to bring in when I need a different pair.  Also, every once in a while I will stop and pick up a few groceries on my way home and 1300 cu in. was just a bit too small.  And so began a long obsession with finding the perfect run commuting backpack…

(more…)

By | 2016-10-22T20:26:51+00:00 October 21st, 2011|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , , , , |21 Comments

Getting Started – Part 4: What to Wear

Kyle and I started running together regularly a little over a year ago. I had recently started running to and from work, and shortly after meeting for the first time, we found out that both of us liked to run. We were interested in some sort of adventure. Something off-road. Something different. So we decided to run the proposed Atlanta BeltLine route. And on January 2, 2010, we started running a section at a time – kind of like Appalachian Trail section hikers – until we ran the whole thing in one go, March 20, 2010.

But the reason for this background info (and why it relates to the post topic), is what we wore on our first run… Atlanta BeltLine Running Now I’m pretty sure you’ll have a hard time finding runners looking like this on the cover of Runner’s World, Running Times or Trail Runner magazines, but you know what? It doesn’t really matter. (more…)

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