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  • Sunwarrior Starter Pack with Blender Bottle

Review: Sunwarrior Protein Powders

I’m really bad at recovering after a run. Really bad. My normal routine usually includes a 5.5-mile run commute home, followed by jumping in the car to go pick up a kid from school, then rehydrating with a cheap, watered-down beer while I cook dinner when I return home. 

In the 20-60 minutes after your workout, your muscles can store carbohydrates and protein as energy and help in recovery.

I know there is a brief, post-workout window in which your body is primed for receiving replacement protein and carbohydrates, but I ignore that and move on with the night, much to my bodies detriment, no doubt.

So, when Sunwarrior sent us their Starter Pack filled with raw, vegan protein powders and supplements to test out, I was excited to try them and see how they made me feel after a good run.

 

Test and Evaluation

All of the products were sampled after a 5.5-mile run which ranged in duration from 42:00 – 45:00 minutes. My 6-year-old, Everett, insisted on tasting each one as well. His comments are included.

Sample #1: Chocolate Warrior Blend with Ormus Supergreens (Added to 10 oz. Light Vanilla Soymilk)

Everett - Product Tester Extraordinaire

Everett – Taste Tester Extraordinaire

This was really good! It was thick, but smooth, with a flavor not unlike a cold mug of hot chocolate. There was a slightly sweet aftertaste which remained for a brief period after consumption (which is no surprise, as the products are sweetened with the natural sweetener, Stevia.) Even with the added Supergreens, the flavor was chocolaty and delicious. 

The directions suggest adding 6-10 oz. of liquid to the powder, however, after trying it, my personal preference would be to add no less than 12 oz. to cut down the thickness a little more.

Everett’s Review: “Great!”

Sample #2: Classic Protein Vanilla with Ormus Supergreens (Added to 14 oz. Light Vanilla Soymilk)

This was pretty good. The Supergreens were peppermint flavored, and I think adding them to a vanilla powder worked very well. Even though they have long been touted as health powerhouses, powdered greens can be unpalatable for those unused to them, but together with the Classic Vanilla powder, they went nearly unnoticed in the final drink.

Aside from the “greens” part of the Supergreens powder, Sunwarrior adds even more healthy additives, too, including several species of Lactobacillus Acidopholis, and a smorgasbord of leaves, roots, and grasses.

The Classic Protein Powder added in 15g of easily-digestible protein in one serving.

Everett’s Review: “Really good, but not as good as the other one.”

Sample #3: Vanilla Warrior Blend with Activated-Sprouted Barley (Added to 12 oz. Vanilla Soymilk)

This was good, though the “greens” taste of the sprouted barley was much more noticeable in a vanilla-flavored shake than in the chocolate. The overall consistency was a bit chalky, but not bad going down. 

The Barley powder is meant to be used for sustained energy, as it is slow-burning, so in retrospect, I should have had this combination pre-run to keep me from bonking. Nevertheless, the mixture provides 20g of pea/cranberry/hemp protein (and that’s not counting the additional 10g of protein from soymilk.)

Everett’s Review: “Pretty good.”

Sample #4: Classic Protein Chocolate with Liquid Light (Added to 12 oz. of Vanilla Soymilk)

This was one of my favorites. The texture was smooth, it was flavorful, and was the least gritty of all the previous samples. It only contained 16g of brown rice protein, but the addition of the Liquid Light (fulvic acid and long list of minerals) packet added an additional healthy kick to the overall nutrition profile. 

Everett’s Review: “Great! Tastes like chocolate milk.”

Can be mixed, but best on its own

Can be mixed, but best on its own

Sample #5: Healthy Shooter

The Immune Shield liquid packet simply suggests taking one or more daily, so I just tore the top off and chugged it down. It was tart and sour, with the consistency of water.

The text on the package touts the health benefits of fulvic acid and complex silver, and their roles in enhancing the individual’s immune system. Not bad at all…

Summary

My preferred shake was the Sunwarrior Chocolate Warrior Blend with Supergreens. This is something I can see myself drinking regularly after my daily run commute and not growing tired of it. It mixes well, tastes great, goes down easy, and provides a noticeable sense of fullness for a while thereafter; so much so, that I tended to eat less dinner when consumed within an hour-and-a-half beforehand.

The Blender Bottle, with its removable whisk ball, did a fantastic job of mixing the products with ice-cold soymilk. Nothing was left on the sides or bottom, where powders tend to gather and clump.

If you live an active, plant-based life, you should give Sunwarrior’s shakes and supplements a shot for your pre- and post-workout nutrition.

By |March 27th, 2015|Categories: General|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments
  • Ingress Featured

Mobile App/Game Review – Ingress

This is the first in what will hopefully be a regular series of reviews on mobile apps and games for running. They may be traditional apps (MapMyRun, Endomondo), or something completely different, like today’s review of Ingress, a Google game that takes place in real-time in the real world. If you have any ideas for apps you’d like to see reviewed by runners (or yourself!)*, email us at info@theruncommuter.com, or comment on this post.

* we’re not going to review Angry Birds or Candy Crush and their playability/applicability to running (though we definitely could), so try to stick to apps that are made to be used by runners (traditional) or those that could be used while running (non-traditional.)

TRC Post 01

Scanner startup screen

Ingress

If you get bored while running around your city, Ingress will be your new high-mileage running fix! A couple of us have been testing this out for a few months now, and we’re hooked. 

TRC Post 02

Resistance (Blue) and Enlightened (Green) Portals, showing links and a control field (bottom of the screen).

The basic story line is that there is a form of “energy” (origin unknown) emanating from public art, sculptures, or culturally-significant places throughout the world. This energy may be either good or bad, and you choose a side depending on how you interpret its purpose. If you believe it is good, you join the ranks of the Enlightened; if you think it is nefarious, you become part of the Resistance.

Your smartphone serves as a scanner to see these energy hotspots (known as Portals) and interact with them. When you are within a certain range of a Portal, you can hack (gain items), capture, or attack it. The goal is to take control of Portals, link them together, and create triangular Control Fields that protect the population within that area from the other faction.

This is a fantastic game for runners for many reasons:

It gets you out and active; you run between portals, alter your route to create new control fields, and explore new places you wouldn’t normally run.

It makes your run much more interesting; many portals are historically significant places or works of art. Many will bring you to new places beyond your normal run commute or long run routes.

TRC Post 05

Detailed view of a portal

It’s fun and challenging; figuring out how to level up, maximize the size of a control field, or destroying what the opposing team created can be a good learning experience.

It can be social; I’m more of a lone wolf, but the Ingress Google+ groups in your area can be extremely active, with regular in-person meetups, that may include general socializing, or planning and coordination of large-scale team operations. If you’re a noob, the members of your group will go well out of their way to help you out, level you up, and show you the ropes.

TRC Post 04

Individual user stats

Tips for runners

– First and foremost: Don’t spend your whole time running looking at your smartphone; it’s dangerous. Stop if you need to, and plan 1/4 or 1/2 mile ahead to see where you are heading next.

– It is best to hold your phone in your hand while running if portals are close. Otherwise, carry your phone in a strap pocket in your pack or hydration vest. My smartphone fits perfectly in either side of my Nathan HPL-020.

– I wouldn’t recommend using earphones.

– Tap a portal ahead of you, and when you get within range, it will tell you that you can hack it.

– Slow down or walk when hacking, to ensure the hack is successful and all items are acquired.

– Need some speedwork? Sprint between portals. Pause, hack, deploy, link, hydrate. Pick the next portal and sprint to it.

This review is just scratching the surface of the game. There is so much more to it, and you’ll learn all about it once you start playing. Good luck!

 

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Name: Ingress

Cost: Free

Requirements: A Gmail account

Release Date: November 16, 2012

Number of players: 7,000,000

Download Links:

Google Play Download

App Store Download

 

By |December 3rd, 2014|Categories: General|Tags: , , , , , , , , |0 Comments
  • wpid-imag1493_1.jpg

Save the nips: Red11 Sport anti-chafe salve review

I, like so many, have since my first tentative steps as a runner dreaded this happening to me. During an out-and-back segment of my first ultra, 24-ish miles into a grueling 50K, a runner in the opposite direction had upon his face not fatigue but wide-eyed fear mingled with agony. I understood why. Upon his white shirt: twin red streams trailing toward his waistband. And he had six more miles to go.

Bloody nipples. Nipple chafe (clinically: nipple fissures). Hell, chafe in general, as M. Suzette writes, in any of the body’s geography. Every runner harbors this terror in the heart and the skin above it, and holds forth numerous methods of mitigation: adhesive bandages; sport tape; petroleum jelly. But I give you today Red11 Sport, an anti-chafe agent unlike others I have known, a salve to save your nipples and nethers from being churned to hamburger when you run.
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The Run Commuter team has been using Red11 Sport for several months now, putting it on our delicate tissues, then putting this through the wringer. My first impression was a chuckle for its clever, snarky name. (Think about my description above of the afflicted gent.) Red11 Sport is a New York City-based newcomer, cheeky in its marketing and seems so in its company culture, judging by our correspondence with them. That is a good beginning to recommend it to runners: they’re like us.

But they can get away with it because the product works, and works extremely well. Red11 Sport is composed of shea butter (main ingredient), vitamin E, coconut, mineral wax and peppermint. In fact, the peppermint scent was among the first things we noticed, as soon as we popped the tin open. It’s present but not strong, just enough to notice. You won’t feel it on your skin, and don’t worry that your areolas will smell like candy canes: they won’t.

Red11 Sport feels to the touch like a lip balm: a bit waxy, smooth, but spreadable. In fact, one of our contributors, Nic, has used it just so when he forgot his lip balm at home. Rub some on the end of a finger; rub the finger on your nipple(s); go running: simple. Both sizes come in tins small enough to fit in a pocket.

Here’s the meat of this review: it works. This tiny tin of chafe-halting nectar works so much better than anything I have found. I’ll explain by way of comparison, then tout Red11 Sport’s merits.

IMAG1466The primary anti-chafe methods, anecdotally and from experience, are bandages/sport tape, petroleum jelly and BodyGlide. The latter will likely be Red11 Sport’s main competitor. Bandages/sport tape will protect nipples from being rubbed raw, but sweating will dislodge them. That’s been my experience with bandages, anyway, though sport tape usually stays put. Unfortunately, you can’t put them in your armpits, butt crack, upper thighs, and balls, all areas prone to chafe.

Petroleum jelly always works but it stains shirts, leaving competitors and onlookers to wonder why you’re lactating. I slathered it on my thighs mid-race in the 2011 Detroit Marathon, experiencing some chafe then, and it again worked but my shorts clung to it, riding waaaaay up into the nethers. And my shorts are short enough already; there’s little room to travel.

I’ve never been a fan of BodyGlide. It wears off too quickly. I’ve tried it, tried it again to be certain, but it seems to slough off maybe 5-10 miles into a long run or race. I’ve seen teammates and competitors in longer ultras reapply it periodically, which I never had to do with petroleum jelly. It always leaves me disappointed and raw.
IMAG1468Red11 Sport came to us just before the crush of southern summer. Most of my use has been on run commutes, but I’ve used this precious goo on shorter and moderate runs, about 5-10 miles, and several times on long efforts, up to and past 20 miles. No issues. No need to reapply. And nary a hint of chafe! Nor has there been any stain or mark on my shirts, any time that I have applied Red11 Sport. That is hugely important. Stains in no way alter the function of tech shirts but it is embarrassing and ruins some very cool race shirts.

It also has proved effective with irritation from heart rate monitors. Hall has used applied it in that way and had none of his usual chafing. We passed it along to a female friend who was experiencing significant chafe from her monitor whenever she ran. She says, “I ran twice last week with the heart rate monitor strap and used your special cream. I was free of all irritation!”

Here’s what one of our contributors, Nic, had to say:

“I have used the Red11 for about 150 km since I received it, and it is great. Seriously, it is the best anti-chaffing stuff I ever used (I got absolutely no chafing at all last week, and I ran a total of 114 km). My only comment would be to replace “nipple protection” on the container by something more gender neutral, but beside that, I liked the product and the format of the container. And I even used it as lip balm this morning since I could not find my usual one!IMG_8431

“I wore my chafing shorts for a 15 km interval training/run commute. (These shorts are very old, and I always have problems with them, even with Vaseline and Nok). So I decided to wear them, over a generous coating of Red11. And I am glad to report … nothing! Nothing at all! Baby skin throughout. I am very, VERY impressed.”

Heed Nic’s suggestion to alter the “nipple protection” labeling on the tins. That’s how Red11 Sport is primarily marketing the product — indeed, that is the top-tier trouble zone — but I’ve used it everywhere, as Nic has. Thoroughly saturated by sweat in 95-degree heat and maximum humidity after 18 miles: I felt nothing in any of the typical problem spots. If you see Red11 Sport at your running store, snap some up. Your nipples/genitals/miscellaneous, and anyone who has to see them, will thank you.

DISCLOSURE: Red11 Sport provided gratis samples for our review.

By |August 6th, 2014|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , , , , |4 Comments
  • Switch Vision H-Walls

Review: Switch Vision Prescription Glasses

If, like me, you have poor eyesight, you may have to run with prescription glasses. Running with spectacles that are not made for running quickly becomes annoying, as they start sliding down a sweaty nose. Luckily, good prescription glasses for runners do exist. Run-commuting adds some complexity to all of this. North of the 49th parallel, it is not uncommon to run in total darkness during winter months. Therefore, clear lens prescription glasses made for runners are required. Dark lens glasses are preferable for the rest of the year.  

Switch Vision H-Wall Sunglasses. Photo from http://www.switchvision.com

Switch Vision H-Wall Sunglasses. Photo from http://www.switchvision.com

Three years ago, I bought Switch Vision prescription glasses. They came with interchangeable lenses; one clear set and one darker set for sunny days. These are made of ballistic material, which means they can also be used as safety glasses. Switch Vision uses small magnets inserted in the frame and around the lenses to keep them firmly in place. In my opinion, this feature places Switch Vision in a category of their own in terms of sports glasses. Switch Vision glasses’ design is great for people that needs sports prescription glasses for dark and sunny days. However, I have a bit of a bad aftertaste with the durability of the H wall model I purchased. The exposed metal rusted out after only a few months. When that happened, I took them back to the store, where they were replaced. Just like the first one, however, the second pair showed signs of rust after only a few months. Therefore, I would recommend avoiding these particular Switch Vision frames that expose portions of the magnets – they tend to rust over time, as shown below. I would also avoid frames with a soft nose mount and choose one with a plastic one instead.

Switch Vision H-Walls

Switch Vision H-Walls, showing spots of rust on top of the frame

Finally, depending on the number of dealers in your area, these can be pretty expensive (myself, I paid $700 Cdn, which is an outrageous amount of money for any pair of glasses when I think about it). I could probably have bought 2 pairs of sport prescription glasses, 1 clear and 1 dark, for less money than that. I really like the Switch Vision magnetic system, but not enough to pay such a premium to get it again the next time around. Hopefully, prices will have come down to a more reasonable level. ********************* Characteristics of good run-commuting prescription glasses: -durable -interchangeable lenses -light -lenses held firmly in place -resistance to fogging (good luck finding that!)

By |June 24th, 2014|Categories: Gear, General|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments
  • IMG_8433

Review: Purinize water-purifying tincture

I was as a young man waaaay into Dungeons & Dragons, as well as video game RPGs like the Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior series. There was always some bottled liquid to cure your ailments and even restore life, should your mighty berserker be somehow felled by an elf. Those indoors-for-hours days rushed to my memory when we received our latest product to review: Purinize, a potion promising to render water potable by vanquishing microscopic assailants and coagulating sediments.

How does Purinize manage these extraordinary feats? Why, by the sensible and scientific application of VOLCANO SALTS. (more…)

By |June 13th, 2014|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , , , |1 Comment
  • SOYBEAN POWERED PROTECTION

Review: Skulltec gel-filled beanie

We sometimes are offered opportunity to review products, usually running-related ones. Some are unrelated, or so at first it would seem, but, hey, we’re running to work here, gang; we’re doing something outside the norm. We can look at some seemingly-unrelated-to-running products and review them in that light.

And so I offer for your consideration Skulltec.

SOYBEAN POWERED PROTECTION

Hall dons the Skulltec and becomes a French Popeye with a claimed 25-percent reduction in likely brain injury.

(more…)

By |May 30th, 2014|Categories: Gear, General|Tags: , , |4 Comments
  • wpid-IMAG0980.jpg

Gear to Destinkify: Towels and Cloths for your Post-Run Commute Cleanup

“I could NEVER run to work. There is no shower in my building! What am I supposed to do to get clean and not stink?!?!?”

We hear this a lot; usually when talking with someone who is thinking about starting to run commute, or while engaging others in discussions on the web. And, yes – some people do have legitimate reasons where a shower is absolutely necessary post-run (long hair, for instance). But for those whose offices lack a shower, you can still be a well-groomed employee without smelling offensive. 

Stephanie has told us how she packs her clothes for the commute; Kyle wrote about cleaning up in Part 5 of our Getting Started series; and, Anna – in our latest edition of  The New Run Commuters – showed how she dries her running gear after arriving at the office. Over the next few months, we’ll highlight a few pieces of gear, as well as common, everyday supplies that will help you look, and smell, your best at work. First up – towels and cloths.

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One of the more important items to have for a no-shower cleanup (besides baby wipes) is a towel. I use two – one that I get wet for cleaning, and one for drying off. To help you get yourself as clean as you can after a run, here are a few I’ve tried in the past few months and what I though of them.

wpid-IMAG0980.jpg

Norwex Body Cloth

We were contacted by a Norwex representative who happened upon our site, and she said she was going to send us something she thought would be a great fit for run commuters who cleaned up without a shower.  Several days later we received a Norwex Body Cloth, and we tested it out over the course of a several weeks at the office.

wpid-IMAG0984.jpg

First Impression:

The cloth is small – about 12″ x 12″ – and is made of a blend of 70% polyester and 30% polyamide. Like most microfiber towels and cloths, it’s a little “sticky,” in that it catches on any slight imperfections it finds; dry skin, for example. It is also impregnated with silver, which is supposed to inhibit bacterial growth. The test cloth is green, but it comes in five other colors.

First use:

I arrived at the office and cooled down as I normally do. I used baby wipes over most of my body, put on antiperspirant, got dressed, and headed to the restroom. Per the instructions, I wet the Norwex towel down thoroughly, and wrung it out. As I cleaned off my head and face, I noticed two things about the towel – It was extremely refreshing and it smelled really good. After cleaning up, I felt just a little cleaner than I normally do if I just use wipes. It is probably due to the fact that the baby wipes I use leave a moisturizing film on my skin after each use, and was removed by the wipe-down with the towel. Back in my office, I hung the towel up and by lunchtime it was dry.

For the next several weeks, I used this over and over, bringing it home after a few days and washing it. The towels are sold in a pack of three, which should get you through a full work week. At the end of the week, take them home, wash them, and you are ready to go for another week.

Conclusion:

This is a great piece of gear for run commuting. It functions extremely well as a wet cleaning cloth. It cleans the skin very thoroughly, rinses easily, dries fast, and can be used for quite some time before washing. The cloth doesn’t stink. You don’t stink. The world is good.

Divatex Sport Towel

wpid-IMAG0985.jpg

First Impression:

The largest of the the three towels, the Divatex Sport Towel is 24″ x 47″ in size and, like the Norwex microfiber cloths, extremely soft. It is made from 80% poly/20% nylon, and is thin – about half as thick as the Norwex or Coleman towels.

First Use:

After cooling off, wiping down, and getting partially dressed (pants, shoes, undershirt), I grabbed the Divatex and headed to the bathroom. In this version of the cleanup, I used the water from the sink to wet the skin on my head, neck, and face, then scrubbed with soap and rinsed, using the towel to dry off. I repeated the same with my arms and chest (a wash/body cloth, like the previously mentioned Norwex, works best here) Drying off with the Sport Towel was quick and comfortable. The material is soft against the skin, and absorbs water much better than a standard cotton towel. Once finished, I returned to my office, finished dressing, and hung the towel up to dry.

It didn’t pick up any offensive smells during the testing week and could probably have been used unwashed for two weeks, however, I recommend washing it with your running clothes once a week.

Conclusion:

This is a solid piece of gear. It’s a great, lightweight drying-off towel and can go for extended periods of time without washing. And, don’t be fooled by it’s small size compared to a regular bath towel – it will completely dry you off after a shower.

Coleman Camp Towel

I purchased this several years ago while researching camping, backpacking, and traveling gear that could also be used for run commuting. It was very inexpensive and looked like it would fit the bill for the post-run cleanup.

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First Impression:

Made from “non-woven polyester,” the Coleman Camp Towel has a completely different feel to it than the microfiber towels. It’s rough, scratchy, and very lightweight. But look how easy it is to spot in that smashing yellow color! It measures in at 20″ x 27″.

First (and last) Use:

I repeated the same procedure I had with the Divatex Sport Towel and the first thing I noticed was that it is scratchy as hell – just downright uncomfortable against the skin. It’s hard to describe it’s absorbency. It’s hard, because I could not tell if it soaked water up, or merely pushed it off me, similar to that thing you do when you turn the shower off in the morning and realize there isn’t a towel within 50 feet of you – just brush off as much as you can and hope it is good enough.

On the upside, the thing dries more quickly than any towel I’ve ever used. That might be due to the fact that it never really gets wet though (just a hunch).

Conclusion:

No. Don’t use it on yourself. Don’t use it on others. Don’t give it as a gift. Leave it in it’s natural habitat: the camping section of a WalMart store.

By |March 19th, 2014|Categories: Gear, General|Tags: , , , , , , , |3 Comments
  • skora base, skora shoes, run commuter, running to work, natural running form, runreal

Review: SKORA Form Running Shoes

While the post-Born to Run minimal running shoe fad began to slow a couple of years after it took the running world by surprise (seemingly overnight), some companies have prevailed as leaders in the industry, remaining solid performers while other styles and designs came and went. SKORA, a Portland-based shoe manufacturer, is one that has continued to thrive.

In a market once dominated by giants like Nike, Reebok, New Balance, and Asics, the demand for minimal, barefoot, and natural running footwear created new niches allowing smaller running shoe companies, like SKORA, to fill the void and provide an alternative to the clunky, heel-striking shoes that had been the standard for decades. 

Recently, we were sent some SKORA Forms to review. We put some miles on them under regular running conditions, and – of course – while run commuting. Here is what the tester thought of them.

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By |November 30th, 2013|Categories: Gear, General|Tags: , , , , , |1 Comment
  • Speed-lacing with the SKORA Phase

The Great Unboxing – SKORA Shoes for the Run Commuters

Heads up runners and run commuters! 

The three of us here at TRC headquarters were given three different pairs of SKORA running shoes to review for you, so we will be testing them out over the next few weeks and posting a detailed, three-person review, so you will have all of the information you’ll need to make an informed decision before buying some for yourself.

Here were some of our initial thoughts after opening them up and briefly trying them out:

The cushioning was minimal and firm, but comfortable.

The Forms fit very well. The nearest comparable shoe-feel that I’ve experienced is the New Balance MR10’s.

Though I was given a size 11 of the red shoes (Phase), I can still comfortably fit into the size 10 black Form. SKORA says their shoes run true to size, but I think they run quite long. I did notice that the size 10 didn’t feel very wide, which is a trend with most minimal, zero drop shoes. 

The shoes fit my feet like well-protected socks. I didn’t notice any pressure points, most likely because they contoured/moulded to the foot so evenly.

Other than sizing differences, these fit well. My heel sits perfectly in the back and feels locked down, and the footbed is contoured almost perfectly to my foot. Interestingly, the removable insole has little bumps all over it. It struck me as of until I remembered reading a study where scientists found that small bumps on the insole of shows can help improve the wearer’s proprioception and balance. I wonder if that would affect people while running though.

The stitching and seams on the Forms are top-notch and appear very durable.

I love the asymmetrical lacing, it’s yet another aspect of these sites that gives a great fit.

The leather is soft and reminds me of some of the better soccer cleats I wore in my playing days, though I find it funny that those companies almost completely replaced real leather with faux leather years ago.

SKORA Forms

SKORA Forms

Hall with the SKORA Phase

Hall with the SKORA Phase

Kyle wearing the SKORA Base

Kyle wearing the SKORA Base

 

SKORA Form fresh out of the box

SKORA Form fresh out of the box

Kyle trying out the SKORA Base

Kyle trying out the SKORA Base

Speed-lacing with the SKORA Phase

Speed-lacing with the SKORA Phase

For more info, visit SKORA’s website or check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

By |October 18th, 2013|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , |3 Comments
  • Osprey Manta - Featured Image.jpg

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 |June 18th, 2013|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , , , , , , |11 Comments