Review: IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro

Finally – a backpack specifically made for run commuters!

The company that brought us our favorite garment carrier, IAMRUNBOX, released a series of run commuting backpacks after a very successful Kickstarter campaign, and we were extremely excited to get our hands on one recently. The IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro is a stylish and extremely practical backpack for everyday commuters who run with a change of clothes, a laptop, and a few personal items. Best of all, this pack won’t bounce! 

Test Model

IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro

Size: One size fit all

Carrying Capacity: 10L, 610 cu. in.

Cost: US $170

Performance and Evaluation

I logged approximately 40 miles with the IAMRUNBOX under a variety of conditions and temperatures. Unfortunately, I have yet to test it during a good rainstorm. I wore it a few times when there was a light sprinkle, but I didn’t feel that was a good test of the pack’s water resistant features.

While I expected it to feel a little awkward on the run, since the construction is markedly different than a standard pack, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it runs. The four foam pads that make contact with your back are comfortable and almost unnoticeable. Since the main compartment is rigid, there is no pack flop that you tend to get from a soft pack, so I expected loose items inside the pack to bounce around. However, that was not the case – everything remained firmly fixed.

The carrying capacity of the IAMRUNBOX works well for those run commuters who only run with their work clothes and a few personal items. I had trouble packing larger lunches and weekly supplies into it after packing clothing and accessories. It worked fine for a light lunch, like a sandwich and some mandarin oranges, for example, however larger bags of crackers/chips/crisps would get crushed when zipping the main compartment shut and deeper containers of leftovers were out of the question. This specific issue probably won’t affect a majority of run commuters, though, since most prefer to pack as minimal and light as possible.

One additional note regarding the pack’s volume; the back face of the pack is crisscrossed with an adjustable elastic cord. Since I tested the pack in the winter, I needed to carry a jacket with me for any out-of-office excursions. The cord system easily secured my jacket, and even retained additional room to carry more.

 

The laptop carrying feature works quite well. It’s a simple, two-strap holder that rides close to your back, but it does what it is designed to do. Smaller laptops or tablets may need additional padding around them to keep them from bouncing up and down in the pack.

The deep and wide zippered waist belt pouches are a fantastic feature. Most backpacks that have these usually tend towards smaller, stretchier styles that work for carrying, at most, a few gels, a thin beanie, or a pair of gloves. The IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro’s waist pockets, in contrast, can hold large smartphones, thick wool hats, sunglasses, and more. I normally carry my Nexus 6P (which is 6 ½” long and 3 ¼” wide) in the main compartment or in inaccessible side pouches of other packs, so it is awesome to have it right in front of me and be able to pull it out to take a picture or check a text message.

You notice the weight of the pack just forward of your shoulders and at the small of your back. I couldn’t identify any potential chafing locations – the fit and feel of everything was perfect.

Waist and sternum strap with whistle

Waist strap has openings on both sides to hide excess strap

What I Liked

Overall comfort and feel

Zippered clothing compartment

Laptop carrying feature

Large waistbelt pouches

Rigid structure of the pack

What I Didn’t Like

Limited carrying capacity

Velcro strap location

Cost

Backpack Details

Overall Construction

Both the pack and the zippers are made from weather/water-resistant materials. The exterior consists of a black nylon fabric with a polyurethane coating while the interior is lined with black velvet fabric.

Front

The front of the pack is mostly unremarkable, save for an elastic band system for holding larger, non-packable items like a jacket or a pair of shoes (an optional shoe bag is available, as well). For added visibility during low-light conditions, I add Amphipod flashing lights to the strings and strap.

The velcro strap pictured here functions as an additional hold-down for the large items on the front and can be rerouted to the back of the pack to secure the shoulder/waist straps together if you want to carry it by the carrying handle. If the strap is connected to the front of the pack however (as shown in the picture below), you must first disconnect it in order to open the pack, as it covers the zipper.

Sides

The sides do not include any additional storage or features.

Top and Bottom

The top and bottom of the pack include reflective strips. No additional features are present.

Main Compartment

When open, the right side of the pack is where you store your clothing. To hold all the clothing together, the Backpack Pro has a zippered, breathable cover, which makes it very easy to close the pack once everything is inside.  

The left side of the Backpack Pro is used for securely storing up to a 13.5″ laptop. It can also hold a tablet, a book, or a few magazines quite well, or any other items that you may need at work (small lunch, belt, packable raincoat, etc.).

Open and empty

Fully packed with a light lunch

Back and Waist Strap

The back of the IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro is rigid, with four palm-sized cushions strategically placed to allow the pack to rest comfortably against your back while walking or running. When the pack is on the body and cinched down, the cushions rest at the base of the scapulae and on both sides of the lower back.

The waist strap is wide and lightly-padded and a simple plastic buckle secures it to your waist. There is a large zippered pouch on each side that is big enough to hold large smartphones and plenty of additional gear (see notes at end of review regarding the metal zippers). A unique feature of the waist strap is that each side facing the buckle opens to reveal a pocket that can be used for storing excess straps. 

 

Four cushioned pads make for a comfortable ride

The waist strap pockets hold large phones and more

Suspension

Compared to most packs I’ve used, the shoulder straps on the Backpack Pro are wide, coming in right at 3 inches (7.62 cm) and there is very little narrowing of the straps along the length. There is some very thin padding on the inside of the straps, and I found it to be adequate for running with heavier weight.

The front of the right side strap features a reflective loop and a zippered, crescent-shaped pouch. The pouch holds a pair of gloves or a few gels when closed, or – when opened – a water bottle. This is a neat feature and works best with shorter bottles.

The left side strap includes a reflective loop, as well, and an elastic expandable top loading pouch that holds smaller smartphones (iPhone 5, etc.) securely.

Sternum Strap

There is one sternum strap on this pack. It is made of nylon and includes a piece of elastic that stretches an inch and a half that enables the strap to move when the wearer inhales and exhales. The sternum strap can be adjusted 9 inches vertically, so that it can placed in a comfortable location on the wearer’s chest.

Suspension system. Right strap opens to hold a small water bottle

Fully loaded with a winter jacket secured to the front with straps

Additional Notes

The metal zippers shown in this pre-production pack will be replaced with string pullers to avoid clanging sounds and the water-resistant zip will be upgraded to ensure softer opening.

Bottom Line

The IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro is a fantastic pack for run commuters; especially those that need to transport a laptop and keep their office clothing looking good.

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Disclaimer

IAMRUNBOX provided us with the IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro for review, however this did not influence my opinion regarding this product. The thoughts and pictures contained in this review are my own.

By | 2017-04-24T10:45:15+00:00 February 2nd, 2017|Categories: General|Tags: , , , , , , |4 Comments

Review: OMM Adventure Light 20 Backpack

The Best Run Commuting Backpack Ever?

OMM (standing for Original Mountain Marathon) is a brand well-known to UK and Euro trail runners, but it has yet to become popular in the US, which is a pity. I would go so far as to say this is a ‘best-kept secret’ of running packs. The OMM 20L may be the best run commuting backpack ever, and for those so inclined, it doubles as the best multi-day trail running pack ever, too! It is relatively cheap, hugely comfortable, robust, thoughtfully designed, and has tons of storage room.

For these reasons, no doubt, it has been the backpack of choice for the winners of some epic races: this year alone Eion Keith was wearing it when he won the notoriously grueling Spine Race in England – 268 miles non-stop over snowy English high country in mid-winter. Elspeth Luke wore it to run 1100k over Scottish mountains in record time. And it’s not just for cold-weather conditions: Aussie pro racer Samantha Gash wore it to run the 4 Deserts races across –as the name implies–four of the world’s serious deserts. Many athletes use this pack at the 6-days, 250km stage-race in the Moroccan desert, the Marathon des Sables.

So, how does such a hardcore pack work for everyday run commuters who just want to run an hour to work through suburban streets? Brilliantly, that’s how!

 

 

Test Model

OMM Adventure Light 20

Size: One size fits all

Carrying Capacity: 20L, 1220.5 cu. in.

Cost: US $70.19, GBP54, EU78.95

Add-on: Dry-bag, 20L

Best for:

  • Run commuters who carry larger loads on most run commutes

  • One backpack for both a daily run commute pack in the city and for epic runs/races such as the Marathon des Sables!

  • Run commuters with shorter torsos

Performance and Evaluation

Outstanding performance in a wide range of conditions. The OMM 20L is very comfortable, and performs brilliantly as a daily run commuting backpack when carrying medium to large loads. Also performs at the extreme level when used as an adventure racing pack on multi-day or stage races such as the Marathon des Sables. It says something about the versatility of this pack that many runners have used it in stage-races in the climates of both the Sahara Desert in temperatures up to 50C, and in the British winter in high mountain snow in temperatures that drop to -10C. Clearly, the OMM Adventure Light can handle extremes.  It will easily handle whatever you can throw at it on a daily run commute.

For those who often run commute with a very small load, such as a shirt and thin slacks, it is possible to cinch down the OMM Adventure Light 20 tightly by running a thin elastic cord through the eyelets on the front designed for that purpose. There is no cinching cord included for this purpose, however. The front buckle strap does pull the pack quite tightly together on a vertical axis, but not horizontally.

While this pack is certainly one of the least obtrusive full-size packs to use even when carrying a small load (ie. it is not ‘too much’ pack as others would be), I’d go for a smaller pack if you really aren’t going to carry much ever. A mostly-empty pack is just unnecessary now that there are so many smaller packs on the market which are designed to be comfortable with smaller loads. I have not tested the smaller OMM packs (13, 10 and 8Ls), but if their quality is similar to that of the Adventure Light, it would definitely be worth giving them a try.

Sometimes, it rains. We run commuters have to run in rain at times, as Kyle discusses in his classic ‘How to RAIN commute’ post.

To guard against sweat seepage or sudden unexpected rainstorms, a precaution is to always put your clothes into a dry bag — which will also compress them — before loading them into the main compartment. Or, there is the option of a small, external rain-cover instead.  

As mentioned above, the main compartment and the waist-belt pockets of the OMM 20L are made from a very light material that appears to be water repellent. This makes sense, given that it is designed to be used in adventure/nature races, where rain and water are common. This material does work. A few times when I thought it wasn’t going to rain I didn’t bother to use a dry bag and got caught in brief showers. My clothes remained dry. However, in prolonged rain or heavy downpours, water would soak through onto the contents. 

 

 

 

What I Liked

Comfort

Lightness

Size

Pocket distribution/design

Thoughtful overall design

Price

 

 

What I Didn’t Like

The location of the closing clip for the main compartment

 

Backpack Details

Front

The closing clip for the main compartment is at the bottom edge of the front of the pack, vertically. This is unusual. It took me ages to get used to, and for weeks I kept trying to open the pack using the plastic buckle that is situated on the top lid of the pack, where the clip is found on most bags. I’m still not convinced the bottom edge is a great location for the opening clip.

Sides

On the lower half of each side of the main compartment is a mesh pocket with elasticized top edge. They are water-bottle pockets, and have been designed with great consideration for the needs of adventure runners, for whom hydration is essential.  The pockets are deep, each amply holding a 600mL bottle. This is true even when the main compartment of the pack is full. The other brilliant thing about their design is that they are angled slightly backwards, so that the top of the water bottle is tilted fractionally towards the direction you are facing. This makes it easier to pull the bottles out and put them back in, while running. The bottles don’t jump out of these pockets even when there isn’t much in the main compartment of the pack. Overall, excellent design and performance.

Main Compartment and Top Access Pouch

The main compartment is basically a cylindrical sack with a drawstring closure. Over this fits a hood that buckles down with a strap that runs vertically down the front of the backpack and clips to the lower quarter of the front of the pack (the ‘weird’ strap described above). The main compartment holds a LOT of stuff. You could easily get a medium-thickness winter coat in here along with shoes, clothes and lunch.  

As you can see in the photo above, there is a zipped pocket on the top of the hood that covers the main drawstring compartment of the pack. This zipped pocket is almost the same width across as the hood itself, so it can hold a wallet and phone, or even a small Tupperware container, easily.

Back, shoulder straps and waist belt

The padding on the OMM Adventure Light 20 is generous, light and comfortable. It is also positioned where you need it and not where you don’t. The back is kept firm and self-supporting by a removable foam pad that sits inside the main compartment in its own sleeve. This pad is so light, and helps keep the overall structure of the pack so comfortable, that after I tried running once with the pad removed I resolved never to do so again — it’s simply more of a gain to have the foam pad in there.

There are two identical pockets on either side of the waist belt. Both pockets close with zips. They are large enough to fit a smartphone, and there is some flexibility as the lower half of each pocket is made of a mesh that stretches slightly. I found these pockets to be very useful for carrying my phone, food snacks, and accessories like gloves, hat or headlamp.

 

Hydration System

The OMM Adventure Light  20 does not come with a hydration bladder or bottles. As discussed above, the side bottle pockets are perfectly designed and executed for their purpose. With both bottle pockets carrying 600ml — or 750ml at a pinch — bottles, this would give you 1.2L – 1.5L fluid. You could also remove the foam back pad from its dedicated sleeve and put your hydration pouch in there. There is no other pocket in the main compartment to hold a hydration bladder, and unless you had a completely full load it would slosh around a bit if in the main area.

Conclusion

A top-drawer backpack for adventure running AND run commuting!

Additional Pictures

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

Review: Deuter Futura 22 Backpack

All of us down here at The Run Commuter’s Atlanta, GA headquarters decided it was time to get some new packs to test out, so over the next few months, we’ll have some in-depth insight and detailed field test results from a handful of running backpacks. First up, the Deuter Futura 22.

Performance and Evaluation

Blinkie lights will fit in between the zippers on the top and bottom of the pack.

I ran approximately 50 miles with the Deuter during rainstorms, extreme cold weather, and mild-to-warm days over several weeks.

When I first put the pack on, I immediately noticed how much more comfortable it was than the Osprey Manta 20. That was entirely a result of the thick padding within both the shoulder and waist straps, as well as a small patch of cushioning that rests between your shoulder blades.

The lower portion of the frame felt like two fists gently pushing into my kidneys. It was strange, and normally something you’d experience in an external-frame hiking backpack.

The break-in period for the pack ranged from 10 – 15 miles. What happened during that time was two-fold – One, the straps loosened slightly from their stiff out-of-the-box feel; and two, the waist strap cushioning softened. These two things together allowed the pack to adjust and fit the individual shape of my body much better than it had when brand new, leading to a more comfortable run (Note: this is normal for all packs, with some variability in the length of time it takes.) The “two-fists-pushing-into-my-kidneys” feel gradually lessened, with a bit more use, changing from slightly uncomfortable to unnoticeable.

The rain cover is tucked away in the standard location at the base of the pack and stays on without using a plastic toggle spring like Osprey rain covers, which tend to drift in between your back and the pack while moving, creating some discomfort. I used the rain cover during my first test run with the Futura. It deployed and went on quickly, and kept the pack, and the items inside, secure and dry.

I experienced absolutely no hot spots or abrasion areas. None. Some days I used the pack while wearing full winter gear, with several layers between my body and the pack; some days it was just a single tech shirt. No chafing, whatsoever.

There are no attachments for lights on the back of the pack, but I found that blinking lights could be added in between the dual zippers on the top and bottom of the pack.

In addition, the hiking poles attachment (seen on the left side of the pack) works quite well for carrying a long-handled umbrella to or from work.

Overall, the Deuter Futura 22 is a great pack for run commuting and I would put it in a tie for first place with the Osprey Manta 20, followed closely by the Osprey Stratos 24.

What I Liked

Volume: Very roomy; enough space for work clothes, lunch, and a winter jacket

Strap Padding: Very thick and comfortable

Bottom Pouch with main compartment access

Raincover is effective and does not use a plastic toggle spring

What I Didn’t Like

No pouches on waist strap

Cannot access side pouches while running

No blinkie/light attachments on back of pack (I use Amphipod Vizlets in between the dual zippers for low-light conditions)

It should be noted that these certainly wouldn’t keep me from purchasing this pack.

Let’s Get Down to Details

 Volume

22 Liters

Weight

2.5 pounds

Material

60% polyester

40% nylon

Color

Papaya/Stone

Price

Buy It Now

Amazon.com

Front

The front of the Deuter Futura 22 includes a large, fold-down zippered accessories pouch at the top, and a rounded, dual-zippered compartment at the bottom. Inside the accessories compartment are several standard mesh pouches and key clips for keeping your small items organized and in-place while moving.

The front of the Futura 22 includes two compartments and four small areas of reflective material.

The accessories pouch is large and will easily hold all of your personal items, like cell phone, wallet, and keys.

Sides

Both sides of the pack feature elastic-topped pouches which are crossed over by the packs lower set of external compression straps. Each pouch is partially-covered by reflective material that wraps around to the front of the pack.

Each side includes an elastic pouch and both a lower and upper set of external compression straps.

Main Compartment

The main compartment, while very basic, is extremely roomy. It easily fits my Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter, winter jacket, lunch, and extra running gear, with space to spare. The Futura is hydration compatible, and includes a hydration sleeve and velcro attachment (shown below,) as well as a tube slot at the top of the pack.

The spacious main compartment, with hydration sleeve and attachment

Bottom Compartment

The bottom compartment, open.

The bottom compartment is not a normal feature of run commuting packs. Standard packs generally have a large main compartment and one or two smaller accessories pouches near the top.

Inside view, showing the zippered access to the bottom of the main compartment.

Back/Suspension

The Deuter Futura 22’s suspension system.

Deuter’s breathable suspension system, called AirComfort, is very similar in concept to the AirSpeed frames that Osprey manufactures. The one noticeable difference is that the Futura’s wire frame forms an “X,” whereas Osprey’s lightwire frame forms a rectangle. This gives the Futura a little more malleability at the sides, allowing it to contour to your shape a little better than the Osprey.

Rain Cover

In my opinion, a rain cover should be a feature on any pack you use for run commuting. If you get caught in a rainstorm, you only have to stop for a few seconds to unzip and cover your pack, keeping nay electronics and dress clothing dry and out of the weather. Deuter even added a reflective logo to the cover, so when it is on and covering up the pack’s standard reflective fabric areas, you still have a little extra something to keep you visible to drivers.

The Futura’s rain cover is found at the very bottom of the pack.

The rain cover on the pack.

By | 2016-10-22T20:26:32+00:00 March 3rd, 2015|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , , , , , |8 Comments

The New Run Commuters – January 2015

In our first edition of The New Run Commuters for 2015, we meet Kate Livett from Sydney, Australia. Kate is a recent and die-hard convert to run commuting and though her job contracts and office locations often change, she’s determined to make the run to or from work no matter the circumstances. Rock on, Kate!

If you are interested in being featured in The New Run Commuters, simply fill out the form at the bottom of the post and we’ll get started on your profile. We look forward to hearing your stories! 

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Runner Basics

image

New Run Commuter Kate Livett

  • Name: Kate Livett
  • Age: 36
  • Hometown: Sydney, Australia
  • Profession/Employer: Academic (English Literature), various universities around Sydney (currently UNSW)
  • Number of years running: 7 years
  • Number of races per year: None. I went in a couple of road races and was not a huge fan of the crowds, but I’m planning to do some trail ultras in 2015.
  • Do you prefer road or trail? Trails are my passion (Whenever I can I run on trails.) I’m very lucky to live 40 minutes’ drive from a massive national park of native forest with very technical, rocky and rootsy singletrack, loads of mini-waterfalls, giant goannas, echidnas, kangaroos, poisonous snakes (!), unspoiled coastline and generally all-round amazing natural beauty. I try to run in the national park at least once a week. Running in the city, I enjoy looking at people’s gardens and meeting cats and dogs or watching birds in trees, etc., but I hate the aggressive drivers in Sydney, and constantly having to be ‘on my guard’ against crazy cars.

Gear

  • Backpack: I have several…*ahem*. Depending on weather and load, I switch between the Deuter SpeedLite 10, Osprey Stratos 24, Salomon Advanced Skin Set 12 (2013 version) on the road, and Ultimate Direction Wasp and Nathan Intensity for trails. For me, backpacks are as important to get right as shoes.
  • Shoes: Altra Torin for road, Altra Superior and Lone Peak 1.5 for trails, Inov-8 Trailroc 235 for super-technical trails and hills (though,they are too narrow and give me blisters), and flip-flops with shoelaces around the heels for homemade huaraches when it’s hot (see photo). I love zero-drop and wide toeboxes.
  • Clothing: I try to buy from brands that respect at least one of the following ethical criteria: vegan/environmentally sustainable/workers’ rights. This is very limiting; for example, I won’t buy Salomon or Nathan from now on. I know, I know, I have packs by both those brands. They’re awesome packs, too. But, I made the decision to try to “buy ethically” just after I got the Advanced Skin Set and starting sometime is better than never, right? I am hoping they will get some specific policies on ethical issues soon, so I can buy their stuff again! I just bought a long-sleeved Patagonia capilene tee with UPF50+ sun protection. It’s made of 60% recycled plastic bottles. I’ve worn it twice in 90 minute runs in 30-degrees Celsius, and it’s totally awesome — cool and light and protective. Moving Comfort bras. Basic running shorts.
  • Outerwear: Puma PE windbreaker jacket for trail and when I’m not commuting. For run commuting in winter a huge yellow neon cycling windbreaker, which i wear with my pack underneath. It makes me look pretty silly, but ‘safety first’…
  • Headgear: I always wear a cap and Polaroid sunglasses.
  • Lighting: Two bicycle froglights on my pack and reflective clothing.
  • Hydration: None in winter. In summer, I will drink up to a litre of water on the exact same run. I recently bought two Ultimate Direction soft-flasks (see them in the front pockets of my pack in the photo). They’re pricey, but i cannot recommend them highly enough — best investment ever, for trail and road. You don’t have to run with half-empty or empty bottles all the time. They are much better suited to the female anatomy as well.

General Questions

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

I have been obsessed with running since I took it up in my late 20s. Since that time I’ve been employed all over the place at different things, often working from home. I didn’t know there was such a thing as ‘run commuting’, and always did my running before/after work. Looking back, even if I had heard about it, I’m pretty sure I would have thought it was impossible for me to run commute, as I lacked general ‘running knowledge’ and wouldn’t have felt confident running with a backpack, timing my meals etc.

Last year, though, (having accumulated 6 years’ running experience) I got a contract to work regular 9-5 hours in the Sydney CBD, and about a month before I started, I stumbled on The Run Commuter website. The universe aligned, and I decided I wasn’t going to let my running be sacrificed to employment! I read every post on this site and successfully run commuted for that whole 6 months. I’m about to start another contract with regular hours. My New Year’s Resolution is to embrace the changing GPS coordinates of my employment, and to adapt to run commuting wherever the location of my latest workplace. I’m lucky that my partner is very supportive of my run commuting and doesn’t mind if dinner time is delayed a bit because I’m run commuting home.

image_1

Mishi, checking out Kate’s homemade running sandals

How often do you run commute?

Usually four days a week either to or from (mostly to). I would love to do both ways every day, but it would kill me!

How far is your run commute?

Last year’s 6-month stint was 12-14 km one way, depending on the route. The job I’m just about to start is almost the identical distance.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I try to pack a sandwich and apple. I admire the runners profiled on this site who run with frozen soup, strawberries, etc.! I’m not sure I’d be successful with that…

What do you like most about run commuting?

Chris Van Dyke, one of the first run commuters profiled on this site, says it best when he says: “How often can you straight up trade something you hate for something you love?” Similarly to Chris, I have loved swapping the peak hour public transport experience (cranky sardines in a slow-moving can…) for exercise and personal room to breathe, and I feel physically and mentally invigorated all day after running to work. When I’m run commuting i’m actually excited to go to work. Like most things in life, once you’ve done it the better way it’s hard to go back. Now I get cranky with myself if I don’t get to run commute because I’ve slept in.

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

Runners, no. Quite a few of my colleagues bicycle commute.

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

Train and then bus (unfortunately). Sometimes drive, but parking is impossible and the aggression of other drivers stresses me out.

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

If you’re lucky enough to have showers at work, before you start run commuting try to ascertain what the unofficial “shower schedule” is — if you’re going to be rocking up at the same time each morning you don’t want to find that the shower is “pre-booked” every 15 minutes until lunchtime.

Specifically for the ladies — backpacks are generally made for men’s bodies. It can be discouraging trying to find one that doesn’t bounce, look stupid or feel wrong. Spend extra time researching this key piece of gear, and possibly spend extra cash on it, too. I’ve found it’s worth spending more at the beginning for a superior product– you will save money in the long run by not giving up run commuting due to an uncomfortable pack. (Happily, this logic also justifies my backpack fetish…) At least you’re not shelling out as much as you would for a sport like cycling/golf/triathlon. Also, don’t forget clean socks.

Anything else that you would like to include?

I know some people are put off trying a run commute by the thought that other commuters driving or walking past are ‘judging’ them or staring. But, if you feel self-conscious, just remind yourself: “They are probably very jealous that I am enjoying my commute and they are not.” The other confidence booster I like is the haughty self-question-and-answer: “Are THEY running 12 km to work? No, they aren’t!”

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2015 – The Year of The Run Commute

What better way to kick off the new year than to start run commuting? For those who are thinking about it, check out our Beginner posts below. Already a run commuter? Great! Maybe your new year’s resolution could be to run commute more frequently this year? Let’s make 2015 the Year of the Run Commute

Need some inspiration? Read profiles of new run commuters here.

Part 1: Mentality

Part 2: Route Planning

Part 3: Gear and Transporting it to the Office

Part 4: What to Wear

Part 5: From Sweaty to Office-Ready

Have more questions?

Check out the FAQs

Or

Email Us

The New Run Commuters – October 2014

We’ve been a bit busy around here lately prepping for ultras, raising kids, and meeting the demands of our non-running day jobs (ugh), but we’re picking back up again and have a some great new stories and articles to share with you. To kick it off, we’re starting with an overdue edition of The New Run Commuters.

In this month’s edition, we feature Seth Leon, a UCLA Statistician from Los Angeles, CA, and Lori Corpuz, a data analyst living in New York City.

If you are interested in being featured in The New Run Commuters, please fill out the form at the end of the post and we’ll be in touch.

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Runner Basics

Seth L. - 02

New Run Commuter Seth Leon

  • Name: Seth Leon
  • Age: 51
  • City/State: Los Angeles, CA
  • Profession/Employer: Statistician, UCLA
  • Number of years running: 4
  • # of races you participate in a year: 2
  • Do you prefer road or trail? I guess I prefer the trails as we have some beautiful trails here in Socal, but 90% of my miles are on the road.

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: Osprey Daylite
  • Shoes: Hoka One Cliftons
  • Clothing:  The usual, but I wear Shock Doctor Knee braces and spandex to prevent chafing
  • Outerwear:
  • Headgear: Usually a hat
  • Lights: I attach some blinkers to my backpack
  • Hydration: None, I’m basically a camel and only need to hydrate on 20+ milers

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

About 1 ½ years ago, partly out of necessity as I had a bike I was commuting with stolen. I didn’t think I could handle the mileage as I had been injury prone in the past, but was surprised how I responded to running doubles with a gradual buildup.

Seth, when he's not running

Seth, when he’s not running

How often do you run commute?

5 days a week

How far is your commute?

Typical week of round trips:

  • 2 days, 15 miles each
  • 2 days, 5 miles each
  • 1 day, 4 miles

I drive part way to work so I have go to street parking spots depending on my schedule.

I have done the full 21-mile round trip a few times. I like to do the 15-milers back-to-back (along with a Saturday long run with my group The LA Leggers) on Tuesday/Wednesday, as it seems to help my endurance.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

Buy

What do you like most about run commuting?

  • Turns the worst part of most days in LA (the commute) into a productive healthy, consistent activity
  • Better for the environment & reduces traffic
  • The morning/evening doubles are great for base building
  • Don’t have to pay for parking, pay less for gas

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

I see a few folks, but don’t know them personally.

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

On rare occasions, say, when I need to wear a suit for an important meeting I drive.

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

Do it, but start slow and gradually increase miles or days.

Anything else that you would like to include?

I am fortunate working at UCLA. I have showers and a locker waiting for me when I get to campus. Run commuting (along with those knee braces) allowed me to overcome injuries that were limiting me to 20 miles a week running. Now in large part to the recovery that the doubles allow I am running 65-70 miles a week.

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Runner Basics

New Run Commuter Lori Corpuz

New Run Commuter Lori Corpuz

  • Name: Lori Corpuz
  • Age: 23
  • Location: New York City
  • Profession: Data Analyst in the Financial Services Industry
  • Number of years running: 10
  • # of races you participate in a year: 3+ Half Marathons
  • Do you prefer road or trail? Trail is better for my knees, but I live in a concrete jungle.
  • Preferred Running Application: Nike+
 

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: Nathan Vapor Shape
  • Shoes: Any Nike Stability shoe, looking into Hoka
  • Clothing: Various articles from Nike and Lululemon
  • Outerwear: Various Nike and Lululemon jackets
  • Headgear: Nike Cap, Lululemon beanie
  • Lights: Petzl headlamp
  • Hydration: small glass of Cytomax before the run
 

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?
I first learned of run commuting from my Executive Director who runs into work everyday. After beginning work in NYC, initially I would do a loop in Central Park or meet-up with various running groups; however, when I began studying for the CFA Designation, I fell off due to time constraints. I realized run-commuting would integrate well by displacing my morning subway ride and keeping me accountable to managing my studies and workouts around my work schedule.
 
Lori C. - 02

Sunrise in Brooklyn, NY

How often do you run commute?

Each morning of the workweek
 
How far is your commute?
5.5+ miles
 
Do you pack or buy a lunch?
Buy at a grocery store upon arrival, or during lunch
 
What do you like most about run commuting?
Waking up to an adventure and amazing sunrise every morning, while tackling many responsibilities at once (i.e. commuting, working out, planning my intentions for the day, photojournalism by way of social media, reading/podcasting, jamming to new music, etc.)
 
Do you know of anyone else in your area that run commutes?
I will soon enough.
 

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

Lori C. - 03

Scenes from Lori’s run commute

Subway, or I’ll bike.
 
If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who was considering run commuting, what would it be?
Run a few trial runs before the real deal so you can learn from your mistakes beforehand. Otherwise, Concede Nothing and Just Do It.
 
Anything else you would like to include?
In the words of Robert Frost, I strive to take the road “less traveled by, and that has made all the difference”.
 
 
 
 
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Interested in being featured on The Run Commuter? Fill out the form below and you could be in next month’s edition of The New Run Commuters!
 

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By | 2016-10-22T20:26:34+00:00 October 16th, 2014|Categories: General, News, People|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Review: Henty Wingman Backpack

Henty takes a simple method of storing and transporting clothing to an entirely different level with their Wingman Backpack.

This unique, smart bag transforms a heavy-duty garment carrier into a securely rolled-up backpack, making it a mobile gear transportation system for runners, cyclists, and walkers alike.

Though a bit expensive, cyclists have sworn by the messenger-style Wingman for years. Listening to customer feedback, Henty decided to add backpack straps to make the bag more appealing to cyclists who preferred that setup to carry their bags. With that simple modification, the Wingman Backpack opened up to the running market. I ran with it multiple times over several weeks under varying conditions to see how it performed. Here are the results.

Test Scenario 1: Suit coats and a laptop

I chose to test the Henty Wingman Backpack out on the run commute home, so I dressed in my normal business casual attire, packed up my lunch and gear, then headed to the train station.

Packed and ready to go

Packed and ready to go

The Wingman Backpack consists of two pieces – the garment bag, and the duffel. The garment bag seems like it is full of secret pouches, velcro attachments, straps, buckles and zippers. One pouch even contains an integrated raincover!

Garment Bag Opened

Garment Bag Opened

One of the zippers reveals this quick-access area, complete with a detachable passport-style organizer. This is a great feature if you are a run commuter who combines running and transit (easy access to bus/train pass).

Quick-access pouch with removable organizer

Quick-access pouch with removable organizer

Overall, there is a lot of space in this pack. The duffel is extremely durable yet simple, with no extra pockets or gadgets within. It held everything I needed to pack into it and had remaining space left over. The duffel bag buckles inside the empty, center space of the rolled-up unit. 

Looking down into the WIngman Backpack from above. The duffel fills the empty space within.

Looking down into the Wingman Backpack from above. The duffel fills the empty space within.

The hanger system is awesome, consisting of a single, high-grade plastic hanger that pivots to allow you to pack the curved “hanger part” away when not being used. Henty recommends one suit jacket and one shirt, or three shirts as the maximum load for the garment bag. 

The pack felt different when I donned it, but not in a bad way. I was unused to wearing a cylindrical-shaped backpack, and the feel of it against my back was unusual and tight, but out of the way of my swinging arms. It felt great while walking, though when I started to run, I could feel the effect of the change in center of gravity away from my back due to the extra weight of the suit coats and laptop. The laptop also altered the fit against my back, making the contact width wider than it would have been without a laptop. 

Padded laptop sleeve rests against your back

Padded laptop sleeve rests against your back

The laptop protective sleeve is fantastic and kept sweat out like a champ. Around mile three, the shoulder straps started chafing under my arms a bit, but not terribly bad. I tried it again a few days later under the same conditions and had the same results. It works well for shorter distances under this configuration.

Also, the suit coats looked great when I pulled them out after arriving at home. 

Ideal Distance (no laptop, no suit(s), normal clothes): 1 – 3 miles

Test Scenario 2: Regular clothes, no laptop, normal daily items

For the second test, I again took the train to work dressed in my normal business casual attire, and packed my lunch and running clothes in the duffel. At the end of the day, I hung the clothes on the hanger, packed away my things, cinched everything up, and headed out.

Without the laptop, the bag fit much better. It rested on my back in between my shoulder blades and maintained body contact down to my lower back. And, since it was a bit lighter this time without the suit coats and laptop, the pack’s center of gravity changed to a more normal location.

On the run, I had to occasionally adjust the straps to keep the pack in place. That is a fairly common thing to have to do, and why we recommend choosing a running backpack with easily adjustable straps for on-the-fly cinching.  

Unlike a regular pack, the Henty Wingman Backpack did not affect my arm swing, and it was a comfortable run for the entire 5.2 miles back to the train station. 

Henty - Test 02 Arrival.jpg

The end of a my run commute home with the Wingman Backpack

I did not use the sternum strap very frequently, however, as it is a bit too short. I have a small chest, and it was tight on me. It could probably use another 5 inches of length, but the pack fit securely enough without using it all.  

The only other thing I could see that might affect runners with a different body shape than mine is how far it extends down beyond the lower back. It might rub if the runner has a larger backside. With a standard cargo load, the Henty Wingman works well for medium distances.

Ideal Distance (no laptop, normal clothes): 3 – 6 miles

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Overall, it is extremely well-made, durable, and works pretty well for running. It would be ideal for run commuters who bring a suit or two in on Monday, and bring it back home on Friday. I would forgo carrying a laptop, as it will change the fit a bit too much for running. It’s also perfect for those run commuters who cycle in on Monday morning with clothes for a few days, and run home and to work until they need to change out clothing or supplies.

The cool part about the Wingman Backpack for me is that it combines two things that I normally use – a clothing carrier (Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder 15) AND a backpack (Osprey Manta 20) – into one easy-to-use system.

As always please try on a running pack to ensure that it fits your body properly and comfortably before you commit to it.

Click here for Henty’s US Website, Facebook page, and Twitter account.

Choosing a Running Backpack: A Few Tips and the Deuter Race X

During my run back home today, I saw a lady running with a fully loaded Osprey Stratos 34 (2,000 cubic inches – 34 litres) on her back. Osprey makes amazing backpacks, but that particular one on this lady’s back – whom was no more than 125 pounds after a good meal (50 kg), was just too big, to a point where her running stride was clearly impeded by it as the weight of the pack was constantly shifting from one side to the other.

Choosing a backpack to run commute is not just like choosing any pack back. First, you want it as light as possible, even when packed. And, not only does it have to be well-adjusted, but it has to stay well-adjusted WHILE RUNNING. Finally, it must also be slim enough on your back as to not impede your running action, particularly your arm movements. This normally translates into packs that are between 500 and 1,200 cubic inches (10 to 20 litres), depending on your body type and size. This is well below the traditional day hike back pack size, which is around 1,350 cubic inches (22 litres). In summary, good run commuting back packs are:

  • light
  • slim
  • small
  • tightly-adjusted to the body

Over the years, companies have built more and more packs that fit these requirements. My personal choice: the Deuter Race X.

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back

Deuter Race X on my back

At 5’10” and 160 pounds (1,78 m, 73 kg), the Deuter Race X (730 cubic inches – 12 litres) is the perfect run-commuting backpack for me. This bag is light (1.5 pounds – 600 g), and it fits well between my shoulder blades. Even if I load it to its fullest, it rarely weighs more than 10 pounds (4 kg). The shoulder straps are thin but comfortable and well adjusted, and the waiste and chest straps help keeping it snug against my back. Its compact size does not affect my running stride, and my arms can move as freely as if I had nothing on.  In winter, it fits just as nicely over all the layers required to run through any kind of nasty weather (see Running Gear Fit to Face A Canadian Winter for more information on these layers).

The Deuter Race X fits me like a glove, but it has other very interesting characteristics. First, it is extremely durable – I have used it constantly, through all kinds of weather, for the past five years, over 6,000 kilometres (4,000 miles). The only thing that let go was the top pocket zipper, which I had fixed by a shoe maker.

front

Front view of waist and sternum straps

The Deuter Race X has another interesting quality…it is very affordable (64$ Cdn at MEC; oddly, it appears to be more expensive in the US, at a cost of around 80$ US). Osprey (Raptor), Gregory (Miwok) and many other companies have bags just as good as this one, but none cheaper (at least in Canada).  This bag also comes with an integrated rain cover and is pre-fitted for an hydration pocket (sold separately).

In conclusion, the Deuter Race X is the right size, the right fit and at the right price for most run commuters.

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I mentioned above that I had my pack repaired by a shoe maker after the top pocket zipper gave up on me. I actually get lots of modifications or repairs done on my kit. I am a creature of habit, and I don’t like to change gear that much. If anything breaks or annoys me, I always look for a way to fix it before thinking about getting newer equipment. There are all kinds of good reasons for doing it, but I mainly do it because I don’t like changing things too much!  Many years ago, on a long hike, I grabbed the wrong backpack and threw it on. Despite the fact that it was the exact same pack, I knew right away it was not mine, and I did not like that feeling. I then found my pack and put it on; the feeling was amazing, a bit like meeting an old friend you had not seen for a long time. All that to say that I like my gear and that I take super special care of it!

Top of pack with zipper modification

Top of pack with zipper modification

To get modifications or repairs done, I used to go to a normal shoe maker, but lately, I found a shoe maker that specializes in outdoor gear. The cool thing about that, is not only does the kit gets fixed, but it comes back just as good as new. Since gear can become expensive, I strongly encourage you to look for that kind of shop in your area. (if you live in the Ottawa region, check out Atelier hors Piste http://www.atelierhorspiste.com).

By | 2016-10-22T20:26:38+00:00 May 21st, 2014|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , , |14 Comments
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