Review: GORUCK GR1 Backpack

In looking for the best run commuting backpack, I stumbled upon GORUCK. Their GR1 is considered by many people to be the ultimate everyday backpack. So can the backpack that can do anything also run commute? Let’s find out…

Test Model

GORUCK GR1

Size: 20 inch

Carrying Capacity: 26L, 1,587 cu. in.

Cost: US $395

Backpack Details

So GORUCK is the brainchild of this former special forces veteran who is smiling like a maniac in every picture. Seriously, the energy on the GORUCK site is tangible.  He puts his dog, Monster, on like half the site! But, he is freaking adorable.

If you want to learn how to do web design, just look at www.goruck.com .  The design is brilliant, clean, crisp, it won me over.  If a purse company had a site with this kind of energy I would have bought one and would be trying to use it as a run commuting man bag.  It’s the ultimate salesman for Goruck!

These bags are meant for rucking.    Which is basically walking around with a heavy pack.  They sell weights to put in them from 10 lbs to 45 lbs (I have a 45 lb one that I have been playing with).  And, if that’s not enough, they also host GORUCK events which are basically SEAL Team/boot camp events. Think of them as team building events for badasses.

So for run commuting they are overbuilt in almost every way, stress points tested to over 400 lbs.  They also come with their “Scars Lifetime Guarantee” – basically if the bag breaks while using it, they will repair or replace it for free.  Forever bag? OK, I’m listening.

During the initial unboxing, I was a little underwhelmed. The bag is all 1000D Cordura – it is stiff and boxy, just like a brand new pair of Rainbow sandals are stiff flat boards that age into beauty and comfort like this…

I’m told the bag eventually molds to you, the plastic frame sheet conforms to your back and the straps shape to your shoulders. These are the beastly straps.

Thick and almost over padded, but surprisingly comfortable.  The pack feels like you are giving a koala a piggy back ride.  And if that doesn’t sound awesome to you then you are insane!

Here is one of the interesting things that is counter-intuitive to a running backpack.

The back has zero ventilation.  The koala will get your back a little sweaty.  But because it’s 1000D Cordura it doesn’t absorb the sweat, it just runs off.  So it’s weirdly comfortable. I’ve run to work several times with it already in the hot, humid, Charleston weather and it’s been fine.  All backpacks give me back sweat so it doesn’t bother me at all. Also the 1000D is basically rain proof. There are reviewers who do shower tests and the inside stays dry.

The bag opens up like a suitcase fully if you want.  It makes packing it super easy. I can fold my clothes big and flat like they are going in a drawer. In usually roll my clothes to fit in a regular bag. In fact a few days ago I got my free scrubs delivered to me at work and there was still enough room on the run home.  That’s my regular junk, my scrubs I wore that day, my towel and toiletries, 5 pair of scrubs and two scrub jackets! It’s the TARDIS of backpacks. It says 26 liters but it carries more. Magic!

The inside has zippered compartments.

The bag opens up like a suitcase fully if you want.  It makes packing it super easy. I can fold my clothes big and flat like they are going in a drawer. In usually roll my clothes to fit in a regular bag. In fact a few days ago I got my free scrubs delivered to me at work and there was still enough room on the run home.  That’s my regular junk, my scrubs I wore that day, my towel and toiletries, 5 pair of scrubs and two scrub jackets! It’s the TARDIS of backpacks. It says 26 liters but it carries more. Magic!

The inside has zippered compartments.

There is an elasticized pouch on the back of the bag which will hold 3 Nalgene bottles side by side perfectly.

There is an elasticized pouch on the back of the bag which will hold 3 Nalgene bottles side by side perfectly.

There is a section of MOLLE webbing at the top back inside of the bag that can be used for whatever you need. Look up MOLLE pouches and you will see how easy it is to customize this bag. There is MOLLE on the outside front and sides.

The back padding hides their “Bombproof” laptop carrier.

The back also has the removable frame sheet which you can take out to make a floppier bag or replace with a stiffer one. This is what makes it so comfortable. I can throw in soup cans for lunch and run without then smacking me in the kidneys for 5 miles.  It also helps the pack stay flat and flush against your back.

The outside slash pocket is a miss for me.  It’s way too deep and if the pack is full then it’s a tight squeeze to get things in and out.  And it’s deep, all the way down to the bottom.

That’s my own patch I put on it.  A runic compass, so I don’t get lost. I think it’s broke.

However, it contributes to the bags clean lines, so I’m torn. I would like a Jansport-style zippered pouch, but I love how flat the bag rides on your back. The koala hugs you close.

There is a saying in mountain biking “Strong, light, cheap. Pick two”.  So, basically if something is strong and light, it’s not cheap. If something is cheap and strong, it’s not light.  This phrase is attributed to the founder of Trek Bikes who further said that his main concern was that equipment should be strong and durable first. Then, try to make it as light as possible without making it weak. Cost is the last concern. As a run commuter, I get caught up in light gear. But, often times light is not durable.

The GORUCK GR1 excels at durable. Smash it, bash it, it’s 1000D Cordura! It’s overbuilt everywhere.

I mean just look at the stitching on the straps and handle.  Oh almost forgot there is a Velcro access for a hydration bladder.

So, the GR1 is a tank, but like a tank it’s heavy. GORUCK says it’s 3.2 pounds. For comparison, the Under Armour Storm backpack here is 1 pound 3 ounces and they both fit about the same amount of stuff.

It is strong as shit, but heavy AF.  And here is what could be the deal breaker; the price.  $395. That’s not a typo. But, they do offer 25% off for firefighters, police, teachers, students, EMS, military, veterans, and government employees.  You probably know someone that will qualify to make the bag $300. Still steep, but I gotta to tell ya, I haven’t looked back yet. I’m loving this thing. It’s the Cadillac of backpacks – over built and super comfortable. They have a 21L version called the Rucker that is pretty much the exact same pack without the laptop compartment and it’s $265 before the discount and $199 after discount, which is better. The Rucker has a thicker, stiffer non-removable frame sheet and has a little bit of difference inside.

http://news.goruck.com/gear-news/gr1-vs-rucker/

That’s an article comparing the two bags.

I really don’t know what to say. GORUCK’s site pumped me up and all the other reviews I read online convinced me to try it and the bag itself has made me fall in love with it. It shouldn’t make sense. It’s not feather-light but it makes up for it by being almost indestructible and just molds to your body like a nice pair of leather shoes. It’s just a soft, comfortable suitcase that you can run with.

They make other smaller bags, too, so check out their sizing and comparison pages to learn more.

https://www.goruck.com/rucksacks/compare-rucksacks/

https://www.goruck.com/ruck-sizing-guide/

Definitely check out their site. Seriously. It’s almost a cult, but I drank some of the Kool Aid (which is safer, since they drank Flavor Aid at Jonestown) and I’m a convert. I plan on getting a Rucker next.

Thanks for reading! Grabbing my GR1, ’cause I’m late for work and I gotta run…

By |2018-10-16T12:04:07+00:00October 16th, 2018|Categories: Gear|0 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

Pack Hacks: How to Tame Excess Backpack Straps

Run or hike with a pack long enough and you may begin to notice tiny annoyances about your gear transporter that are enough to drive you crazy.

For example, your zippers may make jingling, tinkling noises with each step. The quiet, sloshing water in your bottle or hydration pack might start to sound like you’re camped next to a gushing waterfall. You may even get noticeably angry at your straps that keep swinging into your arms as you move.

Some backpacks come with pre-built solutions for all these issues, but many do not. What can you do to keep yourself sane while out on the run? We’re here with answers!

In our first Pack Hacks instructional post, we’re going to show you how to deal with excess backpack straps.

The Problem:
Excess Straps on Your Pack

The Solution:
Secure the Straps with Velcro Tape

Here’s How to Do It

Step 1

Purchase some Velcro Tape

Also known as “fastening tape,” velcro tape comes in a wide range of sizes and lengths and is suitable for many jobs in which things need to secured (wires, cables, yoga mats, rope, etc.).

For our example, we used a roll of 3/4″ tape.

Step 2

Cut a 5″ – 6″ Piece of Tape

The length may vary depending upon how much excess strap you have, but usually 5 – 6 inches (13 – 15 cm) will suffice.

Step 3

Place End of Tape Near End of Excess Strap

By placing the first part of the tape inside the roll of strap, you will be securing it from unrolling later on.

Step 4

Roll Excess Strap to Buckle

The roll doesn’t have to go all the way up to the buckle – it can finish near it.

Step 5

Wrap Tape Under and Around Strap and Secure

If you have too much tape leftover, trim the excess.

Done!

The Finished Product Should Look Like This

When done correctly, the straps should never come loose. If you need to expand the pack straps, simply unfasten, adjust, re-roll, and secure once more.

Use anywhere you have too much extra strap on your backpack

By |2018-09-19T11:36:52+00:00June 10th, 2017|Categories: General, Gear, How To|9 Comments

Run Commuting Story Roundup – April 2017

It’s the end of April and it is time for another edition of the Run Commuting Story Roundup! There seems to have been an increase in articles about lately, and while it’s probably tied to warmer temperatures (people more likely to run) we like to think it’s because run commuting is becoming more popular.

If you have written a post about run commuting on your blog, or have read a news article or post about run commuting that you want us to know about, send us an email and it may show up in a future Run Commuting Story Roundup.

(more…)

Review: Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest 3.0

While not technically a backpack, the Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest 3.0 has all the features you would expect on a pack, and a whole lot more. It’s great for the run commuter who doesn’t carry much with them to work, and is perfect if you also want something light and comfortable for carrying gear and water on long road/trail runs.

Test Model

UD PB Adventure Vest 3.0

Size: Large

Carrying Capacity: 16L, 977 cu. in.

Cost: US $169.95

Add-on: UD 20oz. Water Bottle

Performance and Evaluation

I tested the Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest 3.0 during 35 miles of run commuting. 

I was worried the Large might be a little big at first, but after adjusting the numerous straps (hidden and otherwise) it felt secure and form-fitting. With a water bottle added in the shoulder strap pocket, it was even more snug. I don’t normally run with water, though, so for most test runs I left the bottle out.

This thing is extremely lightweight – if you put it on while empty, you almost don’t even notice you are wearing it. The reason for that is the almost completely see-thru material from which most of the vest is made. Not only is thin…some of it’s compartments are waterproof, too! Or are they?

I was skeptical, so I ran a test. I placed several folded-up paper towels inside each of the small pockets on the shoulder straps, and then placed a rolled up pair of pants and shirt in the main compartment. All three pouches are made from “SilNylon/66: Silicone-Impregnated 30D nylon with a polyurethane face” which “creates a permanently waterproof fabric.” I was hoping to test it while running in a heavy downpour, but the rains never came. So I did the next best thing I could of…

Waterproof Testing

Result – Everything got wet

The water most likely seeped in through the zippers and not the material, but, still…lesson learned.

Wrap everything you need to stay dry in something waterproof (plastic grocery bag, drybag) before packing it into the vest.

—————————

For most runs, here is what I carried: 

  • A set of work-appropriate clothing, rolled up and placed in a plastic bag (not garment carrier compatible) 

  • Small lunch

  • Cell phones, wallet, work ID

  • Clif bar, and a couple of gels

  • Packable rainjacket

  • Sunglasses

That was a lot to carry in this vest. My regular run commuting pack is a 24L and I usually pack it almost entirely full. The UD PB Adventure Vest’s carrying capacity is only 16L, and while it does have additional external pockets and compartments to stash gear, I had to leave some things out that I would normally carry – namely, my sizeable lunch. However, that is often leftovers in glass containers and race vests aren’t meant to carry that in the first place.  A simple sandwich, with crackers and fruit fit fine.

On the run, the full vest ran extremely well. It felt really good to not have to wear a tightly-fastened waist strap, and the two sternum straps served very well as overall stabilizers of the pack’s load. One thing I noticed that is different than running with a traditional running pack – the weight of the pack is carried quite differently. On a standard pack (waist strap, sternum strap(s), frame or no frame) the full weight of the backpack is pulled against your back and becomes an extension of your body, rather than a bouncy, separate accessory. The UD vest’s weight is carried down lower on your body and pulls at your shoulders, straightening up your back slightly. It was a nice change and similar to how other waist-strapless hydration packs like the Nathan HPL-020 carries it’s weight.

Side view, showing water bottle in shoulder strap pocket

Back of the vest, showing elastic cord lockdown on sides of pack

Front of vest with water bottle

What I Liked

An abundance of run-accessible pouches

Comfortable and carries weight differently than a backpack

Extremely lightweight

Hydration system compatible and accepts additional water bottle

Double sternum straps

What I Didn’t Like

Low carrying capacity

Not waterproof

High cost

Backpack Details

Back

The back of the vest consists of two large, stretchable pouches, with the tops being held together with the blue elastic cord shown in the picture. These pockets are of decent size and can hold a jacket or hat and gloves with ease. The criss-crossed elastic cord area is excellent for holding wet clothing or shed layers.

Once the main compartment of the vest is loaded, the blue cord can be cinched tightly and then connects to a loop at the top of the pack to ensure the contents remain contained. For additional security, the elastic cord may be stretched to the sides and snapped in to gray cord fasteners on the sides and top of the vest (8 in total; 3 per side, 2 on top). These function very similarly to external compression straps found in good running packs.

On the left side of the main compartment is another zippered pouch. Like the main compartment, it is not run accessible, so store things here you won’t need until you are done running.It contains a key clip and (in addition to keys) can hold a wallet and a couple of other small items.

At the bottom of the pack are two reflective, non-stretchable loops. I think these are for carrying an ice axe, so yeah – not really useful for run commuting. 

Elastic cord hooks for extra compression

 Keys and valuables pouch

Main Compartment

The main compartment of the vest is made entirely of water-resistant material, and is closed with a zipper that runs up one side and across the top. It won’t hold much, as it is quite small by normal run commuter pack standards. I fit my clothing in there, but not much else. 

You can easily secure the contents in order to keep things from bouncing by using the elaborate elastic tie-down system.

 Almost full with a pair of pants and a shirt

Sides

The sides of the Adventure Vest are the defining characteristic of vest-style packs. Each side of the vest forms one unbroken loop from the waist all the way to the top of the shoulder. In a backpack the shoulder straps have thinner straps that connect to the bottom of the pack and can be shortened and lengthened to tighten the bag to your shoulder area. With the vest you put your arms through each loop and buckle the sternum straps at the front.

On each side of the vest at hip level, there are large zippered pouches, made of the same soft, stretchy material found on the front of the pack. These are great for storing hats, gloves, sunglasses, etc. Softer things would probably work best though, as this area presses directly against you hips.

Behind each large pouch is a small piece of velcro that, when opened, reveals an adjustable strap that tightens the vest to your waist. It took me a while to realize that this important feature was here, so be sure to make note of it’s location if you plan on buying one.

In front of the large pouches are smaller ones that are ideal for energy bars, gels, a wallet, or other small items that need to be accessed quickly and easily.

 Left side of the vest

Right side of the vest

Shoulder Straps

Working our way up from the bottom on the right side, you will find a pouch that holds a water bottle. It can hold anything really, but was designed to hold a bottle and includes a cinch strap at the top to hold the bottle in place. On the outside of this pouch, you’ll find another small, stretchy pouch that is good for holding one or two gels or a Clif bar.

At the top of the shoulder strap on both the left and right sides, is a narrow, long, zippered pouch that (like the previous pouch) will hold a couple of gels or an energy bar.

On the left side shoulder strap, you will see a large, stretchy, open-top pocket that will hold a hat and/or gloves, camera case, or similar-sized items. Above this is a pouch similar in size and location as the water bottle holder, but zippered on two sides. This is great for a large smartphone, sunglasses, or additional clothing, such as a t-shirt. It will also fit another water bottle!

Sternum Straps

The UD PB Adventure Vest has two sternum straps attached to long, sliding rails allowing for a wide range of adjustment. The straps themselves are thin and unpadded, and connect using small buckles. There are no excess strap holders, so to keep them from flopping around, try securing them with small pieces of Velcro tape.

 Closeup of sternum straps

Zippered pouch on left side holds an additional water bottle

Hydration Pouch

The Adventure Vest does not come with a bladder, but will accommodate most bladders with capacities up to 70 oz. (2L).

The hydration pocket can be found within the zipper located at the top of the vest. Inside is a velcro strap that holds the bladder and keeps it from slipping down and bunching up. The drinking hose can be routed out either the top left or top right side through holes that bring it out and down the shoulder straps. The hose can also be passed underneath the narrow, white, zippered pouches in the shoulder straps to keep the end of the drinking tube from bouncing around while running.

Additional Pictures

Disclaimer

Ultimate Direction provided us with the PB Adventure Vest 3.0 for review, however this did not influence my opinion regarding this product. The thoughts and pictures contained in this review are my own.

Come meet the TRC crew at the Kirkwood Spring Fling 5K!

Attention Atlanta-area runners and run commuters: The TRC team will be at this year’s Kirkwood Spring Fling 5K on Saturday, May 14th!

Not only will several of us be racing the 5K, we’ll also be emceeing parts of the event with our friend Jim Hodgson of The Atlanta Banana.

Sign up for the race and stop by our booth afterwards to say hi to Kyle, Hall, Meghann, and Josh, as we answer your questions and help you learn more about run commuting and active transportation. We’ll have a variety of running backpacks that you can try out as well, including a couple women-specific packs.

We hope to see you there!

Click here to register!

The New Run Commuters – February 2016

Efficiency is the watchword for Julien Delange, our first run commuter profile for 2016. Running to and from his workplace in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Julien favours maximalist shoes, and structures his run commuting — in both principles and pragmatics — for greatest efficiency. In his profile, Julien also highlights the positive environmental, financial and training benefits of running to work. With his routine sorted, Julien run commutes high-mileage weeks as training for the trail races he enters. His commitment to leaving the car at home (“the car is simply not an option during the week“) is an inspiration to all run commuters. As if all this wasn’t enough, Julien maintains an active blog, complete with his own posts on run commuting – check it out after you read his profile! 

As always, if you are interested in being featured in The New Run Commuters, contact us using the form at the end of this post. The only criteria we have is that you started run commuting sometime in the last year or so. 

—————————————————–

Runner Basics

  • Name: Julien Delange

  • Age: 32

  • City/State: Pittsburgh, PA

  • Profession/Employer: Researcher in Computer Science

  • Number of years running: 7

  • Number of races you participate in a year: stopped counting (list on my blog, here) 

  • Do you prefer road or trail? Definitely trails. With a weekly mileage between 50 and 120 miles, long runs on flat and paved roads increase the likelihood to get an injury, so I prefer to stay on trails.

New Run Commuter Julien Delange

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: I mostly use two backpacks: the Ultraspire Ultraviz Spry when I do not have to bring anything or REI Stoke 9 when I take clothes or food. 

  • Shoes: Hoka Huaka were the best! Unfortunately, Hoka One One discontinued them and my attempt to convince them to keep these shoes in their catalog was a miserable failure. So, I just use any Hoka One One shoe (special kudos to the Stinson Lite) 

  • Lights: A Black Diamond Revolt headlamp that I can charge on a mini-USB port. Very useful during winter, when days are short and it is dark when you leave home and come back at night: you can charge it at work when you arrive in the morning at work, so that you are sure you have enough batteries for both trips.

  • Hydration: I used to take a bottle, but over the last year my body has become used to commuting without drinking. Otherwise, when running more than 20 miles, I use a Nathan backpack with a bladder.

  • Clothing: Nothing special or fancy: a pair of shorts, a tech t-shirt, some tech socks (Smartwool or Injini) and that’s about it. I also have a protective shell (for when it rains), headband (to protect my ears from freezing during winter). It is useless to overdress: after 10 minutes, my body is warm enough to run under the snow. And even having Raynaud syndrome that reduces blood flow in my extremities, I keep clothing as minimal as possible. The most difficult part is remembering to keep going for the first 10 minutes when it’s freezing cold outside! 

  • Outerwear: Salomon Agile ½ Zip and Salomon Trail Runner Warm LS Zip Tee. Only when it is really cold!

  • Headgear: A hat when it is really hot, but otherwise, nothing. I also always wear protective goggles or sunglasses when going on trails – to protect my eyes from potential obstacles.

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

Efficiency, sustainability, and financial reasons. Two years ago, I was taking my car to go to work (one hour per day), running one hour a day, and going to the gym. All these activities took two to three hours every day.

It was not time-efficient. I decided to run to work (45 min. each way) so that I could have more time to do other things I enjoy (reading, programming, playing, meeting friends!) and save money (no gas or parking). In addition, I would not be increasing the pollution (fumes and noise) in my community. I realized there were only benefits and suddenly became a run commuter the morning after.

How often do you run commute?

Every day! And I still do my long runs during the weekend :-)

I am very lucky that we have a shower at work: I bring soap, clean clothes and towels every two weeks to work, so that I do not have to carry them in my backpack.

How far is your commute?

The commute is between 4.5 (shortest route) to 10 miles (scenic view along a river). I have many routes I can take, so that I can adapt my commute according to my training needs (elevation, distance, mileage, etc.) I usually run between 10 to 13 miles a day with some days at more than 20 (when training for very long distances). It really is a fantastic way to train!

The sun rising over the river during Julien’s run to work

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I already have all my lunches prepared at work. Every two or three weeks, I drop a lot of clothes and packaged food. I eat the same thing almost every day: NuGo bars for snack and Tasty Bite Madras Lentils packages for lunches. Tasty Bites are easy to prepare (one minute in a microwave), are acceptable from a nutrition point of view (has some carbs, protein, etc.). It is very efficient from both time and financial perspectives. And, sometimes, I still go out for lunch with some colleagues.

What do you like most about run commuting?

This is a very efficient way to train: you can adapt your route according to what you really need to do (hill repeats, fartleks, etc.) and give yourself extra time for other activities. This is actually the best way I have found to train for long distances without impacting my social life too much. Also, you cannot miss a run!

Another underrated aspect is the predictability. Drive-commute times depend on many variables (traffic, issues with your car, etc.) and you do not have control over them. By running and choosing your route, you know exactly how long it is going to take to go to work.

But overall, I just do not like driving! To me, running is more natural than driving and the idea of sitting in traffic for hours is just not appealing. I prefer to be outside enjoying nature.

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

Actually, there are some people that recently started commuting in Pittsburgh (special kudos to Alyssa and Sarah!). Pittsburgh is becoming more biker and runner friendly. We now have bike lanes, some dedicated fitness events for bikers and runners, and plenty of local running groups. The biggest running group in the city (Steel City Road Runner) started 3 or 4 years ago and today has more than 2000 members. Only a few of us run to work, but more people are getting involved and being active, this is what matters!

Beyond the decision to run to work, what matters to me is how we, as a society, use our resources (time, land, money, etc). Today, more than 76% of the US population go to work alone in their cars. In 2012, less than 3% of the population walked to work. Transportation impacts so many aspects of our community: schedule (time to commute and stay in traffic), health (pollution, noise, risks related to inactivity), even architecture (organization of the city with more roads). Choosing the least efficient solutions has a huge impact: does it make sense to take our car to work for a couple of miles when we can just bike/walk/run there? Especially considering the impact of the lack of activity in our developed societies.

Run commuting is just a means to change the way we usually commute, and there are other alternatives if you would prefer not to run (bike, public transportation, carpool, etc.), It is a good thing to see that some cities (such as Pittsburgh) are developing and promoting other ways of commuting.

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

I only stop running to work when I am injured. In that case, I commute either by bike or (last resort) bus. The car is simply not an option during the week.

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

Start easy and do it progressively. It takes a while to build the endurance to commute every day, but it is very convenient. Have fun, enjoy it. Stop half way to the pub, meet some friends, grab a beer. (re)Discover your city, its trails, and just have fun!

Anything else that you would like to include?

I maintain a blog about running and had several articles on run commuting. Readers might be interested by the introduction to run commuting! http://julien.gunnm.org/2015/02/05/running-as-a-transportation-alternative-the-introductory-guide/

Interested in being featured on The New Run Commuters? Submit your info in the form below and we’ll send you more details.

—————————————————————————————-

The New Run Commuters Submission Form

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Tell us a little about your run commute! (required)

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