Tuesday, 21 April 2015 15:15

HydraQuiver Review Pt.2

I’ve been running with the HydraQuiver for over a year now since my first review {read it here or on SDRI}. My feelings haven't really changed since that review, its a great bottle holder, and my go-to if I need to carry more than 8oz but a camelback is overkill. My use has evolved and I had a few more thoughts recently though, so I thought I’d share an update. 
 
A postural device?
We're going to down a little diversion from what you’d expect out of a review of a hydration device, but follow my line of reasoning here. It wasn’t obvious to me for a while that the unique side of the shoulder–almost falling off–slings was an ideal design. It wasn’t uncomfortable or annoying, but it was noticeable. The contact feels like it is out near the delts, not on the traps snug to the neck like most backpacks. After a few uses, I mostly got over the feeling that they were going to fall off all the time, and now I have a reason to think its the perfect design.
     I’ve been thinking a lot about upper body posture (you know, “running tall”) and shoulder mobility recently, both with respect to my running form and some nagging shoulder/neck pain/tightness. The most obvious flaws I see in a majority of runners anywhere I go is poor arm carriage (lack of sufficient swing and not following the Coach Piszkinism "nips to hips” or crossing over the midline). Related to that is rolled in shoulders, which is a general posture problem we modern-day humans hear about plenty. I’m pretty sure that if you don’t externally rotate your shoulders, you can’t get your arm to carry right (just like hip external rotation is part of normal gait). So, I’ve been working on this, both with mobilizations and conscious cues while running. Now, I find automatically and naturally, my external rotation remains in check while wearing the HydraQuiver, even at later stages of long runs where form tends to break down.
They even make specific braces for this, that look pretty similar to the quiver without storage (check out the comparison below; I'd rather wear a HydraQuiver for style reasons at least).
backbrace   hq square
 
Change of mind: water held on shoulders is better than tight around the waist
My one negative early on using it was the new sensation of having something on my shoulders. Its not the same secure feeling of a running camelbak where that thing is essentially grafted to your body. The HydraQuiver, sits much higher, and almost feels like it is going to fall off (if its on correctly), but IT NEVER WILL. It took me a while to get used to this and have faith that I have it set right, but now its dialed in and I use it almost exclusively for anything longer than about 1:30, when I used to use a waist belt held bottle. Now, I can’t imagine going back to that tight feeling around my gut of a belt-held bottle.
 
Just the right amount of storage for travel runs
I run a lot in random cities while traveling for work. Annoyingly, it means I need to carry a few extras for safety or convenience. You know, in case what I think is the right route ends up taking me on an extra 10 mile loop, or not happening by a 7-11 when I need fuel. This includes money, hotel keycard, food, and increasingly I wish I could carry my phone with me. None of this will fit in the little tailbone shorts pocket, and I don’t want to have to pack and fuss with a camelbak everywhere I go. The pocket in the HydraQuiver turns out to be perfect for all this. For luggage efficiency sake, I habitually also look for any items I travel with to have multiple uses (like the backpacking axiom). So then I also have a regular water bottle (rather than a bladder) that I can use for other water holding purposes with an economy of packing size/weight (gym, spin, bedside, airport). The quiver itself packs pretty well. I usually pack around the bottle-holding loop, but I’m pretty sure it would be fine if I crushed that flat….I’m just a sucker for keeping it pristine.
 
Net-net?
I love this thing, and the wife is jealous (and can use the postural reminder) so we're getting another. Heck, I might even get the double-barrel one. Oh wow, they have a vest version too. Maybe if when I do another ultra-marathon...
Published in Product Reviews
Sunday, 06 April 2014 15:27

HydraQuiver Gear Test and Review (Pt.1)

Never Race with Something NewhQ start

I’m pretty sure it’s not breaking the rule of don’t ever race with something new, if you call it a “training race.” And so it was, I tried out the Orange Mud HydraQuiver on a trail marathon. Regardless, conventional wisdom is frequently wrong, like my preconception that theonly way for bottles to not be annoying or asymmetrically impact my gait is for them to be strapped to my lower back squeezing my gut as tightly as I could handle. It turns out, and I wouldn’t have guessed this without trying it, that the best place for a bottle is right between my shoulder blades.

HydraQuiver is how I know this.

The Right Hydration Solution for the Right Race

There are lots of options in hydration systems. I think this setup is the ideal one for a well-supported long-ish run (race or training), such as Catalina Marathon where I first used it. A full bladder is unnecessary, and too time consuming to refill; but you need something to get through some long segments. I’d also use this as my first choice on 13-20 mile training runs with no options for refilling. 

hQ close
  • The right amount
    • Standard 21-24 oz bike bottles fit. With this capacity I easily skipped occasional water stations. I don’t like stopping at every single one if they’re only a mile or two apart, because it breaks up my rhythm and gives me a chance to dawdle.
  • Easy and comfortable
    • Accessing the bottle is simple; easier than I thought...and putting it back is even easier. I used a short bottle and it was no problem--there’s an adjustable strap to raise it up.
    • Once I figured out that I should cinch the shoulder straps tight, it didn’t jostle at all, and was very comfortable. Zero chafing over the 4+ hrs despite being the first time I’d worn it. There is a little bit of armpit contact that took me a little while to get used to compared to larger packs.
  • Tons of storage
    • There is a surprising amount of storage. There are two pockets on top of the shoulders that are easily accessible and velcroed shut. I kept a Hammer Gel Flask in one, with plenty of room to spare. Then, basically the entire thing is a pocket between the padding and bottle. You can easily store a marathon worth of fuel.

 

 

Related ‘Quiver Skills

As we learned from Napoleon Dynamite, girls like guys with skills…show off those quickdraw HydraQuiver skills during other bottle-based activities post-race.

hQ Bar hQ beerholster

 

Disclaimer: I received the HydraQuiver at no charge, thanks to my devilishly dirty friend, Victor Runco. I wasn’t obligated to say I like it, but I like it and I’m keeping it.

 

Published in Product Reviews