Thursday, 12 April 2007

Ergonomic, 3D bottle-shape, lumbar pack

I've been wanting one of those hydration lumbar packs (aka hip packs) for some time, having seen runners with them at races overseas (hip packs are very popular in the US). Today I got my very own Salomon Twinbelt (thank you Salomon), a 2 x bottle hydration lumbar pack.

Before I get to the product trial, I'll explain my interest in lumbar packs.

I drink a lot when I run, even on cool days. I find that my mouth gets really dry so I sip, sip, sip the whole way. What this means is that whenever I go out running I take water; either a bottle or my hydration backpack (Salomon Raid Revo 15l). It's a bit of a nuisance to carry a bottle and when my backpack is almost empty it doesn't sit as snug as when it is loaded. In the last two weeks, with the cooler weather, I've been for some runs without any hydration, settling for slurping water from irrigation systems - an acquired skill! But when I get back I'm always incredibly thirsty. This ain't good.

I've been interested in lumbar packs for ages because:
  • your hands remain free
  • one or two bottles are adequate for most training runs so it offers an alternative to using a hydration reservoir and backpack
  • the zipper pocket is a perfect place for munchies, keys and your cellphone
  • I've wondered what it feels like: backpack hip belts end up around your waist... would the lumbar pack sit on my hips or waist?

The Salomon Twinbelt has two bottle carriers (and comes with two bottles). I put water in both bottles (each half-full) and headed out for a 30-minute road run this evening.

When you walk, the lumbar pack sits on your hips (lumbar spine area; lower back). Very comfortable. When you run, you do need to tighten the belt around your waist or it will jiggle up and down on your hips. For guys, who don't have curvaceous hips and waists, it may very well sit on your hips.

Once fitted did it jiggle up and down? Nope, and I didn't have to tighten the belt too tight either - just enough to fit well. As I started sweating it stuck even better.

Are the bottles really ergonomically designed? The bottles are a "3D" design (a bit like a triangle bottle-body shape), which means the one side lies flat against your lower back. Logical eh? The bottle carrier pouches are positioned such that you can reach back with your right hand to pull out the right bottle and the left hand to take out the left bottle, with ease. No contortionist moves required. And the bottle-fit is snug; a good tug is needed to get the bottle out and you need to give it a bit of a push to get it back in. Nothing too strenuous. The good news is that the bottle doesn't jiggle around. A nice idea is to put juice or a hydration drink in one bottle and water in another.

Other features of interest:

  • a removable pocket; sits on your front right hip and is attached to the belt. I didn't use it tonight but this is the place where I would definitely stash lip balm and eye drops.
  • a rear zippered pocket: this is where I put my phone. It is an unsuspectingly roomy pocket.
  • rear gear carrier: criss-crossed bungy cords between the bottle carriers (on top of the zippered pocket). Perfect for holding your wind/rain jacket.

All in all I was pretty happy with the Salomon Twinbelt on this first outing. It exceeded my expectations in terms of stability (not jiggling up and down) and I look forward to really bonding with it on Saturday morning when I'm meeting friends for a 20-odd kilometer road run.

Monday, 16 April - hip pack worked even better on Saturday than Thurs night. I got it just right and had a bit more weight in it with the bottles more full (in the beginning anyway). Nice, nice, nice.


Anonymous said...

How easy is it to obtain fresh bottles for the pack without buying a new one? It seems that after about 6 months all mine seem to start growing something inside.

adventurelisa said...

Heya George,

Should be pretty easy as the bottles are sold separately.

How about a bit of Jik or Miltons in your bottles to deal with the growing things?

Anonymous said...

Steritabs are my best friend for my water bladder, too - if it's good enough for baby... :-)