Many MMA fighters take their training outside of the cage and gym, often trading hand wraps and boxing gloves for bikes and running shoes. Nick Diaz has been known to run triathlons just days after fighting on major MMA cards. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans routinely dons a helmet and jumps on a bike to increase his VO2 max, while also reducing the daily grind of high impact training.
Whether training takes place in the gym, or outside on a mountain trail, gear is of the utmost importance. Most of these types of sessions outside — such as the hill running utilized by Team Jackson-Winkeljohn in New Mexico — tend to extend for hours, making hydration one of the most important practices to consider.
When it comes to hydration, there are many options on the market from handheld type products, waste pack solutions, and even bladder type back mounted packs. Those type of products all have their advantages and disadvantages and often come down to personal preference.
It’s not often that a product comes out that is truly innovative, but in the past year, Orange Mud has consistently launched products that push the envelope in both form and function.
For me as a runner, functionality is the most important piece of the puzzle, and Orange Mud hit the mark perfectly with their innovative HydraQuiver hydration pack ($84.95).
Hydration is the main purpose of the pack, and the bottle is the star of the show. Orange Mud didn’t cut corners with a cheap, leaky bottle, instead going with a high quality 24 ounce bottle that does not leak. Leakage is a problem with many bottles on the market, and even when held upside down, this bottle will not waste whatever you use to stay hydrated. The innovation really shows with the funnel-shaped pocket that holds the water bottle. It is wide at the top and tapers near the bottom, which allows a runner to easily remove the bottle while running, yet return it just as easily without breaking stride. The design grabs the bottle really snug once it’s returned in place, and the bottle does not fall out even while bending over.
The placement of the water bottle is unique as well. With the pack on, the bottle rides very high on the back, with the bottle resting between the shoulder blades. Functionally this design works perfectly. Looking at pictures of someone wearing the pack may make it appear that the bottle is hard to reach, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Taking the bottle out and returning it is very easy, even while on the run, which is what makes the design so functional for runners.
The pack features several shock-cord loops, including two on each side on the shoulder straps. While I generally use two of those for the straps, I often use the other two that rest high on the shoulder to hold gels. There are also two mesh pockets on each side, which are big enough to hold a smart phone, but can also be used for many other pieces of gear such as Ipods or MP3 players.
The pack itself features a zippered access area on each side of the water bottle, and is roomy enough to carry additional nutritional needs, or even a freezer pack which works really well on hot days to keep the user cool. There are also additional stretchy cords on the zippers themselves that could be utilized to add gear to the pack. The pack also features a stitched eyelet hole-opening that could be used to feed headphones through if the user put their smart phone or Ipod in the cargo area of the pack itself.
This pack is the most comfortable hydration solution that I have tried, and I’ve tried many types of products. The backpack straps are very long, which would allow it to work well even with layered clothing on during the colder seasons. In the summer, the straps are a bit long, but that is why Orange Mud included shock-cord loops on each side. The loops work perfectly for looping the hanging straps to keep them from flopping while on the move. The antimicrobial padding on the back portion of the pack makes for an ultra comfortable ride, while featuring breathable mesh for cooling on the outside. The shoulder straps do not irritate the underarm areas, even when wearing shirtless. The pack itself is padded perfectly, giving comfort even on runs or hikes that last several hours.
The biggest concern I had while preparing for my first run with the HydraQuiver was the bounce factor. Would it bounce all over the place once the running started? The fact is, the pack stays in place perfectly. With the pack riding so high and close to the head, there is relatively little movement in that part of the body to begin with, further showing how much thought went into the design of the pack.
From the double stitching that can be found all over the pack to the high quality leak-free water bottle, Orange Mud put a lot of time, effort, and money into making a high quality piece of specialty gear. The pack is durable and rugged, which will allow it to endure any condition that the user could put it through. Aside from those aspects, the design just looks good. With the Orange Mud trademark black and orange color scheme, the pack just flat out looks cool. I have been stopped many times on runs to ask just what the hell I was wearing on my back.
Overall, the HydraQuiver delivers on all fronts. Making hydration easy and fast makes the pack my favorite piece of gear. After going through multiple solutions for storage and hydration, the HydraQuiver is on my back each time I head out the door with no exception. At times during runs you forget you even have it on. The easy to get to storage is the icing on the cake, as reaching gels and nutrition is just as easy as getting to the water bottle. The customer service at Orange Mud is just as top notch. CEO Josh Sprague is really onto something with this company.