Monday, 9 June 2014

Multi-stage race backpacks (part 4)

This is the fourth installment in a series of reviews of multi-stage backpacks (part 1, part 2, part 3).

The previous posts were based on reviews from friends who had run the Atacama Crossing and the Sahara Race. They covered a range of packs from Raidlight to OMM and Salomon. This edition includes two reviews from friends who ran the Jungle Ultra with me. I'm quite pleased to add these reviews as they cover two packs that are newer models and they are becoming very popular packs at stage races.

Majo Srnik and the WAA MDS ULTRABAG 20l
 

1. What pack did you use during the race?
I used the WAA ultrabag (MDS).

2. Did the pack have enough capacity for all your gear?
Yes, the pack is very well made. I think that the Jungle Ultra is a very hard race so I was carrying more stuff than I wanted to, nonetheless, I had no problems at all with capacity. [This was Majo's first stage race and I'm sure in the future he'll have much more refined and lighter contents in his pack.]

3. What was the final weight of your pack and hydration system (without water)?
I believe 9.5kg was the weight on the start line.

4. How did the pack fit and ride while you were running?
Great! I needed to adjust the straps each day after the start as the pack was changing in size as I ate all of my food. As soon as it was correctly set up the bag was amazing!

5. What did you use for hydration (front bottle, bladder, etc)?
Two front bottles [750ml] and a bladder in the pack even though I'm not a big fan of bladders. [The race required carrying a minimum of 2.5l of water from each checkpoint].

6. Did you use the external pockets on the pack? What for?
Yes I did. The pockets on the waist belt I used for powdered "food" and electrolytes and that sort of stuff. The front pack I had loaded with everything I would need for one day of running so I would never have to take off my pack to look for things; it was very handy and didn't move much once I had it set up correctly.

7. Did anything break on your pack during the race? 
No. The only thing that changed is that the bright yellow pack is not so bright any more!

8. Was there any specific feature that you particularly liked?
Yes, the front pack that I mentioned before and the rain cover / rain poncho that was included as a part of the pack.

9. Was there anything that you would change about the bag?
Not really. I love this set up. The only thing was that the water bottles were not that good; I would invest in some better bottles next time.

10. Would you recommend the pack and would you use it again?
Absolutely! I was very happy with it and can't wait to run another race with the same bag. Now we have a special bond that will last forever :).


Matt Knight and the OMM Adventure 20l
 

1. What pack did you use during the race?
I used the OMM 20l Adventure.

2. Did the pack have enough capacity for all your gear?
The pack was just right to get all my kit in for the jungle.

3. What was the final weight of your pack and hydration system (without water)?
Without water my pack weighed in at 8kg.

4. How did the pack fit and ride while you were running?
The pack was secure whilst running and felt great with no chafing.

5. What did you use for hydration (front bottle, bladder, etc)?
For hydration I used the side mesh pockets for 500ml bottles and I bought the OMM water bottle carriers and taped these on my shoulder straps. [The race required carrying a minimum of 2.5l of water from each checkpoint].

6. Did you use the external pockets on the pack? What for?
I used the external pockets on the waist for salt tablets, shot blox and gels.

7. Did anything break on your pack during the race? 
Nothing broke on the pack but if you are going to use the OMM pack I would suggest adding on water bottle carriers. I recommend having them stitched on to the straps professionally.

8. Was there any specific feature that you particularly liked?
Mainly comfort overall it what I liked best about the pack.

9. Was there anything that you would change about the bag?
The waist strap pockets are too far apart. If they were nearer to the front it would be easier to access them for your snacks, gels etc.

10. Would you recommend the pack and would you use it again?
I would recommend this pack for jungle environment, however for a desert race I'd rather use the Raidlight Olmo 20l [Matt liked the Raidlight pack for the desert because it was compact and you can attach a sleeping bag to the outside of it which is better suited to desert conditions. The water bottle holders are also of good quality and the pack felt very comfortable in extreme heat when Matt ran MDS.]

3 comments:

  1. Hi Daniel. I read most of your posts and I Think they're really great; both useful and interesting. I had a question about the WAA/MDS backpack which I adressed to Majo (that's a pack I Think buying for my eventual 2014 KAEM participation).

    I do have a question or two for you concerning the shoes, particularly the Hokas. I have a pair of Evo tarmac which are two sizes bigger (46 vs my own 44cm size). The question is: should I Think of getting the 'trail' model for KAEM, or will the 'tarmac' be ok.
    The second question relates to the size. Is 'two sizes bigger' a smart approach - I understand that feet tend to get swollen during the race, or should I get down in size. Right now, running mostly on asphalt and roads in and around Stockholm, I feel my Hokas are a bit too big even when I wear two pair of socks...

    The third and last question (for now) is about socks. What sort of socks do you use? Do you wear two pairs or only one? do you use any creme or balsam for your feet or nothing at all. If yes, what Product do you use?

    Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer, and congrats for your Amazing achievements!
    Andrei

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    Replies
    1. Hi Andrei

      I'm glad you found the posts useful. I know Majo is usually really quick and very helpful with his responses, but if you need me to follow-up with him please let me know.

      With regards to your questions to me:

      1) I think that the tarmac version for KAEM would be OK as there wasn't too much climbing or tough ground that needed the more aggressive grip of a trail version of the shoe. I would still suggest going for the trail version if you can as it might help a little in the loose sand (and all the help we can get is worth going for!).

      2) I wear my normal size of shoe and have done so in the three desert races I've done. Only on one stage during those three races did my feet swell and to give myself some relief I took out the insole which worked perfectly for me. I would rather go for this approach again than wear shoes that are too big. [However, some people really struggle with swelling and need a size larger. I assume you would know that from previous experiences running?]

      3) I use Injinji toe socks and that seems to help me prevent blisters between and on my toes. I also pre-tape blister hotspots as a preventative measure and then rub Bodyglide over the taping to remove any friction. I only wear one pair of socks as my shoes are the normal size and I also don't want a heat build up in my shoes.

      All the best
      Daniel

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    2. Dear Daniel,

      Majo also replied almost instantly to my question. Thank you so much for your reply. Very useful indeed. I guess I'll go for only half a size bigger when I'll buy the trail shoes.

      Many thanks once again and all the best,
      Andrei

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I'd love to hear from you and get your perspective on my stories, thoughts and training. Please feel free to comment.