I wrote about my quest for a new hydration pack here. After a lot of thought and reading and even more thought, I decided to go with the HydraQuiver Vest Pack 2. It arrived a couple of weeks ago and while work and other things have gotten in the way of my running, I’ve been able to take it out twice for a total of about 18 miles.
I spent the first run getting used to the feel of the vest. It is a lot different than a traditional hydration pack, which is all I’ve ever run with. Here are the things I like:
1) Bottles. Even though I can hear the water sloshing, I LOVE that I’m carrying bottles instead of a bladder. They are so much easier to both fill and clean.
2) All the pockets! I haven’t needed all the storage space yet, but I’ve been tucking my keys into one of the shoulder pockets and using the big front pockets for food, wallet, and phone. The front pockets are HUGE. And STRETCHY. I could easily carry two sandwiches, I think, if i wanted to.
3) Adjustments. There are a lot of ways to adjust the vest, accomplished with fewer straps than my old pack.
Of course that brings me to the thing–one thing–I don’t like:
There is no strap across the top front of the vest.
This vest was not made for women. (Orange Mud is free to chime in here, and I wish they would, but even if they say they designed for women I won’t believe them.) The HydraQuiver Vest Pack 2 is ingenious, but when the bottles are full, the vest pulls to the back. The ability to use it the way it is intended is contingent on being able to keep the bottles high up over your shoulder blades. If the bottles don’t ride high, you can’t remove them from their holders without pulling the vest forward into place.
What about the chest strap?
Well, the vest is shallow–which is fine–but the one front strap is placed to go directly across the middle of your chest, which for a woman means directly across the breasts. To keep the bottles in place, you have to keep that strap tight. I cinched up the side straps quite a bit and that helped, but the front strap will had to be so tight that “the girls” were uncomfortable. I also had difficulty getting a full breath.
It only took a minute to figure out a fix:
I mentioned my dilemma and solution to my husband and he produced this strap (upper) from one of his backpacks. On my second run, I used it to keep the vest tight, using the now-bottom strap for stability. IT FIT SO MUCH BETTER!
Using this second strap didn’t make the vest perfect. You can see in the picture that it’s scrunching up the vest, which isn’t ideal, and it caused the vest to kind of pull up under my arms, which also isn’t ideal. Still, I’m going to run with it like this a few more times and if it feels like it should be permanent, I’m going to sew on my own strap in this area:
The perfect position, I think, would be just under the shoulder pockets.
To be fair, I often wished my old vest had a strap across the top as well, for very much the same reason. I’ve only come across a few vests with a strap up high and only one made for women. That one was a Gregory pack and the primary thing that kept me from buying it was the lack of pockets in the front. The woman wearing it said she was shopping for a new one for just that reason. Hey hydration vest makers: while I’m sure some men would like a top strap on a vest, it’s my opinion that adding one to any pack would make that pack immediately more comfortable for women.
So yeah, this is where I’ve landed. I like the HydraQuiver Vest Pack 2 well enough to keep it and work with it. I’m definitely not sorry I bought it. But if you’re a woman with a B cup or larger, be aware that you may run into the same problem I did with keeping the vest in place.