An LBC package awaited in the office on a Thursday, March 20.
It was from Northern California courtesy of LCA8379 classmate Magen. Having an inkling as to what goodies it harbored, I eagerly husked the plastic coverings and opened the box. There lay inside running gears incorporating innovation not yet generally available in our local shores: The Chiller Ice Bandana & the Orange Mud HydraQuiver Double Barrel (HQDB).
The new gear(s) will be part of the BP’s arsenal to combat the punishing heat and humidity of the battleground that is the ultra marathon. Allow me to tackle the former in a later write up. For now, this blog post will deal with the latter, what with its minatory tag.
The HQDB is the latest product offering from a Corona, California-based company whose motto of “Innovation from Frustration” says it all. The story goes that the Orange Mud founder, a trail runner frustrated with the existing hydration options, either hand-held, vests, belts or bladders, available in the market, decided one night to put matters in his own hand. Down in his garage after a few glasses of wine, he tinkered with a gun holster, a tie down and a waist pack to craft an amalgamation we now know as the first Hydraquiver prototype – a bottle that is confined in a holster on one's back. Not low slung like a bladder but high on one's back snugly between one's shoulder blades.
And why the name HydraQuiver? For it is literally like reaching in and drawing out an arrow from a quiver. Only this time the Robin Hood in the runner is grabbing something to quench the thirst of many a merry men. Awesome idea.
At first, it was just a single bottle (24-oz Specialized brand water bottle) but come 2013, Orange Mud was offering the Double Barrel version. And for the 2014 edition, we quote from the website (http://www.orangemud.com/) “...we changed the shoulder pockets to an expandable knit, and the closure is now an ultra soft medical grade neoprene. The rear expandable pocket is now gone and in exchange has a lash down area in between the bottle holders where elastic cord and a cord lock will be to hold down your jackets and such.”
It is the 2014 edition of the HDQB which I was holding on that Thursday night. My mind was getting excited due to the fact that the following day I was scheduled to join a family outing on the beaches of San Juan, Batangas. There loomed the possibility of testing the HDQB and the proving grounds will be the sands of Laiya during low tide.
And the possibility became a reality as the HDQB got tested in a couple of early morning runs on the sands of Laiya. The run(s) itself was a blast. Trudging thru the soft sands and splashing thru the slowly receding tide water have the exhilarating feeling of being transported back into time when one was still young and adventurous. The youthful effect being heightened by the presence of a new toy.
|Testing them in Laiya, Batangas|
A toy the HDQB is for it provided glee. But it is deadly serious in living up to the promises of its creator/brewmaster as gleamed from the Orange Mud website. And this has been proven not just on the Laiya beach but on subsequent uphill jaunts in Antipolo and Mt. Iriga plus the outreach hike to island of Quinapaguian in Camarines Norte. Let us count the ways:
|Ok with me in Laiya...|
|...on the climb to Antipolo, ...|
|...in the foothills of Mt Iriga, ...|
|...and on the sands of Quinapaguian Island.|
Promise # 1: No Bounce. What bounce? The thing I hated about my earlier hip-based belt-styled hydration packs was the constant bounce of the small bottles and the consequent adjustments. It was a constant source of irritation which kept me from enjoying the run or speeding up for a strong finish in a race. There was nothing of that sort with the HDQB. It stayed comfy snug on my back and I did not have to worry about the 2 bottles falling off with all the twists, lunges, jumps and ducks one employs in running on a beach or trail. The absence of a bounce can be attributed to the smallish frame of the backpack and the innovative design positioning it up there between the shoulder blades. Most definitely, the HDQB will not be an excuse for the Bicolano Penguin’s slow pace.
|Do you detect a bounce?|
Promise # 2: Ultra-light. It certainly felt light while I was walking and running. Lighter than bladder-back systems which I have tried in the past. Plus the padding is soft. The listed weight is at 518 grams. For independent confirmation and more specifics, try visiting this blog entry (http://www.summitpost.org/outdoor-gear/orange-mud-hydraquiver-double-barrel/8550) by Jesus Malverde.
Promise # 3: Mounts High. The HDQB is mounted higher than bladder systems, thus resulting in a more stable run. However, I felt that it was not mounted high enough for me to be able to put back the bottle into the holster on the go. Maybe it is my relatively short arm reach/stature (I am 5 feet 5 inches with shoes on), but the fact of the matter right now, I need another runner to help me re-holster the bottle after every drink. This is easy as the Bicolano Penguin gets to run with a group often. But what if the penguin is on a solitary flight? I guess more practice is needed.
|Getting assistance from a running buddy to re-holster|
Promise # 4: Great Storage. For such a small package, the HDQB has a ton of storage space from its main pocket, shoulder pockets and lash down area. For a long training run (with the SUV being parked) , I got to load on the main pocket an extra shirt, car keys, mid-size M&M snack mix, some cash and a smart phone. The 2 shoulder pockets took care of a running gel each. Bigger was its performance on an outreach visit to an island. For the hike, I packed into the HDQB all the aforementioned items for a trail run plus a sunblock and a malong. The HDQB would be great for some Survival-type adventure.
|The snacks, the phone and the keys into the main pocket|
|Running gel each for the shoulder pockets|
|Have everything in my HDQB for the outreach trip to Quinapaguian Island|
Promise # 5: Ice-cube friendly Bottles. Another cool thing to like about the HDQB. It has two 24-oz BPA-free water bottles of the Specialized brand. Unlike the usual smallish bottles of a hydration waistpack, the 24-oz bottle has a wide mouth that can easily accommodate cube ice. Here in the tropics, ice is a must for the Penguin’s H2O or Gatorade or Dew. These bottles are truly specialized in that they have grooves in the midsection which could be adding to its being fully secured in the holsters.
|Notice the groove section of the Specialized bottle vis a vis the smooth surface of the Gatorade bottle.|
So there we have it. The HDQB is an innovative and effective bad ass hydration option that has evolved out of the frustration of a California trail runner imbued with a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit. Good thing, it is now available in Philippine shores together with other Orange Mud products. Go check them out at A Runners Circle (ARC), Secondwind and in some sports-themed expo in your friendly neighborhood malls. At the Swim Bike Run Expo organized by BPI at the SMX Convention Hall in Mall of Asia this April 25-27, Orange Mud was one of the featured brands.
|Orange Mud hydration products at the Swim Bike Run Expo|
|Happier times for Orange Mud fans in the Philippines|
“Innovation from Frustration.” The Bicolano Penguin and a bunch of merry men like the sound of it.