DISCLAIMER: At the time of writing this review, I am a member of the Orange Mud Ambassador team. Despite this, I will always do my best to maintain a neutral stance and offer as much of an unbiased review of the product as possible. I will always look to call out the positives and negatives of every product I review so that I can provide you with a thorough review that you can count on.
If you recall, I recently wrote a review on the Orange Mud HydraQuiver Double Barrel pack. Since writing that review, the owner of Orange Mud read it (and reviewed my other credentials) and decided to extend me an invite to join the team as a Product Ambassador. As a result, I have become quickly acquainted with their vision and what they are trying to do within the world of endurance sports. Their unique approach to hydration is really starting to gain some attention and, if you read my last review, I firmly believe that their products back them up. So much so that I even put my name on the line by accepting the Ambassador role. Well, you can imagine my excitement when they gave me an opportunity to do a little bit of long range product testing of their soon-to-be-released vest pack, the HydraQuiver VP2 (Vest Pack 2 Bottle), in the Squaw Peak 50 Mile Endurance Run held in the mighty Uinta Mountains just South of Salt Lake City, Utah. Below, I offer my detailed review, some preview photos of the pack, and some comparisons between the vest model and their current two bottle pack. Enjoy!
The HydraQuiver VP2 represents Orange Mud’s first foray into a vest style pack. It’s predecessors had straps that immediately looped over the shoulder and under the armpit. Instead, the VP2 extends further down the ribcage on each side, snapping into place with a single buckle across the chest. It also has a strap on each side that runs to the back of the vest, further helping to hold it snug in place without restricting breathing and mobility. The VP2 also uses a new mesh that is super durable, yet more breathable and lighter.
On the front of the pack, the VP2 keeps the same stretchy shoulder pockets of the other models. These are good for phones, gels, and other smaller items. I personally like to keep my phone in one of them for those quick trail selfie moments! The biggest storage change between the VP2 and the Double Barrel is the replacement of the zipper pocket on the back with two large stretchy pockets on the front. I like this change a lot! The back pocket on the Double Barrel, while nice, was not easily accessible while wearing the pack. It also created a bulge if you tried to fill it with too much stuff. The new pockets on the VP2 are easily accessible from the front and expand quite a bit, which results in a bit more storage space. These pockets are large enough to fit a 16-20 oz water bottle or about 10-12 Honey Stinger waffles…they get the job done!
The pack keeps true to what makes Orange Mud unique by keeping the bottles on the upper back in the same fashion as their other models. it also has about the same footprint on the back, leaving the middle and small of the back completely open and uncovered. This low footprint is one of my favorite aspects of all Orange Mud packs because it keeps the back open and breathable.
The VP2 also offers the rip cord on the back for fastening down a jacket or other item. My favorite use for this is to carry a third water bottle for longer self-supported trail runs with less reliable water sources.
Expected Retail Price: $149. Price-wise, this prices the pack inline with higher quality competitor products, such as the Ultimate Direction SJ Vest, but still below the Salomon packs. Some may consider the storage capacity to be a bit less than the SJ Vest, but I find the HydraQuiver VP2 to be more than sufficient storage-wise while offering much more comfort and flexibility. With something as important as a hydration pack, I have always given the most weight to comfort and utility, especially for my sport of endurance running. In my opinion, like with shoes, you should always buy what works and not necessarily what is the cheapest.
Orange Mud likes to tout that they make packs that simply don’t bounce. That is such a true statement! I won’t rehash much of what I covered in my previous review, but the VP2 lives up to this hype just as much, if not more than their other packs (largely due to the increased stability of the vest design). It did take me a few tries to dial in the straps and find the sweet spot between snug enough and too snug, but once I did, the ride was phenomenal. I never had to battle with the vest; it just felt natural. The Squaw Peak 50 Mile offers ~10K of ascent and another ~10K of descent. Despite some difficult grades, the pack stayed in place and never threw me out of my rhythm. Also a staple of their packs is that the bottles stay put. They never once popped out of their holsters. In fact, I even bent over a couple times to tend to my shoes and the bottles didn’t budge, despite being slightly inverted.
My Final Thoughts
- SUPER light and breathable. I didn’t feel weighed down or burdened by the pack at all. The bottle placement on the Orange Mud products are perfect for distributing the weight. I felt no back discomfort, even with steep climbs or downhills.
- Comfortable. During most of the 50 mile race, I often forgot I was even wearing it. No chafing or anything. And no, I am not exaggerating.
- Flexible storage options. The pockets are big enough to carry anything you might need, either during a race or self-supported. The rip cord in the back is also versatile, whether you want to carry a jacket in the cooler whether or an extra bottle on those really hot days (my favorite for self supported runs).
- Like all other Orange Mud products, they are made in the good ole US of A!
- I literally only found ONE issue with this vest, which can fortunately be fixed with experience using the pack. When both bottles were full, I found that the weight shifted the pack a little bit. The bottles were still easily accessible, but the pack shifted just enough to change the “feel” of the pack. I was able to quickly remedy this by adjusting the side straps a bit tighter, which held it firmly in place. The trick is dialing it in just right so it is tight enough to keep the pack from moving, but not too tight where it restricts your breathing. It took me some time to find this sweet spot, but I was able to get it just right.
4.8 out of 5
I fell in love with the first HydraQuiver Double Barrel from the moment I put it on. I didn’t imagine they could make a pack much better, but the team at Orange Mud has done just that with the HydraQuiver VP2. It is clear to me that they pay very close attention to feedback from their users and product testing and roll those into their designs and improvements. The VP2 offers all of the benefits of the Double Barrel, with additional storage space and a vest like feel for those that prefer that. I believe firmly that Orange Mud is paving new ground in the realm of endurance hydration and will continue to support them along the way.
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