Monday, 18 January 2010

A load to carry

To fit running into my working week, much of it has to be done between the office and home (with a train ride somewhere in between). This has given me a big headache over the years as to how to carry all the rubbish I need for a day in the office and to keep me entertained on the train. Most of the bags I'd tried running with just killed my back or ended up soaking wet and smeely because there was no ventilation there. The last bag I had was a Peter Storm job with a mesh back, which was fine apart from the fact that it tore my shoulders apart every time I ran with it. My upper body was much relieved then when my wife gave me an Inov-8 Race Pro 22 as a present.

This is a rucksack designed for running with. As such it is really light - in fact so light that I was almost scared the first time I packed any gear into it. But it works a treat. It is quite happy swallowing a full load (change of clothes, shoes, packed lunch, swipe cards, reading book, pens, glis meshasses, lightweight jacket) and then just sits on your back while you run. You almost don't notice it's there, unless you've got the bungie loaded up as well as the bag. The main compartment is reasonably weather resistant, and it has a number of useful added pockets: two at the hips (one mesh and one waterproof) and opposing lid pockets (the top one is mesh). Inov-8 have also rethought the hydration system, providing a pocket at the lumbar area for their proprietary H2Orizontal bladder. This places the weight of the water on your hips, meaning that it's not weighing your shoulders down and doesn't really move relative to your body throughout your stride.

After around seven months of constant use, my pack needed a clean, so I contacted Inov-8's ever helpful customer support team. They suggested that  I hand washed the pack, which is fine but does lead to the first of my two complaints regarding this product. There is a foam back panel in the pack which is very difficult to remove and I didn't feel that I wanted to wash it. Once out, the pack washed fine and came up just like new, but then it was a struggle to get the foam pad back in. My second gripe is that the 22 litre model catches on the back of my cycle helmet while riding. I mentioned this to the Inov-8 team who said that this is only a problem with the larger volume models, and they recommend choosing a smaller 18 or 12 litre pack for adventure races where cycling plays a key role.

Overall, though, a highly recommended product.


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