Expanding on our shoe reviews we’re looking at some specialty items that may or may not be suitable for use in Parkour. In this review we put an Orange Mud Hydraquiver to the test to see if it is adaptable to our style of training. It was designed for trail and endurance runners as an alternative to the usual bladder style hydration packs and from what we’ve seen, they’ve put a fair bit of thought into it. Check it out.
Reviewer: Adriaan Schipper
Adriaan is the Wanganui Regional Representative for NZ Parkour and head of MOVE Wanganui.
Length of Testing: 3 months
Sizing: One size fits all
$119nz + $5 postage may seem a bit much for such a small pack but I think it shows in its quality.
Design and Construction:
The Hydraquiver was designed as an alternative to the bladder style hydration packs that most people are used to. It is made with a smooth outer webbing of nylon construction, stretchy spandex for the shoulder pockets and plenty of foam in all the right places allowing for both a comfortable fit and air circulation via channels along the back. It seems to be a pretty simple idea – a bottle holster that you can reach and use without stopping. It is that, but they’ve added a lot of little extras that take it that extra bit further. You simply slip it on, pull the straps tight and its done. It fits snug and doesn’t flop around. The two shoulder pouches face out so you can get things in and out while running. They’re designed for energy bars and gels but being spandex they can stretch to fit quite a lot if you need it and the large area of very strong Velcro allows for a secure closure even if you’re pretty inaccurate as you do it. The main compartment has more space than it looks like it should with a hole for your headphones and a key hook to top it off. The bottle holster looks as though it would just let the bottle slip right out but it doesn’t, not without a bit of encouragement. They have made it just right so that you can slip the bottle in over your shoulder and drop it in the wide opening and slotting in snug at the bottom of the hole. There is a strong Velcro strap to stop the bottle from sliding through the hole that can be adjusted to suit the different sizes of bottle on offer or to lower the bottle as I describe below. Even the bottle itself has had an extra thought – the mouthpiece opening is a lot wider than your usual bottle, allowing a decent drink without a struggle. To top it off it’s made with Orange Mud’s trademark bright orange stitching and logos done in reflective material for night visibility. They tick all the boxes and make it look pretty cool at the same time.
Fit and Function:
It felt strange to wear at first as I am used to packs with a chest strap and I always use that strap to keep the other straps away from my arms. The hydraquiver is designed to fit with the lines of your arms and chest, basically slotting in the armpit. I would see this being a benefit to women using the pack in any activity and I found it to be of benefit in two areas: 1) The ability to wear a chest harness for filming and 2) For the occasional chest bump to a wall or a tight traverse on a ledge – not having a buckle poke you is always a good thing. The placement of the pack is great as well as it sits up on the shoulder blade area allowing it to move with the arms and shoulders without restriction and without half the pack slapping around on your back like a normal backpack or hydration pack; the placement of the shoulder pockets and bottle, the things you may need to grab on the run are right there for you. As far as parkour movements go there was no issue with most things while wearing the pack and it’s very comfortable, even for a whole training session or a nice long trace. There are a couple of things to note however: 1) I found it necessary to lower the bottle in its holster to allow room for my head to come back without hitting the bottle while doing vaults like cat-passes/kongs. This is simply done by adjusting the Velcro strap so the bottle sits lower. 2) Probably the most obvious issue is the inability to roll while wearing a bottle on your back. Yes this is an issue but I found that with a bit of practice I could jump, easily whip the bottle out mid-flight, roll and slip it back in while running off without a hassle and without the bottle holster collapsing (this also impresses bystanders, who let out a few “ooohs” and “ahhhs” as you run by). Overall, I found it be a very practical piece of kit. The ability to have my essential gear with me and a bottle ready to grab without stopping a huge advantage to my style of solo training, just running and taking on everything I come across. I use it while coaching for a little while too, being able to keep my keys and phone on me and still be able to jump around and demonstrate techniques.
As an American product, it is said to have 54 cubic inches of space (not quite a liter). The numbers don’t really explain how much you can actually fit though so I will list what I have been keeping in mine. Some of these may seem weird but I am a full time parkour instructor and run a lot of classes outdoors and so have to carry certain things someone just out training wouldn’t usually have to. In the shoulder compartments: I have in one side a small pouch that holds a small multitool and a Gerber shortcut (for emergency maintenance to gear, trimming soles, tightening loose railings etc) and in the other I keep 2 energy bars but you could easily fit 3-4 if you needed to. While the back compartment doesn’t look like it it can fit much without getting bulky, I have been keeping a medium sized first aid kit which slotted nicely into the upper area of the pocket without slipping down leaving a nice area for a business card holder, a large cell phone and my keys. By using the inbuilt key hook I don’t have to worry about dropping my keys every time I get something out of the bag. The newer version also has a lash down point at the bottom of the pack for attaching any clothing you may take off. As far as scoring goes I can’t really compare the Hydraquiver to your usual bag as it’s not a day pack for sticking all your stuff in and then leaving on the ground while you train. It’s more like pockets on your back with a bottle holder which actually works well for us as our usual attire of baggy track pants have horrible pockets and anything you put in them flaps around as you move. In terms of having the space for the essentials it is spot on but for anything else you’re out of luck.
The pack is primarily made of nylon webbing, so the surface of the pack is easily wiped clean but if it gets really messy it can be chucked in the wash with your clothes and being so breathable should dry in no time. The bottle is dishwasher safe as well. The pack has a lifetime warranty so there should be no need to do any running repairs on it yourself like you would with your shoes, making maintenance very minimal.
- As a training pack or as I described it before – pockets on your back – it is a brilliant piece of kit especially as I like to just run around the city tackling everything I can without picking one spot and staying there. This is perfect for that.
- The main downside of course its size. I can’t carry my camera equipment with me or lunch for that matter, but at the same time the main upside is its size too. It stays out of the way, just holding your stuff for when you need it. Much like a little parkour butler on your back.
- Review are always a matter opinion, but I really like it. It is what it is and it does that pretty well.
Thank you to Area 4 for letting us test out one of their Hydraquivers. If you think you want to pick one up yourself, they are available online from their website.
*Area 4 provided us with 1 Orange Mud Hydraquiver for 3 months in order to conduct this review.