Monday, December 14, 2015

Product Review: Orange Mud HydraQuiver Vest Pack 1

The Orange Mud HydraQuiver Vest Pack 1
Disclaimer: I received an Orange Mud HydraQuiver Vest Pack 1 as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!

A couple of weeks ago I received an Orange Mud HydraQuiver Vest Pack 1 to test.  Over the years, I have heard a lot about Orange Mud and their products.  As opposed to waist packs, Orange Mud packs ride on your shoulders.  In some ways, they are almost like a (running) hydration pack but since they use a bottle instead of a bladder, they are shorter.  Whereas as full hydration pack comes down below your chest, this one sits above it.  Also, since the HydraQuiver Vest Pack 1 carries just one 25oz bottle, (as opposed to the HydraQuiver Vest Pack 2, which carries two bottles), the pack is fairly light.  But don't let that fool you!  The HydraQuiver has plenty of pockets!  There are actually six!

A view of the center (back) of the Orange Mud HydraQuiver Vest Pack 1.  Note the two back pockets beside the 25oz bottle.

The back pocket on the left shoulder has a Velcro tab to close it and is a little narrower than the right one which does not have the Velcro tab.  I used the right one the other day to hold my cell phone with no problems of it moving around or slipping out.  

The right front side pockets of the Orange Mud HydraQuiver Vest Pack 1.

The right and left side front pockets are identical on the pack.  The one coming down just over the shoulder closes with a good amount of Velcro and also has a tab to attach things to if needed.  These pockets can probably fit 2-3 gels each for a total of 4-6 total between the two.  

The left front side pockets of the Orange Mud HudraQuiver Vest Pack 1.

The lower pockets on either side are quite expansive for such a small pack.  I took off my gloves during a run the other day and was able to stuff them into just one of them.  They have a cinch to pull them tight so that the opening is not quite so big.  I cannot put a normal sized water bottle in them, but I would guess you could put a store sized bottle of water in them if you wanted, though they might flop around a little bit.  Mini-bottle might fit quite nicely however.  

The Orange Mud bottle is a nice sized 25oz.

The arrow in your HydraQuiver is a nice sized 25oz bottle with a solid top.  It is actually easier to pull out and put back in than I thought.  It really does feel like the motion of taking an arrow from a quiver slung on your back.  My bottle included a fortune cookie with a discount code for 20% off my next order which is a fun way to encourage more business!

Back after a cool 8.5+ mile run last Friday with my Orange Mud HydraQuiver Vest Pack 1.

The HydraQuiver Vest Pack 1 fits torsos from 27 inches to 52 inches.  I fall in between that and my pack seems to fit fairly well.  I am still tinkering with it a little bit to get the perfect fit.  There are straps you can adjust on either side as well as the chest.

In conclusion, and in all honesty, I am actually quite surprised by the Orange Mud HydraQuiver Vest Pack 1.  I wasn't sure I'd like it, but I really do.  It makes taking just one bottle a lot easier.  I cannot use handhelds anymore as I find that I hold my arm to stiffly, plus, if the trail is technical or slippery with mud or snow/ice, I prefer my hands free.  At the same time, sometimes having a waist-pack on can be a pain if your tummy/guts are not feeling too good.  This relieves that problem as well.  I can think of at least one race in the last couple of years where I could have really used this pack to accomplish both of those issues just mentioned.   I had just recovered from some type of stomach distress and couldn't really wear a waist pack.  So, I took a handheld, but that was constantly an issue because I only had one hand free and really needed two as I negotiated downhills filled with snow and mud.  

Wearing this pack is very similar to wearing a hydration pack, but so much smaller and lighter, yet with tons of storage space!  It will be fun to continue to use the pack over the winter and will definitely be part of my arsenal in the future!  

P.S. Get 15% off your next order right now with code: BIBRAVE

Monday, November 30, 2015

Trail Review: Mueller State Park, (Various), Divide, CO

Just outside of Divide, Colorado, a few miles to the south is Mueller State Park.  Even though this area is dominated by the Pike National Forest and Pike's Peak, Mueller State Park offers some great trails of it's own for easy hiking and trailrunning not far from places like Woodland Park, Manitou Springs, and Colorado Springs.

Since Divide, CO already sits above 9,000 feet in elevation, even if you don't end up running any major mountains in this area, you will still feel tired unless you are acclimated to the higher mountain regions.  Fortunately, when my wife and I traveled out to Colorado this past Summer, we had been at elevation in Montana for about a month, though not quite this high.  We could even feel a change from 5500+/- feet to 9,000+/- feet.

There are lots of short trails all through Mueller State Park, and they have a great little map you can obtain from where you get your park pass or at the visitor's center.  The first day my wife and I parked at the visitor's center and hiked/ran about a 5K loop primarily of trails #7, #25, #11 and #1, (the Outlook Ridge, Geer Pond, Lost Pond, and Revenuer's Ridge trails).  Outlook Ridge has several stubs off it that are each about 1/3 of a mile in distance and take you out to several differently named overlooks, like Raven Ridge, (#8), Red Tail (#9), and Lone Eagle (#10).  The trails are fairly easy and provide nice views, though we didn't do each and every one of the overlooks.  After this stretch, we took one steep, short-cut downhill that meant later on just past Lost Pond on the the Lost Pond Trail, we had a long drag uphill.  Much of the trails on this loop that we put together were wider than single-track, but not double-track, perhaps more like the width of a golf cart path, but not paved! Some pics from this hike/run follow.

A view from the Raven Ridge Overlook in Mueller State Park.

Another view from the Raven Ridge Overlook.

My wife squinting in the glare as she sits for a moment at the Raven Ridge Overlook.

A pic my wife took as I stand on the rocks near the edge of the Raven Ridge Overlook.

Some of the paths were very wide and gentle for trailrunning or hiking upon in Mueller State Park.

My wife training for her first 5K at elevation in Mueller State Park, CO.

I love trail views like this, so cool!

The day pass for Mueller State Park is good the day you purchase it until noon of the following day. So...cheapskate that I am...I got up early the next morning and drove back to Mueller State Park to get an early run in before our other planned activities of the day.  This time, I drove all the way to the back of the park, which took a little time as you have to drive slow and through some campground areas.  The far end of the park road puts you out at just under a 1/2 mile run/hike to the top of Grouse Mountain at 9843ft +/-.  That was my first goal.  From the parking lot, you run maybe just over 1/10 of a mile to a turnoff for trail #16, Grouse Mountain Overlook, and then almost immediately start climbing steeply uphill.  It's not technical uphill, just steep for a couple tenths of a mile before a more level trail that rolls nicely until the end at the overlook.  Here's a few pics from that part of the run.

A view from the trail after it levels off and heads toward the end point for the Grouse Mountain Overlook.

A beautiful view of the Grouse Mountain Overlook at 9800+ feet in Colorado.

Another view from the Grouse Mountain Overlook in Mueller State Park.

A withered old tree at the top and end of the Grouse Mountain Overlook trail.

Even though it was July, it was still cool enough to need long sleeves at 9800+ feet in Colorado.

Part of the Grouse Mountain Overlook Trail.

After going up and down Grouse Mountain, I headed out for the rest of my run and made a loop by combining trails #34 and #33, Cahill Pond and Buffalo Rock.  In places these trails were similar to what I experienced the day before with my wife, in other places, it was double wide grass out on the end of Cahill Pond before it hit Buffalo Rock.  It was a beautiful sunny day and it felt like you were out running through a section of high mountain grassland before heading back into the woods to come back around toward Grouse Mountain.  A few more pics below.

An old cabin on the Cahill Pond trail.

A beautiful view along the Cahill Pond Trail in Mueller State Park.

Cahill Pond.

The grassy trail on the Cahill Pond trail.

Coming back toward Grouse Mountain on the Buffalo Rock trail.

Heading uphill on the Buffalo Rock trail.

Back at the Jeep after a run around Grouse Mountain in Mueller State Park.

As I drove away from my run near Grouse Mountain at the end of the park road, I kept thinking I wanted to add another mile or two to my run, so as I drove back through the park, I finally decided to pull off and ran the first part of trail #18, Elk Meadow, until trail #22, Peak View Pond, and then ran the length of Peak View Pond and back.  The first part of the run on Elk Meadow was wide and downhill, but then Peak View Pond turned off to the left and started heading downhill thru a beautiful wooded area.  The pond eventually sat near a low spot on the trail while the last bit climbed uphill more quickly to hit trail #19, Peak View.  Some pics from this out and back run are below.

A beautiful wooded trail on the Peak View Pond trail.

Another pic from trail #22 with a bendy tree!!!

Peak View Pond.

Another pic of the pond from a bit higher up on the trail as it heads toward trail #19.

A switchback on the way back up Peak View Pond trail.

A goofy pic of me after doing two short runs at over 9100+.

There are great trails in Mueller State Park and plenty of places to camp as well!  Check out the links below to get more acquainted with the park!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Product Review: 2XU Elite MCS Compression Tight (Mens)

The 2XU Elite MCS Compression Tight

Disclaimer: I received a pair of 2XU Elite MCS Compression Tights as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!

Eight weeks ago, I received a pair of 2XU Elite MCS Compression Tights (Mens) to test out. Admittedly, there's not always a need to wear tights in mid-September and/or even October in Iowa.  However, these are compression tights, so while I didn't really need them to run in yet at this time of the year, I could use them for recovery, so that's what I did.

The tights are all black except one large gold X on the right quad and some smaller printing on the left outside shin.  (You can also get them it total black.)  The one thing I noticed the first time I put them on, which was both a positive and minus each time I used them, was the amount of compression.  The positive side was that I didn't have some of the struggles I have had with other compression products of getting them on and off.  These tights were not that hard at all to do either, even when I was tired.  I cannot say the same of the compression sleeves and socks I have used from other companies which, if not careful can tear from pulling too hard, or can just about injure you after a run by a muscle seizing up trying to get the thing off your leg!  So, this was a great positive.

The minus however was, that I wouldn't have minded more compression, especially in the upper leg and calves, (which would probably make them tighter thus negating the positive just mentioned). These tights have MCS, (muscle containment stamping), for targeted muscle containment and I do think that they aided well in my recovery, however, I wanted an even tighter compression wrapped around my muscles after many runs, feeling that would have helped even more.
Sporting my 2XU Elite Compression Tights under my Prana Shorts!
There is one small key pocket inside the front of the tights, which personally, I never use those things as a key pressed against my abdomen doesn't seem like it would feel good in running shorts or tights! They are antibacterial and UPF 50+.  They are lightweight and thin enough as to not be too warm and I found them very comfortable to wear alone, under shorts, or even under pants.

The Elite MCS Compression Tights are a great product and I would encourage you to try them out yourself.  Go to 2XU.COM and use code BIBRAVE20 to save 20% on these tights or another product.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Product Review: The Ginger People Ginger Rescue Strong & Ginger Rescue Mighty Mango (for Kids)

Earlier this summer, I received two new products from The Ginger People to try and review: Ginger Rescue Strong and Ginger Rescue Mighty Mango for Kids.  They are chewable ginger tablets to aid with gas and indigestion, help with nausea, or simply to promote digestive health.  

The packaging for the Ginger Rescue Strong by the Ginger People.

Both dietary supplements come in packs of 24 and have few ingredients, the packaging boasting that there are no drugs involved and that they are GMO Free.  A serving size is 2 tablets at 5 calories.

The Strong in terms of ginger is very strong.  There is a big ginger spicy bite at first.  This would seem to be counter-productive in terms of dealing with heartburn or indigestion, but ginger has been shown to help with digestive health, which is why many people will often pick up a bottle of ginger ale when they come down with the flu or other winter maladies.  The Ginger Actives Scale, which the Ginger People created, was made to indicate how much of the active ginger compounds are packed into a product like Ginger Rescue.  The Strong comes out at a 6 which appears to be the highest on the scale.  I have used these several times for dealing with heartburn and it does seem to help.

The Ginger Rescue Mighty Mango for Kids by the Ginger People.

I also tried the Ginger Rescue Mighty Mango for Kids.  The Mighty Mango has a Ginger Actives Rating of 5 and is definitely not near as spicy as the Strong.  It has a slight mango taste which is very pleasing.  One of my kids tried this once when her stomach was feeling unwell.  She wasn't quite use to the spicy hit of ginger as a youngster, but she did think it might have helped her stomach feel some better.  

A little bit of the promotional material for the Ginger Rescue products by the Ginger People.
Both of these products are great additions to the Ginger People line-up as well as providing a drug free alternative to aid in digestive health, especially for kids.  As a runner, these are also a nice alternative for those of us trying to eat healthy and keep processed foods to a minimum.

Check them out further at Ginger Rescue.

Disclaimer:  I am an Authentic Ginger Tastemaker and was given these samples of Ginger Rescue Strong and Ginger Rescue Mighty Mango for Kids to taste and review.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Trail Review: Soldier Ridge Trail, Sheridan, WY

One of many views from the Soldier Ridge Trail, outside of Sheridan, WY.

Back in July, on our return home from Montana where my family and I spent part of my sabbatical, car issues struck one of our vehicles and we ended up spending some time in Sheridan, WY.  As this stop was unexpected, we found we had some time on our hands as we awaited a repair.  Having found a hotel, I picked up a copy of "Destination Sheridan: The Official Lifestyle & Tourism Magazine of Sheridan County" in the lobby.  As I glanced through the magazine later, I found on page 72, a trail review for the Soldier Ridge Trail on the outside of town.

The first stretch of trail has been widened and lightly covered with some pea gravel.

I decided the next morning I would get up early and go out on this 4 mile trail, (one way, and not including a connecting spur just before mile three that heads off to the north).  I ran a little more than 2 miles out and then back, for just under 4.25 on a very sunny morning.  The trail gives awesome views of the Bighorn Mountains and rolls over several hills.  There are a few cattle guards to go thru and a mileage marker will appear occasionally.  

The only real shade on the trail comes from the hills themselves.

The first stretch of trail, probably well under a mile, has been widened a bit more than single-track width and covered lightly with pea gravel.  This wider section ends as you come to the top of a hill with a sign detailing some facts about the area.  At this point, you descend down the side of a hill on single-track.  The only shade on the trails comes from the hills themselves depending upon the time of the day.  As it was very early in the morning, some of the single-track was also gummy or tacky.  I would probably put this down to soil type, time of day, and moisture in the ground.  The trail is very narrow, almost game trail width in a few places as it is carved out of the ground, making footing just a bit tricky.  The trail, according to the website, (Soldier Ridge Trail), was completed in 2013, at least in terms of acquiring the land.  But something I read, (and I can't remember where at this point), indicated that work on widening the trail would be ongoing as they sought to make the whole trail similar to the opening stretch so it could be more readily usable.  The following is a selection of pictures from the rolling hills of the Soldier Ridge Trail with the Bighorn Mountains in the background on a VERY sunny morning.  (Some of the pictures may look a bit washed out!)

This was a fun stretch of trail to run down and was cool in the shade.

One of the cattle guards that you have to go through on the trail.

Flowers on the trail.

Like a postcard with the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming in the background.

An occasional mile marker is set in increments of every 1/5 mile.

Loved these downhill/uphill single track stretches.

Glad I don't have to run thru or drink out of that!  You can tell this was/is(?) used for cattle!

Heading back to the trail head parking lot.

Back to the beginning!

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