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Earlier this year in January, I was fortunate enough to win a free OrangeMud hydraquiver vest in a twitterchat hosted by BibRave with OrangeMud as the special guest. After testing and using this vest successfully for several months, it’s time to review it for the blog.

First, my prior experience with running vests is rather limited. Running belts don’t work for me at all. I had only had some success with a Nathan shoulder vest that was effective for a while but became problematic due to a rib injury last November and my asthma. (Otherwise, I sometimes wear a Nathan vest with a two-liter water bottle on the back but don’t like the straw solution on that one, doesn’t always work well for me).

What can I tell you about this vest? It’s lightweight and contains several utility pockets. The bright orange color makes it a little easier for others to see you (although much of the vest is black in color).

This vest straps high on your shoulders compared to Nathan that wraps more around the upper torso/shoulders/ribs region.

The vest I received is the single hydraquiver (meaning it holds one water bottle of substantial size). The double hydraquiver version has slots for two. There are helpful utility pockets in the front lower part of the vest where I usually keep my iPhone and keys, asthma inhaler, poop bags for the dog, etc. There are smaller change/pill pockets that are strapped with velcro closer to the shoulders. Then there is a loose pocket in back and one velcro one on both sides of the water bottle. I haven’t used the back pockets much but it is good to know these are there if we need to pack nutritional items or other items that won’t fit in the other pockets.

The vest is noticeably lighter in weight than the Nathan vest that I used. Let me explain how much it helps to have the vest up on your shoulders instead of your rib cage. In November, I slipped and fell on the ice when our dog pulled me while we were leaving for a run. In falling, I injured my ribs. This made it very difficult to run and to wear a vest pain-free. Even KT taping my rib area, it was painful for weeks and the Nathan vest aggravated the problem a bit by brushing against those tender ribs. If I taped my ribs too tightly, I couldn’t breathe out of one lung. During this injury period of about a month, I learned that the Nathan vest was becoming impractical for what I needed. I needed a different solution that would still allow me to breathe without being overly limited by taping or a vest brushing against my painfully injured rib cage.

When I realized how high the Orange Mud vest was going to be up on my shoulders instead of my ribs, I was excited. This was going to allow me to breathe normally and not force me to use KT tape just to be able to wear a vest. The Orange Mud vest allows for more natural deep running belly breathing, breathing the way we are supposed to breathe when we run. So it has helped me to have a solution that is more practical for my asthma and one where my inhaler and my phone are not banging against my injured ribs (the phone colliding with the ribs with the Nathan vest was a problem). I don’t think I’ve worn my Nathan vest once for running since the Orange Mud vest arrived, that’s how big a difference it has made for me.

Another impressive part of the vest is the ease with which one can grab and drink the water (the bottle sits high on your back). It’s an amazing hands-free solution to the “carry your water bottle in your hands” that I’ve become so accustomed to over the years.

A surprising advantage of this vest that was unexpected for me is the faster reach for my phone if I need it to snap a great photograph while running. The Nathan phone retrieval took longer because I had to reach farther to get the phone and sometimes unzip the pocket first. So my running photos have improved. In case of an emergency, it’s obviously better to be able to reach your phone faster for running safety as well.

The hydraquiver vest is easy to clean and it’s all-weather: I’ve worn it in snow, rain, sleet, humidity and heat. It’s breathable, the air pocket perforations allow some air circulation to happen and that’s important or we just become too warm running or racing.

How often do I wear it? Unless I’m running on the treadmill, I’m wearing it. There’s no other way for me to really carry my phone (it has a Lifeproof case over the iPhone 6). I don’t like arm-constricting options for phone cases. The straps are adjustable from loose to tight, I usually keep mine mostly tight with a little give so I can move and breathe easily.

I also like the height of the vest keeping it out of reach from my dog. The Nathan vest is more within her paws’ reach if I have to crouch down to help the dog with something. Having a hands free solution is a big deal for me as a runner if I need to have two hands on the dog leash running with our dog at times.

Sometimes I forget to grab the OrangeMud water bottle before I run but that’s not a huge problem. Sometimes I do that intentionally if I’m running short. But the vest is even lighter if you don’t need the bottle for that run. And even with the water bottle full, I don’t notice the extra weight due to where that water bottle is placed high on my back near my neck. The water bottle is easy to refill and is 25 oz capacity so good sized.

Also, it’s important to note the front pockets can be tightened and loosened if needed to secure items better or allow us to retrieve them more easily.

The vest is very comfortable (more comfortable than my Nathan vest) just make sure you have the front straps tightened or loosened sufficiently to allow for free movement.

All in all, this vest is amazing. It has helped my running tremendously and has helped me breathe more easily and naturally by having the vest away from my ribs and more up on my shoulders. The only disadvantage with the vest that I have is that it is not the double-barrel (bottle) variety. But I foresee an Orange Mud double in my future very soon.

Hopefully this review has been helpful. Please contact me if you have any further questions about it or would like to talk about running gear in general. Here are some additional photos of the vest to give you some different angles. The cost is around $84.95 and that’s not too bad, it’s worth the money in my opinion. In fact, it makes you want the double barrel if you run a lot.

Thank you for listening and check out OrangeMud Hydraquiver single barrel vest soon. It’s hot and humid in summer and the vest allows for hands-free comfortable running with easy storage and peace of mind.

P.S. Make sure you have an orange shirt to go with the vest colors and be careful about wearing it with a red shirt (can you tell?) like I did in the bottom picture. In the sun, the red shirt looks orange though with an OrangeMud vest over it.