Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Running with Camelbak Flashflo; first impressions

A couple weeks ago I picked up a Camelbak Flashflo hydration pack at REI with the intention of wearing it during longer runs and the occasional trail run. I hadn't worn it yet, but I figured I should try it out on one of my nightly 5 mile runs before I really needed it.

The Flashflo is a fanny pack style hydration pack with a 50 ounce bladder. There's also an extra pocket that can be used to hold keys, a phone, energy bars or whatever. That's right, the fanny pack is back!

So I filled it up with water, threw in a couple Elixir Electrolyte Tablets, strapped it to my waist and off I went. My fist impression was that it was too loose. It was bouncing around as I ran. I stopped, tightened up the straps and took off again, but it was still too loose. Next I tightened it even more and clipped the strap as low as I could; below my waistband over my hip bones. That was the sweet spot. It was very tight but sat low enough not to interfere with my breathing and it stayed put; no more bouncing. The next thing I had to deal with was the placement of the drinking hose. The hose comes with an alligator type clip that I initially attached to my shirt, but it wasn't very comfortable there. It's actually a very well designed clip; it has a rod that comes off the clamp and when you push the rod to the side the clip opens and stays open until you push the rod back into place which closes the clamp. I ended up clipping the hose to the waist band so it ran across the front. When I needed to drink I simply flipped the rod on the clamp, took a drink and then clamped it back to the belt. It was very easy to do and I didn't have any problem doing it while running in the dark.

After about a mile the strap started loosening and it rode up to my waist and started bouncing again. That made me stop running, tighten the strap, unclip it and re-clip it over my hip bones again. It stayed there for about another mile. So my only real complaint is the design of the belt clips; they don't keep the belt tight. The belt itself is very sturdy, about an inch and a half wide, and the clips also seem very sturdy, but they don't grip the strap very well. It may be something I have to get used to but I may try setting the strap and putting a few stitches through the straps next to the clips so they don't come loose.

There are also smaller straps over the back of the pack that you can tighten as you empty the bladder to keep the pack tight, which is pretty cool.

Overall I'm very happy with the purchase. An added benefit was that it made me much more conscious of my running motion. I tend to run with a little bounce in my step and it reminded me to run in a more fluid motion; my goal when running is to not do anything that isn't propelling me forward and bouncing up and down is just wasted effort.

At first the extra weight on my lower back was very noticeable, but by the end of the run I had gotten used to it and it didn't bother me.

Here are a few pics I took of it after the run;

I'm going to keep wearing it on my next few runs and I hopefully I'll get a good trail run with it soon. I'll report back if my impression changes.

1 comment:

  1. Mark, thanks for the helpful review! Do you still use and like your Flashflo a year after writing this? I am considering buying one.