Disclaimer: I received the Phone, Flask, Vest from Orange Mud as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRavePro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
Beating the Thirst
Being on the comeback trail from my earlier back injury along with the onset of summer in the Pacific Northwest, timing was great to try out some new hydration gear. I was excited to be one of the BibRavePros selected to test out a new product innovation from Orange Mud. I’ve read several Orange Mud product reviews and they have a reputation for combining quality with durability and flexibility in their outdoor gear. Runners and outdoor enthusiasts rave about the Orange Mud!
One of their latest offerings is a fun new innovation known as the Phone Flask Vest. Essentially it is designed to hold a collapsible soft water flask, a phone, and the other essential bits and pieces needed on a short-medium run outing. The vest ships with a 450 ml (15 oz) bottle but can hold up to a 600 ml (20 oz) bottle if desired.
From the manufacturer’s website:
Introducing the P.F.V. – Phone. Flask. Vest.
This pack is one of the most fun packs we’ve designed. The fit is awesome for mountain biking, running, and obstacle course racing. It’s designed to hold the essentials and not much more. As you can see from the pics, we minimized the amount of material on your body to achieve maximum breathability. The soft flask holder up front is great for 450ml and 600ml soft flasks (it comes with a 450ml). Then the pocket on the outside of it holds your smart phone wonderfully. On the right side is a shoulder pocket for electrolytes and backup nutrition. On the left side is a dust cover for the bite valve (our OCR people will dig that!). The back has shock cord to hold a jacket, and a small pocket perfect for small bags and sticks of nutrition.
The key here is that it is designed to hold the essentials. This is not a strap to your back to haul water on 3-4 hour excursions. I kept my test runs and rides within the parameters of the intended design.
Checking out the PFV
Details, details, details! Like many (most all) runners, I’m all about attention to detail when it comes to my gear. I need it to be functional. I want it to be lightweight. It must fit perfectly while taking a regular beating and be quickly available from whatever landing spot it fell on from whence it was last tossed 🙂 Oh, and it needs to fit a budget and pretty much last forever. We don’t expect much, do we?!!
So, I checked every component inside and out and was particularly interested in the material. I wanted to get a feel for how this might breathe during exercise and how much it might weigh me down. I was impressed with the quality of the material and how lightweight it felt.
Something to keep in mind, this is a front facing vest…not your normal hydration pack that fits around the back. I’ll admit when I first unpacked the pack, I was a little unsure of exactly how to put it on! After a bit of twisting and fiddling, I got the vest setup and confirmed just how lightweight it felt. I will say though that having my storage and bottle out in front was a bit strange at first. There also seemed to be straps everywhere and the first couple times I felt a bit foolish trying to figure out where my head and arms fit. After a couple of attempts, this wasn’t an issue. I reached the point where I could get it on over my running visor with relative ease.
The bungee cord thingy on the back (the shock cord per description) tightens to hold small items in a pocket. I’m not sure it could hold a jacket, but I did carry a full size cooling towel during one test. A shirt would fit quite easily, admittedly, you’d have to crunch it up a bit but it would fit.
There is a pocket for keys with a built in key clip to keep it secure. An extra shoulder pocket holds a gel or two. The most impressive container, imo, is the phone holder. It holds my iPhone 6 with no problem. That means the phone in the case. It drives me nuts when handhelds or other carrying devices claim to be able to hold phones but do not account for the case. Practically everyone uses a phone case and certainly when running or riding. Once I used the cord to tighten the phone pocket it worked exactly as advertised.
I also liked the soft collapsible flask. As the bottle empties it naturally flattens. I did read one review where this caused a slight mis-balance that had to be adjusted. I didn’t find it to be a problem but I could see how the dynamic of that side of the best could change as the bottle crushes. The bottle worked fine. No leaks and there is a ‘dust’ cover that fits the top of the straw.
Testing on the Trail
For my testing, I decided to use the PFV for cycling and running. First up was a 27 mile bike ride on a beautiful sunny day. Having gear out front across my chest was a first. As I took off on the bike, it did take some time for me to get comfortable. But, once I got the straps optimized there was no bounce! I quickly liked having my phone right in front for ease of access as well as the straw from the bottle. My cooling towel was housed in the back though I did not try to grab it while I was riding. This was my longest outing with the vest as I had my bike bottle available for extra fluids.
My first run again took some adjusting. I didn’t have the phone pocket quite right but I did have the straps figured out and everything was stable. After a couple more runs and some familiarity, I really began to like this vest. Loved being hands-free on my shorter runs with my phone at the ready for the ‘runfies.’ 🙂
I ran with the vest in a standard tech t-shirt as well as a tank to check for chafing. There were no issues with chafing during an hour run in the sun in a tank. The water bottle is a little on the small side. I would prefer the 600 ml bottle but even with the 450 ml, this utility vest is still good for an hour or so for me.
- Flexible, durable material that is both breathable and does not chafe.
- Quality construction – the hem lines are not intrusive, nor do they chafe but the components are well engineered and built.
- Details – lots of bits and pieces to hold all those bits and pieces that us runners need to store.
- No bounce (once adjusted properly).
- Phone pocket is very secure when corded correctly and fits the phone and the case (iPhone 6).
- Lots of straps to fine tune the fit.
- Took some time to figure out the fit and how to put it on!
- Lots of straps!
- Front fit may not be for everyone – I would encourage checking out some of the female perspectives on this product.
- I would prefer the larger (600 ml) bottle.
- Price point is a bit steep but in line with other Orange Mud products. It’s actually cheaper than the comparable back fit version and holds more stuff. We can help with that price as well, so keep reading 🙂
I’ll admit I was skeptical about the over-the-front design. It just felt strange…at least at first. Once I became comfortable with the feel and the dynamic, I enjoyed the benefits that this pack has to offer. I’m very happy to have it as part of my gear rotation and it will serve me well on my short-medium runs and bike rides. Orange Mud have a great innovative product line and I hope to check out more of their gear in the future.
There were several other BibRavePros participating in this product test so for additional reviews and opinions you can check out my BRP friends:
Join us on the BibRave Twitter #bibchat this Tuesday at 6pm Pacific to visit with Orange Mud and discuss all things running!
Can I get a discount?
Yes!! The generous folks at Orange Mud have partnered with BibRave during this test promotion to provide a discount.
Code BRPPFV saves 10% on purchases at Orange Mud
I did not receive any financial compensation for this review and all opinions rendered are my own based on my personal testing experience.
- Do you have a favorite hydration pack?
- What do you use on those short-medium type runs, rides, or hikes in the summer?
- If you decide to check out Orange Mud, let me know what you think…they are always looking for feedback!
‘Till next time,
Run safe, run strong, run happy!