Inov-8 Race Pro 4 Bumbag / Bladder
21st May 2012
About 6 months ago I started running a little more often than I had done previously and a friend gave me a bumbag that he had no use for any more. It quickly became my pack of choice as I’ve never got to grips with carrying a rucksack, of any size, whilst running. I immediately found that a bumbag with a tight waist strap sits much more solidly than a rucksack. The downside to the bag I was given was its size. It consisted mainly of a bottle holder and had two very small pockets, one either side of the holder, that are suitable for gels, bars, keys and a phone, but not much more.
The Inov-8 Race Pro 4 is a different beast altogether. It is essentially similar to my original bag, but the bottle carrier is replaced with a 2l horizontal water bladder compartment with space for additional kit too, and the two pockets are far bigger and more useful. Interestingly enough the two weigh about the same – 216g, but the Race Pro 4 has a total capacity, including the 2l bladder, of 4l. The bladder is easily removable for cleaning, but there’s no need to take it out to fill / re-fill it. It has a nifty sliding opening which exposes a very wide top which will fit any tap, anywhere. If you are mid-run and need to re-fill then you can simply slide the bag around from the small of your back to your tummy, open it up, fill, close, and go. Depending on how quick your tap is this can be achieved in about 30 seconds, important if you are racing. The bladder sits in the bum bag and literally wraps around the small of your back, its ‘wing’ tickling your kidneys! Combine the lateral nature of the bladder with the fact that it includes some interconnected internal plastic reservoirs to stop the water sloshing around, and I have found it to be incredibly stable and comfortable to run with. Sure, the single waist strap loosens over time, both through your movement, and due to the depleting volume of water, but it is this single strap adjustment that is so handy when it comes to synching things back up nice and tight. It’s a doddle. The bladder is contained in the same compartment as the main storage area, separated by a thin sleeve of material. There’s ample room in here for a windproof, map, compass, space blanket, and event some spare food. The two zip pockets with sit on the hips, can then be saved for keys, phones, bars and gels. There’s a clip inside to attach your keys to so that they don’t work down into an uncomfortable position. Talking of comfort, despite its lightweight 216g, the bag still includes a nice amount of padding to keep it snug against your back. If you are not carryng the bladder this padding suffices. Add in the bladder and there’s double the protection. I’d go so far as to say that it helps keep my back warm on a cold run.
Other features I like include the fact that the zips are water resistant and the zip pullers are reflective (a nice feature because they tend to swing about and thereby be much more visible than basic reflective webbing or piping. There’s a bungee system on the outside of the pack which means you can either take extra kit with you, or just use it to compress the bag and its contents to stop things shifting around whilst running. The twist lock mouth piece meaning that you can’t accidentally sit on it and get a wet bum / tent!
There are only two downsides. The first is one that I find with all bladder systems, is one of keeping it clean. It’s a little more tricky than your average bladder to clean as the separate reservoirs make it more difficult to reach every corner. That said I plan to use it just for water so am not yet experiencing the need for much deep-cleaning. The second is the fact that there is only one clip for the tube, meaning that you need to put a quick coil in the thing before clipping it, otherwise it is down by your thighs. Initially irritating, this has proved to be less of a problem in reality.
I’ve owned a few bits of Inov-8 kit over the past few years, most notable their shoes. They’ve sponsored a few events that I have organised, and even attended one to give a lecture on their approach to the development of minimalist running shoes. All in all they definitely live up to their name, working on developing kit for the betterment of the sport – whether you are a pro or weekend trail runner. The Race Pro 4, despite its name alluding to it being designed for die-hard athletes, is certainly a piece of kit that could be used by anybody out running who needs to carry water with them and a small amount of kit. Retailing at £31.50 it’s hardly the domain of the former and represents extremely good value for money.
Well thought out
Tricky to clean
A second hose clip would be great
H2Orizontal Hydration System - Inov8's Unique patent pending Horizontal bladder fits around your lumbar region, adding support and stability while being easily accessible
Left & Right Bladder Pipe Outlet - allowing fluid pipe to be placed around waist or on the shoulder
Internal Key Clip
Single Pull Waist Belt
Single Pull Waist Belt - easy to use, minimal webbing
Stretch Mesh Waist Pocket
Weatherproof Waist Pocket
Easily adjustable bungee cord compresses pack and stores frequently accessed items
High Visibility Webbing
High Visibility Zip Pullers