Saturday, 20 August 2011

Inov8 Race Elite 2 (bumbag)

I've never been a fan of bumbags for running with. It just always seemed so... I don't know, 80's. To be fair, whenever I was running, I was either close enough to home not to need anything, or far enough away to warrant an 8-10 litre bag with hydration bladder and all that kind of stuff in it..

Early on in the Kinder Trog, not suffering yet
Since moving to the Peak district, things have changed a little and my little runs are a bit further afield from the house, but not so far that I need to be weighed down with a rucksac. Also, there are a number of races which have a minimum gear requirement, and being able to do that with only 2 litres of storage space is really quite useful.

stuffed bumbag, you can just see the mesh pocket on top
So I looked at the 2 litre and the 3 litre bags, and eventually settled on the 2. Reason being, the 3 litre one carries a bottle of water, and I thought that if I'm going to be out long enough to need water, I'd probably be taking a camelbak or associated bladder thing. This bumbag was going to need to carry the bare essentials. A mini waterproof top, maybe trousers, a cut down map, compass, headtorch, whistle and some emergency food, maybe a space blanket. (and of course the obligatory business cards which I'm not allowed to leave the house without).
We figured that the 3 litre would fit all that stuff, and more in- but the idea was to keep it minimal. The more space I have, the more likely I am to cram more stuff into it, and it will become heavier and I'll be slower. So the 2 litre was bought as a trial.
stuff, de-stuffed. As it were.

Its first outing was on an evening run with the Harriers. Just a waterproof, a map, a head torch and a pair of gloves.
I won't say it wasn't noticable around my waist. If you have never run with a bag around your waist, you're always going to notice it the first few times you carry it, especially if its heavy. To be honest though, it wasn't constricting to breathing, and it carried everything I needed. By the end of the evening I had used everything except the map and the head torch, so I was very happy to have it. A rucksack would have been massive overkill. It was a slightly fast 2 hour run, and although I was a bit thirsty when we got back, I wasn't dying from dehydration.
That seems to have been the case for all the club runs that I have done with it. I was so happy with it, and so was Lynne that we ended up getting another one exactly the same.

Jumping a stile at Crowden. Sunglasses safely stowed.
The times when it has come up short has been on races. I tend to go faster, and harder when racing, (as you do), and there is precious little time to faff around trying to get into a bag thats anywhere about your person. I found that on Crowden horseshoe I was very glad to have it as my sunnies were getting in the way. It was great to have a place to stash them- the stretch fabric pocket on the top is brilliant, however I had to slow down significantly to get into the bag for other bits.
On the Kinder Trog I had a small bottle of water in there as well- as in tiny- but the bag was stuffed full of various bits and pieces that I needed for the race. Because of this, I wasn't able to dig around in the bag for the water when I really needed it for fear of throwing all my gear on the floor and losing precious seconds having to turn around and pick it all back up again. So I ran the whole race with no water and in the final quarter really paid the price.

Having looked at that, and some of the longer races, I think that the elite 3 is a better choice for racing, partially because it enables you to carry a waterbottle, but also because it allows a little more space for your gear. You are less likely to spill everything you have brought onto the hill, over the hill as you rifle through to get some essential bit of kit. (to be fair, all you should need on a race is water and food, and maybe a waterproof and a hat unless something goes wrong), but with the Elite 2, there is no option but to store water in with the rest of the stuff. Not a problem if you are out for a jaunt over the moors, or rock jumping with nothing on your mind but having fun, but in a racing situation where every second counts, and if you have to stop it means an extra burn to catch the guys you were already chasing, maybe the 3 would be a better choice.
I need to try one out to be sure....

But for the time being, my thoughts are these...
Elite 2, with a big pocket, an internal mesh pocket with key clip and a mesh pocket on top- fantastic for short days out, carrying minimum of gear. Emergency bits only on a longer run, (or a bag full of sweets for the kids). (Its also barely noticable if you just stick your mobile and keys in the internal pocket and wear it under your t-shirt- it would have been perfect for running in London)

Calmer times at Hope, walking with the family
For longer races where you need a bit of water and ease of access on the move, maybe an Elite 3 would be a better choice.


  1. Good post Tim. I have a halfway solution, my 3 litre North Face customised waist pack. 3 litres I find to be the ideal size, it has two bottle holsters on the sides that double as extra kit stores if I only take out, say, one bottle, and I sewed a lock lace into a figure eight on the top as a separate stash for a top if I need to take something off whilst on the move. This means I can fit much more in and on than a conventional 3 litre pack for races around the 20-25 mile mark.

  2. Thanks Simon. Good thoughts and ideas... I shall have to look into that.