Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Inov8 Race elite 3 (preview)

I reviewed the Race Elite 2 a while back, and generally it turned out to be a very useful little bag. However, I found it just a tad too small for the longer runs I was setting out on. I didn't want to use a rucksack with a water bladder, something like the Osprey talon 5.5- which is great for ridiculously long runs- but something still bumbag sized so that I could get used to the feeling of one when running. The reason for this is so that when on a race with a small kit list, I can fit it all in a small bumbag and be used to running with the weight. I found that when I started running with the Elite 2, I was a little put off by the weight around my waist, and running with a rucksack wasn't getting me used to it.

What I needed was a bumbag with a bit more room than the Elite 2, and a water bottle- give me enough space for food, water and enough clothing to keep me warm should the weather turn nasty- and you need more of that in the winter than in the summer. The Elite 3 seemed like quite an obvious candidate. I have never really seen another fellrunner with the Elite 3, but I have seen a number with the OMM 4 litre bag. I was interested in that, however, I wanted a bag with the water bottle in the centre (or at least diagonally across it) so that it is stable. The OMM 4 has the bottle on one side, which, it seems to me would be a little unstable when the bottle was full.

So taking the plunge I was able to get hold of a Race Elite 3. (no, nothing spectacular. My sister bought it for me as a birthday gift).
The provided bottle

Immediate differences to the Elite 2 (apart from the obvious bottle, and 2 pockets instead of 1) is that the waist belt is a lot thicker and sturdier than the elite 2- to be more comfortable with the slightly heavier weight, one would guess. The wings are bigger to accommodate the extra storage space, with the pocket on the left being waterproof-y type material, and the one on the left, stretchy mesh- end result being that the bum bag ends up feeling a little like a comfortable rucksack hip belt. The bottle is held in the holder with elastic wrapped around the outside, and tightened across the top of the bottle. The reason for getting this particular model was because the diagonal fashion of the waterbottle.

the elasticated bottle holder
It fits a lot of stuff in it- unsurprisingly. The danger here is over stuffing it and carrying more than you really need. On a recent run (of about 36km) I had 3 bars, a waterproof top, spare gloves, compass, waterproof trousers, cut down map, and a waterproof bag with some odds and sods in it (mobile phone and the like). A lot more than I could have fit in the 2 litre one, and that kind of stuff would have been rattling around in a rucksack. The water bottle configuration was excellent, easy to get hold of as I was on the move (I am right handed, if you're a lefty, it might make things a little more difficult) and its a bit of a faff getting it back in, but it is brilliantly stable- not like a bottle on one end of a bag dragging you down on one footstep and not the other.
Over all, it seems a good size- and when I was out last time, I ended up wearing pretty much every single piece of clothing I took with me- I got a tad cold, (and didn't take enough food, but thats another story).

slightly sturdier right pocket
My one minor gripe with it at the moment, after a couple of runs is that the buckle clip thing is placed in such a way that it sits directly on top of my ASIS (anterior superior iliac spine- the nobbly bit on the front of the hip). The clippy bit of the buckle is the one that adjusts, but the solid part is sewn on and is unadjustable. Most probably a weight saving thing, but its in just the wrong place for me, and I have to move the entire bag around a bit in order to get it comfortable. Slightly annoying.

Mesh left pocket
Shame I don't have any pics of me actually out and wearing it in action, however, I haven't been out running with anyone to take pictures of me... ah well.

So- so far, it appears to be stable, carry enough stuff to be useful in the autumn/winter for a decent 5 hour jaunt,  has a decently thick waist belt, (but with a minor issue with the belt buckle) but it fills the gap between an emergency bumbag and a rucksack very well indeed.
If both buckles were adjustable it would be just about perfect. We'll have to see how it fares in the next few months, when I suspect it will get a fair amount of use and abuse.


  1. Hello. Any new opinions on this hip bag? I would like to buy one, and could use your insight.

  2. Hi Szilard, Yes, I've been using it for the past year or so. Its pretty bombproof - as long as you replace the original zip tags with slightly more robust string. I suppose it depends on what kind of racing you're going to be using it for, but if you are going lightweight and don't overload it, its great. Beware of the bottle it is supplied with though. Although they seem pretty good, I have broken 2 of them - they just start leaking spontaneously. Other than that, great bag.