Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Bumbag review: OMM Ultra Waist Pouch 6L

Packed and ready to go...see picture below for what's inside
I already own various rucksacks and a small bumbag for when I'm out running, but with a trip to the Swiss Alps planned I was after something that was in between the sizes I already have. I considered getting the same rucksack as my other half, as I needed my new purchase to be lightweight and compress down nicely for when I was travelling and had all my stuff in my large rucksack (he has the Adventure Light 20L).

But, the Adventure Light was a bit over my budget, especially as I don't need another 20L rucksack. I soon came round to the idea of a larger bumbag, partly so that I didn't have to deal with having a sweaty back all the time - the Swiss Alps can be very hot in summer. Plus my Osprey 5.5L rucksack is more than suitable for most running days (and I swear that it can hold 10-12L of gear anyway), and my 22L sack works perfectly for when I need to carry more stuff. Narrowing my selection down I settled on the OMM 6L bumbag. My only concern was the bottle being on one side - would that make it sit unevenly? Everyone I know who owns one didn't have a bad thing to say about it so that was that.

The bumbag is advertised on the OMM website with the following text:

"A larger waist pouch with innovative ‘quick stash’ single handed bottle holster, supplied complete with OMM Ultra Bottle. A favourite with Ultra runners who need to carry that little bit extra, or for longer training runs. A great size to get all fell race approved items plus your essentials in without having to move to a rucksack."

It sounded just what I was after. Having now used the bumbag on the Swiss trip, and a few runs around the Peak District I have some comments about this bit of gear:

bungy cord/compression strap on top: great for attaching an extra item (eg. rain jacket or dry bag with extra stuff in). Even with additional items strapped on the bag was comfortable and didn't bounce up and down any more.

Side pocket without a zip
side pockets: good for quick access to food/phone - something I miss when not using my larger rucksack

inside organisation: there's a separate internal pocket with a couple of divider bits so I can store emergency cash, compass etc and can find them easy when needed; it's got velcro on it so there's little chance of bits of stuff falling out if you go into the main area whilst on the move.

comfort: it sits really well around my waist, no digging in, no points that rub. With the compression straps and bungy cord tightened up there is no bounce, even with it stuffed as full as I could get it. I've even set off running with it full and forgot to do the straps up and there was little bounce - it took me a few kilometres to realise I'd forgotten. There's plenty of padding around the whole bag so it really is very comfortable.

space: there's loads; enough to get in waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers, spare buff, hat, gloves, cash,
phone (only waterproof pouch shown), food, spare food, compass, (it has an integral whistle on the zip), ultratherm jacket stuffed in a dry bag, arm warmers, emergency bivi bag, headtorch....a few other bits and pieces. That's a decent amount of kit and all I could need for a full day on the hill - in winter or summer.
Contents of the bag unpacked: black item at back left is a windproof beanie; inside the green dry bag is my ultratherm jacket; black item is waterproof trousers; blue rolled up item is OMM smock; white item are arm warmers. Only 2 bars shown - I could easily fit in a couple more in the side pocket plus spare food in the main bag.
The bag also sits well around my waist with virtually nothing in it, as the compression straps and bungy cord really compress it down very well.

my solution to stop items falling out
Right hand side pocket - this is the one which doesn't have a zip. I use this for my food and bars so they're handy to eat on the move...but...items tend to work out of it over time, so I was forever checking that I'd not lost anything - food is quite important! Also, when you take the bumbag off there's a tendency for items to actually fall out of this pocket - you can see in the photograph above that the top edge isn't very tight. I've overcome this issue by putting a sweat band around this bit of the bag. I think a longer term fix would be a compression cord or tighter elastic around the top to hold things in better.

Bottle - this is my biggest grip with this bag, and it annoys me - for such a good bit of kit the bottle is proper rubbish! The drinking nozzle is useless; it has a tendency to close as you're drinking so the flow isn't great. When I'm running and drinking I have to time my breathing too, so this issue just throws my breathing out and having a drink takes up more time and effort than it should.
On a couple of occasions I've actually pulled out the nozzle as I've tried to drink while running - the result is water just pours out everywhere.
deconstructed bottle
Putting the bottle back in the holder is easy enough if the compression cord isn't done up too tight, and there hasn't been any issue with the bottle falling out which is good.
My initial thoughts were that the bottle could be slightly larger; but, surprisingly it does hold 500ml of liquid (if you literally fill it to the brim). However on longer runs I've ended up taking another bottle and putting it in the main compartment.
holes in bottle pouch are for...?
You can't actually get last bit of fluid out of the bottle unless you take the lid off - and that just isn't possible when running. When you stop to take the lid off and drink out of the wide bit it tends to spill
very easily. Not great if you're relying on that fluid to get you to the end of a run or race.
Holes in the bottle pouch - not sure why they're there but it does mean you can't use that pouch for any small items if you don't have a bottle with you.
I do find my hand catching the bottle sometimes as my arms swing through, but I'm really pleased that having it on the side doesn't make the bag feel lopsided.

Waist straps - this is a common issue for rucksacks and bumbags of any type I've used recently; the waist strap is just way too long and there's no-where to stash the extra length. OK so there's a 1cm wide bit of elastic, but over time that will stretch through constant use - it's already showing signs of wear. For my 9 stone body there's an additional 20-24cm (on each side) that I just don't need and even tucking it back on itself under the elastic I still catch it with my arms/hands, or it works loose, then flaps around until I can tuck it in again. That's just faffage you don't need when you are out running.  In colder weather I'll have an extra layer on, but that won't make 40-48cm gain around my waist!
spare waist strap folded and tucked into elastic

spare waist strap unfolded

elastic for stowing spare waist strap, it's already going baggy
Whistle: absolutely great that one is provided...but it's on one of the main zip pulls and it rattles and tap-tap-taps on the bag as I'm running along. Tapping and things rattling is one of my pet hates!! I end up tucking that zip pull inside and closing the zip with the other puller. Ideally I'd have the whistle on a short cord inside, you are after all unlikely to be running and blowing your whistle at the same time.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: I really do like the bumbag; I dislike the bottle. I'd buy the bag again, but I've already swapped out the bottle for another.

The bag in action in the Swiss Alps - climbing up from Bettmeralp to the ridge overlooking the Aletsch Glacier

Heading down to the Aletsch Glacier
High above the glacier on Bettmerhorn-Eggishorn ridge

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