I’d never run with a bag until recently, but entering my first ultra made it a necessity. What I actually needed was the ability to carry water more than anything, plus a bit of space for a few emergency bits of kit….so I did a bit of google research, and ended up ordering a Camelbak Ultra 10. It seemed to get good reviews, and had a decent chunk of carrying capacity.
So, how did I get on with this bag, and what are my thoughts and learning points after finishing my first ultra?
The bag itself was great. It has a 2ltr bladder, which I filled to the brim, and then I loaded it up with gels, malt loaf, pork pies, spare socks, arm warmers, head-torch plus spare battery, a phone, waterproof jacket, some cash, gloves and my tiny Garmin 520 bike computer (for its mapping capabilities in case of getting lost!). The bag was frighteningly heavy!
Learning point… If the feed station/checkpoints have the food/water, why on earth carry so much! – I took lots of the food out at the finish uneaten, and certainly didn’t need much of the other stuff, so next time, I’ll be carrying half the amount at the most, and will only be half filling the bladder and then topping up!
On the comfort front though, I had been concerned that it might rub a little, as i’d only run 18 miles with it in training at the furthest. I needn’t have worried. It was completely perfect, to the extent that I largely forgot it was on, and didn’t have so much as a mark. It helps that it can be pulled up quite tight, but I am impressed with how comfortable it was.
Nothing jiggled about in it either. partially because I was carrying everything bar the kitchen sink, so there was no room, but mainly because it has elasticated cords that pull everything tight.
That doesn’t mean it lacks pockets though… they are abundant. There are plenty on the shoulder straps, accessible while on the move which us helpful, although, all of these are quite small, so for example, a mobile phone is a squeeze.
On the subject of bladders versus bottles, I am not sure yet that a bladder is the best idea. While it is easy to carry and probably more comfortable than bottles, it does have the two major disadvantages that firstly its hard to keep track of how much you’ve drunk, and secondly, it is harder to refill. I’m yet to discover if practice and experience resolves either of them.
Final observation is to take more time thinking about what to put in which pockets. Not only did I spend ages hunting for stuff at checkpoints, but there were a couple of occasions where I would have liked access to something, but it would have meant a stop… especially my head-torch… if it had been in one of the open top pockets in the back, one of my running partners could have hooked it out for me.
So would I recommend this pack?
Yes. The build quality is great, it was very comfortable, and worked really well. I however, have no reference point, not having used any other manufacturers! My only question would be to consider, whether bottles might be easier for some events where they are well supported with checkpoints. One additional thought, that for normal, non superhuman people like myself who won’t be running ultras 10 times a year, it also doubles as a useful daypack for summer walks, especially with the dog, Maisie, where I can more easily carry some water for her… a smaller carrying capacity bag might not be big enough.