Disclaimer: I received a Phone.Flask.Vest from Orange Mud to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews!
Heck. Yes. I have wanted to test an Orange Mud vest since I became a BibRave Pro, and I was positively geeked to get the invite to review their newest product: the Phone.Flask.Vest.
First impression: I love how small and light the P.F.V. is — and it’s awesome for when you only want to carry the essentials along with your hydration. Though it’s smallness comes with one awkward issue: I legit couldn’t get the vest over my head on my first try.
I unclipped the single latch and loosened the straps a bit and still struggled. I reached out to my fellow Pros for a little help with the “how to.” There’s still a bit of a struggle, though loosening the straps completely is really the only way to “get in.” I don’t know… maybe I have a big head?
First run: The P.F.V feels super light compared to another hydration vest that I wear. Though, I’m not used to running with something tight against my chest as how the P.F.V. fits, and I felt like maybe it was going to suffocate me (bear with me, I’m a little dramatic). I eventually got used to it; however, loosening it up only made it bounce, so I opted to wear it a little tighter. I tested the vest on a moderately hilly trail run, the provided 450ml soft flask was enough hydration for an hour (I’d probably look at upgrading to a larger size soft flask for longer distances). I was nervous the entire run that my phone would bounce out; as the water flask emptied, the phone wasn’t quite holding place in its pocket.
I wish there was a little pull cinch on that front pocket. Just kidding! I realized on my second training run that it DOES have a cinch cord on the phone pocket, which helped SO MUCH to prevent any “Oops! I lost my phone in the woods!” moments.
Fun features: the P.F.V. has a velcro pocket that contains a key hook (which I didn’t even realize the first time that I used it — thanks to another Pro for that tip as well). Unfortunately, my car key is usually what I run with, and it while it sits in the pocket, I can’t secure it inside with the velcro closure. I also love the easy access shoulder pocket, which is perfect to fit two fig newtons or a couple of gels.
During my initial test run, I started to get warm and had to take off my long-sleeved shirt. Removing the vest is not a quick task. I had to take off my hat, loosen the straps and struggle to remove it STILL over my head (and knocked off my sunglasses in the process). Getting the vest on does get easier as you get used to how it fits. The back pocket is not large enough to hold a long-sleeved tee, but the bungie straps kept it in place, so I didn’t have to tie my shirt around my waist.
On a second test run (on single track trails), I couldn’t get the fit right. The left side was completely tightened, but the top of the vest wasn’t fitting flush on my shoulder, which made it bounce. I tried loosening both straps and balancing the tightness between the two sides, but the left shoulder was just too big — and the side was all the way tightened. Did it stretch out over one sweaty use? Or did my boobs grow?
On my third trail run, I got it to fit perfectly on both shoulders. But as I drank from the flask, the fit shifted again. I can’t tighten it any further. On one side of the vest, there is a dust cover for the bite valve of the flask — it’s brilliant… when it works. Maybe as result of my fit issues, or when the bottle contents empty, but the bite valve doesn’t stay put.
Also something I noticed with the flask deflating, is that the drink valve stops fitting into the dust cover (which is one of my favorite features of the PFV). I wore this thing THREE TIMES before realizing this elastic strap existed to hold down the flask tube.
For ladies wondering about sizing: I’m an A-cup, and measure 33″ around my chest.
I like the weight and “essentials-only” purpose of the Phone.Flask.Vest., but it’s not the best fit for me and running trails. Never fail — I did find the PERFECT use: trail skating. Since I can’t do a handheld over my wrist guards — and on my far-away-from-home trail skates, I need to carry my skate tools and parts with me — the P.F.V. is great for that. I usually carry a pair of flip-flops with me too (which I can secure in the back with the bungie cord), in case I’m out and my skate completely breaks or a destination won’t let me enter while I’m wearing rollerskates.
Last thoughts: I feel like a second clip (so there’s one on each side) would be an easy design fix, making it so much easier to get in and out of. It was also difficult to tighten and loosen the straps when the vest is on because tightening the straps all the way to fit my small chest makes the release clips situated in the back. I hate to say make the straps longer because there’s already a LOT of excess strap to fold under when it’s tightened (there are those little plastic pieces to fasten away the fly-aways, though I found it impossible to do while on the run).
That said, every piece of gear I own has a purpose — I think this Orange Mud vest is perfectly suited for skating and biking, and I imagine it would be pretty great for my kayaking adventures, too.
Orange Mud is sponsoring BibChat on Tuesday, July 25 — follow along with hashtag #bibchat on Twitter at 8pm CST for your chance to win your own Phone.Flask.Vest. Save 10% on all Orange Mud purchases with discount code “BRPPFV.”