Naked? Running Band

Perfect design made simple … a Running Band which you would use even when you would like to run … Naked ūüôā

IMG_20180707_075817Maybe when you first read or hear of the Naked Running Band you get all kind of imaginary visions of … a¬†Band playing music whilst Running around Naked or … Runners who are Running Naked with a Band around their waist?

However, I need to disappoint you. It is all less ‘strange’ than you might think but that said the Naked Running Band is a great piece of Running stuff!

I really like trailrunning, I also really like using and writing about trailrunning ‘stuff’ and especially when it is by design simple but efficient, it does the job you want it to do and also looks ‘cool’.

So what is it?

The Naked Running Band is a specially designed waist band for (trail, ultra, marathon, commuting to work) runners to carry a lot of ‘stuff’ without having it bouncing up and down or falling out. With some ingenuity and minimising it has enough room to carry the needed, or sometimes mandatory gear for a mountain or ultra trailrun which than by definition also allows you to take the things you need for your morning or evening run to and from the office or your own (multiple) day trailrun.

To be honest, I feel really lucky that I stumbled over this Running Band. In an earlier blog I wrote about my experiences with different trail waist bands or belts and trailpacks. Given the choice I would like to carry as little as possible in a waistband allowing my back to ‘breath the fresh air’ so to speak. And the Naked Running Band allows me to go a long way before needing to use a trailpack.

So why am I so enthusiastic about the Naked Running Band?

Smart design to keep everything inside.

A few clever design features makes sure nothing fall out. For example: (1) the outside layer is just a littler higher than the inside layer creating an ‘automatic’ covering; (2) the band is divided in three pockets creating enough stretch power to keep ‘stuff’ inside; (3) each pocket has an easy to find tab to quickly open the mesh to get stuff out or put it back in; (4) a hook allows you to secure your¬† keys safely; (5) a wide range of twelve different sizes allow you to really choose the best fit for both your body size and the way to want to use the band, i.e.¬†up high on your waist, on your hips, or low over your butt.

Smart design to add things.

(1) Two built-in race number shock cord attachments at the front; (2) two silicone backed elastic straps at the back allow you to add additional gear. Naked Running provide as examples a set of foldable running poles or a rain jacket.

However, I found it rather cumbersome to get my running poles securely fastened in the straps. You either need to take your time or train this whilst on the run. It obviously helps that you can easily turn the band around your waist so you can see what you are doing. Also when you add your poles you cannot use the pockets between the straps to their maximum content. I ended up holding my poles in my hands during a day long trailrun when I needed a the pockets for other ‘stuff’.

Smart design to keep your cool.

The mesh is open enough to leave sweat through whilst it also¬†repels rain or sweat, and maybe the best thing … the mesh does not create any chaff after miles of running and sweating. At least not with me and although I am not hyper sensitive to chaff I do need to take for example the usual precautions of putting anti-chaff on my nipples when going for a long run.

Smart design of softflasks.

IMG_20180715_100932Obviously you can use any type of (soft)flask to carry your fluids. But that said, I found that the Naked Running Band softflasks are for me the first which have large enough opening at the top to allow easy cleaning with a normal cleaning brush. If you not already have you own set I would definitely advice you to consider these.

Is the Naked Running Band worth the money?

Everybody has it preferences so I will give my opinion which may help you to decide what your final choice will be.

Yes, if you compare this running band with for example another high performance brand running band: the Compressport Free Belt Pro which you can buy for almost the same price. I would argue (having used the ‘normal’ Free Belt extensively) that the breathability, easy access and twelve versus three sizes tips my choice to the Naked Running Band.

Probably, if you compare it with some cheaper models like for example the Flipbelt or¬†The Hipster Running Belt from Nathan. Both are approximately half the price but are less breathable (no mesh but ‘solid’ fabric), do not have a key hook, additional straps for poles and race number shock cords.

A tough competitor could be the Salamon Pulse Belt. This belt also has additional straps for poles but is not made of a breathable mesh, has only four sizes and is less stretchy to really put in a lot of ‘stuff’.

So, for me it is worth the money.

It allows me for most runs to leave my trailpack at home. But it has its limits as I wrote above, especially when you also want to add your poles to the Band. That’s also realised by Naked Sports Innovation I think whilst they just introduced a vest from similar material.

What are your experiences with Running Bands? Any preferences?

(If interested, in the UK the Naked Running Band is sold by Centurion Running, when in the Netherlands you can either buy them via the internet in the UK or US).

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What did I carry so far with the Naked Running Band?

Groceries I bought for my evening meal when running back home.IMG_20180704_163016

Eight ‘Krentenbollen’, my favourite Dutch bread treat, known in the rest of the world as Raisin buns, see video¬†:).DSC_0130

Mountain trailrunning pack when I explored the Bob Graham Round in the Lake District in three days days.

 

For these day long trailruns in windy and wet weather I packed I think the maximum I could fit in in (keeping my poles in hand):

  • a set of water proofs (jacket and trousers);
  • first aid kit;
  • softflask;
  • phone;
  • map and compass;
  • some energy bars.
The Bob Graham Round is a circular tour around Keswick following 106 kilometres, 8200 meters height gain over 42 fells tops in order to prepare myself for the ultimate endeavour next year to do it in 24 hours and become a member of The Bob Graham 24 hour club.
Just another crazy idea in the trailrunning world that started already way before we called it trailrunning. The round was first done just within 24 hours way back in 1932 by Bob Graham, a hotelier of Keswick, Cumberland, at the age of 42 (!).
Besides trying it within 24 hours you can also add: ‘doing it in winter, do it twice’ or do it as fast as possible like the ‘inhuman’ trail phenomenon¬†K√≠lian Jornet just proofed setting a new record of 12.52 hours! For me within 24 hours would be great, I will definitely write a blog about my effort!

 

 

 

The Trailrunners Belt / Vest / Backpack choice

Overload – Help! – Too many trail packs to choose from. I hope my experiences may help you to make a choice that fit your needs.

FB_IMG_1508699986849Trailrunners are easily recognisable, are they not? Sturdy running shoes, probably compression tubes, double layer short running tights, a colourful running shirt, a Buff and … a trailvest!

BLUF, i.e. Bottom Line Up Front:

I prefer not to carry anything when running, but sometimes it is needed due the distance, the remoteness of the terrain, the mandatory kit list, your own multi-day trailrun plan or the stuff you need to bring into the office for work.

So what are the options? Well in the end probably 100+ if you do a Google search. All have pro’s and con’s and the price range is rather large to say the least!

During my years of trailrunning I ended up with five ‘systems’ of which I use four regularly and one, to be honest hardly ever because it just does not work for me. I hope my experiences will help you to decide what is maybe the most suitable ‘system’ for you.

So here we go,

from small to large and one to four,

adding number five as the ‘system’ I do not use.

Number one: The Compressport Free Belt

freebeltAt first I was a bit hesitant to use this but after a while I really started to appreciate the Free Belt. Main advantage I think is that it is extremely easy in design. does the job, i.e. carry stuff, and in my opinion looks rather cool. I use it for running to and from work carrying my phone, head torch, clean socks and maybe a sandwich. The Free Belt has four equal size spaces and uses stretch to stay in place around your hips and to keep the stuff inside. No zips or buckles that may irritate, get stuck or break. During a weekend trailrun I easily pack my phone, a energy bar and one or two 250ml soft flask.

The Free Belt works for me in the meaning that it stays rather well around my hips and just occasionally has the tendency to creep up towards your stomach area. If this happens all is still well packed and does not fall out.

Be aware is that when you are sweating the Free Belt gets completely wet. That may not be a surprise but you need to pack everything that you don’t want to get wet. The Free Belt dries rather quickly so when you run home in the evening after a day in the office it is dry again!

Summary: Basic, clever designed, not too expensive Belt that can easily carry the essentials for a Sunday morning 3-hours trailrun, looks cool and indeed leaves you as Free moving as possible.

 

Number two: INOV-8 Race Ultra 5 Vest / Pack

race-ultra-5This is a trail pack I really like for several reasons.

As many other trail packs it is lightweight (approx 260 grams) , has a good 5 litre storage compartment which can be compressed with a bungee cord and an emergency whistle. You can use the bungee cord to carry for example a lightweight jacket increasing the amount you can carry.

20170903_130129However, the real big pro’s for me are the two (very) large side mesh pockets and the two separate reservoir zipped pockets wich hold two 500ml soft flask with a 30cm drinking tube.

  • The side mesh pockets are ideal for storing your Buff, mittens, energy bars (or cellophane after eating them – leave nothing but your footprints behind), phone, map etc. They are large enough for all these items and stay secured around your body. Only be careful when you pull off the trail pack because than the mesh stretch does not secure all the stuff anymore that well. These large side pockets is a feature I have not seen on other trail packs. Most have smaller stretch or zipped packs, not the ‘huge’ ones on this vest.
  • The soft flask combination with the 30cm drinking tube allow you to easily keep drinking whilst running and without any bouncing of hard bottles. Just be aware to pull the drinking tube not only through the loop in the zipped pocket but also through the small loop halfway the front straps. If you do not need both soft flasks than the zipped compartments are large enough to fit a 6 inch phone.
For these very good reasons the The Race Ultra 10 litre compatriot was voted best in the performance accessories category by a panel of expert judges and named a 2015/2016 ISPO AWARD GOLD WINNER.
Unfortunately INOV-8 does not sell this type anymore but some other shops do, so please do a search on the internet. There are three successors I think in the INOV-8 inventory at the moment, however be aware of, in my opinion, real downside to two of three.
  • The first two successors are the Race Elite (4 litres) or Race Elite Vest 10 litre, equipped with hard bottles!! Something I do not understand from INOV-8. I think nowadays most, if not all trailrunners (please respond if you do not agree) would select soft flasks to prevent unnecessary bouncing. Also they do not provide the comfort of the drinking tubes. This means you need to get the hard bottle out of the mesh pocket, open the lid, drink, close the lid and put it back into the mesh pocket all the while not really looking where you are running.
  • The third, and in my opinion best successor is the All Terrain Pro 0 – 15¬†which has the same benefits as the Race Ultra 5 I described. Difference is that you can either have a minimalist Race Vest 0 or a larger Race Ultra 15 by adding a 15 litres pack. How the split between the vest and the 15 litres pack performs on the trails I have no experience yet but it looks a good alternative. This design won a Trail Running Magazine Best Test and reading some reviews on the internet this is a pack I definitely consider when the present is really, really worn out.
Be aware that the Race Ultra 5 come in two sizes. I surely needed the M/L with a regular chest size of 95cm.
Summary: Best Trail pack I have with great a on-the-run hydration system and well sized mesh pockets for all the stuff you want to keep quick at hand.
Maybe we should start a campaign to have INOV-8 put the soft flasks with drinking tubes in all there packs and ban hard bottles :).

Number three: The Compressport ULTRUN 140 Grams Pack

CC Pack frontThis is I think one of the lightest Trail packs at the moment using stretch fabric all around to keep stuff in and save weight. It fits very comfortable and combines a lower clipbelt with an easy to use knotted stretch cord to keep the pack in place.
It has enough room to store the same amount as the INOV-8 Race Ultra 5 but has in my opinion some disadvantages which makes the Race Ultra 5 my favourite when needed to pack just a little more.
CC Pack back
The disadvantages are in my opinion:
  • No bungee cord to add that additional jacket. The Compressport stretch does not need the bungee cord for compression, the design will do that for you. However, you miss that extra storage capacity.
  • Only two small mesh side pockets which hardly fit a 5 inch mobile phone.
  • The pockets on the¬†IMG-20170703-WA0004front straps are just too small to fit two fully filled 500ml soft flasks without the danger that when running and jumping downhill they accidentally drop out (which happend to me in the beginning so now I only fill them to approx 350ml). Also adding drinking tubes is more difficult because there are no loops to keep the tubes in place.
  • The way running poles are stored created chafing at my ribs just where the handle of the poles touch your torso.

Summary: very lightweight and comfortable trail pack. However, the design has some disadvantages with respect to side pockets and soft flask storage. They promote it as a trail vest that will keep you going for 100+ kilometres. I have some doubt with respect to the amount of storage space. I use it for shorter distances or when I do not need too carry too much stuff.

One thing that is really good with this trail pack is the promotion video on YouTube in which they compare a trailrunner with a infantry soldier packing up for field day. 

Number four: INOV-8 Race Elite 24

ultr 24I bought this pack when I planned for a multi-day self organised trailrun with overnight stays in for example a B&B (Ridgeway Trail, Christmas 2016), or a mountain hut on the Etna (March 2017) or in the Spanish Pyrenees (Summer 2017). I also use it sometimes when running to work when I need to bring clean clothing for example.

I like the large zip opening which gives you quick overall access. There is a small zip pocket inside for credit cards etc. The bungee cords enables to compress the pack to the size you want . The pack can be strapped close to your body with adjustable front straps and two straps on either side. The

DSC_0212

front straps also contain two large zipped pockets just like the above described Race Ultra 5. The pack does not come with soft flasks or drinking tubes but you can use them if you want to.

Only disadvantage I have with this pack is that it is really has only one compartment pack. No outside mess side pockets as with the Race Ultra 5. Also no compartments within the large pack itself, for example a mesh zip that could either split the pack in two parts or if zipped open make it one big one. Maybe something INOV-8 can consider with there next design.

At present INOV-8 do not sell this pack anymore but other store do, just take a search on the internet. INOV-8 successor is the All Terrain 25. However, looking at this design it missed the option to pack two soft flask with drink tubes and also does not have large quick stow-away side mesh pockets but two zipped side pockets. In all it is more a small backpack than a trail pack, I am not really convinced (yet). Probably the All Terrain Pro Vest 0 Р15 would perform better in my opinion. A little less volume but all the benefits of mesh side pockets and a on-the-run hydration system.

Number five: INOV-8 RACE ULTRA 1 WAIST HYDRATION PACK

INOV8RACEULTRA1-2I have an older version of the All Terrain Pro 1. My version is not sold anymore by INOV-8 but some shops still offer them besides the new All Terrain Pro 1.

I never really got comfortable with this belt. Main reasons were that it always ended around my stomach area whatever I tried. The belt bounced too much for my liking when carrying two 500ml hard bottles. And there was only minimal room to store stuff like a phone, energy bars etc. Also there was no ‘safe storage’ using a zip compartment of with the Free Belt several stretch compartments.

Looking at the new INOV-8 All Terrain Pro 1 I think this would solve many of the above issues due to the use of soft flasks (which create a vacuum when drinking) and more, and secure compartments.

Summary: A waist pack with hard bottles that does not fit me, sorry. Advise to test it well before considering buying.

Hopefully my experiences are of help, just let me know your experiences!