TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Monday, April 4, 2011

These are a Few of my Favorite Things . . . Wink

I have lots of favorite things in my running repertoire.  For those who follow this trail running blog, you may have noticed that for about a year, I’ve only been seen wearing one hydration pack.  I own three.  The one I can’t do without, recommended by a well-versed trail running friend (Dave), is Ultimate Direction’s Wink.  (Wink is the female version of this pack pictured below and in many of my blogs.)

Back View

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Front View

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What I love about Wink:

  1. It’s comfortable.  With the hydration pack, there’s no weight around my waist (which annoys me with hydration belts).
  2. Front pockets.  When I’m running trails I don’t have to take off my Wink for essentials.  I carry phone, camera, chapstick, kleenex, salt tablets, ibuprofen, gels or bars in these front zipper and elastic compartments.  And I could even carry more.
  3. Great fluctuation in fit.  I can adjust this pack for when I’m running on hot summer days wearing just one layer, and I can adjust it for a bigger fit on those cold mornings when I’m wearing multiple layers.
  4. Lots of back storage.  There’s a mesh outside storage compartment (I usually stuff my sweaty long-sleeved shirt or rain jacket here), plus a small zipper pocket at the top (perfect for ipod).  There’s also two larger zipper portions in the back large enough to hold sunglasses, a full set of keys, bandages, other necessities like gloves, a water bottle and more, not to mention the bladder that holds 64 fluid ounces.
  5. Velcro strips for even more storage.  Often I velcro my cap on the back of this pack during those cloudy runs.  Last thing I want is to start out on an overcast day, then find myself beneath the scorching sun with no hat. 
  6. Lightweight.  Despite stuffing my Wink to the brim, the weight is situated on my back in such a way, that I barely notice the extra weight.
  7. Washes easily.  Believe me, the way I sweat the pack gets quite smelly (don’t mean to be crude, but the truth is the truth).  I throw my Wink into the washer, cold water, delicate cycle and hang it to dry overnight.  It dries very quickly.   A dryer might work, but I don’t dare risk it, because I love my Wink that much.
  8. Lots more storage.  There’s a secret velco pouch in the zipped portion, plus strong velcro straps inside areas and even more areas to clip on necessities outside the pack.

Problems:

The only problem I encountered with the Wink was a bladder leak.  Its unique design allows for easy dispersing of air pockets.  At the same time though, there’s a seam that runs up the center.  The top of that seam is where mine sprouted a leak.  My husband cut portions off the top of the bladder and used aquarium glue to repair this leak.  He repaired it twice.  Still, I thought this wasn’t enough.  I wanted a bladder that didn’t leak.

I contacted the retailer where I purchased my Ultimate Direction Wink (Zombie Runner) – once by e-mail and once by phone.  I even personally spoke with someone.  Sadly, (because I really like Zombie Runner) I got no call back, as promised.  And no one returned my e-mail.

Finally I contacted Ultimate Direction.  After minimal work, I got a response.  Not only did I get a brand new bladder in the mail after a few days, but I received a free Ultimate Direction handheld as well. 

The new bladder has a slightly new design, though there’s still that seam up the middle.  I am very happy to report that so far – NO LEAKS. 

Suggestions:

I clip my ipod on the front strap.  But there are trails that I run that I can’t have anything extra hanging off (like earphone cords).  Heavy bushwhacking will rip those earphone cords right off and throw them into the distant brush.  Currently in those cases, I thread earphone cords beneath my shirt.  I would really love a waterproof hole (as much as possible) out of that top back zipper compartment of my Wink to thread my earphones through. 

Overall:

If you don’t get any leaks or at least get a replacement quickly, the cost for this hydration pack (around $90.00) IS WELL WORTH IT.  Seriously.  My Camelbacks cost much less, but they haven’t given me anything near the satisfaction that Wink has.  I love my Wink.

Stay tuned for more of my “favorite things.”

Wearing my Wink (picture below compliments Jeremy H.)  Probably the most commented on picture that I’ve ever posted on my Facebook page. Smile

10 comments:

  1. I like this idea for a post. I have quite a few favorite things as well. One is my hydration pack I purchased specifically for the Odyssey Ultra I ran in January. It has been perfect in every aspect with nothing to complain about. I can imagine that photo got lots of comments. One of the things on my bucket list is to visit the Zombie Runner store and have a coffee there.

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  2. I've had issues with finding a good pack bc I haven't seen any that have front storage, but this pack looks awesome! Pretty much everything I have been looking for. The pack of my dreams? Thanks for sharing!

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  3. So - since the design is to be able to get rid of air bubbles does it slosh around when it's half full? I have a Nathan, and listening to the slosh slosh slosh after a few miles gets pretty annoying....

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  4. Glen, if you close it right, like getting the air out of a sandwich baggie. You know, kinda push the air out the top, then you close it and roll it down. That gets rid of 99% of the air bubbles. There's usually one little one hiding. But since the bladder is clear I can easily see the bubble. So I turn it upside down and push the air out the tube. I NEVER hear sloshing.

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  5. Thanks for reading Crazy Penguin. I definately think you could be happy with this pack. I love the zipped portions up front -- my phone or camera never fly out.

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  6. Johann -- I would love to visit Zombie Runner too (was hesitatant to say anything negative about them in the post). Glad you found a good pack too. I love it when I find something I really like.

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  7. Even though I wish it had front storage, I can't live without my Camelbak.
    This one looks really awesome, though.
    Definitely going on my running wish list.

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  8. The best thing Jessie, is that you have found one that you REALLY like. Thanks for reading!

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  9. I think I found my next pack...
    http://www.ultimatedirection.com/product.php?id=133&color=1&page=packs

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  10. 96 fl. ounces! Awesome. Love the "kicker bottle."

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