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Montane Running Packs

In Steve Chilton's new book 'Running Hard', Billy Bland talks about the kit he had to carry during his racing years. "I can't remember having a bum bag, it was just like a money pouch really. You could get a Mars bar and a map in, and a compass. It was just like a belt and your cagoule would be tied round your waist and knotted, not stuffed in a bum bag." In the years since Billy's racing days there has been an increase in health and safety awareness. This has led to a minimum kit requirement for Fell Runners Association (FRA) races . This minimum kit is too big to fit inside a money belt. So came the age of the bum bag. I think every fell runner has a Pete Bland bum bag, and they are still probably using it! 

I first started to use hydration packs when I started to become more and more interested in The Bob Graham Round. They allow you to conveniently carry water, and you can carry more kit (in my case more food) than you can in a bum bag. Back in October I shared my views on the Salomon S-Lab Advance Skin 3 12 set pack . I have used this pack a lot and it is my go to pack for events such as the Wasdale and Borrowdale Fell races. It has usually been full to the brim with a full picnic! 

Nevertheless, when Montane brought out packs called The Bite, The Fang, Jaws, Razor and the Dragon, I had to get my hands on one and have a go! So when I had my summer holidays in Glencoe I was allowed to take the 15L Jaws pack with me. 

The first thing you notice with any of the Montane packs is that they look like a rucksack allowing most of your kit to be carried in one specific area. This is very good if your waterproofs are not very 'packable' or if you are carrying anything large. It isn't however always great for access. I did have to stop and take the pack off whenever I wanted something. Compare this to the Salomon pack and you will find that the Montane packs will feel although you can carry more kit (I even had more room in the 10L Jaws pack), but you do lose the comfortable feeling of wearing you're kit rather than carrying it that the Salomon offers. This makes the Montane packs ideal for events such as the OMM or Adventure races. I have friends who use Montane packs for mountain biking and love them. 

My only real complaint about the Montane packs is the velcro strap. It is a lot lower down to a lot of its competitors. If you have broad shoulders and a slimmer waist there is a lot of excess strap which can be tucked away but still flaps around when you are running. I would have preferred another elasticated strap that they use to go across the chest for added comfort. 

It will take a lot of coaxing to take me away from using my Salomon pack. I have used it a lot and I’m familiar with it. However, in the depths of winter I may have to switch over to a Montane pack. The lure of being able to carry more may be too great. 

I'm not sure what the likes of Billy Bland and co would think when they see runners like me fully ladened up like a mule. But as far as I am aware it is the most comfortable way to carry all the kit to meet requirements and keep you safe on your adventures.

 

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17 August 2017 by Jacob Tonkin

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