Last updated: 24-Oct-18
By Seth Grotzke
Part of my ultra training involves getting lost in the mountains. Here is where the Grivel Mountain Runner Comp 5L pack comes into play. I needed a way to carry enough food, water, and emergency equipment to survive my frequent forays into the mountains of northern Spain.
I am happy to share with you that so far the Grivel pack has borne the weight of my poor sense of direction.
- 5 litres
- 430 grams/ 15.2-ounce weight
- Breathable mesh construction
- Many organisational pockets
- Elastic pole loops and gear holder
- One size fits all design
- Two bottle holder pockets
Pros: What’s good about the Grivel Mountain Runner Comp 5L Pack
I like the rugged construction of the pack. When you feel the fabric, zippers, and pockets you can tell that the pack is meant to be worn through brush and briars. As I wore it I didn’t need to worry about snags, tree limbs, or accidental falls.
I like the easy access of the bottle holders. I have always run with a bladder style pack in the past, and found that the bottles offered a great way to keep plain water and electrolyte drinks separated.
It also made it easier to evaluate how much I was drinking since the hydration bladder can be deceiving when determining whether to skip an aid-station refill or not. And believe me, speaking from experience, you don’t want to make a mistake there.
The bottle holders can accommodate a variety of bottle styles, and I found that both a standard water bottle and also an Amphipod style handheld bottle were good fits. I appreciated the diversity of the organizational pockets. I counted eight different pockets, but there were a couple I didn’t even see until I had run a few times.
For the small design there are many options for keeping your food, first aid, and kit all separated. Just don’t forget where you store everything…or keep a map handy for easy reference.
There is an adjustable size for all body types. It is easy to set it up for one size and then adjust for another size. To test this, I had my wife wear it out on a jaunt in the Picos de Europa mountain range.
While trying to leap a stream, a rock gave way and she fell in.
Unfortunately, she only got soaked up to her waist and did not listen to my request that she get the entire pack submerged in order to evaluate how well it handled wet in 10° Celsius weather.
I decided against taking her advice in testing that myself. Regardless of her partial review, she does report that it fits well and rides easy.
The reflectors are good. I didn’t realise this until my friend commented on it while we were running in the dark.
There is an elastic band in the back which could be adapted for a variety of kit. I ran a 100 km race with this pack and saw several other runners wearing Grivel packs and adapting this band for various means.
Cons: What’s not so good about the Grivel Mountain Runner Comp 5L Pack
I tested the pack with a jacket, shirt, and with no shirt. It was definitely most comfortable with a shirt. During the 100 km race I noticed that there was one area of chaffing near the shoulder.
This is due to the more rugged design. It didn’t result in anything too bad, but if you prefer to wear tank tops or no shirt while running, take this into account.
The bottles on the front are helpful, but unless you get the weight right there can be a lot of bouncing. Be prepared to try out a few different ways to distribute the weight before you find a good balance.
The vest comes with an emergency whistle which I tried out and was able to get the attention of my wife when she raced ahead and tried to ditch me on one of our runs together. Since my Morse Code abilities are poor, I may have spelled out *SOP* instead of *SOS*, but regardless, she heard it.
The negative aspect of the whistle is that it can be annoying if it continually bounces on the top of the water bottle below it…or your running partner decides to practice their Morse Code while out running.
A positive aspect is that I was able to fit an iPhone 6s Plus in either of the side pockets. Even with the large size, it rides well in there, or even better in the large back pocket. The negative aspect is that it gets a bit tough to get a large phone in and out while running.
After eight hours on the trail I recommend not trying to hassle with it, or at least have someone nearby to put your shoulder back into socket.
For those who really want to be out for the day and carry extra water, it is possible to convert the back pocket to carry a hydration bladder, but it wasn’t made primarily for that. A simple hole for the hose to pass through in the back pocket could solve that. They do have an elastic band on the front which can hold the hose, so that is a plus.
This is a great vest for those interested in solid construction, lots of organisational pockets, enough room to pack survival gear for a day in the mountains, and want a value for your money.
I would recommend it for someone who likes to carry extra food, kit, and supplies but is not concerned about weight or speed. However, if you are looking for a minimalistic vest capable of carrying a few gel packs and some water, this isn’t the pack for you.
About the writer: Seth normally gets lost while out running…and prefers it that way. Though Minnesota snow is what he is used to running in, the mountains of Spain are where he spends his time now. Sometimes he twitters over at @accidentalultra
All images Seth Grotzke.
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