Published on July 15, 2014
inov-8 Race Elite 16 Pack
When it comes to picking a race pack there are no end of options, but – shoes aside – it can be one of the most performance-critical decision you make as a distance runner. Choosing a pack is like choosing friends – pick a great one and will support you effortlessly mile after mile without complaint or falter, pick a duff one and it will get on your nerves, get in the way and make you want to ditch it in a canal. Possibly the friend’s analogy breaks down at this point…
RunningMonkey has used plenty of inov-8 packs over the years – and dozens more from other makers – but the Race Elite 16 has delighted and impressed in equal measures. For a start it’s stripped back and unfussy, the parachute silk light Nylon Ripstop material is more than tough enough and the 16litre volume (8 and 24litre are also available) adequate for most ultra-endurance efforts. Apart from a small wallet-sized zipped compartment with an integrated key bungee, internal storage is a one-stop affair – it’s a matter of personal taste, but we always find that a plethora of pockets and internal sub-divisions takes far longer to rummage through. We like it simple.
On the outside there are two side ‘batwing’ hip pockets on the Race Elite 16 that sit far enough round not to get in the way with ample storage for gels, bars and other essentials that need to be kept more readily at hand. The hip pockets are also designed to each take a 500ml water bottle (available separately at £5 each), on test this proved not to be our preferred hydration option – the bottles were comfortable enough and held steady, but with a bladder-hanging loop available inside the pack it seemed more convenient to sip through a delivery tube and keep the batwings free for other trail essentials.
In terms of fit and comfort even fully-loaded with enough kit to easily see us through a 24hour session the pack sat perfectly in place with a relatively thin waist belt and chest strap. The clips on both do feel slightly flimsy but have to date held firm and we’re never previously experienced any failures with similar clips on other inov-8 products. Looks, it seems, can be deceptive.
The bungee compression cords worked well for on-the-fly adjustments (always good when you’ve just had the pack off for a good squirrel-through) and the integrated whistle – which can be switched to either left or right strap – and the double-ended rear zip are both nice touches.
If you’re really after a pack with all the bells and whistles and with a plethora of storage options and compartments this may not be for you. But if you want well crafted simplicity that’s really built for the rigors of the longer trail runs the inov-8 Race Elite 16 Pack is undoubtedly it. So: packs are like friends – pick one that’s simple and dependable (again, our analogy doesn’t quite work…)
The inov-8 Race Elite 16 Pack retails at £54.99 – further details at inov-8.com
Online purchase at sportsshoes.com