I’ve been intrigued by Orange Mud’s packs since I first saw them in the back of Ultra Runner Magazine a few years ago, and now here I am, reviewing the Orange Mud Gear Vest 2.0 for others to read!
This [Orange Mud Gear Vest 2.0] rides higher than any other pack I have ever worn and right out of the gate I loved how it carried.
When Orange Mud first entered the market their pack was designed around carrying bottles high on your back, quiver style. I dismissed the idea as I didn’t feel I was flexible or coordinated enough to grab a bottle from my back and manage to put it back while on the go. Once I saw the Orange Mud Gear Vest 2.0 with its bladder setup, I was eager to put one through its paces. And much to my delight, the pack did not disappoint.
- Volume Capacity: 2L
- Weight Without Bladder: 8.9 oz
- Bladder Size: 1L
- Price: $109
- Official specs from Orange Mud website.
Features of the Orange Mud Gear Vest 2.0
- 2 LARGE front pockets that will easily fit 600ml soft flasks
- 2 front upper velcro pockets
- Back compartment that holds 1liter bladder
- Comes with a 1 liter bladder
- Shock cord on back compartment
- Comes with 1 liter bladder
- Sizing: one size fitz all, unisex
- Color options: White, Black/Orange, Black/Green
What’s good: the new, differentiating, or simply well designed or built features or aspects of the pack.
Orange Mud’s designs are all about getting the weight of the fluids you carry high on your back to reduce fatigue associated with carrying additional weight. This pack rides higher than any other pack I have ever worn and right out of the gate I loved how it carried. The higher orientation of the bladder and the smaller size of the bladder compartment (1L) gives you a pack that is much shorter than many of the other packs on the market. The shorter sizes gives you significant freedom of movement.
Large Front Pockets
The front pockets are large enough to easily fit a 600ml soft flask, iPhone 8 Plus, bars, Trail Butter, and much more. You can even slide your phone into the pocket with a fully filled flask if necessary. The large pockets make it easy to slide bottles in and out, and the shock cord closure prevents bouncing. (bottles are not included)
Universal Sizing of the Orange Mud Gear Vest 2.0
The universal sizing is both a pro and a con. On the pro side it allows the pack to adjust to you regardless of the amount of clothing you are wearing or if you lose or gain a few pounds. The fully adjustable side straps also let you decide the orientation of the front pockets. Pull the side straps higher and the front pockets will be moved farther apart on your chest. Leave the side straps looser and you can pull the front pockets very close together. It also allows you to share the pack with a friend or partner if needed.
On the con side you end up with a pack that has straps on the side that can flap and get in your way, and you don’t have the additional pocket options on the sides that fixed width packs offer.
Elasticized front straps
The front closure straps have enough elasticity that if you pull them tight you don’t feel constricted in your chest, but yet they still hold the pack in place so it doesn’t feel like it is bouncing around.
The top pockets are a unique design. They close with a wide velcro strap and the opening at the bottom of the pocket. You can use these pockets for your nutrition, a small phone, or even your wallet. At first I was concerned gels would fall out of the pocket due to the bottom closure, but this did not occur. The Velcro was easy to open on the go, and due to the elastic in opening, my gels and bars easily stayed put. However, I would refrain from utilizing this pocket for small items, such as electrolyte tabs or a key, as they would likely fall out.
What could be improved: Tweaks or improvements that could be made to make the pack better.
A secure pocket
Since I often run with a key (or keys), I’m always looking for at least one secure pocket, so I don’t have to worry about getting back to my house or car and find that I’ve dropped my key along my route. While the Gear Vest 2.0 sports a lot of pockets—7—none of them have a zippered closure.
This is a minor quibble. There is nothing wrong with the fabric. The pack is heavier than some of the super lightweight packs on the market in the last few seasons. However, I do see this as both a pro and a con. The heavier fabric and super solid stitching make this a work horse pack. I feel like this pack could take some serious abuse and barely show any wear.
I think if this were to come in a men’s and women’s version the women’s version would likely narrow out the should straps a bit. One downside is that while wearing a tank top with narrow straps I got some chaffing around my shoulders. Men who always run in a shirt likely would not experience this issue.
When to use it: The situations or scenarios where the Orange Mud Gear Vest 2.0 excels.
This pack is a solid contender for just about any situation. Load it with one bottle and a phone, and you’ll barely even notice you are wearing it. Or load it up with a full bladder, to 600ml bottles, your phone, and a bunch of food, and it carries so well that you will still barely know it’s there. The only time this pack would not excel is for a long day where you need to carry a lot of fluid, as well as extra gear. Also, the pack does not offer a trekking pole attachment, so if you are a regular user of poles I would look elsewhere.
How it compares: my current go-to pack and how this pack compares.
I’ve been testing a variety of packs lately, including the Ultimate Directions Ultra Vesta 4.0, the Nathan VaporMag 2.5L, and the Ultimate Directions Adventure Vesta. The major differences between the Orange Mud Gear Vest 2.0 and most of the others listed is the fabric/weight and the universal/unisex sizing. The pack rides significantly higher than both the UD vests and it is also much shorter in the torso.
Should you purchase? My overall recommendation on whether to purchase this pack or not.
I was pleasantly surprised just how much I liked this pack. It’s not fancy, it doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles that some of the other brands offer, and it isn’t the lightest pack on the market, but it is a solid, all around pack. At $109 it comes in at a lower price point than many of the other contenders. Please note: If you are interested in the Gear Vest design but need a little more room, Orange Mud offers their Endurance Pack 4L. The Endurance Pack doubles the bladder size and carrying capacity, in addition to offering a trekking pole attachment, while only adding $25 to the price. I’d be interested in seeing if it carries similarly to the Gear Vest 2.0.
Purchasing Information for the Orange Mud Gear Vest 2.0
Your Reviewer: Sarah Bradham
I started my love of gear as a climber and as I turned my attention to running I shifted from carabiners, ice tools, and crampons to hydration packs, midsole foam types, compression clothing, and everything in between. After several years of foot injuries, I’m enjoying getting back to my beloved muddy and rocky trails near my home in Portland, Ore. In my work life, I enjoy coordinating an annual Mountain and Ultra Running Camp at the base of Mt. Hood with Yassine Diboun, Amy Sproston, Joelle Vaught, Krissy Moehl and Jeff “Bronco Billy” Browning.