Cross the UK: Raidlight Olmo 12L Ultra Vest Review
Overall Rating: 4/5
The Olmo 12 is on the heavier side when you’re comparing running packs of this nature. However, it is certainly much bigger than the 12L label and there is more than enough padding to keep you comfortable over those long distances.
I used this pack for a multi-day run over the Cairngorms carrying all of the food, water, first aid, spare kit and essentials for a comfortable overnight stay in accommodation. Obviously, when we first set off I had numerous thoughts going through my head about leaving bits behind at the car but I was faced with the eternal struggle of having more space in the bag and feeling the need to fill it!
Firstly, despite the initial weight of the pack, coming in at just under 590g, I found this very comfortable. I have mentioned in other reviews that I have struggled with the fit of some brands packs and the level of padding provided in the shoulder and hip straps. The Olmo 12 was certainly the most comfortable I have worn for an extended period to date with the 20mm of padding and 6cm wide straps doing the job amazingly well. The level of padding justifies the added weight in my opinion but if comfort ranks well below weight, which I know it does for many people, then it is not the bag for you. After two pretty brutal days in poor weather crossing the Cairngorms I was fairly pleased with the pack and although I had a couple of red marks on each shoulder there was no pain or discomfort whilst running. The shoulder straps are adjustable in two places meaning that you can get the fit to suit you and eliminate any bounce. Even with more weight in my running pack than ever before, bounce was never an issue across the two days. The foam padding in the back allowed some ventilation but more importantly increased the comfort level and meant that nothing from the loaded pack dug into me while running.
The storage capacity of this pack is ridiculous. It definitely has a lot more space than the 12L advertised and there are so many places, pockets (19 in total!), straps and other features to stow your goodies in. The main part of the pack has a lot of storage which includes a small zip pocket and hydro pack attachment. It also has a clever headphone jack attachment that runs up to the shoulder strap in case you’re someone who can’t run without being plugged in. There is a second pocket which is much smaller and then three large, stretchy mesh pockets to store things like waterproofs in along with a number of gear straps and attachments. On the hip belt and shoulder straps there are loads of pockets ranging from well sized, secure zip pockets that would fit a phone, camera or GPS through to mini stretchy mesh pockets for all your gels and snacks. There are too many to mention but the Olmo 12 has pockets on its pockets at times!
One issue I had with the bag at the end of the trip was that some of the colour had come out of the shoulder straps leaving both my t-shirt and shell with black marks on making it look like I had a sports bra showing through. The colour did wash out of my merino top straight away but it’s still faintly visible on my shell jacket now. It did rain heavily a number of times for short periods and it was hard work so between the rain and the sweat the bag did get a good soaking but I wouldn’t have expected the colour to come out synthetic materials like this. It has been fine ever since and the contents of the bag stayed dry so it’s not going to be a massive issue.
As far as hydration options go the pack is reservoir compatible but since taking up ultra distance trail running I have stayed away from using them as I want to be able to closely check the amount I’m drinking. The other option comes as two semi-rigid bottle holders on the shoulder straps. These look a bit bulky and cumbersome to begin with but they actually serve to create the best feature of the pack. This was the first time I’ve used rigid bottles on a longer run as I’m used to soft flasks now but this worked well for me as they’re easily accessible and the rigidity in the holders mean you’re not searching around to put them away each time you take a drink.
The best feature for me was the pole holder. It sounds simple but it is amazingly well designed and made. Following some advice from an experienced ultra runner I gambled on taking running poles with me for this trip and I’m extremely glad I did as they were a huge help on some on the trickier terrain. However, the point here is the pole holder which is simply two elasticated bands on the bottle holders. Very simply put, this allows you to fold your poles and store them easily. This all sounds too simple but it means that you don’t have to stop running to take out or put away your poles, nor do you need to take the pack off to do this either which I have found nearly every other pack on the market requires you to do. Granted the poles, when stored look a bit weird stuck on the front of you but they sit far enough away that they do not inhibit your arms when in full swing and actually make the pack feel well balanced. I genuinely loved this feature and it made the run much more enjoyable and having the poles was less of a chore, more of a great choice.
Overall, I really liked the level of comfort this pack provided for the duration of the run. However, it does weigh a lot and have a few too many pockets and pouches for every day or shorter runs so it will be reserved for bigger events. There are loads of storage options to suit everyone with this bag and my favourite pole holder feature is unbeatable if you run with poles.