I just had to have an inov-8 Race Elite Extreme 10 Bag, only 105g for a bag that I allegedly can do a mountain marathon with! The only bag I’ve ever heard of that light was a home made one by Al Powell. My first impressions were that you can really see where weight has been saved in the material and design of the straps and pockets, the bag is small but you can see that it should be just large enough. The straps are 2 strips of thin tape with mesh in between on the wider sections. The adjustable part of the shoulder strap is also really thin, so thin that normal adjusters do not grip it well enough. The straps do adjust fairly easily but require a bit more of a pull, this is the sort of small compromise that you make when pushing the boundaries of really light. Although all the materials are thin the actual construction is broad enough to make them comfortable. Although I haven’t done a mountain marathon yet, I did do a 12 hour mountain bike last weekend using this pack for my jacket, food and water and I never noticed it for the whole ride. Although my riding mates might have paid pretty hefty sums for lighter bikes they all had packs which weighed at least 500g when empty, so by far the cheapest way to make their bikes 400g lighter would be an inov-8 pack.
inov-8 know that the kind of people who buy packs like these do not use water bladders and probably carry only one bottle. The hip fin mesh pockets are for a small bottle or bars and gels. There is no zip on the pockets but the fabric overlaps at the top which was secure enough to stop me losing anything. A standard bike bottle will fit in but it’s pretty tight fit and the kind of tight that will annoy you when tired, a better choice would be either the inov-8 500ml Bottle which is a flatter shape but still a pretty tight fit or the good old 330ml coke bottle which is normally what I use.
Inside the main compartment you get just what you would expect in an ultralight pack, nothing at all. The pack does have a waist belt, which does up at one side not in the middle and an adjustable sternum strap, which works really well for something made from string. On the shoulder straps are the small plastic lugs which are compatible with the inov-8 Race Pac 2 which is a chest pouch weighing 110g. So it is possible to add another 2.5 litres of very handy space if you needed it. On one of the pac lugs is your whistle. Could this be the lightest whistle on the market?
My next blog post about this pack will be a dry run at actually getting all my mountain marathon kit into it. I am very careful about my kit but certainly not an elite runner finishing in the top of the elite field. If I can get my kit into this pack then it should be possible for anyone who takes their mountain marathons seriously enough to have at least some of the specialist kit.