Raidlight Responsiv 10L Review
- Responsiv by the way, is French for Responsive. The rep wanted me to make that clear (wink).
Raidlight. Familiar to some, to others a mystery.
If you've been to, or at least seen the Marathon des Sables, then you'll have caught the fact that Raidlight have for years been a 'go to' brand when it comes to super lightweight, super comfortable run kit. It's of such a pedigree that many commonly available products took inspiration from the Raidlight stuff decades ago.
Away from that intense multi day desert ordeal however, everyday runners require nothing quite so flamboyant.
The good news - with the Responsiv 10L vest, flamboyant comes fitted as standard.
Attractive in their own right, a closer look reveals some mighty fine features. Chief among these is the stretch fabric which the main harness and storage chamber are constructed from. It wraps on to your body and hugs gently enough to really feel as if you wear the vest rather than carry it. So far, so run of the mill...
Upon loading, it begins to expand. More stuff, more space. It keeps stretching until the external straps begin to engage, then these too stretch, but with a higher resistance, which means by the time the overall weight of your contents is becoming noticeably 'bouncy', the pack is beginning to restrain everything automatically. It might be genius...
But what of the fit, for all its stability, what good is it if the chasis isn't firmly fixed upon your torso..?
Well, that's where the incredible Micro-Adjusters save the day. On the fly adjustment of the vest's fit can be controlled via the dials on either side. Simply turning them means to tighten the vest, where to twist in the opposite direction means to fully release the tension and begin again. Loading and unloading, wet or dry, long or short haul, there's a quick and easy method of ensuring that the fit remains stable. Brilliant.
When on, it flexes. It expands with you as you breathe. It really never feels awkward or unruly. It can be instantly filled with whichever items I require from one run to the next and still perform brilliantly, where I might normally have to think carefully about what I need to take and where best to put it for ease of use. With the Responsiv I simply throw stuff in it, clip it on and away without a second thought.
Hydration is catered for in the form of two 600ml soft flasks with easy to drink bite valves. Extended straws allow a sip on demand, without having to remove bottles until completely empty and in need of refill. And when it comes to refilling them, the aperture is wide enough to allow checkpoint cups to be tipped directly into the hole at a pace. No delays. Even if scooping water from a reliable water source, the opening is enough to capture a decent amount of water in one swoop.
The bite valves are standard, with a gentle squeeze to release the drink. Dependable during activity and completely cleanable once done.
Pockets. Four of them at the front. They're massive. Giving you the option of housing the bottles up top near your mouth, or lower down around the ribs for a more balanced feel (in my experience). The stretch material comes into its own once again here, with items securely gripped by the fabric as it clings to your body. Sliding things in is easy, as is squeezing them back out again, even if they've ridden down to the far end of the pocket. Nothing seems to dig in however, as there's enough give in the material to expand under pressure. I took a snack bar, balled up pair of gloves and a head scarf, along with smartphone and a banana with me for 10miles and never felt a single object against me. Just the wrap-around sensation that the vest had a gentle grip on me at all times.
Internally, there are a coupe of nice points, with a hang loop for storing between runs (I have my vests/packs on a hook attached to the bedroom wall). There's a hanging loop for suspending a 2Litre reservoir if so desired. A very handy zippered pocket sits just beneath the opening to the main chamber, so my phone or keys can be placed where I can reach in a hurry and I don't have to concern myself that they'll have been dropped along the way.
The external stretch pockets are accessible (just) without removing the vest and allowed me to fetch out a banana while moving, but I suspect that by the time the vest is filled to bursting, the rear of the pack will be further out of reach, so possibly a mute point in the main. They do give a choice of sizes and places to stow things such as headtorch, spare batteries or (as it turns out) apples for fast access.
There aren't any features on the Responsiv vest which scream 'innovation', but at the same time, there are none of the gimmicks or failed attempts at being different for the sake of being different. What you get is a carefully executed construction using comfortable stretch fabrics, lightweight, but strong and packed with the proven useful, such as zipped pockets, bottle holders, pole holders (several options), whistle, reservoir compatible, external storage, internal secure pocket, micro-adjustment, fast wicking, breathable and so on.
The proof is in the running. My experience so far includes a 20 miler in hot weather, 10 miles in pleasant weather, several gloomy runs of around 3.5 miles and some time in the wet. I've rammed it full of spare clothes (for work), lunch box, spare layers, waterproof shell, torch, batteries, bananas and more.
It works. It feels more comfortable than any other pack I've used. It adjusts to me and my movements mid-run. It accommodates bulky items and plenty of pieces within its generous main chamber. It offers a choice of where to locate the two 600ml soft flasks included, while also allowing use of a 2L reservoir if desired. It secures valuables in a zippered pocket, external easy to reach items on the fly and comes with a whistle for emergencies. There are more options for carrying poles than you'd expect and the total weight is still only 215g!
It troubles me to have to return this vest after testing.
In summation I would say it comes Highly Recommended. Very Highly Recommended.
Take a look at Accelerate's Responsiv range here.
Monday 26th of March 2018