Gear Review: Amihan Crosswind Running Vest 2017

I miss trail running, yes I do. My last official trail race was a 25-kilometer one amidst Tarak Ridge in Mariveles, Bataan. After that, things got busy due to wifey’s pregnancy and baby’s birth. No more time for races. Fast forward to 2017. I promised myself that this year, I will get back to the trails. Wifey and I, we, will get back to the trails.

One such arsenal that one should have in any trail run is one’s hydration system. It may be as simple as just a plastic bag (I once ran along the trails of Tanay alongside the then-not-yet-great-and-still-unknown Manolito Divino [10km lang ako tapos 42km siya!! Nalampasan niya ako sa lagay na ‘yun! 🙂], to the more complex hydration backpack, or in this gear review, a running vest. I’ve been using an unbranded, unnamed hydration backpack for my past races before, and due to the usual wear-and-tear from trail runs, I think I may need to retire it now. For my comeback race I’m planning to run on June 2017, I decided to try the now-popular running vests. And Amihan is the brand which first came to mind.

Amihan is a local brand specializing in outdoor and sports goods. If you’ve been going up mountains or running in the trails for quite some time like I do, then I guess you’re already familiar with it, as well as several other local brands. I decided to purchase the 2017 model of their popular Crosswind running vest.

There is wide plethora of physical shops and online sellers you could get a hold of your Amihan gears from, and for me, I decided to get my Crosswind running vest from Rocky Sports Haus c/o Sir Eric Michael Edralin (you can view their FB Page here.) Sir Eric initially did not have stocks of the orange-teal color variant I liked, but whoa! Talk about customer care! He really went out of his way to look for one just for me! Three days after I first contacted him and he was able to find one! Kudos to you, sir! 🙂 Anyway, back to the meat of the matter, for this gear review, I took my usual Timberland Wall 1 route last Thursday, April 13, 2017.

First thing I noticed is that different from a hydration backpack, this running vest also has adjustable straps at the sides and not just in front. I actually had difficulties before the run as I was not used in having these, but after several attempts, I was able to secure the running vest properly.

Because of these side straps, the bounciness which I experienced in my hydration backpack before was greatly reduced – a big plus factor for me!

I intentionally did not use a water bladder for this run as I would like to try out having water bottles infront, in the strap pockets. This is something new for me, and this is actually one inggit factor I have whenever I see runners using running vests before. These two strap pockets, made from spandex-nylon elastic material, comfortably fitted 500-mL plastic bottles for my hydration.

My hydration for the run – 500 mL Powerade and 500 mL water

It was a different feeling of having some weights infront of you while running, compared to just having it at the back. I think this set-up forced me to lean a little forward because of these weights, which is actually a point for good running posture. Nonetheless, I believe that if used with an additional water bladder, the weight at the back will somehow neutralize the weight infront.

Behind these strap pockets, concealed by the water bladder hose outlet, are more pockets which could contain your trail running essentials such as your energy gels, candies, your car keys, money – anything which could fit it. I actually did know of these pockets until I saw Sir Rene Villarta aka Jazzrunner’s photos of it:

amihan pockets
Pockets for your trail running essentials (image courtesy of Sir Rene Villarta aka Jazzrunner’s Facebook account)

And I just kept pausing and getting my phone from the larger back pocket whenever I need to take photos! Had I known these pockets, life would be much easier!! 🙂

The larger pocket at the back could contain your other bigger items. Here I put my arm warmers, head buff, some biscuits – things I do not need to take out every now and then. Since there usually are snacks served at the hydration stations in trail runs, I do not need to bring lots of snacks to munch on.

Back pocket, with my clenched fist as reference for size

I did not use one, but a bigger compartment could house your 2-liter water bladder. Instead of my previous hydration backpack’s top pocket to insert the bladder, the Crosswind utilizes a side pocket, making it much easier to insert the bladder – again, another plus point for me.

Side pocket to make insertion of water bladder much easier

The mesh lining also makes it, on some degrees, breathable. I did not sweat using this as much as I do using my old hydration backpack.

Mesh lining makes the Crosswind “breathable”

Other notable features include the following:

  • Presence of reflectorized strips, making one visible during early morning or night road runs
  • Bungee cord at the back to attach your running jackets outside the vest
  • Elastic cord loops to carry your trekking poles
  • Adjustable chest straps, both length (how tight you want the straps to be) and height (position of the straps across your chest)
  • Availability in several color combination. I bought the orange-teal one!

And off I ran! After taking pictures of my Amihan Crosswind running vest while doing my stretching at the fork separating the Walls and Shotgun route, I started running up Wall 1 in ! I even met along several biker friends along the way. When asked why I was not biking that day, I replied that my running gears miss me. Baka magtampo na sila sa ‘kin!

Here is the elevation profile and Relive video of my test run:

elevation profile

Being used to hydration backpacks, methinks that this running vest is for apt for the minimalist runner – nothing fancy to carry, just plain essentials. Before, I used to carry tons a lot of food during my runs (takot magutom eh!), and of course, this added weight was a big load on my back. Now, using this running vest, I could already foresee that I might need to plan conservatively my food intake throughout the run.

But don’t let my personal qualms discourage you from getting the Crosswind! One road run and I’ve already confirmed to myself that I made the correct decision of getting this Amihan running vest!

Any bogdowns for this product? My pet peeve since time immemorial is the strap at the back:

The strap at the back: my pet peeve since waaaay before!

Of course, Amihan did not put it there for nothing. It may be an easy-carry strap, or where the running vest could have been hung when it was still on display at the store. But for me, this strap irritatingly rubs against my nape. Well, at least, not that much anymore since it does not bounce as much as my previous hydration backpack.

To remedy this, I just put on my headbuff around my neck and voila! Problem solved! For a more permanent solution, I am still thinking of cutting it off, like what I did before in my old one.

Furthermore, if you were not able to secure the running vest properly, the chest straps will rub and chafe your shirt, like what happened to mine. I was not able to take a picture of it anymore, but just imagine, naghimulmol na ang shirt ko kung saan tumatama ang chest straps.

Although I used this for running, I guess it would also be a very good substitute whenever one does long rides. For most bikers who only have one bottle cage in their bikes, wearing the Amihan Crosswind running vest will enable them to bring two additonal 500-mL bottles without having the bulkiness of the bigger hydration backpacks.

And that’s that! I am not an endorser of Amihan or is paid by them to write this review (though it would be nice if those would happen hehehe 😀 ), but hopefully my gear review would somehow convince you to try it as well. Happy running! 🙂

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