I already have a 10 litre Deuter Speed Lite bag (which I actually bought for carrying a netbook) but this has proven to be a bit too big for my long off-road runs.
After all, I’m usually only carrying waterproofs, map, GPS unit and a couple of energy bars.
The Shimano Unzen looked like it would fit the bill with the 6l (plus 2l bladder) being the ideal size, and it lived up to my expectation being a far more technical piece of kit than Deuter (which is not a criticism).
Unlike most backpacks the Unzen has done away with the chest and waist straps, bringing them together in an x-shape near the base of the sternum with a single clip that also secures the water hose.
There are horizontal zips either side of the main compartment which means that to get inside the bag quickly (which is important when you’re racing) you undo the sternum clip, take the bag off one shoulder and swing across your chest, no need to the take the whole thing off.
There are also small Velcro compartments either side of the bottom straps – ideal for energy gels – plus small top and bottom pockets and two mesh areas inside the main section.
The bladder is housed in a separate compartment between the back – which has external raised sections to encourage air flow – and the main bit, and this is again accessed via a zip; while a Velcro loop helps keep the bladder in place.
In addition there are various ways of adjusting the harness to suit the individual wearer’s shape.
The main fabric of the bag is made of a rubberised material which has the ability to stretch, ideal for when you have to squeeze extra things in; and unlike the Deuter there are no loose straps to flap around.
First time out was the Wharfedale Half-Marathon, an off-road race in the Yorkshire Dales with 1,670 feet of ascent; the Unzen stayed firmly in place, the water hose was there when I needed it and the waist pockets safely looked after my SIS energy bars.
The Shimano Unzen ACCU3Dis available in black/green, black/blue and blue black. RRP £69.99.
By Richard Hamer.