Today's guest review is from Jesse Smith, one of the HMFICs at Predator Intelligence Blog and - more significantly to this piece, an avid runner who frequently ventures deep into remote, arid areas of the Desert Southwest on his runs.
Hill People Gear Runner's Kit Bag: First Impressionsby Jesse Smith
I have been eyeballing the Hill People Gear Runner's Kit Bag for quite some time as I had instantly liked the low profile, smart carry design when I first saw it. As a runner, I like to keep it as simple as possible and have come to prefer the minimalist approach. Perhaps it is a lazy outlook, but keeping any unneeded weight of my person has proven comfortable thus far.
The concept of wearing a harness with a bag attached to the front seemed to be a stretch for my minimalist concept, but several run ins with strays along the way caused me to reconsider. Picking up a big rock and a large groan has worked thus far, but you never know what you may come across, especially in some of the more remote areas on trail runs. After a couple falls on mountain trails in the desert while running alone and becoming accustomed to running without water, I began to wonder if some changes weren't in order. It's also fairly stupid to not have some ability to call home if needed, so getting my cell phone on board has been on my mind for quite some time.
Hill People Gear recently introduced their Snubby Kit Bag, which is essentially the same as their other kit bags but with a much smaller footprint. This not only let me keep my rationale of sticking with a minimalist addition, but was also the impetus to get on board and try one out to see how it would work out for me and my personal needs. The Snubby Kit Bag was designed for a Glock 19, which obviously is not the smallest of concealed carry pistols, so you can see the of versatility and room for fitting carrying something smaller. The Concealed Pistol Panel is 8.5"X6"X1, so I could easily fit my Ruger LCP and Droid Razr inside and have room to spare. If you do have a larger pistol like a Glock 19, there is a front compartment with zip closure with plenty of room for a smartphone and an additional two pouches for your other EDC. I used them for my truck keys, credit card, and I.D. You could also stick in a protein bar, GU Pouch or any other small sustenance you may need for long runs or treks. You could of course carry a wide array of other EDC items, area specific items, knife, first aid, etc.
As with all HPG Kit Bags, the SKB has a mesh harness that clips in at one point at the base of the bag, and is easy to adjust to fit your dimensions. The straps can easily be tucked in to avoid snagging or movement while running. There are also two loops at he base of the bag where you can clip in their secondary stabilizer strap sold separately. I utilized this for running since I wanted a snug fit to my body and no movement, resulting in friction, which simply doesn't prove to be a good thing when going long distances. This is probably unnecessary for hikes and the harness system keeps the bag in place quite well on its own when tightened appropriately.
Thus far, I've taken the Snubby Kit Bag on a six mile trail run with some rigorous vertical rocky mountain climbs and descents with plenty of opportunity to see how the harness system works. I had no movement with the straps tightened to a snug but comfortable fit along with the stabilizer strap in place. The added weight on the chest, which worked out to around 1.5 pounds was noticeable, but certainly gave negligible influence any added effort needed on my part. Some adjustments to the straps and cord on the stabilizer needed to be tucked, but were easily done on the run. The access to the pouch was perfect and I even experimented with opening the pouches while running just to see how difficult it may be, which proved quite simple. The Concealed Pistol Panel flips forward to an almost "L" shape when open and the zippers allow for an ambidextrous placement. I didn't have any retention in place, but my pistol stayed in place when open, however there is a dummy loop in the Concealed Pistol Panel and two of the loops in the front compartment. Hill People Gear's Snubby Kit Bag is extremely well made by First Spear with 500D Nylon, great stitching, and comfortable close cell foam inserts where it contacts the chest. At the time of my run it was 85 degrees with 50% humidity and I didn't feel any hot spots, where the bag made contact. There are spaces missing in the foam inserts to allow for some ventilation which may have helped this along. While a minimalist approach to the Snubby Kit Bag is sufficient for my current needs, Hill People Gear does offer a Runner's Harness that can tie the Snubby Kit Bag to their Tarahumara pack for added capacity. This would also be a great option for those needing to carry more hydration along with other necessary supplies. While this is just a first impression, I am certainly going forward with using this bag on my trail and long runs. Hill People Gear is pushing to keep these in stock (it has proven a tough task at this point), but they are currently available for order at HillPeopleGear.com. If you are interested, I'll happily bring you a follow-up review once I have more mileage on it. JS Editor's note: both the OD Snubby Kit Bag and the Coyote Snubby Kit Bag are currently on sale on their website.