A bag is the most identifiable element of a run-commuter. From sight alone, it is practically the only thing that sets run-commuters apart from other runners.
Yet, a bag is also perhaps the most disruptive element of run-commuting. Simply, running with a bag can be very uncomfortable (and therefore, imperative to get the choice correct, see below).
For a geographer, this is fascinating. Geography has become extremely interested in the the affect that objects, materials and stuff have on people, places and practices. We want to understand the importance and impact that such objects have on people’s everyday lives and how they influence and have agency in it. For a run-commuter on the other hand, this can be quite annoying.
Running is a practice in a delicate balance. The difference between a brilliant running experience and a terrible one can be marginal – the slightest of changes can cause a drastic shift in the running experience. Given how central the body is to the running experience, it is perhaps the stuff which adorns the runner’s body, the objects one takes on the run, that have the most impactful of affects. So there is much more to consider in the addition of the bag to a run-commuters body than simply being able to transport objects when running.
This is because of running’s affect on a bag and in turn, the bag’s affect on the runner. A running body displays a precarious equilibrium with the rhythms of arms swings, legs raises, breaths and footsteps all harmonised to produce a flow. This flow is easily disrupted however and the addition of any weight to the running body can have an exaggerated affect that makes running uncomfortable. This can be to such a degree that the thought of needing to run with a bag becomes a barrier to taking up run-commuting in the first place. The motion of running also causes the bag, and more importantly the contents of the bag, to move around in quite an unpredictable manner. Given that run-commuters’ backpacks are often full with clean clothes, lunches and various things required for work, it is quite the imperative that such items are unpacked in the same condition that they entered the bag. Nobody wants a sandwich deconstructed and re-assembled over a now wrinkled shirt and staining an important document.
Unsurprisingly, there has been much innovation from sportswear manufacturers in this department to make running with a bag as comfortable and risk free as possible. You can now get running bags specialised for exactly the type of running you do (see above video), complete with sternum supports, waist straps, load compressions, integrated rain covers, padded laptop sleeves, frames, meshes and hydration compatibilities etc. And most of this is not in vain, regular run-commuters speak of a quick transition period during which their running bodies accommodate and acclimatise to running with a bag. But it is more than just specialised bags that help in this endeavour.
On Twitter recently, I came across a new product called iamrunbox. It is not a bag, but a box to go into your bag to restrict the issues of items in your bag jostling around when running. And luckily for me, the great guys behind iamrunbox agreed to send me one to review.
What really drew me to this in the first place was its overt marketing to run-commuters. I have never seen a product before aimed primarily at those who run to work (it is also targeted at cyclist and business travellers). The whole concept for the product came out of the issues involved with run-commuting with a bag, and they are clearly foregrounding that in their product. The box itself is described as a document, shirt and garment carrier which removes the worry of what they may look like when you arrive at work.
And it works. I took it on a vigorous test run the other day and my shirt was as crisp as when I departed and the journal article I had packed remained totally crease-free.
It was also a pleasure to run with. At first look, iamrunbox is actually a fairly large product. It certainly wouldn’t fit in the smaller running bags and as such, is not a product for those who run-commute with just the essentials. Yet it is size (and therefore space within the box) without weight and the running experience was actually very pleasurable. Rather than having lots of odd-shaped objects all jostling around in different ways and pushing awkwardly into the back, iamrunbox provides a flat surface which moves as one object in the same rhythm as the bag and your body. By far the best running-with-bag experience I have had. As a general rule, I don’t like running with one, but this certainly made it tolerable.
It also has lots of neat features such as a folding guide, laundry bag and sturdy handle. And it fits so much in it. I’ve found many more uses for the box than simply run-commuting. So far it has been to Sweden and Ireland with me, keeping my books, travel documents, keys, chargers and food in an orderly fashion as I travel.
This quite simple product, this simple addition to a running bag has a marked impact on the experience of running with a bag. It makes it exponentially better. It won’t be for everyone, it won’t meet everyone’s criteria, not everyone will deem it worthwhile shelling out for; but if you have issues running with stuff in a bag, if you find running with a bag uncomfortable, or if you find the thought of running with bag is putting you off run-commuting altogether, then iamrunbox may be your answer.
Simply, matter matters. And the matter that is iamrunbox can make run-commuting a much easier and pleasurable experience.
iamrunbox is available from their website https://iamrunbox.com/ and retails at €35. I received no payment to write this review, nor will I receive any commission for anyone who subsequently purchases an iamrunbox. I was given a free product to review however.