Three Aonijie Moderate Gale 2019 hydration vest reviews

0
1356

Let’s get that name out of the way first. Aonijie is pronounced Ayo-knee-jie. It’s a Chinese-designed brand, but the word doesn’t have a meaning in Mandarin, just like Google didn’t mean a thing in English (before it became a verb).

Aonijie Moderate Gale 3 models 2019 (2,5L, 5L, 10L)

Aonijie Moderate Gale 2019 lineup

The Aonijie Moderate Gale 2019 range is a new offering of three trail running hydration packs, imported into South Africa by Outdoor Elements, and sold online by Weekend Warriors. The three packs offer a solution to the most common trail running distance challenges.

We tested three models that step up well for different distance challenges:

  • Moderate Gale 2,5L offers 2.5-litre carry space. Ideal for short trail runs, and road runners. Doesn’t fit a reservoir, but you can easily carry one litre of fluid and a decent amount of nutrition. View offer
  • Moderate Gale 5L is ideal for fair weather day trips and short hikes. Races up to marathon distance in good weather, although it will store a lightweight windbreaker or rainjacket. View offer
  • Moderate Gale 10L is an ultra distance pack, or use it in shorter races where you might need to carry warm or waterproof clothing. Offers 10-litre packing space volume, and 2.5-litre fluid capacity. View offer

Aonijie Moderate Gale 2,5L hydration vest front view

Moderate Gale 2,5L R699

Review by Heloise Hunter

Why get this pack?

I used Aonijie’s 2.5-litre vest for road commute runs and walks, solo trail runs, and even a guided horse ride in the Drakensberg. It’s really small and light, so I can scrunch it up and take it along when I travel, in case of adventure.

You’d think such a convenient and comfortable hydration vest would come at a price, but it is available from Weekend Warriors for just R699.

Aonijie Moderate Gale 2,5L hydration pack 2019 FRONT VIEW

Pockets, but no reservoir

This pack is designed for bottles only, and doesn’t carry a reservoir. That means the upper back is covered only by soft mesh, allowing the sweat you work up to evaporate.

The front bottle pockets have an elasticated loop with a tab, to hook over the bottle’s lid and stop it from slipping down. Great feature, although the tab ended in my mouth with the bite valve a few times. I may cut off the tabs.

The smaller pockets in front of the bottle pockets are ideal to store my action camera and cellphone. (In another brand’s pack with only a single pocket on each side, I sacrifice soft-flask space for my GoPro.)

The tops of all four front pockets are elasticated to keep their contents secure.

Ease of reach

My favourite feature in a race vest is the ability to reach back and grab anything I want from the main storage compartment. No inaccessible zips, or taking off the pack to get my things, please!

The Moderate Gale 2,5L allows this, with a wraparound main pocket. I can grab snacks, store another layer, shove litter, or even stick a spare soft flask in there.

Aonijie Moderate Gale 2,5L hydration vest back view

On top of the wraparound pocket is a rear pocket with a lip folding over it and a key-hook inside. That’s the safest place on the pack, and still accessible by reaching behind, if I use my flexible arm. (We all have one more flexible arm!)

Chest straps

There are two front clips, which can be adjusted to higher or lower on your chest. This is a great feature for different proportioned bosoms and fit preferences. The adjustment is a bit fiddly – sliding plastic bits under a cord – but it feels secure once in place.

I appreciate that the front clips are on solid straps, as opposed to elastic straps. With time, elastic tends to stretch out and get weak. The narrow solid straps feel like they will last.

The extra length of each strap is rolled up and secured by a tiny loop of elastic, so it doesn’t flop around. No need to cut it off or invent a new knot.

Aonijie Moderate Gale 2,5L hydration pack 2019 BACK VIEW

Sizing, fit, colours

The Aonijie Moderate Gale 2,5L hydration pack is made of soft stretchy fabric, along with a mesh panel against your back. It weighs just 115g when empty, which shows how light the fabrics are!

This vest feels super comfortable against my skin, and moves with my body as I run.

Sizes:

  • S/M (77cm-86cm)
  • M/L (83.5-92.5cm)
  • L/XL (89.5-98.5cm)

Measure your chest circumference and select the right size before ordering.

I received the L/XL to test. Despite being 86cm at my chest’s widest, the fit was still excellent by tightening the front straps.

Weekend Warriors’ Terblanche Fourie says: “We had quite a few ladies of smaller stature note that even the smallest size is too large for them. Aonijie will be bringing out a XS and XXL version in their new production run. The timing will most likely be towards 2019 year end or early 2020.”

Colours:

  • Teal
  • Black
  • Orange/Red

Final analysis: Aonijie Moderate Gale 2,5L

This small and light pack is ideal for runners who want to carry their own hydration and run clean on the road or trail. If you stash a third back-up bottle in the back pocket, you can carry up to 1.5 litres of hydration, taking you from a hot-midday 5km to a half marathon’s worth.

Reflective tabs (four on the front), stripes (two on the front), and hanging loop (one at the back) help keep you visible in low light.

There are three colour options (black, orange red, teal) all of which are dark enough to hide juice leaks, and other trail-induced smudges. I tested the teal pack and found it quite stylish.

Keep your hands free while you walk, run, or ride, with all your essentials at your finger tips. A running belt has never worked for me, so if I need pockets and not much else, this is the pack I reach for.

Buyer feedback: Aonijie Moderate Gale 2,5L

I must say I have fallen in love with this pack… Rochelle de Klerk

The Aonijie Moderate Gale 2,5L pack is perfect for those shorter trails and longer road runs that do not require so much hydration. I use mine particularly on long road runs where I need nutrition with plenty of water stops on the route. On the shorter trails, the space is great for lightweight packing and my soft flasks fit perfectly in the front. I also like the materials used on the back that repel water. Great to keep flash storms at bay. JD Eksteen

I took the Moderate Gale 2.5L for a test run this morning. I love it, and will be getting one for a friend soon. It fits perfectly. Tshepiso Thiba


Aonijie Moderate Gale 5L hydration vest front view

Aonijie Moderate Gale 5L R999

Review by Deon Braun

Why get this pack?

Five litre hydration vests are so versatile. They are the in-betweener pack for those runs and hikes where you need more fluid or nutrition than a 2.5 litre can carry, but not so much as the 10 litre. A five litre is probably the first pack you should get if you plan to do trail runs that are longer than 21km or any outdoor activity that will last longer than three hours. The five litre refers to the total carrying capacity of water and packing space.

My standouts for the Aonijie Moderate Gale 5L are lightness (just 135g!), comfort, quality of materials used, presented in a well designed and attractive package. It is not sold with an hydration bladder, although you could use your own 1.5 litre reservoir. Watch set up and fitting ideas on Youtube.

Packing space

I wore the Aonijie Moderate Gale 5L to run both days at the Glencairn Trail Run (12-13 October 2019). The short distances of 12km or less per day for the Lamb distance meant the Moderate Gale 5L was more than adequate. The Lamb race distances were so short that I used the pack to carry a cellphone and one soft flask in front only.

AONIJIE Moderate Gale 5L vest 5-Litre hydration pack FRONT VIEW 2019

Front

  • Four elasticated pockets, two on either side. The two uppermost on either side would usually be used to fit soft flask bottles. Aonijie makes three soft flask sizes: 250ml, 450ml, and a short chunky 500ml.
  • Four pockets on the front is pretty much the standard for five litre vest packs. I found the placements were all sensibly done, meaning I could easily reach into each of the pockets. The top left pocket (with the Aonijie logo) has the added feature of an elasticated flap to provide additional security for items contained within. It also has a stretch cord with a draw toggle to secure car keys or similar items if needed.

AONIJIE Moderate Gale 5L vest 5-Litre hydration pack BACK VIEW 2019

Rear

  • One zippered pocket (15cm-wide access zip). For a visual idea of maximum capacity, I can fill this pocket with two clenched fists, reaching up to my wrists through the 16cm zipper. That is roughly the size of a rolled-up rain jacket like the Salomon Bonatti or two First Ascent Apple windproof jackets.
  • Reservoir compartment (for 1.5 litre bladder, not included). This stretches down for around 25cm on the M/L model. I am impressed by the loop design at the top of the entrance, which uses a small plastic clip. You’d hang the top of your hydration bladder to this, to prevent it sagging and dropping into the bag as you drank from it.
  • Open side pockets (giving access from left and right, allowing either hand to reach back to get items.

Aonijie Moderate Gale 5L hydration vest back view

Chest straps

These are of the same design used by the Moderate Gale 2,5L. On closer inspection, I noticed that the plastic clip that secures each of the four clips to the pack can be slid through the elastic anchor point and clipped into a lower or higher point. There are nine elasticated segments on both the left and right of the pack, meaning you have a lot of customisation options. Although the adjusting would not ideally be done on the fly, I think it’s a very smart design.

Aonijie Moderate Gale 5L hydration vest chest strap clip system closeup

Safety

The pack has 14 reflective details.

  • Front: seven reflectors (including one logo in reflective print, and the left pocket stretch cord).
  • Rear: six (including the zipper pull tag).
  • Right side: one, as the text that shows the model name, weight and volume is also reflective. You’ll glow like an alien, provided the approaching vehicle has its lights on.

Sizing, fit, colours

Lightweight is this pack’s middle name. It’s no wonder that the stretch vest design has become so popular in trail running. To think that just a decade ago, many of us were happy to wear canvas bags…

Sizes:

  • S/M (77cm-86cm)
  • M/L (83.5-92.5cm)
  • L/XL (89.5-98.5cm)

Measure your chest circumference and select the right size before ordering.

I received the L/XL to test, and fit was perfect.

Colours:

  • Teal
  • Black
  • Orange/Red

Final analysis: Aonijie Moderate Gale 5L

I didn’t do as much mileage in the Aonijie Moderate Gale 5 as I did in its bigger sibling, the Moderate Gale 10. However, I have run in several vest models over the years, and have a good sense of what they offer.

I think the Moderate Gale 5 is a solid creation and will be a high-achieving performer no matter what your running ability. The placement of the four front pockets are done extremely well. As with the Moderate Gale 10, I’m pleased that Aonijie have not followed some brands’ tendency to place pockets more to the side and back.

The quality of materials and stitching looks and feels fantastic on the Moderate Gale 5. Based on feedback from other runners who purchased Aonijie in 2018, as well as my own experiences with the Withwind 5L model, I expect this pack to be a pleaser to the most discerning buyers.

Negatives?

None at this stage.

Buyer feedback: Aonijie Moderate Gale 2,5L

I’ve used the Moderate Gale 5L on a variety of runs and have been extremely impressed. The vest is very comfortable and is hardly noticeable, even when fully packed. Seems to be really high quality. I’ve taken it on five runs of 20km or more, and one 100km… and it still looks brand-new! Would definitely buy it again and have referred to many of my friends. Murray Beattie

Very comfortable jacket. Dave Chaplin


Aonijie Moderate Gale 10L hydration pack 2019 front view

Aonijie Moderate Gale 10L R1,399

Review by Deon Braun

Why get this pack?

The Moderate Gale 10L is a quality pack for longer duration adventures and when you need the safety net of poor weather gear. It will carry enough gear and provisions up to 100km distance races and perhaps longer (such as 100 milers that have regular aid station nutrition).

You may find that the extra two litres you’d get from a 12-litre pack will give you the extra space you need for cold weather adventures that require more clothing. That’s a generalisation based on ho. You will find the Moderate Gale 10L’s stowage space more than adequate if you wear your base layer and rain jacket for the duration of your run or hike, instead of carrying those in your pack in dry weather.

Previously, I’ve tested the Aonijie Withwind 5L vest, which offered exceptional value in 2018 (and still does).

Gale 10 vest 10-Litre hydration pack 2019 front cropped

Packing space

I used the 10 Moderate Gale at this year’s Karkloof50 (on 22 September 2019) after a few weeks of runs and hikes to wear it in. Since I could not be accused of being in even moderate fitness, the 80km was a hike and a shuffle, meaning the pack was worn for 15 hours. I might as well have been naked. That’s how comfortable it felt on me.

Aonijie Moderate Gale 10L hydration pack 2019 back rear viewBack stowage

For race day, I easily loaded the Moderate Gale 10L with a rolled-up Salomon Bonatti waterproof rain jacket, an Aonijie space blanket (included with the pack), a spare pair of socks, an iPhone 6S in a Sea to Summit housing, and a small first aid kit. These were all housed in the rear compartment, and there was at least another third of unused space left.

Front stowage

On the front, a small selection of foods was stashed in the stretchy pockets with elasticated seams. Also carried on the front were two 500ml soft flasks for fluid. One was the Aonijie Bodybottle (R205, capacity of 500ml/17floz), with its unusual chunky body and 37mm internal diameter opening. It was interesting to see how this performed against a taller slim 500ml Salomon Soft Flask with a smaller pour opening in the other pocket. Each had its pros and cons. The Aonijie bottle allowed ice cubes to be added, and easier pouring in of fluids. The wider body took some getting used to until it fit with less pressure against my chest. At the end of day, it was different horses for different courses.

Back to the pack, there are four open pockets, one 120mm zippered pocket (ideal for keys), and one small covered pocket that houses a plastic whistle attached to a 100mm double cord. I used the lower open pockets for food. They are easily accessed while on the move. The two pockets above them housed soft flasks. I don’t recall ever putting anything into the covered pocket. It has a narrow 60mm neck and is 120mm deep, so could house gel or sunblock sachets without the risk of them bouncing out.

AONIJIE Moderate Gale 10L vest 10-Litre hydration pack 2019 back croppedLots of space!

I could have added a base layer quite easily, and there would still have been space for a beanie and gloves. That would make it suitable for events like Ultra-trail Drakensberg, which requires more safety gear than Karkloof did in the latter’s hot blustery conditions this year. But if I needed to use a 1.5-litre reservoir (in addition to the gear I carried in the rear pocket), the space in the back compartments might get a little crowded. In those cases, the extra two litres of a 12-litre pack would probably be better.

Packing tips for Moderate Gale 10L

Terblanche Fourie has run in all three packs extensively and here are the ways he allocates stowage space. Positions (left/right) are from the runner’s perspective.

  • Rear zippered pocket: I like to put my medical kit, space blanket and extra nutrition in the zippered pocket. It’s perfect when it’s time for your kit check before a race. You don’t have to dig through your whole pack to show the stuff to the marshal. I find that my rain jacket fits there as well. But it is a type that folds up quite small.
  • Left hand front lower pocket: Bars, snacks, and gels. All the stuff I use regularly.
  • Right hand front lower pocket: Phone and items I use periodically, including foods I will eat infrequently.
  • Main back compartment: I actually managed to put in some light trekking poles in there with some other items!
  • Front zippered pocket: That’s my beer money pocket. To me, it’s a bit of a meh pocket, but Wayne du Plooy from importer Outdoor Elements uses it for his folding cup.

Safety

The pack has 11 reflective details.

  • Front: seven reflectors (including two logos in reflective print). 
  • Rear: four (including on the zipper pull tag). 

That gives more than adequate nighttime visual warning to a vehicle user from any direction.

Sizing, fit, colours

Sizes:

  • S/M (77cm-86cm)
  • L/XL (89.5-98.5cm)

Measure your chest circumference and select the right size before ordering. I received the L/XL to test, and fit was perfect.

Colours:

  • Teal
  • Black
  • Orange/Red

Negatives

You’re rarely going to love every feature of a product. My gripe with the Moderate Gale is the elasticated chest fastening system. It seems the designers have taken a cue from other brands that shrink the size of the clasps to reduce weight. I found that the plastic clasp’s design required some fidgeting to hook onto the opposing side’s stretchy cord. This isn’t something you want to be fussing over in the dark during an ultra or even in training. After a few uses, the cord did start forming a loop, which made it a bit easier to clip onto, but not much. I feel that the shape of the clasp could be improved, so it hooks the cord more easily.

Aonijie Moderate Gale 10L hydration pack 2019-5462 chest strap hook system

The clasp can just hook the cord, or you can pull it a bit more, and it will click onto the cord. I didn’t feel that the pack was less secure if it was just hooked on, since the positive pressure of the elasticated strap kept the join secure.

I consider the chest strap system of the Moderate Gale 5L (previous review) to be superior. You can head out of an aid station in the dark and clip back without glancing down at the chest straps. I’d much rather have this clip system that the 2.5-litre and 5-litre models have. Not everyone will agree. Terblanche Fourie says: “I was also put of by the fastening system in the front at first, bit the lack of flapping leftover belt quickly changed my mind. It also seems the more you use it the easier it becomes.”

Final analysis: Aonijie Moderate Gale 10L

I covered around 300km of hiking and running wearing the Moderate Gale 10L during the course of this review, starting in August and finishing at the end of September.

Overall, I think this pack is a winner. The front pockets are extremely well positioned. I’ve used other packs where pockets tend to be placed more to the side and back. And sometimes they’re also zipped, which makes them an absolute mission to reach into, unless you are rubber-jointed. The unfortunate result of difficult access into pockets is that subconsciously it leads us to fish into them less, and that’s not good during a race when you need quick and simple access to nutrition.

I am neutral about the rear pocket’s short zip design. It means you won’t be able to stuff large objects into this compartment and possibly overload the zip’s holding capacity. Been there, done that: read about my broken zip mishap with another brand’s 12-litre pack at the Addo Elephant Trail Run 100 miler in March 2019. I do appreciate that Aonijie have gone the second mile by using high-quality YKK zips. In my Addo misadventure, I had a zip from another brand break at the start of the 100 miler, and it was definitely not made by YKK.

Another thing I really like about the pack is its comfortable stretchy fit, as you’d expect from a quality hydration vest. I tested the M/L model, which is sized for chest diameters of 80-110cm. My chest is 96cm, so it’s midway. The S/M model is sized for chests of 70-90cm. This is a unisex vest, and there is no women-specific option at this stage.

The quality of materials and their stitching looks and feels as good as any brand I’ve tested in the past year. The Withwind 5L we tested in 2018 has lasted well, and I think the same will be said by 10 Moderate Gale owners in the coming years.

User comments

  • Packed performed well! (2019 Maxi Race Cape Winelands 40 km). Joe Breytenbach
  • The Aonijie Moderate Gale 10L pack runs like a dream. Soft and light. Tania Steenkamp

Why buy from Weekend Warriors? Apart from the brilliant savings to you, another reason is that 7% of all Weekend Warriors sales go to local trail running development initiatives, including Inanda Trail Running Club in KZN and the Weekend Warriors Supported Runners duo of Demetrius van Rooyen and Kennedy Sekhuthe.

Facebook Comments