I’ve probably been training for a 10k race for a decade. Even though I’m sure I jog similar distances regularly, there are a few things standing in the way of my goal. I’m not interested in filling out any paperwork, and I run a fourteen-minute mile. I’m also not all that competitive by nature, and the problem with races is that, by design, they are not about the journey. They are also not about the finish line — they’re about all the little thingies you need to carry with you along the way, just in case you get thirsty or die.
During a more painful part of the pandemic, when I lived alone in Utah, my dog and I would run slowly up and down the faces of various mountains as a way to pass time before we were allowed to go to bed. I never quite learned to text anyone to tell them I was escaping into the High Uintas alone without cell reception, but I did glean early on that I always needed Skittles and a debit card, just in case. But where does one put these items while on the go?
The Outdoor Voices Snacks 7/8 Leggings, a pair of $118 running tights, come with a solution to this crisis. You might call it a gimmick. I call it the world’s tiniest backpack that snaps onto a specialized waistband. Outdoor Voices sent me the pants and matching bra in “deep taupe” for review. The pants themselves have super-stretch pockets “big enough for a Topo or a Nalgene water bottle” in addition to the aforementioned strap-on external storage bag that looks like a rucksack for American Girl dolls.
The pants are called “Snacks,” which I interpret as a play on words: you can stick some nuts and things in the small backpack for energy, all the while looking like a damn snack yourself. I look OK in the leggings (I am currently working on a brand new butt using questionable machinery, as readers of this column will remember), but I am far more interested in the storage capabilities of the microscopic mint green fashion pouch that came with them.
For a 30-minute run, I put my keys in there, plus a tube of Dr. Dan’s Cortibalm, poop bags (there’s a little hole in the backpack to dispense them), my AirPods, my knock-off Airpods that I bring with me in case the other ones die, my debit card, my ID, my vax card, $3 in quarters, and two KN95 masks. The storage was endless. I wanted to top off my packing with a piece of rose quartz or a votive candle or a bottle of pills, just to say I could.
I’ll say this much about a tiny bag that connects to designer athletic leggings: there’s room for user error via weight distribution. This was too many sundries bouncing against my right butt cheek as I jogged. Plus, I forgot the snacks.
I rarely want to be looked at while exercising as I tend to turn sweat-saturated hot pink, but with my baby backpack at my haunch, I preened about the park. Despite its rhythmic patting of my behind, I was proud of my hip bag, and I wanted to show it off. I picked up dog poop with gratuitous hand motions, and zipped and unzipped the lip balm pocket with considerable haughtiness.
Nobody at the park said anything to me, too busy pretending to be absorbed in a volleyball game among friends. Did they bring their own net? Are they actually having fun? Have they contemplated doing a fun run together for charity? Are they all in a group chat, and would they alert one another for safety if they were taking off into the wilderness for a jog alone in American Zion? Sure, maybe, I thought, but I’m the only one here with a small backpack filled with four pounds of loose items attached to my waistband.