Midwest Trails: Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve and REI Double Shot Product Review


One of the DuPage County Forest Preserves, Springbrook is another midwest trail that is smooth, relatively flat, and purposefully made as a multi-use trail.

“Originally slated to be the site of a 200-acre dragon-shaped lake with a swim beach and campground, today, the 1,867-acre Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve in Naperville is instead one of three regionally significant grassland bird communities in the state and home to species like meadowlarks, dickcissels, grasshopper sparrows, woodcocks, and bobolinks as well as state-endangered northern harriers, short-eared owls, and Henslow’s sparrows. A stream re-meandering project has created twists and turns and a wider, shallower bank along the namesake Spring Brook. These changes have slowed the flow of water, improving aquatic habitat and allowing the brook to more easily pour over its banks and into the preserve during heavy rains, a valuable flood-control feature for nearby residents.”

While not technical or demanding, the 5.5 mile loop coupled with a second 1.8 mile loop, creates an opportunity to get in a slightly longer run or multiple loops to create any distance desired.

Gravel trail with mown grass/dirt section

I really struggled over the first  three or so miles. At first I thought maybe I had just been trying to do too much, maybe a bit overtrained, but all my runs recently have been quite comfortable. No, I lay the blame squarely on the…

REI Double Shot Waist Pack. I had actually won this hydration pack back in January, from FitEgg, but had never actually used it. It appeared to be well-made, adjustable, and had a large central pocket for my phone, keys, and map (yes, I now always carry a map). Also, the double bottle system made it appealing for eventual longer runs.

It takes a lot more than keys, map, and phone to fill the pocket, which is a shame, because my phone bounced in the pocket non-stop. The keys were not so bad, as they were clipped inside the pocket. Also, to keep the bottles from bouncing, I had to really crank down on the waist straps, which then dug into my hip bones (on the positive side, I’ve lost enough weight that my hip bones are no longer padded). As I neared the end of my first loop (to the right on the map above), I had 3 options:

  1. Stop at the car, ditch the waist pack and continue with the original plan of completing the main 5.5 mile loop;
  2. Stop at the car, have a good cry, and then head home; or
  3. Suck it up, prove to EMZ that I’m no pansie, and run at least a little bit longer with the waist pack.
Main route typical view

I chose option 3, as there is nothing more demeaning than a buckle-clad EMZ laughing at my wussiness (or, as The Running Fat Guy might say me “being a (synonym for) kitten”). So I buckled down (literally), ran out for a few more miles, then headed back to the car. With undisguised relief, I headed up the last incline and removed the offending waistpack with gratitude. Now this is an older model of the waistpack, but, judging from the comments on the REI site for the newer model, they haven’t solved the problems yet.

The REI Double Shot waist pack might be made for running, but I won’t use it for that again, though it is comfortable enough just walking around that I might consider it for a hike.

Pros: 2 water bottles, secure belt cinching, large pocket, comfortable while walking

Cons: large pocket with no dividers, no hip padding, uncomfortable for running

Springbrook Prairie is yet another option in my ever growing arsenal of midwest trail runs. Close to home, smooth, undulating trails, and to top it off, add gorgeous views:

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