Nowadays there are plenty of running shoes – from a big well established companies to a small more specialized ones, there are shoes for fast 5k runs, for marathons, for trail runs and so on, and so on. We can talk about shoes non stop for a whole week, but what about running vests? There are not so many manufacturers while the most popular are Salomon and Ultimate Direction. But I wanted to try something new, I was looking for something else and then I saw some statistics after the Transgrancanaria ultramarathon last spring. If you are not familiar with Transgrancanaria race, it is part from the popular Ultra-Trail World Tour and it’s held in Canary Islands. According to statistics from the race 38% of the runners used Salomon backpack gear, while the second place is for the French company Instinct with 12%. After that are the well known Camelbeck, Ultimare Direction and so on. I made a little research and it turned out that Instinct are a small 5-year old clothing brand that offers running tops, bottoms and trail vest. Apparently they are popular in countries from Western Europe like France, Spain and Portugal but for the rest of the world they are unknown. While I was making this video I didn’t find any YouTube video about their products in English, only French and Spanish ones, so I decided to make one.
Currently Instinct offers two trail vest – Evolution and Eklipse. The Eklipse is the bigger one but it’s too big and it’s more adventure, self-support oriented. Now I am showing you Instinct Evolution, a 7 liter, 9 pocket trail vest. It is made from mesh base structure with stretch pockets and side cross lacing for adjustability. The weight is 7 ounces and a half or 210 grams.
At the back there are two big overlaying sections where you can put a hydrapack if you are going to use one, some clothes or something else. Above them is a small horizontal shallow pocket which can be reached with one hand while you are wearing the vest, you can put sunglasses, hat, gloves or something else. At the bottom is located the last pocket which can be reached from the left, from the right or from the top.
In the front the main focus is at the two hydration pockets where you can put flasks or bottlers if you are going to use this type of hydration. Elastic cords are present to keep the flasks stable. Bellow them are located two pockets with internal elastic cord for nutrition and food or a phone if you prefer, but if you have a big smart-phone it will not fit very good. One small shoulder pocket is located above the left bottle with non stretch internal cord ring and small whistle so you don’t need to buy separate one.
About size adjustments two main options are available – two chest straps for custom fit vertically and horizontally with easy lock & release and side adjustments for vest stability and good fit. Both adjustments can be made on the go, while you are running.
Lets talk about trekking poles a little bit. They are relatively large and uncomfortable to carry while you are not using them. I was pleasantly surprised that with the Instinct Evolution there are not one, not two, but three options to carry poles. First one is in the front of the backpack. There are elastic loops with stable lock next to the hydration pockets as well as loops at the bottom of the vest. The other two options are at the back. First one is to put them horizontally and the second one is diagonally.
When I am looking for a running vest one of the important things for me is the presence of hydration pockets at the front. It’s interesting that Instinct Evolution comes with two 600 ml soft flask rather than standard 500 ml. They are bigger and more difficult to put them in the pockets when they are full, but you have more water to drink. It’s up to you do you need bigger or smaller flasks, do you need more or less hydration and it depends on the trails you are going to. Also you can buy the vest without flasks and use another ones.
The mesh structure of the vest doesn’t contain sweat, but it’s not very stretchy. The pockets are more stretchy but they have one main drawback – none of them have a zipper. It’s a little bit strange decision for me, it’s not very difficult to implement one. It’s not necessary to be a big pocket, small one is ok to secure keys for the car, documents, money, small pills or something else. Otherwise Instinct Evolution is comfortable to wear, the pockets are easy to use. About the trekking poles it’s better for me to wear them in front. If they are at the back, at the bottom, if you are walking it’s ok, but if you are running especially on a variety of terrains they will bounce. In front they fit well.
Official site: https://instincttrailshop.com/product/evolution-trail-vest/
Rocky Mountain Ultra: https://www.rockymountainultra.com/products/instinct-evolution-trail-vest