This year Ultimate Direction released their new performance hydration vests for runners, third version of their popular signature series. The extended range of models are inspired by four of the best ultra-runners in the world –Timothy Olson, Scott Jurek, Anton Krupicka and Peter Bakwin. New 3.0 line now includes four models and incorporates new SilNylon, knit mono mesh and power mesh materials providing for lighter vests with larger carrying capacities. All four models are compatible with the brand’s new 500ml soft flask, making hydration options quicker and easier to fill and clean.
Newly designed Ultra Vest 3.0 is almost half the weight compared to previous generation and offers 8.5 liter capacity, increase with one and a half liters. According to Ultimate Direction Scott tested prototypes of the vest while on his 43 day record setting Appalachian Trial run and modification were made per his suggestions and experience with the vest.
I don’t care much about which name is on the vest, but I care more about the quality of a product and how useful can be. I was looking for running vest for a while with two main requirements – water bottles in front and comfortable and easy to access place for trekking poles.
Unlike the previous model the new Ultra Vest comes with two soft flasks with wide mounts for quick filling. The flasks are comfortable and conform to your shape but when they are empty if you put the plastic top in the pocket the situation is not so comfortable. There is a bungee strap that you can use to hold bottles secure while running or they can fall.
Bellow the bottles are located two pockets – one is with a zipper and I keep my phone there, in the another one I keep some gels, headlamp, keys, trash… this pocket is very easy for qucik access. Above the bottles you can find two more pockets – one is water resistent but it’s too small for smartphone or ID, I keep the documents and spare money on the other side. Also new are the lightweight T-hooks sternum straps which allow great adjustability.
Ultimate Direction are very proud with their unique, on-the-go trekking pole holders and I must admit that they are absolutely right. I can easily take off or put back the poles, at the beginning I had doubts about friction with my body but after few races I can say that everything is OK.
The Ultra Vest is available at three sizes but you have at your disposal wide lateral strap for stability and adjustability.
At the back everything is very simple – one big place to throw everything and one pocket which can hold countless things – I usually put there some nutrition like energy bars. Bungee strap is also available and you can use it to put your hat, tshirt ot jacket for example. Keep in mind that everything you put at the back and the sweat from your body will meet. if ypu put a shirt witj a plastic bag for example, it will get wet.
The Ultra Vest is very versatile – I am using it for short trail workouts (I dont like belts), ultramarathons and even for cycling. On one hand the vest is very light, if you put few things inside it will remain light. On the another hand it is so stretchy that you can put everything you need for a long ultramarathon.
I would certainly recommend the Ultra Vest 3.0.