Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta Review

I recently received an UltraVesta vest from Ultimate Direction to try. Also known as the “Jenny” Vest it is designed by Jenny Jurek for women runners. I've been using UD vests and other products for years, long before I became one of their ambassadors. However, I've always used the men's vests, primarily the Peter Bakwin Adventure Vest.

Rockin' the PB Adventure Vest on Black Peak

I had seen countless friends rocking the UltraVesta at races and on fun runs in the mountains. I saw even more reviews and raves on social media. Finally, I decided to try one for myself.

About me sizing: At 5'8” and about 140 with narrow hips and wide shoulders I didn't notice this pack fitting me extraordinarily well in comparison to the men's packs. I would imagine that smaller framed individuals would find the maximum benefit from wearing this pack. However, the concession in capacity (water and gear) definitely isn't worth it for me as a go-to pack.

I pulled it out of the box and looked at the included hair elastic that was clipped on. I felt a little insulted. They don't include a free doodad on the men's packs. Why should I get a little purple hair elastic just because I'm a woman? Most of the guys I run with have longer hair than me. Does the Anton Krupicka Vest come with a blue hair elastic? I bet not...sheesh.

Regardless, I headed up Mt. Si.

Here's what I thought:

PRO: Like most UD vests, it is quite comfortable. I definitely noted that it rode higher on my body than other packs. However it stayed in place without swaying or restricting movement throughout the run and scramble.
CON: I felt like it rode too high. Most women have a low center of gravity and I am assuming that the UltraVesta is designed to counteract that. For me, I felt like it was making me top heavy in a way that the men's packs haven't done.

PRO: Super minimal pack that covers all the bases. There was room in the pack for a jacket and some snacks and the two 10oz water bottles and not much else. This is great if you're looking for a very minimal pack, but in general if I don't need very much stuff I skip the pack altogether.
CON: I ran out of water before I was even halfway through the run. I don't care if the 20oz bottles on the men's vests do look stupid perched on my boobs...I need to drink! I might consider carrying a handheld or a water bladder on particularly hot days if I'm using this vest.

Smaller water bottles ride more comfortably

PRO: Cute! CON: As stated above, I felt a little condescended too with the hair elastic.

PRO: It's certainly much lighter than other packs I've used. Mostly I felt like I wasn't wearing anything. That was a nice change from lugging a heavier pack with me.

The UltraVesta provides an easy, lightweight way to carry a few essential items. Excellent for long days in the mountains when you need just a tad more than a water bottle or want your hands free for poles. You will want to take into consideration the smaller water capacity when planning your route and either bring a treatment for the backcountry or plan a route that passes by fountains. The UltraVesta is comfortable and I will use it for races where frequent support is available.

Top of the Haystack!