Gear Review: Ultimate Direction – Adventure Vest

On my latest adventure out to the Grand Canyon, I tested  a new lightweight running, adventure pack.   The pack served me well and I can’t wait till my next adventure to use it again!  

The Pack is Ultimate Direction’s Adventure Pack.

Ultimate Direction - Adventure Vest

Ultimate Direction – Adventure Vest

 

 Over the years I’ve done a lot of long distance, self supported adventures, that required carrying my supplies, including water, in some sort of backpack.   The packs that I have and have used, work OK, but they’re not exactly lightweight and lack many of the features that I’d like to have when  fastpacking, or running out on the trails.  Understandable, considering they were either given to me or purchased based on price. (ok I’m cheap..what can I say)

To me, the most important features of any pack that I wear are, comfort, weight, water storage, and easy access pockets for supplements, phone and camera.   I don’t want to have to bother stopping and taking the pack off to access any of the listed items, or trying to contort my arms shoulders and body, trying to reach them.  

As far as carrying water, I’ve used the hydration packs with the bladder and hose, bottles carried in the main compartment, or taped to the shoulder strap.    I really don’t like hoses draped over my shoulder and sucking out of a hose and I certainly didn’t like stopping to dig a bottle of water out of my pack every time I was thirsty.  The best scenario was using the make-shift bottle holders that I had taped to the front straps.   It didn’t look the best and I was always tweaking it as I ran, which became very annoying in itself, so I finally decided it was time to get a real adventure pack!

I did a little research on lightweight packs with bottle holders on the front and the one that caught my eye and seemed to have everything I needed, was Ultimate Direction’s Adventure Vest.     Priced at $149, it’s reasonable, but I wasn’t sure I could swing it before I left for the Canyon.  In conversation one day I was telling my friends from work about the pack and how awesome it looked.     A week later, they sent me a meeting request, supposedly to talk about doing an adventure race together, to my surprise, the meeting was to present me with; you know it, a brand new Ultimate Direction – Adventure Vest!      I’ve got some awesome friends!!  

The Grand Canyon would be the perfect testing grounds for my new pack!

Running with my new Ultimate Direction - Adventure Pack!

Running with my new Ultimate Direction – Adventure Pack!

OK, here’s my breakdown on the Adventure Pack:

LIKES:

  •  Comfort – I wore this pack for 10 hours each day, utilizing about 1/2 of it’s 12 liter capacity and it fit me like a glove, the water bottles are placed such that there’s virtually no sloshing of water while running and at the end of the day I felt no pain or discomfort in my shoulders whatsoever.
  • Loading capacity – I was able to carry enough water supplements and safety gear to run all day in the Canyon and still only use 1/2 of its capacity.
  • Number and Placement of pockets – You can tell that a lot of thought was put into the number and location of storage pocket, and compartments on this pack,  I was able to access my GU packs, chapstick, phone and maps, and most important, water, with ease.  
  • Weight – When you put this pack on with nothing inside, it feels lighter than my shirt.    Now I need to focus on lighten up my gear that goes inside and of course myself.
  • Chest Straps – I like the fact that there’s no stretch in the lower strap so I could really cinch it down, the upper has some elasticity, which allowed  some movement, but not too much.   Once the straps were cinched tight they remained tight without loosening up as I ran.  This is really an important feature for me, because I hate have to constantly tighten my straps as I run.
  • Tie down bungee in the main compartment – I carried my first aid stuff and my food Items in large plastic ziplock bags.   Since i wasn’t using all the capacity in the main compartment, I was able to hold the bags in place with the tie downs inside the main compartment, to keep them from bouncing around.   Later when it warmed up, I was able to fit my fleece inside, without pushing the other items to the bottom of the pack.

DISLIKES: 

  • Length of front straps – I’m probably bigger than most distance runners and I have a larger upper body.  The length of the upper strap was such that there wasn’t much room for loosening, and with my fleece on it felt a little snug in the upper section.   Not a huge issue as it was right at the limit with my fleece, my concern is if I wear the pack in the winter, It might be too tight.
  • No  pocket for a camera – I’m not sure if most people who’d wear this pack, spend time snapping pictures as they run or hike, but I like to capture my adventures to share with my friends later.   There’s no pocket that will fit a camera and can be easily accessed on the go.   I ended up either carrying it in my hand or in the pocket of my shorts, neither one is ideal.   The last time I wore my pack though, I just took a fanny pack and it worked out ok.    

OVERALL:

  • Overall I loved the pack and plan on using it on my next adventures.   The capacity is more than I need most of the time, but this pack collapses down to a smaller size without sloshing around as I run.   I would recommend this pack to anyone that is out on the trails or mountains for more than 3 hours up to a full day.  I think I could even fit my tarp and bag in this pack for an overnighter,  GREAT job Ultimate Direction on developing an Awesome Pack!!
Manufacturer Ultimate Direction
Weight 12 oz. (17.5 oz. with bottles) / 340 g (496 g with bottles)
Gender Men’s & Unisex
Cubic Inches 61
Liters 12
Sleeping Bag Compartment No
Waterproof No
Other Features Fluid Capacity: 2 x 20 oz. bottles / 2 x 591 ml

Sizing At Chest (Unisex):
S/M: 28 – 36 in. / 71.1 – 91.4 cm
M/L: 36 – 40 in. / 91.4 – 101.6 cm
— Measure wearing the clothes you intend to wear
— A vest full of gear will fit smaller

DIMENSIONS
Height: 16 in. / 41 cm
Width: 9 in. / 23 cm
Depth: 4.5 in. / 11 cm

For YOUR next Adventure, try out an Ultimate Direction – Adventure Pack!

 

JJ

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