Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0 Review
The best way to describe the Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0 in two words would be: pockets galore. The front alone has 10 separate pockets or pouches that can hold everything from water bottles to gels to a cell phone. The main compartment on the back is separated into two sections, with the larger having two zippered openings and an internal bungee to hold in place either a bladder, extra clothes, or both. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a large pack, it has a total capacity of only 7 liters, and that may be a little generous.
Specs of the Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0
As I mentioned, this running vest is made with accessible pockets everywhere. There are also strategically placed zippers, bungees, straps, and Velcro throughout the front, sides, and back. The body of the vest is made of Silnylon 66 and Hex Mesh, a hybrid of nylon, silicon, and polyurethane that was designed for its waterproof as well as high strength properties. The pockets are made of Power Mesh, which stretch allowing you to cram even more gear inside. The edging of the Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0 sports Velvetex, which is as comfortable as it sounds, to prevent chafing.
Even with all the pockets and straps, this vest still weighs in well under a pound (11 oz). The vest also comes with two 20 oz bottles with Ultimate Direction’s Kicker Valves. While the bottles fit great in your hand and don’t leak, I found the valve flow to be a bit on the slow side. This is great if you are trying to conserve water, but not great during the middle of a long day in the woods.
Performance of the Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0
The Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0 can definitely hold enough for a long run, which is exactly why I wanted it. On my first test run, I took it out for a spin during the 25 mile Collegiate Peaks Trail Run. As you can see below, I was all smiles (at least for the first 20 miles, but that’s for a different post).
The vest performed great, and I did take advantage of the excessive amount of pockets. I put in a few gels, a phone, two water bottles, trail mix, a long sleeve tee, as well as some other goodies. The race had well stocked aid stations, but hey, I was out for testing the vest, right?
I am also a fan of the bungee that is within the main compartment. This allows you to put a bladder along the back, which is held in place by the bungee. Then, Ultimate Direction went ahead and put a separate zipper to allow access to this main compartment on the outer side of the bungee. Genius! No more rummaging around to access my gear, or having to rearrange whenever I need to grab some dry socks from the bottom of a pack.
I did notice a bit of bounce due to the weight of the water bottles in the front. A lot of this had to due with the fact that I had barely anything in the back (just a long sleeve tee), and did not cinch the adjustable side straps for a tighter fit. After making these adjustments, the vest rode much better. There is still a slight bounce from the slosh of the water bottles, but I feel this is to be expected. Also, I tested a size large, which is just a little too big for my 38″ chest. I would recommend trying on a couple sizes before purchasing, or at least checking out a few reviews on the sizing (which I have found to be consistent).
Through my testing with the Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0, I am very impressed with the thought that was put into this vest. They managed to give me things that I did not even know I needed, and I’m sure I will only find more uses for the myriad of pockets and straps that are incorporated into this small pack. If you are looking for a good all-around running vest, this is a great place to start.
If you need more or less space than is offered in the SJ vest, you may want to also look at the AK Race Vest (for shorter distance) or the PB Adventure Vest (for going even further).
Read more at UltimateDirection.com.