Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 6.0 Review
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First Thoughts On The Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest
I have friends who have run the Leadville 100, Run Rabbit Run 100, Lake Tahoe 200 and one has even ran across the country. 3000+ miles for 60 days averaging 50 miles per day. They are all super impressive athletes and obviously next level from a physical and mental fortitude standpoint.
That said, I feel confident to also call myself an ultra-runner. I have dabbled a little in the Ultra Running world over the last decade! I enjoy tackling the mountains and trails that go beyond that formal 26.2 mile finish line. I’ve competed in several 50k’s and the Pike Peak Marathon twice which might as well be an ultra with almost 8000 feet of gain (followed by a similar descent). Most recently, four of us ran a self-supported 29 miler that went up and over a mountain range from Kenosha Pass to Breckenridge here in Colorado.
All that is fine and dandy, but as I type this, I am approaching the taper phase of a rather unique and legitimate test at the beginning of October. Nine friends are set to go deep down into one of the largest cracks in the world to hopefully come out victorious. The Grand Canyon is our adventure “Race” for a R2R2R (Rim to Rim to Rim or R3) journey that totals 48 miles, 11,000’ feet of climbing, all in one day.
And guess what, the Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest will be my trusted companion throughout this journey.
- Comfort Cinch™ has been upgraded with High Molecular Weight Polyethelyne cord for extra strength and air mesh panel to prevent chaffing
- Shape has been upgraded to wrap completely around the body for a more secure vest-like fit.
- Comes with 4 hooks and bungee loops to attach trekking poles. These loops can be attached at the front or back of the vest for customizable trekking pole carry options.
I will have to be honest here. I am not a trekking or running pole kind of guy. I feel it is just another thing to carry or pack. That argument can go deep, so I’ll leave that for another forum. That said, I removed the extra clips and small straps that would hold the poles. For me, they were bouncing around enough to be annoying. Good to have though if I ever switch to the hiking pole side.
- Large rear compartment to accommodate up to a 2.0L reservoir. I get into this further down in my review, but the amount of space is tremendous.
- Front buckle sternum straps with T-hook adjustments
- Zippered rear lat pockets are accessible while the vest is being worn.
- Stretch mesh back panel and bungee system to accommodate smaller items.
- Waterproof main pocket with zippered clamshell opening.
- One waterproof and one water resistant shoulder stash pocket for pills and other small items.
The UD Ultra Vest is constructed of 100% silicone coated nylon. The vest weighs in at 230 grams (8.11 oz.) without bottles, and total volume capacity is at 10.3 Liter or 629 cubic inches. Those numbers don’t mean a whole lot to me in theory. It is more about how much stuff can I cram in to support me for the duration of my adventures.
- 100% silicone coated nylon
- 82% nylon 12% spandex
- Weight (without bottles): 230 g (8.11 oz)
- Volume: 10.3 L (629 in3)
The Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest Out On Expedition And Adventure
I have to be honest, I was a bit overwhelmed at first with all the strings, clips, gadgets, enclosures and special features. It took getting familiar with the vest, taking it out on runs and exploring what I could best use it for. After that, I am now really liking this multi-use tool to have as a solid companion out on my longer distance runs.
The two front bottle pockets are really nice. I used them for adding liquid calories. I was able to easily refill these bottles on the go when we encountered stream crossings with my Lifestraw water filtration system. Notice the two sides of the vest in the photo above. I show it this way, because depending on my run or use, I would have them in one of those two positions. The left shows it nicely tucked away when not completely full, where I had no plans of using it in the immediate future. The right side shows it out, and ready to use as needed.
Drinking on the run can be done which is very convenient. The proverbial bounce of bottles in this position has always been my reluctance to fully adopting something like this. That said, the Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest came as a pleasant surprise to me as the bounce was minimal with the proper tightening of the straps all around.
The back pockets are where the storage reservoirs go four levels deep. As in, the first one that is closest to the body is great for a water reservoir or bladder (not included). It fits a two liter bladder quite nicely which is a good amount of water for a longer haul. The second layer is a zippered deep pocket to stash clothing, food and whatever else may need to be more secured and water resistant. The third mesh pocket has a cinch at the top, but is great to stuff more things in. The final layer is the string cinch system where extra layers like rain jackets could go for rather easy access throughout a run.
The right rear zippered phone pocket is a solid addition. At first, I did not think my phone with Otterbox case would actually fit. Without the case, it’s an easy fit. That said, with the case, I also managed to situate the phone nicely in this waterproof pocket. The first couple of times, I had stashed my phone in the main rear compartment. In actuality, that makes access more challenging for the insane amount of photos I take.
A Grand Canyon Double Crossing With The Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest
For this R3 Ultra, I stuffed the following food items into my pack for starters (see photo below).
Salty chips, skratch super fuel, oreos, snickers, gummies, jerky, tailwind electrolytes, M & M’s, Honey Stinger, a Ham & Cheese, and Peanut butter Sandwich. I estimate having carried about 5000 calories on my 16 hour journey. I ate and drank most of it. It all somehow fit and stored within the various pockets of my Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest.
15-20 hour goal. Starting at 4:00 AM with temperatures in the upper 30’s. That means lights and layers, since we wouldn’t see the sun for the descent down to the Colorado River. For fuel we figured 300-400 calories per hour, so bringing enough to eat and drink is a serious planning endeavor. 5,000-7,000 calories that needs to fit in our packs. Our layers will go at some point, so we had to account for that. Coming back up the South Rim could be in the dark, so the headlights went with us the entire way as well.
Final Thoughts On The Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest
This running vest and partner in my R2R2R endeavor has proven to be invaluable. A 50 mile self-supported journey across the Grand Canyon is no joke. Being able to carry all my needs in my pack was critical. The pack fits comfortably like another body layer and is able to carry a long days worth of food and gear.
For its simplicity and lightweight, the Ultra Vest has so many options. You can experiment with that for yourself. On the other hand, the one thing missing for me was the water reservoir. Adding one to the mix would make it the complete package. I happened to have one, but it was a different brand. There are a lot of pockets and gadgets, and I didn’t even really utilize all of them. That’s ok, because I was able to use what I needed and I may switch it up next time. All in all, this is a solid running pack that fits a ton and wears really well to fit tightly to the body without much bounce. I give this a solid thumbs up for any longer endurance effort that you may have scheduled.
Available in Blue or Black