Ultimate Direction has finally created a hydration pack made for women who are endurance athletes that is designed by women and I love it. Ultra Vesta was designed by Jenny Jurek with help from a Women’s Collective. This vest also received recent accolades from the 2014 Trail Runner Magazine Gear of the Year Award, which won for it’s ergonomically shaped fit and ability to and perform well while heavily used. How this vest came to be is quite fascinating really!
They took a bunch of ‘the best feature’ from numerous other Signature Series vests, and then worked a re-design of the shape to specifically fit women. Men and women are built different when it comes to running vests and, as a larger framed women, I had yet to find an endurance vest that 1) fit and 2) didn’t look horrible on me . Although the vest still doesn’t look outstanding on me (you judge for yourself), the fit, the feel, and the functionality are amazing. I took this vest on numerous runs between December and March 2014 with the longest run being about 14 miles. This vest held up well and served me on runs as short as sprints on First Thursday to a nice long trail run.
First off, this vest feels good and fits well; fitting around all the right places with no rubs whether I was wearing a jacket or a lightweight shirt. It did not feel big or bulky, and it stayed in place when cinched down. I love, love, loved the ability to cinch on sides as well as around torso. With a Size D chest and large torso circumference, I worried it might not fit, but it did. I honestly feel that with the sliding straps on the side and the torso, this vest could fit chests and torsos large than mine. The vests also fit the shoulders well, where usually they are bulky and too large in this area with my small shoulders. This vest was comfortable and it was a first for me. I have tried several running vests that came off as quickly as they came on.
Some website facts:
- Cool Wick Air Mesh is lightweight and breathable for optimal ventilation and moisture management
- 150D Rip Stop: Lightweight fabric provides durability and protection
- Power Stretch Mesh:Provides versatility with a supportive stretch material that expands for variable capacity
- Two vertical zippered pockets in the rear, plus a third horizontal pocket offers ample storage
- Easily accommodates a 2 liter reservoir or any bottle
- External and internal bungee cords stabilize varying capacities
- Reflective accents for easy visibility
Sizing At Chest (Women’s):
- XS/SM: 26 – 38 in. / 66 – 97 cm
- M/L: 32 – 41 in. / 81 – 104 cm
- Measure wearing the clothes you intend to wear
- A vest full of gear will fit smaller
- Volume Capacity: 245 in3 / 4L
- Fluid Capacity: 2 x 10 oz. bottles / 2 x 295 mL (plus optional reservoir)
- Weight: 9 oz. (11 oz. with bottles) / 255 g (312 g with bottles)
- Height: 11.75 in. / 30 cm
- Width: 8 in. / 20 cm
- Depth: 2.5 in. / 6 cm
I liked the ease of access to all the pockets and twin 10oz water bottles on the front strap-mounted holsters. The holsters are concave against the body, are positioned higher on the chest, and can be folded flat when not in use. The straps were soft, although upon first seeing it, I was worried about them scratching my bare skin. However, it was soft and I had nothing to worry about. The water bottles felt great in my hands, and I also liked that if I wanted to add a reservoir in the back, I could use those pockets for other things as well. Under the water bottle pockets, there were a couple of more pockets which held Gu and my iPod mostly, and once my key (one pocket could be zipped).
In the back, there were two main compartments. One could accommodate that reservoir I mentioned (not included) with a hole to guide the drinking nostril or it could hold other gear. On the other side, there was another pocket that appeared to be the same size. I used this to hold my warm jacket with a rain jacket in the other pocket, or bungeed on the outside. These external and internal bungee cords gave me that customized fit and eliminated the bouncing. This vest is water-resistant, though not waterproof, and I hope future designs will have a Waterproof pocket for the rain that Oregon often sees.
Some neat little extra things included were a whistle for emergencies and reflective accents for low-light visibility. It also had an ice axe loop and two trekking pole loops that I never used and probably never will. But if you are a hiker – bonus!
I loved how the water bottle felt in my hand, but the water pressure and ability to get the spouts open and closed were harder than expected. I had to ensure that the water caps snapped back in place, and drinking had more resistance than I like to do while running. I found myself opening the caps to drink water straight from the bottle. I also wished the pockets in front fit my Galaxy S2, but it did not, and I had to put in the back of the bag. This makes it difficult to check your phone if you are using a running app, but should not be a problem for GPS Watch users. I used the water bottle pockets for the water bottles, so did not try to fit my phone there.
- Easy to run in
- Does not feel big or bulky
- Multiple adjustment points
- Stays in place when cinched down – loved the ability to cinch on sides as well as around torso
- Water bottle feel great in your hand
- Bottles well placed
- Pockets in front decent size for iPods, gels
- Pockets in back for clothes, and places for keys, wallets, cell phones
- Outside has bungees to hold more clothes/gear
- Water resistant
- Great for endurance events
- Fits great on larger women
- You can carry a lot of stuff with several pockets to organize
- Ability to put a Water Holder/Container in one of pockets
- Nice colors
- Not waterproof
- Front pockets are not large enough to carry a cell phone
- Still looks a little awkward on larger framed women (you decide)
- Water spouts not the best I have seen.
- Only two sizes (XS/SM and MD/LG) but it did fit me as a 41.5 torso with clothes on and cinching.
- When packed tight, it does fit tighter, but I liked that there was no bounce, so not an issue for me;
This was a great little vest. It snaps off and on easily, and I did not find myself readjusting it. This vest is essential for women who do not want to carry anything in their hands and dislike carriers around their waste. The pockets allow for easy shedding of clothes without having to tie around your waste or carry. (I wish I had taken a photo with the gear inside, but I get running and forget.) It rolls up pretty nicely when not in use. Usually, I cringe at items over $100, but the material and quality of this gear makes me feel that the price point is fair and reasonable. I am glad I received the opportunity to try it out. This is a great piece of gear to own for an endurance type events.