I am rapidly becoming obsessed with Ultimate Direction running gear. After trying out their PB Adventure Vest earlier this year, it became my trail running necessity. It even accompanied me on my 5 day camping extravaganza in the Eagle Cap Wilderness this summer. I loved how comfortable it was and have been happy, on numerous occasions, to have it with me for day hikes and trail runs.
But I am sure that the Adventure Vest would have been left at home if their newest pack, the Fastpack 20 had been out at the time. The Fastpack has been tethered to my back for weeks now, in both running environments and otherwise. I am OBSESSED with how big of a role it plays in my daily life. First some specifics from their website:
- Patent-pending Infiknit harness is a continuous, seamless back panel and shoulder strap system to prevent abrasion and discomfort
- Large, main roll-top compartment expands from 15L to 23L
- Rear stretch-mesh pocket with low-profile daisy chain system
- Water bottle compatible front pockets also fold flat to store other items
- Dual adjustable sternum straps and side straps for stability and fit
- Integrated side compression Z-straps for varying load capacities
- Removable foam back panel for comfort
- Available in 2 sizes
- S/M: 24″ – 40″ / 58 cm – 91 cm
- M/L: 32″ – 46″ / 81 cm – 112 cm
- Measure wearing the clothes you intend to wear
- A pack full of gear will fit smaller
- Capacity: 15L – 23L / 915 – 1403 cubic inches
- Weight: 1 lb 3 oz / 535g
- Dimensions: 20″ x 11.75″ x 9.5″ / 51 cm x 30 cm x 24 cm
Specs are a great and necessary way to learn about the product, but until a product is put into action, you never really know. Here is what I learned about the product:
While the Fastpack may be initially billed as a pack for the hiker or adventurer in all of us, it can be used as so much more. When I talked to Ultimate Direction directly, I mentioned to them that, while I do hike, I didn’t want them to expect that my experience with the pack would be from spending the next 6 months traversing the PCT with the pack. They were aware of this, but told me to see how I think it would fit in with the runners we cater to. Here are just a few ways I have personally used it:
- Duffel bag
- Race day pack
- Hiking day pack
- Dirty clothes bag
My recent (cheap) duffel bag started coming apart at the seams a few months back and I was tired of the cheap replacements I found myself going through every three months. The Infiknit harness mentioned above is, in simple terms, a seamless back panel and shoulder strap system which means that there is less likelihood of frayed seams and no opportunity for chafing that sometimes along said seams.
Lots of room:
Since I run on my lunch break, I have to pack my standard running gear (shirts, shorts, hat, running belt, and shoes – at minimum) each and every day. Toss in a towel, shower kit, and water shoes (I am NOT using my work shower in bare feet), and it makes for a tight squeeze. I have gone back and forth between duffel bags that were either too small (making it literally burst at the seams) or too big (a hassle to carry around and a pain to shove into my locker) and still haven’t found one that I really liked.
So using the Fastpack 20 as a duffel is an amazingly ideal choice. The website describes the bag as, “providing all the features and capacity you need and nothing more”. I would agree with that wholeheartedly – it is the perfect amount of space. In fact, some adventurers have said that they can pack up to 3+ days of gear in it.
The design also lends itself to being able to get more stuff in the bag without it splitting apart. The inside itself is roomy enough for most of my clothes, but the pack actually “expands” for additional space. Instead of using a zipper to close the main compartment, they have utilized a roll top closure that expands for extra space and then can be rolled as necessary. The roll top is waterproof and snaps into place snugly via buckles.
On top of that, there is a rear stretch pocket that can fit in a surprisingly large amount of extras as needed. Forgot to pack an extra pair of undergarments? Shove them in the pocket and forget about it (well until, you have to put them on – then remember them). There are side pockets as well that also expand as well.
Fastpack with additional roll flap expanded.Perfect for Disneyland…:
This came in extremely handy during our trip to Disneyland. In years past, I have utilized a standard backpack to trudge through the Happiest Place on Earth. But if you have been to Disneyland, you are probably aware that over the course of the day, the backpack never seems to empty – only get more full. Be it from memorabilia, wet clothes, or endless snacks and water, you just never know what you are going to have to shove in your bag. In taking the Fastpack last month, I never once worried about space. The main compartment offered way more space than a standard zippered backpack, and the stretch pocket and additional pockets on the straps offered even more areas to shove water bottles, snacks, Fast Pass tickets, garbage, and all the knic-knacs any 5-year-old could want. Even after 5 days of sweat and continual wear and tear, the pack looked no worse for the wear. It held up to its end of the bargain so I could worry about more important things – like what Air Conditioned ride or show we could go to so I could catch a quick nap.
…but ideal for daypacking or hiking:
While I may have utilized this for Disneyland, it is easy to see how it would make the perfect transition to what it is actually for – a hiking pack. The easy access pockets on the straps are perfect for water, but can also fold flat as necessary. There are smaller pockets for snacks or energy packs. The entire pack itself if waterproof and the bottom is reinforced so you can pack it up tight without feeling like everything is going to come crashing out the bottom as a result. For those who are more adventurous than I, there are low-profile daisy chains with loops for poles or ice axes as well.
So simple, yet so fancy:
Some other subtle features I have found cool and useful are:
- One of the side stretch pockets has a loop for keys,
- It has the ability to add a bladder with an opening at the top for the tube,
- Cell Phones fit snugly and securely in front strap pockets,
- Daisy chain on the back allows the ablity to attach even more gear to the outside of the pack,
- The sternum straps can not only tighten, BUT slide vertically to reach optimum fit,
Whether you are looking for a hiking pack, day pack, or duffel bag, the Fastpack 20 is a clear winner in my book. A larger version (Fastpack 30) is coming out soon as well – so be on the lookout if you need even a little more room!