Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek Ultra Vest quick overview:
- Usual full price: $124.94 USD
- Weight: 368 g with 2 UD bottles
- Cost per gram: $0.34 / g (w/ bottles)
- Pros: Light, High Capacity, Breathable, Versatile
- Cons: Durability, Protection
- Suitability: Ultra running and scrambling, but even short rando racing workouts.
- How we go it: Paid full price (disclosure notices)
I paid full price and will happily pay it again to replace it when it is worn out. Make sure you chose the model that suits your purposes (AK, SJ, or PB) or get a combination.
Product description and How we tested it:
The SJ ultra vest is the middle in a series of three running vest models from Ultimate Direction. The AK comes in as the smallest model designed mainly for racing (review coming soon). The SJ (subject of this review) is the middle-sized model for racing and long runs or scrambles. The PB is the largest capacity for long distance adventuring.
I tested the SJ pack over the Spring/Summer/Fall 2013 running season which included some long races (Squamish 50k) and some runs and scrambles from ~2 to 8 hours long.
The pack is designed to allow quick easy access to essential gear with good weight distribution by putting the water bottles on the front of the vest. Also on the front of the vest are two large electronics pockets, four gel pockets, and two Velcro pockets that fit a small ipod or electrolyte pills. The sides of the vest have a zippered pocket that overlaps a Velcro opening stretch pocket. (These pockets are hard for me to reach and they overlap so if you put much in one the other becomes useless. I cut out the Velcro to make it easier to get things in and out.)
The back of the pack has a 9.2L main compartment built with cuben fiber to stay lightweight. Two zippers are located on the back. One gives access to the main compartment and the other gives access to a small pocket on the very outside (good for quick access small items like snacks or map). The zipper placement and length limits creativity when packing lots or large items into the main compartment. A cord and drawstring on the inside can be used to hold a hydration reservoir in place but I removed it. Another cord and drawstring on the outside of the pack is used to cinch down extra volume or hold a jacket or crampons on the outside of the pack. Loops on the back are for an ice axe.
I have had good luck with packing a LOT of stuff into this bag. Scrambling up Wedge Mt. early in the season I managed to stuff rain pants and jacket, a sandwich, a spare water bottle, gloves, hat, crampons, and an axe into the back and the rest of my food in front pockets. I usually move one of the water bottles to the back to put my camera into the front bottle holder for easy access.
Having bottles up front is awesome. I hate the hassle of a hydration pouch and filling it on the go. With bottles up front you can pull them out anytime to drink or fill in a flash at a stream.
- Compared to an equivalent “pack” it is crazy light.
- It can hold as much as you could possibly need for a long run and more.
- The mesh fabric is extremely breathable and though it seems like it would be uncomfortable on bare skin (scratchy) it has never given me any trouble with chaffing even running shirtless.
Cons / What can be improved about this product:
- The downside of the breathable fabric is that anything stored in the main compartment is directly exposed to your sweaty back. So, if you pack a spare dry shirt for when you get to the cool alpine temps after a hot run up the mountain it will be soaked unless you take preventative measures.
- Forget asking a partner to reach in and grab a energy bar for you – gross. Its not really a series drawback but can be annoying.
- I would prefer one of the upper front electronics pockets to be made of cuben fiber to protect an iphone.
- The chest orientation of the water bottles can definitely lead to some bruised feeling ribs. It went away pretty quickly for me but certainly could be annoying/a problem for someone else.
- Weight: 368 grams
- Cost per Gram: $0.35/g
- Materials: Cuben Fiber and Hex Mesh
- Size: 9.2 L Volume + 2 x 2oz Bottles
Online stores that carry Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek Ultra Vest:
- $124.95 directly from Ultimate Direction
- $149.95 slightly bigger PB Aventure Vest directly from Ultimate Direction