Wow .. I love the running community and people that I’ve met through Run This Year ..
Through Run This Year, I was given an Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta, from the Jenny Collection, to use and review. This vest was designed and tested by Jenny Jurek, as well as other female athletes, and I can say that attention to detail and fit was spot on.
When I opened the box the first thing I noticed was the rainbow of colors .. purple with pops of yellow and pink accents (quite a change for me, as my old pack was tan)! The colors just make you want to run long and happy! I also noticed that the vest was very light, weighing in at just 9 ounces empty, and compact. But don’t let the size fool you .. it has the capacity to hold 4 liters (lots of hydration for running!) and anything else a trail runner, or girl, may need.
Test run: The first time I wore it I loved how it sat high up on my back and nice and tight to my chest (resulting in no bouncing when running). This is a total win! The vest sits nice and close to the body and does not dig in at my shoulders, even with all the pounding (win!). Another win for me was the storage. Just like packing, there’s never enough storage for a gal (meeee!!), but this pack is quite roomy. It has 2 large pockets and a smaller wallet size one on the back of the pack. One of the large pockets can be used for a bladder. I used it for my 70 ounce bladder filled with water (bladder not included with pack). Inside this pocket there is a bungee cord for securing items inside, as well as a velcro strap to keep the bladder from bouncing. The other pocket can be used for extra layers of clothes that you may stash, or ditch while running or any extra fuel. I have used this for an extra zip lock bag where I kept a dry long sleeve in it for a quick change after a race (I then tossed my wet/dirty top in bag). Worked like a charm! Even with the bladder filled and extra layers packed in, the vest still still felt compact.
On the front of the vest there are 4 (yes, four!) pockets. The two larger pockets each hold a 10 oz. flask (included) for convenient hydration. On shorter run days I use the flasks instead of my bladder. There are two smaller pockets beneath the flask pockets, one with a zipper and one with a velcro closure. There is even a teeny pocket inside one of the smaller pockets. Perfect for salt tabs, ibuprofen or band aids (ha ha, yes ultra training on the brain!). I have stashed my go to trail fuel, PB&J, tissue and phone easily in these pockets.
On the outside back of the vest there is another bungee cord for strapping extra gear .. maybe another layer, some safety gear or trekking poles. There are also smaller cross straps on front of vest for trekking poles, if you’re a hiker, or in my case I could use these for fuel packs (maybe PB/almond butter packs or energy chews).
As for safety features – I’ve used my pack on two night relay runs .. one 8 miler at 3:00 a.m. on the road and the other for 4.5 miles in the dessert on hills at about midnight. On both of these runs I was pretty much running solo in the crazy dark and I had my pack on loaded with my water and fuel. I mention these night runs because the ultra vesta has several reflective tabs on the back of the pack, as well as a few on the front. These made me visible to any oncoming cars while running road or other runners on the dark trail. The vest also has a handy whistle attached to the front of the pack. It is easily accessible for quick use .. in case of an emergency. This attention to detail made me feel a little safer and not once uncomfortable out there alone. It is something that I never really thought about before using this pack.
Why I loved the Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta and why you would too ..
• Girl built – Talk about perfect for the female body – no bouncing (the “girls” don’t get squashed), no adjusting mid run, no shoulder/neck pain.
• Accesory – Oh yeah a handy, always in need of, emergency hair tie!
• Packing – Seven compartments – well, eight if you count the teeny pocket inside of another pocket. With all those pockets one can pack enough food and water for well an “ultra”. Oh, yeah and a change of clothes if you must.
• Storage – Holds 20 ounces of liquids in flasks or up to 4 liters of water with a bladder.
• Safety – reflective tabs for visibility on those night runs and a cute little whistle (hoping I’ll never need it .. but good to know it’s there!).
The ultra vesta came at the perfect time for me. It arrived right before 4 weekends of travel for “racing”. This was plenty of time to really give it a test run or 20. I’ve put in lots of miles on it .. including 2 half marathons a road relay and a trail relay and as you can imagine all the training that goes along with this. I’ve got big plans for this vest .. and so far it hasn’t let me down. Well done Ultimate Direction .. winner winner!
I received the Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta from Run This Year for review .. All opinions are my own. Run ultra happy!