Ultimate Direction FASTPACK 30 Vest/Backpack

If you’re anything like me, you will be keeping a keen eye on new product, fresh for 2015. As I plan my return to ultramarathons, having now signed up for the D33 and The Highland Fling, I am keeping an open mind with regard to which pack I will be using in training and on race day.

The Ultimate Direction Fastpack 30 Vest/Backpack, coming soon to www.ultramarathonrunningstore.com, may be overkill for shorter events and events with aid stations but it looks like just the ticket for multi-day events and/or long, self sufficient days in the hills.

“The UD Fastpack 30 backpack is meant for adventure. Perfect for bagging peaks, day hikes, or travel. The Ultimate direction Fastpack 30 takes inspiration from our Signature Series, with its vest like fit and front access pockets for a water bottle or storage. There is easy access to water, maps or your smart phone on the front, the stretch pockets on the sides will hold almost anything, and the huge rear stretch pocket allows gear to be quickly stowed or used as needed. The main compartment forgoes zippers in favour of a waterproof roll top closure, allowing this backpack to tightly secure everything from 20 to 31 litres.

The Fastpack 30 is water-resistant, with a reinforced bottom panel for extra durability, and the low-profile daisy chains with trekking pole and ice axe loops complete the package. Unique to the Fastpack 30 is our InfiKnit construction: the back panel and shoulder straps are made from one piece of custom-made fabric, which eliminates contact with all seams. A smooth ride, compressible storage and plenty of pockets makes the Fastpack 30 a great addition to your pack collection.”

Features

  • 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 20L to 31L
  • 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

Specifications

Volume Capacity: 1220 – 1892 in3 / 20L – 31L

  • Weight: 24.8 oz. / 703 g
  • Height: 24.4 in. / 62 cm
  • Width: 11.4 in. / 29 cm
  • Depth: 10.4 in. / 26.5 cm

Sizing At Chest (Unisex)

  • S/M: 24 – 40 in. / 60 – 102 cm
  • M/L: 32 – 46 in. / 81 – 116 cm

Materials & Design

  • InfiKnit Harness
  • Mono Hex Mesh
  • Cool Wick Air Mesh
  • 340g Power Stretch Mesh
  • 210T Nylon Mini Rip Stop

New packs are due soon from UltrAspire, Ultimate Direction (Wasp & Wink) and Salomon, so there’s certainly plenty to look forward to.

Note that www.pixelscotland.com hopes to have reviews of the new Salomon packs in the near future.

Ultimate Direction FASTPACK 20 Vest/Backpack Now Available

The latest offering from Ultimate Direction, the Fastpack 20 Vest/Backpack, is now available from www.ultramarathonrunningstore.com.

“Providing all the features and capacity you need and nothing more, the Fastpack 20 is a streamlined pack that will get you there and get it done. Perfect for day hikes, peak bagging, or a quick weekend, the Fastpack takes inspiration from our Signature Series vests, with its super stable and comfortable fit.” (http://ultimatedirection.com/p-633-fastpack-20.aspx?category=hydration-packs)

I did a full product preview back at the end of August, which includes considerably more details. One for the Christmas wish list!

Ultimate Direction FASTPACK 20 Vest/Backpack

The latest offering from Ultimate Direction, the Fastpack 20 Vest/Backpack, will soon be available from www.ultramarathonrunningstore.com.

“Providing all the features and capacity you need and nothing more, the Fastpack 20 is a streamlined pack that will get you there and get it done. Perfect for day hikes, peak bagging, or a quick weekend, the Fastpack takes inspiration from our Signature Series vests, with its super stable and comfortable fit.” (http://ultimatedirection.com/p-633-fastpack-20.aspx?category=hydration-packs)

The pack offers a versatile approach to hydration, offering front, side and bladder options, or indeed all 3 or any combination of, that’s likely to be one of the main attractions of the Fastpack 20 for anyone looking for a pack that’s equally at home whether running, fastpacking or hiking.

It’s described as building upon Ultimate Direction’s Signature Range, with the functionality and capacity of a regular backpack but the fit of a running vest/pack.

With 5 accessible compartments on the front, 15 to 20 litres of capacity with compression straps to remove any excess, a waterproof rollable top closing mechanism, two adjustable sternum straps and 2 large mesh side pockets, capable of holding everything from bottles to tent poles and/or trekking poles, it’s a pack that’s likely to have wide appeal.

The Fastpack 20 comes in 2 sizes, Small/Medium and Medium/Large. After months spent waiting on the PB Adventure Vest last year I was gutted to finally receive it only to find that I couldn’t fasten the straps across my chest, so it’s good to see two sizing options for this pack.

For a detailed look at the pack features, head over to iRunFar.com for their Fastpack 20 review.

Features

  • 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

Specifications

  • Volume Capacity: 915 – 1403 in3 / 15L – 23L
  • Weight: 1lb 3 oz. / 535 g
  • Height: 20 in. / 51 cm
  • Width: 9.5 in. / 24 cm
  • Depth: 11.75 in. / 30 cm

Sizing at chest (Unisex)

  • S/M: 24 – 40 in. / 60 – 102 cm
  • M/L: 32 – 46 in. / 81 – 116 cm

Materials & Design

  • InfiKnit Harness
  • Mono Hex Mesh
  • Cool Wick Air Mesh
  • 340g Power Stretch Mesh
  • 210T Nylon Mini Rip Stop

Available from September 2014: Available now.

Ultimate Direction Jurek Endure Review

The following review was included in Issue 10, Autumn/Winter 2013 of Barefoot Running Magazine.

Waist packs are excellent for holding keys, gels and fluids that would otherwise be cumbersome to carry. The latest offering from Ultimate Direction, the Jurek Endure Hydration Belt, is an excellent minimalist waist pack with space for the bare essentials.

Anyone at all familiar with the ultramarathon scene should be able to immediately identify the man behind the belt, ultrarunning legend Scott Jurek, and it would appear that Jurek’s vast experience has been well tapped to create a quality product where the attention to detail is second to none.

Styling

The Jurek Endure hydration belt is available in black or citron. While I actually do like the citron/lime green colour, the pairing of this with aqua blue just doesn’t work for me as far as colour combinations go and, as such, I opted for the far more sedate grey and black offering. I can see, however, that the brighter option is not without merit as it would likely benefit the wearer in terms of increased visibility.

Fit

The Jurek Endure is so light and free of movement that it’s possible to forget that you are wearing it. Most waist packs that I have tried in the past have suffered from bounce and/or movement of some form, more often than not leading to chaffing. This is not the case with the Endure.

The first time I used the Endure, I adjusted the belt strapping to provide a comfortable but secure fit and I have not had to touch it since. This is largely due to the elasticated holder that serves a dual purpose. It secures any excess strapping, stopping it from flapping about. Further, it ensures that the desired strap positioning is retained. I’ve had packs in the past that have required constant adjustment and it ranks as one of my pet hates, especially when said adjustment has to be done mid race. As such, I think that this is a particularly neat feature.

Another plus point is the left hand side fastening, which ensures that there is no direct pressure on the stomach area, something that helps to avoid digestion issues when running.

Build Quality

The Jurek Endure is constructed from strong, lightweight, highly breathable Hex Mesh. The mesh does not absorb moisture and, at the end of one particularly sweaty run, I was surprised at just how sweat free the pack was, unlike the soaking wet t-shirt and shorts that I was wearing at the time. The pack also makes use of Silnylon, silicone impregnated for ultra lightweight and durable waterproofness, and Velvetex, super comfortable and soft edge binding.

Performance

Typically, waist packs come with a single 5-600ml bottle or two 5-600ml bottles. The Jurek Endure comes with two 10oz/295ml bottles. The reduced bottle size obviously impacts on the volume of fluid that can be carried, thereby impacting on the distances that the pack can be used for. However, the use of 2 smaller bottles spreads the weight evenly, adding to the stability of the pack. Further, the 2 bottle approach opens up fluid options. Typically, I have opted for one bottle for plain water, with the other carrying some form of juice or water with a High 5 tablet added. In terms of volume, I have found the two 295ml bottles to be sufficient for short to medium distances, even on hotter days. However, fluid requirements vary from person to person.

The bottle holders on the Jurek Endure are stiffened at the front, which helps when it comes to retrieving and re-holstering the bottles on the move. An elastic cord helps to ensure that the bottles remain in place. This is fairly easily removed and re applied as and when required and there is a small plastic clip to assist with this. I did find that the plastic clip isn’t always all that easy to grab and, ideally, I would have preferred a larger, cloth based method of pulling the elastic back. This aside, the fastening mechanism works well and I always found the bottles to be secure.

I’ve already mentioned that the belt strapping provides a perfect fit, secured by the elasticated holder. There’s also one further useful addition, two moveable race clips that permit the attachment of a race number to the belt. If, like myself, you hate sticking pins in t-shirts, you will no doubt appreciate this functionality. Further, given that the weather in the UK often necessitates the use of waterproofs, your race number will remain visible. While you might resort to a waterproof jacket on your upper body, covering any number attached to a t-shirt, rarely do you see runners use waterproof trousers.

There is a large, moveable side pocket on the right hand side of the Jurek Endure. This well sized pocket is perfect for carrying gels or energy bars and can be worn on the left side if preferred. It’s also a good fit for an iPhone 5 but, with the addition of a headphone connection, can be fractionally on the tight side, especially if you are prone to taking your phone in and out for the purposes of taking photographs and/or answering texts and phone calls. If I have one criticism of the pocket, it is that the zip placement, on the top of the pocket, occasionally results in the pocket moving rather than the zip opening, necessitating a two handed approach to retrieve the contents of the pocket.

There’s a stretch mesh pocket on the rear, located between the two bottles, that is fastened with a small Velcro strip. As with the bottles, an elastic cord can be used to help secure any items placed in here. There’s not a huge amount of space in the pocket but you can, for example, squeeze in a buff and a pair of thin gloves at a push. Alternatively, it will hold a few gels and/or energy bars. It’s also possible to secure items on top of the pocket, such as a lightweight jacket, using the elastic cord. I am always concerned that anything positioned here disappears without my noticing and, as such, I always try to somehow clip the item on to the pack.

Safety reflectors positioned on the rear of the waist pack serve to increase your visibility to traffic.

Price

£34.98

Overall Rating

The Jurek Endure from Ultimate Direction is my new go-to waist pack for short to medium distance runs and supported long runs where there is no compulsory kit requirement. It’s the perfect pack for those who like to travel light and its limited capacity ensures that you are never going to over pack for your run.

Granted there are a couple of minor adjustments that I would like to see to make the Jurek Endure truly perfect. However, it does come close to perfection, especially with regard to the lack of bounce and the fastening mechanism that ensures it stays exactly in place.

“Ounce per ounce, the Jurek Endure belt does more than any other waist pack. Scott wanted twin bottles because they balance the load, and you can use one for water and the other for your sports drink mix. One can quickly stash a windshell, gloves, and even a hat into the stretch mesh pocket and innovative bungee system, and the movable front pocket allows you to whip out a bar gel without breaking stride. Hydration products should be at your finger tips when you need them but they should just provide you with the bare essentials and the Jurek Collection from Ultimate Direction really does that.” Scott Jurek

Specifications

  • Fluid capacity: Comes with 2 * 10 oz. bottles
  • Weight: 163g / 6 oz (8.5 oz with bottles)
  • Pocket Size: 16.5 x 7.6 cm / 6.5 x 3 in
  • Pouch Size: 10.2 x 10.2 cm / 4 x 4 in
  • Bottle holsters are stiffened with lightweight foam for quick access
  • Front pocket is sweat resistant and moveable, with foam backing
  • 3/4 in. waist webbing with stretch panel
  • Movable Race Bib clips
  • Adjustable buckle fits: 26 – 44 in. / 66 – 112 cm

The Ultimate Direction Jurek Endure Waist Hydration Belt is available from the http://www.ultramarathonrunningstore.com/

Jurek Collection At The Ultramarathon Running Store

The Ultramarathon Running Store has just added the Ultimate Direction Jurek Collection to their product range, including the minimal Ultimate Direction Jurek Essential Waist Belt, the Ultimate Direction Jurek Endure Waist Hydration Belt and the Ultimate Direction Handheld Water Bottle: Jurek Grip.

“Hydration products should be at your finger tips when you need them but they should just provide you with the bare essentials and the Jurek Collection from Ultimate Direction really does that.” (Scott Jurek)

Jurek Essential Waist Belt

“The ideal compliment to the Grip, the Jurek Essential allows you to efficiently carry – and access – a phone in a pocket, food in a stretch mesh pocket, and your valuables in a secure smaller pocket that can be re–positioned as needed.  Uber comfortable and breathable, you won’t be able to tell you have it on.”

Jurek Endure Waist Hydration Belt

“Ounce per ounce, the Jurek Endure belt does more than any other waist pack.  Scott wanted twin bottles because they balance the load, and you can use one for water and the other for your sports drink mix. One can quickly stash a windshell, gloves, and even a hat into the stretch mesh pocket and innovative bungee system, and the movable front pocket allows you to whip out a bar or gel without breaking stride.”

Handheld Water Bottle: Jurek Grip

“Minimalism comes to hydration – the Scott Jurek handheld, named the GRIP, is the most efficient way to carry a water bottle.  Too much weight in your hand means too much energy is being expended, so Scott recommends carrying only water in your hand, with a new design that is super light, comfortable, and fully adjustable.”

Ultimate Disappointment

I first posted about the Ultimate Direction Signature Series of packs back in October 2012 and have hankered after the Peter Bakwin pack ever since. Those of you who regularly read this blog may be familiar with my impatience at getting the pack (patience may well be a virtue, but it’s certainly not one of mine!). Anyway, after months of waiting, my Peter Bakwin Signature Series vest finally arrived with me this weekend. My initial joy was short-lived as it soon became clear that the pack was just too small for my large frame. I quickly checked the specifications for the M/L pack again. Fits a 32″ – 40″ chest. I actually hadn’t thought to measure my chest before ordering and, a quick check with the tape measure later, I realised that my chest was at least a couple of inches outside of the maximum limit.

As such, for me, the hunt for the ‘perfect’ pack continues. This will hopefully be the Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 12 Set 2013 Backpack. More to follow shortly on this front.

For a thorough review of the Peter Bakwin pack, check out this review from UltraBobban:

Ultimate Direction Signature Series Peter Bakwin Adventure Vest

Features (Front):

  • GPS Pouch (buttons accessible)
  • Bottle holsters can carry 26 oz.
  • Gel or bar pouches (4)
  • Electrolyte or valuables pocket (2)
  • Fully adjustable Sternum Straps (2)
  • Emergency whistle

Features (Back):

  • Cuben Fiber bellows for large or small loads
  • Secure Lat Pockets, with full pocket behind (2)
  • Two sizes main compartments
  • Single pull bungee compresses entire pack
  • Trekking pole (2) and Ice Axe loop (1)

Sizing At Chest (Unisex):

  • S/M: 28 – 34 in. / 71.1 – 86.4 cm
  • M/L: 32 – 40 in. / 81.3 – 101.6 cm

Specs:

  • Volume Capacity: 61 in.3 / 12L
  • Fluid Capacity: 2 x 20 oz. bottles / 2 x 591 mL
  • Weight: 12 oz. (17.5 oz. with bottles) / 340 g (496 g with bottles)
  • Height: 16 in. / 41 cm
  • Width: 9 in. / 23 cm
  • Depth: 4.5 in. / 11 cm

Materials/Design:

  • Cuben Fiber: Used for the sails of America’s Cup racing yachts, this non-woven fabric is 15 times stronger than steel and 40% stronger than Aramid fibers, and is extremely resistant to moisture, UV, and chemicals
  • Velvetex: The edge banding is very soft for greater comfort
  • Power Mesh: All pockets and super stretchy, so small loads won’t bounce and the vest expands as you need it to.

It’s Here – Well, Almost!

Just got word from Catriona of www.out-run.co.uk that my long awaited Ultimate Direction Signature Series Peter Bakwin Adventure Vest has arrived in the UK and should be with me tomorrow.

Ironically, with Bubbs due in just 6 days, I don’t think I will be running too far down the trail to test it – just in case!

I reckon I will make use of both the North and South routes of the Formartine & Buchan Way, running no more than 5 miles out of Ellon in one direction before turning back, running through and then out the other side of Ellon for another 5 miles. That way at least, I should never be too far from home!

UD Signature Series At The Ultramarathon Running Store

The latest offering from Ultimate Direction, the much sought after Signature Series packs, will be available from The Ultramarathon Running Store from early February.

AK Race Vest (Anton Krupicka Race Vest)

Designed by Anton Krupicka, the AK Race Vest brings minimalism to the world of hydration. Even though it weighs in at only 6 ounces (10 with bottles), the UD AK Race Vest still has plenty of capacity for food, clothing, and a phone, so you can use this vest for anything from 10 to 100 miles.

“The Race Vest is super light and minimal – but easily carries everything I need.” (Anton Krupicka)

SJ Ultra Vest (Scott Jurek Ultra Vest)

The SJ Ultra Vest is the result of collaboration with Scott Jurek, the world’s most dominant ultra runner. Weighing in at 7.5 ounces (11.5 with bottles) and offering 9.2 L of storage space, the UD SJ Ultra Vest has the best weight-to-capacity ratio of any hydration pack on the market.

“I’ve been using Ultimate Direction packs for years, modifying them to carry bottles in front – the Ultra Vest is the culmination.” (Scott Jurek)

PB Adventure Vest (Peter Bakwin Adventure Vest)

Peter Bakwin wanted a pack that could do anything from running to hiking, climbing to skiing. Featuring 12 L of volume and a variety of features, The UD Adventure Vest allows you to stay hydrated and comfortable on any size adventure from quick outings to all-day expeditions.

“The Adventure Vest is the pack I’ve always wanted but wasn’t available – until now!” (Peter Bakwin)

Ultimate Direction Signature Series Peter Bakwin Adventure Vest

I received word yesterday that my long awaited Ultimate Direction Signature Series Peter Bakwin Adventure Vest would not be with me in time for Christmas. Gutted! I was looking forward to testing it out on some long slow runs over the Christmas period. Stock of the Signature Series vests arrived with www.out-run.co.uk via plane yesterday after being omitted from their initial delivery. Unfortunately, however, the M/L PB Adventure Vest was not amongst them and, thus, I will have to wait until late January at the earliest. Released in the US in November, the Signature Series packs are like gold dust.

www.out-run.co.uk were able to post some new images of the packs – new Peter Bakwin Adventure Vest images are shown in the gallery.

Ultimate Direction Signature Series Vests

The long awaited Ultimate Direction Signature Series, including the SJ (Scott Jurek) Race Vest, the AK (Anton Krupicka) Race Vest, and the PB (Peter Bakwin) Adventure Vest are now available to buy and stocks are, by all accounts, flying out the door in the US. Limited stock is expected here in the UK in December but you had better be quick if you want to get your hands on one of these packs. Initial stock is expected to sell out very quickly. All of the packs look great but, in particular, the PB Adventure Vest appeals to me with its slightly larger capacity.

The Ultimate Direction Signature Series is now available to pre-order from http://www.out-run.co.uk/