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New Ultimate Direction packs on test

by 1
Monday 4th December 2017
We've been lucky enough to get samples of the new versions of the Ultra Vest and Adventure Vesta. Here's what we thought of them. 
By Rob Neal

Men's Ultra Vest 4.0

I’ve been fortunate to try several different brands of running pack over the last few years and until now I’ve been fairly loyal to my Salomon packs. I wear them until they fall apart, then repair them and wear them some more. I’d never tried an Ultimate Direction pack until now and I had been eyeing them up in the shops and looking forward to giving one a go.

Rob UD2

I was fortunate to be sent a sample of their Ultra Vest 4.0 to test for a month and I’ve been wearing it out on my training runs as much as possible. Initially I was a bit skeptical of the amount of mesh that has been used in the construction of the main parts of the pack. On other designs I have found that mesh can wear out too easily or be uncomfortable in areas that experience a lot of friction but I haven’t found any issues with it so far on the UD pack.
My favourite thing about this pack is the design of the pockets, there are so many of them and the layout and type of pockets has really been well thought out to make storage easy while on the run. On the front there is a zip pocket, two waterproof pouches, secured by velcro, and an elasticated stash pocket which is perfect for hat and gloves. There are also the two main pockets which hold 500ml soft flasks. One of these has a further pocket inside and the other has two gel pouches on the front. This makes a grand total of 9 pockets on the front of the pack, all easily accessible. This is great for the runner who like to have their kit really organised and accessible. I’ve had some geeky fun trying to establish the best use for every pocket and the optimum way for storing my kit!

Rob UD1

On the rear of the pack there is the main pocket which is made of waterproof material but uses a non-waterproof zip at the top. This seemed a strange decision to me to not use a waterproof zip but the pocket did still seem to keep the contents fairly dry even in some quite persistent rain. There is also another zipped pocket and a sleeve that could be used for holding a hydration bladder. 
My only issue with the storage is the drawcords on the main front pockets. The slide adjuster is much too small and fiddly. I found them really awkward to use with cold hands or with gloves on. Also, surely they could find a way of attaching the end of the elastic to the pocket so that it doesn’t flap around in your face once you’ve tightened the pocket.
I was also very impressed with the fit of this pack. I may just have been lucky, but with very little adjustment it fitted me almost perfectly. There was very little movement or bounce from the pack while running. One thing to note is that there isn’t much scope for adjusting the fit so it would certainly be worth trying one on if you are considering purchasing one.
Overall, as you can probably tell I have been really impressed with this pack. I only had a few minor criticisms but to be honest my main disappointment is that I have to give it back after this review and I don’t get to keep it! 
Women’s Adventure Vesta 4.0

By Kirsty Reade
We also tried out the new version of the women’s Adventure Vesta. Now we’ve long been a fan of this pack (see review here) so we were really interested to find out what they had and hadn’t changed. 
In short, they haven’t changed too much, which is a good thing. The key changes are:
- there’s now only one bottle holder, rather than two. Like Rob, I found the pull-cord fastener on the bottle holder quite fiddly. 
- there’s a new adjuster (the ‘comfort clinch’ adjuster) on the waist, to make it more easily adjustable on the run. I found this a lot easier to use than the velcro previously used. 
- instead of the second bottle holder there’s a big zip pocket on the front, perfect for a phone or lots of snacks. It’s worth noting that you could just put a soft bottle in here, if you wanted to.
- the material is lighter and more stretchy than the previous version. There’s a new mesh material used against your back, which doesn’t hold sweat against you. 


To find out more about these new versions of Ultimate Direction packs go to: betaclimbingdesigns.com

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