Thursday, April 21, 2016

Ultimate Direction Spring ‘16 Review


When it’s hot out, staying hydrated is vital.  I have tried hydration backpacks, belts, handheld bottles, and even tried just figuring out where drinking fountains were on my runs.  Staying hydrated on my runs, especially in the hot California Summer is a necessity. 

Ultimate Direction claims that they invented the entire category of hydration packs in 1985.  They created the first waist pack for carrying bottles and a few years later made the first handheld water bottle.  After 30 years, Ultimate Direction remains a leader in the hydration industry.  They created the running vest and help increase its popularity in the running world.  They also were the first to introduce the first women’s-specific line of hydration packs. Ultimate Direction takes some of the best runners in the world and gets their input in designing their gear to incorporate the items that runners really need.



Fastdraw 20 Extreme Handheld Bottle

The Fastdraw 20 Extreme is a versatile handheld bottle.  You not only get a comfortable hand strap that allows you to run without having to grasp your bottle, but there is an insulated sleeve.  This insulation not only keeps your drink hot or cold for a longer amount of time, but it also keeps your hand from getting too cold.  I love cold water, but uninsulated handhelds tend to make my hand really cold, until the ice melts in about 15 minutes. 

It is extremely comfortable and easy to use.  You simply slide your hand in and use the cinch strap to tighten it down.  The pocket is somewhat large and will fit a decent amount of gels or even a small light weight jacket.  The 20 ounce bottle comes with Ultimate Direction’s “Kicker Valve” system.  The valve can be easily closed to prevent leakage. 
 
Pros:
20 Ounce Bottle
Comfortable hand strap
Insulation between your hand and the bottle for comfort
Insulation keeps water cold longer
Great price for as little as $25.99 on Amazon

Cons:
I wish the pocket was a little bigger so my Samsung Galaxy S6 would fit.

The Fastdraw 20 Extreme is a great handheld that is extremely comfortable to use.  The only negative that I found was the pocket could be a little bigger.  I could not fit my Samsung Galaxy S6 with the case in the pocket.  It is great for gels, keys, and money though.  You can get yours at the Ultimate Direction website for $32.95, on Amazon for about 25.99, or at a running store near you.

TO Race Vest 3.0

The TO Race Vest 3.0 was designed by, and named after Timothy Olson, a very well-known Ultra runner.  He designed the vest to by 2 ounces lighter than the previous version at only 8.23 ounces.  Let’s start with my favorite feature, the collapsible Body Bottle Plus (which is what I tested the vest with, but are not included in the original price of the vest).  If you have never seen a collapsible bottle before, they are awesome and I will be doing a full review of HydraPak collapsible bottles (the same maker as the Body Bottle Plus) later in the week.  They not only collapse as you drink water, but after all of the water is gone, you can fit them in the palm of your hand.  They are so durable that you can actually stand on them and they won’t burst (although please do this at your own risk).

The TO Race Vest has more storage than you’ll know what to do with.  There are two pockets in the front of the vest that you can use for your water bottles, or even your phone. They have an elastic cord that you can tighten to secure whatever you put in the pocket.  There are 4 other pockets in the front as well, one is waterproof for salt or electrolyte tabs.  The vest also has two loops on the front of the pack where you can store your hiking poles.

The front sternum straps are easy to adjust. They have lightweight T-Hooks where you just pop them out of the loops and move them up or down.  While they take a little more work than some of the other packs out there, I think these will ultimately be better because they won’t unexpectedly slide down during your run.  The sternum strap does a really good job of keeping the pack in place and eliminates bouncing.  There are two additional straps along the sides of the vest where you can tighten it down a little more, in case the vest gets loose (this mainly happens as you drink your water in the collapsible bottles). 


Another cool feature of the TO Race Vest are the two pockets at the bottom of the back.  You can reach them easily so you can store some stuff back there and access it without having to take your pack off.  I really liked that.  The back of the vest is made of a really light weight mesh that is extremely breathable, which is not the case with most packs out there.  It really does make a difference and my back did feel cooler than when I wear my other packs.

Pros:
Plenty of Storage
Extremely lightweight and breathable materials
Does not bounce
Holds 2 water bottles (not included)
Has loops for trekking poles.
Decent price for as little as $109.95

Cons:
Doesn’t include the bottles.

The TO Race Vest 3.0 is a great vest that is not just for trail running.  This is a great vest for your long training runs and races too.  Be sure to measure your chest and order the right size.    You can get yours at the Ultimate Direction website for $109.95 without the bottles, on Amazon for the same amount, or at a running store near you.  The bottles range from $11.95 each for the 20 ounce hard bottle to $22.95 each for the Body Bottle Plus.

Ultimate Direction’s Social media Links

Ultimate Direction guarantees its products against manufactures defects.  You send in your damaged product and they will be repaired or replaced.  Damages due to an accident or improper use can be repaired at a reasonable rate.  (Click here for more details about the warrantee). I am very impressed with Ultimate Direction’s products, especially the TO Race Vest 3.0.  It really hugs your body and the collapsible bottles are great.  Get your Ultimate Direction gear today and summon your inner Ultra spirits.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

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