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CamelBak Ultra Pro Vest hydration pack review: ultimate comfort in a long-lasting, practical pack

A light, well-designed running pack, the CamelBak Ultra Pro Vest comes in male and female versions, with soft bottles included

CamelBak Ultra Pro Vest
(Image: © CamelBak)

Our Verdict

One of the best race vests you can buy, so comfy with male- and female-specific fits, at a great price including bottles.

For

  • • Bottles included (2x500ml)
  • • Male- & female-specific fits
  • • Ventilated back
  • • Plenty of easily accessible pockets
  • • Pole attachments

Against

  • • Main compartment could be more stretchy (to shove more in)

CamelBak Ultra Pro Vest: first impressions 

A firm favorite for running roads or tracks day after day, the CamelBak Ultra Pro Vest comes in male- and female-specific fits to guarantee the best comfort. 

The 3D micro-mesh ventilated back and shoulder straps make it one of the coolest vests to wear in hotter conditions. The combination of four pockets up front is very handy: there are two bottle pockets with elasticated tops to keep the two included 500ml soft bottles secure; one zippered smartphone pocket; and one very stretchy elasticated pocket that will take a lightweight waterproof or gloves and a running hat

At each side are two stretch-elastic pockets, one that goes all the way through the base of the rear compartment to meet the other side – great for easily threading a waterproof jacket through while on the move. 

The main compartment has two bungees for poles to run diagonally across the back, and the only real downside of this otherwise perfect pack is that the main compartment could be made of a stretchy fabric to jam in some more kit and food. It is the perfect size and fit for whole-day runs in the hills and mountains using lightweight kit.

Specifications

• RRP: 131 (US) / £100 (UK)
• Weight (without bottles): 157g / 5.5oz
• Colors: Women’s: Turquoise / Dark blue Men’s: Black / Bright Blue
• Capacity: Women’s: 6L Men’s: 7L
• Fit: Male & Female fits
• Sizes: Women’s: XS-L Men’s: S-L
• Compatibility: Whole day runs and multi-day adventures in the hills and mountains

CamelBak Ultra Pro Vest: on the trails 

CamelBak Ultra Pro Vest

The female-fit version (Image credit: CamelBak)

The Ultra Pro is one of my favorite hydration vests ever. It has endured hundreds of miles on roads and trails around the UK and Europe, and despite having tested scores of other designs in between, this one has remained my reach-for vest for several years. 

It’s so comfy because of the bouncy 3D mesh and excellent male / female specific fits. We’re just glad they still make it. One of the reasons it costs more than some of the value packs on our buying guide is because it comes with two high-quality CamelBak soft bottles, which are treated with an anti-microbial finish. These are very durable and last for years too, just like the running pack. 

I did have a slight screw-top leakage issue with one of the bottles, which a small amount of TPU tape sorted out. This must have been a rare manufacturing blip or maybe a test sample issue as we have not experienced this with any other CamelBak bottles over many years of testing their other hydration products as well. 

Apart from this, the only other slight downside to the vest is that the main compartment is not as stretchy as some of the other packs we’ve tested, so you can’t overstuff it full of gear. Maybe this is a good thing, though, to stop you taking too much on your run.

The co-founder and former editor of Trail Running magazine, Claire now runs the YouTube channel Wild Ginger Running, creating films packed with trail- and ultra-running content. An award-winning journalist, writing for outdoor and adventure sports magazines and websites, her first book The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running 5k to 50k is out in January 2021. Claire also speaks and presents at events and races.