Ultimate Direction Adventure Vest 5.0 review: versatile, roomy and rugged

A supple, do-everything pack with a great fit, the Ultimate Direction Adventure Vest 5.0 has loads of sneaky storage

Ultimate Direction Adventure Vest 5.0
(Image: © Ultimate Direction)

Advnture Verdict

A pack that’s well-suited to running, fast-packing, long day hikes, hut-to-hut trips and bike packing.


  • +

    Copious amount of storage

  • +

    Snug, comfortable fit

  • +

    Rain fly included


  • -

    Only one soft bottle included

  • -

    High price tag

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Ultimate Direction Adventure Vest 5.0: first impressions

The Ultimate Direction Adventure Vest 5.0 also has a female-specific variation, the  Ultimate Direction Adventure Vesta 5.0 (see what they did there?). Fit matters a lot when it comes to packs, and with gendered versions – as well as S-M-L sizing within those versions – this vest (a contender for the best hiking backback, perhaps?) offers a snug, exceptionally dialed fit no matter your body shape. With cinching straps in back and easy-sliding chest straps up front (all essential parts of a backpack), you’ll get the exact fit you want, regardless of chest size, what you’re wearing or how much or little you’ve packed. 

This vest offers copious storage (16.5 L) much of which is divvied up into smaller pockets. If you dig organization – for your gels, phone, keys, sunscreen, burrito – yep, there’s a pocket for that (great for those who like to make sure they’re carrying all 10 backpacking essentials). For such a spacious bag so well-suited to long days out, we were surprised to find room up front for just one soft bottle (included). And note: sliding said bottle all the way down into the pocket takes a good bit of stuffing. However, there’s space for a 2L bladder in the back (not included). 

A deep, zippered well holds bigger items, and there’s an open pocket that stretches nicely for stuffing as well as crisscrossed elastic for securing a stray jacket or other additional items. 

A super-handy rain fly is tucked surreptitiously in back to keep stuff dry if the weather turns wet. With its really thoughtful design and high-quality materials, this vest is unsurprisingly found on the pricey end of similar vests. But it may well be worth it, given the variety of uses you will get from this light, lithe vest with the capacity of a much larger pack yet none of the weight. 


RRP: $180 (US) / £135 (UK)
Weight (empty): 247g / 8.7oz
• Hydration Capacity: One 500ml / 17 fl oz soft bottle included; room to accommodate a bladder (not included)
Gear Capacity: 16.5L
Colors: Night Sky

Ultimate Direction Adventure Vest 5.0: on the trails

We tested the Adventure Vest/Adventure Vesta on several trails around Boulder, Golden and Leadville –  including a run and hike up 14,036-ft Mt Sherman (4,278m). 

From a hydration point of view, we liked its snug, compact fit and the easy access to the soft flasks mounted on the front of the pack. (We also tested it with a 2L hydration reservoir but found it slightly challenging to make room for it.) 

From a capacity point of view, we loved this pack’s capacity for multi-hour trail runs, but it wasn’t quite as spacious as we would have liked for all-day adventures in the mountains. 

More than once, we remarked that there were too many smallish pockets and compartments to keep track of – where was that tube of sun cream hiding?! – and not a sufficiently larger one. However, the Ultimate Direction attention to detail and quality of materials and components shone through on every outing.

Casey Blaine

A seasoned writer and editor in the endurance sport space, Casey has worked with top athletes and coaches on training books and memoirs. A regular contributor to Women's Running, she especially loves writing about running and hiking adventures, which have taken her on trails around the world – including to the Indian Himalaya, the DMZ in Korea and the Tibetan Plateau. She lives in Colorado, where she’s slowly chipping away at hiking all the state’s ‘14er’ mountains.