Ultimate Direction Jason Schlarb Short review: ultra running shorts with a built-in utility belt

The highly supportive Ultimate Direction Jason Schlarb Shorts are perfect for long-distance epics, with a storage belt full of pockets and carry hoops

Ultimate Direction Jason Schlarb Short review main size pic
(Image: © Pat Kinsella)

Advnture Verdict

Offering support, ventilation, freedom of movement and – most uniquely – a massive amount of storage space and carry capacity (even extending to attachment points for hands-free stashing of running poles), Ultimate Direction Jason Schlarb Shorts are excellent for independent runners – especially ultra runners – taking on long distances over rough terrain where you need to be self-sufficient.


  • +

    Excellent storage

  • +

    Hands-free running pole carry capacity

  • +

    Supportive inner

  • +

    Split-leg allows good range of maneuverability


  • -

    Outer overly loose

  • -

    All synthetic fabric – no recycled material

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Ultimate Direction Jason Schlarb Short: first impressions

When you’re asked to part with almost 80 bucks for a pair of running shorts, most people will expect to be immediately wowed by what the garment offers. The Jason Schlarb Shorts from Ultimate Direction deliver on this front, and they’re certainly among the best trail-running shorts currently available.


• List price: $79.95 (US)
• Inseam length: 10.16cm / 4in
• Sizes available: Small / Medium / Large / Extra Large
• Weight (medium): 130g / 4.59oz
• Materials: main: Polyester (82%) / Spandex (18%); waistband: Polyester (78%) / Spandex (22%); liner: Nylon (84%) / Spandex (16%)
• Colors: Turquoise / Onyx

More than just a pair of shorts, this product also includes an integrated support and storage belt, which gives you the capacity to carry numerous small items along the trail, somewhere they are easily accessible and won’t wobble around all over the place. You can even stash running poles on the rear of the shorts. 

Ultimate Direction collaborate with adventure athletes to produce gear tailor-made for the trail and here the Boulder-based brand has teamed up with fellow Colorado resident, professional runner and coach Jason Schlarb, to develop these shorts, designed for long-distance runs across mountain terrain and other epic landscapes. 

One the world’s best ultra-distance mountain runners, Schlarb has won the Hardrock 100 (in a tie with Killian Jornet) and the Run Rabbit Run 100 (three times), and has twice been the highest-placed American finisher in the UTMB (best position fourth place overall). Suffice to say, he knows a thing or two about what’s required in a short when you’re taking on long mileage across unforgiving and often desolate terrain, when food stations are few and far between.

Ultimate Direction Jason Schlarb Short: on the trails

Ultimate Direction Jason Schlarb Short carrying poles

Pole position (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

I’ve been testing these shorts out on runs of varying distances across very different trails and mixed terrain, from grass-covered, chalky downs to dusty, dry canyons and gorges. 

The Ultimate Direction Jason Schlarb Short is a two-in-one garment comprising a super-supportive, tight-fitting inner brief and waist belt, combined with a loose outer, which allows for plenty of airflow. The short legs feature a thigh split, and offer complete freedom of movement when you’re moving fast over technical terrain. On test I found the outer to be a little too baggy, and it flaps around in the wind.

Ultimate Direction Jason Schlarb Short pocket carrying energy bar

Ultimate Direction Jason Schlarb Shorts have plenty of space for carrying snacks (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

The signature feature of the short, though, is the waist belt. It’s wide, supportive and comfortable, offering 360-degree storage in the form of four large pouches: one on the front, one on the back and one on each side. Separated by dividers for extra functionality and organization, these open-top pockets can be used to hold gels and bars, a map and compass, phone, tracking device and even small water bottles. On the back of the belt, two elasticated hoops provide a hands-free carry option for running poles. There are also four smaller hoops arranged around the belt, which can be used to attach things (possibly sunglasses or a cap) if required.

For long-distance runners, especially those who don’t want to cart a fanny pack full of food and gear over long distances and bumpy terrain, the carry capacity of the Ultimate Direction Jason Schlarb Short is fantastic. Obviously, for an ultra run it’s not going to eliminate the need to wear a race vest with a hydration bladder, but these shorts do enable you to keep gels, bars and small pieces of essential kit in places where they’re really easy to access, and are held firmly in place as you run.

Pat Kinsella

Author of Caving, Canyoning, Coasteering…, a recently released book about all kinds of outdoor adventures around Britain, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing stories involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon and Dorset, and once wrote a whole book about Toilets for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades on Strava here and Instagram here.