A fantastic, stretchy pack with included bottles in male and female specific designs and a unique Comfort Cinch fit feature.
Bottles included (2 x 500ml)
Male- & female-specific fits
Unique Comfort Cinch waist adjustment
Plenty of easily accessible pockets
Comfort Cinch adjustment not necessary for all
Difficult to access the lower-front pocket when there’s a full bottle in pocket above
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Ultimate Direction Race Vest/Vesta 5.0: first impressions
The Ultimate Direction Race Vest / Vesta (male/female) 5.0 has a truly innovative and unique fit that some runners will find sets this pack above all others – it definitely rates alongside the best running backpacks we tested for out buying guide.
The Comfort Cinch allows you to pull the waist area of the pack in from behind, using two dangling threads to tighten or loosen a string arrangement that attaches the waist band to the base of the main compartment. No other running pack / race vest has this feature and for some it will make the fit absolutely perfect, especially as you consume the water in the reservoir. If you have problems with the fit of your current pack, this is the one to consider.
Even without this feature it’s a fantastically designed pack with plenty of pockets up front, zipped side pockets, a stretchy main compartment and bungee criss-crossing the back for extra stuff-storage that you can access on the move.
It also comes with two robust 500ml bottles so you don’t have to purchase them separately. Equally, it is compatible with a 2L reservoir (not supplied).
The adjustable chest straps hook on to a lightweight webbing, making these operable with one hand, and there’s room for trekking poles on the shoulder straps too, easily stowable and accessible up front.
• RRP: $125 (US) / £110 (UK)
• Weight (without bottles): 141g / 5oz
• Colors: Women’s: Turquoise & Gray Men’s: Blue & Gray
• Capacity: 8L
• Fit: Male & female fits
• Sizes: Women’s XS–L Men’s S–L
• Compatibility: Full days out in the hills and mountains, plus multi-day races
Ultimate Direction Race Vest/Vesta 5.0: on the trails
This super pack has so many great features, and we have very much enjoyed using the Race Vesta 5.0 for many miles in the hills and mountains of the Lakes and Peaks.
The four-way stretch is second to none and the male/female versions, along with the Comfort Cinch design, make it truly one of the most adjustable race vests around.
We don’t think the Comfort Cinch is 100 per cent essential, however: there are plenty of other packs without this feature that fit us fine and don’t bounce around. But feedback from other runners confirms that this feature definitely has its benefits, so it might work wonders for you, too.
One downside is that the gloriously stretchy lower-front pocket is very hard to access when there’s a full water bottle in the pocket above, but that’s soon solved with a few swigs of water.
Plus, one great feature of the included 500ml body bottles is their chunky, easy-to-open, wide tops and the push-lock bite-valve – a nice feature if you’re doing a lot of bending or scrambling (or impromptu crew/marshal hugging!) so you don’t lose dribbles of precious water.
Strange how the cool mountain pattern on the zippered side pockets only features on the women’s Vesta; poor men, they often lose out on the funkier designs in running kit.
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.