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Ultimate Direction Mountain Vesta 5.0 - Women's Review

This fantastic super-hauler vest is the one you'll want if you are taking on techy alpine climbs or tackling double-digit trail days
ultimate direction mountain vesta 5.0 for women hydration pack for running review
For rugged and long endurance treks, we love running in the Mountain Vesta 5.0.
Credit: Ally Arcuri
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $165 List
Manufacturer:   Ultimate Direction
By Ally Arcuri ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 1, 2022
75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 12
  • Comfort - 30% 8.0
  • Features - 25% 7.0
  • Hydration System - 15% 7.0
  • Volume to Weight Ratio - 15% 7.0
  • Pockets - 15% 8.0

Our Verdict

If a running hydration vest that fits like a vest but holds as much as a hiking backpack is what you are in the market for, look no further. The Ultimate Direction Mountain Vesta 5.0 is an updated version of the alpine running vest of our dreams. While a bit heavier than some, its impressive 12.7-liter carrying capacity and accessible pockets make it our top pick for carrying all of our gear. The mesh backing is ultra-breathable, and the ripstop material makes for a durable and easy-to-clean vest that will be with you through your toughest endeavors. If you want a vest that won't force you to choose what gear you bring, the Mountain Vesta is the one that allows you to bring it all.
REASONS TO BUY
Huge storage capacity
Well-placed pockets
Super breathable
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavier than some
Slightly less comfortable
Long compression bungee

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Pros Huge storage capacity, well-placed pockets, super breathableComfortable, huge storage capacity, great pockets, lots of size options, durableAccessible pockets, comfortable, intelligent features, great carrying capacity, waterproof pocketsAffordable, ample water storage, user-friendly, durableComfortable, functional hydration system, minimalist
Cons Heavier than some, slightly less comfortable, long compression bungeeExpensive, full-coverage fitLess soft to the touch, not the best for minimalist runnersLess gear storage, less frillsLow carrying capacity, complicated sizing
Bottom Line This fantastic super-hauler vest is the one you'll want if you are taking on techy alpine climbs or tackling double-digit trail daysThe most comfortable and spacious hydration pack that we have tested to dateA well-featured and comfortable pack that is designed to haul everything you need on ultra-distance running excursionsThis is an affordable pack that offers ample storage with enough room for your trail running essentialsThe snug fit and intelligent pocket placement on this vest make it great for daily runs when you need to carry the essentials and not much else
Rating Categories Ultimate Direction... Nathan Pinnacle 12L Ultimate Direction... Nathan TrailMix 7L... Naked High Capacity...
Comfort (30%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Features (25%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Hydration System (15%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Volume to Weight Ratio (15%)
7.0
10.0
8.0
6.0
4.0
Pockets (15%)
8.0
10.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Specs Ultimate Direction... Nathan Pinnacle 12L Ultimate Direction... Nathan TrailMix 7L... Naked High Capacity...
Weight (without hydration system) 11.5 oz 7.2 oz 7.8 oz 7.1 oz 5.1 oz
Carrying Capacity (liters) 12.7L 12L 10.1L 7L 3L+
Included Liquid Capacity (liters) 1L 1.6L 1L 2L 1L
OGL Volume to Weight Ratio (bigger is better!) 1.1 1.6 1.29 0.98 0.59
External Storage Clamshell main compartment, 2 stash shoulder pockets, front mesh pocketsm corded elastic Large rear kangaroo pocket, front nutrition or soft flask accomodations water resistant chest pocket, rear compartment, , zippered main pocket, waterproof shoulder stash pocket Rear daisy chain, pole holder loops, and nutrition pockets Pole holding loops, pockets atop the hydration pockets, back section is a kangaroo pouch
Type of Water Storage 2 500ml collapsible bottles
Resevoir compatible (not included)
1.6 liter hourglass, insulated reservoir 2 500ml bottles
2L reservoir compatible (Not included)
2L reservoir 2 soft 500mL bottles
Pole Holders? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

Weighing in at 11.5 ounces for a women's size XS/S, the Ultimate Direction Mountain Vesta 5.0 can lug an impressive 12.7-liters of gear, plus an additional liter of water. Comprised of ripstop nylon and plenty of secure pockets, this vest is a clear winner for backcountry runs that require a bit more gear.

Performance Comparison


ultimate direction mountain vesta 5.0 for women hydration pack for running review - for ultimate and snug gear hauling, this is the vest we call on.
For ultimate and snug gear hauling, this is the vest we call on.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Comfort


The shape and customizable nature of the Mountain Vesta are what make it such a comfortable choice. It truly fits like a hydration vest, not a miniature backpack.


The entire liner of the Mountain Vesta is made of nylon mesh, which allows for great heat dissipation as your body warms up. The piping around the edges is soft and fleecy, which prevents chafing. The more contoured design helps the weight of your gear settle into biomechanically-correct places on your body, provided that you adjust the straps properly.

ultimate direction mountain vesta 5.0 for women hydration pack for running review - the tapered fit of the lower portion of the pack helps create a...
The tapered fit of the lower portion of the pack helps create a comfortable fit, even when loaded down with gear.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

The sturdy front straps can be vertically adjusted on the breast rails to best suit your body. They securely snap together, and while the snaps are large, we never had any trouble with anything digging into the front sides of our bodies. Under the arms, the panels are connected via a zig-zagging cord that is anchored to an unmoving center strap. The cords are threaded through a spring-loaded clip and dangle at the base of the back. Having access to the cords is awesome since it allows you to adjust the fit while in motion. The spring ensures that the cords stay snug where you want them to. To loosen the straps, you push the spring in to release the cord. One of our favorite things about the comfort of the Mountain Vesta is that we didn't need to readjust it while we ran. This design element certainly added to this vest's overall comfort score.

ultimate direction mountain vesta 5.0 for women hydration pack for running review - the thick front straps stay secure so once the pack is fit to your...
The thick front straps stay secure so once the pack is fit to your body, you won't need to loosen or tighten them again.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Features


The Mountain Vesta 5.0 has some great features — one of our favorites is the security of each cord and bungee, most of which have locking devices to help them stay in place. The bungees at the top of each flask pocket, the compression bungee, and the adjustment cords all have locking devices that require two hands, or exceptional dexterity, to loosen. These secure touches are part of why the Mountain Vesta became a fast tester favorite.


The logos on the Mountain Vesta are reflective, which is another added safety feature we appreciate. The trekking pole holders are not our favorites, but they do the trick and allow large trekking poles to be easily accommodated. The lateral edge of each flask pocket has thick bungee loops you can thread your poles through, and the ends fit into correlating bungees at the base of each underarm panel. If you prefer to stash your poles on the back, the extra-long external compression bungee is a secure place for back storage as well. The safety whistle is secured to the left breast panel and tucks behind a Velcro-closure pill pocket and into its own little loop to prevent bouncing. The curved shape of the whistle makes it one of the louder ones we have tested, further adding to its safety.

ultimate direction mountain vesta 5.0 for women hydration pack for running review - we love knowing we have a whistle attached to our packs just in case...
We love knowing we have a whistle attached to our packs just in case of emergency.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Hydration System


The hydration system of the Mountain Vesta is basic but super functional. This vest comes with two 500mL soft flasks that fit comfortably in the front pockets of the pack. They are standard in that you pull the mouthpiece for water and then push it down to lock it into place when you are finished.


The flasks ride a bit higher than in other vests, making them more accessible while you run — we like the placement of the flask pockets a lot. The large back pocket of the pack can easily accommodate a 2-liter hydration bladder. We ran a few testing runs with a full hydration bladder and found that we prefer using the soft flasks instead. Using the bladder wasn't uncomfortable, thanks in part to the loop at the top of the back pocket that allows you to secure it in place — we simply preferred the flasks over the bladder. Much like with other hydration vests made by Ultimate Direction, the Mountain Vesta is an epic choice if you want to tote a ton of water on your runs. With the capacity to carry 3 total liters of water and a strong external compression system, this is the hydration vest to consider if your focus is on the word "hydration."

ultimate direction mountain vesta 5.0 for women hydration pack for running review - the strong and secure bungees help keep the mouthpieces right where...
The strong and secure bungees help keep the mouthpieces right where you want them.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Volume to Weight Ratio


With a weight of 11.5 ounces and a carrying capacity of over 12 liters, the Mountain Vesta has a pretty exceptional volume-to-weight ratio.


While 11.5 ounces for a women's size small is pretty hefty, the ruggedness of the materials used and carrying capacity make up the difference. If a strong pack with ample capacity and a plentiful amount of bungees is what you're after, this vest will inspire you to go the distance.

ultimate direction mountain vesta 5.0 for women hydration pack for running review - this vest weighs a bit more than others, but since it is so strong...
This vest weighs a bit more than others, but since it is so strong and comfortable, we never felt weighed down as we ran.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Pockets


The amount of securely-closing pockets included on the Mountain Vesta provide added security for taking on techy rock scrambles or bombing down flowy descents.


Each front panel has a small pill pocket with a Velcro closure and pass-through behind it; one has an overlay to provide extra protection to the small items you may stash in this pocket. Below that are flask pockets, both of which have secure bungees built into their edging to hold the bottles in place. Layered on top of each flask pocket are nutrition pockets. None of these pockets have true closures but, instead, have light elastic at their tops for a bit of safety. Each fist-sized pocket is split into two sections, so you can keep all of your snacks separate and easy to grab.

ultimate direction mountain vesta 5.0 for women hydration pack for running review - the separated pockets and trekking pole-holder daisy chain help keep...
The separated pockets and trekking pole-holder daisy chain help keep your gear ready for use at a moment's notice.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Even the underarm panel space is intelligently used on the Mountain Vesta. The right side has a horizontally zippered pocket that is a fantastic place to keep your smartphone if you want it accessible but not too accessible. The ripstop nylon isn't completely waterproof, but we found it water-resistant enough to keep our phones safe while running through fog and light sprinkles. The backing of the lower pockets, however, is comprised of mesh which is most definitely not water-resistant. The left underarm pocket has a light elastic closure but nothing else, so we used this one for our emergency pepper spray –- we love to have it in a super accessible pocket.

ultimate direction mountain vesta 5.0 for women hydration pack for running review - even a fairly full pack doesn't feel overbearing when its pockets...
Even a fairly full pack doesn't feel overbearing when its pockets are utilized correctly, and the fit is appropriate.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

The back of the Mountain Vesta 5.0 is mainly one big clamshell pocket with a huge capacity for hauling all of your goodies. Inside the back-facing panel is a fist-sized pocket with a carabiner and a zippered closure, the most obvious choice for safely carrying keys. Atop the main compartment is a long, narrower pocket that is perfect for stashing an extra layer. It doesn't have much in the way of closure, save for some gentle elastic and a loop that attaches to the main compression bungee via a plastic hook.

ultimate direction mountain vesta 5.0 for women hydration pack for running review - the clamshell opening isn't always the most practical on the trail...
The clamshell opening isn't always the most practical on the trail, but it sure offers the option to carry a ton.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Should You Buy the Ultimate Direction Mountain Vesta 5.0?


If you want a vest that can haul a ton of gear in a comfortable and vest-like manner, then yes, you should buy the Mountain Vesta. This vest is our go-to when we know we will carry more than just the essentials. If you want a pack that fits like a vest due to an awesome compression system but holds as much as a pack, you will love the gear-hauling prowess of this mountain running superstar.

What Other Hydration Vests Should You Consider?


The Mountain Vesta remains our top pick for a vest-like fit and ample hauling capacity. The Nathan Pinnacle 12L can accommodate nearly as much gear but fits in a completely different way. The Pinnacle also weighs about 4 ounces less, so if a strong volume-to-weight ratio is what you're after, that's a great option to check out. If you want a vest-like fit but think that 12.7 liters is bigger than you need, check out the Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta 6.0 instead. It fits in much the same way as the Mountain Vesta but with a slightly smaller gear capacity and a lower weight. The Salomon ADV Skin 5 Set fits like a snug vest but is a great middle-ground hydration vest when it comes to capacity.

Ally Arcuri
 
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