Ultimate Direction Race Vesta 5.0 - Women's Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Race Vesta 5.0 is an adjustable hydration pack that makes for a great daily running sidekick. It is made of lightweight, breathable mesh and has perfectly placed pockets so you can focus on your run, not grabbing your gels. With a decent volume-to-weight ratio, you can tote everything you need without feeling weighed down. The clasp system on the sternum panels is easy to adjust and tighten, even after you shed a layer or two. The backside also has comfort cinch straps to help secure the load close to your body for minimal bouncing.
The adjustability of the Race Vesta 5.0 is one of the main components that makes it such a comfortable choice. The sternum straps cinch horizontally, and the backside cinch straps get secured vertically, making for well-rounded compression and comfort. The curvature of the shoulder panels towards the midline of the body also helps this vest hug your curves for added comfort. The narrow width of the main compartment on the back helps to ensure that even the most petite runners can find a good fit in one of the three available sizes.
The Race Vesta 5.0 is not as soft to the touch as some of the other vests we tested. The mesh is lightweight and breathable, and once we had this vest on, its tougher-than-average texture was hardly noticeable. However, we occasionally noticed that the upper edge of the neck fabric felt a bit scratchy. We re-cinched some straps, and this sensation went away, but if you are highly attuned to sensory things like this, it's something to be aware of.
The Race Vesta has all the essential features we like to see. There are designated and functional pole holders in addition to a safety whistle. These two features make it a great choice for trail runs. We also can't say enough about the intelligence of the external compression system on this vest. It works better than many others we've tested. With some gentle cinching, you can secure your load close to your body, which is optimal for running, no matter the terrain.
Overall, the Race Vesta doesn't provide any groundbreaking features, but it gives us everything we want in a hydration vest. It has helpful safety features, pole holders, breathable mesh, and a strong compression system so you can get your runs in with ease.
The hydration system on the Race Vesta is the one thing we felt a bit let down by. It comes with two leak-proof, BPA and PVC-free 500mL soft flasks. While the flasks can be inserted and removed easily, the architecture of the system is lacking, in our opinion. This is yet another front-loading vest that feels a bit imbalanced when the hydration system is fully loaded. We prefer the sensation of the weight being cinched close to our backs but understand that other runners might prefer the weight distribution of front-loaded soft flasks. That choice is entirely personal.
One of the upsides to this vest is the versatility of the hydration system. It does not come with a bladder but is set up to accommodate one. Ultimate Direction states that the back pocket can hold a 2-liter bladder. That said, we aren't so sure that we agree. We filled the skinny, 2-liter bladder from the Nathan TrailMix 7 and could not fit it into the back pocket of the Race Vesta. We drained half a liter of water out and could then squeeze it in for a trail run. Ultimately, this worked, but since the back compartment is narrow, you won't be able to count on it fitting any old 2-liter hydration bladder.
Volume to Weight Ratio
The Race Vesta 5.0 is not the most impressive in terms of volume to weight ratio, but it scored pretty well in this metric. While we love loading up bigger vests with anything we might need on the trails, this vest's 5-liter capacity hits a real sweet spot. It allows plenty of space for the essentials and a few extras, but without feeling like your upper body is cloaked in fabric. Ours weighs in at 5.26 ounces, which is light. The external compression bungees help the load stay close to the body, which also helps it feel light while running.
While the Race Vesta 5.0 does not have the most pockets out of all of the hydration vests we tested, the ones it does have are excellent. Each one offers great closures and is placed in such a way to be accessible while you run. There are more layers of pockets than we originally thought, and we enjoyed running with a full 5 liters of gear stashed between them.
The front panels of this vest each have a pocket for a 500mL soft flask. They are not as deep as the flask pockets on other vests, but the flasks can be removed, filled, and replaced with relative ease. The left front panel has a bungee and a small daisy chain on top of the flask pocket. On the lower portion of the front left panel, a wide pocket extends beneath the armpit. It has a mild elastic closure and makes a great pocket for stashing extra socks. The right breast panel has a separated pocket atop the flask pocket; it is a great place to store nutrition that you'll need while you're in motion. Instead of having the elastic-closure pocket, the right side has a pocket that closes with a horizontal zipper, making it one of the two most secure pockets on the vest.
The backside of the Race Vesta has a fist-sized, superficial pocket with a hook inside and a vertical zipper for closure. The main back pocket runs the entire length of the vest, and while the shape of this pack is pretty narrow, this main pocket can hold a lot of gear. The external bungees are great for securing more gear, but they also effectively compress the pack against your body for a bounce-free run. With so many spacious pockets, loops, and bungees, this pack can accommodate more gear than it looks like it could.
The Race Vesta is available for less than many of its outstandingly high-performing competitors. The mono mesh and ripstop nylon make for a very durable and easy-to-clean vest. For what it offers, it is a great value.
The Ultimate Direction Race Vesta 5.0 is a solid and affordable choice for a running hydration vest. It is made of durable and breathable mesh and provides well-placed pockets for easy access while on the move. If you are looking to invest in a hydration pack that will be with you for trail race after trail race, the Race Vesta is a great choice.
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More