Reviews You Can Rely On

Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta 6.0 - Women's Review

A well-featured and comfortable pack that is designed to haul everything you need on ultra-distance running excursions
ultimate direction ultra vesta 6.0 for women hydration pack for running review
The Ultra Vesta is our top fit for race day because it allows you to comfortably carry all of the items you need to have a successful endurance race.
Credit: Ally Arcuri
Price:  $140 List
Manufacturer:   Ultimate Direction
By Ally Arcuri ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 1, 2022
79
OVERALL
SCORE


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

Our Verdict

If ultra-distance running is in your future, the Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta 6.0 is a solid 10-liter contender. From its breathable ripstop nylon and rugged mesh to its genius pocket placement and external compression system, this is our favorite race day vest. It can comfortably accommodate a 2-liter hydration bladder or the two included 500mL flasks with an impressive lack of sloshing. The Ultra Vesta weighs in at just under 8 ounces, which is pretty standard, but not all hydration vests can accommodate the sheer amount of gear in comparison. With great features, a comfortable and spacious fit, and an uncanny ability to keep your gear close to your body, it is hardly a surprise that the Ultra Vesta is our top contender for race days.
REASONS TO BUY
Accessible pockets
Comfortable
Intelligent features
Great carrying capacity
Waterproof pockets
REASONS TO AVOID
Less soft to the touch
Not the best for minimalist runners

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award 
Price $139.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$165 List
$168.49 at Amazon
$100 List
$83.49 at Amazon
$150 List$120 List
Check Price at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
79
75
72
71
70
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Accessible pockets, comfortable, intelligent features, great carrying capacity, waterproof pocketsHuge storage capacity, well-placed pockets, super breathableAffordable, ample water storage, user-friendly, durableComfortable, functional hydration system, minimalistRugged, affordable, comfortable, intelligent hydration system, solid pole holders
Cons Less soft to the touch, not the best for minimalist runnersHeavier than some, slightly less comfortable, long compression bungeeLess gear storage, less frillsLow carrying capacity, complicated sizingPoor volume to weight ratio, less soft
Bottom Line A well-featured and comfortable pack that is designed to haul everything you need on ultra-distance running excursionsThis fantastic super-hauler vest is the one you'll want if you are taking on techy alpine climbs or tackling double-digit trail daysThis 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 elseAn affordable running partner with a great design, built for the grittiest trails you can find
Rating Categories Ultimate Direction... Ultimate Direction... Nathan TrailMix 7L... Naked High Capacity... Osprey Dyna 6 - Wom...
Comfort (30%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Features (25%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
Hydration System (15%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Volume to Weight Ratio (15%)
8.0
7.0
6.0
4.0
4.0
Pockets (15%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Specs Ultimate Direction... Ultimate Direction... Nathan TrailMix 7L... Naked High Capacity... Osprey Dyna 6 - Wom...
Weight (without hydration system) 7.8 oz 11.5 oz 7.1 oz 5.1 oz 10.7 oz
Carrying Capacity (liters) 10.1L 12.7L 7L 3L+ 6L
Included Liquid Capacity (liters) 1L 1L 2L 1L 1.5L
OGL Volume to Weight Ratio (bigger is better!) 1.29 1.1 0.98 0.59 0.56
External Storage water resistant chest pocket, rear compartment, , zippered main pocket, waterproof shoulder stash pocket Clamshell main compartment, 2 stash shoulder pockets, front mesh pocketsm corded elastic Rear daisy chain, pole holder loops, and nutrition pockets Pole holding loops, pockets atop the hydration pockets, back section is a kangaroo pouch Back flap pouch, front external pockets, zipper pulls are bungee loops
Type of Water Storage 2 500ml bottles
2L reservoir compatible (Not included)
2 500ml collapsible bottles
Resevoir compatible (not included)
2L reservoir 2 soft 500mL bottles 1.5L reservoir
Pole Holders? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Ultra Vesta 6.0 is a race-day-ready super-hauler with a great external compression system and an excellent volume-to-weight ratio. With two included 500mL flasks and a ton of helpful features, this vest is ready to go the distance when you are.

Performance Comparison


ultimate direction ultra vesta 6.0 for women hydration pack for running review - if you like carrying your hydration in the front of your pack, the...
If you like carrying your hydration in the front of your pack, the Ultra Vesta is a race-ready choice.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Comfort


Ultimate Direction constructed the Ultra Vesta 6.0 with a super breathable silicone-coated nylon and a bit of spandex. It isn't quite as soft to the touch as many other hydration packs, but this durable material truly won us over.


The well-shaped design and strong straps of the Ultra Vesta stay comfortable and chafe-free even as the miles add up. The straps are also constructed of durable material, unlike the soft and stretchy bungees of this vest's competitors. What these elements lack in soft comfort, they make up for in function. We never had to stop to adjust the straps or tighten any part of the Ultra Vesta. Because of its secure and compressive design, this vest is our go-to for long-distance racing. We hate having to fiddle with our gear, especially while racing, so we fell in love with the Ultra Vesta's security.

ultimate direction ultra vesta 6.0 for women hydration pack for running review - the wide body of the pack and external compression bungee help you...
The wide body of the pack and external compression bungee help you keep your essentials close and jostle-free.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

The mesh backing extends the entirety of the back panel and straps and is fantastically breathable. Even while loaded with gear, we felt like our body heat was able to dissipate through the mesh backing of the Ultra Vesta. There is a panel of thicker and softer mesh to cushion gear against the lower back. This huge comfort feature is part of what allowed us to run so comfortably in this pack. We tested this vest with its soft flasks and a 2-liter hydration bladder and found both comfortable. We preferred the sensation of running with the flasks, but if you prefer a bladder, you'll be perfectly comfortable. The outer back edge included a long and useful bungee. With this compression system in play, we found that we could secure the weight of our gear close to our bodies so we could focus on our speed, not the sloshing and bouncing of everything we were carrying.

ultimate direction ultra vesta 6.0 for women hydration pack for running review - since you can't access the main pocket while running, we utilized...
Since you can't access the main pocket while running, we utilized this space for our first aid kit, extra nutrition, and other items that we want to carry, but won't necessary need at a moment's notice.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

The underarm panels of the Ultra Vesta are attached to the main body of the vest via a zig-zagging bungee. This bungee is threaded to the lower exterior of the vest, where you can loosen or tighten it for a customized fit. The two front clips are attached close to the chest rails, so there isn't much room for movement or chafing in that area. With full bottles, the closed straps ride close to your body, but we never found them to feel too tight or touch us too much. The piping around the whole vest has a fleece-like feel, which further adds comfort and prevents chafing. When it comes to combining comfort with gritty toughness, the Ultra Vesta 6.0 really delivers.

ultimate direction ultra vesta 6.0 for women hydration pack for running review - the small clips and fleece-like piping help add comfort to the front...
The small clips and fleece-like piping help add comfort to the front of an already-comfortable hydration vest for running.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Features


Perhaps one of the most well-featured hydration vests that we have tested to date, the Ultra Vesta 6.0 is chock full of goodies to make distance running comfortable, safe, and enjoyable.


One of our favorite safety features, the whistle, is comfortably tethered to the upper left shoulder of the pack, and the slight curvature produces a loud sound. The whistle lives behind a small pass-through panel on the shoulder strap, but there is actually a small loop to further secure the whistle to prevent bouncing — so smart.

ultimate direction ultra vesta 6.0 for women hydration pack for running review - the whistle of the ultra vesta is stored comfortably and ready to be...
The whistle of the Ultra Vesta is stored comfortably and ready to be loud when needed.
Credit: Ally Arcuri


The Ultra Vesta comes with four removable bungees with hooks that attach to any of the various loops on the body of the vest. This is a great feature because it allows you to choose where you want to stash your trekking poles. Runners who use small, collapsible poles can carry them comfortably on the front of the pack, while runners with larger ones, or who don't want to use them frequently, can stash them on the back for added space up front.

ultimate direction ultra vesta 6.0 for women hydration pack for running review - some of the bungees and hooks are removable, which adds an extra...
Some of the bungees and hooks are removable, which adds an extra touch of customization to the Ultra Vesta.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

We will dive deep into all of the details about the pockets on the Ultra Vesta in a bit. But it is worth mentioning that this vest has some waterproof pockets. Most notably, the surface of the main back pocket is waterproof, as is the hose pass-through and "whistle" pocket on the left breast panel. The left side of the vest also has a waterproof pocket intended specifically for carrying your phone. This pocket is a fantastic attribute as it completely removes the horror of watching your phone tumble from the flask pocket and into a mud puddle when bouncing down hills.

ultimate direction ultra vesta 6.0 for women hydration pack for running review - the security of the flasks and our other gear in the ultra vesta is...
The security of the flasks and our other gear in the Ultra Vesta is another reason why we chose it as a top pick for race days.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Hydration System


When it comes to anti-sloshing technology, the Ultra Vesta 6.0 is one of the very best on the market. Because of the customizable, vest-like fit, the bulk of the water weight is held very close to your body and under compression right where it needs to be.


The Ultra Vesta comes with two 500mL soft flasks that fit perfectly in the front pockets of the vest. Each flask pocket has an upper bungee to help secure the short neck of the bottle in place. The bottles aren't held quite at mouth height, but they are close enough to be super functional while bombing down a trail. To extract water, you pull gently up on the mouthpiece and then close the bottle by pushing it slightly down. You can hear it click into place, which is helpful feedback, so you don't end up with water splashing down your legs as you run.

ultimate direction ultra vesta 6.0 for women hydration pack for running review - the bungees secure your bottles so hydration is always within reach.
The bungees secure your bottles so hydration is always within reach.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

The back pocket is equipped to house a 2-liter hydration bladder. It has a strong loop with a snap closure at the top to secure the top or your bladder. You can thread the hose through either shoulder loop, but there is no hook to secure the mouthpiece. We had a great and comfortable time running with a bladder in this pack, but much prefer the flasks. You might base your decision on comfort, but you may also decide based on how much water you want to carry. If you feel like carrying 3 liters of water (2 in the back and 1 in the front flasks), you can comfortably do so with the Ultra Vesta.

ultimate direction ultra vesta 6.0 for women hydration pack for running review - even when loaded with liquid in a hydration bladder and the flasks...
Even when loaded with liquid in a hydration bladder and the flasks, we felt comfortable enough to hit some trail paces in the Ultra Vesta.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Volume to Weight Ratio


The volume-to-weight ratio of the Ultra Vesta is super impressive. While not the very best, it is certainly up there. This vest can tote around 10 liters of gear and weighs just under 8 ounces for a women's size small.


We tested a few vests that weighed less, but it is rare to see such a well-featured vest weigh so little. Some vests have great features and weigh the same or slightly less, but when we include the carrying capacity in our assessment, the prowess of the Ultra Vesta is incredibly clear.

ultimate direction ultra vesta 6.0 for women hydration pack for running review - getting in and out of the clamshell main compartment isn't always...
Getting in and out of the clamshell main compartment isn't always the easiest on the trail. This pocket is more practical for stashing things that you won't need immediate access to.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Pockets


The accessibility of the pockets on the Ultra Vesta is next level; it is far more challenging to remember where you stashed everything than to actually access the goods.


The front panels of the Ultra Vesta have bilateral flask pockets for hauling water. The left panel has a waterproof phone pouch with a vertical zippered closure. Instead of wasting the underarm space, Ultimate Direction added bilateral overlays with light elastic edging to create easy-to-access pockets. This became our go-to spot to stash ready-to-use nutrition and our ever-present container of pepper spray. The pass-through fabric on the left breast panel is actually a waterproof pouch for storing small items. Inside that is where the teeny-tiny pill pocket for the whistle lives.

ultimate direction ultra vesta 6.0 for women hydration pack for running review - the front pockets on the ultra vesta are accessible and easy to...
The front pockets on the Ultra Vesta are accessible and easy to secure, which makes this pack a trail running favorite.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

The double-zippered clamshell back pocket is just one large pouch that runs the entire back of the Ultra Vesta. Ultimately, we found this huge pocket incredibly useful for lesser-accessed items. The main back pocket and its overlay are the only pouches that can't be reached as you run. The mesh overlay on the back panel is narrower than the main pocket but equally long. This pouch offers a loop and some minor elastic at the top, but due to its lack of security, this became our first choice for storing shedded layers. Our surprise favorite pockets on the Ultra Vesta are the back/side pockets with their diagonal zippered closures. These secure pockets are easy to access with the vest on your back and stretch to accommodate a surprising amount of gear.

ultimate direction ultra vesta 6.0 for women hydration pack for running review - this underarm pocket with an elastic upper for closure is our go-to...
This underarm pocket with an elastic upper for closure is our go-to spot for storing our pepper spray. This is something we want to be able to access quickly, mostly in case of a mountain lion encounter.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Should You Buy the Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta 6.0?


If you want a comfortable super-hauler vest that will be with you for the long haul, this breathable superstar is for you. The Ultra Vesta provided pockets we didn't know we wanted, with customizable features we never knew we needed. Though pricier than some, this vest is a solid choice if you are looking to invest in an incredible piece of running gear.

What Other Running Hydration Vests Should You Consider?


If you love the features of the Ultra Vesta 6.0 but want something with a more aggressive carrying capacity, check out the Ultimate Direction Mountain Vesta 5.0. This 12-liter pack has a slightly more contoured fit but offers many of the same features for only a bit more cash. The fit of the Nathan Pinnacle 12L is different than any vest made by Ultimate Direction, but if you want a vest that can comfortably haul a ton of gear, this is another one to seriously consider. If you want a rugged mountain vest that is just a bit smaller and less intense, we don't hesitate to recommend the Osprey Dyna 6 for rugged, single-day adventures.

Ally Arcuri
 
You Might Also Like

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