Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta 6.0 - Women's Review
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Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta 6.0 - Women's
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|Pros||Accessible pockets, comfortable, intelligent features, great carrying capacity, waterproof pockets||Comfortable, huge storage capacity, great pockets, lots of size options, durable||Breathable, comfortable, affordable, great external compression, mid-size capacity||Huge storage capacity, well-placed pockets, super breathable||Rugged, affordable, comfortable, intelligent hydration system, solid pole holders|
|Cons||Less soft to the touch, not the best for minimalist runners||Expensive, full-coverage fit||Some runners might want a larger volume, fewer adjustment options on pack||Heavier than some, slightly less comfortable, long compression bungee||Poor 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 excursions||The most comfortable and spacious hydration pack that we have tested to date||An affordable and versatile hydration vest that remains comfortable even when loaded to its maximum capacity||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||An affordable running partner with a great design, built for the grittiest trails you can find|
|Rating Categories||Ultimate Direction...||Nathan Pinnacle 12L||Salomon Active Skin 8||Ultimate Direction...||Osprey Dyna 6 - Wom...|
|Hydration System (15%)|
|Volume to Weight Ratio (15%)|
|Specs||Ultimate Direction...||Nathan Pinnacle 12L||Salomon Active Skin 8||Ultimate Direction...||Osprey Dyna 6 - Wom...|
|Weight (without hydration system)||7.8 oz||7.2 oz||7.5 oz||11.5 oz||10.7 oz|
|Carrying Capacity (liters)||10.1L||12L||8L||12.7L||6L|
|Included Liquid Capacity (liters)||1L||1.6L||1L||1L||1.5L|
|OGL Volume to Weight Ratio (bigger is better!)||1.29||1.6||1.06||1.1||0.56|
|External Storage||water resistant chest pocket, rear compartment, , zippered main pocket, waterproof shoulder stash pocket||Large rear kangaroo pocket, front nutrition or soft flask accomodations||2 front flask pockets, 2 front pockets, back main zipped compartment, front zipped pocket||Clamshell main compartment, 2 stash shoulder pockets, front mesh pocketsm corded elastic||Back flap pouch, front external pockets, zipper pulls are bungee loops|
|Type of Water Storage||2 500ml bottles
2L reservoir compatible (Not included)
|1.6 liter hourglass, insulated reservoir||2 500ml soft flasks||2 500ml collapsible bottles
Resevoir compatible (not included)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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