Monday, September 22, 2014

Ultimate Direction - AK Race Vest 2.0 (Review)

I've had my Ultimate Direction - AK Race Vest 2.0 for a few months but I wanted to wait until I’d logged some serious mileage with it before posting my product review. After a couple very short test runs I took the pack out for 32 (report) and 40 mile runs on the Pine Creek Rail Trail before eventually using it for all 62 miles of the Pine Creek Challenge 100k (Race Report).

From a gear comfort perspective, the 32 mile training run in the AK Race Vest 2.0 was a nightmare. The bottles bounced and sloshed, while the pack rode up my neck on impact and after several hours caused chaffing.
It took 32 miles to figure out that that the chest straps slid up and down, and had my sister, who had offered to modify the pack , not figured that out, I may have sent it back to the factory or simply set the damn thing on fire.
From that moment on by opinion of the pack began to rise. Our 40 mile run a few weeks later was much more enjoyable. The bottles still move some, and their position on the front of the body means they make a lot of noise, but the pack became otherwise comfortable. Some runners have had luck with the bounce/noise issue by replacing the factory bottles with Ultimate Direction Body Bottles (REVIEW)

Beyond the bottles themselves, the pack also has 4 small pockets on the front straps, each large enough for one Hammer Gel (REVIEW) and a single large storage area that rides high on the back. The rear storage area is made of a thin material, almost see through. This being the case, expect the contents to get damp from your sweat. For this reason I typically carry my items in a ziplock bag.

Designed by the champion of minimalism and a 2014 Trail Runner Magazine Gear of the Year Award winner, the AK Race Vest gives you everything you need and nothing more. Innovative fabrics and design come together to provide the ultimate in lightweight comfort. Weighing only 7 ounces, the AK Race Vest 2.0 won't hold you back and gives you liters of storage.

Version 2.0 increases durability by switching to Silnylon from Cuben Fiber, using a stronger 340gm Power Mesh, adding edge banding to the upper strap pockets, and making the bungee cord stronger. The lower main compartment pockets are gone and the back panel is cut higher for better gear storage and retention.

This is the pack that's used all over the world, for an easy hour run to a hundred miler.

Specs & Details

Features (Front):
  • Smart phone compatible pouches (2)
  • Bottle holsters tighten to carry camera, etc.
  • Hose loops for optional reservoir routing (3)
  • Electrolyte or valuables pockets (2)
  • Super soft VelvetexTM no-chafe binding
Features (Back):

  • Bungee cord for extra capacity and compression
  • Hex Mesh construction for maximum breathability
  • Side straps for size adjustment
  • Extra tall mesh pocket to keep items secure
  • Accommodates an 70 oz. reservoir (sold separately)

Sizing At Chest (Unisex):

  • S/M: 23 - 36 in. / 58 - 91 cm
  • M/L: 32 - 44 in. / 81 - 112 cm
  • Measure wearing the clothes you intend to wear
  • A vest full of gear will fit smaller

  • Volume Capacity: 244 in3 / 4L
  • Fluid Capacity: 2 x 20 oz. bottles / 2 x 591 mL (plus optional reservoir)
  • Weight: 7 oz. (12.5 oz. with bottles) / 198 g (354 g with bottles)
  • Height: 12 in. / 30 cm
  • Width: 9 in. / 23 cm

  • Hex Mesh: The Hex Mesh vest structure is completely breathable, extrememly strong, and lightweight. Its inability to absorb moisture results in a drier, more comfortable wear.
  • Power Mesh: All pockets are strong and stretch, made with 340gm Power Mesh stretch fabric so the vest expands as you need it to


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