With subtle changes to a tried and tested range there is sure to be a pack to meet all your trail running demands. We take a look at what’s new…
Ultimate Direction are regarded as one of, if not the best, trail running pack designers and producers around. So we’re really excited about the arrival of the latest version of the hugely popular Signature Series vests.
In our experience the biggest criticism of many female specific packs is they simply don’t offer the capacity required for longer ultra-events. With their series 5.0 vests Ultimate Direction have addressed this with the 16.5 litre Adventure Vesta which is a significant increase in carrying capacity compared to the previous 12.4 litre version. In fact, the Series 5.0 series has parity across the whole range in terms of men’s and women’s offerings with both Vests and Vestas available in Race, Ultra, Mountain and Adventure designs.
The Signature Series started out with the original Ultra Vest and this remains a mainstay of the range but is now surrounded by the smaller capacity Race Vest and the larger capacity Mountain and Adventure Vests to offer a solution suitable for everyone’s needs.
If you are familiar with the previous versions of the Ultimate Direction vests, you’ll be aware of their attention to detail in terms of meeting the needs of the trail runner. They don’t add anything that doesn’t add value to the pack, they have thought about the positioning and access of every pocket and feature and the vests have been designed and tested to be exceptionally comfortable to wear for long periods of time and when wearing the clothes you typically do when running. We are pleased to see that in general terms Ultimate Direction haven’t changed this approach and the new versions retain everything that was good about the last versions with a few upgrades based on user feedback, an approach we really like, there’s no point in totally revamping something just for the sake of it if it works as it should. Take on board the important pieces of information and adjust the items accordingly but don’t change something if it isn’t broken!
With this in mind here are the biggest changes to the Signature Series 5.0:
When Ultimate Direction introduced their Comfort Cinch Technology in the Series 4.0 vests the ability to adjust the fit of the packs so precisely and easily even on the move was a game changer. However, some users were concerned about how hard the materials that were used looked and if these would cause rubbing or wear to the materials. We’ve not found this to be the case apart from in a couple of exceptional cases but based on this perception and a desire to strip weight from the pack Ultimate Direction of designed the Comfort Cinch 2.0 which is more minimal and lighter weight but still offers the exceptional levels of adjustment.
Carrying on with the changes to the vests fit the Series 5.0 packs have all seen an update to the sternum strap design with the Mountain and Adventure Vests & Vestas featuring an upgraded sliding rail design. The sliding design allows limitless position choices so you are guaranteed to find a position that’s comfortable for you and this may vary depending on the load your carrying as well as your individual shape. In addition, the fastening system is also slightly bigger and easier to operate even with cold hands or when wearing gloves.
The Ultra & Race Vests and Vesta feature a newly designed hook and loop design which allows a wide choice of positions to be attain but also means it can’t move at all when in position. This ensures a very secure fit but does reduce the level of adjustment.
A final change that features across the range is an upgrade in the materials. There was nothing wrong with the materials used in the 4.0 Series packs but with continual developments in this area Ultimate Direction have taken the opportunity to use some of the most advanced options available. The result is materials that are softer against the skin but also extremely durable thanks to the inclusion of micro-rip in the stretch fabrics.
If we look at specific design changes to the packs the biggest updates have been applied to the largest capacity Adventure Vest and Vesta. These packs now feature an integrated rain fly that can be pulled over the entire back of the pack in bad weather to help protect the contents.
A second addition to the Adventure packs is the articulating PLB pocket for GPS devices which has a padded back to protect the gadget and an antenna hole to maximise signal strength. The whole pocket can be removed if needed.
The large burrito pocket on the front of the Adventure Vest and Vesta now features an internal gusset to help retain the contents better when the pocket is opened fully.
Front pockets on all the vests have been positioned to ensure they are easy to reach on the go and feature a mix of stretch mesh stuff pockets and secure zip closed ones. There is also a safety whistle attached for emergency use too.
Hydration has always been at the forefront of Ultimate Directions design and the front mounted soft flask design and capacity to carry a 2-litre reservoir in the back is retained in the Series 5.0. The Race, Ultra and Mountain Packs are all supplied with 2 x 500ml upgraded Body Bottle II’s and the Adventure Packs have one bottle.
The Body Bottle 500 II are a made from a slightly stiffer material which should not only increase their durability but also helps with getting the bottles in and out of the vest pockets. When in position the bottles are held securely with the bungee cord than means the pockets can also be used for storage if you don’t want/need the soft flasks.
So, if you are taking on training and racing of pretty much any distance there is a pack in the new Ultimate Direction Signature Series 5.0 range to suit you whether you’re male or female and whatever distance you’re covering.
Take a look at the full details of all the new packs in our Ultimate Direction section on the website and don't forget we have a full Demo Pool of the new vests and vestas so you can take them out for a trial before commiting to buy. Just ask a member of staff for details.