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Renowned runners design Ultimate Direction hydration vests

Renowned distance runners Scott Jurek, Anton Krupicka, and Peter Bakwin know a few things about hydrating on the go. Between them they've won the toughest ultramarathons, repeatedly, and set numerous race course and trail speed records. For Spring 2013, Ultimate Direction turned to the trio to design three Signature Series running vests for wearable hydration.

The Signature Series vests share common features, like front-mounted water bottle holsters, organizational pockets, and a small backpack for essentials. All are made of Cuben Fiber, which has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any fabric, and claim zero bounce. However, each vest was designed for a specific running use based on that athlete's experience, style, and insights.

AK Race Vest

Anton Krupicka, an advocate for the minimalist running movement, brought a “less is more” philosophy to the design table to create the Race Vest. Weighing in at 5.5 ounces, Ultimate Direction says Krupicka's Race Vest is "the lightest wearable hydration system ever made."

Check out Krupicka talking about the design process in the video at right.

  • Scott Jurek's Ultra Vest
    Weight: 5.5 oz (8 oz with bottles)
  • Volume: 4.5 L total
  • MSRP: $90 
  • Available: January 2013

SJ Ultra Vest

Scott Jurek, one of the most dominant ultramarathon runners in the world, knows what’s needed to run 100-plus miles. The man who won Western States a record seven straight times, designed the Ultra Vest, a 7-ounce hydration system for a full day outdoors.

  • Weight: 7 oz (9.5 oz with bottles)
  • Volume: 9.2 L total
  • MSRP: $120 
  • Available: November 2012

PB Adventure Vest

Peter Bakwin's Adventure Vest

Peter Bakwin has climbed Aconcagua (23,834') in a day, run across Germany and France, and set speed records on the 220-mile John Muir Trail. His Adventure Vest carries everything from an ice axe and trekking poles to an extra layer and personal locator beacon. Ultimate Direction calls it "the pack that can do anything" for hiking, running, and climbing.

  • Weight: 12 oz (14.5 oz with bottles)
  • Volume: 12 L total
  • MSRP: $150 
  • Available: January, 2013

“Ultimate Direction invented the entire concept of hydration packs back in 1985,” said Buzz Burrell, Brand Manager for Ultimate Direction. “Since then, the sport has grown and changed incredibly, but hydration systems have hardly changed at all. Bringing in three of the most talented, experienced, and recognizable runners in the world has allowed us to create an entirely new category of hydration packs.”


WOW! I love this! I have been looking for something like this for my hot summer day hikes!!!

This is a great use of athletes by UD, from both a product and marketing perspective. Why more companies don't tap into the knowledge of individuals who are pushing the limits of their sports is beyond me -- not sure why designers who spend most of their waking hours inside think they know more about the needs of their customers.

Andrew, welcome to Trailspace.

It's really nice to have you chiming in on the boards and offering your input. 

I have no doubt that your input/experience will be quite beneficial to others here.

I have to agree with ya on designers "supposedly" knowing what the needs of others are when they don't rack up any trail time other than in an office, behind a monitor, so on, and so forth.

I have on more than one occasion purchased a product that looked great on paper only to be left with the thought after some trail time that the folks that designed the product must have been highly intoxicated. :p

Oh well, live and learn. 

Anywho, once again thank you for chiming in.

Nice to see you here, Andrew. I enjoy the notes from you we see here every so often. Welcome.

I'm always amazed at the 'must-have for outdoors' lists that magazines and store brochures come out with all the time. They're usually just gadgets for car-camping - coffee presses, chargers for your electronic gadgets, toys and knicknacks, or clothing for the fashion conscious.

Then there was that incredible Abercrombie and Fitch ad that was posted here a while back. What a joke! That kind of stuff really costs them their credibility.

I'd much rather hear from people who are using the gear, like the pros mentioned here. One comment; the vests are meant to control bounce when running, so they're not really for dayhiking. Because a backpack is meant for carrying a heavier load, the design has to be a bit different.

Wow really liking the looks of these. Wonder if they have one to fit women or if it's a generic one size fits all? I've tried on running vests before but have not been able to find one that fits.

Thanks for all the comments. I agree that it's interesting to hear what particular athletes want in a piece of gear. I'm interested in checking these out at Outdoor Retailer in just a few weeks too. I've been eyeing different hydration vests for long, long runs. 

To answer Nugget's question about sizing of the UD Signature Series, all are Unisex, but they come in more than one size:

  • AK Race Vest: Sm/Md and Md/Lg 
  • SJ Ultra Vest: Sm, Md, and Lg 
  • PB Adventure Vest: Sm/Md and Md/Lg 

As for stability, Ultimate Directions says of all three:

Vest Design:

  • No bounce & no pressure points = greater comfort
  • Vests are inherently stable = more volume for less weight

We've also got more packs and hydration options, including more vests, to cover from other brands in the coming weeks as well.

Thanks for following our coverage, everyone!

They look like great products and I've love to try them, but are they competitively priced?

The one I want is 150.00

I am glad this one popped up again as I have been looking for a hydration pack of 4Ltrs and bonus they get bigger

Since some people like bottles and some like reservoirs, I'll point out that hydration in the UD vest is supplied by two 20-oz bottles mounted on the front. 

If that's not your thing, stay tuned next week for some new trail run hydration options from Gregory.

Also, Camelbak currently has these options, though you're not going to get the same gear storage:

I want the Adventure Vest, but with my attention span, I hope I remember these vests when Spring 2013 comes around.  I am especially appreciate the gear capacity along with the hydration capabilities that would be ideal for the fast day hikes I do in Juneau. 

Scott Jurek on designing gear, including his Ultra Vest, for Ultimate Direction:

I really like the extra storage capacity of these packs. I am always trying to turn my hydration pack into a day-long adventure pack and it doesn't quite have room. I'm wondering, though, with three ultra-celeb designers not one of them could be a woman? I'm a small framed woman, and women's cut packs are barely small enough for me. I really doubt these awesome packs will fit me. Also, it would just be nice to see more equal representation of women in the sport and acknowledgment that we exist as runners and consumers of ultra gear. I saw a lot of men get chicked this year at WS100 - we're out there on the trails too.

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