Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest
Note this pack has been replaced. I rated it "Highly Recommended" at the time it was produced but check out Best Hydration Systems for the latest packs. This pack came very close to being my top pick, having good capacity and great load control. It's a nicely stable pack, with plenty of features. The larger zippered pocket on the shoulder strap and the plethora of other convenient pockets means you're less likely to have to take this pack off when running. In the end, the only thing that let this pack down is its capacity isn't quite big enough for a self-supported day run. It's close, especially if you can hang some stuff off the bungee at the back, but there's not quite the margin that I think you'll need. On the other hand, if you're doing your runs in warmer conditions, doing shorter runs, or are prepared to take larger (potentially life-threatening) risks, then this pack should be on your list.
- 14.2oz in weight (13.3oz claimed), with a claimed 16L capacity. It held my standard gear, but there was not a lot of spare rooms, so I think 16L is overstating things, and it's smaller than Patagonia's 10L pack.
- The pack is made of moderately harsh and abrasive fabric, but the edging is nice and soft.
- The back of the pack is a transparent mesh, which might improve breathability.
- It does not come with a hydration bladder, but there's a sleeve that UD says holds 3L and held my bladder with ease. Access to the hydration bladder is a separate zipper, which makes refilling easier. The transparent back makes it easier to check how full the bladder is without removing it from the pack.
- The main zippered compartment held my rain jacket, thermal top, hat, gloves, and light, but only just.
- There's a stretch pocket on the lower half of the back of the pack, and a bungee cord over the top half of the pack. The bungee cord cinches down the pack if it's not full, but it's not as effective as a full-length bungee that would compress the whole main compartment.
- The hip pockets are zippered and huge. It's a squeeze, but I managed to fit a thin thermal top in one just to see if it would fit.
- I like the extra small bungee loops for attaching things to.
- There's an external zippered pocket with a clip for keys, a good place for valuables. (This is the vertical zipper on the top left of the pack as it's worn.)
- The right shoulder strap has a zippered pocket that holds ~3 GUs, then theres a larger zippered pocket that would hold ~16 GUs. Just below that is an open stretchy pocket that's wider that it's deep, but would hold 6-10 GUs, depending on what's in the pocket above.
- The left should strap has a similar zippered pocket that holds ~3 GUs, then a pocket with an included 500ml collapsible bottle (mini-bladders) that fit with the pack nicely. Just below that is an open stretchy pocket that's nicely proportioned and would hold 6-10 GUs. Below that is yet another pocket, this time zippered. (The top most zippered pockets on both sides are above the shoulders when the pack is worn.)
- There are two sternum straps to spread the load. The four ends of the straps slide up and down easily over a wide range.
- There's no attachment for a hydration hose, though there are loops on the shoulder straps.
- There's a small gray whistle, which I wish it was a brighter color. More importantly, I wish I could reach it with the pack on, but it's too far back.
- There are no side straps to pull the pack in closer, which I think would have helped this pack.
- An iPhone/iPhone plus will fit in either shoulder strap stretch pocket or the larger zippered pocket.
- I got the medium, which should be 31-40 inches, but I was close to the limit on how tight it would go with my 36 -inch chest, and I suspect the small size might have been a better fit.
- The pack sits higher than a traditional pack, but lower than the AK or the VaporKrar. Motion is will controlled, but not quite as good as the smaller UD AK mountain vest, or the similar sized Patagonia Fore Runner.