I purchased a hydration vest for my upcoming 50-miler. Honestly, I don’t think I necessarily need one for this race. However, I’m planning on doing a hundred next year and I want to try something out in a race setting. Also, it looks like it’s going to be a warm day next Saturday, so maybe I will need it after all (especially considering I ran out of water between aid stations at CT50).
I selected the Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest 2.0. This is a minimal vest – it weighs 7 ounces without bottles and 12.5 ounces with bottles. The vest includes two 20-ounce Ultimate Direction bottles with kicker valves (more on that below).
There are two adjustable straps across the chest, as well as straps on each side. This helps you get the perfect fit.
The vest comes in SM/MD, which is for a 23″-36″ chest and MD/LG, which is for a 32″-44″ chest. With that being said, I wear a 40R jacket and I went with the MD/LG vest. It definitely works for me. However, if you wear 38R or smaller, I would go with the smaller size.
The vest is quite comfortable. I have not gotten any hot spots running with it. It doesn’t bounce if adjusted properly, although fluids do tend to slosh around a bit. I threw some stuff in the back (the pack has 244 cubic inches of space) and it still didn’t bounce at all. This was definitely a plus!
My one criticism is the water bottles. Specifically, I don’t love the kicker valves because I think they are difficult to drink from. In fact, I tried the vest with my Nathan water bottles and it worked fine. However, I am going to switch back to the Ultimate Direction bottles. While I don’t love them, they have a nice flow rate and the mouth is wider, which makes for easier filling at aid stations.
For a quick review on the bottles, click here.
As an alternative, Ultimate Direction sells a soft flask that is available here. I also found a soft flask for sale at EMS for about half the price. Tony, the vest’s namesake, was using soft flasks for at least part of UTMB.
Overall, I am very pleased with this vest. I will definitely follow-up after the race and let you know how it worked out for me.
Do you ever use a hydration vest?
If not, how do you stay hydrated on long runs?