Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest 2.0

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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).

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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.

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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!

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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?