Note: I am not being paid, nor did I receive anything in this review for free. I purchased everything mentioned.
In jumping into Ultras and Mountainbiking, it became very evident early on that carrying bottles was not going to be enough. I needed somewhere to store my fuel and a larger reservoir for liquid.
I owned a camel back, but it was not practical for what I wanted. The storage was all at the back, which meant I had to stop and unbuckle it each time I wanted something. It also sat much higher with a tendency to bounce more. This caused wear on my shirt and chaffing on my skin. I feel it is more suited to hiking, where time was less an issue and stopping was normal.
Derrick Spafford of Spafford Health and Adventure has a lot of years experience built up in the Ultra field. What he uses, carry’s a lot of weight with a lot of people, myself included. He carries the brand in his online store so I knew that it was going to be something worth looking at.
So, as with the shoes, I am not going to write a review with a lot of technical jargon. My reviews are based on “ Does it work?”
What I wanted
– Something that would sit lower on my back, and not between my shoulder blades
– Something that carried light, I did not want to feel like I was wearing a bullet proof vest
– Something that would give me access to storage, quickly, and without having to stop.
– Something that would transfer liquid in the tube, at a rate that would not have me sucking my toes up
– Something that did not have the fluid tube dragging across my neck for 10 hours.
After doing the research and speaking to a few more folks, I decided to give the Alpha Light Weight Race Vest a try. I contacted Derrick, made the purchase and he had something in the mail to me within a day. I arrived at my door within 3 days. Great Start!
– When I removed the vest from the box, it seemed to be a little bigger and I was concerned initially about feeling bulky.
– You can see this vest is very well constructed.
– The Feeding Tube is bigger and much stronger.
– For opening and closing the feeding tube, it’s push and pull for on and off, no valves to open and close.
– Lots of storage, aside from the reservoir, there are two pockets up front that can accommodate extra bottles or other items. There are also multiple smaller areas for storing whatever, all with either zippers or magnetic closures
– Filling is very easy, and much different than the Camel Back. Where Camel back opted for a threaded twist lock, Ultra Spire has you fill from the top. You then fold the top down and lock it in place by a slide on fastener. This eliminated any chance of spill and does a wonderful job of sealing it very tight. I shook my mix and held it at several angles and not a drop spilled.
– The reservoir itself holds 2 liters and is made from a clear, strong plastic. Clearly marked for filling levels.
– The tube is detachable with a simple lock and clip, which makes cleaning it Ultra Easy. ( See what I did there? )
– Sliding it into the vest is easy and it quickly reattaches within 30 seconds.
-So far, I have worn it is very simple. I fill the 2 liter with my fuelling drink, put a bottle of water in one of the front pockets and gels and food in the other. Without it on, it felt heavy. Once I put it on, I was amazed at how quickly the weight seemed to balance. I clipped into place and felt comfortable. The back sits lower then my other one and does not bounce. The drinking tube is well positioned, in that it does not ride too high, or too low. The construction of it is a little heavier duty and to drink you pull to open and push to close. This makes it easier as it can all be done by your mouth with little effort. Pulling fluids is simple and volume very good requiring minimal effort to transfer from the pack to your mouth.
-There are a few little pouches as well with magnetic closures that snap into place quickly and easily. Good for storing odds and ends, or other little smaller needs while running.
-What I really liked about this? After running 9 hours, it was still as balanced and light as when I started. There was no bouncing, no rubbing of fabric around the shoulders ( leading to chaffing and a worn out shirt ) and wearing it was not an annoyance or burden.
– Although I have not done so, I have seen people wear this with two bottles in the front and their “stow-away” stuff in the back where the reservoir normally fits. This makes this vest very, very versatile and able to cover a wide range of adventures or length of races/runs.
-For anyone that is looking for a great fitting, multipurpose nutrition vest, I recommend this without hesitation. You can run unsupported for quite some time with all the options available.
For more information or to buy one, talk to Derrick Spafford of Spafford Health and Adventure
Packs and Vests: specs
Alpha Lightweight Race Vest (Back)
Alpha Lightweight Race Vest (Front)
Alpha – Lightweight Race Vest – NEW!
Finally, a vest where you can reach into the back pocket! Brought to you by our UltrAspire Elite Immortals! High on their wish list was a racing vest, which did not have to be removed in order to access contents stowed in the back.
• Comes standard with a 2 L reservoir.
• External shock cord for jacket or reservoir compression.
• Proprietary Passage Pocket™ with left and right-handed access, which is fully accessible while wearing the pack. No worry dual magnetic closures.
• Reservoir rides lower in the small of the back for better center of gravity.
• Ultra-lightweight, and first in the industry use of large hole mesh for increased breathability.
• Reflective details on the front and back for nighttime visibility.
• Stretch panels in the side with elastic mesh pockets for trash.
• Two lightweight mesh pockets in the front to carry bottles or food.
• Sweat proof Magnon Electrolyte Pocket™.
• Zippered small elastic mesh pocket on shoulder strap.
Available colors: Steep Green (S/M), Precipitous Blue (L/XL)
Weight: 200 g (340 g with reservoir)