Buyers Guide: Trail Running Vest Packs

Not sure where to start when it comes to selecting a vest pack for trail running? This advice from Find Your Feet, an Ultra168 Partner is here to support your decision making. Massive thanks to Hanny and Graham at Find Your Feet for putting this together. It’s an excellent resource and I’m sure many of our readers will find it useful as training starts for some of the big ultras in the first half of 2017. As a little reminder, Ultra168 Supporters can get 20% discount with Find Your Feet, which when you’re considering buying a vest pack, can make quite a bit difference in the cost. For more info about Ultra168 Supporters, click here. To check out the range of packs from Find Your Feet, click here.

How to choose a Vest Pack

When choosing your vest pack, it is essential to keep in mind a number of factors:

  • The distance of your event
  • How much mandatory gear or storage is required for your event
  • The hydration capacity required to complete your run

 

Whether you prefer soft flasks or bladders/reservoirs, the comparison chart put together by Find Your Feet can help you select your Vest Pack:

  • What race distance they are suitable for
  • The hydration capacity of the vest pack
  • What we feel are their best features

 

The list is ranked by mandatory gear storage size of the vest pack, from the LARGEST storage size to the SMALLEST storage size. Please note, storage size is not a reflection of fluid carrying capacity, but rather a reflection of how much gear the vest pack can hold.

ITEM SUITABILITY HYDRATION OPTIONS BEST FEATURES
Ultimate Direction Fastpack 30L This is NOT a race appropriate pack. A vest pack most suited to longer adventures such as multi-day missions. Storage capacity – 30L Uses 2x590ml bottles but requires you to purchase these separately. Can also add an Ultimate Direction 2-3L Reservoir. Total Capacity – approx. 4L. Largest volume vest pack on the market
Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20L This is NOT a race appropriate pack. A vest pack most suited to longer adventures such as long single day or very light multi-day missions. Storage capacity – 20L Uses 2x590ml bottles but requires you to purchase these separately. Can also add an Ultimate Direction 2-3L Reservoir. Total Capacity – approx. 4L. Large volume vest pack for personal missions.
Salomon S-Lab Advanced Skin3 12 Set Largest pack available for racing. Ideal for 80km – 100 miler distances which have larger mandatory gear requirements. Storage capacity- 12L Comes with 2x 500ml Salomon Soft Flasks (1L total) and 1.5L Salomon Soft Reservoir. Total capacity is 2.5L Ideal size for longer races and the fabric is soft against skin.
Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest Ideal for 80km – 100 miler distances which have larger mandatory gear requirements. Storage capacity- 11.5L Comes with 2x 500ml Ultimate Direction Body Bottles (1L total) and the ability to carry an Ultimate Direction 2-3L Reservoir. Total Capacity – up to 4L Perfect pack size for longer distance races. Easily accessed storage of bulky items and large fluid capacity. Plenty of pockets on the front of the pack.
Ultimate Direction Adventure Vesta (Women’s Specific) Ideal for 80km – 100 miler distances which have larger mandatory gear requirements. Storage capacity- 11.2L Comes with 2x 500ml Ultimate Direction Body Bottles (1L total) and the ability to carry an Ultimate Direction 2-3L Reservoir. Total Capacity – up to 4L One of the only women’s specific trail running race vest packs on the market. Ultimate Direction have used softer fabrics and tailored to the women’s body shape.
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure 3.0 This pack holds 10L of storage so will easily fit all your mandatory gear in it for the longer ultra distance races. Comes with 2x 500ml Ultimate Direction Body Bottles (1L total) and the ability to carry an Ultimate Direction 2L Reservoir. Total Capacity – 3L Perfect pack size for longer races when you stil want to keep things to a minimum. Plenty of pockets and softer seams next to your skin.
CamelBak Ultra 10 Large pack suited to 80km – 100 miler distances or races with large mandatory gear requirements. Storage capacity- 10L CamelBak Antidote Reservoir only (2L). Total capacity – 2L Highly versatile pack. Setup would be ideal for mountain biking too. Very durable fabrics (makes it a little heavier though).
Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra 3.0 For light weight 100km events or events such as the Ultra Trail Australia 50km which have larger mandatory gear requirements. Storage capacity – 6.25L Comes with 2x 500ml Ultimate Direction Body Bottles (1L total) and the ability to carry an Ultimate Direction 2-3L Reservoir. Total Capacity – up to 4L This vest pack has a soft and flexible mesh harness, phone compatible pockets and on the go trekking pole holders.
Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta 3.0 (Women’s Specific) For light weight 100km events or events such as the Ultra Trail Australia 50km which have larger mandatory gear requirements. Storage capacity – 7.2L Comes with 2x 500ml Ultimate Direction Body Bottles (1L total) and the ability to carry an Ultimate Direction 2-3L Reservoir. Total Capacity – up to 4L This vest pack is lighter weight, uses softer fabrics, has a phone compatible pocket and adequate front-of-body storage for race fuel & valuables.
Salomon S-Lab Advanced Skin3 5 Set Very light-weight pack for racing. Ideal for 50km distances or races which do not require large amounts of mandatory gear. Storage capacity- 5L Comes with 2x 500ml Salomon Soft Flasks (1L total) and 1.5L Salomon Soft Reservoir. Total capacity is 2.5L Really great, less-abrasive fabrics. Light weight. Easy to clean in the washing machine.
CamelBak Ultra 4 Small pack carrying a 2L bladder and 2L volume for gear. Ideal for short trail races up to 40km where minimal gear is required. Storage capacity – 2L + 2L CamelBak Antidote Reservoir only (2L). Total capacity – 2L Ideal as a multi-use vest pack such as utilizing it for mountain biking too.
Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Set Super light pack ideal for short races up to 50km where minimal mandatory gear is required. Storage capacity – 3L 2x 500ml Salomon Soft Flasks only. Total capacity – 1L Most versatile pack for moving light. Feels like just another item of clothing. Can wash in the washing machine.
Salomon S-Lab Sense Set Lightest pack on the market. Designed for races where no mandatory gear is required. Idea for road race and short trail races where no mandatory gear is required. Storage capacity – 1L (in pockets on chest area) 2x 500ml Salomon Soft Flasks only. Total capacity – 1L Ideal for marathons and events where you just need to carry fluids, nutrition or personal essentials such as, keys & phone.
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I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

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I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

One thought on “Buyers Guide: Trail Running Vest Packs

  1. Thanks for this really useful summary guys. I was very close to buying the S-Lab sense Ultra until I realised that even for the 50km UTA you need at least 2l of water on board. So I went for the Skin3 5L instead and couldn’t be happier, it’s a great piece of kit.

    I do think there’s a small point of correction in the table though – the two larger Salomon packs don’t come with the reservoirs, but do have the capacity to carry them. Cheers 🙂

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