Last updated: 24-Oct-18
By Dan Stinton
I can’t seem to walk through a camping/hiking/running shop without being magnetically drawn to the bag section. I have to dream up specific occasions to convince my partner that I need a new pack because there will be a time when a 12-litre bag is too much, but a 6-litre is too small. It’s safe to say I’m on the constant quest for the “perfect” bag so without further ado, here’s my thoughts on the Ultimate Direction Jurek FKT Vest.
The vest is part of the Ultimate Direction Jurek range designed by legendary ultra runner Scott Jurek.
The FKT moniker presumably putting out the idea that this vest is best used when you’re out trying to bag Fastest Known Times. Or for the mere mortals amongst us, when you just need somewhere to keep your sandwiches.
- Front mounted Flexform bottles (2 x 600ml included)
- 11.5-litre capacity weighing in at 452g with bottles
- Two rear compartments (including a partition for a bladder)
- Two zipped side pockets and front accessory pockets
- Bungee cords for compressibility
- Selection of sizes available
- Emergency whistle
Pros: What’s good about the Ultimate Direction Jurek FKT Vest
The pack is available in either white or “Obsidian”. I opted for the obsidian, named after the naturally occurring volcanic glass, but to the untrained eye, this is essentially a dark grey. The green zips and yellow pull cords compliment it well and add to a fantastic-looking, well-designed vest.
Of course, us ultra runners aren’t in this to look good (compression tights wouldn’t be available if so) so what does it provide in features and functions?
The rear panel that sits against your back and both shoulder straps are made from a non-stretch mesh that comfortably sit against your body and holds the pack in place. The rear of the pack contains two main zipped pockets and is made from a stretch fabric that expands according to load.
The larger of the two pockets contains a partition with a loop for holding a bladder in place (not supplied). The zips run horizontally across the top of the pack, which I much prefer to some other packs which seem to open fully around the side, which means your carefully packed mandatory kit spills out every time you open it.
With a generous 11.5 litre storage space this can easily hold standard compulsory kit; waterproof top/trousers, spare base layer, first aid kit, head torch and batteries with room for more. Some may consider this too much space, but if you haven’t fully filled the pack then there are handy elastic cords that can be pulled tight to compress around your gear.
Moving swiftly around the pack you have roomy zipped pockets each side (easily big enough for some energy bars, handheld GPS, small camera or phone etc.). Behind those pockets, accessible by a small velcro tag, are adjustable straps to make sure the pack sits securely around your lower ribcage.
The pack is available in three sizes and I opted for the large based on the measurements on the Ultimate Direction website. I have a 42″ chest and 32″ waist (pre-ultra-aid-station) and this pack fits me well, but I needed to pull the adjustable straps to their smallest to get a good fit.
Reducing the “faff-factor” is an important consideration when choosing a pack/vest, which means having several easily accessible pockets so you don’t have to take off your pack off every time you need some of your gear.
The more accessible on-the-run storage the better and the Ultimate Direction FKT delivers. The two large front pockets are designed to hold the “Flexform” bottles. The bottles, whilst not completely rigid, retain their shape when empty and are very different to the soft flasks supplied with other vests (the Jurek 3.0 for instance). A good size at 600ml each, these bottles will be down to personal taste as you will inevitably get some “slosh” when they aren’t completely full. This isn’t something that concerns me too much (although I used to play drums so am probably deaf).
The pockets are shaped so it’s really easy to remove and replace the bottles whilst running, arguably far easier than a floppy soft flask. The shoulder straps contain a variety of other storage spaces for gels, bars, small maps, compass or small phone etc.
In use, the pack fits closely against the body and, when adjusted correctly, stays in position whilst on a run. I found it very comfortable to wear for several hours with ample storage up front for the items you need access to quickly.
Cons: What’s not so good about the Ultimate Direction Jurek FKT Vest
Whilst this shouldn’t really be considered a negative, this probably wouldn’t be your “everyday” pack as it has more storage than would be needed for most long runs.
The Flexform bottles won’t be for everyone, particularly those very sensitive to noise as you will hear some “slosh” but of course the bottles can be changed for anything you like.
The top left zipped breast pocket I think is designed for a phone, but with phones getting bigger and bigger my Galaxy Edge stands no chance of fitting and unfortunately ended up stuffed in the back pocket. Whilst I’ve never needed a quick game of Candy Crush when running the trails, I do like to take photographs which meant taking the pack off for any photo opportunities.
If you’re not used to a vest, then the front mounted bottles may seem a little large and heavy, but of course this vest can be loaded with a bladder if that’s what you prefer. If that’s the case though, then other packs more specifically designed around a bladder system may suit you better.
This pack may be more than many need, but when you need “full-kit” and lots of nutrition then this offers plenty of storage space. It really does look good, feels good and seems built to last. The sizing guide seemed to work for me, although I was a borderline medium to large so make sure you can try one first (filled with gear).
There’s a lot of truth in the statement “you get what you pay for” and at around £110, this vest isn’t at the economy end of the market. Whilst there are cheaper options available, if this is in your price range and offers the features you want, then the Jurek FKT is very worthy of consideration.
Overall another great pack in the Ultimate Direction range.
Other packs you may want to consider:
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest
Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0
Salomon Skin Pro 10 Set
Osprey Raptor 10 Hydration Pack
About the writer: Dan is a rucksack obsessive who, if a female of the species, would no doubt own a wardrobe full of Radley or Kipling handbags. A Peak District based runner who once “famously” ran an entire 50km race in the wrong direction, he likes nothing more than escaping into the Dark Peak and then writing about how difficult it was at www.allhailthetrail.co.uk.
All images: Dan Stinton.
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