Ultimate Direction Race Vest 6.0 (Signature Series) Review
Earlier in the year, I reviewed the Ultimate Direction (UD) Adventure Vest 6.0. With a very generous 17 litre capacity, I made the comment that it’s likely more suited to longer races/days out. Here I’m reviewing a pack at the other end of the scale in the UD Signature Series: The Race Vest 6.0 with a capacity of 6.1 litres. Other vests available in the series are the Mountain Vest 6.0 (13.5 litres) and Ultra Vest (10.3 litres), so UD really have provided a pack for every occasion! Equivalent packs are also available specifically designed for women (the Vestra).
One of my comments in the Adventure Vest review was that the pack has an abundance of zipped pockets. The designers at UD have taken a very different approach for the smallest pack of the range, as the Race Vest is equipped with a single zipped pocket, located at the front of the pack on the left hand-side behind one of the bottle pouches. It seems relatively standard on packs nowadays to have an easily accessible secure phone pocket for grabbing those photos on the move (or social media posting if you’re so inclined). My phone measures 16.5cm x 8cm and the pocket would struggle to accommodate anything much bigger.
The Race Vest has the same cinch system as the other packs that is operated by pulling two cords at the base of the pack (which you can easily do whilst wearing it). These cords attach to a small network of cords hidden at the base of the pack and pull everything together nicely. Whilst it works, the pack seemed to fit me nicely whether I used the cinch system or not, just by making sure the straps at the front were well adjusted.
At the rear of the pack, the main compartment is backed with mesh and contains a hoop to hang a 2l bladder. However, if you do use this option then there’s nothing to keep the hose in place of your shoulder or keep secure at the front – a simple loop on the shoulder strap could have really helped here.
This main back pocket comfortably holds basic fell running kit (without a bladder) and inside the top of this is a relatively shallow pocket (around 12cm deep) without a zip of fastener. It was useful to hold gloves or hat and, whilst nothing ever fell out in use, I wouldn’t feel particularly comfortable storing anything of significant value in there.
There is another pocket at the bottom of the main pack that can be accessed from both sides and was useful to store a few gels or stuff a lightweight jacket.
What about up front? The Race Vest is relatively minimal and comprises two bottle pockets with a simple pull cord system to keep the bottles in place, the aforementioned zipped phone pocket and two open pockets below the bottle pockets leading around the side of the pack, ideal for storing those regularly needed items or food. The left-hand side shoulder strap includes a small pouch containing a little whistle.
The pack clips together simply at the front with two clipped adjustable straps.
- 6.1l storage capacity
- 174g (without bottles)
- Zippered, rain resistant phone pocket
- Cinch system for a closer fit
- Pole storage
- Cost: Around £110
What’s good about the Race Vest 6.0
As per the Adventure Vest, I opted for a size “large” which fitted me perfectly with the bottom of the pack lining up with my lower ribs (I’m 5’11” with a 38/40” chest). All of the seams have really nice, soft edging which no doubt helps with the overall comfort. The pack material itself is 82% nylon and 12% spandex which almost feels luxurious and adds to the general high-quality look of the pack. The shoulder straps are made of the same mesh material as the back panel keeping a lightweight and airy feel.
The cinch system pulls the pack snugly around your body and when properly fitted the Race Vest keeps your gear steady and secure without any noticeable bounce and didn’t rub at all on long days out. The inner mesh seemed breathable and worked well even when fully loaded.
What’s not so good about the Race Vest 6.0
I was initially concerned about the lack of different pockets, not the actual capacity (the range gives plenty of choice) and it felt like a couple of other storage options would be useful – particularly a small, secure, zipped pocket for keys or similar, either inside the pack or on one of the shoulder straps above the bottle pockets where there’s plenty of space.
The UD product specs state that the back pockets are accessible whilst wearing the pack (potentially influencing the design to limit the zips). Whilst you may be able to grab something at the top of the pack I still think it’s quite a stretch to reach anything else.
I have to admit my initial view when I received the pack was “where are all the pockets?”, but for short runs/races or where only the basic kit is needed, the Race Vest 6.0 ticks all the boxes. It’s stylish, comfortable and fits securely (enhanced by the cinch system).
This is a great pack that I’ve really enjoyed using and will be my “go-to” for races requiring FRA kit. Whatever your kit requirements, the Signature Series has it covered with the complete range (17, 13.5, 10.3 and 6 litres).
Dan Stinton is a former Editor of RunUltra. He’s a Peak District based runner collecting mud and scrapes in and around Glossop, and he likes nothing more than escaping into the Dark Peak and then writing about how difficult it was.