The Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest is my new favorite for distances of 18-30 miles. For distances longer than 30 miles. For all you highly conditioned ultra-marathoners, the PB alone should be just fine for longer distances.
This pack holds a ton of stuff, and strategically uses a mix of high-tech materials for incredible elasticity where required and strong but light water resistant material for better wetness protection. strap areas use a non-stretchy, non-chafing material to minimize skin irritation on longer 4+ hour runs. The elastic parts, btw, stretch an inordinate amount so if the need arise, you can stuff an incredible amount of stuff in them.
While I’m no ultra-marathoner, my humble runs at 5, 11, and 16 miles gave me some slightly different impressions.
Water bottles in the front on the straps! AWESOME! And it can also have a hydration packs inserted in back if desired. The PB (and apparently the SJ) vests have dual pockets if you want to keep the reservoir separate from other gear. Even better, there are dual shock cord setups INSIDE the main compartment to make extra certain heavier items stay flush against your back to prevent movement. Now, personally, I'm not a fan of hydration reservoirs since they're a pain to setup and maintain for me.
The tightening straps work well, and there are three sets. The central webbed shock cord you can see in the product image, two rear pull cord that lead up to each shoulder, and two side cords you can pull tight. And the out central shock cord is great as I can tie a solar battery to it and have it charging while running. The trekking pole holders are also awesome.
The two tiny pockets below the water bottles are awesome. I actually switch things from the video, and put salt in the mesh pocket since they're already waterproof in the tiny ziplock. The ID and money, on the other hand, gets soaked easily, so go in the ciben fiber pocket.
The other super cool pieces are the nearly invisible grey straps by each of the tiny pockets. I never would have noticed them if not for watching the video. They can hold a thin pair of liner gloves or thin cap.
The side pockets, though, dont' work for me the way they do in the video with Peter Bakwin. I can't actually get anything into and out of the side zipper pockets or the velcro pockets. I think you need to be extra flexible to get to those. Still great to have them. Just not as easy as the video shows.
A disappointment for me is the cell phone pocket above the left water bottle.
The PB vest needs a top loading pocket like the SJ vest. If you use an iPhone 5 and have a water-proofing case (like the LifeProof case that I swear by), it will not fit in that pocket, and there's no way I'm running with my iPhone without my LifeProof case. Since I can't get into and out of the side pocket easily, there's really no place to put the cell phone where I can get at it easily. Only solution was to get a “barely there” amphipod waist band for the cell phone.
The design of the pack is really focused on packing a lot while still ensuring it doesn't move around, but this design forces a compromise that can be a little annoying. The main compartment is a bit like an upside down tear drop. Softer items need to go at the bottom, and larger items up higher. This means my FAK and extra sport tape and stuff goes above any spare clothing I might have. This is annoying since removing the spare jacket means the larger items have nothing to sit on and while running, some of these items start sliding down and then dig into my back, forcing me to re-adjust. Not a big deal if I cinch everything just right, but annoying because I have to be careful about it.
While a good fit for someone with a marathoner’s physique, this vest should be tested. It’s not a good fit for everyone. For me, the large had loose shoulder straps but the chest straps were just right. For the smaller size, the chest strap is at its limit with a jacket, but he shoulder is just right. And I’m a small guy at 5’8” and 135lbs with a 37” chest.
There are two red shock cord loops on either side of the bag that have completely stumped me. I have no clue what they're for.
Along the same lines, there are three very small elastic grey loops on either side and I have no idea what they're for either.
Would love for someone to tell me what they're all good for, so I can figure out how I should use them.
- Combines the best of ultra-light vests AND larger capacity but heavier vests
- Folks with larger cell phones (e.g. Nexus, Galaxy, iPhone 5) will either need to be flexible enough to reach the side pocket or get a waist band/arm band.
(Or just leave in back compartment)
- Finally, I love this vest….you want mine, you'll have to pry it from my cold dead hands (^_^)
Rock on Ultimate Direction, you've outdone yourself.