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NEW Canyon color now available!
Lighter than the previous generation Race Vest but with more capacity, Anton Krupicka's new Mountain Vest is one-stop shopping for wherever you go.
NOTE: 3.0 vests fit differently than the previous versions; please check the Sizing Chart below.
Summary: Ample capacity (despite prior reviews to the contrary) , very comfortable fully loaded, soft bottles/flasks are great (despite prior reviews to the contrary), the trek pole bungees/holders are unacceptable.
I bought two (one for my wife). We run-hike. We've used them three times. 12 miles, 18 miles and 44 miles. The later was a rim-to-rim-to-rim (R2R2R) in the Grand Canyon.
Trek Pole Loops: The up-front location of the trek pole bungees are great, but they fail to actually hold your trek poles unless your trek poles are so long-large that they're poking your ears and eyes out. We bought Leki Micro Trail Vario (trail running poles) specifically for the packs because the pole's trigger shark handle can lock onto the bottom loop on the vest (without which the poles would fall out more often.) I was able to complete a single day R2R2R by using rubber bands to better hold everything in place. Additionally, the stitching gave-way on my wife's pack at the cloth loop that holds the trek pole loop -- the loop fell off completely.
Capacity: We carried ample gear/supplies for an R2R2R with a food bag staged at the turn around point on the North Rim. Carrying enough food for the whole 44 miles would have required other storage (pockets on shorts or shirt, which I didn't have). We carried 3.0 liter bladders, with the two 0.5 liter soft bottles that came with the pack. The right hand "phone" pocket is too small for a Samsung Galaxy S8 although the S5 I had when I bought the pack did fit...barely. Overall, we have too many packs already. We bought these for the long treks through the Grand Canyon, running-hiking light but heavy-enough given the needs for that terrain.
Soft Bottles: Contrary to other reviews here, I liked the soft bottles a lot AFTER I replaced them with the straw type bottle available (BODY BOTTLE 500S SKU: 80461017). The tops that come on the bottles supplied with the pack are a problem in that the bottles are not easily removed and are much more difficult to put back in the pockets. If you use the straw bottles, don't fill them to a bloat because it makes the straw stand straight up and either poke you in the ears or in the eyes. Slightly less full and you can adjust them away from your face. I ran a multl-hour mix of Hammer Perpetuum in one and Isagenix Hydrate in the other with plain water in the 3.0 liter bladder. Two "packets" or 5 scoops of Perpetuum is as thick of a mix as the straw effectively handles. If you mix a fuel mix too thick, eat/drink some (suck really hard) and then get a couple of mouthfuls of water from your bladder and blow it through the straw in the fuel mix.
Overall: I am not versed well enough in materials to comment fairly on the materials, but from the beginning, I had some concerns about sturdiness. The failure of the edge stitching on one pack has increased that concern. The materials are light, but "seem" to lack the durable-sturdy character. Sturdiness aside and near uselessness of the pole straps aside, the pack performed remarkably comfortable through the riggers of an R2R2R.
AzHikeAndBike on May 28th 2017
I'm a ultra runner who's contemplated using a vest for years but had just never pulled the trigger until now. I've been using the Amp handhelds and love them! I'm just shy of 6ft. tall and weight about 165, 32' waist. Based on that, reviews I read, and the UD sizing guide, I ordered the medium. Turns out the medium is very large, requiring me to cinch the two chests straps all the way (only way to adjust size is these two cords), still leaving the pack far from being "snug". I threw some items in the pack and inflated the water bottles, pack is still a bit loose, seeming as though it will bounce when I run. Angry and needing this vest for my upcoming unsupported 35mi trail run next weekend, I order a small to fix the situation. The small arrived and I it seems as though it was made for a child, seriously. It's very little and not even a possibility for me to wear. In summery, I'm going to give the medium a try, and will happily give another review if it turns out to be successful. Based on fit alone though, this gets a 1/5 from me. Sorry UD, probably should make more sizes if there is going to be this much of a difference between a small and a medium. Matt on May 13th 2017
I like my Ultimate Direction AK mountain vest 3.0 HOWEVER I would like it even more if it had a bit more capacity for the main compartment as it's just not big enough for compulsory gear for mountain ultras eg UTA or a decent normal day trip. I'll have to bungee my rain jacket and a fleece in multiple plastic bags to the outside - you have to put absolutely everything you want dry in ziplock bags because otherwise if it doesn't get soaked from rain it'll get soaked by sweat, this goes for ALL pockets. I had to cut the whistle off that kept flapping around due to the attachment cord being too short, and I don't find the side pockets very useful as unless you're a contortionist you can't access them easily on the move. The flasks are ok although the tops dig in a bit, and I've a few older flat bottom flasks that don't fit in as well as the tapered bottom ones. It's definitely designed more for racing and gels/liquid nutrition as opposed to slightly bulkier real food. Definitely lots of room for improvement, hopefully with more room in the next model. NB I know the PB vest has a slightly larger capacity but I really wanted the dual soft flask setup up front. Craig on May 2nd 2017
We've found that the soft bottles are in pretty high demand due to how well they feel against the body. The only real drawback there is to our revolutionary "bottles up front" vest innovation was the annoyance of water sloshing around inside and comfort issues with the original round bottles. Customer feed back about comfort was kind of the big driving factor for offering more options this year to our tried and true round hard bottles (which are still available) like the contoured Flexforms and collapsible Body Bottles. The Body Bottles may be a little more difficult to clean but they still fill quickly at aid stations and are also compatible with lids like the Be Free filtration system for backcountry adventures. Our 3.0 signature series may come with soft bottles but they are still cross compatible with the old style so anyone can get their kit dialed to their preferences for long runs and races. Kyle on Apr 5th 2017
I am an experienced Ultrarunner (50K to multi-day races) and have been using the Adventure vest v2 for the past 2 years. I lost some weight and I need a smaller vest. I am considering the Mountain vest. Looks really good and has two bottle holders. Just watched the promo video and wonder about the soft bottles. I assume that a vest like the Mountain vest is mainly used by trail runners during multi hour events. Common wisdom is to fuel oneself with an energy drink (e.g Tailwind or Hammer Perpetuem). Now, the two front bottles are predestined for holding the energy drinks. I have been using the Ultimate Direction hard bottles with a wide opening. This is important, because after a usage the bottles have to be cleaned. I clean the bottles in the dishwasher and never had issues with mold. My point is that, the soft bottles cannot be cleaned easily and conveniently, for example in a dishwasher. Given that fact, I am flabbergasted that Ultimate Direction markets a totally useless soft bottle, given that the front bottles logically will have to hold an energy drink. I really wonder how much thought went into promoting these softbottles, given the facts listed above. I think it is just a marketing fad. I would have expected better from Ultimate Direction. Would be great to receive some feedback from Product Development. Frank on Apr 4th 2017
Try my AK 3.0 for the first time today on 18km run with my 2 labradors. Worked great. I was carrying ~2.5 l of water for the dogs along with other gear. I am still waiting for my water bladder so today the water was in bottles in the front and back. It was surprisingly comfortable. I did run out of water so will up to 3.5l tomorrow.
A note on sizing.... many reviewers have mentioned this.... well it depends on what you wear and how much you plan to carry. If you are only in a tshirt and have a few items, I would recommend going down a size. If you pack a lot, stick to your size. Better still try it on in a shop! But remember to pack the vest.
For me, size L, when empty the vest is just too large.
With 2 water bottles in front, 2 in the back, raincoat + towel + spare socks (back), phone (side), battery pack (side), emergency medical kit (back), foldable water bowl (front), doggie poop bags and money (front) the vest fits normal.
Would I recommend it.... yes absolutely. Just be careful with the sizing. Monzamir on Feb 7th 2017
Les here. Well I'm new to this and have just gotten my new AK - tons of storage and great for changing priorities and longer runs. Only gave it four stars as have not actually been out in it yet that would be in two hours time when I go and run the South Downs (England). Im pleased to be enabled - that is what makes a really good product. Unknown on Jan 13th 2017
This vest was easy to dial in for a comfortable fit. It has plenty of storage up front, and on the back. I am not a fan of the flex bottles as I find them difficult to put back in the vest, especially when they are half full. With a little practice I hope to find the right technique for this, but am a little frustrated at present.
I am able to put in a 70 oz bladder in the back with ease and comfort, and am happy to use the vest this way. A perfect long run training vest as I can carry enough, utilizing the front and back storage, to be out a very long time. Joey on Nov 22nd 2016
Light, confortable, and allows you to bring all you need !
Easy to adjust!
I'll run hundreds km with it !!!! Christo46 on Oct 23rd 2016
I have used the AK 3.0 on a few long unsupported adventure runs now (8 hours, 20 hours, and 44 hours so far) and I think it is absolutely perfect for its intended purpose. It holds more than enough clothing, food, water, etc as long as you don't need to carry sleeping gear - in which case you would be better off with a different pack as it is not meant for that.
1. The soft bottles are great, easy to refill in streams, lakes or at aid stations, very comfortable. I'm still using the old version (Body Bottle Plus) as I had them already, haven't even opened the new ones that came with the vest but they are pretty similar.
2. The pole carry system works fine with BD Z poles, don't believe those who say it doesn't.
3. SO much storage both in front and back. I can put 2 soft bottles plus hat, gloves, phone, map, many hours worth of food, sunscreen, salt tabs, etc all in the front and side pockets. The 2 small zip pockets in the back are perfect for headlamp/batteries and a small first aid/blister kit, water treatment tablets, etc. Raingear and warm layers fit in the main pocket in the back with or without a bladder, although a bladder does reduce the space for clothing. But there is always the stretch mesh pocket and bungee on the back if needed.
4. Much easier to get the bladder in and out than with previous versions of the PB vest.
I thought it might be too small but I did 122 miles in the Sierras on the High Sierra Trail in about 44 hours with this pack and it was the perfect size to carry all my food, water, clothing etc with no chafing or other issues to speak of. I'm sure the PB 3.0 would have worked just as well but I went with this one since it held everything I needed and I had already used it on a couple long days.
My only minor complaint is that the small pockets on the shoulders can be hard to get into when moving. Not a big deal, just a minor annoyance sometimes.
I am 6' and about 160 with a 38" chest and 31" lower rib measurement. For me the small was too small (not long enough mainly), and the medium seemed a bit too big at first, but with the internal straps tightened up it works just fine. This vest is not meant to be used empty, and the fit is definitely better once you load it up. I can run without any major bouncing, once everything is snugged up well. Allen Currano on Sep 6th 2016
I love this vest! I recently purchased it for the TransRockies Run - a six day stage race in Colorado. I am very happy with this hydration vest. Thank you so much Ultimate Direction! This vest is so comfortable - I didn't get the ache in my neck after several hours of wearing it like the others I own. I am pleased with the lightweight fabric and durability. The flexible bottles are so easy to fill, clean, and get to. There is plenty of space for nutrition, gear and gadgets. The pockets are easy to access. I am a female, 5'3", 118 lbs and the small fits well. I am very pleased with this purchase, thanks so much for the awesome design. Kyle Colburn, Anchorage, AK on Sep 1st 2016
I think UD nailed it with this vest. I started with the SJ 2.0 and like that vest a lot, but it does have it's limitations with storage options and capacity up front. The AK 3.0 is super comfy and the pocket arrangement up front is spot on. I can easily carry 2 soft bottles and a crazy amount of gels, bars, chews, etc. plus my phone (for photos) and the little waterproof pocket for salt tabs is perfect. I love the arrangement of pockets in the back as well. It's definitely an improvement over the 2.0 vests. Finally, the pole straps in the front are ingenious. As long as you have some lightweight z-poles, those straps are money. I used the Black Diamond Distance Carbon z-poles and was able to lock them in and take them out on the fly. It's definitely not a natural thing to do and you shouldn't do it while running down a technical trail, but on some smooth flat trail, no problem. I haven't done it yet, but I can easily see myself doing an all day, self-supported adventure in this vest. I will also point out that I haven't had any issues with the plastic rail type closure on my 1.5 L platypus bladder, but the hose is WAY too long, so I will be picking up a more runner specific bladder. I do think the bladder sleeve should not taper down as much as it does, but so far this hasn't been an issue. I also am wearing the size small vest and it fits great. I'm a male, 5'6'' 135 lbs. Unknown on May 17th 2016
I really like this vest. Took it out for a few long trail runs, with 1.5L bladder, 2 bottles, and all the accoutrements. The pockets are all great. Love having quick access to items on the chest-side of the vest. I put my iphone 6+ in one of the bottle pockets, carry a bottle in the second bottle pocket, and use the UD Amp handheld for my other bottle. It is possible to drink from the bottle pocket, but it breaks my stride, so I prefer the handheld to drink from, then switch out bottles when it's empty. I can fit 2 empty bottles in one of the bottle pockets. (I have plain water in a bladder, and electrolyte drink in the bottles). I keep important items in ziplocs (phone included), as sweat will permeate this vest, and also in case of rain.
Plenty of room left over for baby wipes, TP, first aid kit, headlamp, bandana, body glide, vaseline, food, rain gear.
One complaint I've seen is regarding the pole holders. So far, I have not used them.
The biggest caveat with this vest....(I'm a woman, not big, but not tiny either, 64", 130lbs, and A cup, and I'm 31" in the chest area where they instruct you to measure for sizing of this vest, so technically I'm at the lower end of the medium).... I had to get the medium, which is cinched down as tightly as the straps will allow to minimize bounce, because in the size small (which definitely fit my torso better, even though the medium says it goes down to 31") the bladder pocket is incredibly narrow and would not even fit a 1L hydrapak reservoir. So if you're needing to use a bladder in the pack, keep that in mind.
Speaking of reservoirs...the sliding-rail type closure of the UD, hydrapak, new Osprey bladders, etc, makes for an incredibly uncomfortable experience in these vests. Even with the tether at the top of the hydration pocket (to keep the bladder from flopping down as it becomes empty), the hard plastic sliding closure digs into the shoulder blades, even with good running posture, likely because there is no padding on the back side of the vest, just very thin mesh (which is good for breathability!). My back was actually tender to touch where the edges rubbed, although not visibly bruised. So after that first run, I have used the older version osprey hydraulics LT bladders.
It would be cool if UD sold a bladder insulator sleeve. I use one from an old Nathan vest, but it does not taper near the bottom like the UD vests do. So UD, think about making an insulation sleeve, ok?
One more thing to note, obviously some fabric has to get sacrificed in the sizing-down from medium to small, but in addition to it causing the reservoir pocket to be smaller, the "lat" (under-arm, side-torso) pockets' size is much smaller too. So because of those two reasons, I chose the slightly-too-large size of the medium. For me, the bounce is still pretty minimal, but worth it for the larger storage and bladder-carrying capabilities.
TL;DR--awesome vest; if you're on the lower end of the size ranges, size down, unless that leaves you the small size; if you need to use a bladder with this vest, do not get the size small, only medium and larger will do hc on May 12th 2016
I couldn't agree more with the other review from Brandon.
Things I like:
- Pockets are great
- Fit is great (I'm 6'1" 175 and a M is perfect)
- Carries a ton of stuff (more than I need) really well
- I can actually access the lat pockets while wearing it (unlike SJ 2.0)
Things I don't like:
- I was really excited about the pole attachments, but they don't work very well. The bungee material is too stiff, making it so it can barely get around my poles. (Leki micro vario titanium). On my second use (first with poles) of the pack one of the bungees broke off and was lost. Beyond that, they are too far apart so my poles were constantly falling out. Lastly, the hook for the bungee is in an awkward direction so it was super difficult to take them in and out.
Unknown on May 11th 2016
This is my second attempt at a review. The first one didn't stick for some reason.
I liked this vest, but it come with some annoyances. Let me recap:
- It looks great
- It is light weight
- It first perfectly (I am 5'9", 180 lbs and the M was perfect).
- It holds a ton of equipment
- I loved the pockets, allowing quick access to essentials, food, and liquid while running.
- The ripstop type material was noisy while running. It was noisy enough that it annoyed me.
- The backing is mesh. This was done to make it breathable and light, but I found that all of the gear I kept in the back became wet after a while of running. I know this material allows for breathability, but I didn't love that my gear became damp with sweat. I've found I have to pack things in watertight bags to keep them dry. This adds extra weight and hassle, diminishing the value of the bag.
- One of the main reasons I purchased this bag was for the hiking pole straps. I loved the ability to keep hiking poles up front on those runs when I wanted to have them close. I tried them this week and must say - it SUCKED! The poles kept falling out, not matter what configuration I tried. I was underwhelmed and unimpressed.
I liked the water bottles, but they became stained after the first use. If you use any kind of colored drink - be prepared to have colored bottles. This is a bummer!
If I had the opportunity - I'd return it and purchase a different pack. It wasn't worth $150. I own a few other vests and this one is nice, but doesn't top my list of top choices. BB on May 9th 2016
I own the Ultraspire Spry, Nathan Fireball, and now this one. I love all of the pockets, especially the ones up front that allow for quick access to food, liquids, and essentials. The pack has tons of storage, just as promoted.
Here is what I don't like:
1) The ripstop materials makes quite a bit of noise when running on the trail. I suppose it warns all of the moose, cougars and bears that a delicious meal is heading their way, but I find the other two products superior in their lack of annoying sounds.
2) The portion of the pack that rests on your back is made of mesh. At first, I loved the idea, until the items I put inside of the pack became damp from my perspiration. This is a tough one to solve, because if you were to put waterproof material in its place, your back wouldn't breath. Therefore, I think this is just a necessary evil... But I still don't like it.
3) the MAIN reason I don't love this bag - I tried brining some poles on my most recent run. I only planned to use the poses intermittently, excited to store them away in the provided front loops when not in use. It was advertised that you could deploy and pack up your poles "without losing stride". However, I found that it was a hastle to pack them and more disappointingly, they kept falling out as a ran. I was annoyed and won't bring poles again unless I plan to use them for the majority of the trip.
4) I have a few issues with the provided bottles. They stained (badly) after one run with drink enhancements added. They were easy to drink from, but not as easy to stow. I think I'll stick with other bottles from now on.
The pack fits like a glove and looks great. Other than a few minor annoyances. It was pretty good. It will probably be my go-to pack for longer runs & hikes, but I'll probably stick with my Nathan or Ultraspire for the daily use. Brandon on May 9th 2016
I was looking for a pack to cover long all-day adventures and yet also not feel like too much for a 4 hour race and I'm happy to say this pack should cover that range nicely. In my opinion the extra few ounces over the SJ 3.0 are well worth it for the added capacity that is there when you need it.
Please note that the sizing on this pack is quite a bit off. I would normally take an XL or maybe an L, but the medium in this pack is working just fine for me. (I'm 200 lbs, 6'0" with a 43" chest.) I tried on a Large as well and probably could have made that work, but the upper chest area strap was cinched all the way so my adjustability range would have been limited. Steve L on Apr 18th 2016
Over the last few years I have owned just about every running vest that any company as made. There have been a few that I have liked but most have not met my needs. I put this down to companies trying different ideas with vests since it is a fairly new market.
Ultimate Direction seems has learnt from making running vests over the last few years and has aced it with the AK 3.0, I would call it the "best running vest on the market today".
A lot of vests are made for racing but what I was looking for was a vest that I could use for a 10 mile run one day and then turn around and do an all day adventure in the Grand Canyon the next.
Plenty of storage up front, the 2 soft bottle sit high enough so you can drink out of them without taking them out of their pockets. Zippered mesh pocket on the right up front will hold a large smartphone which is nice. Left hand side pocket is bigger than the left and will even fit a small soft bottle.
As for sizing, I am 6'1" and 195 and the medium fits with lots of room to spare. You would have to be pretty big guy to need the large. In other words size down.
The sternum strap buckles are super easy to use, even with gloves. On the back of the pack the main compartment zipper goes across the top and all the way down the side. It uses a 2 way zipper making retrieving things from the bottom easy. There are 2 smaller zip pockets on the back, one high and one low. These are great for all those small items that normally fall to the bottom of your pack. There is also a large blue stuff sleeve on the back which is perfect for a jacket and glove. I actually put an extra soft bottle in the sleeve and found that it balances out the bag. This allows me to carry 1.5 liters of water.
I don't ever use a bladder in my running packs so I can't say how one would work.
The bungee on the back has multiple options, allowing you to cinch the bag down for shorter runs or make way more space when needed.
So far I have taken this pack on a 20 mile run and a 10 mile run. The fit is amazing and I can't be happier with my purchase. No bounce, lots of storage options and super comfy.
Ben Hanel on Mar 12th 2016