Incredible max capacity pack for ultrarunners
I have used the PB version 1(v1) for several years, but it is starting to rip in the back compartment, so I investigated the current vests on the market and settled on the PB v3, even though I was reluctant to give up the 2-front-bottle design. I have run 5 training marathons on mountain trails/roads with the v3 so far. Overall, this is an incredible pack, with a few caveats.
My lower rib size is 38, which is in the overlap range between men’s medium and large. I bought the large, but possibly should have gone with the medium. I use about 1/3 of the total length of the side straps. When I start with 100 oz in the back bladder compartment, I use about ½ of the length of the front sternum straps. By the time the back bladder is empty, I end up completely tightening the front straps.
Top zipper pockets. Like the v1 design, these pockets are incredibly useful. Each pocket can fit 2 cliff bars, or 3 hammer bars, or a 4oz Nalgene bottle, or 3 packs of drink mix , or a pair of liner gloves, or a headband, or a buff… Note that if you put a rigid Nalgene bottle in the pocket over the bottle holster, inserting or removing a 20 oz bottle is difficult.
Bottle holster and pouches. Don’t bother with soft, body bottles here. They are too difficult to use on a run. A 20 oz bottle will fit, but the new 600 ml bottle will not. The pouch underneath has significant storage capacity, but I prefer the v1 design with the side pouches. Each v1 side pouch could fit a 6 serving gel flask, or a pair of sunglasses, or a baggie of electrolytes, or a 2 oz Nalgene bottle, or trash from gels, drink mix, etc. You can probably fit more in the single v3 pouch than in 2 v1 pouches, but if you put several small items in the larger pouch it becomes more difficult to get the single item you want. I put a baggie of electrolytes in the v3 zippered pouch, but it has room for much more.
Burrito pocket and pouch. You can fit a 20 oz bottle inside the burrito pocket. However, since I also carry 100 oz in the back bladder compartment, the pressure on my ribs is too irritating. Note that the pressure in front decreases as the weight in back decreases. The new 600 ml bottle fits just fine in the burrito pocket and avoids the front pressure. If you do not put a bottle in the burrito pocket, this becomes a convenient place for anything larger or heavier – a camera for example. The expandable pouch under the burrito pocket has huge capacity. It can actually hold a rolled up Patagonia Houdini jacket or running pants.
The zippered side pockets are a huge improvement over the v1 design. It is much easier to add and remove items during a run and the overall capacity is significantly greater. For winter running, I put micro-spikes (in a zip lock baggie) in one of these pockets, and sun glasses, poncho, gloves, etc, in the other. Note that tightening the side straps will decrease the effective length of these compartments, but not the total volume.
The back side of the v3 is superbly designed for ultrarunners looking for max capacity. The bladder compartment for the men’s large size fits a 100 oz bladder. The 2nd full size zippered compartment will fit another bladder, or extra clothes, bottles, and all the supplies you might need on an unsupported run, but do not need to be immediately accessible. The half-size zippered compartment has a key clip and is also a great place for a wallet and extra calories or a first aid kit. You can quickly cram a running suit or clothes or empty bottles into the expandable pouches on back. Even though these pouches have wide openings on top, the contents are secure. The bottom pouch has a top clip which can be attached to the bungee cord. The top pouch has a loop which can be attached to one of the top bungee clips. Plus the entire bungee cord can be tightened to minimize movement of the back items.
This is an incredible, max-capacity pack for ultrarunners. However, I wish Ultimate Direction would go back to the 2 bottle design with side expandable pockets. I also wonder if they can make the bottom strap come in under the ribs instead of around them. The FastPack 35, for example, features an optional bottom strap which works really well to distribute the weight of a heavily loaded pack.
The UD blog picture of Peter Bakwin wearing this pack shows the top zipper pockets horizontal on the top of his shoulders. The video shows the pockets front vertical. I have been wearing the pack with these pockets front, vertical. I do not know how this affects the overall fit.