Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Ultraspire Velocity: Voluminous and Versatile Race Vest

Review by Jeff Valliere (see Jeff's Run Bio at the end of the review)

The Ultraspire Velocity ($128.99) is one of the latest models in Ultraspire's line of ultra race vests, designed for all day outings.  With 7 liters capacity, it is one of the larger vests I have run in and does a great job carrying a lot of gear.

Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere
The Velocity is built of sturdy mesh and nylon and has a high quality, full featured look and feel to it, yet is reasonably light weight.  Immediately noticeable are the 2 included unique 550ml semi-soft wide-ish mouth bottles.  
Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere
Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere
The bottles are actually flask shaped and have a mellow curve that, along with their semi soft flexibility, conform very well to the chest.  The mesh pockets are generous in size, which makes for easy access and the bottles remain firmly in place when cinched down.  The honeycomb mesh shoulder/chest straps are durable and breathable.  The zippers have handy pull tabs that are welcome when using gloves or in the dark and the cinch cords are easy to use.

Fit of this pack is one size fits all (most) and adjusts very easily with a relatively thick nylon strap on either side.  Though I can reach the adjustment straps, I found that it was necessary for me to adjust this pack ahead of time however, as I was unable to work the straps efficiently or effectively on the fly.  Size range is impressive, as I was almost able to make this pack work on my 5 year old, 37 lb daughter, adjusts perfectly for my 5'10"/145 build and can adjust significantly larger (I measured 8 additional inches of strap on either side when it was adjusted to fit me).

Storage is generous for a running vest, with a large main pocket and a smaller vertical zippered pocket on the outside of the main compartment for added capacity/organization.  These pockets easily accommodate a jacket, hat, headlamp, gloves, microspikes, food and other essentials.  Additionally, there are lower side wing pockets for smaller items, but I found them to be somewhat awkwardly shaped with a small opening and impossible to access on the go without removing the pack.

There are also a good number of loops on the back of the pack where I imagine one could secure folding poles or secure other items with some added stretch cord.

On the front, there are large mesh water bottle pockets on either side, each with a draw cord to secure the bottles in place.  The bottles conform nicely, hold in place very securely with little noticeable bounce when full, even when running technical descents at high speed.

Additionally, there are singular pockets above each bottle, one smaller zippered pocket for salt tabs, a key or maybe a gel and another larger cinch pocket to accommodate several gels or other essentials.

After the primary adjustment straps are dialed, there are two elasticized chest straps in the front to secure the vest in place with a unique cinching mechanism and a hook/loop clasp.  Ultraspire calls these the Dual Max 02 Sternum system.
These straps are easy to adjust and effectively hold the pack in place while allowing some flexibility for deep breathing.  I did however find it difficult to reattach the straps while wearing gloves and/or when on the move, as access to them is somewhat impaired by the positioning of the bottles.

As an option, this pack is designed to also accommodate a water bladder (not included).  Though I am less inclined to use a bladder under most circumstances, especially while running, some may favor a bladder over the bottles in order to add more room in the front pockets for easy access.  Or, for desert running or really hot days with little access to refills, bottles and bladder would be a great option.

Overall I found the vest to be quite comfortable and appreciate the quality, capacity, adjustability, innovative bottles and attention to detail.  It handles larger loads very well and is quite stable.  Ideally I prefer to have more space in the front and sides for easy access to items items I may frequently need on a longer run, but that is a matter of preference.

The Velocity was provided at no charge to Road Trail Run. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.

Reviewer Bio

Jeff Valliere is a former pro cyclist who now runs and climbs the mountains of Colorado. He has been top 5 Masters, top 25 overall, at the Pike's Peak Marathon several times, finishing 3d Masters this year. Jeff loves vertical accumulating more than 500,000 vertical feet per year, has climbed all the 14's and 200 of the 13's and has held FKT on several.  He often runs and climbs at night. Passionate about the sport but also the gear he has reviewed hundred of shoes for various magazines and sites and participated in product testing for many brands.  Formerly a bike mechanic he now works in Satellite Imagery. He has twin 5 year old daughters who keep him ever busier yet.
The Ultraspire Velocity is available from 
Road Trail Run Partner 
Running Warehouse

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