Thursday, May 24, 2018

UltrAspire Momentum Race Vest Review: Maximum Carry in a Minimalist Vest

Article by Sam Winebaum

UltrAspire Momentum Race Vest ($80)
The UltrAspire is a minimalist running race vest that can be a daily companion on any run to carry a few essentials. It can also morph into a bounce free high capacity vest capable of carrying up to 2 liters of water a shell, poles, phone, and some nutrition and other essentials in its nine pockets: 2 front and 2 back bottle pockets, 2 side drop in mesh pockets, 2 top of shoulders pockets for pills and a key, and a middle of shoulder blades zip pocket. At $80 (w/o bottles) it is very fairly priced.
Almost constructed of a decently structured 3D mesh it is highly breathable, secure and comfortable with any load. It is reasonably priced at $80 (see below now on sale). You provide your own bottles, none are included. We tested with UltrAspire's UltraFlask 550 Hybrid semi soft contouring bottle, Salomon Soft Flask Speed 500 and the HydraPak SoftFlask 500 Ml with hand grip. Obvious comparisons emerge to the popular Salomon S/Lab Sense 5 and 8 vests with their soft fabric construction. Read on to see what we thought!

Stats per UltrApsire
Momentum Race Vest
Recommended Use:
Very lightweight race vest for the minimalist runner who prefers bottles in the back. With multiple stretchy mesh pockets available it is perfect to keep the gear organized and accessible.
• Sweat Proof Webbing—won’t absorb water or get saturated and heavy.
• Safety stitched bar tack on all stress points.
• Quiet, bounce free, easy to see and use, zipper pulls.
• Zig zagged stitching over elastic for ultra-durability, increased stretch and rebound.
• Plush feeling micro-fiber polyester edges, soft and non-abrasive against skin and clothing.
• Magnon pocket for sweat-free pills, with automatic magnetic closure for rapid access to pills and other essentials. Patent pending.
• Silicone and PU coated feather-weight nylon fabrics resist water, abrasion and tears.
• Lightweight, soft, breathable, but strong, large-holed mesh pulls moisture away from the body to keep skin dry and cool.
Fit:  Unisex
Size(s):  SM (31”-36”) MD (34”-39”) LG (37”-42”)
Color:  Pitch Black
Hydration Compatible (not included):  4 x UltraFlask 550
Weight: 7.2 oz (204 g)
Retail: $80. Available now.

The vest is constructed almost entirely of a very large holed 3D mesh with the exception of its mesh pockets and small piece of ripstop towards the bottom of the rear zip pocket.

The two mesh front pockets securely hold the semi rigid, body contouring UltrAspire UltraFlask 550 ($15), each with 550ml of capacity. 
These squeezable flasks with a high flow push pull valve were usable with the bottles in the vest. Bend the head down, pull the valve open, squeeze the bottle through the pocket, drink.
I did notice somewhat more pressure and potential chaffing on the ribs where the red clip MaxO 2 Expanding Sternum cord holders which are not particularly padded on the body side when using the Hybrid bottles. Loosening the bottom cord a bit was effective in relieving pressure. Not to worry soft flasks work very well in the front pockets and may be more comfortable for some.
The two side drop in pockets can hold an iPhone X in a case and plenty of nutrition. Despite the phone projecting a bit it was secure during my testing as there is very little body motion under the arms on the run. I do wish they were a touch deeper and snugger though.

I have an extremely stiff back and shoulders. I was able to, with some effort, to retrieve bottles in the rear pocket and return them. Those with swimmers' shoulders should have an easier time! Large loop tabs are provided on the rear pockets to locate the opening and pull them open.  I will use the rear pockets to carry extra water supply if need be and swap to the front when needed. The rear carry of the Hybrid bottles is super stable, totally forgot I had a liter back there. 
The Max O2 Sternum strap system is very simple and effective.  
Loop the elastic cord through the red hook. Pull the cord on the other side to tighten, press the spring lock to loosen.
I found that with the Ultra Flask on board that reaching to press the lower cords spring lock was not as easy as it could be and could be problematic with gloves. 

The trick is to reach with one finger into the window and press with the other hand's finger.

Using Soft Flasks
I also tested with other bottles in the front and back pockets with my daughter testing with a combination of soft flasks and an UltraFlask. 
Hannah set off for her 19 mile trail run with 1.5 liters of water and the vest fit her just as well as it did me and I am 5" taller.
Upfront the HydraPak Flask as it shorter and broader fit with no issues and stayed put. The Salomon which is longer and skinner stood nicely when full but once some water was consumed need a bit of tuck down into the pocket to keep the top from flopping over. Not a big issue as far as I am concerned.
With soft flasks in the rear pocket, things weren't quite as smooth. The HydraPak stayed put just fine but due to the softness and its strap was a bit more difficult to return to the pocket on the go with my stiff shoulders than the UltrAspire bottles. A handy and big loop is provided to help locate and open the rear but the combination of softness of the flask and location made things a bit more awkward. The Salomon were more problematic and am not sure a good option for rear carry as I found it difficult to jam them down far enough to keep from flopping over.

The Momentum is a great new race vest. Incredibly versatile, it can go from a few daily run essentials to a truly massive load of fluid (up to 2L) and other gear, neatly arranged and well held in the 9 pockets. The mesh is highly breathable and has enough structure to hold the load on the body without loose flopping. Highly recommended.

UltrAspire Momentum vs. Salomon S/Lab Sense Ultra Vest 5 & 8 (RTR review)
The Salomon is made of very soft, more comfortable, unstructured fabric. It fits more like clothing than a vest. As a result, its fluid capacity is effectively more limited and as load weight increases so to does shifting and bouncing as a result.  The Salomon with it 5 and 8 L capacity may have an advantage over the 3 L capacity of the Momentum  for carrying layers out back, easily stuffed into the rear kangaroo pocket(s) one in the 5L and 3 in the 8L, the front doubled drop in pockets and the two side zip pockets. The Momentum is more practical in warmer weather where fluid is the priority and the Salomon in cooler weather where layers, gloves, and hats are coming on and off. I will reach for the Momentum in summer and the Salomon in winter. Highly recommended,

Ultra Spire Momentum Video

Reviewer Bio
Sam Winebaum is the Editor and Founder of RoadTrailRun. He has been running trails and roads and run shoe and tech geeking for 45 years. As he turned 60 in 2017 he was thrilled to clock a 1:35.24 half as well as 2 days after his 61st birthday a 3:40 marathon.  He also runs trails in rocky rooty New Hampshire and smooth Park City, UT. 
The Momentum was  provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.
Comments & Questions Welcome Below!
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(Now On Sale for $59.96, regularly $79.95)


Michael said...

Any plans to review the Spry 2.5 Hydration Pack as well?

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Michael,
Thanks for reading RTR and asking. Probably not but could try to get one. I see a little less capacity overall and fewer pockets but a bigger open rear stuff pocket and bungie on the rear as the big differences
Sam, Editor
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Ted Darling said...

What size did you test and about how large are you? I am sorry if I missed this in the review, but I didn't see it. I always find that the sizing given for vests by the manufacturer is a bit off of how I like them to fit me, so I wanted to get a better picture of how this one fits. Thanks!

Joe S. said...

Hi Sam,

I would like to echo Ted's question about sizing. I'm 6ft with a 38 inch chest and fairly broad shoulders. I have a medium in the Salomon S/Lab Sense Ultra 5 Set vest and it fits me pretty snugly (but not uncomfortably).

Looks like I'm right on the border between medium and large in the UltraSpire. Do you think it would be better to go for the large and synch all the way down using the sternum straps? Just not sure if things would be too constricting in the medium, with all four UltraFlasks loaded in, which would be my intended usage.

Cheers as always for your advice.