Friday, March 01, 2024

Ultimate Direction Xodus Vesta and Xodus Hydration Vest Review

Article by Renee Krusemark 

Ultimate Direction Xodus and Xodus Vesta ($180)


Renee: The Xodus Vest and Vesta (the female-fit of the Xodus) are two of the newest hydration products from Ultimate Direction. First shown at The Running Event in fall 2023, the Xodus is scheduled for release mid-March 2024. Both versions share the same specs, aside from the Xodus Vesta having a narrower cut in the shoulder straps and back. Let's get into the details and the vest's fit and performance.

Meant for “race-ready” distances, the vest has a 6L capacity. 

For the review, I have 200+ running miles and several hours of snowshoeing with the vest, trying multiple shortage options to test fit and performance. 

The Fit

Renee: The most unique aspect of the Xodus is the side zipper entry. The fit is meant to be close and contoured to reduce rubbing and bounce. Most vests have a front opening, secured by front straps. In contrast, the Xodus requires entry from the side, then pulling over the head, and finally closing with the zipper on the right side. 

Each of the sides have adjustable bungees to tailor the fit. Having bungees flopping around is not comfortable, but that’s not an issue here. Both sides have a tuck for the cord slack. Adjusting on-the-go is difficult though. I had to stop and pull the cords out of the tuck to adjust and then try to tuck back in when finished, which was not easy. That said, the vest should not need much adjustment. Once you have it tightened, it doesn’t loosen. 

I reviewed a size small, my typical vest and apparel size. I usually wear a compression sports bra in a size medium. For sizing, if wearing over layers (as I did in the winter), I suggest looking at a size up, or your sports bra size rather than apparel size, if those differ. Over a jacket, with front flasks and snacks in the front, the zipper came undone completely several times while running and snowshoeing. With water in the back (bladder) instead of the front, no issue. When running with a shirt and no jacket, no problem. The fit is like a somewhat loose sports bra (and it feels like one too). I’m hoping to try a women’s medium for comparison to see if I have the same issue with the zipper coming undone. 


Renee: The front storage includes one large pocket across the chest, with three separate openings. You can fit a lot into this massive pocket. I used it for snacks and extra gloves. 

Under the large front pocket are the two soft flask storage pockets. One positive about the flask storage being behind the large chest pocket is that it decreases the amount of bouncing from the flasks. The vest as sold will come with two 500mL flasks (although my early review vest did not). I used flasks I had at home, including a 500mL Salomon flask that is longer and thinner as compared to the other 500ml flasks. For most vests, the best fitting front flasks are the ones that come with the vest. I used three different shaped flasks in this vest and had excellent fit for each. The vest has a bungee cord to wrap around the flask top to prevent bouncing. I had no issues with bouncing or having the bottles creep up when almost empty. The benefit with this vest is the flasks are held in place a bit more than other vests because of the front storage pocket that lays over these flask openings.

Each shoulder strap has its own pocket. The left pocket has a zipper. This pocket is small. I could fit/stuff one small electrolyte mix packet here, but that’s it.

The right shoulder pocket is also too small to fit much. One small electrolyte or salt packet (maybe) at best. The opening is from the top, which was hard for me to access while running (or walking, or really at any time wearing the vest. I didn’t use this pocket). 

To the left side, is one zipper pocket. A few gels can fit in this pocket. I usually place my key fob in this pocket. A smaller headlamp and small external charger (5” x 2.75”) will also fit. 

In the middle of the front flask pockets is another zipper pocket. My iPhone 14 Max in its case, in a ZipLock bag fits securely in this pocket. The fit is tight, but it is easy to take in and out as needed. A major benefit of this vest, for me, is this easily accessible and comfortable phone storage option. Most vests have a zipper pocket to the side, which if I’m using a front flask can irritate my chest. While I’m not a large-chested lady, I found the front storage options in the Vesta far more comfortable than other options. 

Just wait! There’s more storage in the back! The vest features an open pocket with two side entries on the back. I was able to access items in this pocket on the go (I used it for extra gloves and a hat). The back also features two open pockets, one for a 2L bladder and another for other items. The vest has slits for the bladder hose to go from the back to the front without causing irritation along the neckline. I tucked the hose through the front straps along the flask pockets.

There are several loops for bungees cords on the front and back which can be used for poles or looping an extra jacket. If you don’t use them and hate to have cords flopping around, they are easy to remove as needed. 

Performance and Conclusion 

Renee: I reviewed the vest during winter months, so judging the breathability was difficult because of cold (often frigid well below 0℉) temps). Most vests have the opening in the front, which allows air to enter, which obviously won’t be the case here. The front also has two layers of fabric for the pocket and flask pockets, which is more material in comparison to other vests. For me, it was like wearing an extra sports bra over a sports bra over a shirt (and usually over a cold-weather jacket). I can see how some runners might not like the tight fit, but if you wear a sports bra, you’ll be used to it.

My only negative about the vest is the sizing might be tricky. I suggest the size you wear in a sports bra if choosing the Vesta. The major positive is reduction of bounce and discomfort across the chest when running with flasks, snacks, a phone, and other items all in the front. The negative is the zipping coming undone while running, but I imagine that might be a fit-specific issue (and again, only an issue when I loaded the front storage and was wearing a cold-weather jacket underneath). 

The Xodus Vests will be available Mid March 2024

Renee is a former U.S. Marine journalist, which is when her enjoyment of running and writing started. She isn’t that awesome of a runner, but she tries really hard. Most of her weekly 50-60 miles take place on rural country roads in Nebraska, meaning mud, gravel, dirt, hills, and the occasional field. She has PR’s of 1:30:59 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below! Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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