BUYING GUIDE: TRAIL RUNNING VEST PACKS

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Trail Running Vest Packs

Find Your Feet athletes on our Gone Running Tour to the Italian Dolomites

 

Not sure where to start when it comes to selecting a vest pack for trail running? This advice is here to support your decision making.

 

What is a Vest Pack?

A vest pack is a pack that clasps around your chest without a waistband. This ensures there is no bounce in the pack when you run and helps prevent any chaffing or discomfort from the waist strap. There are a variety of trail running vest packs on the market.

 

How to choose a Vest Pack?

When choosing your vest pack, it is essential to keep in mind a number of factors:

  • The distance of your event
  • How much mandatory gear or storage is required for your event
  • The hydration capacity required to complete your run
  • Whether you prefer soft flasks or bladders/reservoirs

 

Use our comparison chart to help you select your Vest Pack:

This is our list of the best vest packs available on the market. We have described:

  • What race distance they are suitable for
  • The hydration capacity of the vest pack
  • What we feel are their best features

Our list is ranked by mandatory gear storage size of the vest pack, from the LARGEST storage size to the SMALLEST storage size. Please note, storage size is not a reflection of fluid carrying capacity, but rather a reflection of how much gear the vest pack can hold.

 

 

ITEM SUITABILITY HYDRATION OPTIONS BEST FEATURES
Ultimate Direction Fastpack 30L This is NOT a race appropriate pack. A vest pack most suited to longer adventures such as multi-day missions. Storage capacity - 30L Uses 2x590ml bottles but requires you to purchase these separately. Can also add an Ultimate Direction 2-3L Reservoir. Total Capacity - approx. 4L. Largest volume vest pack on the market
Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20L This is NOT a race appropriate pack. A vest pack most suited to longer adventures such as long single day or very light multi-day missions. Storage capacity - 20L Uses 2x590ml bottles but requires you to purchase these separately. Can also add an Ultimate Direction 2-3L Reservoir. Total Capacity - approx. 4L. Large volume vest pack for personal missions.
Salomon S-Lab Advanced Skin3 12 Set Largest pack available for racing. Ideal for 80km - 100 miler distances which have larger mandatory gear requirements. Storage capacity- 12L Comes with 2x 500ml Salomon Soft Flasks only (1L total) and the ability to carry 1.5L Salomon Soft Reservoir. Total capacity is 2.5L Ideal size for longer races and the fabric is soft against skin.
Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest Ideal for 80km - 100 miler distances which have larger mandatory gear requirements. Storage capacity- 11.5L Comes with 2x 500ml Ultimate Direction Body Bottles (1L total) and the ability to carry an Ultimate Direction 2-3L Reservoir. Total Capacity - up to 4L Perfect pack size for longer distance races. Easily accessed storage of bulky items and large fluid capacity. Plenty of pockets on the front of the pack.
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure 3.0 This pack holds 10L of storage so will easily fit all your mandatory gear in it for the longer ultra distance races. Comes with 2x 500ml Ultimate Direction Body Bottles (1L total) and the ability to carry an Ultimate Direction 2L Reservoir. Total Capacity - 3L Perfect pack size for longer races when you stil want to keep things to a minimum. Plenty of pockets and softer seams next to your skin.
CamelBak Ultra 10 (2017) Large pack suited to 80km - 100 miler distances or races with large mandatory gear requirements. Storage capacity- 10L CamelBak Antidote Reservoir only (2L). Total capacity - 2L Highly versatile pack. Setup would be ideal for mountain biking too. New version made with lightweight material.
Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra 3.0 For light weight 100km events or events such as the Ultra Trail Australia 50km which have larger mandatory gear requirements. Storage capacity - 6.25L Comes with 2x 500ml Ultimate Direction Body Bottles (1L total) and the ability to carry an Ultimate Direction 2-3L Reservoir. Total Capacity - up to 4L This vest pack has a soft and flexible mesh harness, phone compatible pockets and on the go trekking pole holders.
Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta 3.0 (Women's Specific) For light weight 100km events or events such as the Ultra Trail Australia 50km which have larger mandatory gear requirements. Storage capacity - 7.2L Comes with 2x 500ml Ultimate Direction Body Bottles (1L total) and the ability to carry an Ultimate Direction 2-3L Reservoir. Total Capacity - up to 4L This vest pack is lighter weight, uses softer fabrics, has a phone compatible pocket and adequate front-of-body storage for race fuel & valuables.
Salomon S-Lab Advanced Skin3 5 Set Very light-weight pack for racing. Ideal for 50km distances or races which do not require large amounts of mandatory gear. Storage capacity- 5L Comes with 2x 500ml Salomon Soft Flasks only (1L total) and the ability to carry 1.5L Salomon Soft Reservoir. Total capacity is 2.5L Really great, less-abrasive fabrics. Light weight. Easy to clean in the washing machine.
Camelbak Ultra Pro Small pack with 2 x 0.5l flasks and 2.5L volume for gear. Ideal for short trail races up to 40km where minimal gear is required. Storage capacity - 1L + 2.5L Comes with 2 x 0.5l flasks. Total capacity - 1L Light and race ready
Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Set Super light pack ideal for short races up to 50km where minimal mandatory gear is required. Storage capacity - 3L 2x 500ml Salomon Soft Flasks only. Total capacity - 1L Most versatile pack for moving light. Feels like just another item of clothing. Can wash in the washing machine.
Salomon S-Lab Sense Set Lightest pack on the market. Designed for races where no mandatory gear is required. Idea for road race and short trail races where no mandatory gear is required. Storage capacity - 1L (in pockets on chest area) 2x 500ml Salomon Soft Flasks only. Total capacity - 1L Ideal for marathons and events where you just need to carry fluids, nutrition or personal essentials such as, keys & phone.

 

 

FEATURED REVIEWS

REVIEW: Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Set Trail Running Vest pack

By Hanny Allston

I used to be a camel. I would pride myself on my ability to guzzle fluids before I headed out the door on a long run. Off I would trot, my stomach sloshing and multiple layers of thermals & rain jackets wrapped around my waist. Despite my proud claim of rivalling one of the slowest species in the animal kingdom, unlike the camel I found I had a lifespan on a training run or race of around 2.5 hours. My water stocks didn’t seem to last as well as my humped animal role model, my jacket would begin to unravel and flap around my legs, energy levels would begin to dip and the negatives stemming from discomfort would start to set in. My world had become limited by my inability to rival the camel. Until… I was given my Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Set vest pack in 2014. Gone are my camel days!

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