10 Best Ultimate Direction Vests Reviewed

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Ultimate Direction provides reliable, light-weight, and durable hydration vests. Having introduced the concept of the hydration vest itself, Ultimate Direction is a leader in hydration vest technology. With some of the top runners in the industry having designed these vests themselves, you’re guaranteed a great product that will work with you at every stride.

UD SJ Ultra 2.0
  • UD SJ Ultra 2.0
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Micro Adjustment Straps
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UD AK Mountain 3.0
  • UD AK Mountain 3.0
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Reservoir Included
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UD TO Race 3.0
  • UD TO Race 3.0
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Volume: 305 cu in
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1. SJ Ultra 2.0

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One of the highest-grossing hydration vests on the market today, the SJ Ultra Vest 2.0 is an extremely popular product.
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Weighing only 13.3 ounces with its 2 bottles included, it’s one of the lighter vests on the market.

Durability
The Power Mesh and Silnylon design combine to make this vest lightweight, yet strong simultaneously. The pockets also feature reinforced elastic edges, so the pockets will spring back to their original size even when they’re stuffed.

Cost
There are newer models of vests on the market, causing the price of the SJ Ultra Vest 2.0 to decrease, but it appears that this vest is as popular as ever. As vests go, it is certainly affordable.
Pros
  • Extremely light weight. It has more space, but is even lighter than the previous version.
  • The water bottles are easily accessible.
  • Extremely durable. Many consumers are happy with the ability of this vest to “last forever”.
Cons
  • Accessibility is an issue with this vest. If you’re not flexible, you’ll struggle to reach the back pockets.

2. AK Mountain 3.0

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Ideal for a mountain runner who wants to fit more into his or her vest, the AK Mountain Vest is a close second to the space capacity of the Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20.
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Storage Capability
This vest can hold 11.5 liters, and the bungee cords on the back expand to a wider width to hold everything in place more easily. The large cargo pocket in the back perfectly fits an extra layer of clothing.

Fit
Sliding sternum strap rails allow you to place the straps higher or lower on the chest. This makes the increased weight that you’re carrying in the vest less burdensome.

Cost
This is one the pricier vests that Ultimate Direction offers. Be sure that you need extra space on a consistent basis before purchasing.
Pros
  • Perfect for longer runs when you can’t bear to leave anything behind
  • Great storage capacity combined with weightless design
  • Hydration system capable
Cons
  • Multiple consumers claim that the size of this vest runs big.

3. Ultra Vesta

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An editor’s choice according to some other commended sources, this vest is a clear winner for any woman looking for a perfect ergonomic fit.
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Comfort
This vest comes with the 500ml soft water bottles. The soft plastic of the bottle is able to conform to the body as you drink it. Similar to the AK Mountain Vest, this vest features sliding sternum straps along with side body straps that help keep the vest extremely snug to the body.

Organization
This vest comes with two zippers for the main storage pocket on the back. This makes it easy to access the gear that’s in the bottom of your bag, without having to remove all of the pocket’s contents. The side pockets are also compartmentalized into two separate regions, so you’ll easily know exactly where everything is.

Cost
Having won the distinction of Editor’s Choice, you would think that this vest would be more expensive. It’s not the cheapest, but it’s also not the most expensive vest that Ultimate Direction offers.
Pros
  • The bottles on the front of the vest can easily be reached without having to remove the bottle from its pocket.
  • The sternum and side straps really do lock this vest in place so that little to no bounce occurs.
Cons
  • Some consumers claim that the nip on the bottle is a bit hard to open while in the pocket.

4. SJ Ultra 3.0

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The SJ Ultra Vest 3.0 is the next generation vest of the 2.0 SJ Ultra Vest Signature Series. This vest improves upon the design of the 2.0 vest and was just released in 2016.
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This vest is made with both Knit Mono Mesh and Darlington Power Mesh. These are lightweight materials that stretch with your things and conforms to your body simultaneously. It’s also made with SilNylon and is a third lighter than the original 2.0 design.

Efficiency
The bungee cords on the back of the vest are perfect for storing bladders, so that you’re always hydrated. This vest can carry 8.5 liters, while the 2.0 can only carry 7.0.

Cost
The SJ Ultra Vest 3.0 is slightly cheaper than the Fastpack 2.0. If you would prefer something extremely lightweight, this vest is your best bet.
Pros
  • Its storage capacity and weightlessness have been improved upon from the previous model
  • You’re able to access your running poles without breaking your stride.
  • Consumers are amazed at how lightweight the product is.
Cons
  • These vests run small, and multiple consumers have complained about its tight fit and restrictive design.

5. P.B 2.0 Adventure

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This vest’s design improves upon the design of the previous version. You will feel confident with this vest on your back.
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Comfort
It’s not the lightest vest on the market at 16 ounces, but most consumers agree that the sizes for this vest fit well.

Waterproof Design
Cuban Fiber has been replaced with Silnylon. This helps to keep the seams together, while also keeping the contents of the vest dry.

Cost
The cost of this vest is great considering the space that you're getting and the updated design.

Pros
  • Stronger bungee cords to allow for greater durability
  • Large front straps and storage pockets
  • Contains a third pocket for easier access to a larger bladder reservoir

 

Cons
  • Some consumers have stated that the Silnylon is not completely waterproof.

6. AK 2.0 Race

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This vest is perfect for anyone who needs the ultimate hydration setup during a marathon or a longer single-day run.
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Hydration Capabilities
This vest comes with two 20 ounce bottles and has adequate space for a 70-ounce bladder.

Accessibility
The four front pockets are able to perfectly fit bars and gels, while the two pockets above the water bottles are large enough to hold cell phones.

Cost
This vest is cheaper than many of the other ones, but is still pricier than the previous version of this vest. This vest has a 4-liter storage volume, which is .5 liters less than the previous version and yet, the price of this vest is more expensive than the previous model.
Pros
  • People agree that the back-storage pocket is the perfect size.
  • It can easily be taken on and off.
  • Most consumers consider it a comfortable and well-fitting vest.
Cons
  • Some claim that the bottles are almost in your face, while others state that the bottles feel like they’re punching you in the gut with every stride.

 

7. Marathon

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Simple and perfect for everyday use, this vest will make you feel as if you’re not even wearing one.
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Weight
Cool Wick Mono Mesh is used to make this particular vest feel weightless. You’ll experience no bouncing while it’s on, with maximum breathability.

Convenience
This vest emphasizes the essentials. It includes one water bottle pocket, one gel pocket, one cell phone pocket behind the gel pocket, a 2-liter reservoir pocket and a zipper-less mesh pocket in the back that’s perfect for a small clothing item.

Cost
This vest is affordable, although it does not come with an actual bladder.
Pros
  • Its lightweight material is extremely comfortable.
  • Holds a large amount of water for its smaller size.
Cons
  • Some consumers claim that their vests tore soon after purchase.

8. TO Race 3.0

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The TO Race Vest 3.0 is similar to the AK 2.0 Race Vest except it is not able to hold as much water.
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Comfort
The Knit Mono Mesh allows the vest to cling to the body for a superior feeling of comfort. The Mono Mesh prevents the vest from bouncing or rubbing against the body. The T-hook adjustable sternum straps at the chest and torso of the vest provide additional comfort.

Efficiency
The two small pockets at the back of the vest are within reach while moving. You’re also able to reach your trekking poles easily while in motion.

Cost
This vest is fairly priced. You should be able to budget for the TO Race Vest 3.0.
Pros
  • Fits snugly to the body to accommodate a weightless feeling.
  • Breathable mesh fabric
  • Two ounces lighter than the previous TO Race Vest 2.0

 

Cons
  • You’ll likely be unable to fit larger gear into the back pockets

9. PB Adventure 3.0

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This vest takes the 2.0 version to a higher level, mainly through more pocket options
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Storage Space
The pockets on this vest are larger than the ones found in the previous 2.0 model, with stretch-mesh storage pockets and layered pockets on the backside of the vest.

Capacity
This enhanced version of the PB Adventure vest allows for 33% more space than the 2.0 vest, while only weighing 14 ounces.

Cost
One of the newer styles in the Ultimate Direction arsenal, this vest is on the pricier side.
Pros
  • Can carry 1.5 gallons of water
  • Reservoir pocket is completely separate from the rest of the vest
  • Bungee cords on the back of the pack allow for more storage.
Cons
  • Vest is smaller than advertised.

10. Jurek FKT

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This vest was designed by Scott Jurek soon after he broke the record for the fastest time on the Appalachian trail.
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Accessibility
This SJ vest features more pockets on the front than the previous SJ models, specifically a large sweat-proof phone pocket. The small pockets underneath of the water bottles pockets have been replaced with bigger dump pockets.

Convenience
This vest is able to carry a 70-ounce bladder and still have plenty of room for larger supplies such as jackets, gels and nutrition.

Cost
This vest is moderately priced as Ultimate Direction vests go. It is the right price for the amount of space that you’re getting.
Pros
  • Great storage improvements compared to the previous SJ vest.
  • Many reviews state that this is an extremely comfortable and well-fitting vest.
  • No complaints regarding the FlexForm 600ml bottles.
Cons
  • The underarm pockets can be inconvenient because anything larger than a gel is going to rub against the arm.

 

Here we’ve looked at a wide range of Ultimate Direction hydration vests. Some are fancy and some keep it simple. There are differences in all of the products on this list, but they all have one factor in common: they’re reliable products. Choose one that will best meet your personal running style, and get moving.

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