The Ultimate Direction Jurek FKT Vest is a new and improved version of UD’s SJ Ultra Vest 2.0. The piece of running gear was a winner of UltraRunning Magazine’s Best of Category and is named after the holder of the Appalachian Trail’s FKT record, Scott Jurek. FKT stands for ‘Fastest Known Time,’ and while it’s unlikely that you’ll traverse the AT in record time like Jurek, the vest can help you crush PRs and stay properly hydrated along the way.
Being well-trained is important, but preparation ensures that you’ll meet your goals and cross finish lines in one piece. Having a pack that can almost do the thinking for you removes some of the stress on race day. The well-thought-out design of the FKT vest ensures that you’re unlikely to forget the essentials when toeing the start line.
The pack includes bottles, and although it doesn’t come with a bladder, there’s space for one (an entirely separate compartment). It’s also equipped with a drinking tube should you decide to stuff in a reservoir. Reviewers found the bottles incredibly easy to use, grab, and drink from.
They’re soft, so squeezing them to get that last drop of water isn’t hard. Roomy front pockets hold the essentials and the primary storage pocket features bungee straps to compress your load should you need to pack a lot of stuff.
The bag also has side pockets, which reviewers felt were tough to access in a hurry. Other reviewers lamented that the bag didn’t have more small storage space. Pocket-Obsessed runners will be disappointed.
There are, however, storage pockets on the straps for small items. The front pockets are very easy to get to on the run, so you don’t have to stop and struggle to get out a gel or salt tab.
One reviewer mentioned that while the bag’s sternum straps were useful for keeping the bag from moving around too much, the buckles are not vertically adjustable. It’s not a standard feature, but some bags offers users the ability to move the chest straps up and down.
It’s a useful feature for women who might want to adjust the straps, so they don’t sit directly over the breasts. The FKT vest doesn’t allow for this type of adjustment. It’s a small detail, though, and otherwise, the bag fits well. Well endowed women may want to look at UD’s women’s specific designs since some female reviewers (and shorter runners) found the chest strap fit too high on the chest.
The majority of reviewers did find the pack very comfortable, however. The close fit hugs the body and nearly completely eliminates bounce. The strap system is uncomplicated and doesn’t require an engineering degree to figure out. The pack also distributes weight well, and the mesh helps wick sweat. If you get the bag wet, materials dry quickly, too.
The mesh is breathable, but some reviewers found it a little rough. It easily irritates the skin or delicate clothing.
Another issue that some folks ran across was the bottle placement. They’re lower down than you’d typically see on vests and the design didn’t work for everyone. The bottle pockets also feature padding. The sturdy bottom of the pockets helps to keep the bottles upright and prevents them from flopping around. The problem is that when the bottles are taken out, the padding is prominent and feels odd.
For such a small, compact pack, the bag is quite roomy. The total capacity of the bag is about 11.6 L and the bag - without bottles - weighs about 11.2 ounces. Reviewers characterized the bag as lightweight. Its bounce-proof design helps to distribute weight evenly and makes it feel as though you’re barely wearing a vest at all.
There’s a fair amount of storage space, but that doesn’t mean you need to stuff it to the brim! The bungee cord system helps lock contents down but the more you pack, the bigger the chance you’ll have to deal with bounce.
Larger runners liked the fit of the pack and loved how adjustable it was. A few reviewers complained that the designated ‘phone pocket’ didn’t fit their devices. If you’ve got a large smartphone, you might be forced to stick it in the rear pocket. Runners with large-sized iPhones felt it was annoying to have to grab at the back pocket to access their device.
A few female runners noted that the sizing didn’t accommodate very petite sizes. Women with shorter torsos and smaller frames found it tougher to adjust the bag fit. Smaller women had trouble getting the bag to fit snugly even when choosing the smallest size.
Unless your heart is set on a particular feature of the Jurek vest, petite ladies should consider the women-specific bags offered by Ultimate Direction as an alternative to this pack. The fit is crucial. Too tight and a pack will cut off circulation and chafe. Too loose and contents will jostle around, and you’ll also likely experience uncomfortable chafing.
The bag also features 60 Denier Silnylon which is a super strong anti-abrasion fabric. There’s little chance you’ll damage this bag unless you’re throwing it down a mountain. 4-Way PowerStretch material is also included in the vest in areas where necessary.
Some reviewers pointed out that certain areas of the vest were prone to piling. The straps in particular, but this is more of a cosmetic issue than anything else.
The bag doesn’t come with trekking poles but has an easy access spot to hold them. A hydration bladder isn’t included either but there’s already an installed drinking hose and a separate reservoir compartment should you want to add a bladder. Reviewers appreciated that the bag was well set up to accommodate a reservoir. The compartment is large enough to fit a 2L bladder.
The bag also comes equipped with a safety whistle, a nice little bonus accessory.
The price seems fair for a bag with such a well thought-out design. There’s space for all the essentials, the fit is ultra-customizable, and you can upgrade the bag with added room for water should you decide to prolong your outdoor excursions.
- Weighs 11.2 oz (without bottles)
- Comes in small, medium, large
- 11 pockets in addition to the main storage compartment
- Compatible with a hydration bladder (features a drinking hose)
- Sturdy MonoRip mesh
- Trekking pole storage
- Dual bottle storage (with two 600mL bottles included)
- Bungee system to prevent bounce
The roomy vest is perfect for training and racing, fits true to size (but can be adjusted to suit particular body shapes), and is incredibly lightweight. It comes accessorized with two soft flask bottles and is made with sturdy, performance materials like MonoRip mesh.
Bounce is kept to a minimum with bungee cords, and strap pockets make it easy to grab nutrition on the go. Other brands sell similar packs for the same price, but without the attention to detail and quality of the Jurek vest.