ProView – Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 5.0
The Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 5.0 has an impressive name. It’s the 5th iteration of something that is both ultimate (sounds impressive) and ultra (sounds even more impressive). Hoping the vest would live up to its name I spent a lot of time with it logging miles and finding new trails. The town I live in Southern Appalachia doesn’t have a booming outdoor community, but it does have a ton of old forest service roads, hunting trails, and ATV trails that just spiderweb their way through the mountains. So I loaded up the Ultra Vest 5.0 and set out connecting the dots.
Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 5.0
Product Description: The Vest That Started It All and still gets all the details exactly right
Offer price: $139.95
Week after week, Ultimate Direction’s latest Adventure Vest accompanied me through swamps, waterfalls, 20-mile runs, alpine scrambles, and so much more. With each passing adventure, the above-average quality of the pack shown through. Plentiful pockets, practical features, and good adjustability allowed this pack to function well wherever it went.
- Easy to fit
- Very comfortable
- Dries quickly
- Front pockets are wonderful
- Small back pockets not easily accessible
- No waterproof pocket for phone
This is the 3rd running vest I’ve owned and my first from UD. I love that it came with soft flasks, as these were add ons on my other vests, and though it doesn’t come with a hydration pack, we all have a few of those. Thus far I’ve only used this in the summer months in the South, so I can say that it halls plenty of water (3 liters) and snacks for a long afternoon in the mountains with room to spare.
This is the lightest vest I’ve ever used, and I’ve been in the outdoor field long enough to know that cutting grams doesn’t usually mean luxury. But I’m pleased to say that while being very much a lightweight (180g) it was very comfortable on my bare skin. It’s wide, thin, mesh spread the weight out very well so there were never any hot spots or straps cutting into my neck or side even while carrying 3L of water, food, keys, a phone, and a layer. I’m 5’9”, 160lbs. and the medium fits me perfectly. The mesh that the majority of this vest is made of might be my favorite feature; somehow it doesn’t absorb water. This vest dries off extremely quickly and because it’s not sponging up your sweat the whole time you’re wearing it, it smells way better than any of my other running packs.
The feature set that this vest has isn’t revolutionary. They haven’t reinvented the wheel with the 5.0, or come out with some new gimmick that will guarantee your next FKT attempt. But what they have done is fine-tuned an already excellent set of details on a great running vest. The new Comfort Cinch 2.0 adjustment system on the vest is very easy – you clip 2 things and then pull 4 things – and very comfortable.
I love the placement and function of all the pockets on the front of the vest. I find myself using the stretchy pocket for everything, it’s just wonderful. And the zippered pocket on the left side provides more security for things like keys or phones that you want quick access to. The larger pockets on the back of the pack do their job just fine like any large pocket does. The smaller pockets on the back of the pack are the only things I had an issue with; they are marketed as being positioned so you can access them while wearing the vest, and I was unable to dislocate my shoulder in such a way as to reach said pockets.
I can’t truly speak to the durability of the pack having only used it for a couple of months, but I don’t anticipate having issues anytime soon with the Ultra Vest 5.0.
The Final Word
I know there are more minimalist, hardcore solutions to running far and fast than this vest, and I know there are bigger, burlier pack mules than this vest. But the Ultra Vest 5.0 is a wonderful in-between. It is light enough to be unobtrusive but big enough to carry enough stuff for a comfortable, or intentionally uncomfortable, half-day in the mountains. This vest will be the perfect pack for a wide range of users. Wanting a comfortable pack for a long easy hike or a lightweight hauler for your next 50-mile sufferfest, the Ultra Vest has your back (pun intended).
About the Gear Tester
Harry is a father of 3 knee-high, ankle-biters, and the husband of one beautiful lady. He is currently mastering the zen art of balancing family, work, and making himself intentionally uncomfortable. He’s also an AMGA SPI, W-EMT, LNT Master Educator, and lover of people and places. Learn more @harrymcsween.