As trail and ultra running becomes increasingly popular, the gear associated with doing them keeps evolving. Where once people headed into the wilds with a water bottle in hand and a jacket tied around their waist, today we have loads of options, and gadgets, to make life easier. One big improvement is the development of vests in place of backpacks. They offer more comfort and maximum use of space. This means they’re lighter than a pack, but typically offer less storage.
The Camelbak Ultra LR Vest is for those after a hydration system that also provides a small amount of storage for basic nutrition and a few necessities. The water reservoir is 2L and sits low on your back, tucked into your lumbar area. This makes it quite comfy and snug with almost no sloshing or moving around as you run. The shoulder straps are adjustable and wide, however the basic nature of the design makes it not so comfortable for people at the ‘small’ end of the physical spectrum. The straps tend to sit a touch wide and there was some friction from them that lead to irritation. The dual sternum straps allow you to adjust the fit according to the load in the back and your size. Once again, if you’re a little human then this vest is probably not suited.
What we liked were the mesh stash pocket on the back, which is perfect for a lightweight jacket, as well as the deep cargo pockets on the front. That’s where you put some gels/bars and your mobile. Also, the reservoir is quick and easy to fill on the go and just as easy to clean afterwards. Plus the mouthpiece is simple in operation and delivers fluid in a fast manner. Also worth a quick note is that there’s an integrated safety whistle.
In all it’s a good vest for anyone planning long runs in the bush or after a simple pack for racing. It’s basic, durable, holds plenty of fluid and at around $140 is at the middle end of the price range for this type of product.