CamelBak® manufactures excellent bladders and hydration packs, but using them confines you to a single drink per trail run. With the CamelBak® Ultra LR Vest you can now carry a 2 litre bladder as well as two bottles and thus have any combination of drinks with you. Depending on conditions and your needs for fluid intake, this vest should allow for around six hours of hydration.
The bladder is mounted horizontally in the lumbar belt, keeping the weight low and resting on the stronger lower back muscles of the user. The lower back is ventilated but gets quite hot, although it does not affect the temperature of the water in the bladder. The vest allows for multiple tube routing methods and the bladder is compressible to prevent sloshing and movement as the bladder empties. Bottles are mounted on the front on the shoulder straps and sit on the user’s chest. Small bottles sit too low in the “pockets” to be taken out easily.
The vest has large mesh ventilated pockets on each side of the lumbar belt, accessible and viewable while trail running. The pockets have enough space for a smart phone, gels, headlamp etc. They have tagged zipper pulls that are easy to grab and pull, even while wearing gloves. However items move around allot inside which can become noisy and disorganised fairly quickly.
The vest seems durable and has not had any issues with gel foil packs or branches etc. damaging the vest. The material on the shoulder straps is relatively hard so the vest may chafe if worn with only a sports bra type top. With normal wicking t-shirts I haven’t experienced any chafing or wear issues.
I’m a small guy and the pack is on its lower limits in terms of adjustment. I would suggest petite ladies fit the pack to see if it can be adjusted tight enough to be stable while fully loaded. The vest is very adjustable and carries its load well, but needs re-adjustment if the load is dramatically varied. It’s stable when fully loaded and must fit tightly to achieve this, but the lower stretch chest strap means it still moves with the body and expands when you breath. The two chest straps can be lowered and raised so it should also fit females well.
The rear back of the vest is mesh with a drawstring closure, allowing gear to be stashed there and to dry out, but also means wet gear if it rains. It’s most suited to light weight bulky items like a shell jacket.
The vest reflects heat well and stays cool but does retain sweat which can leave the user feeling soggy. It has reflective detailing for low light visibility as well as a safety whistle. I would liked to have seen a gel bottle holder, key fob and tabs to attach race numbers to.
Overall I am very happy with the CamelBak® Ultra LR Vest and recommend it if you are in the market for a long distance trail running pack.
Review by Luan van Schalkwyk
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