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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Friday, July 12, 2013

Ultimate Direction's, Juric Running Pack?

 The perfect place to use my Ultimate Direction pack.

Last Fall I got to talk with the guys at Ultimate Direction about their new race series of running packs.   In the middle of January 2013 I received the Scott Juric version.  But it wasn't until today that I finally got a chance to use it.

"The Signature Series was designed by three of the most successful, most well-known ultra runners in the world. Using power mesh for zero bounce and state-of-the art cuben fiber for its unsurpassed strength to weight ratio, our Signature Series vests integrate load carrying, performance, and comfort into one unified system. With water bottle pockets in the front of the vest for quick and easy access, the Signature Series represents the next generation of ultra running hydration packs for runners.
Learn about the inspiration behind the Signature Series from UD Brand Manager, Buzz Burrell. "

Make no mistake.  I'm no ultra marathoner runner.  A marathon distance race with full support tears me up.  Every few years in the last decade I've done something similar. May never do another...ever.  Anything over 20 miles I really have ZERO interest in.  But I long days in the mtns with almost nothing on my back. 

SCOTT JUREK  designed his signature series of running packs for Ultimate Direction in Small, Medium and a Large sizes.  So even the big boys like me..that aren't really designed to be runners can fit one.  And I fit a large...damn near perfectly by comparison to other off the shelf gear.

It is the only Ultimate Direction pack I ordered because  of the available sizing.  Most of the guys using these packs are likely lucky to hit 150# soaking wet!

I really wanted to see if I could adapt one of the Ultimate Direction super light/minimalistic packs to alpine climbing or some sort.  Summer ridge traverses that involve little or no technical gear seemed like a good place to start.   I was and am now very excited to get out and use this one.

We did a 10 mile ridge top trip today followed by another 16 miles on a  mtn bike that ended in a gruelling (for me anyway) 1700' vertical, 6 mile climb on the bike.  Not very steep but my steel mtn bike isn't my carbon roadie either.   Not a long day but a fun one anyway.  I walked away pummeled but still walking....even if just barely.

Gotta say I really like this pack.  Th first hour in on the ridge traverse I was hooked.  Super stable and super comfortable pack/vest, even with a little downhill trail running to get started.  Not much in it.  But plenty of room for more.  Water, cell phone, camera,  Gu, Shot Bloks, lunch with 1500 ml of water in bottles.  Some slings, rap gear with my super light weight Alp 95 CAMP climbing harness.  All in, still well under 10#.  Closer to 6# than 10#.  Depending if I add a water bladder or not with the bottles.

The pack/vest is made for running.  But nothing wrong with taking this sort of super light weight gear and adapting it to your own needs.  If it would only carry skis easily I would use it year around.  But for the rest of summer and a couple of projects I have in mind this thing is almost perfect.  For a few long ridge traverses and a couple of lwt alpine climbs I am going to give the Juric version a serious beat down.   I'll update  the blog with the results.

I'm pretty stoked to find a "pack" that will do what I want and not be in the way.
Anyone that knows me is going to be surprise to see me out of my custom CCWs for serious climbing or my REI Flash for quick hits like this last ridge "run".

Just a heads up on the pack details as the video covers it all much better than I do in writing.  CAMP also deserves some credit here for my own lwt kit.   I am relying on CAMP gear more and more through all four seasons now.  Worth looking around to see if they have anything you might use as well.  Some pretty innovative gear there with huge potential for skiing and lwt climbing.

But no one else doing anything similar to the Ultimate Direction designs that I know of short of military tactical vests.  And none designed  for or light enough for trail running.

More on the Camp gear I am using withteh Ultimate Direction's vest here:

Besides the OEM water bottles which I replaced with the Camp versions with the straw for easier use the packs holds everything I need.  A Camp wind shell and lwt axe are standard kit this time of year.

wind shell
watter bottle

Cell phone and camera a easily stashed as is just about anything else I can think of including aluminum crampons via the bungee cord in the back.  Just trying to think out side the box a little here.  If you have similar goals of going long and light, this pack and the others in the signature series are worth a look.  I like gear that allows me to look at projects with a new set of eyes and expand my own imagination.  It is one reason that new gear still excites me.


Jon Miller said...

Wait until you see Ospreys new running line. Not as light as the Juric, but even more versatile! It is coming in 5? different size packs and are solid on the back!


Unknown said...

Just picked up the UltraSpire Omega for the same application. I wanted to store food up front and water plus enough clothing/emergency gear in the pack for a full day in the hills. Mostly thinking 3 season high sierra stuff. Mostly thinking non-roped adventures but Interested to see how I like it for long alpine rock routes. It weighs 11.5 oz on my digital scale and holds quite a bit of stuff compared to the very popular Nathan #020 hydration vest. I looked very closely at the ultimate direction signature series but didn't end up with one mainly because I'm not that interested in bottles. If I was racing, the AK version of the UD sig series would be my first choice for sure. Positives of the Omega I've found to be the ample storage up front and the cavernous pack on the back coupled with the lightweight and streamlined construction as well as comfortable materials. Negatives are I feel like the pack rides a bit low on the back (very unlike the UD and nathan packs) which reduces perceived stability. I also think it could be improved with a higher sternum strap. Finally, I think the straps tend to loosen easily so I tend to fiddle with them a bit while running. I'm hoping that as I get out with it more, I'll sort out these issues...All in all, I'm really looking forward to filling it up and getting out for a full day in the hills!

Unknown said...

Oh, the other thing I didn't like about the UD vest was that there was material between the front straps and the backpack instead of under arm straps that adjust. The material under the arms is not adjustable and the entire pack sits very high. That also means that for guys with a large torso (i'm a 42" suit jacket) the sternum straps are quite extended and the two front straps sit well off to the sides of your chest. I suppose that's going to be personal preference but it also means those pockets under the arms are actually behind you and very high and impossible to access without taking the pack off. I think the PB version (much more capacity, larger pockets on the upper shoulder straps and a few oz heavier) does better with this and actually fits a larger torso better. The Solomon Skin series are very nice and do well here also (but $$$). I did figure you could take the bottles out of any of the UD models, throw a hydration bladder in the back and have a decent amount of up front storage. Up front storage, in my mind, is the whole reason to get a hydration vest as it allows one to fuel and hydrate w/o taking the pack off. Interested to hear if anyone else is using these for our intended purpose. I know they are popular in the alps as mine (UltraSpire Omega) was built specifically with the mont blanc race in mind...Another example of great euro mountain equipment finally making it to the US.

John said...

The UD packs have a clean design, and bottle positioning is the best of packs I've tried. The shoulder yoke doesn't fit me very well though, unfortunately. Salomon advanced skin fit great, but wow - a lot of excess fabric and pockets on that pack.
Have you tried the Camp trail vests at all?

Unknown said...

Well, this isn't the most popular topic but just to put my review somewhere...After a couple good runs with a full pack, I ended up exchanging my UltraSpire Omega for a Nathan Vapourwrap. The UltraSpire Omega just hung too low and bounced around too much. I think it would be better suited for women but I've also heard women say the shoulder straps are too broad, so who knows. Try before you buy. The Nathan products sit higher and are very stable and very comfortable. Yep, also a few more bones. Tried the Ultimate Direction PB vest and it seemed to sag a little bit and just didn't have that high and forward agressive hug feel of the nathan...heading out for a 3 - 4 hour run tonight to see how I like the Nathan.