Ultimate Direction Version 4.0
Ultimate Direction Version 4.0 Review and Overview
Ultimate Direction have been at the forefront of race vests since their conception. They seem to be continually looking at ways to improve the products. In my opinion Spring ’18 sees the biggest change between on any series updates since the originals came out back in 2012/13.
Instead of the vests being names after specific athletes (done so because each athlete had specific needs for the distances they were doing) the vests now have a more logical naming system. Race, Ultra, Mountain & Adventure. As you’d imagine the Race Vest 4.0 is smaller in terms of volume than the Adventure Vest 4.0.
In addition to this there are two more MAJOR updates to the ranges. Firstly, the ladies now have 3 packs which are more similar in terms of sizes and functionality to the gents ones. Previously there have been 2 women specific fit packs, the Ultra and Adventure Vesta. These were both great packs but the range was obviously lacking in one with greater capacity, something that is needed for longer days out.
All the packs are still sized with ladies having XS/S & M/L and gents having S, M & L.
The other major update is the introduction of the Comfort Cinch System. When I was given the demo Mountain Vest and saw the Comfort Cinch I was a bit shocked. I basically thought UD had lost the plot, putting 2 tiny pieces of plastic in the small of your back with cord to tighten the vest around your mid-rift. I’m sure to most people this would seem like an odd thing to do, it was quite complex and I was adamant it would rub…the sceptic in me was screaming out loud “You idiots”.
I had a few short runs out with the pack, loaded with my jacket, waterproof trou, space blanket and a few other bits and bobs - A fairly standard packing list. To my disappointment the vest felt good and it didn’t rub. In my effort to prove the Comfort Cinch system was doomed I took the pack on a biggish run in the Lakes. We went on a tour of Skiddaw, to really put it through it’s paces it was loaded to the brim. Both 500ml flasks full on the front, a 2 litre bottle of water centrally in the back with clothes packed around it to keep things in place. I also had my phone, gels, some flapjack, dog lead and some other clutter. The pack much have weighed at least 5kg and the bloomin’ Comfort Cinch still didn’t rub - it felt comfy and I didn’t notice it at all.
Photo. Road testing the v4.0 up on Skiddaw
Generally when I run with a race vest or waist belt I have to adjust the tightness depending on whether I’m going up or down hill. It sometimes takes a bit of fiddling to get the right snugness and can be a bit of a faff but this seemed so easy with the Comfort Cinch. Simply just pull on the 2 easy to grab tabs either side of your hips and pull them gently. The Cinch takes in the excess fabric and gives a really even tightning which seems to make it not too tight in any one area. To cut a long story short the Cinch system works really well.
How did the Mountain Vest stack up against previous UD products?
I’ve used the SJ 2.0, AK 2.0 and the TO 3.0. I think for me the SJ 2.0 has been my favourite pack out of this bunch. The fit was good, there was adequate ‘on-the-go’ storage (the stuff you can get to without taking the pack off). I liked the rail chest straps, they were easy to slide up and down meaning you could quickly change how the pack was fitting. This is something I didn’t like so much about the TO 3.0, once the chest straps were set in place it was pretty fiddly to readjust.
The Mountain Vest 4.0 had more in common with the 2.0 SJ. The fabrics have been updated, they’ve introduced a dissolved stitch stitch mesh - Keeping the weight down but allowing you to keep packing stuff in!
To summarise, I really liked the Mountain Vest 4.0. I’ve read a few reviews since writing this to see what others thought about it and a few people have mentioned they didn’t think the Comfort Cinch pulled the pack sufficiently tight. Perhaps the vest fitted my body shape better but I was super happy when it was loaded to the brim with a hefty load.
Photo. Hobo Steve putting the vest through it's paces.