(Note: Amanda is a member of the Women’s Collective, a group that helped Jenny Jurek design the first women’s-specific Collection of hydration gear)
I’m not your typical runner here in Boulder. I don’t call myself an ultrarunner, I rarely race, and running in groups gives me hives. I am a happy introvert by nature, and most days, running is my bestie. (Don’t worry, I have plenty of actual human friends, too).
My preference is for longer runs, on trail, with ample vertical where I can drop it into low gear, with fun technical descents which more often than not result in a collision between me and a rather insignificant in size, albeit dangerous rock. Or maybe it’s a lazy day running flats. I let my running happen without dictation; I don’t need races, PR’s, or cheering to get me running.
Regardless of what sort of day I plan to have on the trails, I buckle in to my UD Jenny Collection Ultra Vesta — it is much more than just a hydration pack only worthy of Hardrock.
I feel strongly that you do not need to categorize yourself a racer or an ultrarunner to justify the purchase of the Ultra Vesta. If you’re similar to me, and you run for the joy, good health through movement, and the organic feeling of freedom it unabashedly offers, making solid investments in this practice is no less important. Do you run? At all? Then you deserve a hydration vest as much as anyone.
I use the Ultra Vesta daily; it allows me to add or shed clothing, bring my phone and sunscreen — I barely even notice that I’m wearing it. IMHO, here are some factors that make the Ultra Vesta unique:
1. It fits. Seriously, can I get an amen? When we local women came together early in the product development process to offer input for Jenny, it was unanimous: we were slightly disgruntled with the “unisex,” fits that were still inherently tailored toward men. If nothing else, the Jenny Collection had to get the ergonomics right, and they did. I had been poaching my husband’s Wasp vest, until we got to try the Scott Jurek Signature Series vest, and while I liked many features of both, neither fit me appropriately. I’m small, so the XS/S Ultravesta is perfect.
If I pack in a wind jacket along with a water bladder, its rear capacity is maxed out, but not uncomfortably so. In hotter temps, I have had no issues with overheating, dampness accumulating underneath in the back area, or chaffing. I can crank down the torso straps and there is literally no bounce. Even better? No more “wing” affect on top of my shoulders. See photo.
2. The fabric. Is. Awesome. While I understand the virtues of Cuben fiber for a tarp or shelter, I wasn’t a fan of the Cuben fiber pockets and holders on the mens packs, so when Jenny and team showed us the prototypes with the Power Stretch Mesh, Cool Wick Air Mesh, and the 150D Rip Stop, I was stoked. The lightweight 9 oz pack is far burlier in terms of durability than its male predecessors and affords more comfort by way of stretch and give; it is softer, and quieter on the descents without the crinkle of the Cuben. And while the material may not be waterproof, let’s be honest: is anything really waterproof? Water can and does find a way in, so I’d rather have highly breathable fabric and put my important items in a ziploc baggy as a precaution if moisture or precip is a concern.
3. Storage. Such an intimate topic! Remember when I said I’m not a typical runner? I don’t like bottles — not in my hand, or anywhere near my unassuming but don’t-crowd-us-out, breasts. While the Ultravesta does have holsters with a more intuitive placement in the front for bottles, I actually use them instead for sunglasses, my phone, a small bottle of sunscreen and on a longer run, any food I want easy access to. For hydration, I prefer a bladder in the back of the pack, which the Ultravesta accommodates since I can fit a 2 liter supply. Additionally, the key tether and safety whistle are nice touches, as are the two side/rib cage vicinity pockets which not only allow for necessities– which in my case are Benedryl, Ginger chews, my SPF 20 chapstick–they are positioned for a more fluid reach for smaller arm spans.
(FWIW: I am a runner who thoroughly enjoys getting dirty and dusty on the trails, but I’m also, well, a girl, who is fairly adamant that athleticism and femininity do not need to be mutually exclusive, so the colors on the Ultravesta, while of little import to most, were brilliant eye-candy for me.)
Overall? The Ultra Vesta was a much needed addition for us women who wanted a more suitable fit and better ergonomics without sacrificing performance or what we need that pack to do in reality. It is not just a pack for racers or ultrarunners. It’s a pack for women, fit for a woman. Period. Now get out there and find your happy pace.
Thank you for your review. Your candor is refreshing and entertaining. My wife runs for the scenery, exhilaration, and the health of it. Looks like perfect gear for her needs thanks to your description.
~The Mad Swede
Well said Amanda. I too am a “casual runner”, and I have done some races…but don’t categorize myself as a “type” of runner either.
I do what sounds good, whether that is running in the mountains one day, then plan old flat trail the next. I enjoy it all- running with a few, or just enjoying the movement of my feet on the dusty trail. I too own a vest, and have run 2 miles up to 26 in my SJ Vest. It conforms to your but like its not there..but is when you need it for fuel, water, clothing switch etc.
Nature is the fuel for me, not PR’s. One day I might feel good enough to run faster, another day will be slow….then I can enjoy my surroundings that much more.
Love, love, LOVE the Ultra Vesta!!! I have a smaller torso, was using the SJ Ultra Vest before, it got the job done but didn’t quite fit my body type right – Ultra Vesta fits like a glove – so so happy 🙂