Inov8 Race Ultra Vest Review
by Nicky Spinks
Natalie White sent me the new 2015 Inov8 Race Ultra vest in June 2014 to test. I was given a choice of the 5 litre or the 10 litre and I choose the10 litre vest as I planned to use it on long races and do not like to have my rucksak rammed tightly full. I did a few training runs with it then wore it for the 10Peaks Extreme and the Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc - so I have used it extensively in training and racing !!
The Inov8 pack that I received was a Medium which I was surprised at however it fitted very well and most importantly the chest straps were both in a very comfortable location. The problem I find with a lot of packs is that chest straps do not accommodate breasts! The other problem I find is that as I'm narrower than most men I find having anything on / around the chest or my sides constricts me and usually gets in the way of my arm movement so I have avoided most Race Vests up to now. The Race Ultra fitted closely and the flexible bottles in the lower pockets did not restrict my arm movement. I never thought (as Ian did) of putting the bottle in the larger zipped pockets.
I tried running with the pack using just one bottle with the feeder threaded through two elasticated loops and the bottle in the underarm pocket. The other underarm pocket I filled with bars and crisps. The bottle worked perfectly - it's easy to drink from and with it being under your arm you can tell by squeezing it how full it is. To refill it you can get the bottle out of the pocket, unscrew it from the tube and fill it up. The tube has a non-return valve on it so the liquid left in the tube does not run out and down your legs while you do this! Using the large pocket for crisps and bars is ok but they fall out when you take your pack off. It is better to use the large zipped pockets for that. The underarm pockets are excellent for storing hat/gloves or anything temporarily because they are easy to gain access to quickly.
After trying one bottle I tried two and now always use both 500ml bottles (which together comply with the UTMB compulsory 1 litre capacity rule) in the underarm pockets while also putting other stuff in the same pockets for temporary storage (hat, gloves, rubbish, anything I need to put away quickly).
Overall the soft bottle concept and underarm pockets are brilliant and I love them!
The rucksack has a large compartment which easily stored all the Compulsory kit for both 10Peaks Extreme and UTMB (waterproof jacket, trousers, hat, gloves, spare top, head torches and food). On the 10Peaks Extreme I used the back zipped pocket for my maps as they lay flat against my back. I was impressed that the kit stays in the location that you pack it inside the main compartment. On the UTMB I was kit checked in the middle of the night and I immediately located the two items that were requested (phone and jacket). My food also stayed put on top of my clothes and so was very easy to find and retrieve.
Each shoulder strap has three pockets down it (as well as the underarm pocket): A large one at the bottom; big enough for say 4 bars and a bag of crisps, a small one in the middle; useful for medication, money, Zero tablets etc, then a long pocket at the top; which can hold three gels, or as I did on UTMB I put a tube of energy powder/zero tablets there. Once you get used to and organise these pockets properly they are an extremely useful combination and no other storage is required.
I wore a peaked cap on the UTMB which when not on my head I fastened to the elastic at the back of the rucksak. I (like Ian Corless) could not get my poles located on the rucksack without interfering with the main compartment zip and so added an elastic loop (as can be seen on the photo).
I am a total convert now and cannot recommend this pack highly enough. It is brilliant. Thank you Natalie at Inov8 for giving me the opportunity to try it out. www.MyRaceKit.com will be stocking the Inov8 Race Ultra pack as soon as it's released in 2015.
Nicky wearing the Inov8 Ultra Race Vest on 2014 Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc
You can read all about the 10Peaks Extreme and UTMB on Nicky's Ultra Races and Records