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Tried n’ tested: Camelbak Ultra 10 hydration vest

Tried n’ tested: Camelbak Ultra 10 hydration vest

Clock2nd April 2018

Tried n’ Tested: Camelbak Ultra 10 Vest

 

Please note: This product has been tested extensively over a 12 month period to ensure the review goes far beyond first impressions and any ‘novelty’ factors.

 

Overall Rating: 9.5/10

March 2017 I was invited to see and test the newly updated Camelbak vest and hydration products. After some 12 months of hammering this, it is still as good as new, has exceeded my expectations and is now my preferred pack.*  This is despite being determined not to rate a product well just because I’m invited to test it.

* I had spent over £100 on a very well known brand ultra vest and found it to be excellent. However that appears to focus on low weight more than anything. The Camelbak offers more in the way of comfort, features and overall what I’d look for in a ultra vest. 

Fit 9/10

Fit is completely adjustable, according to your back and chest size, and your waist. The Dual adjustable sternum straps can be adjusted in height and width, allowing you to find the fit that’s best for you. Unlike some other packs I’ve used, I found that the straps stayed in position really well. This meant I was not conscious of the pack becoming loose at any time. After finding the best fit for me, I’ve simply made other very minor adjustments depending on the load I’m carrying (kit and hydration) on a particular run.

camelbak ultra 10 vest test

Post sweaty run, fit still excellent

 

camelbak ultra 10 vest test

Winter testing on a long trail run

 

The vest itself has the most capacity of the Camelbak vests, and features a 2L Crux hydration reservoir with 8L of additional storage space. It’s designed to carry everything required for the UTMB. On top of this, it is capable of carrying two Quick Stow Flasks, or 2L bottles  in the two front vest pockets giving you a variety of options for hydration. I’ve sometimes run with the crux hydration full and not bottles, or no crux hydration and 1-2 bottles depending on how long the run.

The main compartment is accessed by a double zip and contains 3 internal pockets, 2 of which are zipped. There is also a small zipped pocket on the outside, ideal for storing your mobile phone.

   

 

Comfort 10/10

By far the best thing about the vest is the comfort, due to the introduction of the 3D vent mesh. Whereas other ultra vests have left me with the occasional mark or bit of chafing on the shoulder or back, the Camelbak Ultra 10 left no marks at all. The only thing I was conscious of was any weight I was carrying.

The weight of my kit and water made no difference to any bouncing of the vest. This was a lovely surprise on all runs and is down to the design, positioning and holding of the crux hydration pack (see images below). Whether fully loaded or less than half with most water drank, there is barely any bounce.

The 3D vent mesh uses a mix of multi-directional air flow and cushioning to maximise comfort and breathability. This means that the material is constantly adjusting to your movement – rather than barely moving – as is the case with a flat one-directional fabric.

So no rubbing or chafing at all – even with a full load. I have not only tested this with full ultra kit requirements, I have used it to run shopping errands and consistently been surprised by just how comfortable the pack is even when filled with an awkward mix of cartons, fruit, small boxes and jars!

The comfort is also down to the air flow allowed by the 3D vent mesh. Sweat wicks from your running top like normal. Many vests absorb sweat into their material, however the 3d mesh means you get air to your back consistently, allowing excess sweat to wick away from your tech top. This made running on very hot summer days surprisingly comfortable – for the back if not the legs 😉

Very hot summer run helped by air flow

3D vent mesh

 

Hydration 10/10

Another area this Camelbak Ultra 10 vest excels. The easy open/close cap makes filling and refilling so easy and secure. The ergonomic handle makes filling up using one hand for the bag so easy and quick – ideal for when in a checkpoint. The tube and bite valve have been improved to allow 20% more water flow per sip – making it easier to hydrate and get your breathing back to its normal rhythm. The on/off lever is very secure too – no leaks whatsoever in over 1000 miles! The angle of the mouthpiece itself has been adjusted to make access very easy and natural when running. All hydration bladders, bottles and soft flasks are BPA, BPS, BPF free. The bladder and soft flash contain ‘hydroguard’ anti-microbial lining in their multi-layered polyurethane. The bladder is very easy to detach and clean fully too, as is the tube and valve, thanks in part fo the auto shut-off connector at the base of the bladder. There is a mini hanger by which the bladder is secured at the top of the hydration pocket – minimising movement. Combined with the low-profile fit of the hydration bladder this keeps bounce to an absolute minimum and balance to a maximum. Finally, the bite and sip self-seal valve avoids those annoying drips when running.

Easy open/close cap

 

Easy open/close cap

Hold on ergonomic handle 

Hold on ergonomic handle

 

All set!

 

Leak proof on/off lever with 20% more water per sip

 

Crux holder when stored in vest

Design Benefits 9/10

Will try to avoid repeating the many aspects highlighted above. In summary we have:

  • Emergency whistle stored to the front of the vest – a great addition from a safety perspective and means you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’ve remembered this for a kit check.
  • Reflective detail – good for night torch runs and any run/cycle commuting during winter – which I did several times.
  • Sound water resistance thanks to fully zipped main pockets (many ultra vests don’t completely cover your kit).
  • Slots for your running pole storage.
  • Flexible storage, e.g. external features 2 large stash pockets to fit 500ml soft flasks or bottles, 4 small pockets for storing food, gels, compass etc.
  • Adjustable and personalised fitting with secure fasteners.
  • Easy on-off cap.
  • 20% more water per sip

 

SPECIFICATION:
WEIGHT: 280g/ 9oz
USER: Unisex
HYDRATION CAPACITY: 2L/70 fl oz
HYDRATION TYPE: CRUX™ Reservoir with Quicklink™ System
BPA/BPS/BPF FREE: Yes
QUICK LINK DISCONNECT: Yes
GEAR CAPACITY: 8L/450 cu in
DIMENSIONS: 40 x 29.5 x 21 cm / 15.7 x 11.6 x 8.3 in
BACK PANEL: Ventilated 3D Mesh
NUMBER OF EXTERIOR POCKETS: 13
RRP: £129.99

 

Ultimately, this is a premium product and one I would not hesitate to recommend. Having completed an ultra and for years enjoyed long days in the hills (running or hiking), I would far rather spend the extra £10-£20 and be able to enjoy thinking about my surroundings rather than any discomfort of awkwardness of fit.

 

Suggestions/thoughts for Camelbak:

  1. Hydration: Perhaps include something that shows alternative ways in which the hydration tube can be stored – e.g. an online resource, or some images on the product. I occasionally found the tube rubbed on my neck until working out another way of securing it.
  2. Storage: flexible outer bungy for drying out waterproofs?

 

If you found this review helpful, please let me know by commenting below.

All the very best

Jeff

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