Under Armour Trail Hydration Pack 1.5L
This pack has a really nice feel to it when you first pick it up. Initially I liked the rigid back panel. It makes sense for obstacle course races that you need to crawl under obstacles. It's smooth, so it won't get caught up if your low crawl isn't low enough. It has a 1.5L hydration pouch and a little storage in the back, which I found to be large enough for a windbreaker/mid-layer, some extra snacks, and a collapsable water bottle. I also put my phone and spare battery in there.
· The vest rides really nice. It locks down really well and doesn't shake or move when it's fully loaded.
· The rigid back panel could be a really nice addition for obstacle courses where you need to crawl under obstacles.
This vest is constructed really well, but it lacks in a lot of areas and there is a lot of room for improvement. Keep in mind that I am also a big runner (6'2" >250lbs) and the fit and ride might be a little different for me than for you.
The primary complaint that I had with this vest is the integrated grab handle. It's an innovative idea and it makes reaching over-head and grabbing it when you need to refill the bladder very easy. The issue is that the material is very rigid and it rubbed on my neck and caused a bad hot spot. I had to put a mid-layer on to create a barrier between that edge and my neck. I'm not sure how much of this is because I might be outside the size demographic. I think this could affect a lot of people just because it's a rigid edge and the pack itself is designed to fit so well.
Another area where the design of the pack itself can be improved is where the pack can be adjusted and the amount and location of usable storage. The area that I have highlighted is semi-rigid and it does not stretch. This area is a miss for two reasons.
First, this is a missed opportunity for storage that is pretty common in a lot of hydration vests. This storage could also utilize the pack itself for increased capacity. This is a great feature in some of the Salomon vests/packs. Great for layers for storing layers, gloves, hats, fuel, electronics, etc. This vest overall lacks functional storage that you would want during long runs or hikes. You need to take off the pack to in order to access most stored items
Second, this design negatively effects the fit. The only area to adjust the fit of the vest is with the shoulder straps. If the material used was more flexible or if it was adjustable, like a few Nathan, Ultimate Direction and Inov-8 vests, this could provide a more adjustable fit, which might negate the rubbing and chaffing on the neck caused by the integrated grab handle. This fit would also better accommodate a greater range of anthropomorphic types.
The last area that is a miss for me is on the shoulder straps themselves. Most hydration vests utilize this area for soft/collapsible water bottles and additional storage for gels/fuels/snacks and small electronics. The lone pocket looks big on the photo, but I could fit a couple of FBomb packs and my keys (barely). My keys did get snagged on the fabric when I was taking them out.
On my second run with this pack, I wore my Inov-8 All-Terrain 3L waist pack so I could have extra storage because it was an extended training run. I packed an additional 500ml Salomon collapsible water bottle, gloves, hat, phone, and a couple of FBomb packs.
The accessible storage provided by my Inov8 waistpack, for me, made a difference in getting some of the common items I would use during races and training, like glove/hats/layers and fuels/snacks. For me it highlights another glaring need for the UA pack.
Overall, it's a well constructed hydration pack, that was not well thought out. It seems to be geared more towards obstacle course races than running/ultra running. With a few design changes and additional, functional storage, it would be a big step in the right direction for getting into the ultra-running, hydration vest field. At a retail of $179.99, I wouldn't make the investment when you can get more functional packs and vests from Inov8, Nathan, Ultimate Direction, and Salomon.