Monday, November 18, 2013


It was such a dreary day today.  I don't think it ever stopped raining.  It would sometimes slow to a cold and sullen drizzle.  We just lucked out this weekend! Not only was it great conditions for the trail race on Saturday (you know, for November), we had very nice weather over the weekend for showing off some fun things in Seattle with the friend who visited.  yes, it was even sunny yesterday.

It was a relaxing rest day off from running today.  I thought I'd help recovery out by arranging to take a half day off from work and working that half day from home.  It is nice to have the ability to do this every once in a while.  Generally I like that my job requires a fair bit of up and down stairs and walking around. However I'm catching up with some at my desk/online work and it is nice to not be distracted by the physical stuff i am required to do at work each day as my part of office responsibilities.  Plus this gave me a chance to do laundry, snuggle cats and go grocery shopping once done with work.

And running pack review!  I ran the trail half marathon wearing my new UltrAspire Alpha 2013.  It is a lovely green shade.  No really. I like that.  I'm not sure what the deal is with the bright red water bladder tube but I guess it is easy to grab it.

The pluses:
I was able to cinch it down tight enough during the race by tying off the front straps.  I carried 30 ounces of water and used 20 ounces. I could feel the pack getting looser as i finished off water but couldn't easily grab the pull cord to cinch it down tighter per manufacturer's claims.  I will try that next time when I'm not 12 miles into a race and blasting down a technical trail.  We'll see if this ends up being a con!
The front cinch pockets were very secure and held a lot.  I could easily get my iphone into one pocket and a bunch of wrapped rice balls in the other.  The cinched pocket held everything securely with no bouncing out.
The small zip pocket in the front is just big enough to hold a key.  I'd be a bit concerned about putting my car key in anything but a zip pocket or something which hooks on. Since it doesn't hook in I'd not put anything else into this pocket for fear of my car key falling out if trying to get something.
I liked water bladder tube management.  There are a couple fabric tabs to run the tube through and the hook used to hold the tube is well placed.  I also ended up just tucking it into the vest and that worked. 
I do not hit my wrists or forearms on the front pockets like I would with previous vests.  This may be because I have to have the vest cinched up as small as it can go and the pockets are set close together in front of me and thus don't interfere with my arm swing.  Whatever. I like this a lot as it would annoy me with other packs. 
I really liked having access to side pockets and a back magnetic stretchy pocket. I could access both of these when running although it took me a bit (when running) to figure it out.  I assume I'll get used to pocket access placement with more use. The back magnetic stretchy pocket held 4 gels easily and could definitely have held more.  I do think that this pocket will only work for things that are ok to get squished.  Sometimes i carry pancakes and PB and that might be pretty difficult to carry.  Works great for gels though.
Overall very comfortable and I like the material which feels light, doesn't absorb water (which would make the vest heavier) and has more give than previous running vest and packs. I think the water sits a bit lower into the small of your back which is easier to carry.   

The cons:
I'm still a bit concerned about fit. I think it'll work for me but for a gal who is shorter, smaller in the chest and especially the lower rib cage, I don't think she could get it tight enough.  I talked with a very petite gal at the start of the race who was asking about it and really doubted if she could get it to fit.  I'm tall which helps a bit with length and fit.
The hooks to secure the vest are a bit iffy for me right now.  They hold very securely and seem just fine.  After the race however when my hands were cold and I was tired and maybe they were wet, it was hard to get them undone. This would be an issue if I wanted to refill the water bladder.  I think this might get a bit easier as I get used to the vest but I'm not sure. 
That bite valve on the water bladder sprays water when open.  I doused my socks and a lot of the living room carpet when I was loading the water bladder into the vest before leaving in the am.  I'd notice it dribbling too when running if I couldn't get it closed fast enough.  Granted I do remove air from the bladder so I don't get so much of a sloshing noise but I am surprised so much water dribbles out (all over me).  I've used Nathan, Camelbak and UltimateDirection water bladders and never had such a problem.  

I'm definitely keeping it and contemplating selling both my current pack and vest.  I use a larger pack to run commute but I do think I could use this vest as long as the items I run commute home with (wallet, bus pass, nook, keys) could be wrapped securely in a plastic bag and secured into the vest. 

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