Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest 2.0


I purchased a hydration vest for my upcoming 50-miler. Honestly, I don’t think I necessarily need one for this race. However, I’m planning on doing a hundred next year and I want to try something out in a race setting. Also, it looks like it’s going to be a warm day next Saturday, so maybe I will need it after all (especially considering I ran out of water between aid stations at CT50).

I selected the Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest 2.0. This is a minimal vest – it weighs 7 ounces without bottles and 12.5 ounces with bottles. The vest includes two 20-ounce Ultimate Direction bottles with kicker valves (more on that below).


There are two adjustable straps across the chest, as well as straps on each side. This helps you get the perfect fit.

The vest comes in SM/MD, which is for a 23″-36″ chest and MD/LG, which is for a 32″-44″ chest. With that being said, I wear a 40R jacket and I went with the MD/LG vest. It definitely works for me. However, if you wear 38R or smaller, I would go with the smaller size.


The vest is quite comfortable. I have not gotten any hot spots running with it. It doesn’t bounce if adjusted properly, although fluids do tend to slosh around a bit. I threw some stuff in the back (the pack has 244 cubic inches of space) and it still didn’t bounce at all. This was definitely a plus!


My one criticism is the water bottles. Specifically, I don’t love the kicker valves because I think they are difficult to drink from. In fact, I tried the vest with my Nathan water bottles and it worked fine. However, I am going to switch back to the Ultimate Direction bottles. While I don’t love them, they have a nice flow rate and the mouth is wider, which makes for easier filling at aid stations.

For a quick review on the bottles, click here.

As an alternative, Ultimate Direction sells a soft flask that is available here. I also found a soft flask for sale at EMS for about half the price. Tony, the vest’s namesake, was using soft flasks for at least part of UTMB.

Overall, I am very pleased with this vest. I will definitely follow-up after the race and let you know how it worked out for me.

Do you ever use a hydration vest?

If not, how do you stay hydrated on long runs?

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11 Responses to Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest 2.0

  1. pauldburton says:

    I love those kicker valves. A firm squeeze of the bottle gets you a nice mouthful of water and then you can close them with your mouth before you put it back in the holder. They work really well for me. I found that the bottle start to fail after eight years as they split around the thumb indents. But that’s a pretty long life span considering I use them daily and put them through the dishwasher. 🙂

  2. HC says:

    Looks way more comfortable than the fanny pack kind. Sometimes I see runners on a 3-mile loop with water fountains wearing hydration vests and have to chuckle. When I go over 10 miles I usually just carry my water bottle. It’s not ideal.

    • Jason says:

      Ha! I’ve always used bottles in the past – this was a big step for me. It should be interesting to actually use it in a race. I’m hoping it works out!

  3. evygonzales says:

    I LOVE my UD jenny vest for woman. I use my UD vest all the time now instead of using handhelds. Even if its not a long run. More efficient for me.

  4. charissarunning says:

    I literally just bought a vest as well – the Nathan Intensity vest for women. I used it on my long run last weekend and I was so surprised by how much I loved it right away! There’s no bouncing around, unlike with belts, and now my hands are free! Plus, I found that taking water from the tube prevented me from drinking too much water at once. Overall, it was probably my best investment to running gear yet 🙂

  5. With a group, we will place water along the planned course. When running by myself, I hand carry water. On a recent 1/2 marathon, I was surprised to see several people using vests.

  6. I think the whole concept of hydration method is a personal preference. Some people “see runners on a 3-mile loop with water fountains wearing hydration vests and have to chuckle”, while others, such as myself, prefer the convenience and security of always having water on my person when on a run. Sure, there are times with short runs where I forego my hydration backpack and just re-hydrate afterward, but for almost any run I’m on over about 3 miles, I very much prefer having it with me. I don’t get distracted by thirst, seeking out the nearest water fountain, choosing routes according to their availability of water, etc. I have water strapped to my back because it keeps me hands-free and the ability to take even just a small sip as soon as I feel the need keeps me mentally focused on the task at hand. This one in particular looks like a really solid option, can’t wait to hear your feedback on how you liked it during a race!

  7. Bryan says:

    I tend to use a hand bottle most often. I have a cheap CamelBak knockoff backpack, but I’m sure it pales in comparison. I’d love a UD, Salomon, or Orange Mud vest! That seems like the best option to me!

  8. Pingback: Final Reflections on Virgil Crest. | Must Love Jogs

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