So I’m, we’re, thinkin’ about doing something stupid and trying a Ultra in the fall. Given I’ve not yet run a half marathon distance this is where the stupid comes from.
leave me looking like a masochist trussed up in some basement dungeon waiting to be punished”
To that end I’m going to be running further and further distances in the spring and summer. In Oklahoma in the summer, long distances? Soooo stupid.
While I have a couple of hydration packs in case of zombie outbreak they’re not designed for running long distances. One I designed and sewed myself for attaching to a molle vest (also sewn myself) and the other a Source Hydration Pack.
So long story (too late) made shorter I did some research, then more research on hydration carrying options. I settled on a vest type as I currently have an amphipod for carrying my phone and one water bottle but a 10oz bottle and a Note 4 cause the belt to slide down my butt and I have to keep adjusting it during a run. Can you say annoying?
But which vest? Reviews were spotty and we’re back to that size issue I have. What fits the normal runner, much less the elite runner would leave me looking like a masochist trussed up in some basement dungeon waiting to be punished for being a bad boy. So I reached out to my unknown friends at Running Warehouse (it’s weird I keep typing Wearhouse) and sent them an email outlining my trials and tribulations with genetics and bell curves, my current running, my planned running and what I thought I might want. I got an email back quickly saying they were going to research but it might take some time.
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I can live with that so I patiently waited and in a couple of days got back a long detailed email from them with three proposed options and a breakdown of each one. Of the three options the Jurek FKT aka Fastest Known Time vest appealed to me the most visually and it had the features I wanted. And the Large size purported to be likely to fit me.
I promptly ordered, yes from RW and not Amazon. Choosing something for visual appeal is a little shallow but it was far from the only reasons I chose this one.
In a couple of days (free shipping) I got my vest, today to be frank. I’ve gone over the thing and the quality is good in my sample. Even, clean seams, no loose threads, all seams banded or overlapped (sewer talk). It comes with a two bottles but no hydration bladder. For the price you’d think they could throw one in but honestly I’d rather pick my own, I have preferences in bladders and unless they happened to source the same I’d still get my own and then have paid for a bladder I wasn’t going to use.
It took me a couple of minutes to figure out the bottle nipples. They’re a type of bite valve but you also have to pull them up. And if you bite too firmly they close up on you. They’ll take some getting used to, at least by a #NOTARUNNER such as myself.
Tucked away in the side pockets are some take up straps that keep the side pockets/straps shorter. I was able to loosen those and end up with a vest that actually fits me and even has some a little extra. The bottles end up on my Although chest and not under my arms.
If you border on the big side like yours truly then this may be the best option for you. If your chest at the nipples (bonus points for using the word nipple twice) hits 48″ or more or your chest at the bottom of the rib cage hits more than maybe 45″ then this is unlikely to fit or at least fit well. I’m currently a 45/43 so I’m happy to reiterate it fits fine. But there aren’t that many of us big ol’ boys out there trying to train to run stupid long distances.
There are plenty of pockets to carry plenty of things. Although some seem questionable. Honestly there may be too many if you’re not long distance trail running as you might be inclined to use all those pockets. Just be smart about what you put in there I suppose. Ounces equals pounds equals pain when it comes to moving yourself from one point to another.
My biggest complaint is that the supposed cell phone pocket, I assume it is anyway, on the left side strap is only good for smaller phones. Nothing + sized need apply. Something on the order of a iPhone 5 or a Galaxy 2 etc. Galaxy Note’s, S7’s, LG Flex, iPhone 6+, not a chance in hell of fitting. But it’ll fit in the side tube pockets no problem.
The side pockets seem questionable. Anything of any real size is going to cause me and possibly you to rub your arm against it while you run unless you’re chicken wingin’ it. I tend to be a tucked in and tight running so maybe some gels or waffles or something but that’s about it. They’re also difficult to get into on the run for me but that could be due fitment on my bigger than life frame.
One design changed I’d make if it was my own design is to add attachment points either webbing loops or D rings on the edges of the back to be used with elastic webbing to help keep a bladder flat rather than balling up in the back. It does have a couple of clips that can be kind used for that but I think some dedicated keepers for the bladder would be good. But then that’s one more strap that you have to deal with if you’re you know in a race to race and trying to refill your bladder and adding seconds to that etc.
I’d also like to see a mil-spec D ring sewn in at the top of the bladder compartment for hanging bladders from. Right now there’s a Velcro loop and Velcro, even good mil-spec Velcro, has a limited life span. I’ll likely just add a D ring there or design and 3D Print something to hang my bladder of choice from.
If you’d like an insulated pocket for the bladder you’re going to have to provide your own insulation. Some 2 or 3 mil neoprene would work well and is available online.
There are no air flow ridges, bumps, patterns etc on the next to your body side of the vest. Having put those kinds of things in my own vest design I’m honestly not sure just how useful they are. Our skin, shirts etc tend to fill those crevices and nooks anyway. I wouldn’t mind seeing a 3D mesh though as a backer piece and I may sew some in depending on how things get in the heat. This though would add an ounce or two to the total weight.
I wasn’t too sure about the color, there’s only two options a white one and the other one that’s kind of gray with some green highlight zippers and a yellow elastic netting pattern on the back for holding a jacket or something similar. The white one wasn’t an option for me. But in person the color isn’t bad and is acceptable.
The fit is good. Once you get the straps adjusted, both the take up straps on the sides and the chest straps it fits snugly. I haven’t taken it for a run yet, a combo 5K + 10K is this Saturday and I’ll wear it then but just a little jogging around the house and it feels good like you’re not wearing anything.
I think I’d like to see some elastic on the chest straps so I may replace those, something to give with you as you breathe and move especially for trail running.
The straps can be moved up and down which makes it more capable of fitting everyone especially women who may have a little more in the chest area than others so you can adjust it up and down so it fits on your boobs where it’s most comfortable. They’re held in place by T hooks through something that’s basically a very thin molle web. Pull them through the ‘wrong’ way and then bend the T so it’ll go back through the strap and you can then pick another location to put it. It’s not as easy as something that just slide up and down but it’s far better than ones that don’t adjust at all. And frankly unless you’re sharing it with someone, this type of adjustment is typically a one and done.
All in all, yes it’s not the cheapest option but in my many (too many) years I’ve learned if you’re going to use something and use it hard, then you rarely fare well going with the cheapest option. That doesn’t mean the pricey option is guaranteed to be the best, but your odds are higher.
If I find out it just sucks majorly after putting 50’ish miles on it, I’ll come back here and denote that. If there’s no ‘update’ mentioned anywhere and this article is a month old then it’s a fairly conservative bet that it’s working out for me just fine.[/expand]