I don’t normally write reviews but I have been through the mill lately trying and testing various low volume race vests and waist belts.
Between July and October I have three 50k races and a trail marathon on the calendar and I feel that I need something less bulky than the trusty 2014 Salomon S-LAB 12 Set that I use for 50 milers.
The reviews below are short, sweet and to the point – much like 50k races! It is important to note that I purchased all of these items and have not been provided anything by any manufacturer.
All test runs had the vests and waistbelts loaded up with what I intend to race with (6x Gu, 1L water, mobile phone).
UltrAspire Speedgoat Waist Belt
I have had this belt since September 2016 and I took this for a run on June 14th 2018 for the first time since I ran the North Devon Trail Marathon with it in June 2017. I had forgotten how I just don’t get on with it!
I find I have to constantly tighten the belt otherwise it bounces uncomfortably on my glutes. There is very little storage space on the belt, and when I ran the North Devon Trail Marathon with it I just about managed to squeeze a Salomon Bonatti waterproof jacket into the tiny back pocket.
A saving grace is the soft bottles that are supplied with the belt. Really easy to drink from and comfortable to hold in the hand. They also fit will in the front carrier pouches of some race vests.
Salomon Agile 2 Set
For me this is the 100 metre wonder. Unfortunately about 100m into my first test run on May 30th 2018 I found it wasn’t going to be for me.
The vest bounced around wildly from the get go – fast or slow it did not seem to matter. I tightened it up as much as possible and it then became really uncomfortable, I could feel a number of areas of potential chafe so I turned around and jogged home to drop it off before continuing my run with a handheld bottle.
Salomon S-LAB Sense Ultra 2 Set
I ordered this vest in small and medium as I was not sure what size might work for me following the Agile 2 Set test. It did not matter anyway as the Small vest was too small and the Medium vest was too big.
I took the Medium vest out for a run July 4th 2018 and found that I did a lot more walking than I normally would have and only because I needed to adjust the pack often. The chest bungees needed to be on their tightest setting and they kept coming loose which was extremely annoying!
I really expected more from the most expensive vest in my test range. One positive was the weight of the vest – very light but that won’t do much good if it doesn’t stay in place over long distances.
Ultimate Direction Marathon Vest
On July 6th 2018 I made it 1km with this vest before taking it off and carrying it the 1km back to the start. The same issues as the Salomon Agile 2 Set but for twice the price. To add insult I used 2x CamelBak soft flasks and the did not fit correctly into the front pockets too.
Ultimate Direction Access 350 Waist Belt + Fastdraw 20 Handheld
The Waist Belt actually belongs to my fiance and I have owned the handheld since 2016.
I have always liked running with a small waist belt and handheld on long training runs and after the failure of the previous tests I decided to combine these two items to see how they might fare. I took them out on July 8th 2018 in very hot weather and found the belt to be comfortable with little to no movement whether the bottle is full, partially full or empty. The handheld is great for disposing of gel wrappers once finished as it has a handy (see what I did there!) pouch. The duo combined can carry 950ml of water which is adequate if aid stations are around 10k apart in the heat.
I ended up racing with this combination at the Chiltern 50k on July 14th 2018. I would recommend this duo for somebody who cannot find a race vest that meet their needs.
Mountain Hardwear Singletrack Vest
A low volume race vest that fits perfectly, doesn’t bounce around crazily and has enough room for gels and water on the front with storage for a jacket/gloves other provisions on the back.
Definitely good for long training runs, trail marathons and 50k races. Surprisingly this is the cheapest of all the vests I tested, and cheaper than one of the waist packs I tested!
I first tested this vest with Salomon Soft Flasks on July 12th 2018 and then with CamelBak Soft Flasks on July 19th 2018. I found both sets of soft flasks flopped around a lot which was really annoying, not uncomfortable but very distracting so I decided to use UltrAspire soft bottles instead of soft flasks on July 22nd 2018.
They fit perfectly and are very comfortable. The vest does not come supplied with bottles so my recommendation would be to go for bottles over flasks.