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Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Ultimate Directions AK "Race" pack on 01/20/2013 08:17:42 MST Print View

I use apostrophes as it's much more than a race pack. This would be a suitable pack for most any long day adventures. AK is not for Alaska :), but Anton Kupricka of ultra running fame who helped design the pack.

The first thing that is obvious (and unique) is it's made to carry two water bottles (20 oz variety) on your chest. I prefer bottles over bladders for several reasons, foremost is I keep one filled w/ Perpetuem, which in the past meant carrying a handheld in addition to a pack; I also like to know where I sit w/ my water supply- hard to do w/ a bladder; bottles are much easier to fill out of streams (or anything for that matter) and easier to purify as I use a Steripen

The pack is light, 6.0 oz (6.1 on my scale for a M/L) and utilizes a variety of mesh and even some cuben. The bottles are very easy to access (and replace) on the fly. The stretch mesh secures them in addition to a small bungee/cordlock setup. Below the bottles are two small mesh stretch pockets- sized for electrolytes, blocks and the like, they are secured w/ velcro flaps . Above each bottle are two more pockets, also stretch mesh- sized to fit a smart phone, I put my small camera in one- it's a little tight, but works.

It utilizes two sternum straps, the upper is elastic to allow movement of the chest. Both straps are able to slide up or down a neat little rail system so you can fine tune the fit.

The rear of the pack has two small zippered side pockets, I carry my phone/keys in one and some emergency bits (including a headlamp) in the other. These pockets cannot be reached on the fly (unless you are Houdini!). The main pack pocket is a stretch mesh w/ a outer bungee setup that serves both to compress the load or secure additional items (rain jacket comes to mind). It's not overly large, but because it stretches it holds more than meets the eye- I had a windshirt, emergency blanket, buff, beanie, gloves and extra food and there was still plenty of room. Yesterday I rolled up a R1 vest to take w/ and it fit w/o any problem.

the main pack pocket w/ hold a smaller bladder if you need one, it has a velcro loop to hang one as well as several loops on the outer perimeter of the pack to route a hose. A small bladder would obviously consume some of the available volume.

Well this is all well and good, but if it doesn't carry well when running it's not worth a tinker's dam n, I'm here to tell you this little pack (w/ full bottles) carries like an absolute dream :) This is really well thought out little pack that works>

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Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
AK Race Pack on 01/20/2013 08:26:35 MST Print View

Funny you just posted this Mike, I was looking into one last night.
I have a Nathan HPL20 but don't like using bladders so it doesn't get used much anymore. I think the front pocket configuration on the HPL20 is a little weird also.
But I do like the vest idea and I like that the AK has the bottles up front. Seems like it has smarter pockets.
I've been using a Black Diamond BB combined with handheld bottles with straps but it would be nice to be able to put the bottles away without stopping to take off the pack...or carry more capacity (1 or 2 in hand, two in the vest).

Kronos Master of Fate
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
AK Race Pack on 01/20/2013 08:34:09 MST Print View

That does look well thought out.

http://www.ultimatedirection.com/c-signature-series.aspx

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Ultimate Directions AK "Race" pack on 01/20/2013 08:37:03 MST Print View

Mike -
would like some serious in depth input about how you feel running with the bottles up front on this pack.

I am close to applying for either the SJ or the PB (I say applying because apparently you have to wait in line for these things).

currently have and use both the Nathan 20 and the BD Bbee. each serves a different purpose. hoping to get a UD pack that will adequately replace both of these, so volume is the issue. the AK does not look large enough to serve as a replacement for the Nathan (the Bbee is even larger).

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Re: Ultimate Directions AK "Race" pack on 01/20/2013 08:41:56 MST Print View

Thanks for the review Mike. Been keeping an eye on this pack (I'm a big fan of AK) as well as the other two released at the same time. It looks as though this pack can hold a bit more equipment than I had initially thought.

Kind of funny that Anton would be asked to help design a pack. His solo run around Pikes Peak comes to mind. 70 plus miles with nothing more than a camera and some gels stuffed in his shorts and a small water bottle.

Right now I use Salomon Skin packs. Anyone looking at these Ultimate Direction packs should check them out too. Never had another running pack that carried as well as the Salomons.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
bottles up front on 01/20/2013 09:02:22 MST Print View

Art- my biggest concern before hitting the buy button was how are these 20 oz bottles going to ride up front, now I'm satisfied it works :) I've used the pack on several snowshoe runs (hey a guy has to do what he has to do!) where there was a lot of up/down, side/side (and sadly one head over heel) movement and the pack carried like a rock. You've got two sternum straps to adjust, both in snugness and position- I read one review where the pack wasn't carrying as well as he thought it should- he moved both the upper and lower straps and voila- worked like a charm. There is also a side adj strap that has two attach points to the front and one to the rear- this will also help to optimize fit.

There are several gals who have posted up positive reviews, I thought this pack might be problematic for gals for obvious reasons, but thus far seems like it's working for them as well.

Mike

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Re: Ultimate Directions AK "Race" pack on 01/20/2013 09:35:31 MST Print View

Well isn't that pack just badass.

6oz!? My UD Wasp weighs 2.5x as much even after some serious straight blade modifications.

Very nice.

It's cold up there so I'm sure you've been running with a shell or midlayer on every run, so you probably can't comment on this yet, but it's worth a try. Does the fabric edging or grosgrain (not sure what they used here) on the neck collar region rub at all when tightened up? I would get serious rubbing with my UD Wasp on the side of my neck sometimes from the fabric. This usually only happened on the long runs.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: Re: Re: Ultimate Directions AK "Race" pack on 01/20/2013 12:11:13 MST Print View

Eugene- I haven't worn it sans mid-layer/shell- but the material edging is very soft, it's like a faux suede like material- very nice to the touch anyways :)

btw mine is a M/L, I'm 5'11' 185, there is pretty good info on sizing here it's the SJ pack, but it's relevant to all of their signature packs (showing how the wrong size could be problematic)

http://www.blueridgerunner.com/2012/12/ultimate-direction-sj-ultra-hydration_5600.html

Mike

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Re: Re: Re: Ultimate Directions AK "Race" pack on 01/20/2013 15:37:55 MST Print View

Thanks Mike, that does answer my question. The UD Wasp has a harder faced nylon on the shoulder strap edging which becomes increasingly rough with dried salt deposits and sweat.

I find the only time I wear my UD Wasp is on my longest runs, or if I plan to be out for a while on a hot summer run and need a large capacity of water. The storage the Wasp provides is nice, pretty ideal for all day long outings- the UD SJ pack looks like a better/lighter answer to the older Wasp.

Price point on the AK pack is nice considering the low weight, materials, and design features.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
update on 02/07/2013 19:54:44 MST Print View

wore the AK at a recent event (Uwharrie Mtn Run) and have to say I'm still very impressed w/ this little pack. there was a significant wind storm two days prior to the event which resulted in a fair amount of blow down, between the blowdown and ~ 12-15 stream crossings I got a lot of jumping in (enough so that my hip flexors were extremely sore!), the pack was just solid

I also erred (typical newbie mistake) by wearing too much clothing at the start- in my defense it was 17 F at the start of the race :) at the first aid station I had to stow my cap 4 hoody which is pretty bulky, windshirt and gloves- the little stretch pocket swallowed those items w/o any problem (the pack already held a 2 person heatsheet, Buff, food, TP and a small fak)

the bottles are easy to access, the lower pockets (electrolytes in one, clif blocks in the other) also easily accessible on the fly

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Christopher J.
(JackJ)
Will it hold Amphipod bottles? on 02/08/2013 09:26:28 MST Print View

Thanks for the update!

I'm a fairly happy user of a Mountain Hardwear Fluid Race vest, which I sometimes use with a Camelbak reservoir. But I mostly use Amphipod 20 oz handheld bottles for hydration, which I've found much more comfortable to run with than round bottles, and I've now got a bunch of them.

Any chance anyone can confirm if these new Ultimate Directions signature packs can securely hold the Amphipod handhelds in the front pockets?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: AK vest on 02/08/2013 09:32:43 MST Print View

Lookin' good for the Devils Backbone Mike.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Will it hold Amphipod bottles? on 02/08/2013 10:33:19 MST Print View

Stretch pockets and and cord toggles should secure most bottles in the 12-24oz. range I would assume.

@Mike,

You're a steam train rolling, good to see you getting after it.

If you're looking for a trip this May, consider coming down to NM for the Jemez 50 race in late May. Hang out in Santa Fe for a day or two, run the race in the Jemez Mtns that Saturday near Los Alamos, then recoup in Santa Fe getting fat on sopapillas and tostadas compuestas before you board the plane in Abq. Best time of year to be in northern NM IMO.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: Will it hold Amphipod bottles? on 02/08/2013 11:24:14 MST Print View

yup- I'm 100% they will fit :)

also I used the pack mtn biking when I was in the Carolinas and didn't carry any bottles in it and you could secure the top down to hold a camera, food, whatever- pretty versatile pack

I also ordered a 1 liter platy hoser- w/ the 2 bottles AND the bladder it should get me down the trail even when water is on the scarce side

thanks Dave- sounds like the Gallatin has a LOT of snow pack, will be interesting to see how much comes off :)

Eugene- are you going to be running that event? that might work out well for me- I'll shoot you a pm

Mike

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Devils Backbone on 02/08/2013 13:28:25 MST Print View

See you there.

In '09 Tom fixed a rope up the headwall snowfield going up to Hyalite Peak. Made for an awesome glissade down at the end of the day.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Joshua Tree Traverse on 03/07/2013 12:59:23 MST Print View

little update on the pack after 38 miles across Joshua Tree, pack performed flawlessly- had plenty of room for a 1 liter bladder in the main pack (while still holding food, few clothing items, few emergency bits) in addition to the two bottle in front

no chaffing whatsoever, no bouncing/shifting and the bottles and front pockets are easy to access/return

a keeper :)

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Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: WNC
AK Pack on 09/30/2013 18:52:37 MDT Print View

FWIW - I purchased one of these recently and have used it on 3 20-22 mile runs. I love it without the bottles in the front and have carried one in my hand and one in the back for the 20 milers. I went out for a 32 miler this past weekend so I carried two bottles on the straps, food in the back, and another bottle in my hand. The two bottles riding up front bruised my pecs pretty good. Given that the typical runner doesn't have much of an upper body, this probably isn't an issue for most but it's certainly something to be aware of. I'm now considering the Salomon Skin packs with the soft bottles as an alternative.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
AK Race pack on 09/30/2013 20:22:24 MDT Print View

I've got lots more miles on mine now (including three 50k races and numerous 20+ mile runs) and with the exception of a few minor nitpicks- the pack is a dandy; holds plenty of gear for it's size and more importantly rides very comfortably when running- I've had no problems w/ any bouncing or bruising of the pecs- my upper body is far from what I would I call a "normal" runner's build :)

the pack is gaining favor, at least in the west- my last 50k (Rut Run in Big Sky) I saw at least a couple of dozen of the AK packs being worn

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Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: AK Race pack on 09/30/2013 20:53:58 MDT Print View

You're becoming a bona fide mountain beast Mike.
Wasn't it only a year ago that you were proud of your first 15-20 mile weeks?

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: AK Race pack on 09/30/2013 21:39:43 MDT Print View

"He's got legs.......he's knows how to you them..."


Mike, looking good there buddy.

I saw at least a half dozen or more of those this past weekend at Mt. Taylor. Quite a popular pack, but we already knew it would be with TK's name on there.

Odd question, but how is the 'swishing' sound from the bottles that close to your head? I use handhelds and occasionally get bugged by the jostling of water in my bottles down low.