Jan 20, 2013 at 7:17 am #1298217
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>Jan 20, 2013 at 7:26 am #1945463
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).Jan 20, 2013 at 7:34 am #1945466
That does look well thought out.Jan 20, 2013 at 7:37 am #1945467
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).Jan 20, 2013 at 7:41 am #1945469
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.Jan 20, 2013 at 8:02 am #1945474
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.
MikeJan 20, 2013 at 8:35 am #1945482
Well isn't that pack just badass.
6oz!? My UD Wasp weighs 2.5x as much even after some serious straight blade modifications.
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.Jan 20, 2013 at 11:11 am #1945521
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)
MikeJan 20, 2013 at 2:37 pm #1945572
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.Feb 7, 2013 at 6:54 pm #1951993
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 flyFeb 8, 2013 at 8:26 am #1952187
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?Feb 8, 2013 at 8:32 am #1952189
@davecLocale: Crown of the Continent
Lookin' good for the Devils Backbone Mike.Feb 8, 2013 at 9:33 am #1952214
Stretch pockets and and cord toggles should secure most bottles in the 12-24oz. range I would assume.
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.Feb 8, 2013 at 10:24 am #1952231
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
MikeFeb 8, 2013 at 12:28 pm #1952287
@davecLocale: Crown of the Continent
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.Mar 7, 2013 at 11:59 am #1962734
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 :)Sep 30, 2013 at 5:52 pm #2029717
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.Sep 30, 2013 at 7:22 pm #2029739
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 wornSep 30, 2013 at 7:53 pm #2029749
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?Sep 30, 2013 at 8:39 pm #2029767
"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.Oct 1, 2013 at 4:00 am #2029818
Mike – no idea what you look like under clothes. I'm about 6% bf @ 135 lbs 28" waist 38" chest. I maintain my upper body in addition to running and no padding there makes for easier bruising. Anyone with more padding or the body of a preteen probably wouldn't experience my issues.
Eugene – it annoys me initially but gets tuned out after the first few miles.Oct 1, 2013 at 6:20 am #2029833
Craig- the running has come along pretty nicely (albeit I'm not fast, much more like the tortoise)- I wish I would have "discovered" it years ago :)
Eugene-I haven't been bothered by any sloshing w/ the bottles, there are times when I'm forced to use a bladder and there is sloshing, but much like Chris it tends to get tuned out after awhile
Chris- my wife thinks pretty good :) 6% body fat is really low, I'd guess mine at 10-12%- maybe that's the difference; I strength train very regularly- so I doubt that would account for any differenceOct 2, 2013 at 7:14 am #2030197
For 2014 UD is coming out with a soft bottle. This is a very cool innovation that works extremely well with the vests and should eliminate the bruising issue. It can also eliminate sloshing if the soft bottle is used correctly, since there is no need for air to enter the bottle.
The Adventure Vest has pockets that are between your body and the zippered hip pocket. I often put my bottles in those as a secondary location. There is a small loop of shock cord that you can use to secure the bottles. Just another option. I find this particularly useful when doing technical climbing when the bottles up front can get in the way.Oct 2, 2013 at 8:19 am #2030208
Thanks for the insider feedback Peter. I was initially interested in the SJ vest as well as yours but read about sizing issues since the side compression isn't there. I don't have a thick chest so being able to adjust that on the AK forced my decision. What are your thoughts on this?
Any photos of the soft bottles you can share?Oct 2, 2013 at 11:50 am #2030274
Sorry, I don't have photos of the bottles. Stay tuned! Yes, the vest thing is a little tricky with regard to sizing. The AK and PB come in 2 sizes, and the SJ in 3. We hope that about covers everyone, but really it's not possible to account for every shape and size of person with a product like this. I believe UD is going to add adjustment straps to the SJ and PB in 2014 without changing the vest style. That should help with some of the sizing issues, and with tweaking the fit as the vest is more or less full of gear. UD will also have a women-specific vest in 2014.
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