Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 3.0

8.5 score
[Editors rating (8.5)] = (Gearweare.net) score (8.5)/10

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Editor rating: 8.5 / 10
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Anyone who loves trail running or ultra-running knows how important having your hydration handy can be. This is why so many people are choosing the new and improved Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 3.0. Proper hydration allows you to keep your energy levels up which allows you to keep racing for the finish line or for the record times you want to set. To have the water you need while attempting to stay on track, choosing a great hydration vest is a must. Efficiency during this process is key. When having to remove your vest to get your water or constantly having to stop and fill up bottles not only effects the times you are trying to beat but can leave you behind the pack when running competitively. With the Ultimate Direction Vest, you’ll find this is not an issue and your times can stay as competitive as you have dreamed of.

With all the different types of hydration vests available, choosing the right one can seem like one of the toughest decisions you could make. No one wants to waste money on a vest or any type of product that doesn’t provide them with the functionality and efficiency they are seeking. To find these perfect hydration vests, people often find themselves spending hours online searching for the right one. This review will help you save time by not only telling you about one of the most popular vests on the market, the Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 3.0 but by also giving you both the pros and cons of this purchase to help you decide whether it’s the one for you.

Editor's Pros & Cons
  • Comfortable feel for both short and long runs
  • Lightweight feel doesn’t slow runners down
  • Breathable material aids in comfort and mobility
  • Water bottles have been updated to water flasks that don’t slosh when running
  • Amazing attachments such as trekking pole loops that can be kept out of way when not in use
  • Water flasks can feel awkward on the chest
  • Awkward fit as sizes tend to run smaller than normal


When hitting the trails or the competitive track, having a comfortable hydration vest is important. A comfortable vest gives you ease of movement which is imperative when on a run. A vest that restricts your movement or causes you to constantly stop to make adjustments isn’t the one you want when on a run. This is where the Ultra Vest 3.0 comes in. The Ultra Vest uses adjustable straps to help you find the best fit for your body. These straps are tucked away in Velcro pockets when not in use to keep them out of your way while on the move. The downside of the comfort of this vest is the weight of the water flasks sitting on your chest. For some, this may not be an issue, those not used to this type of vest may need time for adjusting. If this issue isn’t a concern for you, then you’ll love the other comfort aspects provided by the Ultra Vest 3.0.


Other than the weight of the dual water bottles located on the front, the Ultra Vest 3.0 is quite lightweight. Made from a knit mesh material, you’ll find this vest is very light and easy on the back while still providing a few additions to make users happy when hitting the trail.


While not being overloaded with features, you’ll still find that the Ultra Vest 3.0 provides runners with all the extras they’ll love. The back of the hydration pack comes with multiple features such as zip pouches to separate and carry the items you like to have handy. This pack also comes with an ice ax loop, two pole holding straps, and the popular bungee cord additions for carrying extra clothes for after your run. Located on the front of the bag you’ll find the two, bottle or flask pockets and four gel pockets that are located on the sides of the bottles. There are also several Velcro pockets located around the bag. A few cons of these pockets are the fact that several rides high under the arms and are a bit awkward to use or reach. Another issue is the size of the smartphone pockets located at the front. These pockets don’t easily support larger sized smartphones and may cause some users issues in that aspect. Other than the few issues with the pockets and features you’ll find yourself with many nooks and crannies to store your items in. Add in the fact that this bag is made from non-absorbent materials and you’ll see it comes with a number of features great for making running more efficient.


When using a hydration vest a good fit is a must. Unfortunately, with the change in their sizing chart, the Ultra Vest 3.0 makes finding the right fit a bit of a challenge. For many who are used to wearing a particular size, they may find themselves in need of changing sizes. If they don’t, they may find adjusting the vest to fit well and not bounce to be an issue. No one wants to be out on the trail for a run and suffer from a vest that moves too much or feels uncomfortable. This is why being properly fitted for this vest may be a good suggestion for anyone who is considering making a purchase. Choosing the wrong sizing and dealing with returns can be more troublesome than many customers planned for.


With the new knit or mono mesh now being used by Ultimate Direction, you’ll find the Ultra Vest 3.0 is quite breathable. This breathability allows the vest to feel cooler on the body which can be an extremely important pro when choosing a vest intended for use during the heat of the day.


The new mesh material used to comprise the Ultra Vest also offers users a great deal of flexibility. The featured pockets can stretch to hold more items while still retaining their strength when not in use. The vest is also more flexible overall. This allows for easier movements and the ability to manipulate the material without worry of harming it.


One of the biggest features of the Ultra Vest 3.0 is the durability it provides. This vest has shown itself to be quite weatherproof. By being able to withstand rain, wind, snow, and hits from mother nature as well as dirt and daily use, this vest is easily one of the most durable you’ll find yourself trying out.


The Ultra Vest 3.0 is intended for use by runners. This means whether you are attempting to hit the trail close to home or far away, you’ll have the hydration you need without having to worry about where to get what you are in need of. Whether you are running for pleasure, your health, or sport, having the hydration and extra gear you need to complete your run is key to your health and energy levels.


When out for a run or taking on an endurance run such as a marathon, looking good isn’t the biggest issue. This is why those who choose the Ultra Vest 3.0 will quickly realize this vest isn’t striving to be the most attractive on the market. On the contrary, this vest is designed to be practical by proving the hydration and storage needed for these events. Most people will compare this vest to something someone would use at a construction site or job but cannot deny the efficiency and hydration it provides.


If you are looking for a cheap hydration vest to use while out on a run, the Ultra Vest 3.0 isn’t your ideal purchase. Those who are experienced when it comes to running and buying the gear they are in need of will understand that they are expected to pay a higher price for a quality product. This is the situation when it comes to this vest. When buying the necessary gear for running, you won’t find yourself choosing the cheapest shoes available. On the contrary, having the best running shoes, comfortable clothing, and other running additions is important, so is having the best vest. Having the willingness to buy top of the line hydration needs will make your life easier when hitting the trail or taking on the contenders in competitive running situations.


Possibly the biggest selling point of the Ultra Vest is the hydration system it provides for those out and about for a run. Running for your health often means taking on longer treks than normal. This means you need hydration that will last. For competitive runners, having the proper hydration without having to stop what you are doing is key to winning or maintaining run times. This is what the Ultra Vest provides. The included 500 ml body bottles and carrying pockets allows you to take water with you on your journey, which keeps you hydrated and healthy no matter what type of run you are going on.


Ultimate Direction has quickly become one of the best-known names in the world of ultra-running. By providing what can be considered the top of the line in hydration vests, coupled with some of the biggest names in the running world such as Scott Jurek, they are single-handedly taking the running world by storm. When a true runner hops online to order new gear, well-known name brands are the first ones they take into consideration. The reason why is simple. They have come to expect the best from this type of gear. That holds true in this situation with the Ultra Vest 3.0. Users easily fell in love with the previous 2.0 version and are thrilled for the opportunity to experience the newest additions and upgrades of the 3.0.


When on a run, having a vest that doesn’t fit well or moves too much can cause issues. This is why stability is so important. For this reason, Ultimate Direction has provided the Ultra Vest 3.0 with an adjustable T-hook sternum strap and an adjustable lateral strap to provide the best stability possible.

Ease of Use

Runners will find the Ultra Vest one of the easiest to use. This design is aimed at making hydration simpler for those one the run. With hydration bottles that are easily accessible, Ultimate Direction has succeeded. There is no longer a reason to stop and search for your water bottles when running competitively. This gives runners a huge advantage when it comes to improving their times or possibly taking the win when in competition. With proper hydration, energy levels stay up and the run becomes easier. For other types of gear such as gel packs, energy bars, and other running accessories you’ll find the added pockets of the Ultra Vest has the room you want to carry what you need. With everything located easily on the vest you can grab what you need while not stopping your run. For true lovers of the run, these additions are essential.

The Bottom Line

Runners around the world understand the importance of having a hydration vest when the time comes to step up and show what they can do. Whether they are into competitive running or simply running for their own enjoyment and health purposes, having the best gear makes the time on the trail or open road not only more enjoyable but also more efficient. Losing the need to stop and refill your water bottles allows for less time lost. This gives runners the chance to improve the quality of their run and their overall health. Having the ability to also access all the extras you need when out for a run, such as your cell phone, a light snack, or other special gear is why many people find themselves turning to the Ultra Vest. The addition of having a name brand they feel they can trust, and it is easy to see why the Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 3.0 is one of the favorite hydration vests on the market.