Tuesday, January 15, 2013

RUNNING GEAR: The Best Running Pack / Vest - UltraSpire Kinetic

kinetic11I have been using some sort of hiking/mountaineering pack for over thirty years.  Being a mountaineer / rock & Ice climber, you have to be very efficient with not only your pack weight, but gear placement and access.  I presently have 5 running packs: GoLite Slipstream hydration pack, TrangoWorld Hydration Pack, Montbell Cross Runner Pack 7L, a very old CamelBack and lastly a new UltraSpire Kinetic.

The UltraSpire Kinetic is freakin awesome!  I absolutely love the way it carries and it has more than enough room for just about every “traditionally” supported ultra. You will need something more for those unsupported runs. 

Sizing is not easy! You should make sure it fits correctly when you buy it, because I had trouble.  Last year, I broke the rules and bought a new pack a few days before the Devil Mountain 50 miler and ran with it; the pack was just too cool I had to get it.  It was exactly what I was looking for – a super light weight pack with tons of front access and easy bottle access.   In the store it felt great and I even went for a run with it prior to the race.  According to Ultraspires’s sizing video and website, I was a medium vest – the red one.  I am 5’8 and at the time a 33” waste.  Based on that, I assumed the medium would be perfect. *I did not call their “800” number for sizing help.

  • WHAT SIZE SHOULD YOU GET? Think of them like T-shirts? If you have any questions on fitting give us a call. 1-888-532-2545
  • SMALL - fits waist up to 28" - 44"
  • MEDIUM - fits waist from 30" - 46"
  • LARGE - fits waist from 32" - 46"
  • But man I had problems during the race. First the sternum strap was missing,  a triglide buckle, so as I ran the strap slowly loosen.  If you look at the photo, it loosened up so much that it slid off my shoulder.  I was frustrated.  I ended up tying it in a knot.  *They sent me a new buckle.  Also if you look at the waste belt, it would shift around while running.  *This was solely do to sizing. 

    This photo shows me wearing the medium Kinetic a pack, too big for my frame. ultraspire-kenetic

    Right and Left Front Chest Pockets


    The top pouch is for electrolytes or pills of some sort and is in a perfect location, easy to access and sweat proof.  *Have not run in the rain with the pack yet.  

    The lower pouch can hold an extra bottle, but I use it for gloves, hat, jacket or other lighter gear.  Anything too heavy will bounce around a bit.


    The top pocket is small but perfect for an iPod and looking at the looking at my last race photo (above) that is exactly what I used it for. *Recently it was also suggested that it could be used for used for chapstick, iPod, wipes, trash...bear spray and it is even larger enough to hold gloves.

    The zipper pouch is great and can store quite a bit.  I used to keep my cellphone there, but it bounced around too much.  I now keep it in my belt pocket.  Great Pouch!


    Another great secure pouch.  I keep my phone here – no bounce.


    It is great for garbage, but I do not like using it for that – too hard to wash.  It is a really quick access for food though.

    I love the bottle placement of this vest.  It is so easy to pull the bottles while in flight.  The lower back pouch works; I feel that I tweak my shoulder a bit to pullout my jacket, but I can do it.  I might add that it is hard to put it back though.  The magnetic snap works great if you have something very small like a light weight jacket, otherwise it overflows, but seems to still hold. 


    I have no complaints about the bottles; they work great.  The are very easy to access, particularly with the trigger finger.  My only criticism, is that they are just a tad difficult to put back in the holster on the fly. 



    • Bottle placement is awesome.
    • Electrolyte pouch is perfect.
    • Front storage available is more than adequate including various pouch styles depending on your needs.
    • The clasps are super light and really easy to fasten. Can be difficult to adjust on the fly, but once it is set you shouldn't have to adjust it.
    • Once the pack is adjusted correctly, you will not need to adjust it again.  *Takes some trial and error first.
    • Very comfortable and the weight is dispersed evenly enough not to feel it.  You can over stuff some of the front pockets which may lead to some bounce, but that is your fault.
    • You can add an extra bottle in the front pouch, but I use it for glove, hat, jacket or other lighter gear.
    • The provided bottles are easy and fast to remove, but can be trickier to place back (on the fly). Smaller bottle like the Camelback transition in and out mush easier.


    • Price.  With that said, if I would have bought the Kinetic first, I would not have bought the other packs.
    • Sizing is not universal despite the sizing chart. As far as my frame. 
    • The back pouch is not the best placement and wish it had a maybe a top flap, but is accessible on the fly.  I am biased by the Montbell pack with its rear horizontal jacket tube (the best). Don’t know if it would work with this style pack.  

    Overall, once I got the right size pack, it fit perfect.  It is the pack I use these days and haven’t any of my other packs since.  Honestly, it has all the features I want and need.   That is why I bought it last minute at the Boulder Running Company.  Although it is awesome for well supported ultras, I need a little more room for more extreme races, hence I am researching the FastPack?? for my next big race Andorra Trail Ultra in Europe. Don’t know if it carries the same, I just want a pack like the Kinetic but with a tad more storage in the back.

    Do I recommend it?  .  .  .   Hell Yea!!!

    My four other running packs:



    I have a very old version of this pack. Unknown Model.  It was great when I was riding a bike, not practical for running.  No front pockets. 

    Go Lite_Hydration-_pack

    GoLite Slipstream hydration pack:

    I thought it was a pain to run with because if I wanted something I had to take the pack off.  Not practical for racing - No front pockets. .  *If I didn’t buy online, I would have returned it.


    TrangoWorld Hydration Pack:

    I was given this at the Aneto Marathon, Spain.  It is not bad, but no front access.  Also I don’t think I could ever fill the pack and no compression straps.

    Montbell_CROSS RUNNER PACK 7

    Montbell Cross Runner Pack 7L:

    I absolutely loved this pack and still do.  It is my go to pack when I have to carry a bit more gear. Great side pockets and carries well. It rides a little bit high, and it felt weird at first because I was used to really low belts.  


    Unknown said...

    So, I just got a Kinetic vest - the 2013 version, so there were only two sizes to choose from...small/medium and large/extra-large. I was at the top end of the torso measurement for the small/medium and in the middle of the other measurements, so I opted for the large.

    Now that yours is sized right, where to the bottles ride on you. On me the bottles ride just above my rump, right in the small of my back. Is that right? I had an idea it might ride a bit higher. However, riding low makes the bottles super easy to get in and out.

    I would appreciate any further comments you might make regarding fit.

    Anonymous said...

    Just noticed your post sorry . . . Fitting . . . that is one of the problems with the pack . . . I am 5'8.5" 160 pounds, at the time, and my waist was about a 32/33. I wear the small and it fits perfect, the medium I returned because I was swimming in it. They say it fits a range of sizes, but not really. I will check next time, but I don't even notice that the bottles are there. When I had the medium I felt that they were riding low.

    I bought their Fastpack (one size fits all?), very cheap almost free, and had to do a lot of sewing to make it feel right. I will write about that later. ~SKArunner

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