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February 20, 2019 Comments (0) All Posts, Product Insights

DAMIAN HALL PUTS NEW RACE ULTRA PRO VESTS TO THE TEST

Damian Hall RACE ULTRA PRO 2-IN-1 Vest

inov-8 ambassador Damian Hall knows a thing or two about ultra-running having completed some of the world’s toughest and most competitive events/challenges. From Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (which he has finished four times) to setting Fastest Known Times on super-long trails, if anyone knows how to put a running vest to the ultimate test, it’s Damian.

PACK IT IN

I’m a bit of a kit geek. Shoes are important, I guess. For carrying your feet about and keeping Gruffalo toes (no really) out of sight. But you can’t carry many Tunnock’s bars in your shoes. No matter how small, light and compressible, you can’t tuck a waterproof into your shoes. And I haven’t yet seen a pair of shoes that come with an emergency whistle. But mainly it’s the Tunnock’s thing. I like Tunnock’s bars.

Damian Hall Race Ultra Pro 2-in-1 Vest on the UTMB 2018

Damian on a training run on the UTMB course, wearing the RACE ULTRA PRO 2in1 VEST

I don’t mean to be down on shoes here. Running shoes are one of the life-affirmingly coolest things you can ever own. But they’re not running packs. I’ve always been inexplicably drawn to running packs. I remember my first ultra, being mesmerised by the chiselled veteran ultra runners. They looked like space heroes from another planet. Partly it was all the compression gear. But mostly it was their cool packs. Such strange shapes and colours. So many pockets. I’ve always loved pockets.

There’s something really special about putting a running pack on. To me it means I’m about to do a race, or a long run. I need to carry extra, because I’m about to have an adventure. Okay, sometimes when no-one else is in the house, I also put one on anyway and just hang about in it, too.

Damian Hall running the UTMB in the RACEULTRA PRO 2-IN-1 VEST

Damian running the UTMB, wearing the RACE ULTRA PRO 2in1 VEST

Anyway, before you stop reading because I’m too weird, the point I’m trying to make is that I’ve always found running packs disproportionately exciting. So I was pretty excited to be given a prototype of the inov-8 RACE ULTRA PRO 2in1 VEST last summer, to test out in training for UTMB. I also wore it for the race.

The number one thing a race vest must do for me is be comfortable, for up to 24 hours or more, as you contort, bash and thrash your way up and down mountains. And to do that it needs to be adjustable, so it can fit to your individual body shape, so it’s not going to chafe or restrict you.

Damian Hall Race Ultra Pro 2-in-1 Vest UTMB

Damian on a training run on the UTMB course, wearing the RACE ULTRA PRO 2in1 VEST

It also absolutely must make as much of your kit as possible, accessible. If you can’t easily get to your snacks and liquids, you’re not going to eat and drink, and you’re going to go a bit loopy. If your jacket, hat, gloves and Petzl headtorch are out of reach when you need them, you’re much less likely to reach for them and put them on. It may sound overly dramatic, but all those tiny (bad) decisions can be part of a snowball effect that ends your race. So side pouches for me are vital. I usually have one stuffed with snacks and the other side has clothing options. They need to be roomy, but without getting in the way.

Damian Hall RACE ULTRA PRO 2-IN-1 Vest and Tunnock's

Damian finishing in 5th place in the 2018 UTMB and eating a beloved Tunnock’s bar (which he had safely stored in his RACE ULTRA PRO 2in1 VEST).

The best vest can also fit a bladder and soft flasks. I’ve been a fan of the long tubes on inov-8 soft flasks (once you trimmed them for a bespoke fit), because as the visible straw makes me more likely to drink, you get the benefits of a hydration bladder, but without the major pitfall, which is that you often don’t know how much liquid is left. A quick squeeze of your breast tells you that.

However, when you’re racing hard, they’re just that extra bit fiddly changing them at aid stations. One of the genius elements of the RACE ULTRA PRO 2in1 VEST is that the flasks are adjustable – you can have them with straws, or without. You can also have them WITH the flask up on your chest, or lower down near your waist.

Similarly, the pole attachments are key and this pack is again brilliantly versatile. You can have them vertical, one on each side of your chest; both on one side (quicker stowing); horizontal at the bottom of your back (old-skool); but also horizontal, if you like, at the top of you back. A total of three options. I’ve not seen that before.

Damian Hall Race Ultra Pro 2-in-1 Vest

Damian running on the UTMB with his poles stowed at the front of his RACE ULTRA PRO 2in1 VEST

I mentioned I like pockets and the pack has 15 pockets. Some are zipped, some aren’t. Some are stretchy, some aren’t. No wait, actually, they are all stretchy. But some have little tabs on to make them quicker to get your Tunnock’s bar out of.

I’ve been using the RACE ULTRA PRO 5 VEST too and have been similarly impressed. It has a smaller capacity – and I’ll likely be racing Transgrancanaria (128km) on Friday in it. It easily holds all the race kit I need for that race. In the place of the large rear pocket, you get two lower bonus pockets that are accessible and each fit an item of clothing.

Is it weird that I’m wearing my pack as I type this?

Damian finishes the 2018 UTMB in 5th place, wearing the RACE ULTRA PRO 2in1 VEST

RACE ULTRA PRO 2in1 PACK

Race Ultra Pro 2-in1 Vest

Building on the success of the ALL TERRAIN PRO VEST, the new RACE ULTRA PRO 2in1 VEST pack improves on functionality and versatility. Fully adaptable to the wearer, offering multiple easy access storage options and a removable 10L pocket. The RACE ULTRA PRO 2in1 VEST will see you through everything from short training runs to multi-day ultra marathons.

FAST FACTS:

  • Weighs just 441g with bottles/ 345g without bottles
  • Includes 2 x inov-8 500ml Ultra Flask with tube & new Speed cup for plastic-free events
  • Removable 10L capacity bag with quick release compression straps
  • Adjustable sternum straps for bounce-free fit
  • Multiple pole mounts can be used to store poles vertically and horizontally, on the front and back
  • Plenty of upfront storage with 8 pocket configuration

RACE ULTRA PRO 5 PACK

Race Ultra Pro 5 Vest

Awarded the Editors’ Choice by TRAILRUNNER Magazine (US), the new RACE ULTRA PRO 5 VEST is at the top of its game. Building on the success of both the previous RACE ULTRA 5 and ALL TERRAIN PRO VEST, the RACE ULTRA PRO 5 VEST boasts a low form factor, is fully adaptable to the wearer and has multiple easy access storage options. It is the perfect running pack for any trail or terrain, whether racing or training.

FAST FACTS:

  • Weighs just 370g with bottles/ 274g without bottles
  • Includes 2 x inov-8 500ml Ultra Flask with tube & new Speed Cup for plastic-free events
  • Adjustable sternum straps for bounce-free fit
  • Multiple pole mounts can be used to store poles vertically and horizontally, on the front and back
  • Plenty of upfront storage with 8 pocket configuration

 

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