I got a wonderful surprise in the mail this week in the form of a whole heap of UltrAspire gear. I opened the bag and pulled out a puzzling array of straps and bags. I wondered to myself, how does this all fit together, what goes with what, what do I use this all for? Thank goodness for the internet and the UltrAspire website – if you haven’t checked it out, it’s pretty awesome, with a blog, shop and info on their ‘Immortals’ which provides some cool running inspiration (http://ultraspire.com). Once I used their website to look up what they had sent me I slowly figured out what went together.
Amongst this amazing collection was an Astral running vest. This vest is UltrAspire’s very first women’s specific running vest with the shape and fit of the pack being tailored specifically to accommodate the multitude of shapes and sizes which women come in. Although it looks pretty small, there is so much room for food, water and all that compulsory gear you have to carry in races. As well as having a 2L bladder contained within, it will also fit a bottle in the front pocket for those extra-long runs where 2L of water may not be enough.
I, like most runners, am pretty firm on what I like to use in terms of shoes, clothing, packs and food and I won’t tend to try something new or better unless it comes highly recommended from another, trusted runner. I wore my Astral running vest on my long run this week and was interested to see how this pack differed from packs I had run with in the past. The first major difference with this versus other packs I have run with is the way it does up. I am used to running with packs which have two straps, one around the hips and one across the sternum, great if you are a straight up and down guy, not so wonderful when you are a woman with a bit more shape. The Astral has just one harness which does up around the waist, freeing your chest from bounce and chaffing. I was intrigued to find out how this single harness would stop the vest bouncing, something which has always bothered me with packs in the past. As soon as I started running I noticed how firm this pack was on my back without being suffocating. I could breathe deeply without feeling restricted by a sternum strap and the pack was perfectly still on my back.
Possibly the most intriguing item was the Electron – this is the thing which really had me heading for the website. I thought to myself, is this some kind of strange new leg belt technology because that was the only place I could really see it fitting me. My guess could not have been further from the truth when it comes to the actual use of the Electron which is in fact a connector piece. When you add a bottle to the Electron it becomes a great waist belt which includes pockets for keys and gels. One of the things which I thought was really great about the bottle connection was that the bottle has a small magnet in the bottom allowing easy return of the bottle to its cage – no more struggling around trying to find the exact spot for the bottle to fit. I am yet to try this out, so watch this space for my thoughts on this.