Ultimate Direction Wasp Review

Introduction
This is a long review…sorry but I have a lot to say about this one. Ultimate Direction products are generally blend utility and weight. They are not a flashy or gimmicky product line but they get the job done and score high enough in all categories to always be considered an option. I equate UD stuff to Rainbow Sandals (San Clemente, CA !!); no bells or whistles, just the essentials that work when you need them too, definitely my style. I decided to get the UD Wasp because of the reviews from others particularly Stuart from the Quadrathon blog and because I wanted a pack with more storage that I could use for unsupported long runs where weather and daylight come into play. No one likes stuffing a small pack with a change of clothes, jacket, and socks only to find out when you need them it is (1) dripping in sweat or (2) bladder’s condensation went through all the pockets and now you have a “moist” change of clothes, no bueno…so the Wasp.

 

Initial Impression
Bright, most packs try to stick with dull colors like grays and blacks that can hide a little dirt. These straps are white, wow, like arctic white. The yellow part with the white reminds me of an egg, just saying. I doubt I will ever match when wearing this thing, darn.

Mesh is sturdy and seems tougher than mesh in other packs. I trust that it will handle a beating. It seems pretty open so breath ability should be fine; maybe it is thicker to handle the weight in the pack? Who knows?

There are 4 pockets up front as opposed to the two standard pockets. I am happy about these, because I am often choosing what will go where and inevitably something is sacrificed to the back of the pack forcing me to take it off during runs.

Specs (per UD w/ my comments)
MSRP: $ 82 (you can find it cheaper online)
Storage Capacity: 390 cu in/ 6.9L
Fluid Capacity: 64oz/ 1.9L Reservoir Included(meh – replaced)
Weight: 1 lb 5oz/ 595g
Material: 3s AirMesh, Nylon 210D Wide Dobby, Nylon Mesh

Features
SportVest Shoulder Harness System (i.e. it’s a vest, fits light and loose but can be tightened)
Separate Top Loading Reservoir Pocket w/hanger (this pocket is divided into 2 by a mesh piece so if you needed to stuck stuff in here you could but will get wet with condensation good to store extra gels)

 

Top Pocket allows fast access to race passport (this thing is useful, it keeps the cell phone and quick access stuff separate and away from water so if there is a leak your tech-stuff is still good)
Easy access side zipping front pocket (these things are big)
Two Front Multi-Use pocket – bungie closure (big, feels like it can get loose and might be too big for some, space=over packing, fyi)
Mesh Storage Pocket on Back (sort of useful, I put some calf sleeves in there when I got hot, I could see putting an empty water bottle in there too)

 
Extras
Tie Loops on pack (for trekking poles or whatever you can put on em) (on my run I actually looped an empty Camelbak Quick Bottle (review), worked like a charm)
Adjustable Reflective Bungie System (it covers the mesh pocket so you can put stuff in mesh outer pocket and lock it down or tie more stuff to the pack.
Reflective Logo
Drain hole

Testing
I have used this pack on many short runs but most notably I trusted it for an early, early 20 mile run (1:30 am start) to work. In addition to the night running stuff I needed space to carry a change of clothes, body wash and a towel. I also had to believe that the pack could not only handle it, but not destroy my change of clothing. But, let me backtrack a few weeks prior to the long test run. I tried to use the pack, but 2 miles in I could feel water dripping on my calves. I took checked and there was an un-explainable leak. It really frustrated me because I could not find it. So…for the long run filled bladder to the limit hung on door knob and walked away for a few hours. Result, bladder failed me.

I came back and the bottom of the pack was soaked, just from sitting there. I was very disappointed with the test so I threw it out and have since used two bladders in the pack, a 2L Hydrapack (link) and 70oz Camelbak (link) both of which worked well.

On the long run I packed: jeans, socks, t-shirt, body wash, towel, GU packets, SoftFlask, Headlamp, phone, running kit, wallet. It’s a lot of stuff but the pack handled the load and still let me run without feeling overly burdened.

I did noticed that the back padding of the pack helps keep you cool since air can run through it but the pads soak up sweat. It is especially terrible when you have to take the pack off then on again or if you have to tighten it up; gets squishy. 

Pros
Storage Capacity. This thing can hold everything you would need for your long unsupported run, change of clothes, jacket, etc.

4 pockets: there are two that the UD site lists but also the front has two more (check the pic). I was able to carry my phone, headlamp, soft flask, salt, extra gels in the front minimizing my need to take off the pack.

 

Cons
UD bladder. – it may be a one off and I hope that is the case but straight up failure. Most people change out the bladders from their hydration system to something they are more comfortable with, but I would still have liked to use the UD bladder, such is life.

Weight – I could see UD making this lighter, but for the load carrying ability i am not sure where to trim weight, but they can figure it out i am sure. 

Back Padding – this is a +/- because it makes the pack comfortable and doesn’t kill you when supporting heavier loads, however it does get squishy if you tighten it after running around for a while.  So it is a blessing and a curse sort of.

Conclusions
Consistent and provides what you need when you need it. The Wasp bladder unfortunately was a small let down.  I would definitely use this pack if a change of clothes or during the winter time when i need to carry more things just in case, or if you are taking inexperienced trail runners out you could add another water bottle just in case they try and start mouching of your supply.  I have been messing around with adding an MSR 2L camping bladder in the storage pocket to double my fluids without doubling size,m but we’ll see.  Overall love the pack definite must have if you are into the long unsupported runs or just like exploring the trail as it gives you enough storage to be comfortable while at the same time allows you to be quick with your feet.

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