Ultra Marathon hydration backpack

I will be starting training for my first ultra marathon (100k) and want to invest in a good hydration pack that also has some storage.  Can anyone recommend one they have had success with please?  I 



  • Having spent a while trying to get a pack that does everything by adding pockets on (the inov8 mobile phone pouch is a favourite) and even sewing stuff on, the closest I've come so far to finding a perfect bag for utlras is one of the new vests from UltrAspire.  I plumped for the Revolution and have been using it for long runs and one ultra over the last 6 months or so.  Its the closest I've come to a perfect bag for this sort of stuff.

    Salomon and Nathan also offer some vests which seem to be growing in popularity.

    Disclaimer - we've started selling the UltrAspire stuff so I think its only fair I point that out!

    UltrAspire Range

  • Salomon s-lab 12 pack is wonderfull!!! They also do a non s-lab version that might be worth looking at!
  • Last ultra I did I was chatting with a guy who said the best value for money running pack he'd found yet was a cheapo one from Decathlon. Some of the expensive ones do look great but as with all other gear, no matter how good it is, if it's not a great fit it won't be worth anything to you.

  • Ive used a Golite rucksack for my last few ultras. I wanted a bag with a number of features, namely able to hold bottles or a bladder and with pockets on the waist belt and this met them. Did a 100 miler in it with no rubbing. I think its the 15 litre one.
  • I was wrong, its the 10 litre one.
  • I think that's the reason I and others I know have got a wardrobe full of rucksacks.  Its not until you've used them "in anger" that you find out if they're really up to the job.  Make sure you buy from somewhere you can try them on first or at least swap for another if you get it and its just not a comfortable fit.

    The new trend towards running vests tends to mean they're more lightweight, comfortable and close-fitting than the traditional rucksack template.

  • I've tried a few and am finally happy with my Salomon Womens XT Wings 10+3 Vest. Worth noting that that with back packs the anotomical differences between men and women are quite important for fit image.  No matter what size your lady lumps are we tend to be narrower around the back.

  • I've just picked up an UltraSpire Omega pack. an absolutely brilliant bit of kit. So comfortable and when you're running with it, you don't even know it's there. I actually hate hydration packs, so fit a 750ml bottle in the front holder no problems, and on races where I need more than that I'll take a handheld too. I've tried so many bags over the past few years, and this is the nuts! I've just ordered a spry vest too for my shorter runs!

  • Been loking too. Didn't know about UltraSpire.

    Ooo, now which one Salomon XT Advanced Skin 5 s-lab or Ultrasire Surge?

  • SSLHP - I think the ultraspire Omega is more comparable to the skin-5. There really isnt much storage space in the surge if you have the bladder full. The Omega has 8litres of storage, but if you dont use it, it compesses down. It's the best made bag I've ever had...

  • Thanks BP. Interesting to know.  I note the Salomon is 1.5 ltr of hydration whilst the UltraSpire is 2 ltr, which is better for long runs I think

  • BP

    On the Omega, I've noticed on a video that the pipe coves over your right shoulder and clips on the left hand side, but the pictures show it coming over your left shoulder, under the clip and then tucked into the top of the pocket on the right. Which is the correct way?

  • I guess you can do either - pipe comes out in middle at top of pack. You can have it coming over right and clipping onto left (although not sure why you'd want that) or have it coming over left and clipping onto left (you'd probably want to cut the hose a bit shorter). But I dont particularly care either way as first thing I did was pull out the bladder as I will never use it!!!!



  • BR.

    I read a review of the Omega which said they thought there should be a sternum strap to keep it more stable on the body, but that they could see why a woman had designed it with strapps lower down. have you noticed this beeing a problem?

  • +1 vote for the Salomon Womens XT Wings 10+3 Vest. I've managed to fit a 2-litre Camelbak hydration bladder into the bladder compartment - other makes of bladder I think only a 1.5 litre would fit, because of the shape. Note it comes in two women's sizes - I have the S/M (teal) one.

    Used it on a 50-miler with no problems. I love the fact that I've got two zipped front pockets and one zipped side pocket I can get at while running, for holding food, and the open-topped side pocket which I use for holding hat/gloves/tissues (it will expand to hold windproof jacket as well. Also the zipped inside pocket is great for valuables, while I keep stuff like a small bottle of Elete in the outside pocket on the back for quick access while refilling the hydration bladder.

    I also have an OMM 12 litre, which isn't bad, but it's less organised (1 x pocket on waist belt, one pocket on the back (outside), bladder compartment, main compartment.

    Shoes smell like horse piss wrote (see)


    I read a review of the Omega which said they thought there should be a sternum strap to keep it more stable on the body, but that they could see why a woman had designed it with strapps lower down. have you noticed this beeing a problem?

    This is odd - no, this is the most stable bag I have ever used. I've been out with it fully loaded including a 600ml bottle in the front pocket and run at 6min mile pace and even then it hasnt moved. There are two chest straps, which keep the pack locked down.

    I guess it might feel weird when you try it on for the first time if you are used to bags with a waist strap and a sternum strap, but that would pass within 30 seconds of running with it!  

  • BR - maybe that critisism applied to when the bladder was used and full?

  • Can you fit a Smartphone in the front pockets?

  • After much expense and trial and error i found a near perfect pack this summer. The Ultimate Direction Highline. Ditched the bladder because they are cumbersome and you never take enough fluid in whilst using them. I use the bottles instead. You do need to be travelling fairly light though put too much in and it becomes uncomfortable. Worked fine for the NDW100 this year.

  • ow do you mean 'you never take enough fluid in when using them' ?

  • I don't drink enough when using a bladder. When i use bottles i can make sure i keep the right amount of fluids going in.

  • Yes, you can get an iPhone in the left hand front pocket of an UltrAspire so other similar phones should fit too!

  • *Dill* wrote (see)

    I don't drink enough when using a bladder. When i use bottles i can make sure i keep the right amount of fluids going in.

    Couldn't agree more! I can't tell how much I'm taking on board and don't drink enough. Hate them.


    SSLHP - this morning fit1pod and 2 blackberries and a card holder in the front pocket and 3 gets in the little mesh bit on front of the main pocket.

    And nope, even with the bladder full it didnt budge! Tried it for you this AM.

  • Thanks BF. I do take your point about not drinking enough with a bladder, but I hate to run holding a bottle

  • I have this problem with a bladder too I worry about running out so ration myself! Don't think it would be a problem in a race with adequate aid stations though!
  • Shoes smell like horse piss wrote (see)

    Thanks BF. I do take your point about not drinking enough with a bladder, but I hate to run holding a bottle

    Until I discovered ultraspire, I used to have one or two of the raidlight bottle holders (http://www.likeys.com/acatalog/info_93.html) attached to my front straps of my OMM or Inov8 rucksack. I used a slightly smaller (600ml) bottle than the 750's, as they don't bounce around as much. This stopped me having to carry a bladder and meant the bottles were easily accessible without having to use handhelds. Advantage over bladders, aside from the key one for me that I just can't tell how much I'm drinking with a bladder, is that they are much easier to refuel at checkpoints. Number of times I fly by people messing around with bladders....



  • Yep, although that Ultraspire Omega has good access to the bladder I see

  • I think I gave up on bladders after starting a race earlier this year with a bladder full of SiS Go powder which started leaking and by the first CP 8 miles in I was absolutely soaked in the sticky stuff, not pleasant!

    One other advantage to bottles is that you can have your carb stuff in one and electrolytes in the other, or plain water even and mix/match easily.  Although I have seen a dual bladder setup somewhere, can't remember where....

  • Until recently I exclusively used bottles, for much the same mix-and-match reason as you mike_a. However got a Salomon s-lab 5 and fit was great "out the bag" (XS/S) as had options for bottles and lots more front-storage too as well as some back storage. I've used it exclusively this year, often using the bladder as its pretty well thought out, only using with water though. On longer outings I've stashed a bottle of energy drink in one of the large front pockets. I'd recommend this as a great pack for days when you don't need too much kit, worth the money, especially if you can get a bit cheaper than RRP (http://www.trekkinn.com/outdoor-mountain/salomon-advanced-skin-s-lab-5-set-aluminium---red/51606/p).....

    ....which brings me to why I've dug-out and warmed up this thread (rather than start a new one). I need a larger pack for longer trail ultra's (30-60m) with kit requirements that unfortunately won't fit in this bag. S-lab 12 would be my choice, but I can't afford even the discounted ones for various reasons right now. The Ultrasprire and Ultimate Direction packs look good, I especially like the look of the Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest - anybody got experiance of this vest? seems to tick my front and rear storage boxes (just a bit more than the s-lab 5) and nice to have size options.
    Could anybody recoomend the equivelent kind of Ultraspire vest (8-12L capacity), two bottle storage, front pockets, etc....?
    If anybody has tried UD SJ vest and equive UA and has useful info that would be great?

  • Reading back here (most useful) UA Omega may be for me, will compare against the UD SJ vest (which at first glance has slightly more carriage capacity. Off to research...

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