Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0 Review

Today we look at the Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0

It is the newest version of the very popular Ultimate Direction range of running vests.

Working closely with Anton Krupicka over the last few years they have looked at improving the 2.0 Vest and have now released the AK Mountain Vest 3.0, which is lighter but with more capacity.

The AK Mountian Vest 3.0 is designed to be able to carry all you need for a full day out in the mountains. We test it out.


Let’s have a closer look

Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0 Review

The New AK Mountain Vest 3.0


Build Quality

The mountain vest itself is made from a combination of highly durable but light fabrics.

The Harness Section, which is the inner lining, is Knit Mono Mesh (Very light and strong)

The front and side pocket sections are made from Darlington Power Mesh (Stretchy but strong)

and SilNylon/66: Silicone-Impregnated 30D nylon is used around the backpack section which allows it to be permanently waterproof and provides excelled tear and seam protection.

The combination of these fabrics allows for a lightweight pack that is comfortable, durable and strong.


Features

  • 2 x Sliding rail sternum straps
  • 2x Bottle holsters 500ml, which tighten to carry phone or camera
  • Trekking pole holders, located on the front.
  • Double ice axe loops
  • External stretch pockets for organization
  • Secure lateral pockets

Capacity

11.5 litres and weights in at 10oz. (which is 33% more capacity the AK 2.0)


Pockets and Compartments

The front hosts a selection of pockets easily accessible while on the run.

The top section has two  small pockets (one per side)

One is made from the water proof material, useful to hold salt tablets, headphones or any other item you wish to keep dry.

Above that is the whistle (which is mostly part of mandatory gear requirements these days)

and two stretch pockets below  which is perfect for holding, gloves, waste or any other personal items.)

Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0 Review

The other side hosts a small stretch pocket with an elasticated top, secured with velcro.

Below this is the bottle holder and an easy access open pocket with an elasticated top section.

Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0 Review

The two main water bottle pockets – fit a 500ml UD soft flask and are able to be tighten by the bungee cord.

Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0 Review

Showing bungee and stretch pocket in use

Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0 Review

The 2 x 5ooml soft flash are provided with the vest

Below this is an elasticated  pocket –  which is great for gels, gloves and keeping waste off the trails.

And at the bottom we have 1 x zipped lateral pocket- fits a iPhone 6/6s or similar – Also useful for carrying nutiriton, bars etc

The sternum straps are adjustable and are easily clicked in and out via the two main buckles.

Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0 Review

Harness buckles

The front also hosts the trekking pole attachments which allows you to mount your trekking poles on the front rather than the back, which is a great feature.

Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0 Review

Image from :injinjiperformanceshop.com.au


The Back Pack Section

Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0 Review

The main storage area is accessible by  dual zippers so you can open from top or bottom.

Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0 Review

Its main pack holds around 10.5 litres of capacity and houses a section for a 2 litre bladder. (not included)

The bladder hose can be sent thought either the left or right section to the front of the pack.

The the blue fabric on top of the main pack is another area that can be used for additional storage, say wet clothes or a rain jacket.

This whole area can be tightened by the bungy mesh system.

Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0 Review

Additional tightening can be achieved by using the hooks provided.

Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0 Review

Showing pack hooks

One the side of the blue mesh are two waterproof pockets.

Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0 Review

UD AK 3.0 Vest side pockets

Also at the bottom of the pack you have two zipped  lateral pockets, within which are the tightening straps.

Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0 Review

Showing tighten straps with the lateral back pockets


Testing the Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0

Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0 Review

I took the Ultimate Direction AK 3.0 Mountain Vest to Bright, Victoria while competing at the Buffalo Stampede Sky marathon.

With mandatory gear and a 42km course this would allow for a good testing environment for the vest in regards to comfort and usability.

Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0 Review

During Buffalo Stampede Sky Marathon 2016 – Image: auroraimages


In regards to comfort

The AK Mountain Vest 3.0  is not designed specifically as a race vest and so is slightly larger than the standard streamlined racing vests.

That being said due to the ability to compact down the back of the pack and with the use of the waist straps it does allow for a tight fit on the body

note: On reflection the medium size that I got may have been slightly too big for me, so make sure to check the sizing chart before you order.


Potential Issues

I did find that the top section of the harness started to rub into my shoulder blades and there was some marks after the race at these points.

This seems to be the same issue as the 2.0 version and is caused by the stitch points. They are quite promenade at these areas of contact.

Also due to the shape and stiffness of the top of the water bottles, over times these too dug into my skin.

In the future I would be more inclined to use a different type of soft flask.

Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0 Review

bottle comparison

The picture above shows the UD soft flash and my normal soft flask.

The section that you screw the top into is made from quite a hard plastic and this was the point UD flask dug in.

On comparison my normal flask is made from quite a soft rubber and shows none of those issues.


Usability

The Vest held up well and I was able to easily access all of the pockets while on the run.

It felt light and comfortable throughout the day.

The bungees were great for securing the bottles in place and apart for the afore mentions issues the pack felt great over the full distance.


Conclusions

The Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0 is a well made, multi purpose vest that allows you a huge amount of storage options.

The ability to access trekking poles from the front is a great feature and you have easy access to lots of your pockets while on the run.

It has great capacity and allows for the pack to be cinched down and used as a race vest or opened up allowing you to carry more equipment while still remaining light and flexible.

The water bottles work well but due to their design they did dig in when wearing a light race top.

The harness also has some issues due to the stitching and I would need to add additional padding to alleviate this issue.

This is only a minor issue and could easily be fixed with some tape.

The ability to tighten the front water bottle pockets is very handy and is also great for carrying a camera with you.

I would like to test the smaller size to see if it made a difference to the comfort level as this may have been a factor.

Do I recommend?

Well yes I do, With a few slight modifications to the water bottles and harness this will be my go to pack for all day adventures in the Mountains.

It was made for this purpose and really is going to be hard to beat in this section of the market.

The fact that you have so much capacity in such a lightweight form is impressive.


Current RRP is: $219.95 AUD

The Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0  is available in Australia from

Injinji Performance Products-Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0

or Internationally from Ultimatedirection.com


Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0

219.95 AUD
8.9

Price

9.0/10

Build quality

9.0/10

Comfort

8.0/10

Functionality

9.5/10

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • All day capacity
  • Front access Trekking poles

Cons

  • Water bottle design
  • Harness Stitching