By MTD Athlete - E, Bambi, The tall one with Blonde hair
Myself, Bajan and Spenny were fortunate to be invited up to Inov-8 headquarters in February to see what was going to be new for their SS19 collection. Whilst up in the office we were introduced to the new Race Ultra Pro 2in1 vest and were keen to get our hands on some as soon as they were available to retail. Bruce from inov-8 was as generous as ever in sending me one to try prior to my Welsh Coastal Path race this April. So here’s what I thought as well as a brief comment on some of the other inov-8 bags on offer.
All Terrain 15l running backpack
Bambi wearing the backpack for a solo 65km jaunt on the Isle of Wight last summer.
Inov-8 Bags -
When it comes to inov-8 bags, packs, vests and rucksacks I like to think in the relatively short time I have been trail running that I have really made my way through the bunch. My morning - very literal - school run is facilitated by the inov-8 All Terrain 15l running backpack, which is perfect for a laptop, set of clothes and some lunch, it’s a nifty little bag which is perfect for me. I lay route for Maverick with the inov-8 All Terrain 35l which is a hefty beast and have wrestled some hip chaffing from this bad boy, but is is necessary for all the signage, blue flags, staple gun and obligatory course laying mallet. For weekends away on the trails I travel with the inov-8 All Terrain Duffel (40l capacity) which has a segregated shoe compartment for muddy trainers post running, it also has straps that allow it to be carried as a rucksack. I’m yet to run out of space with this bag, and I take ALOT of layers with me wherever I go. The one mishap I had was the lost Oofos on the way to the Lake district, completely my own failure in zipping up the shoe compartment.
All Terrain Pro Vest 0-15l and All Terrain 35l
Soph wearing Vest and Bambi wearing 35l backpack at the Maverick Peak District race 2018
Finally my very first running hydration vest was the All Terrain pro vest 0-15l. It was a big investment for me at the time of buying it (£130) as I was so new to trail running, but the draw was it’s versatility in being able to be a simple stripped back vest for short jaunts, or a 15l mega pack for adventures of longer distances. The different sizes this pack came in was the second biggest draw, as it wasn’t something I had even considered before trying on some ill fitting packs made by other brands. The small sized pack fitted like a practical, running waistcoat that was made for me. Zero bounce, lots of pockets, easy access to everything I needed, space for obligatory kit and comfortable. It was a brilliant investment that I’ve never looked back on. So having had the All Terrain pro vest 0-15l for 3 years, when I was offered the opportunity to try the upgraded version the Race Ultra pro 2in1 vest I jumped at the chance.
Race Ultra Pro Vest 2in1
Bambi wearing size S/M
General Functionality -
The 2in1 functional design remains the same and boasts a bounce free kit, the positioning of the ultra-flasks are slightly lower and sit further round the rib cage instead of at the front. This fit feels a lot more natural and had I not been in need of fluid whilst running I would have forgotten they were even there. The lower position of the flasks also means that the higher pockets are more accessible and can take more kit. I have an iPhone 8 plus (read as ‘bloody big phone’) and I always run with it so these pockets are a great fit for that. If you have a phone bigger than an iPhone 8 plus then you are more extra than me and you should probably leave it at home. So pocket size won’t be an issue. There are also a few extra zip compartments in the vest which is great for peace of mind for valuables - such as haribo - . The woes of a fallen jelly baby or haribo fried egg at mile 20 when you really need it is heart wrenching. However with the new vest the extra zips and elasticated loops mean that kit is less likely to end up M.I.A. and more likely to end up fuelling your run.
The new 2in1 vest is larger than my old 0-15l pack. The sizes are grouped so you either get a S/M or a L/XL. The fuller your pack is the more this pads it out, however on a 30km test run I only took the bare essentials (1l of water, a snack, my phone and keys) and the S/M was on the large side. Even when fully tightened using the adjustable strapping system. I expect that if I had had a bladder down the back hanger then the fit would have improved, and should I have had mandatory kit in the pack then the sizing wouldn’t have been an issue. However it is big. So ladies and gentlemen who are small in the chest be aware of this. Having checked inov-8 website for sizing I’m not sure what a race pack would come under in terms of ‘size guide’ but presuming that it goes on the Mens / Unisex clothing chart then a S/M would fit a person with a 36/38 inch chest, which probably reduces to 34/36 when fully tightened… I’m a 32 at best. If inov-8 were to make this vest in an XS it would be absolutely perfect for me all the time, not just when fully packed like the S/M.
This is the vest that the legendary Nicky Spinks was wearing during her Barkley Marathon attempt this weekend. She did an heroic effort of completing 2 laps, before tapping out. In her vest she had all the mandatory kit you’d expect for a 100 mile race of extreme brutality, severe unpredictability and maximum madness so I expect the vest was a brilliant fit. The vest is certainly an upgrade on the 0-15l predecessor. You can tell this by the fabrics used, the fit, the versatility, the positioning of pockets, the design of straps. I am looking forward to racing with it myself this weekend and don’t doubt that when I pac up my extra layers, emergency shelter, compass, head torch and first kit the vest will pad out and be the perfect running companion. However for smaller runs where I just like to have the bare essentials, I will probably be sticking to my old trusty 0-15l vest.
All Terrain Pro Vest 0-15l
Bambi coming down PenFan wearing size S