Inov8 Race Ultra Pro 2 in 1 Running Vest
Tech and Spec
What Inov8 Say
"A versatile two-in-one running pack featuring a 10-litre pocket that can be attached or removed depending on how much kit you wish to carry.
The RACE ULTRA PRO 2in1 can be worn as a stripped-back race vest for shorter, faster runs or, with the 10L pocket attached, as a larger pack to carry all your kit on ultramarathons and longer training runs. It comes with 2 x 500ml Ultraflasks, so you can stay hydrated and comfortable no matter how hot or long the run, and a Speedcup (a re-usable water cup for races that require one as mandatory kit). The RACE ULTRA PRO 2in1 also includes a hanger so that you can comfortably fit a 2L bladder in the pack."
Capacity: 12 Litres
Weight: With bottles: 441g / Without bottles: 345g
Hydration: 2x 0.5L Ultraflask with tubes inc. 1x Speed Cup inc.
The idea behind this pack is exciting, 1 bit of kit that could cover all types of run. Minimalist or stripped back vest were only bare essential would be needed and the main back or pack compartment that attachs to the vest for big days out or compulsory Ultra or trail race kits.
The pack section has stacks of space in the main compartment which opens with one zip towards the top, for when the pack is not full there is a green bungee cord that you can pull to compress the pack or to stuff things such as a rain jacket on the outside for quick easy access. At the side of the pack are 2 stretch pockets to hold items such as water bottles - I used the to hold my running poles as they kept popping out of the designated poles bungees at the front of the vest.
The vest attaches to the vest via small buckets that are attached to straps to tighten the pack to the back of the vest.
The vest also comes with 2 soft flasks and a soft cup. The bottles have long straws and rather than sit high on the front of the chest they fit low down on sides, although it is possible to use 'normal' short soft flats tops and have the bottles sit at the front.
On the whole a good looking pack that gives runners several options and could cover the needs of most runners.
The vest fits nicely against the body and an ideal bit of kit to carry phone, water and some and could certainly carry a bit more. Running with the vest felt more comfortable than running with a belt or buyback due to it fitting snugly against the body and not bounce up or ride up as belts sometimes can.
The vest with the extra capacity pack does offer a lot of storage space and capacity, however after a few runs with not that much weight in the pack two rips appeared on the shoulders of the vest near the attachment points. Possibly a weak-point due to weight from the pack pulling down and / or poor choice material choice for that part of the pack. Not what you expect from a pack that retails on Inov8s website at £150.00.
The buckle attachment between the pack and vest can be a bit fiddly, and not very easy to use with cold wet fingers. Personally I would like to have seen a similar more conventional bucket or clip.
Elastic bungees are meant to offer the ability of holding your pole at the front of the pack or down the back. I found that the loops were too far away from each other and as a result my poles would never stay in place - this could be down my poles (Mountain King Trail Blaze) folding in to 4 short sections.
Moving the water bottles down from the chest down towards you sides moves the weight distribution of the pack. Whether or not you keep them down there with the long straws or use the traditional type tops and keep the bottles by your chest is down to personal preference. For me the water bottles lower down were just bouncing around like crazy which is very off putting and uncomfortable on very long runs, they'd sometimes bounce out of the pack - the big stretch pockets that are meant to hold them in place could really do with some velcro or similar to keep them in place. The water bottles would sometimes get in the way of my arm swing, so again very annoying when running.
You would expect a pack from a brand such as Inov8 to be sturdy and reliable. Unfortunately, I have not found that to be the case with the RACE ULTRA PRO 2in1. On top of the issues mentioned above I experienced a catastrophic failure with the pack roughly 80 miles into a 100mile Ultra in the Lake District. My race was saved by kind checkpoint volunteers who happened to have to Gorilla Tape (that they usually use to tape peoples blisters) and taped up the major failure points. The straps that attach the buckles to the pack ended up shearing away from the vest on both shoulders and the sides resulting in the pack hanging down from the remaining buckle. The pack only had the mandatory race kit, was not overly full and I saw several others using the same pack during the same race without issue.
This pack had a lot of potential. I really liked the 2 in 1 idea however I think it just does not work and creates weak points that can and did result in failure. Although I am not aware of anyone else who has had such a failure issue with the pack, for my the negatives as mentioned above far outweigh the positives.
I was luckily enough to be fully reimbursed for the pack due to its failure.