For those of us who bought the first production of the SJ Vest and have worn them on several runs and are still able to use it, we're sure you have had ample opportunity to brush up on your sewing skills and have figured out ways to adjust the fit and fix areas where the sewing has come undone. Below are pictures of what we have done in order to make this vest function and not fall apart...
We sewed in place all four of the elastic adjustment bands on both
bottle pockets after they both became detached...
|We resewed the stitching on the upper pockets after |
the threads came loose...
|We replaced the elastic cord, located inside the back pack, with a static cord. |
The static cord (We used a shoe lace, shown in yellow, and lock lace device)
provides lateral adjustment and stability that the vest was lacking...
We like the materials and design of this vest, but the manufacturing quality control left much to be desired. Hopefully these deficiencies will be corrected in future productions of the SJ Vest...
Bart & Eve
After much anticipation and long awaited arrival of the SJ (Scott Jurek) Ultra Vest by Ultimate Direction, we were finally able to procure two of the vests...
The SJ Ultra Vest is one of the three models of the Ultimate Direction Signature Series hydration vest. It appears production has been somewhat limited as all three of the vests were quickly sold out through the limited sources available and currently are very difficult to get a hold of.
Our initial impression of the SJ Ultra Vest is the light weight (7.5 oz without bottles), overall high quality workmanship, and the innovative design in utilizing every square inch of space available. In fact we were mid-way into our second trial run when we discovered two additional pockets on the side. The materials are highly breathable, do not stretch or give, and appear to be extremely strong in relation to their weight.
Keep in mind that a vest as light as the SJ makes load stability entirely dependent on proper fit. The vest must fit securely to the body without gaps or looseness. We purchased the vest based on the sizing and measurement recommendations provided by Ultimate Direction. Since we are both borderline between sizes, we were advised to go with the larger size thus we purchased a large for Bart and medium for Eve This we discovered was a big mistake.
To itemize the features that made the biggest impression on us:
1) We really like the creative ideas that went into the pocket locations and convenience they provide. The storage capacity is great.
2) We like the materials employed. The materials breathe well, and it appears that they will stand up to a considerable amount of use and even abuse.
3) The vest comes equipped with a whistle that is handy when you feel it is necessary to alert bears and other critters of your presence or to signal your location to others in the event of a mishap and in need of assistance. The vest can also be outfitted with a hydration bladder (not provided) for those that prefer that option.
4) Because of the lightness of the materials, the vest provides limited structure and stability thus proper fit is very important to achieve stability of the load.
5) The SJ Ultra Vest is extremely limited in adjustment capabilities; only the two sternum straps provide lateral adjustment which based on our experience, is not enough. If the vest does not fit snug the end result is that as the load distribution transfers from front to back (ex. water bottles emptying) the vest shifts, down in back, up in front, leaving the runner with a "clothes lined" effect and no means to make adjustment to counteract this shift. Lack of a snug fit also allows the load to shift/flop from side to side particularly during downhill running on technical trails. We note that both of the other vest models in the Signature Series, the AK and PB models have means to make lateral adjustments at the side of the vest thus ensuring the body hugging fit this type of vest requires and also provides the runner with the ability to adjust more precisely the exact placement of the bottles on the chest thereby accommodating variables in anatomy shape, particularly with regards to women. Eve found the vest to be extremely uncomfortable due to the location the bottles and the inability to adjust their location. It is therefore our opinion that lateral side adjustment similar to the AK vest must be incorporated on future models of the SJ vest.
6) Apropos item 5) above, the size Large (36-44 inch) vest does not cover the size range stated. Bart has a size 38 inch chest, and when the sternum straps are closed down all the way, the vest still fits loose on him. In fact at the bottom portion of the vest (the narrowest portion of the torso the vest will be in contact with) measures 40.25 inches in circumference with the lower sternum strap tightened all the way! This we believe is another reason that lateral side adjustment is absolutely necessary. The medium size vest was able to provide a snug fit for Bart; however, the medium size vest was maxed out with regards to adjustment. There is obviously a breakdown in the Ultimate Direction design shop with regards to size spans. In other words, the medium to large sizes simply do not overlap or provide proper fit/adjustment capabilities for someone in the 37-38 inch chest size range.
We fully understand the complexities of new products and their introduction. Although in our opinion, the above sizing and adjustment bugs should have been worked through prior to introduction, we still believe the SJ Ultra Vest has the potential to become one of the very best running vest for the runner seeking a piece of equipment to see them through long unsupported runs once the above problems have been resolved.
Our comments have been sent to Timothy Stanley with Ultimate Direction who has forwarded them to the brand manager and products developers for their review. We sincerely hope they will consider our suggestions for the improvement of the SJ vest. If you are considering purchasing an SJ vest we suggest that you find a store that carries them, so you can try the vest on to confirm that you have a proper fit.
Now, let’s get out and run...
The medium size vest on Bart. Good snug fit and comfortable bottle placement.
However, note that the lower sternum strap is almost at its maximum range thus
extra clothing layers could be problematic.
|Medium size vest on Bart. Nice comfortable location of the front and back load.|
Large size vest on Bart. Note the sternum straps are tightened all the way
and the extra slack at the bottom of the vest.
|Side view of the large size vest. Note of the slack of material both front and back.|
|Side view illustrating the slack with the sternum straps tightened all the way.|
This view illustrates the load shift that take place with the large vest and
the "clothes line" effect the bottle and sternum strap has the runner.
We sincerely hope this review will be of benefit.
Bart & Eve
Bart & Eve