Ultimate Direction Jurek FKT Vest

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Ultimate Direction Jurek FKT VestReview Facts

The Jurek FKT Vest, by a company called Ultimate Direction, offers wearable hydration and refreshment during sweaty outdoor activities.

The vest is named the Jurek after Scott Jurek, the endurance athlete and author of several books on the sport. Jurek is known for beating out competitors in events like the Western States Endurance Run, which he won 7 times in a row. The Run is an ultramarathon event, covering 100 miles as its course winds through the Sierra Nevada Mountains in June of each year. In 2015, Jurek ran the Appalachian Trail–the whole thing–in 46 days. That’s a distance of over 2,000 miles.

Jurek partly credits his long-term vegan diet for his athletic success. But all that running creates a powerful thirst, even for someone like Jurek who seems indestructible. So Jurek, always the public advocate, teamed up with Ultimate Direction to design and market the vest which bears his name.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros

Plenty of gear storage, and shell is body-friendly with minimal bounce

Extra flexible hose can go over or under your shoulder according to your preference

Sleeves sewn into front fabric hold trekking/walking poles in place for long outings

Spacious front pocket stores most anything you need for an endurance outing, and it won't jangle

Main pocket area has a bungee over it, so you can strap items down for extra security

Light weight--just 15 ounces if you fill the bottles that come with it

Cons

No bladder for liquids--fill included bottles or BYOB only

Phone pocket limited in size, won't work for bigger or very compact phones

Why Hydration Packs

Why Hydration Packs

Hydration packs are the offspring of a wearable called a camelback. They are the invention of an eponymous company, with the stylized spelling Camelbak. The first camelbacks appeared in 1989. The simplest version consists of a backpack/harness unit, made of fabric, with a soft-shell bladder similar to an IV bag. To use a camelback, you fill the bladder with water and strap it on. A tube goes from the outlet of the bladder into your mouth. To take a drink while running or cycling, you typically bite the tube to open a valve.

Anyone who has done much running knows how important it is to drink water, With a camelback, it becomes easy and habitual. It is almost as if the vest is part of your body.

The Jurek FKT Vest follows this design but does not have a bladder. Instead, it comes with two plastic bottles that you can fill with the liquid of your choice. The bottles sit in pockets on the front. The ones that come with the vest are designed to be picked up and poured down your mouth, with a cap that has a valve similar to the bite valve.

You can buy your own water bladder and strap it to the back with the bungee if you'd rather not deal with the bottles. This is also an option for longer runs or hikes, where you need more water than the bottles can hold. Another option is to place a bladder in the back pocket. Many long-distance athletes find the front bottle design more comfortable than a bladder, for extended outdoor time. This is likely why Jurek and Ultimate Direction decided not to install a permanent bladder or bag.

Some users said the nozzles on the water bottle caps are difficult to drink from. For a workaround, some just unscrew the cap when they are thirsty. This seems like it would get tedious during a marathon or half marathon, but it is probably doable for hikes where you are not moving as fast.
Company Background

Company Background

Ultimate Direction has been in business for over 30 years. They introduced the first hydration pack in 1985. It was similar in design to the Jurek. As you'll recall from above, the first actual Camelback didn't come around until 1989. Prior to 1989, a product that held water bottles was the main option for those who did not like wearing a backpack for long distances.

Today, Ultimate Direction still focuses on hydration options for long-distance outdoor runners and endurance athletes. Their products include vests, hand bottles, and lightweight fanny packs. You can also get duffel bags, sun-protecting hats, and gear like tank tops or tights. Portable shelter is another of Ultimate Direction's mainstays. The company prides itself in making vests and other products specifically for women athletes.

Some of their belts and packs are made to hold water bottles, while others are just for utility storage. Their focus is on providing alternatives to backpacks, which can get wearisome after many miles in the elements. With the Jurek FKT, you could go as far as 20 miles without having to stop for water. There is also ample pocket space for food and emergency supplies.
Materials

Materials

The vest and shell, including straps, is made from tear-resistant nylon. It is lightweight but durable and uses a combination of mesh and thin fabric to wick away sweat and moisture. This helps prevent chafing, and the straps are also lined so the nylon makes minimal contact with your skin. The vest comes in small, medium, and large. Size is determined by waist circumference. The small vest fits waists from 24 to 33 inches, with the large size being suitable for up to a 48-inch waist.

The bottles are Flexform 600s. We'd never heard of that, so we looked it up. It is a proprietary name for Ultimate Direction, and most of the company's water bottles are called Flexform followed by a number. The 600 refers to the size. All Flexform bottles are made from pliable, squeezable plastic that is BPA free and approved by the FDA. The type of plastic is called polyethylene. The bottles that come with the Jurek vest have contoured hand grips, an nd all of Ultimate Direction's bottles have the same easy-to-use bite valve design.

The vest weighs 11.2 ounces with empty bottles. Filling the bottles brings you to just under 16 ounces, so the total weight is less than a pound. That's a huge improvement over putting water bottles and supplies in a typical fabric backpack. During distance athletics, every ounce counts. The Ultimate Direction Jurek FKT Vest is designed with endurance in mind. You can wear it for a long time without becoming fatigued, and the body-friendly construction doesn't let the bottles or your other supplies shake or bounce.

Most reviewers estimate you could travel about a day, on foot, with this vest if you loaded it with food supplies and water. The bottles on your chest may take some getting used to, but in the long run, it is more efficient than carrying a bottle in your hand or in a backpack.
What People Are Saying

What People Are Saying

Reviews of the vest were mostly positive. Ultimate Direction calls their previous product, the Jurek 2.0, the best selling vest in the world. The vest we reviewed today is an upgrade to that design.

Reviewers praised how light and breathable the vest is. They also liked the convenience of all the pockets and the fact that nothing has room to move around while the vest is in use. Some reviewers stated they wish there were more waterproof pockets. There is one, and it is about the size of a smartphone.

The bungee on the back is strong enough to hold an extra pair of shoes or a jacket for inclement weather. While it does not constrict movement, the vest is snug and does not allow for chafing as long as you wear the right size. Straps are adjustable for waist circumference, but not for height as some reviewers wish for. Some of the pockets have zippers, but not all do. The only feasible place for your phone is the front pocket, and some reviewers said they wished there were more phone options. You can probably fit your phone in a different pocket, but it will not be waterproof.

Ultimate Direction also got high marks for customer service. If your vest does not fit properly, you can call the company and get a replacement. Ultimate Direction will work hard to ensure your satisfaction, and all their products come with warranties. If you are a rec runner, competing in a marathon or half marathon, a triathlete, day or multiday hiker, or even if you undertake something as ambitious as an ultramarathon, we are confident the Jurek will not let you down.
The Final Word

The Final Word

The Ultimate Direction Jurek FKT vest is comfortable, breathable, and lightweight. It comes in enough sizes for most bodies. The shell is tear-resistant but is pliable enough to mold to your body's contours. Though there's no water bladder, you have a couple of options for installing one. The liquid bottles are made of soft non-toxic plastic. They are also shaped friendly to the human hand. The main complaints people had was that there is only one waterproof pocket and that the bottle tops are hard to drink from. With the liquid storage and pockets for supplies, you could stay on a trail for almost a whole day without stopping for support. Hikers, outdoor runners, cyclists, and endurance athletes will all appreciate this product. It is endorsed by ultramarathon champion Scott Jurek, who also helped design it.