Apparel

First Look: Hydrolight Shorts and Tank by Ultimate Direction

The new line by UD is all it's cracked up to be.

Hydrolight Shorts

Price: $85
Weight: 5.1 ounces
Best Features: Great quality, no-bounce bottle pockets, no chafing.
Room for Improvement: It could use a small, secure pocket for a key.

Ultimate Direction’s new Hydrolight wearable series is getting a lot of press. After a couple test runs, we think it’s worth checking out.

The Hydro Short (women’s here, men’s here) consists of an inner spandex/nylon short that stays tight on the skin, and an outer, loose polyester/spandex layer that is airy, feels cool to the touch and includes a mesh hem with a trendy split-short design.

The inner short stayed in place during a hot 2.5-hour trail run and didn’t chafe. Two mesh pockets on the back perfectly fit two custom 300ml hard bottles. The pockets are diagonally placed, laying nicely along one’s body (booty) contour, and the pockets include an overlay to keep the top of the bottles secure.

The waist strap is stiff and features a small webbing adjuster. The waist strap feels bulky at first but not noticeable while running and keeps the shorts in place to prevent any sort of bottle bounce. The waist adjuster hides itself well underneath a small layer of fabric.

If you’re in between sizes, size down. If you need to tighten the strap anymore than two inches, there is no place to secure the extra strap. I typically wear a size small and can often get away in size medium, but these medium shorts presented me with about 6 inches worth of extra strap and nowhere to put it (I resorted to stuffing the strap into my waistband).

A large back pocket in between the bottle pockets provides enough room for an iPhone 8+, gels, bars, Chapstick and any other necessities, but the Velcro closure doesn’t provide enough security for anything of value like a key or single credit card. In the Hydro Short’s next iteration, Ultimate Direction might consider adding a small zippered pocket or inner waistband pocket for a car key. 

Also look for the Hydro Skirt (similar to the shorts, but with an ornate skirt design), the Hydro Skin Shorts (the barely-there model; men’s here, women’s here), the Hydro Tank (surprisingly comfortable and snug top that carries the bottles next to the low back) and the Hydro Tight 3/4 leggings.

—Katie Stookesberry, a road runner in winter, budding skimo athlete and trail runner by summer, resides in Colorado’s Elk Mountains.