Accessories

First Look: 2019 Ultimate Direction Hardrocker Vest

Ultimate Direction's San Juan Mountains-inspired Hardrocker Vest can take on wild-and-tough day runs or races

UD 2019 Hardrocker Vest

Weight: 10.6 oz

Volume: 12 liters

External materials: Tech-printed, 4-way-stretch, silicon-coated nylon

Blader compatible: Yes

Price: $165

Best features: Lightweight, plenty of pockets and style

Room for improvement: One more shoulder strap to make it secure

 

This is the fifth special edition of Ultimate Direction’s Hardrocker Vest, with upgrades in style and functionality. The vest’s printed design showcases the San Juan Mountains in all their open-blue-sky, high-peaks and green-meadows glory. There’s a Hardrock Endurance Run patch on the bottom of the right-shoulder strap and the stow-away rainfly has a large Hardrock 100 logo on it as well, so you can let others know that you are “Wild and Tough” (the Hardrock tagline) even in inclement weather.

The bag is not lacking in substance, either. With 18 pockets of varying sizes, there is lots of room to store the necessities for a day-long race or run. The pockets on the front are easy to access, for a quick snack grab.

There is a water-resistant phone pocket on the left-shoulder strap. However, it barely fits my iPhone 7 sans case, so newer, larger iPhones or Androids may be too large.

This is the lightest Hardrocker vest compared to the previous years’ models. The breathable mesh netting means the bag doesn’t feel constricting or clingy. Other improvements include a redesigned trekking-pole holder to minimize bounce when the poles are stashed. There are now two front-bottle pockets, which include two Body Bottle 500s. The bag can also store a water reservoir and has plenty of straps for securing the hose and nozzle.

The fit is comfortable, especially considering they offer three sizes: small, medium and large. The adjustable T-hook sternum straps are neat because they are easy to move for customized comfort. The sides adjust via a cord-pull-tab system; however, one more strap in the front would have made the vest feel fully secured along the sides.

I wore the vest for a long run on a weekend where the forecast said a chance of rain, hoping I could test out the rainfly and evoke the “Wild and Tough” nature of Hardrock. Alas, there was no rain, but all my gear stayed secure with not a lot of jostling around.

As of this writing, the UD website lists the product as temporarily unavailable, which most likely means it was sold out.

Due to the cancellation of this year’s race, UD is giving 10 percent of any of their Hardrock-branded products purchased to the communities impacted by the cancellation, including the town of Silverton, the San Juan Mountain communities’ search & rescue and other supporting organizations.

A nice companion to the vest to consider is the 2019 Hardroller, a travel organizer with 18 versatile compartments for storage. The pockets designated to keep muddy shoes from the rest mingling with the rest of your running kit is a nice feature. The organizer is great in relieving any race-day stress that comes with worrying about whether or not you packed all of your racing gear.