Along with rest of the TrailAndUltraRunning.com crew we visited the UltrAspire booth at the Summer Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City last summer. Based on the number of new packs there, it’s clear that Bryce and the gang at UltrAspire spend a lot of time innovating. The pack that really caught my eye was the Alpha. So when UltrAspire sent us a number of new products to test – one being the Alpha – It “could” be said that I launched myself at our Gear Review Coordinator, Craig, in order to snatch the Alpha pack from his up lifted arm. After initially frightening Craig, he relinquished the pack. So why did I want to try the pack? Since I already know and like the fit of UltrAspire packs, I saw that it offered more up front storage than my Nathan HPL #20. The Alpha’s storage includes a dedicated water resistant pill pocket, zippered expandable mess pocket, two very large strap closure pockets and two rib cage expandable mess pockets. The appeal is quick and easy access to everything I need but also separation of items.
Along with Rebecca, we completed our testing and our our reviews and observations are below (with a 5 point rating system):
Overall Design: 4.5
Pros: The front storage with easy access to everything is great. I completed multiple 5+ hour runs with room to spare. In addition to food & fuel, I also pack an iPhone, Sony Action Cam, wipes and other emergency items. Also, really like how the top of the water bladder is exposed in the back. Refills are faster with the Alpha than with my HPL #20.
Cons: Valve seemed to require a lot suction but I usually use an Osprey valve anyway. Speed hooks catch but I fixed this in less than 5 minutes with a nail file to remove some material at the end of the hook.
Pros: I’ve had the pack for 2 months and I’m not nice to my packs. It has been snagged by branches, dropped on the ground and thrown in the car. So far, not rips, tears, fraying, nor has anything broken. I might give it a higher value once it hits the 6 month point.
Pros: For me, it has enough capacity for runs as long as 6 hours to 8 hours. This assumes I have access to water additional water. My Swayer Squeeze filter would fit nicely in the pack.
Pros: I really like the loose low ride fit, similar to my Nathan. As the bladder empties you can close the straps tighter to adjust the fit as you would like.
Cons: I received a large and the pack had a wide cut across my shoulders. A large safety pin or some needle and thread will draw the shoulders closer in the back correcting this for me.
It meets and exceeds what it’s designed to do.
With all the up front storage the Alpha is awesome. Add a couple of 5 minute modifications and it has replaced my Nathan.
Overall Design: 4
Pros: Overall,this is one of the best designed hydration packs that I’ve tried. I didn’t feel like they just added pockets and straps for the heck of it, but thought out what a runner truly needs when wearing it.
Cons: It did not receive a 5 due to the struggles I had with drinking from it.
Pros: I loved this pack because I hardly knew I had it on my back! I love hydration packs because my hands are free, but most are heavy. This one had great, wide straps that allowed for the weight to be dispersed.
I don’t really beat up on my packs too much, so it worked very well for me.
Pros: With a 70 oz water capacity it’s great for races where aid stations are further apart.
Pros: I loved how this fit me and never felt like it was intrusive. It fit my body well (which can be hard).
I loved the pockets and all the features, especially the magnet-closures for some pockets. My biggest issue was drinking from the valve. It was hard to drink from. Everything else is so perfect about this pack.
It’s great to store a lot of things during a race, but again, drinking is a bit too hard.
Don’t forget to comment below for your chance to win your very own UltrAspire Quantum race belt!
The winner of last week’s Quantum is comment #19 from the review of the Quantum- Eric “Skree” – Congratulations!