A shirt that functions like a bag sounds crazy, but that’s exactly what WAA has created. “What An Adventure” is an ultra-equipment brand from Paris. We recently reviewed WAA’s most simple running pack, the Ultra Bag Pro 3L, which is the complimentary gear to the Ultra Carrier Shirt. Head on over here to find out what we had to say about the pack. The Ultra Carrier shirt comes in both short and long sleeved and we tested the short sleeved option. It’s named for the many pockets to carry nutrition and small pieces of gear.
The Ultra Carrier shirt is made from polyester and spandex, a combination that is meant to provide breathability, absorb sweat, and dry fast. The fabric is thicker along the chest and back than along the sides, where it has much more stretch. The thinnest fabric is under the armpits, which is great for ventilation where you need it the most. The majority of the shirt has a diagonal stitch pattern (like a honeycomb) that mimics a mesh construction. At the front hem are two pockets (see below for more on that) that contain the same fabric as the majority of the shirt. On the lower back and sides are larger pockets with wide mesh fabric covering the outside. Finally, the inside of the back hem has a rubber line designed to keep the shirt from inching upwards.
So, what makes this shirt a bit of a bag? Located at the waist in the front are two medium-sized pockets, each with a Velcro closure at the top. They are big enough to hold a phone and several gels. In fact, the front left pocket is specifically designed to hold a phone or MP3 player because you can string headphones along the inside of your shirt and access your phone through a small opening in the pocket. In the back are two large mesh pockets that extend almost a third of the way up the shirt. Each pocket wraps around to your waist and each has two Velcro closures. There is a host of items you can carry in these pockets, like a hat, gloves, a rain jacket, extra nutrition, and even a water bottle.
A full-length zipper runs up the front side of the short and ends in a roughly 1.5 inch wide collar so you end up with a snug fit throughout. The Ultra Carrier shirt also has UV protection and reflective accents for better nighttime visibility.
I mostly wore the Ultra Carrier shirt on warm days and unfortunately didn’t get to test the shirt in cold conditions. As a guy who sweats quickly, I noticed that the shirt kept me pretty cool and dried very quickly. During my recent ultra, I was surprised to see how dry the shirt was at the end of my race. Not surprisingly, the shirt is on the heavier side (169 grams) because of the multiple pouches and extensive seams. Of course, this isn’t necessarily the shirt you would choose for a quick jog around the neighborhood, where a simple lightweight shirt will do the trick.
For a long training run, the shirt had enough storage space to fit all the gear I needed. I did try, on separate occasions, running with a hard (comparable to the WAA Pro Bottle) or soft water bottle. Unfortunately, the hard water bottle tended to push out of the pocket and a few times even fell out, but the soft bottle managed to stay in the pocket.
This form-fitting shirt can be a little tight, especially around the neck when zipped up. I preferred to leave the shirt slightly unzipped for better airflow and so as not to feel constricted at the neck. However, the farther you pull the zipper up, the less the gear tended to bounce.
When it comes to sizing, the Ultra Carrier shirt runs on the small side. WAA has a size guide online that can direct you to your optimal fit. The sizing guide indicated I am a size M, which is typically what I wear in tops, but this ended up being too tight for me. A large fit better but was form-fitting to say the least. Keep in mind that the shirt needs to be snug to carry gear.
The Ultra Carrier shirt is washing machine safe and WAA suggests washing it at no more than 30°C (85°F). Because of the shirt’s tight fit and features I strongly suggest passing on the dryer and hanging it up to air dry. This will make the shirt last longer and prevent it from potentially shrinking. The fabric and seams have held up very well, despite several washes and many hours on the trail, but the thinner fabric on the sides has ended up a little worn, probably from rubbing against the Ultra Bag Pro 3L.
The Ultra Carrier short sleeve shirt is like having a small running pack and absorptive shirt in one. It sells for 85 Euro (about $95). At first look this seems like a lot to pay for a shirt, but given how many bells and whistles it has, this is a pretty fair price. I know that my gear requirements change from a 5K to a Marathon and this shirt is a one-stop shop for almost every distance.