WAA Ultra Equipment Ultra Carrier Shirt Review

WAA Ultra Equipment Ultra Carrier Shirt Review

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 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.

Do you have a piece of gear you’ve picked up while overseas that you love but can’t find in your home country? Tell us in the comments!

Check out the WAA Ultra Carrier Shirt at the link below!

 

Ultimate Direction Adventure Vesta Review

Ultimate Direction Adventure Vesta Review

If you follow any news in the running world, there is no doubt you have heard of Scott Jurek, the champion ultra runner. His wife, Jenny, is herself an accomplished ultra runner and she’s been a designer in the outdoor apparel and gear business for over 16 years. It’s no surprise then that Ultimate Direction, the hydration pack company, created a women’s line with Jenny at the helm. In fact, the Adventure Vesta pack is part of an assortment of packs, waist packs, and hand-held water bottles called the Jenny Collection. Jenny is first and foremost a climber, which is visible in some of the details of the pack, like loops for ice axes. While I’d love to say I took it up a frozen face, I’m no climber (yet…) so we’ll mostly discuss how it performed as a running and hiking pack.

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The Adventure Vesta has a capacity of 11.2 liters and has an overall dimension of roughly 11.8 x 9.4 x 9.8 inches. It’s very lightweight, weighing just under 10 ounces without the water bottles. That’s because this is a mostly mesh bag. In particular, almost all over you’ll find airwall and Darlington power mesh, which are simply different types of mesh but at different gap sizes. For example, the side of the pack that sits directly on your back has a larger gapped mesh so more airflow or heat dissipation is possible across this surface. In some places there’s also a rip-stop nylon so when you’re stuffing your pack full of material, you’re not risking tearing the fabric quite as quickly. I can vouch for the fact that the bag has no traces of ripped

Now, let’s go through the various parts of the Adventure Vesta. On the runner’s backside is a pouch that opens at the top via a zipper. It has a little Velcro loop at the very top to hold a water bladder, if you wish to carry one. The drinking tube can be strung along either the of the shoulder straps. In front of this pouch Is the main compartment. A zipper runs across the top and down the right side, with two pull tabs so you can access it from opposite ends of the zipper. This is where you store most of your gear. For one of my ultra marathons this summer I carried a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, a small rain jacket, food, a small extra water bottle, bandages, and a headlamp in this compartment, with still a little room to spare. It is definitely a lot bigger than it looks. The fabric here is also reinforced with a polyester lining that helps keep your sweat or rain from soaking your gear. In front of this compartment are two smaller pockets, each with a vertical zipper on the left-hand side. They are equal in size and construction, with the only difference being that the top pocket contains a line of fabric and a little clip that hold an Ultimate Direction hair tie. I was thrilled to see this because that’s a really excellent detail to include. I always pack an extra hair tie in case something happens to the one I’m wearing on the trail and while I’ve never had to use a backup, more than once has another woman asked to lend one. If you have no need for the hair tie, you can use the fabric line and hook to attach your keys or something else that you want easy access to. In these pockets I usually placed a pack of tissues, some food, and a credit card and money. I always had more room if I wanted it, but the Adventure Vesta has plenty of other pockets and pouches that I ended up filling with other items. Finally, A line of mesh fabric is strong down the bag on top of these small pockets. It is permanently open at the top and only semi-closed by hooking the bungee cord clip (read more below) through a little fabric loop at the very neck of the Adventure Vesta. There are a variety of items you can pack in there but I found this pouch most convenient for a really lightweight jacket. When the pack is full, it becomes difficult to stuff anything with size into the pouch, especially something you want to be able to access quickly.

Running in an “X” pattern down the outside of the Adventure Vesta is a thin bungee cord. At the top of the bag is a clip that can be used to tighten the cord but it can also be fastened horizontally across the bag and tucked under loops on the perimeter of the pack. Overall this helps to tighten and strap down the gear in the pack so it doesn’t bounce as much. That’s especially true when the pack isn’t completely full. If you plan to run with the Adventure Vesta, this feature is really nice to have, but chances are you won’t need it for a slower activity like hiking. At times I used it to hold down a jacket on the outside of the pack or even strung my hiking poles through there as one option of carrying them. In other words, you can get pretty creative about how you make use of this bungee cord.

Ultimate Direction Adventure Vesta (Jenny Collection) Review | Gearist

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I loved that the Adventure Vesta has so many pouches and pockets at the front so you can store stuff that’s very easily accessible. For example, on long days out on the trail, I need to have easy access to 3 things, namely my cell phone, tissues, and lip balm. It was easy to find a place to put these where I also didn’t have to fumble around reaching for them.

The pack can be adjusted in many small ways, which is terrific to find a good fit. I especially liked that you can adjust the placement of the chest straps, but also tighten the shoulder straps at the lower back.

While the Adventure Vesta is nearly perfect in all ways, I just wasn’t crazy about the water bottle system. When full, the water bottles sit nicely in the bottle pouches, with their spouts extending just above the fabric. Though you can (and actually need to) tighten the pouch opening to hold down the water bottles, as they are slowly emptied during the run, there’s no option to keep the spout above the pouch line. What you’re left with is a water bottle that slowly starts collapsing downward as it is emptied, eventually sitting at the very bottom in the pouch, scrunched up into a little ball. I found this a bit frustrating as I kept having to dig down into the pouch and pull up the spout just to drink some water. The Adventure Vesta accompanied me on a 12-hour ultra marathon this summer and it’s the small things that start nagging you after several hours into a long race or training day. My solution to this was to stop at every water stop and keep filling up the water bottles as often as possible so they would stay above the fabric line. When the bottles were half emptied (or rather, half full!), the hard plastic rim at the top of the bottles would sit on the apex of my chest (aka, right on my breasts), which felt a bit uncomfortable for me especially when I ran and the bottles would knock around a bit. I should say, though, that this wasn’t a problem for me when I used the pack for hiking and the speed was heavily reduced. At any rate, I would love to see Ultimate Direction make a change to the next generation of the Adventure Vesta to solve this issue. Ultimately you can do it yourself by avoiding the water bottles all together and just using a water bladder instead.

The Adventure Vesta comes in two sizes: xs/sm and m/l. With clothes on, the small should fit somebody with a chest size of 26-38 inches (66-97 cm) while the larger size should fit somebody between 32-41 inches (81-104 cm). Keep in mind that when the pack is full, it fits more snug. I used the size m/l and felt that it fit me really well. As a basis for comparison: I usually wear a size small in tops. When I used the Adventure Vesta for running, I did have to tighten the chest straps as tight as they could go. Somebody with a smaller upper body than me would find it hard to get a snug fit with the m/l. Although I have a feeling the xs/sm would have worked for me as well, as a hiking pack the larger size is probably more comfortable.

Ultimate Direction Adventure Vesta (Jenny Collection) Review | Gearist

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It’s no surprise many customer reviews of the Ultimate Direction Adventure Vesta floating around the internet are awarding this pack 5 stars. With an admirably comfortable fit, lots of storage space, many pouches and pockets for tucking away small items, the capacity to fit either (or both) a bladder or water bottles, the AD Adventure Vesta has a lot to offer any runner. Whether you plan to use this pack mostly for hiking but with the occasional long run, or you’re a die-hard ultra runner that will use the Adventure Vesta every weekend, you won’t be disappointed with it’s quality and versatility. Plus, it has a great design with cool colours that will probably leave you making up excuses to use the pack even outside of your athletic adventures. For a running pack with this much to offer, $149.50 is a seriously fair price. Like most things in this world, if you want a pack that can keep up with you and last several years, paying a little bit more is an overall small price to pay.

Please help support Gearist by shopping for the Adventure Vesta (and other gear!) at our partner links below!

Topo Athletic ST-2 Review

Topo Athletic ST-2 Review

Topo’s ST-2 is one of four models from their current road shoe collection, and it’s a true natural running shoe. Topo describes this shoe as ideal for shorter, but intenser training runs like tempo and speed workouts and I would agree that they are best for that. With a collapsible heel, breathable mesh, and light weight, the ST-2 is a competitive runner’s dream.

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The rubber outsole of the ST-2 is about 4 mm. The rubber does not cover the entire outsole, but streaks around exposed EVA foam in areas where most runners are likely to strike the ground. I have put about 50 miles onto this shoe but you’d never guess it by looking at the outsole. Given my running style I have expected wear fairly uniformly across the mid foot and a bit across the central portion of the heel. Overall I’d say this outsole has kept up really well and I would expect to be able to put several hundred more miles onto this shoe.

Too Athletic ST-2 Review | Gearist

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The ST-2 has a total stack height of 16 mm at the heel and forefoot so the ST-2 has a zero drop. In other words, you stand exactly flat in the shoe. Minus the 4 mm from the outsole, the midsole makes up 7 mm and the footbed about 5 mm. The midsole seems to be made from an EVA foam and the built-in sock liner has some cushioning itself.

The midsole is pretty flexible, allowing the shoe to bend more than your foot would naturally do so. A thinner midsole is the primary reason for the flexibility, but for some runners this can prove to be too little cushioning for longer stints on the road. Indeed, this is why Topo offers other models in its road line of shoes, but for those of us who take flexibility over cushioning, the ST-2 is a smooth ride with enough bounce for short and medium long training days.

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The upper of this shoe is what makes the ST-2 unique. While other Topo road shoes have offered super flexible mesh as well, the ST-2 has a few stiffer overlays to lend support to the otherwise collapsible heel. More on that in a second. The overlays stretch around the laces and extend to the front of the toebox, where a tougher rubber overlay protects the toes and prolongs the life of the upper in this often exposed area. I have yet to see any wear on the upper. It’s impressively think all-around and is the kind of upper you want on a shoe when you’re running in the dead of the summer.

Now, to the heel. Unlike traditional running shoes, the ST-2 heel cup is anything but: it’s made of a polyester material akin to a thin wetsuit. This material begins at the upper end of the laces and branches out to cover the entire heel. It’s thick enough and with a sturdy seam such that it certainly retains its shape. The very back of the heel also sports a stiffer rubber overlay that’s roughly 2 by 2” and gives the heel cup some structure. At any rate, this design transfers into an upper that bends and curves around the foot and has a definite smooth look. The flexible heel cup also means that the ST-2 is also very comfortable to wear barefoot, should you like doing so.

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I tested the ST-2s in a size 10, which is what I typically wear in most other shoe models. As always, the toe box was perfectly sized for me; I love the space the shoe gives me in terms of width, and it is just long enough so that my toes don’t touch the front of the shoe. The collapsible heel might be a point of concern if you’re used to stiff shoes with a true heel cup, but I found the ST-2 to fit exceptionally well around my heel. It doesn’t feel like you need to tighten the laces any more in order to get the heel to fit more snuggly. Now, I would say that I have pretty average-sized heels and ankles which is probably why the ST-2 has a perfectly fine fit for me. I could see runners with much smaller heels and ankles have a bit more trouble with this, especially because I looped my laces through the very back laces holes. At any rate, like any good shoe worth investing in, it would pay off to slip into the shoe before blindly purchasing it.

Too Athletic ST-2 Review | Gearist

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If you’ve read any of my other Topo reviews you’ll know that I love the minimal or zero drop many of Topo’s shoes offer. Even though many zero drop shoes are intended for shorter speed workouts, for example, I still often run in them for longer training runs because the bigger toe box is ideal for my foot. While I often get blisters during long runs in shoes with snug toe boxes, this isn’t a problem I’ve ever had with Topos.

A size 7 ST-2 weighs only 5.6 ounces so it’s remarkably noticeable that you’ve got little weight on your feet. When it comes to working on speed, this is definitely an important thing to consider.

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It’s difficult for me to find any kind of fault in the Topo road shoes I’ve been able to ride in, but at Gearist we don’t aim to find a flaw when none is obvious. Credit should be given where it’s due, and the ST-2 has earned every bit of praise. Flat, lightweight, breathable, flexible – a few things make a shoe great, and a bunch of bells and whistles usually isn’t it. I’ve always loved how Topo focuses on the things that matter most to serious runners and aims to do them well. The ST-2 is available for men and women and is only $90. That’s a serious steal for such good design, and if you’re into buying several pairs of shoes to rotate through, this price tag is especially affordable. Overall, the ST-2 gives any other road shoe a run of its money and can easily hold its own as a training or race shoe.

Thank you for supporting Gearist by checking out the ST-2 from Topo Athletic at our partner links below!

Salomon Fast Wing Hoodie M Review

Salomon Fast Wing Hoodie M Review

The Fast Wing Hoodie M from Salomon is a super lightweight trail running jacket that has got competitive racers and weekend warriors in mind. It has a full-length front zipper, a chest pocket that the jacket itself can be stored away in, and a solid fit that gives you lots of range of motion.

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Nylon composes the entirety of the Fast Wing Hoodie M and makes it incredibly lightweight. At just 94 grams, there’s really no reason not take this jacket with you on the trail. The soft AdvancedSkin Shield fabric is double ripstop so it stretches just slightly at an angle and shouldn’t rip easily. This material is also designed to be wind resistant but breathable. It will also keep your dry if there’s some light rain, Salomon Fast Wing Hoodie M Review | Gearistbut it isn’t a rain jacket.

The trail jacket comes with a full-length front zipper and a roughly inch-long clip tag that stretches from one zipper side to the other at chest-height. The purpose of this is that you can unzip the jacket if it gets too warm but the tag will keep the Hoodie from slipping off your shoulders. This is a really small point but a characteristic that I find super useful.

The Fast Wing Hoodie M also has a zippered chest pocket that also acts as its stow-away. In other words, you can push the entire Hoodie into the pocket from the inside and then zip it up into a nice little pouch. Toss it into a running pack and you’re good to go.

Finally, and for me the most important characteristic of the Fast Wing Hoodie M, is its motion fit and articulated sleeves. There are few things more irritating on a long run than a jacket that doesn’t move with your body. Under each admit is a fairly wide opening that will keep the jacket breathable and give you free arm movement not just upwards but also back and forth as they swing past your body. There’s also enough material and some stretched cinching at the back of the neck so you can easily rotate your head when the hood is on. Likewise, a little cinching along the sides of the face (right around the cheeks to temples) gives the hood a more comfortable fit. Finally, the hood has a bit of a duckbill that protrudes about 1.5 inches from the head. In the case that you’re running through some rain, this helps to keep some water out of your face but it isn’t stiff so in heavier rain it will get pushed down. It’s not a rain jacket, though, so the folks at Salomon didn’t design the hood to perform well in that situation.

Salomon Fast Wing Hoodie M Review | Gearist

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I tested this jacket in light rain and cold temps over the winter. I found it worked best for me when I wore it with a simple t-shirt underneath because it otherwise gets a little too steamy inside. It worked best for me when it was raining or when temperatures dropped to the 30s and 40s. Finally, during long runs I often stuck it into my pack as a backup layer in case I needed it.

Salomon Fast Wing Hoodie M Review | Gearist

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Salomon has 4 fit categories that range from Skin Fit to Relaxed Fit. The Fast Wing Hoodie M has an overall Active Fit, except for the hood, so it isn’t skin-tight but snug enough to keep from getting in the way on your run. The hood is Skin Fit, which makes it nice and snug around the head. This is particularly useful when you’re running; a snug fit around the face is incredibly uncomfortable as opposedSalomon Fast Wing Hoodie M Review | Gearist to an oversized hoodie that’ll bounce around and likely inhibit your peripheral vision.

I wore this jacket in a size large, which was a pretty good fit for me. I’m just over 6’ and slim and typically wear a medium in jackets, so the jacket likely runs a little small. I particularly liked how long the jacket was on me, and that it runs a bit longer on the back side. The sleeves are also fairly long so you can tuck part of your hand into it if it gets colder.

The Fast Wing Hoodie M can be washed normally with the rest of your laundry but it’s best to air dry it to prolong its life. Somewhat unfortunately, it wrinkles very easily and this doesn’t go away when you put the jacket on. The Hoodie can be ironed inside-out for a more sleek look but as soon as you fold it into the carrying pouch the Hoodie will wrinkle.

Salomon Fast Wing Hoodie M Review | Gearist

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It comes as no surprise that Salomon’s high-quality gear almost always comes with a high price tag. The Fast Wing Hoodie goes for $110. That’s pretty comparable to other wind breakers with similar quality. Compared to Salomon’s S/Lab collection, the Fast Wing Hoodie M is half the price and works really well for most basic trail runs. Even if you’re expecting to encounter heavy rainfall or really low temperatures, the Fast Wing Hoodie M can still be used as a layer over or underneath other tops. Overall, this jacket is super versatile and well-worth investing in.

Thank you so much for helping to support Gearist by shopping for the Salomon Fast Wing Hoodie at the link below!

What An Adventure Ultra Carrier Shirt Review

What An Adventure Ultra Carrier Shirt Review

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

What an Adventure (WAA) Ultra Carrier Shirt Review | Gearist

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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.

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