Hydration on runs has always been an issue for me, especially on long runs. I like to venture off of the beaten path, and hit the trails, or I stay away from areas where there are public water fountains. I love to vary where I run. It just makes my running a lot enjoyable to venture out of a comfort zone, but staying hydrated starts to become an issue.
Enter the Ultimate Direction Highline Hydration Pack. Here are details off of the UD website on the Highline:
SPECS & DETAILS
- 96oz / 2.8L reservoir included
- 3D AirMesh backpanel with molded framesheet for superior comfort and stability
- 3D AirMesh backpanel and shoulder straps for optimal ventilation
- Molded HDPE framesheet
- Adjustable sternum strap
- AirMesh waistbelt
- Breathable shoulder straps
- Strap secure webbing control
- Dual water bottle / food pockets
- Drain hole
- Adjustable reflective bungee system
- HyperFlow bite valve
- Rear light attachment loop
- Key hook
- Separate reservoir sleeve with hanger
- Quick access storage pockets on waistbelt
- Gel pockets on shoulder straps
- Overflow storage pouch
1lb 6oz / .6 kg
325 in3 / 5L
3D AirMesh, Nylon 210D & 150D and Nylon Mesh
I had never used a hydration pack before. I’ve tried hydration belts, and really didn’t like them as they seemed to bounce too much, didn’t carry enough fluids for what I was needing, and were too finicky in getting the bottles off and back on to get a drink. I’ve also used the UD Fastdraw Plus water bottle and carrier, and it is great, but on longer runs, the 20 oz. of fluid just isn’t enough. The Highline has solved my problems.
What I received was visually appealing to me. The photos of the pack are pictured above, but don’t do the pack justice when seeing it in person. The Highline to me was very lightweight, sturdy, well constructed, and had all things needed for a runner looking to hit trails where there are no hydration stations. The Highline has everything extremely accessible when on the run from the front pockets to the side water bottle holders.
I took my Highline out for an 11 mile run this past weekend, and had their 96 oz water reservoir filled to about 50-60 oz. along with my phone in one of the front pockets and a few gel packets in the front pocket.
I’ll start with the storage of the Highline:
It is great. At the upper back of the Highline is a zippered pocket that has an internal zippered pocket with a key clip. You can obviously store your keys here, a cell phone, ID, etc. Also, on the back of the Highline is a bungee cord system to be able to store a pullover for quick access when needed (I didn’t use that feature, but it is available). Near the bottom of the back of the Highline, or nearer the side of the pack, are two water bottle pockets (one on each side). They seem to be very accessible to get a bottle in and out of the back when needed, and if used (again, I didn’t use this feature, but it will come in handy!!) Finally, at the waist, and in the front is an integrated storage belt. This feature ROCKS!!!! There are two zippered pockets, one on the left and one on the right, and they have ample storage in both of them. I was able to store my iPhone in one pocket for extremely easy access, and in the other pocket a few gel packets which again, were very accessible. I found those pockets right there were enough to get me over on the Highline. Great feature!!!! Finally, on the front of each shoulder strap, there are two small pockets that you could stash a gel packet if you wanted.
The Water Reservoir:
With the Highline comes with a 96 oz. water reservoir and drinking tube. PLENTY of fluid containment for long runs.
From the UD Website:
Don’t let hydration slow you down. Ultimate Direction’s BPA-free, easy clean hydration reservoir is equipped with a center baffle that eliminates sloshing and lets you charge to the front of the pack.
SPECS & DETAILS
- HyperFlow bite valve
- 14mL Polyurethane (BPA-Free) is FDA and NSF approved, tasteless and odorless
- Neoprene insulated tube cover
- A tighter sealing RollTop closure with air dam hydro seal
- A center baffle keeps the reservoir from changing shape and eliminates sloshing
- Standard 3/8in diameter tubing
Again, I didn’t fill the reservoir to its full capacity, but fill it up to about 50-60 oz., which at the end of my 11 mile run, there was still plenty of water left in there.
The reservoir was very easy to fill with water. The rolltop closure on the reservoir was extremely easy to operate to open to fill, and close once filled, and the seal was airtight. On the reservoir itself, it is nicely marked for different water levels to know exactly what you have in the tank. Once filled, the reservoir does bubble up, but with the center baffle, it keeps its shape.
The reservoir storage on the Highline was a little tricky at first, but after a little bit of tinkering with it, it was fairly easy to get the filled reservoir into place and the Highline ready for use.
Where the Highline rests against your back when wearing, there is a 6-8 inch zipper on the upper left side of the Highline, and then across the top portion, there is some velcro that you detach to open the reservoir storage. Inside the storage area, at the top, there is a loop that has velcro on one side, and that loops around a red string that is attached to the reservoir rolltop and then Velcros back up top to hold the reservoir in place while stored and in use. Getting the filled reservoir in takes a little bit of practice, but once in, it fits perfectly into place in the pack. I found that getting the reservoir in, I had to sort of get it in the storage space, then pick the pack up to shake it into place. Once in, I looped the reservoir into place, got the drink tube up through the shoulder strap (the ability to go through and opening for the left shoulder or the right shoulder) and got the velcro re-attached and the storage zipped back up.
Once done with the run, it was very easy to take the reservoir out of storage, to dump any unused water, and to clean and dry for future uses.
The Fit of the Highline:
I did not know what to exactly what to expect from a hydration backpack when filled with water. I was expecting it to feel as if it would bog me down with that extra weight. It didn’t at all.
The entire portion of where the Highline sits against your back, is completely padded, and very comfortable to wear, especially when running. The padding seemed to be in all the correct spots against the back, and there was no rubbing or discomfort with the pads, especially since the water reservoir was right there against those pads.
The shoulder harnesses, with their AirMesh construction, were extremely comfortable, breathed very well while wearing/running, and were very easy to adjust to get a nice fit (that is one thing I’ll continue to play with, the right fit). On each shoulder harness, there are straps to hold the water tube in place on either shoulder for your preference, and again, there are two small pockets to hold gel packets for easy accessibility if desired.
The waistbelt section again, was great. Easily adjustable, easy to attach for a perfect fit (I didn’t even feel it there while running), and the accessibility of the pockets are much easier then just a normal running belt. I had absolutely no issues with getting my phone in or out of the pocket, or accessing my gel packs when I needed a boost. Simple, no wasted movement, no stopping. Also, the Highline didn’t bounce on my back, thus the lack of any discomfort while running.
While running, I didn’t feel the movement of the water as I had expected I might, and getting a drink while on the run was a breeze. So simple to just get the spout up to my mouth, get a sip, and keep running with no hesitation, splatter, drips, or any flow issues. I didn’t feel bogged down by extra weight, and the ease of running made it so enjoyable having my arms fresh and hands free of holding anything. I was able to keep my desired pace of anywhere from 7:45 per mile to 8:30 per mile over the 11 mile run. I think my average pace for the 11 miles was right at about 8:00 per mile over the 11 mile run. Right where I want to be.
The Highline exceeded my expectations of what a hydration backpack could and should be. Again, the product that Ultimate Direction puts out is great, and highly recommended for all endurance athletes looking for hydration needs. This is going to definitely be my marathon training hydration system, and I’ll probably where this as I run my 1st marathon as it kept me adequately hydrated and I never felt like I was drinking too much to get water-logged. I just need to play around to get a proper fit for me.
The Pro’s of the Highline:
- Great Comfort
- The Storage is Exceptional and Well Placed for Easy Accessibility
- More than enough hydration storage at 96 oz. to stay hydrated on long runs, and the ability to carry extra water bottles. Also, very easy to get other sized reservoir sizes and seems to be universal to use other reservoir systems
- No problems staying hydrated while on the run with no stopping necessary to get drinks
The Con’s of the Highline:
- The system in place to hold the water reservoir in place isn’t the greatest. The velcro to hold the reservoir in place isn’t strong enough necessarily to hold up to the rigors of the running motion. After the end of the run, that strap had come loose and the reservoir was loose. On a positive note, I didn’t know the reservoir was loose until after the run and had no idea of this as I felt no discomfort of moving around of the reservoir in the pack.
- The storage method of how to get the reservoir in and out could use a little updating to possibly a full zip open/close method around where the reservoir sits.
I highly recommend this product by Ultimate Direction if you are looking for a better hydration system for your runs. I fell in love with this product after 1 use.
I highly recommend checking out the following websites as well:
Well, the Highline has been the absolute savior for me on my runs here lately. I’ve been using it exclusively on every single run I do, and I do them both with and without the water pouch. I’ve absolutely loved using it with the water bottle or bottles in their pouches on the back side of the backpack. I’ve gotten to the point I don’t even know I’m wearing the backpack until I need to get a swig of water.
This backpack will be with me on all of my training runs from here until my marathon on September 23, 2012, and will also be with me on any trail runs I am looking at entering for the 2012 fall season.
If you are a trail runner, or someone who hydration becomes an issue on your long runs, I would HIGHLY recommend the Ultimate Direction Highline backpack. It has been there for me on a very consistent basis, and it will for you to.