Ultimate Direction Race Vesta hydration vest review

Wearing the Ultimate Direction Race Vesta

If you’re looking for a women’s specific hydration vest, then read on! Our reviewer Olivia has found a reasonably priced, super-comfortable female fit hydration vest. Here is her review of the Ultimate Direction Race Vesta 4.0.

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After a long hunt and trying on numerous hydration vests from a range of companies, I finally found my new vest and I love it! It is the Ultimate Direction Race Vesta v4 Womens Running Hydration Vest Coral M/L. The vest is lightweight, super-comfortable and is suitable for runs up to marathon distance. It doesn’t bounce, it doesn’t move and it feels part of me as I run and run.

Race Vesta review
The Race Vesta and all its pockets!

In-depth review

The hunt

I’ve spent the last few months looking for a new hydration pack to replace my old Camelbak, which has been with me for years. It lasted through all my marathon training, it came with me on my ultra and Mike used it on an epic cycle ride. However, it’s started to chafe my neck and I could never get a truly comfortable fit. Plus it has no pockets on the front, which meant I had to remove it to get a gel or ask someone to get it for me!

At races I’ve watched runners in front of me and looked at the hydration vest they were wearing. I looked at the fit and if it moved about as they were running. All this while running along trying not to fall over anything! I tried on numerous vests from various companies, both men’s and women’s fit, but couldn’t found one I liked.

That was until I tried on a vest that my friend was wearing; it was comfortable and fit in all the right places. It was great to try on a vest that didn’t have the cardboard hanger digging in your neck. Plus with the pockets having contents, you got a true feel of the fit as it would be when you would be wearing it.

Back of the Race Vesta pack
On the back

The find

My friend’s vest was an Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta, but I decided that I didn’t need one with that much capacity, as I’m sticking to distances less than 20 miles. After investigating, I decided on the Ultimate Direction Race Vesta v4 Womens Running Hydration Vest Coral M/L.

It arrived in time for me to wear it on my double half-marathon weekend. I tried it on, made sure my phone fitted in the front pocket, filled the other pockets and ran around the house. It felt extremely comfortable, had little bounce so I decided to be brave and wear it on the weekend.

Ready to race with the Race Vesta
Ready to race with the Race Vesta

Road test

Oops, too tight!

The first day I wore the Ultimate Direction Race Vesta, I don’t think I fitted it correctly, as I ended up with a sore patch on my side. I think I cinched it in too tightly. The next day I cinched it in at the back first and then adjusted the straps on the front. This gave me a much better, more comfortable fit with no sore spots.

How good is it?

It was extremely comfortable to wear, had no bounce and the vest stayed in place. Unlike my old pack, which I was always adjusting, and it was moving all the time. It wasn’t bulky and the bottles didn’t stick out and become annoying. Which was something I was worried about, coming from using a hydration bladder. I could easily drink from the bottles, and I found it easy to slip my phone in and out of the pocket.

I was able to easily reach into the back pocket to grab my hat without taking the vest off. Which is really useful as you don’t always want the hassle of taking off and on the vest and then having to readjust it. Towards the end of the run once I had warmed up, I pushed my gloves in to one of the loops by a bottle and they stayed there.


I’m a UK size 10 and I bought the XS/S size of vest and it fits like a glove. In order to get the right fit for your body shape there are two adjustments that you can make.

The first is with the two straps at the front, the second is the cinch band at the back. You can alter where the front straps sit by using the loops along each side to move the straps up or down.

Two adjustable straps on the hydration pack
Two adjustable straps on the hydration pack

The band at the back has three stretchy cords on each side; this is Ultimate Direction’s Comfort Cinch technology that provides a custom fit with on-the-go adjustment. You just pull the two toggles and it fits to you. I found that it fitted to me perfectly and I didn’t have to adjust it while on my run.

Ultimate Direction Comfort Cinch technology
Ultimate Direction Comfort Cinch technology


With the vest weighing in at 241 grams, the lightness of the vest is helped by the material being a lightweight four-way woven stretch mesh. I have yet to test this vest in hot summer weather. However, I feel that with this mesh and the soft thin coloured material that it will keep your torso relatively cool in the summer.

The stretch mesh also helps with the fit of the vest as it does move with you rather than the more rigid material of my old pack, which moved against you.

Bottles that come with the Race Vesta
Bottles that come with the Race Vesta

The vest comes with two 500 ml soft flasks. If you need to carry extra liquid or you prefer to use a hydration bladder, then there is space in the back section. There is a loop with a popper that can hold the bladder in place. Then the tube can go through the loops on the shoulder and on to the front.


The only gripe I have is that there is no elastic loop in the bottle pockets to loop around the bottle. I found that when the bottle was empty it would slide upwards. It wasn’t too annoying; I was just worried that it might fall out.

Verdict on the Ultimate Direction Race Vesta

If you’re looking for a hydration vest that is lightweight, super super comfortable, with a good number of pockets, then the Ultimate Direction Race Vesta could be for you. With the 8 litres of capacity, this is a vest for anything up to a half-marathon or possibly a marathon. Depending on what you personally carry. I would possibly say that for an ultra you may wish to have a vest with more litres of capacity, so look at the Marathon or Ultra versions of this vest.

It’s not the cheapest on the market and it is quite expensive if you pay full price. However, I feel you do get a lot for your money. I knew I would be getting a lot of wear out of this vest, so I didn’t want to spend less and then have to purchase a new one in a few years’ time. Back a few years ago the hydration vest was seen as a piece of kit for marathon or ultra runners, who needed to carry a lot with them on their race. But now with more and more races going cupless, the hydration vest is needed for any distance.


  • Two 500 ml soft bottles
  • Totally capacity of 8.1 litres
  • Weight 241 grams
  • Comfort Cinch technology
  • Wide straps
  • Open mesh back for ventilation
  • Four-way stretch woven mesh.
  • Whistle
  • Clip in the back pocket
  • Hydration bladder attachment

There is also a newer version of this vest now, which is available from Runner’s Need:
Ultimate Direction Women’s Race Vesta 5.0

About Ultimate Direction

Ultimate Direction is a USA-based company founded in 1985, and they invented the entire category of hydration packs. Over the last 30+ years, they’ve become the market leaders in hydration systems. Having created and made the vest hydration system popular. Their products are designed by athletes for athletes.