Race vests are not new to ultra running, arguably, one could say that we may well be at saturation point with the selection of products available. Salomon, Ultimate Direction, inov-8, Compressport, UltraAspire, The North Face and so on, all have products on the market and they all offer a very unique and practical way to carry mandatory kit, hydration, food and other optional accessories while training or racing. We could argue all day about which pack is best and ultimately it all comes down to personal taste.
For one day and single stage races 3-5ltr packs are very popular and for longer events, UTMB a classic example, 12ltr (or similar) packs are required due to the increased mandatory kit, additional requirement for liquid and also the option for flexibility.
If you are on a budget and looking for a ‘one pack does all’ scenario, then I always recommend purchasing a larger pack. You can always carry less but it’s very difficult to add more to a pack that is bulging at the seams.
Bottles have in many cases replaced the use of a bladder as the ‘go-to’ system for hydration as they are easier to use, easier to refill, easier to monitor how much or how little one drinks and also through pack design and the development of new bottles (soft flasks for example) the ease in which to carry them has increased.
With all the above considered, SCOTT SPORTS have now joined the party with a new vest for 2016 called – SCOTT TRAIL PRO TR’ 6.0 PACK
Main features include:
- Two 250ml Hydrapack soft flasks with straw.
- Adjustable fitting.
- Hook and Loop side adjustment system.
- Stretch mesh chest pockets x2.
- Stretchable front and side pockets x2.
- Hydration bladder compatible.
- Reflective logo prints.
- Pole bungee.
- Rear light clip.
- Safety Whistle.
Sporting an all black stealth look with yellow logos, the SCOTT Vest is a good looking pack that immediately catches ones eye.
Let’s be clear here, it’s a running vest, so on first impressions it looks like many other vests on the market. However, on close inspection you soon become aware that SCOTT have re-worked the classic vest design and offered a couple of new changes.
Firstly the bottles, like many other packs, sit on the shoulder straps in two adjustable pockets that can be tightened and loosened with a ‘quick-release’ cord that works exceptionally well even when wearing gloves.
The soft flasks (provided) are 250ml in size and have straws to facilitate ‘on-the-go’ drinking without having to move the flasks.
The addition of two plastic clips that sit on the upper section of the shoulder straps (left and right) clip and hold the straws to stop them flapping and hitting your face when running; it’s a nice touch!
A safety whistle is also available.
Sitting below the bottle holders are two zipper pockets on the left and the right lower shoulder straps that can be used to hold anything from food to valuable items such as a small camera, phone, gps or similar.
Sitting above the bottle holders are two small stretch pockets with a plastic puller that are ideal for gels, energy bars or similar.
On the left and right side (under the arms) are two smaller stretch pockets with a velcro fastening that allows quick access to a bar, gel or other similar item.
It’s also possible to squeeze gloves or a hat into the pockets providing they are not too large. However, it’s an either/ or situation, the pockets won’t accommodate both food and accessories.
Fastening the pack is done via two ‘hook and loop’ systems that can be moved up or down to ensure a good fit. The straps can be tightened or loosened via a common and widely used adjustable system. The hook and loop system is minimalist but a little fiddly, especially if wearing gloves. However, once fastened it’s secure.
It’s on the rear of the pack where some new technology is displayed. On either side (left and right) are two velcro straps that can be loosened or tightened to allow the pack to adjust for larger or smaller body shapes.
It’s a practical solution to a common problem that arises from different sized runners. A plus side of this system is that it will also allow pack adjustment should you wear more or less clothes or should you carry more or less items in the pack. In the lower back, it’s also possible to adjust the pack making it smaller or larger via hidden velcro attachments.
The rear of the pack has three pockets, the first pocket sits closest to ones back and has an attachment strap to hold a bladder in place. It would happily take most standard 1.5 or 2ltr bladders.
This bladder pocket is a great addition for when races require mandatory liquid allowances of 2ltr plus. It also provides great flexibility for races in hot climates when more liquid would be required or when racing with minimal or no aid station options. If you don’t wish to use a bladder, no problem, you have an additional pocket to carry apparel.
The second pocket is a zipper pocket for apparel such as jacket, gloves, hat, over trousers and so on. It will hold standard mandatory kit.
The third pocket is open ended and stretch fabric for immediate and essential items such as windproof, gloves and hat. This pocket can be accessed without removing the pack, please note, you will need to practice this.
On the upper left shoulder and on the lower right hand side are two adjustable, quick release bungee cords that will hold poles in place when not in use. It’s a practical system, however, many of the new folding poles may well be too short to fit between the two cords; you may want to check this?
The vest fits exceptionally well, is well padded and comfortable with little to no bounce, even when fully loaded. The option to adjust the pack via the velcro straps was especially welcome when my partner, Niandi, used the pack for her own runs and testing.
“The vest has been designed in such a way that it works well for the female form, I had no issue with the pack chaffing or compressing my chest. However, ladies with a larger chest may wish to try the pack to ensure that this also applies for them,” commented Niandi. “The 250ml soft flasks are ideal as they are not too large or too heavy on the chest straps. The straws work brilliantly but the addition of the plastic clips that hold the straws when not is use is a revelation. Such a simple idea.”
The downside of the chest pockets and the 250ml flasks is that for many runners, a max 500ml capacity may be too little? We did try larger flasks and 500ml hard bottles in the pockets, they will fit and the adjustable cord does hold them in place, but it’s less comfortable that the two 250ml flasks provided.
There are ways around the hydration issue and of course the bladder pocket on the rear is the most obvious solution for anything from 1ltr, 1.5ltr and 2ltrs. Another possibility is adding an additional one or two soft flasks to one of the rear pockets. There is definitely room to do this and on several occasions both Niandi and myself did this on longer runs. It may not be the most time efficient method but the pack comes on and off quickly and it’s easy to swap or refill the front chest soft flasks.
The vest is well made and durable, this increases the overall weight of the pack and although not heavy, it’s notably more substantial than say a Salomon S-Lab vest. The SCOTT vest is reassuringly well built and although it’s way too early to tell, the vest feels as though it would provide long service.
Access to liquid ‘on-the-go’ is excellent via the straws. The two front zipper pockets provide easy access to essential items that maybe need more security and the two upper stretch pockets are ideal for quick access to gels/ bars. The two smaller side pockets with velcro fastening provide quick access to small bars, gels or other items but they can be a little fiddly.
The rear three pockets are easy accessed (not when running) and they hold a great deal. The zipper pocket is a nice addition as it provides security to any valuable items that you may be carrying. The open ended stretch pocket is great for quick access to windproof, hat and gloves without removing the pack. A rear light clip is also welcome as many races now require a rear led light.
The pole bungees work exceptionally well if your poles are long enough? Unfortunately, the issue is common on many vests now. The increased use of poles for trail running has resulted in many manufacturers re-designing poles in an effort to make them smaller and lighter. This is a real bonus from a running perspective, however, it’s less of a bonus when trying to store poles when not in use. Many new poles (when folded) are now too short to fit between the pole attachments. My Black Diamond Z-Poles did not fit on the SCOTT vest. This is a problem I am used to and I now usually add two bungee cords to the front of my vests to hold the poles. It’s a system I have developed over the years that works quickly, efficiently and in all honesty, for me it is preferable to all other options available.
The SCOTT vest is a very welcome addition and alternative to the many vest options that are currently available on the market from various brands. The adjustment system, soft flask holding system and overall capacity will make this pack ideal for any race distance; marathon to long distance ultra. When not fully loaded, the pack can be adjusted to fit snugly against the torso with no bounce. Fully loaded, the velcro straps can be released and therefore allow for greater movement and the option to hold mandatory kit. It’s a versatile vest (with a reassurance from Niandi) that works well for male and female torsos. We always say here that you need to ensure that a pack works for you and your body shape. A big guy may well say the vest is too small for him, equally, a lady with large chest may well find that the pack lacks the comfort, security and anti-chaffing that Niandi loved about this pack.
There are very few downsides to this vest, however, the most obvious issue may well be that the soft-flasks on the chest are 250ml and not 500ml. Only you can decide if this is a make or break issue? Certainly the addition of the bladder pocket on the rear mitigates this problem.
There is no easy access dump pocket that can hold items such as gloves, hat and/ or buff. They can be added to the zipper pockets that sit below the soft flasks but the system isn’t as quick or as easy as some of the alternatives. It’s a small issue but it may well be a big issue for you?
Ultimately, we recommend the pack. It’s been a pleasure to wear and use and it’s been our standard run pack for the last few months.