C’mon, tell me the truth, how many rucksacks have you purchased over the years? If you are like me, I am sure you have spent hundreds and are still trying to find ‘the one’.
I think it is fair to say that no one rucksack will do all jobs that you require when running. I personally have several options; the one-day pack, the long race pack, the overnight pack and yes, the multi-stage pack.
I have to say that with the introduction with the Salomon Slab 5ltr and 12Ltr packs I thought I would never need another one day or race pack. These two packs function so well, fit like a glove and have all the pockets you would ever need… BUT and I guess this is a minor but, I do find them a touch hot! They fit so well they are actually like another piece of clothing.
So, when the temperatures rise I like to try and be as ‘free’ as I possibly can be. I therefore am a big fan of hand held bottles allowing me to carry liquid and keep my body free of restrictions. As we all know though, UK conditions and many races require some ‘minimum’ kit; a jacket, space blanket, phone, some food, first aid kit, a compass, gloves and a hat.
This has always caused some irritation. If I am carrying hand bottles this will inevitably mean either using a pack to carry the essentials or using a waist bag. I find myself with a tough decision, do I use a pack that will typically be too big for what I need and add heat or do I go for a waist pack and put up with the irritation and bouncing that these always cause (for me anyway).
Enter the UltrAspire ‘SPRY’ pack.
On first looks you will think, well, that can’t hold anything! It’s tiny… Well, I suppose you would be right and wrong. It is tiny, weighs nothing (test sample tipped the scales at 156grams) and when you put it on it first feels like something is missing.
The pack has just three straps, one on each side and one in the middle of the chest with a quick release metal fastener. To get an optimal fit I found it best to loosen the side straps, fasten the chest strap and then pull the two side straps with equal pressure until the pack fits to your desired ‘snugness’. Once on you don’t notice it! It is perfect.
No movement, no bounce and because of the small size it still allows plenty of air to move around your body. Of course it has no irritating waist straps and therefore really does give that ‘free’ movement.
Practically it is a Tardis. I was amazed at what I managed to squeeze in.
The pack consists of one main pocket on the back that has a magnet closure. The fabric is light and stretchy allowing it to flex and expand to the contents inside and hold them firm. It is surprisingly roomy. I managed to fit in a jacket, gloves, buff, first aid kit, space blanket, blister pack and head torch. Of course, this external pocket can double up to hold a small bladder of approximately 1ltr in size.
On the front of the pack are two main pockets. On the right hand side is a drawstring pocket that allows for a bottle, food and/or gels. Above this is a small pocket with a magnet closure specifically designed for electrolyte tablets.
On the left is a zipper pocket that is perfect for camera, gps, phone or any other important item that you need to be secure. I comfortably fit a phone and camera in this pocket. On the front of this is a mesh pocket designed as a ‘trash pocket’ for gel or food wrappers. However, you could also use this as a storage pocket.
Above this is a small mesh pocket, ideal for a key and emergency money. On both straps above the two top pockets are elastic loops. These loops provide a holding facility for the feeding pipe should you decide that you would like to add a 1ltr bladder to the back pocket.
In use the pack sits on the body perfectly, is easy to adjust, doesn’t move and when running I just forgot I had it on… it’s perfect.
When running I was amazed to find that I could actually remove contents from the rear pocket without stopping. I had read in some literature from UltrAspire that this was possible but I ignored it thinking it just wouldn’t work.
I stand corrected!
Whilst running I hit some heavy showers and decided to put on my jacket. I reached over and lifted the pack a little higher up my back with the handle that sits at the top of the pack above the rear pocket. The magnet closure opened easily and within seconds my jacket was out. All this happened without stopping… admittedly I did slow a little to make sure I didn’t go head over heels but with a few practices this would be one seamless movement. The other plus of this small pack is that you can wear your jacket over it! No need to remove it, put your jacket on and then put the pack back on… the low profile and the low volume means that (providing your jacket has a little room) you can put it on in comfort without any restrictions. Result!
Would I recommend this pack? ABSOLUTELY.
Will it fulfill all your run needs? NO
So what are the Pros and the Cons?
- Small size
- Very light weight
- Perfect fit
- Loads of room for such a small pack
- Good price
- Great access to all ‘essentials’
- Can take a 1ltr bladder if required (but you loose storage)
- Not good for longer races that require self sufficiency
- No good for multi-days
- You need to carry hand bottles if you want the pack for ‘storage’
- This is a perfect pack for single day racing when you need to carry ‘essentials’ and you want to travel light.
- It would be great for a road/trail marathon using a 1ltr bladder in the back pocket.
If you like to run with an element of ‘freedom’ but need essentials and don’t mind using hand bottles then this is the pack for you. You can get all the required essentials for a typical one day race or one day training run in this pack and not even know you are carrying them… that for me is worth its weight in gold.
Recommended available from ultramarathonrunning.com