Saturday, December 31, 2011

UltrAspire Spry - Gear Review

For Christmas, my husband and daughter decided to give me this wonderful new Brooks tech shirt and matching shorts from the Running Warehouse.  I love the shirt and shorts, but I had to exchange it for something else that caught my eye! From time to time I get this email from the Running Warehouse about sales and stuff.  I never really pay much attention since I have all the gear I could possibly need--well, for now, that is.   I try to avoid going to the RW it's pure temptation. But the email I received, lured me in. Thank goodness my Hubby gets me.  He knows that I am hard to shop for, I am very picky.  So my returning the running tee and shorts was okay with him.

Lately, I've been running with a hand-held 20 ounce bottle.  It's good for up to 12 miles of long run. Any longer than that, I would normally get a re-fill from a gas station or a water fountain. Luckily with the 14 miler last weekend, there's a supermarket perfectly situated by my Turri Road loop. For longer than 14 miles, I would usually wear the belt with four-flasks of 8 oz, which gives me a total of 32 oz. With the weight, sometimes it rubs me in spots that while running I can't really feel, but during a shower with hot water--let's just say I can't ignore it. Chaffing is not my thing. The extra pocket of the belt for gels is a plus. I can squeeze in my phone if I want to take pictures for my blog.  The thing that annoys me however is having to reach for stuff in the back while running. It messes up my gait and form and slows me down--not that I am running at an incredible rate of speed or anything like that, but at my glacial pace, seconds matter to me--most especially if I'm doing a pace run or tempo run. The other annoyance of mine is the way that my forearm would hit the top of the flasks or my water bottle. I can't totally blame the bottles, but with my short frame, I tend to hit it on my sides. It doesn't help to rotate it a bit since there are 4 bottles evenly space around me. I just learned to settle with it over time.

What do you think? Is it a keeper?

How do I look?
Now I have a choice.  Here's where the UltrAspire Spry comes in the picture.  It is a vest where everything is at your fingertips. It allows you freedom of movement, where all the action takes place in the front. I took it for a spin on my 5 mile pace run today. It would have been nicer if I didn't dilly dallied and waited until the sun was high. It also would be great as an extra layer for warmth on a cool day. After all it is a vest.
Hello running vest you and I will pal around in 2012!

I decided on the blue. It comes in purple and red. But RW didn't carry red and since there was only 1 left in blue and a ton in purple, I opted for the blue.  It's more like a bluish-greenish tint. It's pretty.  The Spry comes with 5 pockets in the front with two loops by the shoulder harness for something I haven't thought of.  But I know its going to come in handy.
I forgot to mention the reflective strips on the back

The back has one big pocket for bigger items such as a jacket.  I would use that big pocket for arm warmers and gloves or even extra bottle of water. One nice thing about the closure is that it is held by a magnet.  It's not a chinsy magnet, this one is strong. I hate the Velcro closures because it seems to always scratch me especially when I am in a hurry. Usually I am in a hurry. I'm just jamming stuff in so I can get back into running. Not only does it scratch me, it's guaranteed that the Velcro would snag my more high end tech shirts. Yes I am always bummed when I discover new snags!
This is where my smart phone is going.

Gu gel pouch perhaps?
The back side pocket is a perfect size.  Now the front is what I love.  Everything is right at my fingertips.  On the left side harness/shoulder strap, there's a zippered pouch where I keep my smart phone. I carry my phone for safety and also for pictures now that I have a 5 MP camera. It fits perfectly with more room to stuff more items in it. In front of the zippered pocket is another pouch which has a slanted opening for easy access. A Gu gel would go in there perfectly. Above the zippered pouch is another pocket. This one is slimmer and flatter. I envision putting a Gu gel in there or my pepper spray when I run the trails of Montana de Oro. (I've yet to come across a mama wild boar.) Above that slim pocket is another strap.  I know it's handy for something but I haven't thought of any at the moment. 
Don't let this pouch fool you, it can fit a water bottle in it

Magnetic pocket for electrolyte tabs

Hook closure, so small and unobtrusive

The front closure is held by diminutive metal loop that hooks on to the other side.  It is not like the usual clip, where my skin sometimes gets caught if I was too hasty. Ouch! Tightening and loosening takes seconds. There's two harnesses that connects the front and back, one on the left and one on the right. Again the tightening and loosening mechanism is quick.

I ran for 5 miles and it worked great.  I practiced taking my smart phone out to take pictures and it was a cinch.  (Here's a bonus picture for you from my Baywood run. You can see Morro Bay's Morro Rock through the tree.)
 Morro Rock through the trees 

The pockets are perfectly placed where I can get my gels in and out. My water bottle was the perk.  I didn't expect to fit it, but it did. I was going to run with it on my hand but for short runs like this, I am able to run free. This means I can have another 8 ounce of water on me in addition to the hand-held 24 ounce for longer runs up to 18 miles.
I must say this vest was made for people who like hand-helds.  I know I am going to like it for the simple fact that I won't have to set it down on the ground when I use the porta-potties unlike my Fuel belt.   You know what I am talking about.
The Nathan HPL #28 Running Vest

Krissy Moehl, the ultra runner superstar likes to run with her hydration vest without the bladder.  She likes the vest because she can get to her nutrition quickly.  Nathan Sports made a vest specific to Krissy's liking with a slimmer pouch on the back. It is called Nathan HPL #028 Running Vest. They stopped making it for several years then Nathan Sports brought it back--it might have been this past year. I've had my eyes out for it, Zombierunner carries it and I am so glad that I waited.  I like the Spry's magnetic closure a lot. This will save my tech tees from snags. Good things comes to those who wait...


  1. Thanks for your review of the UltrAspire. I bought a Nathan hydration pack last year and I love it. I just have to remember not carry the full 72 ounces of water on my back. I too carry 20-ounce bottles while running, but I love not having to carry anything in my hands so I'm switching back to the hydration pack. I love reading your blog. Thanks for blogging.

  2. Hi Elizabeth! I have the Nathan pack as well. I use it for longer trail runs. It takes getting used to carrying that much water and hearing it slushing around. I like both vests. It's good to have options and switch around when needed. Thanks for reading my blog!

  3. If you had to pick, HPL #028 or UltrAspire?

  4. I would still choose the UltraAspire. Has two more pockets on the shoulder harness than the HPL 28. Has substantial pocket in the back. HPL back pocket seems more flimsier. I've stuffed 24 once bottle, another 8 ounce flask (from my belt),gloves, gels in that back pocket. In the front two pockets I've stuffed 2 more 8 ounces flasks, plush my phone for my long runs. Salt packets in the electrolyte pocket.