Re-Review: My SJ Ultra Vest is Hurting Me

SJ ultra vestIt’s been over a year since I first tried and reviewed the SJ Ultra Vest. While it’s been a work horse for over a year now in most of my long runs, my original complaints about the SJ Ultra Vest were two-fold: 1. The 2x 22oz bottles in the front really takes getting used to and 2. The water sloshing inside masks the ambient noise including your own footfall. That said, the storage compartments are plentiful and you can stash all sorts of stuff in there, from gels, to warm clothes to Succeed S caps and so on. But I’m not exactly sure when the problems started, but after my last experience at Coastal Marin 50K, I’m retiring these for good.

SJ Ultra Vest

The first problem I noticed was a few months ago when I was out on a run and the sternum straps felt a little loose. There were two possibilities: either the SJ ultra vest was sagging or I had lost weight. The latter was unlikely. I went back to the store to check the medium size and realized that my vest had indeed gotten loose. After splurging a fair bit of money on this, I wasn’t exactly going to toss it. So jerry rigged the straps with tie-wraps (can you see the purple ties in the picture?), pushed down the bottom strap further down and it seemed to hold okay for a while.

The thing I realized was I had been running with the bottles never filled all the way. Mostly because all of the races have had aid-stations 5-8 miles apart and this seemed to have worked. However, during the last stretch of the Coastal Marin 50K, it was getting warm and I filled the bottles up all the way. Past the Marincello trail, the bottles were really starting to hurt my chest. I ran most of the way back to the car holding the bottles in my hand. 🙁 Back to the drawing board looking for a hydration pack, but I am eyeing the Salomon Advanced Skin Hydro 5 Set.

What’s your favorite hydration pack for long runs?