Ulitmate Direction Jurek Endure

Summary:

Back in the 90’s I remember when bumbags came into fashion. They never really seemed to hang around possibly due to the lack of fashion in wearing one despite being a good way of carrying a minimal amount of gear! I normally would prefer to wear a pack, solely from a personal comfort point of view, but since I won this belt, I decided to give it a go. I found it relatively comfortable easy to clip in place and run with, as for racing, I’m not entirely sold, the water bottles bounced around a bit and I had to keep tightening the waist band to get it to sit comfortably. I tried carrying a jacket in the bungy stash area and it bounced right out almost straight away! The best thing about this belt was probably the padded zip pocket just big enough to fit a cellphone in it.

Brand: Ultimate Direction
Where to get in NZ: mostly online, Wiggle.co.nz, Fuelme, Gearshop
Typical Retail price: $60

Function: 2/5

My guess given the small load capacity this is designed for taking a light load over a short distance, perfect for that 2-3hour run. The belt features two drink bottles, a bungy stash pocket, a small mesh pocket and a padded secondary pocket.

The two drink bottles look to have been improved on the latest model of this belt. I can see why too, the nozzles on these bottles are a random small size that is non-standard. The plastic material is quite soft also and already I can see a few teeth marks. The nozzle was also quite stiff to pull on and I found the bottle difficult to drink from. To get any descent flow out of it required squeezing the bottle, which is nicely shaped to fit the belt, but actually quite difficult to hold in your hand. Also because there is two bottles, you probably need to drink from both at regular intervals rather than drinking from one first and then working your way onto the other. The weight in the bottles can make a bit of a difference on how the belt sits around your waist.

The bungy stash pocket was not very good for holding a jacket. I tried folding my OR Helium into it when I didnt need it, but this lasted all of about 10 strides before it bounced so much that I gave up and pulled it out. Im not sure what else clothing-wise you could stash in there that wouldn’t effect your running?

The mesh pocket situated in behind the stash bungy panel was big enough to fit a couple of Gels in and worked relatively well. The only thing to watch out for here is the sharp corners on some brands of gels poking through the mesh and causing all sorts of trouble on the wearer.

Probably the most useful part of this belt is the padded pocket. Its just big enough to fit a cellphone in and it carries well when worn on the belt. The padding protects the wearer and provides some resistance from sweat getting near the cellphone and destroying it!

Comfort: 3/5

The belt was mostly pretty comfortable to run with. I few issues with it I found was that it rode up a bit from your hips to your waist and as a result the waist band needed tightening every now and then. As I mentioned eairlier the mesh pocket is backed with more mesh, a tighter weave, but if you do have sharp edged gels they can poke into you body if you are not careful. The shaped bottles work really well for comfort while running, you can hardly feel that they are there at all. The padded pocket also works really well comfort-wise and the burden of carrying a heavy cellphone around your waist is hardly noticeable at all.

Durability: 5/5

The belt consisted of a lot of lightweight mesh, but also very strong mesh. This belt has not got much a thrashing, but never the less it is still almost as good as new after a good few runs. Due to the lightweight nature of the construction wear and tear is not as bigger issue as a heavier pack. The bottles do let the belt down in the durablity stakes, as mentioned above after only a couple of uses the bottle nozzle is already showing up teeth marks. The plastic used on this part of the bottle is quite soft but also a bit stiff which may have contributed to the nozzle damage. The belt retaining clips look a little flimsy, and probably after a bit of use I would expect these bits to probably fail first.

Appearance: 3/5

I’m not sure that running belts or bumbags will ever be able to be considered looking good!?! But the use of grey white and red, probably at a level that is just enough to not draw too much attention to the belt. Having two bottles placed either side of a central pocket/stash panel give the look of the belt a good balance and it not too outrageous. I didn’t feel too out of place wearing it out in the hills so for a running belt with drink bottles it doesn’t look all that bad.

Cost: 4/5

The belt comes with two drink bottles and enough room to stash a bit of food and your phone (so you can take that photo to upload to instagram) its not too bad in the scheme of things. It is a durable and functional belt with some good features and I think reasonably priced at $60. The latest version of this belt looks to have ironed out a few of the issues I have mentioned here so you might even be getting better value for money in that version!

Overall Rating:

Osprey Talon 44 (2014)

Brand: Osprey
Where to get in NZ: Various Outdoor Stores, Bivouac Outdoor, Torpedo 7 and many more places: http://southernapproach.co.nz/brands/osprey/
Typical Retail price: $249.99

Summary

Osprey Packs supplied us (Team Osprey Packs) with the Talon 44 just in time for Chapter 3 of Godzone in Kaikoura. Since a hard introduction to life my pack has been put through its paces over a year of training and racing in the build up to Godzone Chapter 4 in Wanaka.

The Talon 44 is a pretty good all round pack for overnight trips, some basic adventure racing and some general exploring. If I was going into the mountains on a climbing mission  I would probably leave this one behind. Its ok but not ideal for cycling with either. But trekking, tramping or hiking it is a nice pack, full of features that make life easier. I also found it to fit well and was comfortable to use for prolonged periods of time.

 

Function: 5/5

For 44 litres you can fit a fair amount of stuff, such as a tent, sleeping bag, warm clothes, food and cooking gear but that is about it, so good for an overnight trip but almost a little too much space for an adventure race in good conditions! perfect in horrible conditions! The outside of the pack is shower proof but I wouldn’t hesitate to put my warm gear in a dry bag inside if it was going to rain or get wet in a river crossing. The bottom of the pack has some drain holes also to allow the water to drain out which are handy if it does fill up with water!

Big mesh pocket at the back is great for carry gear that you don’t want to pack away in the main bag, and there is plenty of room for expansion. The Ice axe loops I found a little bit long really which meant that my Ice Axe didn’t really fit very well to the pack. The point also rubbed against the fragile looking mesh pockets and I suspect after a few days in that position it would wear a hole through. Another feature missing from this pack which is on other Osprey ones was the “lid Lock” system so there wasn’t really a good place to put a helmet other than the stretchy back mesh pocket. And again there was nowhere good to put crampons (I stuck them in a bag inside the mesh pocket also).

The single action draw cord to close the top of the pack was a little difficult to figure out initially (not super intuitive) but once I had it down it was very effective in getting stuff in and out of the pack. There is an over the top restraining strap too which comes in handy if you are going to stuff the pack full of gear, or stick a jacket in there without going into the main pack. The closing straps come down over the top of an Ice Axe if it is fitted and you can either pass the strap around the back or over the top to hold further restrain the Axe.

Just like the most of the talon range, the bladder pocket is accessible externally and you don’t have to go hunting around in the main pocket to get your bladder out if you need to refill. Plus you don’t get you dry stuff inside wet!

The waist strap has some pockets but like most other Osprey Packs I have run around with they are a bit small for anything over 3-4hours and have a funny little opening at the end which I have found can wiggle open if you are not careful. The openings to the side mesh pockets are at the top and the front facing side they are no match to the Macpac Amp side pockets. It is difficult to reach into them while wearing the pack and due to the angle of the openings sometimes stuff can fall out particularly while on a bike.

The metal frame of the pack comes up quite high at the back of pack which is not a problem until you need to bike downhill and it interferes with the back of my helmet. This is not particularly help by wearing a road helmet on a mountain bike but the close proximity of the top of the pack sitting high enough to be comfortable while trekking.

NOTE: Magnetic bladder hose – DANGEROUS to compass’s the entire time I was Navigating throughout GODZone I had to take extreme care not to damage my compass with the strong magnet in the bladder hose (I removed the clip from the chest strap also).

I haven’t used the walking pole attachment system so I can’t really comment on how that works.

Comfort: 3/5

When I first put this pack on it just fitted nicely to my back. The pack comes in a Small/Med and Large frame, obviously due to my stature I went with the small/med. I had no problems wearing it comfort wise and it never felt like a chore to swing it over my shoulder and onto my back. I wore this pack for hours on end for days on end with no rubbing, chafing or comfort issues. Sure I had sore shoulders after hours with it on but that’s to be expected. The best thing about Osprey Packs in general is they are just so comfortable to wear.

There is enough setup adjustment that you can get this pack to work best for you when you want it too. A feature that is on most good packs but its definitely one that you want for those long hours carrying your gear around.

On the bike it was a different story however. The high frame at the back seemed to interfere with the back of my helmet which was not ideal going down steep technical downhill at 3am in complete whiteout and dark conditions. The additional weight on the bike seat also made things uncomfortable but that is just a fact of life in Adventure racing sadly. Also I learned in more ways than one that bid shorts are not ideal with a heavy pack like this… 1, you cant go to the toilet very easily; and 2, the shoulder straps of the bibs interfere with the pack shoulder straps resulting in an extra bit of unnecessary shoulder pain.

Durability: 4/5

Overall the pack is pretty robust. I have had it for over a year taken it on numerous trainings, and it has done two GODZone’s and the only damage is to the mesh pockets at the sides and the back. The mesh pockets is a tough one because they are so handy for stashing gear quickly but so easily damaged on sharp rocks, barbed wire fences and vegetation along with sharp gear that you might be carry such as Ice Axe and Crampons. I have been fairly careful with mine and it still has a bit of damage. In all other areas there seems to be no sign of wear other than some mud stains! One of my team mates had so much damage that his pack was replaced under the lifetime warranty of the pack.

Appearance: 3/5

The Talon 44 is the biggest in its range, styled with the same pastel colour range as the rest of the talon range. I always felt like the pack looked big an bulky but once on your back it didn’t seem to bad. The shape is fairly normal looking, but with stuff stashed deep in the mesh pockets the pack can look pretty extreme. The large top pocket that clips over the front of the pack does take a little of the good looks away when its not sitting quite right or when the main compartment is filled to the bring. In general, it looks like a mutlisport pack, with the design heavily tipped towards the function rather than style side of the ledger.

Cost: 5/5

The cost of the Talon 44 I felt was reasonably well priced. There is a lot of pack there for what you get, it has heaps of functional extra bits, like trekking pole loops, large mesh pockets etc for attaching all sorts of gear to the outside and the inside also. One feature you cannot go past for this kind of money though it the Lifetime Guarantee. Just like most products out of the USA you can take these packs back into the shop for any damage which they will either fix or replace and the only damage to my pack so far has been the mesh pockets!

Overall Rating:

Osprey Talon 11

Brand: Osprey Packs
Where to get: Bivouac, Torpedo 7, or many independent Outdoor retailers
Typical Retail price: $139.90 NZD
Equivalent women’s version: Tempest 9

Summary

The Talon 11 is a small pack designed multiuse day tramps, mountain biking and longer trail runs. It includes a number of features common across the entire Talon product range. I find it a good, well priced, small pack, best suited for up to 12hour races.

Function: 5/5

The hydration sleeve allows for external access for up to a 3 litre bladder, there is no specific attachment for a hose but plenty of tapes across the straps to thread it through. Note that the bladder is not included with the pack. The chest strap comes with an integrated whistle, which is very handy for those races where you need one.

The main pocket is quite narrow but big enough to fit a warm top, 2 x thermals, thermal pants, light weight waterproof pants and light weight waterproof jacket. There is one small external pocket, fitted with a key loop, which I find handy for putting gloves and a hat in. in addition to these main pockets there is a small internal scratch proof pocket just big enough for putting such things as a cell phone in. There are two external mesh pockets at either side that are big enough to slide a 750ml drink bottle into just, and ideally a 500ml bottle.      Access to the mesh side pockets is a bit limited, while wearing the pack, so it’s not ideal for getting stuff out in a hurry. I find the hip pockets are a little bit on the small side, however you can stuff a 200g pack of lollies into each one. Seems like common sense but If you leave them open stuff can quite easily fall out!

In addition to the pockets there is plenty of other places to stash your gear. The helmet attachment “lid-lock” is great for securely fitting a helmet on the back, however it is a little difficult to get anything out of the main zipper with a helmet attached. The tool loop is useful for strapping an Ice Axe on, its only draw-back is that it is quite large, if you have a skinny lightweight Ice axe which allows it to slop around a bit. The bungee stash attachment is big enough just to fit a mid-sized rain jacket securely or a set of crampons.

The straps are all highly adjustable as you would expect with any modern day pack. There is a shoulder strap pocket for putting a small item, such as a 200ml bottle in, but I have never used it to its full extent before. Also I have never tested the pole attachment.

Comfort: 4/5

One of the best features about osprey packs in general is that they are comfortable to wear for long durations. The downside of this is that the weight of the pack itself is proportionally quite heavy. The frame is also quite stiff and not very flexible, good with a full pack but does have its downsides when it comes to running with a half empty pack. The mesh covered foam back panel has a number of holes to give it good ventilation during hot days. In general, it is more comfortable to walk or ride with this pack than run. The low profile top of the pack does allow for clearance when riding a bike helmet too.

Durability: 5/5

Like all Osprey Packs it has a life-time guarantee and its American made so it’s built too last. I am up to around 400 hours of use with this pack and it’s still going strong with visibly next to no signs of wear. The mesh pockets on this variant of osprey pack are cut quite close to the pack and I have not had any issues with fences or gorse/matagouari etc ripping them apart as has been the case with some of the other Osprey Packs I’ve had

Appearance: 3/5

It is a very tidy looking pack, with a sleek and low profile on your back. For the wide range of attachment points it still looks tidy even with stuff stashed all over the place! With the quite rounded shape you could even say it looks a bit like a tortoise shell. It does look a little bit on the ordinary side however, with the muted colour tones it sort of blends into the background, perfect for flying under the radar. I have a small pack and it does make it looks like I am carrying a lot of gear when I wear it.  It comes in a range of 4 colours, Blue, Orange, black and green. There is also no reflective-ness on the back of the pack at all, not so good if you are riding on the road at night or if you lose your team mate after dark in a race!

Cost: 5/5

For a small day pack, with a multitude of attachment points it is priced at the lower end of the scale. Considering its intended use case and up to 12 hours or adventure racing I have found that it is well priced for the comfort and durability it provides. Similar small day packs vary from around $120 to $300NZD

Overall Rating:

Talon Graph