Thursday, May 09, 2013

Ultimate Direction Anton Krupicka Vest

Who Is Anton Krupicka (AK for short)? 
Those of you familiar with Scott Jurek might just heard of this minimalist ultra trail running athlete that has won the Leadville 100 twice before. He is a sponsored Ultimate Direction athlete and this pack is his version of "Ideal Hydration" pack. Most of you would know my obsession with hydration packs. I have many Camelbak products and one Nathan system. I have tried many bladders and bottles and my quest to classify each of them based on need and purposes continue. Today, I will introduce the minimalist Ultimate Direction Anton Krupicka Hydration System.
UD AK - Designed by Anton K.
Yes, it's this simple
Minimalist pack doesn't come simpler that the Ultimate Direction Anton Krupicka (UD AK) vest. Consist of a light weight pack and two 20oz UD bottles. Yeap! That's it! 
Unlike the traditional hydration pack that has a water bladder to hold liquid, these pack are seen to be a choice for upper/elite racers. 40oz of liquid is enough to cover for 2-hours of activities and if the water stations/support are well spaced out, there is absolutely no need to remove the pack to refill the water (traditionally).
Our First
Having this AD UK marks the first that me and wifey has something like this. This will allow for use in shorter trail run where all we want to carry is a bottle of water and perhaps some gears. This UD AK minimalist suits the function. However, do not be fooled with my statement, this pack is meant for long races and as the review progresses, you will see why.
First off, lets start with the technical specs.
Taken from Ultimate Direction site here
As you can read it in the photo above (and no need for me to reproduce the marketing talk), you can see that this small minimalist pack quite a space. At 326grams with the two original bottles, that is lighter than just one 3L hydration bladder. I kid you not. Of course, if you want to be a gram grannies and go the little bit more extreme, you can actually shave off the UD bottle handle (plastic) to perhaps get the pack down to 300grams (before filling up with 1182ml of water or additional 1182grams). However, I am planning to do just about the opposite as some of you might know my love for Camelbak Podium bottles...
The UD Bottles on the left with leak control system and the Camelbak Chill (insulated) Podium
As this post is not about the Podium bottle, lets get back to the race vest itself.
I intend to make using this vest as close as possible to how I will and how wifey will use it. The first thing that is important is to see if the Podium bottle will fit into the vest. Some manufacturers try to customise their system to fit only their products, hence, limiting any sort of fine-tuning by the end users themselves. So, for the test, I took one UD bottle and one Podium bottle to see how they are both secured by the vest.
The bottles secured in their respective pouch
As you can see above, the pocket holds the bottles pretty well. With the Podium being higher (it is a 21oz bottle) by almost an inch compared to the UD bottle. The Podium too extend above the shoulder pocket entrance (marketing says it is for smart phone). Not an issue actually as the pocket on the AK vest can't actually fit my iPhone4. I tried.
Extending well above the pocket entrance
On the other pocket with the UD bottle, the pouch holds a tub of Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem Solids nicely. Having said that, it will hold a tub of Endurolytes to keep them dry.
Enough space. Notice the loop, it is for hydration pack tube
There are many pockets on the minimalist vest and two of them are placed at the bottom of the bottle holder. It was marketed as a pocket for electrolytes pills and honestly, unless the racing condition we are put through are dry and arid, your pills will not stand a chance in a wet weather; hence my suggestion to place it in a tub and put it on the shoulder pocket over the water bottle.
At best, a good place to store used gel packs or a compass or a whistle
At the back, the pack can fit a 3L hydration pack comfortably and has attachment to secure the pack. As seen in the photo below, you can run the tube out on either side and pass the loops placed on the vest to secure it. I must say it is very well thought off - though the idea of minimalism is to carry less.
Bungee cord to secure other things you might need, like a lightweight weather jacket
If you noticed, the above vest has two pockets. They are big enough to store 2 packet of gels each, allowing you to carry up to 4 packs.
Or you can put in a poncho if it rain heavily.
The bungee cord is strong and secured. From my experience, you can get replacement fairly easily if this cord snap, only thing is do not lose the attachment at the top where you use to secure the cord. Else, you might have to resort to good old style knot.
The top stopper works to secure the vest opening as well when packed.
Real Life Test
This is where the vest is put to test. However, I skipped putting anything into the front pocket short of the bottles (one UD and one Camelbak) as I want to see if the height of the bottle (rationally high like the Camelbak) would effect the stability of the vest when running (and aggressively running).
As you can see from the photo above, the back compartment has items inside. I've secured my phone and wallet into a drypack (Sea To Summit 1L drypack) and another 1L pack to hold the given event T-shirt. I forgot to mention that I volunteered for the Ryan Blair's trail running clinic. Ryan is an accomplished (a friend told me "decent", but that's an understatement) athlete and he was in KL under NorthFace invitation to conduct a trail running clinic. So, a bunch of us were there to help out in Bukit Kiara trail. It poured heavily last Saturday if any of you remembered and there is no better time to test it all out.
Sifu Jamie Pang spotted using the Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek (UD SJ) vest. 
I was surprised to see Jamie with a new UD vest and it was actually a good thing as I was testing the UD AK. So, you all can fest your eyes on two models - and they are both damn good looking (as in Me and Jamie).
The UD SJ looked bigger and with larger compartments
I will leave Jamie to introduce the UD SJ in his well known blog. Meanwhile, this is how we both look with the vest.
You will notice that the UD AK vest has even thinner material compared to the UD SJ. See how transparent the UD AK with bottles compared to UD SJ. Banana not included. 
Minimalist UD AK vs baggier UD SJ. You can clearly see the pack stuffed with my two drypacks (Red and Green)
One thing that myself and Jamie has in common (other than being good looking) is that we both have the Nathan HPL #20 hydration pack (which we both reviewed) and we both agree that the UD vest were more snug on the body compared to the Nathan. This could be because the Nathan has more "body" instead of just "mesh".
How it looked from behind TOP
How it looked from In front TOP
How it looked from front BOTTOM
One of the worry about carrying bottle in front is that your hands movement might hit the bottle and be in the way. That was proven not to be true. I had full range of hand movement and in no instances it came near my arms.
How it looked like from the side. I was looking at my Garmin Fenix.
The vest performed as it should. Water bottle was easy to remove and placed back. It did not bounce or at any time threaten to pop out of the pocket. The back portion was snug and the items in the bag were very secured and a couple of times i reached out to see if the two drypack were still in it. Yes. Silly as it may sound and i sort of blame the vest for being so light that I did not felt anything there other than the two bottles in front.
Here are two video review while running and you can see how it perform on me.

Light weight.
Snug and secured.
Adequate storage space for a race that has predictable support stations
The securing system for the back of the vest is a bit iffy, maybe I had done it wrongly. Will test again later and feedback.
The smartphone pocket can likely fit a smaller blackberry or a non-iPhone (or smaller than iPhone) mobile. I would suggest for sports, get a cheaper phone as the purpose is to be able to keep in communication in case anything happen (like 127hours)
The cord stopper for the bungee cord and the bottle cord were nothing I've seen. More close up photo later. 
Pocket built (mesh) looked fragile or easily cut if not careful especially when storing gels that come in typically harder packaging
Light when fully wet (ran in the rain and in sweat :))
To do next:
Not tried to load the vest with a hydration bladder. Will see if a 3L fits in.
Not tried to load the pack with nutrition. To carry typical race nutrition suitable for 4hours race.

Drenched, but hardly feel the weight
As it is after the run with my Skechers GoTrail
For an idea of how Anton (or who he is), this is the official video.


  1. Seeing you and Jamie wearing this also makes me want to add that this UD Vest would be ideal for athlete parents with newborn babies..... when you take the young 'un out in a race pram the milk bottles can fit into the front pockets, the diapers, wet wipes, change of clothes, sunblock, pacifier etc in the back ...... can even wear out at shopping centers coz it looks sexy :)
    Paul Lee

    1. Paul - LOL. The thoughts did cross my mind. But i wonder how many parents willing to have a milk bottle stucked to their chest...

      oh wait, with some mod, the father can breastfeed too!

  2. Stupe,

    The UD site have all 3 signature series vests measure at 23cm (width) across however the pic of you & Jamie seems to have illusion that the SJ is wider than the AK.
    Can I know where is the 23cm width for the AK measured? Does it include the "wings"?

    1. 23cm including the wing.

      THe SJ is larger/broader than the AK as the SJ has compartments inside the pack.

      The SK is really minimalist and the wing pocket does require a certain degree of reaching to get the items. I see it as a place to put whistles and compass.

  3. Hi stupe,
    Where I can get UDSJ in Malaysia? Any dealer ?

    1. Hey, you might want to check with Key Power International aka the 2XU shop in Midvalley/Gardens

  4. Hi,

    where did you purchase this Ultimate Direction Anton Krupicka Vest from?

    2XU shop in midvalley?


    1. Hi Jeff - I got it from the SAC organiser. They bought some in to be given as prizes and there are extras for sale. :)

  5. Excellent review. Just wondering what's your chest size and the ak race vest size that you bought? Thanks.