I don’t actually do a lot of really, really long runs, except when I’m in marathon training, but I’ve nevertheless been after an ultra-running vest for a while. The thing is that around this time of year I often end up running with a hat, gloves, water, a snack, sometimes a lightweight shell, and always an iPhone that is now so large it doesn’t fit in any of my running short pockets (and even if it did fit, is so heavy that it tends to pull them down…). Many of those items end up getting put on and taken off at various points during the run, and I’m desperate to have somewhere easy to stash everything, but that is as comfortable and unobtrusive as possible. Hence wanting a small hydration vest with plenty of pockets.
Hydration vests come in a bunch of different types, from those that are almost a small backpack, to the very simply that do little more than contain a water bladder or a couple of soft bottles. What I wanted was something in between, and the Osprey Dura 1.5 is exactly that.
A close-fitting vest with a wide gap at the front, across which sit two adjustable straps. the Osprey 1.5 has one main compartment in the back that is designed to contain a water bladder but could, if the bladder was removed, easily contain a reasonably compressible jacket or some food. At the back there is also a smaller, zipped compartment which is the perfect size for my Arc’teryx running shell, and then two stretchy pouches on either side of the lower back, which can just about be reached without taking the vest off, and are perfect for shoving a hat or gloves into and retrieving them on the move. There’s also a little loop on the back which I’ve found extremely useful for clipping a little red flashing light to, which is a must when running in the dark on country roads.
On the front, each side has two stretchy vertical pouches, a long one designed to hold a water bottle, and a smaller one on top of it. The left hand side also has a zipped compartment that is perfect for even quite a large mobile phone. I don’t use the front-mounted water-bottles, though I might on a very long run or an extremely hot day, but these pouches are also useful for keys, a touch, and snacks. Just below each shoulder are also loops for storing hiking.running poles, although I’ve not tried using these as I don’t run with poles. There is also a little whistle, which is a tick in the box for one common essential item on ultra-marathon kit lists.
If you choose to use the hydration bladder, the tube can come round either shoulder, and has a nice magnetic connection to the upper chest-strap, making it very easy to quickly take a drink and then snap it back into place so it’s not flapping around. The only disadvantage is for anyone doing a run that requires navigation with a compass, in which case they just need to be well-aware of the magnet or remove it and find another way to secure the drinking hose.
This is one of those bits of kit that’s become absolutely essential for me, even on relatively short runs; it’s a comfortable, practical way to carry water, a phone, keys, and a few pieces of spare kit. By and large, I don’t really notice it’s there, although the first couple of times I wore it while hauling myself up a steep hill, I did find myself heating up a bit more and wishing it didn’t feel quite so ‘body-hugging’ – I think that’s partly just something you get used to. Where it will probably prove less useful is on the longer runs I occasionally do that require a train ride home at the end, simply because there’s no way I could shove a warm coat into it in the way that I can in my OMM ultra 15L pack, which remains my go-to for running with kit. I think it could, however, just about contain all of the mandatory kit for most UK ultra-marathons, as long as post-race kit was being transported for me.