The world of marathon and stage racing has some unique demands on equipment, especially when weather, nutrition and self-sufficiency come into play. After Mike raved about the Camelbak Octane 10, it was time to find a large but light pack for myself.
The Camelbak Ultra 10 is superlight at just 280g for the bag, and it comes with a 2L reservoir, with all the usual things you’d expect from Camelbak like a locking valve, big opening for cleaning and no plasticky taste. And like the Camelbak Octane 10 there are lots of pockets on the straps, but they are a little deeper and there are some teeny tiny ones too, for teeny tiny things.
A closer look at the Camelbak Ultra 10 Vest
The material is super light and breathable, and there are handy ‘tactical’ pockets at the front of the straps, which I’ve found excellent for stashing Megabake bars, my phone, and my work swipe card for those super commutes. There’s a generous central pocket which will easily hold a warm jacket or a loaf of bread, even a pair of shoes at a pinch. I used this bag for my first bikepacking adventure on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail and easily fit in a pair of thongs (flip flops or jandals if you’re giggling), change of clothes, toiletries, and everything else you need for a lean overnighter. There’s a small top front pocket for your valuables or your sunnies and an expanding front section for storing general items on the go, like extra food or clothing. Oh and there’s a whistle, built into one of the chest strap buckles.
Loading up the Camelbak Ultra 10 Vest
Over the past few months since The Pioneer, I’ve been using the bag just as often with the reservoir as without. From the overnight trip on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail to commuting and racing at the Otway Odyssey.
It’s very comfortable in the heat, made of a thin, wide mesh, so wearing it all day in 40 degree heat was never a problem. The thin material is also a bit of a downside if you were packing it full of angular, hard items, like, say a load of Rubic’s Cubes, assorted cutlery, or several handfuls of woodchips. That sort of thing. I have found that sticking something flat and reasonably sturdy against my back (when not running the reservoir) works perfectly. This is usually my work shoes, FYI. Access to pockets is great, so that racing with it means super quick gel feeds and no more struggling to get those little gel packet tops into the side pocket of a sprayed-on extra-small women’s jersey with full-finger gloves on (it’s hard). The bag tightens up with a single yank on the shoulder strapping and stays that way. My only issue is that sometimes the ends of the straps can flap about, and this annoys me no end, so I fasten them with rubber bands, but you could equally just cut them off then cauterise the ends with a lighter or similar so they don’t fray.
Living with the Camelbak Ultra 10 Vest
I put this Camelbak vest to work way beyond its call of duty – as I’ve mentioned, it’s become my commuting bag, my race hydration device, my travel companion, my gym kit, and my adventure companion. It’s stood up to any test I could throw at it and the best thing is that I can pull out the reservoir and throw it in the wash any old time and it comes out good as new.
Who is it for?
This vest is great for anyone looking for the ultimate all-rounder. It’s great from workday to weekend – whatever kind of weekend you want to have. If you’re looking for a high-capacity race bag that fits like another layer of clothing then it’s perfect for that. But it’s nice to know it does plenty of other things too.