Over the past two months, I’ve been using a number of running products from UltrAspire. While UltrAspire is a fairly new brand in the running scene, their products have been developed with the guidance and input of expert designers and elite athletes. I don’t tend to get too excited about shoes or gear (usually it’s more of a letdown), so I’ve never bothered to post an actual product review on my blog. However, since I’ve been so impressed with my UltrAspire gear, I’ve decided to highlight a few of my favourite items and belt combinations.
Atom / Zeta
One of the great features of UlrAspire’s Molecular Belt System (MBS) is that you can take any one of their five (at present) belt connectors and attach it to one of their eight (at present) core pieces. These are all interchangeable, so you can pick and choose belt combinations based on the needs of your run (and of course which connectors and core pieces you own). Essentially, the belt connectors are worn at the front of your body and attach to core pieces worn at the back. You can check out the full MBS product list here.
My favourite combination is the Atom belt connector with the Zeta core. The Atom belt features a small, zippered pocket that sits comfortably at the front of your hips. You can easily fit a couple of gels in there, some electrolyte tablets and other small items you need to carry. The left side of the Atom belt (and all the MBS connectors) has a small speed hook that slides easily into a groove on the Zeta core (and the other core pieces). Basically, to put the belts on or take them off, you just slide the speed hook in or out of the groove. The right side of the Atom belt (and all the MBS connectors) has an adjustable no-slip strap that connects around a metal loop on the core pieces so that you can adjust the sizing to your comfort. And since the two-piece belts are connected at the sides away from the body, there is nothing to cause discomfort on your waist as with most other belts available. As well, the Atom comes in five sizes based on the width of your waist, which reduces unnecessary strap material on the belt.
The Zeta core piece features a large mesh storage area and two flat pockets. The wide top of the Zeta is kept closed by a magnetic closure, which allows for quick and easy access. I recently went on a four-hour run and packed eight gels inside the Zeta with ample storage space to spare. With this Atom/Zeta combination, the fit was comfortable and there was no bounce. The material is soft, light and breathable, so it almost feels like a piece of clothing.
Nerve / Atom or Cell
Unlike the Zeta core, the Nerve is a hydration specific core piece. Holding a 20oz water bottle, the holster pack also features a small pocket to hold a couple of gels and a stretchy cord that can hold a jacket or other piece of gear. The Nerve is light and fits comfortably against your back and the material is quite breathable. When paired with the Atom belt (see above), the combo fits snugly with no bounce. Prior to this, I never liked wearing a bottle belt, as they were uncomfortable and would constantly need to be adjusted. While wearing the Nerve on a recent hill repeat workout, I actually forgot that I was wearing it. The 20oz bottle (more info later) comes with a small finger loop, so it’s easy to grab it from the bottle holster. If you prefer a different style bottle, the Nerve should accommodate most other brands.
If you want to carry more gels and supplies, the Cell connector would pair nicely with the Nerve in place of the Atom. The Cell has a much larger storage capacity than the Atom and has a number of dividers inside as well. Outside the storage area is a stretchy cord that can help strap in a jacket, gloves or other pieces of gear. As with the Atom, the zipper pocket on the Cell is easy to open and close, no matter how cold your fingers might be. The Cell is also sold in five sizes to reduce excess material.
When purchasing the Nerve, you may be tempted to get the Neutron universal connector as a no-nonsense front section of the belt. While I found this to be a minimal option, the Neutron features a one-size adjustable waist strap (unlike the other connectors) that kept loosening on me when paired with the Nerve. I found this to be extremely annoying and uncomfortable, so would go with the Atom as a lightweight connector for the Nerve and the Cell for more storage.
The Spry is a lightweight and breathable vest. The sternum and side straps are adjustable and allow for a customizable fit that doesn’t interfere with running form. The vest has a small mesh pocket at the back that can hold a bottle, jacket or other gear and has a magnetic closure at the top. At the front, the Spry features two storage pockets. The main left pocket is enclosed by a zipper and can hold a number of items such as gels. There is also a small little mesh pocket in front of this where I like to store some small ginger candies. The right pocket can hold gels or even a bottle and is compressed tightly with a cord. Above the right pocket is a small waterproof pocket with a magnetic closure where you can store your electrolyte tabs. As with the Atom/Zeta combo mentioned above, the Spry is a great option for those of us who prefer to run and race with handheld bottles instead of hydration packs.
Isomeric Race Handheld
This is a no-nonsense water bottle strap. The handheld material is minimal, light and soft (you can even wipe your chin with the cloth strap). As well, the handheld is adjustable from the top of the bottle on the other side of your hand, so once you’ve tightened the strap to suit your personal preference, you don’t have to keep fiddling with it or adjust it over and over again.
The 20oz bottle is angled at the top to make it easier to drain the bottle without tilting your head while on the move. There’s a magnet attached to the base, which is supposed to offer polarity to the water. After landing on one of my bottles during a nice fall on the weekend, the magnet keeps popping out, so I guess that will make for an even lighter bottle. The bottle has a bit of a rectangle shape to it, with some deep grooves in the middle that make it easy to grip. Rather than pulling out the nozzle to take a drink, you just turn it counter clockwise to open. The one drawback to the bottle is that when the nozzle is wet, it can be hard to open or close. There are some small grooves on it, but they’re not large enough to offer suitable grip. This is only an issue when carrying two bottles, as it’s easy to wipe the nozzle dry and then open.
In the near future I’d like to try out the larger UltrAspire Omega or Surge hydration packs, as these seem like great options for longer outings.
For my Canadian friends, UltrAspire products are now available from Healthandadventure.com.