CamelBak Ultra 10 Vest Review

First Impressions of the CamelBak Ultra 10 Vest:

Nice looking vest. I really like the open mesh I’m seeing. I bet it breathes well. Good amount of front storage options. And lots of rear storage! Not sure how I feel about the lack of side pockets? Then I picked it up the Camelbak Ultra 10 and examined it closer…

…feels pretty light for a vest with 10L of storage (9oz). Whoa, pockets inside of pockets in the back? OK, so how does it perform?

camelbak ultra 10

Presenting The Cambelbak Ultra 10 Vest.

Now for more details. In this review we’ll break things down in to five areas:

  1. What’s good: the new, differentiating, or simply well designed or built features or aspects of the product.
  2. What’s decent: the features or aspects that are OK but not particularly new or differentiating.
  3. What could be improved: tweaks or improvements that could be made to make the product better.
  4. When to use it: the situations or scenarios where the product excels.
  5. How it compares: my current go-to competing products and how this compares.

I’ll try to be as succinct as possible. After all, you’ve probably got more running you can do today!

What’s good?

  • The breathability. Cambelbak calls it 3D Mesh that maximizes airflow. I would agree based on my test runs. It’s one of the most breathable materials I’ve seen on a vest to-date.

camelbak ultra 10 vest

The Cambelbak Ultra 10 utilizes a very breathable open mesh design on nearly all areas that comes in contact with your body.

  • The included Crux reservoir. This is a re-designed reservoir and it works great. In my limited test of four different types of reservoirs over the years this is the best one I’ve tried so far. CambelBak says the reservoir “delivers 20% more water per sip, with a self-sealing bite valve and ergonomic cap.” Add to that the ergonomic handle, on/off ‘switch’ near the bite valve, ability to detach the tube from the reservoir to clean, along with a new threading system which you can lock in from any starting position and we have ourselves a winner.

camelbak ultra 10 vest

The Cambelbak Ultra 10 includes a 2L Crux Reservoir and it’s awesome.

camelbak ultra 10

The bite valve now has an on/off capability. Neat-O!

  • The storage ability. Competing vests have as much total volume storage but this vest tries to differentiate itself I think with the setup and types of pockets used. Thirteen exterior pockets in total, wow! Nifty little water-resistant pockets, one dedicated to a phone, and internal pockets inside the main rear compartment allow for further organization. Also, should you want to REALLY load up on water you could carry four bottles externally PLUS a 2L reservoir really easily. Not that you would want to run with 4L (or more) of water weighing you down but if you are the Camel of the group on all-day hikes this vest would work well!

camelbak ultra 10

Lots of little water-resistant pockets to keep things separated and organized.

camelbak ultra 10

Pockets inside of pockets!

camelbak ultra 10

Easy to access and re-fill the reservoir with the side-zip access.

What’s decent?

  • The comfort. Overall, the front and the back of the vest rides really nice and is comfortable against the body. The shoulder straps are more comfortable than most and actually feel like they are somewhat padded which is great. It’s the side straps where I think things could be improved slightly (see the suggested improvement comments below).
  • The value. This vest is a decent value. It retails for $150 which is right in line with its closest competitors.

What could be improved?

  • The lack of side / lumbar pockets. This is a personal preference as I like vests nowadays that include the side zippered pockets for things like bars, 4-5 gels/pocket, etc. This is an easy way to give extra, accessible storage on the run. I wish this vest, like it’s little sister the Ultra Pro Vest, had these but it’s a double-edged sword. Not having them in this vest probably allows for a more customized fit which I appreciate. With this vest you can really tighten up the side straps so the shoulder straps side nice and wide – which is great for folks who have issues with shoulder straps rubbing on their collarbones.

camelbak ultra 10

One size fits all on the CambelBak Ultra 10 via side strap adjustment.

  • Pole storage. I must be an idiot, which is entirely possible, but I cannot figure out how to store poles on this vest. Hmm…

camelbak ultra 10

I cannot figure out how to best store poles on the CambelBak Ultra 10. CambelBak, if you are reading this – help!

camelbak ultra 10

While it technically works to store poles through the holes in the shoulder straps used by the reservoir tube it’s nearly impossible to do quickly and you risk ripping the interior of the vest forcing poles in this way.

When to use it?

  • Big days on the trail. You can carry A LOT with this vest. It’s a good option for big, big days in the mountains.
  • When you are muling it. This vest is a great cross-over vest that could be your do-everything type of vest. It should be a great option for not only running but also hiking, mountain-biking, snowboardting, etc. Since you can quickly size-up or down it should fit over any outerwear.

The CamelBak Ultra 10 is a great option in these scenarios.

Similar vests to compare with:

  • Ultimate Direction AK Mountain 3.0 Hydration Vest. Same price and nearly identical storage capability. The CamelBak breathes better but the UD Anton vest has side pockets, easier pole storage, and is about 2oz lighter. In warmer weather without the need for poles it’s a toss-up. When bringing poles or other technical mountain gear I’d opt for the Anton vest.
  • Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set Pack. A bit of a stretch comparing these two vests as the larger capacity Salomon packets are less about the number of pockets and more about really hugging the body. The fit of the Salomon vest is superior but at a cost of being as flexible to use as the CamelBak. This Salomon vest is also $25 more. For running-only I would personally chose the Salomon vest.

So the $150 dollar question – should you purchase The Cambelbak Ultra 10?

In a word, maybe. If you are looking for a big day on the trails kind of pack, and won’t miss the lumbar pockets, or one vest that can serve a lot of different purposes this is a great option.

Questions, comments, or feedback on this shoe? Please share! And thanks for reading!

Purchasing Information

If you’re interested in purchasing this pack, please first check availability at your local, independently owned running specialty store. They need your business and are a great resource for the community.

If that’s not possible, please consider using this Amazon link..  Amazon has easy shipping and a great return policy, and your purchase will drop a few nickels into the URP coffers. Thank You!

Ben reviewed this pack “on air” with me after the Morgan Elliot interview right here.  What do you think of the podcast reviews vs written? Like both? Let me know! Thanks. –eric

Meet Your Reviewer: Ben Zuehlsdorf

I am an avid running gear junkie. When I’m not smelling new shoes I’m usually running or racing around the local trails in Marin County, California or talking shop with the San Francisco Running Company community of friends. I was once a road marathoner but now have transitioned almost exclusively to the trails and racing ultras the last few years.

Disclaimer: This pack was provided to URP/Ben for testing purposes. All words and thoughts are ours and no compensation was offered or received.

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