Friday, August 7, 2015

Happy 30th birthday, Ultimate Direction!

[Disclaimer: I'm not a UD Ambassador, and much less a UD Athlete, but I do receive a discount on Ultimate Direction products nowadays. That being said for 10 years, I didn't, I was, and still am, just a genuine user and fan...]

I was not born --to trail and ultra running that is...-- when Ultimate Direction was founded back in 1985, but I've been a fan and big user since I adopted their products as soon as I discovered their handheld bottles back in 2003. I even remember, and admit, that I wasn't using the handles the right way before seeing how Jasper Halekas was holding his Ultimate Direction bottles on the cover page of an issue of UltraRunning Magazine back then. Who knew that these bottles needed a manual...? ;-)
Rare are the runs during which I don't carry at least one bottle, and Ultimate Direction is also part of my business trips for proper hydration on flights and even during business meetings!

Over the years, here is pretty much the collection I built of Ultimate Direction products, quite a good sampling of their catalog!
While the handheld bottles are my key pieces of UD equipment, I mean the ones I used the most, I have many other items, my favorites being:
  1. The very minimalist Jurek Essential belt in the Scott Jurek collection. It was designed before the reign of the iPhone6, yet a standard/smaller iPhone6 can be squeezed in the mesh pocket. And both pockets are large enough to carry a camera and/or of course, a few gels or candy/cereal bars. The smallest pocket is great to carry a small bag of S!Caps for instance, but be super careful about keeping the velcro closed, I happened to lose some money I had kept in this pocket on my Chamonix run last month, not paying enough attention. The other pockets have zipper which is better to keep valuables.
  2. The vest in the same Scott Jurek collection (and 2nd version, that is the Royal Blue one which fits with our QuickSilver color scheme as a bonus!). An amazing piece of engineering but the vest concept makes it harder to fit well every torso shape and form. I ended up picking a Medium size, which is slightly too large, although the straps hidden in the size pockets do help (thanks Buzz for showing them to me after I missed that essential tuning feature initially). Personally, I still prefer to carry bottles rather than having my chest beaten by the bottles as I run. Yet, you need this approach if you want to use poles, so I'm trying to get more used to it in case I need to free up my hands.
  3. To continue on the minimalist approach of the Scott Jurek collection, you can't get smaller or lighter than the new Jurek Grip bottle strap which is ideal for short runs or if you have something else to carry gels and keys, like a belt or a vest.

I recently purchased the Desert Hat although I don't have any plan yet to get into Badwater... I also bought a Handy 10 which I forgot to include in the picture above, but maybe on purpose as I haven't used it yet.

By the way, as soon as the commemorative anniversary handle was announced, I rushed to order one and was slightly surprised, if not disappointed, to receive the #289/300. I was hoping for a smaller number, but who cares, really, I have one of the limited edition, and I'm not going to keep it in a cabinet as a collector, this one is going to live in and endure the outdoors like its sisters! ;-) And there are more of these memorabilias available on line if you want to pick yours (while supplies last...).
All these products really helped me staying healthy and hydrated while moving in the Ultimate Direction for the close to 40,000 miles I have in my running log. So I wish long life to this iconic ultra running American company and great supporter of our sport! And I wish too that you keep running and moving in the... Ultimate Direction!!

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