Well you are sure to have heard of this. If not you will. Inov8 have come up with a new take on the race vest, sort of. They have moved the bottles to the side and low, plus decided to use crazy clips that will infuriate all who buy one.
The Inov8 web site has a nice spiel about the vest and I would point you there for information and glorious pics. Here you can read about a punter/goose like me, using one.
First, it looks great and is well finished. It is light and very adjustable. One size fits all, well you can adjust it to fit you, I did in a few minutes and it fits better than anything I have tried before. You get 2 x 500ml bottles and a 2l bladder from Hydrapac. That’s almost the price ($100 AUD) accounted for. Compared to any S-Lab kit it’s cheap and all the bits and pieces make sense, unlike the complicated, Salomon stuff. It wont fall apart either, see previous brand.
So its comfy and has low bottles, do they work? Yes, the bottles are fine. They don’t get in the way and as they are a bit down low, the splash-splosh noise factor does not seem to bother me much. That’s a big plus for anal me. Ultimate Direction (UD), I am talking to you, noisy bottles on the chest shit me. There is no bounce.
The chest pockets are ample and will easily hold an iPhone with a cover. Scott Jurek are you there??!!! The UD vest does not.
Mmmm comfy, well made, looks good, nice bottle set up, the bladder? This is a winner too. An open top at the back makes so much sense. Easy. You don’t need to dismantle your gear and re-pack it to fill the bladder, UD I am talking to you. The tube routing is even sensible, straight forward and intuitive. Salomon, ‘Why under arms? Why make me pay for a bladder? Oh you gave me 2 free leaky, squishy sperm collection bottles…….’, I digress.
So, fits, water is easy and simple, looks tops and wont fall apart, rust up or drive you mad with splish splash every step, WHAT IS WRONG WITH IT???
The clips, they have used a new clip design for every little clip on it. They are impossible to undo. I tried it on and almost had to cut the straps off. I was contemplating seeing my patients wearing the damn Gimp vest all afternoon once it arrived. Race one and I could only undo one. I was tired and sad about it. Two doctor friends could not undo it either. We must be stupid? I have almost mastered it now but only by brute force and wearing an Elastoplast strip on my finger, I suspect I will develop a callous.
This lunacy aside, the bag is almost big enough for a big race, I have not packed it yet but it has stretch and a net on the back, I will make it work. There are optional pockets you can buy that replace the dreaded straps + clips with a pocket+ more of those wretched clips, offering some extra space. Regular Joe’s like me will need them.
My verdict? Like a Shakespearian hero it has it all but ultimately a fatal flaw. Would you knowingly buy a race vest you might die getting out of? One that could send you into a frothing madness at your final checkpoint in dream race delirium? You might, because it does everything else perfectly and Elastoplast might be on the mandatory gear list…… 🙂