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I had the chance to try out the Jurek Endure waist pack by Ultimate Direction for the past couple weeks. This line was designed by ultra-runner Scott Jurek, and it shows.
First, I love how light weight it is. It barely feels like anything even with 2 full bottles and a pouch full of fuel. The mesh construction, in addition to leaving it light weight, allows airflow and cooling while still maintaining a sturdy construction. The Velvetex edge binding is very soft and comfortable. The zippered fuel bag is roomy and slides around the belt so you can position it at your front or either side. However, that same sliding also means it requires two hands to unzip/zip up if you happen to position it away from where it naturally stops. The bottle pockets are roomy with a bungee to help secure things if necessary. While there is foam to add structure to the front of the bottle pockets, it would be more functional if there was some on the sides to allow the pockets to stay open for easier stowage after a swig. I didn’t like having to twist the pack and/or use two hands to get the bottle back where it belongs.
The Endure is definitely made for people with a runner’s build (read, no hips), as the only way I could get it not to migrate was to wear it rather high on my natural waist instead of down closer to my hips. You might not think this would be a problem, but in order to get it not to bounce (and, admirably, when in the right spot, it really does not bounce), it has to be worn pretty snugly, just fine around your hips. Around your waist, definitely less comfortable. This also affected water access. I felt as though the bottles should have been positioned at a deeper angle or slightly further apart overall. While less noticeable when worn on the hips, it becomes quite awkward to get the bottles in and out when worn on the waist. I think a little more stretch material could have allowed this to be worn by more body types than ’15 year old boy’, but as it was designed by an ultra-runner, it is obviously geared towards those with similar frames. The last problem I had was how tight the spouts on the bottle were. Opening them wasn‘t a problem as I, like most people, use my teeth, but they were very hard to close. Finally, on my last run with the product I could close them with one hand, so while an annoyance, if you take some time to play with it a bit before taking it out, it should clear up. If there were an option to switch the current spouts out for a one way valve cap, that would be ideal.
My favorite thing about the Endure was probably the mid back bungee system. It’s the reason I’ll keep wearing it even though it’s not ideal in many other ways. It’s perfect for early spring/late fall running when you need arm warmers and a hat or a light jacket to start out, but need to shed as the mileage racks up. Seriously, one of the worst things about running in those conditions is deciding what to wear, knowing I’ll end up carrying it or tucking it awkwardly into my pants after a couple miles. But the bungee system stretches and tightens to accommodate those extra layers. While the mid back pocket under the bungee system isn’t big enough for a phone, it is plenty stretchy and has a velcro closure to securely hold I.D., keys or additional fuel.
So, what’s the conclusion? This is a high quality pack, the materials and construction seem to be top notch. If you happen to possess a straight, traditional runner’s frame, I say give it a try. If, on the other hand, your waist to hip ratio happens to trend towards the curvy end of things, you may want to look at other options. Ultimate Direction carries handheld hydration, vests, and belts with more flex to them on their website. So, either way, head on over and check out the variety at www.ultimatedirection.com