Ultimate Direction Fastpack 30 Review

All packed and ready togo.

Dennis de Monchy offers his take on the new Ultimate Direction Fastpack 30.

I was recently given the chance to test out the new UD Fastpack 30 when I headed south to run in the hills for a couple of days with Mal Law and his High-50 Challenge of 50 peaks in 50 days.  Unfortunately Mal was injured for our overnight trip, but our merry group of 6 support runners headed up the Matukituki Valley for the overnight trip anyways.  I had sorted my gear for this summer alpine trip, then tried it out in a friends Fastpack 20.  It all fitted in, but there was no space for Mals gear that I was expecting to carry.  Luckily Grant Guise came to the rescue and offered me his Fastpack 30.

First impression was that it was a pack without much structure, and lightweight fabrics, so I was concerned that it would sit uncomfortably with a cooker, pot, whisky and other items on board.  Luckily I was wrong, it has a firm enough back rest/sit mat that I didn’t have any issues with pointy stuff protruding into my back.  With the main compartment loaded with overnight stuff, my waterproofs and microspikes went into the big webbing pocket on the outside, leaving plenty of room for more.  This pouch on the outside is second best feature on the fastpack’s, easy to load, easy to access, and roomy!

Dennis descending the Rees Valley.

But the best feature of the Fastpack 30 is the front pockets on the shoulder straps.  4 pockets to choose from, 2 zip pockets and 2 elasticated ones. The big elasticated pocket is there for your UD bottle, while under this is a small zip pocket that I used for my compass and chapstick.  On the other side is the big zip pocket which I used as my pantry for each day, loading it with Pocket Fuels, muesli bars and a backup gel or 2.  Under this is another elastic pocket that I loaded with my Iphone in a WP case, and map.  All the pockets still had space for other stuff after I’d loaded them.  There are also 2 pockets on the side of the pack that are easily accessed without removing the pack for you hat, gloves, thermal etc.

Fully loaded for the overnight trip and with a 2L bladder on board, it was weighing in at around 7kg so the real test was going to be on the first 9km of flat running.  It has the same 2 chest straps as the UD PB vest that I have and really like so I was interested to see if this would be enough for a decent load.  My PB is a small, and the Fastpack 30 was a M/L so even with all the straps cinched tight there was a bit of slack in the shoulder straps, and a bit of bounce when I was running.  I’m pretty sure that if I had the correct size this would be minimal, as I tried the pack two days later to run over the Routeburn with only my day gear in it and it hardly bounced and was incredibly comfortable.  You can also squeeze it down with the side straps so that it doesn’t need to be fully loaded all the time.

Scott Hindrup, also using a Fastpack30, nearing the summit of Mt Tyndal

We had a bit of cold drizzle while ascending Mt Tyndal, and nothing inside the pack got wet, so the light weight nylon must be fairly water resistant.

I loved this pack, and could easily have taken a few more nights food and a couple of extra bits of clothing without space being an issue.  A great pack if you are doing 1-3 night trips where you want to move fast, or if you need a lot of gear for a day trip in the mountains.  It also has 2 ice axe loops which I didn’t get to try out, but could also be used for trekking poles.


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