Inov-8 Race Ultra 10 running pack


Inov-8 believe they have created a perfect pack for runners with their new Race Ultra 10.

The Inov-8 Race Ultra 10 (and the alternative 5-litre pack) is described as an “evolution of the award-winning race ultra vest”.

Inov-8 explain: “The Race Ultra 10 has been designed to carry 10 litres of kit while maintaining a close-to-the-body fit that ensures stability and zero bounce when running over even the longest of distances.”

The 10l pack is available in two sizes (S/M and M/L) and includes lots of very specific features:

  • Two zipped mesh pockets to the front for holding two 500ml water bottles
  • Two 500ml soft-flask bottles with 30cm tubes
  • Large weather-resistant zipped pocket at rear
  • Separate zipped pocket for water reservoir (reservoir not included)
  • Two large side mesh pockets
  • Two large mesh pockets at front top
  • Two smaller stretch mesh pockets at front top
  • A whistle
  • Rear bungee compression elastic configuration
  • Pole loops to rear

Pack weight: Small/medium: 260g and medium/large: 265g.

Running with the Inov-8 Race Ultra 10 pack

I have owned several Inov-8 running packs, including a Race Pro, and I am a big fan. So I was expecting something even better and more usefully specific from the running brand. But at first, when I tried it on, I wasn’t sure about it. The Race Ultra felt different from a normal rucksack. It kind of hugs your shoulders and upper back and it felt a bit odd.

maxresdefaultI wasn’t convinced about the two chest straps, either. One strap sits above the chest line and the other is sort of below it, but would they rub and annoy? I worried that women with larger chests would struggle with the fit of the lower chest strap. And the soft-flask bottles seemed to leak. I found them easy to fill from the tap because the screw off tops are nice and wide but when I popped the bottles into their pockets I felt water dripping down the side of the pack. Closer inspection revealed I hadn’t tightened the tops as tightly as I could have. Once I did this the leaks stopped.

I also thought I might find the bottle tops to be annoying when I ran. The position of the bottles is to either side of the rib cage, set back from the chest and below the armpit. The bottle tops seemed to dig in to my ribs at first. But from the moment that I started to run with the Inov-8 Race Ultra all my worries disappeared and I absolutely loved the pack.

For years I have been running with packs – and this includes the Race Pro – that need to be continually adjusted, tightened and loosened to be comfortable. The Race Ultra simply feels comfortable all the time. The way that it snugly hugs the top half of the body is fantastic. It hardly feels like it’s there because it never moves about. In a way, it’s like having an extra part of your body, but a part that can be packed with kit.

The pack sits at the right height and because it’s short and stubby it feels like a hump. It is a brilliant design. The chest straps didn’t bother me at all while I ran and simply felt secure. I can’t say how larger chested ladies would feel but, for me, the straps didn’t rub or annoy in any way.

BackThe pack has a lightweight padded back. It rests against your back so there will be some sweat if you tend to perspire a lot. I was wearing it over a waterproof jacket so it felt fine to me.

There is enough space in the 10l pack for spare layers, gloves, snacks and phone. But even when it’s not full you can use the compression bungee to take away some space.

There are lots of handy pockets for easy access, too. If you like your phone, snacks and bits and pieces to be handy there are pockets that can be reached without taking the pack off.

The water bottle tubes are well designed, too. The tubes run up the shoulder straps, through an elastic loop and then slot into clever wee flaps that keep the top of the tube against your body. There is no annoying flapping around of bottle tubes. The tubes are easy to drink from when on the run and when the water level drops a bit you can simply push your arm against the soft bottles to push water up the tube and into your mouth.

I can’t say yet whether the soft flasks will be long lasting or how much they will cost to replace but on first impressions they are well designed, just as long as you tighten the tops very securely.

This is a wonderfully minimalist running pack that is lightweight yet still offers lots of features. It is the most comfortable and well fitting running rucksack that I have ever tried.

I would recommend it to recreational and elite runners, whether off-road or on road.

The pack RRPs at £120 (£110 for the 5l version). See stockists at Inov-8 Race Ultra 10.

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