We have attended, in one way or the other, quite a few Trail running competitions (like Pohorje Ultra Trail, Kranjska Gora Trail or Istria100). Enough for a man to feel the need to purchase some specialized equipment that would, like in cars, give runner some of that extra boost (although imaginary). Beacuse we already have good running shoes, the next step to look like a professional, is a tight running vest. Beacuse the brand Inov8 is not so popular around here, and we like that, we chose their Race Elite Vest.
So let’s clear the air first, we have bought this vest with our own money (yes, it was a saleJ) and we now use it regulary, so this review expresses what we think of it, and is NOT a paid partnership.
As the name implies, it is a minimalistic vest, that however boasts three main pokets, intended mainly for liquides storage, and 4 secondary ones, for everything else. Besides those, you will find strapping cords at the back as well. To yourself, tight it with two chest straps. It is Unisex and only comes in black, like Fords did back in the day. The whole vest is made out of mesh and stretch material, with no zippers. For those pro’s out there, it weighs in at 210g (empty). Total capacity of the vest is 4l (max 3l of liquids). We had a lady test it as well- 20kg lighter, 20cm smaller and quite a bit prettier, she found that she can fit it perfectly, so that nothing bothered her on 5h run.
The vest fits, as you would expect, tightly around your body, with two adjustable shoulder straps to make it just right, so that it will hold you like obssesive lover. It is made out of mesh and stretch material and there are no zippers. Pockets keep things inside via thight fit and, on the back, overlaping material.
HYDRATION AND STORAGE
Manufacturer provides the vest with two 500ml hard water bottles of unusuall shape, but is kind enough to let you buy the vest without them as well. And since we are just like you right now, we go on the internet before buying something. And the internet suggested that the bottles are not very practical, therefore we bought it without them, and now use it with 1l hydration bladder (you can also fit the 2l size). Some runners do use soft bottles, but we find them to unstable. The main problem with the original hard bottles is, that they are a bit difficult to reach, but even more difficult is putting them back in the pocket during running. You can perhaps use the long straws with them, and that might work OK. The other issue some runners find disturbing, is placement of the bottles. They are located under the armpits, and you might hit them with elbows when running.
Water bladder on the back, means that the front pockets are free for all the necessery things you might need in the wild. For instance your phone, for that all inportant instagram picture, fits perfectly in the water bottle compartment, and is thus always at hand. The other pocket stays available for the first aid kit, or some other »big« object. In the smaller pockets on the shoulder straps, there is enough room for your food suplies- read candies and other sins. This pockets are quite deep, so reaching something at the bottom is and will be a challenge, ergo fit only long things in it. And do not worry about the whistle, it is already incorporated in the shoulder straps, so you will never lose or forget it.
We have already mentioned the possible issues in regard to hydration, lets just add, that you have to install the tube from water bladder through the shoulder strap, which takes a bit of effort and is a pain in the neck if you have to do it quickly. But it looks nice, and that counts for something, and it also keeps the tube fixed a bit more. On the shoulder straps, you will also find elastic holders for the tube, so that it doesn’t move around.
The other possible issue is storage of running poles. There are straps intended for this purpose at the back, but you will have to improvise or put the vest down in order to secure the poles, which is not really desired on a vest with “Racing” in its name.
Well, we will not sell it quite yet. All though it has some faults, it is still a very good running vest, light, comfortable, and black (don’t like the big Inov8 enscription though). Can we recomend it? Well yes, if you understand its downsides and are willing to accept them (like with every thing you buy), you will not be dissapointed. The vest is well made, it looks like it will last (durability) and carries enough gear for our current needs, meaning distances of up to 100km.