Written by Simon Bright
ULTRA CARRIER SHIRT – 2015’s Hoka discussion?
As part of my post OCC recovery strategy this year I decided on some retail therapy. This included buying the WAA Ultra Carrier shirt.
The idea behind the shirt (actually a zip up jacket) is simple. Instead of needing a separate bum bag the storage space for gear is built into the jacket. On the face of it this seems like a really obvious idea, so obvious that I wondered why no one else seems to have thought of it before.
I was interested in trying this out as I find bum bags quite uncomfortable and sometimes quite fiddly to access. Was this jacket going to address these problems?
The jacket works fine as a long sleeved running top. The sleeves include a “cut away” to see the faces of watches which is helpful. The jacket is also intended to be figure hugging and needs to be to stop the gear carrying pouches jumping around. Despite this it fits perfectly well over a base layer or t-shirt.It is fairly light weight and would be fine for most runs – but is not waterproof or particularly warm so would need to be supplemented with a top layer for running in colder weather. It is also quite flimsy and probably wouldn’t do too well in an encounter with, say, a barbed wire fence.
On the killer app – the storage capacity is good. There are two mini-pockets at the front with enough room to comfortably fit a mobile or two to three gels plus gloves etc. They are easy to get to and possible to fish out gear when on the move.
There are also two deeper/longer pockets going from the side round to the back. These have more than enough room for a light rain proof jacket and a water bottle. The deeper pockets are elasticated, which means they have loads of room. The tops are Velcro sealed rather than zipped so its very easy to get stuff in or out while running (including feeding a jacket back into the pocket).
I’ve used the jacket on a couple of runs and found it was very comfortable and did not notice the extra weight of the gear. It felt a lot easier to run with than a bum bag and was less hassle to get to gear.
The capacity is more than you would be able to get into a bum bag and can carry everything you’d need for a normal run. It doesn’t have the capacity of a pack and I can’t see you’d be able to carry the mandatory kit list required for a lot of ultras – which is puzzling as it is apparently being marketed to ultra runners specifically.
The big downside is the price €89 – which seems a lot for a jacket which isn’t waterproof or wind proof and probably won’t put up with the sort of abuse a lot of jackets get on trail running.
Despite the price tag I think this is a decent piece of kit and will use it as an alternative to a bum bag for shorter trail runs. I do, however, think the manufactures are being a bit creative suggesting it as an alternative to a pack as it simply hasn’t got the capacity.
Whether it will catch on is anybody’s guess – it could be seen as an innovative and practical way to carry gear or a daft gimmick. I wonder if it, or any clones other companies might start producing, are going to trigger the debates that Hokas have started?