Written by Neil Bryant for the URC
When I first saw pictures of the new vest from Montane I was excited! The Gecko Ultra V+ is incomparable to Montanes other vest packs which are more ‘normal’ such as the Gecko VP+ which I recently reviewed here.
This is surely as minimalist a vest can get? At 90g it is super light and the materials it is made from makes it feel like an item of clothing. There is no padding or even slightly thicker material anywhere on this vest.
The feature that makes this vest stand out from the crowd though is the lack of straps at the front. In fact, this vest really further blurs the line between clothing and race pack as it is fully closed at the front. You therefore have to pull it over your head like a t-shirt, to get it on. There is a short zip at the front at the bottom you can undo to make it easier to get on and off, but other than that, there is no other form of adjustment or for that matter any strap!
It does have pockets though (They didn’t go that minimalist!) with two bottle pockets in the normal chest position (bottles are included). There are two smaller pockets at the lower front which remind me of a watch pocket on a waistcoat!. On the rear there are two larger pockets that are angled to make entry easier
I think this stock picture from Montane demonstrates just how difficult it is to slide the bottles in!
The final two pockets are two small ones, one above each bottle on your shoulder, which have a side opening.
None of the pockets are fastened with a zip or anything else.
When I first pulled the vest on, I knew it needed to be tight, to stop loaded bottles bouncing, but I was surprised just how tight! I think a larger size would have been better, but to be honest, I am not sure if it would then be tight enough to not bounce? I think the sizing is small. This is where I first realised that this thing had to fit absolutely perfectly as there was no way of adjusting it.
I loaded it up with two full bottles which I learnt was easier to do when it was on, as pulling on the vest with lots of gear onboard was difficult! Once the vest is on though, it is difficult to squeeze the bottles in as it is so tight.
The full weight, including bottles is incredible!
While running the vest doesn’t bounce at all. It sticks like glue.
I missed having the air flow through the front, as I felt I was heating up more, and I couldn’t even open it while on long, climbs here in Chamonix that I walk, to cool down a bit.
This vest has been designed with the shorter and faster runs in mind, and that is certainly what it is best suited for with it’s minimal capacity. It is an incredibly light, and very nicely made vest and I have to give much appreciation to Montane for really trying something new and different to a design which is already excellent.
But, for me, it just doesn’t quite work. The design means that to hold the bottles rock solid, then they need to get pulled into your chest hard, which is fine, it just means pushing them in is not easy. I am not keen on the fully closed and therefore non-ventilated front. My final bug is the complete lack of adjustability. When you get one, you really have to get the perfect fitting one otherwise the system will not work. There are 4 sizes and I would guess that this is not enough to cover all chest sizes out there, meaning that I think a lot of people just won’t find one that fits them perfectly. Maybe you will find one that fits you? The lack of adjustability also means adding layers underneath it is probably not going to work either.
As with all my reviews, these are my personal findings and maybe this is the perfect vest for you. I would really love to hear from you if you if this is the case. I really do hope that Montane continue with this design and further improve it as I believe there is some real potential here. The minimalism alone is magic, so maybe that could be passed along to a more traditional vest design.
But, if you haven’t already worked it out, the Gecko Ultra V+ is not for me in it’s current iteration. Priced at £100 it is not too badly priced. I am guessing there was more of a development process involved which is costly. Kudo to Montane for putting themselves out there, and I look forward to their next innovations as that, for me is where the magic happens. Just not every time!
My sample was too small as the lower zip needed to be open. It should have fitted according to the size chart.
If you would like to purchase the Gecko Ultra V+ from Montane, then please consider using the following affiliate link. The URC would get a small commision costing you nothing more. Thanks.