A lifetime ago, well last Summer I set out to review options for hydration packs, well things conspired against me and combined with a helpful tidy (resulting in a box of stuff disappearing) of my running kit during the fall meant that one piece went unreviewed, so without fanfare but with much delay I bring you the review of the Ultimate Direction Solitaire.
This is one of several waistbelts from UD and it really is a no-nonsense variety. It does pretty much everything it says on the box…but I will save my conclusions for later, so on with review.
As mentioned this is a no nonsense type of belt, it’s pretty stripped down and has a few bells but no real whistles, the belt is made from webbing fabric, think rucksack, it has a foam back but there is no sculpturing or shaping to it. It has some reflective piping along it and it fastens at the front by way of a simple buckle. The excess webbing folds up neatly and tucks away within elastic loops, this is a feature on most if not all UD products and it’s one of those things that is so simple and so effective that you think you would see it everywhere? Maybe it’s patented? On the outside, to the side, on each side, basically above your hips there is a zippered pocket, big enough for a couple of gels, a small phone (not a iPhone or Blackberry) or your keys. When your hot the belt breathes easily enough and doesn’t pool the sweat which is a concern with belts; I noticed no problems with chaffing etc.
Moving to the rear, this is where the action is. The Solitaire as you can see is a bottle holder and it carries the larger of the two bottles that UD sells; 26oz, and which comes with their standard kicker valve, check out my review of the bottle here. The bottle is held in place by a sleeve, there’s nothing keeping it in place except friction but it does stay in place, in fairness my running has not been as rugged in recent months as is has in the past, but even with some deliberate jumping about from side to side somewhat like a crazed hula hooper with no hoop, (much to the amusement of a couple walking their dogs!) it stayed in place. Above the sleeve there is a smallish zipped pocket, this you can fit a phone in, as well as some armwarmers or maybe an ultralight waterproof jacket, I can get my Marmot jacket in it but that’s because it folds down to the size of a pack of cigarettes, there’s also a little key hook. On top of this pocket there is a meshed velcro pouch. Finally there is a hanging/drying loop.
It rides comfortably enough, out of preference I prefer it on my hips that round my waist and this is where is loses out versus the Nathan Mutant, there is no elastic in the belt so there is no give in the tightness. From experience waistbelts are worn at their most comfortable when they are at their tightest but not constricting, for me it’s a really fine line. I need that little bit of give because when you have to move in a slightly different alignment to jump those roots or extend over those rocks and a belt that has no give or take cannot absorb those subtle changes.
Like I said this is a bare bones no frills waistpack and it does do exactly what it says on the box but for me it is a little too no frills. That being said don’t discount it too early because it’s very functional.
This belt is available in several colors; red, blue and black and through multiple online outlets it’ average retail is around $40. If you choose to pick one up check out Wilderness Running Company and don’t forget using ‘Quad10’ at the checkout will save you 10%.
This is the last review in this series, although because of the spread of months (!!!) in between them I will write up a conclusion. You can read my other Hydration product reviews here:
- Ultimate Direction FastDraw Extreme
- Ultimate Direction Wasp
- HydraPak GelBot
- Salomon XT Wings 5 Running Pack
- Nathan X Trainer Mutation
- FuelBelt H20
- Nathan HPL #008 Magda
This Belt was provided free of charge by the good folks at Wilderness Running Company. See previous gear reviews in the sidebar on the right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.