"For an occurrence to become an adventure, it is necessary and sufficient for one to recount it." ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Review: Ultimate Direction Access

I’ve been using the Ultimate Direction Fastdraw Plus for years and have found it to be the best handheld water bottle for runners on the market.  A few months ago I did a review of it for the Red9Runners monthly newsletter.  I sent the link to Ultimate Direction thinking they might post it on their Facebook page or something.  A week later I received an email from Buzz Burrell letting me know that they liked the Fastdraw Plus review and would send me one of their waist packs to review.  The timing was great because I was planning a 12hour run as a fundraiser for the AAFAStL and was looking for something to give away as an attendance prize.  I agreed, and a week later the Ultimate Direction Access arrived at my door.

                                                                                 Ultimate Direction Access                                                                    

I was excited to try it out because I love the Fastdraw Plus but sometimes when I am running I want my hands to be free and a belt made to carry the same great UD bottles really appealed to me.  My excitement was tempered with a touch of anxiousness because the last time I used a belt (from another company) having  it around my waist made me nauseous. 

The Access holds one 20 ounce bottle (included) that is positioned at an angle that makes it easy to remove and replace the bottle without stopping.  The UD bottles are BPA free and come with the Kicker valve which does not leak.  Seriously, with the valve in the closed position the liquid stays put.  The valve itself is soft rubber which unlike some other hard plastic valves is easy on the teeth.  If you have ever smashed a water bottle into your mouth while trying to get a drink then you know what I am talking about.  It is sort of like a baby bottle only better because baby bottles don’t fuel 20mile trail runs.photo (11)

It also features a bungee loop that when placed around the top of the bottle prevents it from falling out due to excessive jostling.  I never had to use the loop and the bottle stayed in place just fine.  Perhaps as the belt gets older and more worn in the bottle might come out so the loop is still a nice feature to have in case you need it.

Next to the bottle is a small storage pouch.  Overall I was not to impressed with this feature.  It could hold  a decent amount of stuff as long as that stuff didn’t include my phone.  My IPhone 4 in its protective case and Ziploc bag really pushed the storage pouch to the limit and when I tried to add my car keys (one key and a FOB) it took some real effort to close the zipper.  The pouch could be a little bigger in my opinion.  People are using their phones more and more to record their workouts, play music and as a safety measure if they need to call 911 so a pouch that accommodates today’s smart phones is a must.  If  you have the IPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy (both larger than my phone) I doubt they would fit at all.

photo (6)     photo (5)     photo (8)     photo (12)

Like I said though the Access holds a lot of stuff as you can see from the pictures above, and it even has a a slot for your headphone cord.  The tethered key hook is also a nice feature if you, like me, worry about dropping your keys out on the trail somewhere only to find out when you get back to the car.  

photo (10)The belt is fully adjustable on both sides of the buckle and has an elastic band to keep the tail end of the belt from flapping around while you run.  I just wish I had more of a tail piece to really test out that elastic band with but that is to blame on my waist size not the waist pack.  Getting the belt adjusted for you takes a bit of fine tuning and in my case I had to really cinch it tight.  I found that if it felt comfortable just standing around it would shake like mad when I was running.  Using a belt is something I haven’t done for a long time so until I got the belt adjusted correctly, which for me felt almost too tight standing still, I hated it.  The first run with it on was torture but I stuck with it and after I realized the belt was too loose I found that I barely noticed that it was back there and it didn’t shake around very much at all as you can see in the video below.

Black is slimming yo!

Overall I was happy with the Access.  There were some shortcomings though  so if you are the type of runner that likes to bring a lot of accessories when  you run then you might want to consider a belt with more storage, but if all you need is room for a couple gels, your keys, and an MP3 player then I highly recommend it.  Also it comes in 10 colors so you’ll be sure to find one to match your shoes!  Stop by the Ultimate Direction website and check all of their great products.

Tomorrow I will be running a 12hour training run as part of the 100+Project.  I have invited a bunch of friends to come out and run with me and I will be giving the Access to one of them.  FYI, I will be giving away a new bottle, not the one I have been using.  Truth be told I have enjoyed using it so much I hate to give it away!

If you are interested in joining me for the 12hour tomorrow details can be found here:


Facebook event page

Disclaimer: Ultimate Direction sent me this product free of charge for the purpose of this review.  There was no guarantee of a positive review.  If I thought it was garbage I would say so.


  1. good honest review pat see you tomorrow ,might go to pere marquette first then on to you at siue ,have to see how my leg feels....Russ

    1. Hope it feels ok enough to run tomorrow!

  2. Great review. The Fastdraw Plus is THE best bottle on the market. Sounds like their belt pack is pretty sweet too.

    1. It is as long as you don't need to carry a lot with you. If you do though UD has many other options.

  3. Thanks for the honest review. I do remember the 1st time you wore it, it was slipping and it was not very comfortable, but I think by the end of the run, you were liking it. I guess it just took some time to settle and get the adjustment dialed in. Godzilla and I are on our way out now to run with you. -Jim

    1. It was so bad during the first part of one of my long runs I was tempted to leave it on the side of the road. That's when I figured out that the belt had to be much tighter, after that it was great.

  4. Thanks for the heads-up on your review on the Ultimate Direction Access (from Twitter). Haven't bought a belt yet, but might go with this one now. Do wish the pouch was bigger, but then again, I don't like to run with much. And, now that its getting cooler, got a bunch more pocket-options. Thanks again.

    1. The belt is good but the bottles are what set UD apart from other companies.