Women's UltrAspire Astral 2.0 Pack

Women’s UltrAspire Astral 2.0 Pack:

Weight (including bladder) = 0.8lb

Storage capacity = 4.9L

Bladder capacity = 2L

Storage pockets:

One open front pocket and one zippered front pocket; bladder compartment and one main back pocket with compression straps to secure load and to use for securing trekking poles.

Open front pocket can fit a small soft flask

Small sweat-proof front pocket with magnetic closure for pills/salt tabs

Bladder sleeve; come with 2L bladder (top fill and push close hose valve with magnetic clip for easy storage and accessibility)

One small interior pocket (inside large main back pocket) for smaller items

Construction:

Light-weight, webbed mesh fabric to keep body cool

Adjustable side straps and 2 elastic front straps for a customized fit that holds pack close to body without restricting breathing

Sits high on back


There’s the info. Now here’s my opinion: Don’t buy it.


Actually, UltrAspire doesn’t make this version anymore. They now have a 3.0 version of the Astral pack, but it seems to be essentially the same with a slight change to the front pocket design and the removal of the elastic strap at the top of the main back compartment.


I applaud the removal of the elastic strap in the back! I had to cut my hair out of the pack a couple times because it would get tangled in that darn elastic strap. My hair is very long, so even in a pony tail, it falls down my back. I remedied this by wearing my hair in braided pigtails that would fall down the front. But I much prefer running with an easy, breezy high pony.


I don’t think the slight change to the front pocket design would make me like them now. The open front pocket is a little small and not stretchy, so getting a bottle in and out is a pain. And the zippered pocket doesn’t lay flat when empty, which was just annoying to me.


Another feature that annoyed me were the two elastic front straps. They have a loop-hook closure which was near impossible to achieve with gloves on and sometimes even without gloves on, especially the bottom one, because the zippered pocket would get in the way. And the elastic wouldn’t stay very secure, so slowly over the course of the run they would loosen (not from my drinking water making more space in the pack but literally the straps would start to come loose), causing me to have to keep pulling to retighten.


Yet another annoying feature to me was the main back pocket. It’s secured with compression straps which seems to make sense (that’s how my hiking pack works), BUT when in use, it just wasn’t practical. I would have to loosen the compression straps to pull layers/supplies out, and then retighten after closing it back up. And there are no easy access, quick stash pockets that are accessible without taking the pack off.


Oh and the fabric. It’s said to be soft and non-chafing, but I found it to be stiff and would cause chafing if I wore a top that allowed my skin to be against the pack. Also, the hydration pack doesn’t secure very well, so the plastic piece that slides over the top would get lopsided, causing one end to rub against me through the pack. That was the worst chafe mark ever! For that reason, I replaced the UltrAspire bladder with my CamelBack bladder that has a front-load design and a better hose. The UltrAspire bladder hose was way too long for me, so there was a lot of unnecessary tubing flopping around in the front. And the valve was push to close and pull to open like a regular water bottle mouth piece. THAT was annoying!


Ok, so I got annoyed with the pack a lot. And all these annoyances may seem minor. But when you are on a loooooong run, you want your gear to work for you not against you. But since I spent a lot of money on it, I tried to stick it through. And I did for almost a year! But then I received a gift card to my local running store, and that same day I went and bought a new hydration pack that I love (review for that coming soon).


The Astral pack has received some raving reviews from others. So I guess it’s all about what works for you. For me, it was not this pack.

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