Gear Review: Ultimate Direction Wasp and Wink Hydration Packs

With summer approaching, snow-free trails are beckoning for us to stay out longer and longer. With the increase in heat and humidity, hydration becomes increasingly important. For very long runs, a good hydration pack is often the best option.

Comfort and weight distribution can make or break a hydration pack, and the Wasp (men’s) and Wink (women’s) by Ultimate Direction have been designed with a great deal of thought to make them work with, not against, you.

The first time I used mine, I was shocked at how light it felt, even full of water. I even questioned if I had the bladder full, and I double-checked to make sure it was. When full, the 64oz (1.9L) bladder weighs over 4 pounds (1.8 kg), so this feeling of lightness and comfort was very surprising.

Ultimate Direction also put a lot of thought into women-specific ergonomics and frame size, and I enjoyed that better fit. Usually I find packs bounce around on my shoulders, which is annoying and causing chafing. The women’s pack is shorter in length, has “S” shaped shoulder straps, a narrower neck, and more padding.

The bladder itself is easy to fill, with a roll-over, Velcro closure that opens wide (also helpful for cleaning). The bite valve works easily, and the hose is housed in an insulated sheath to keep your fluids cooler, or from freezing in the winter.

The Wasp and Wink each have ample storage space tucked all over, in pockets of all different sizes and access points. It’s helpful to be able to bring more clothing and food when going out for long days on the trail, and the front pockets are easily accessible while on the run.

For more information on these and other Ultimate Direction accessories, visit

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Sara Montgomery