This pack has all of the features and extras you expect to see on a high-end pack. I could write for hours about what a sensational pack this is, but I will spare you and cut right to the chase. Here’s the good stuff:
* very well constructed; no loose threads, no gaps of stitching missing, no noticeable asymmetry
* comfortable yet snug fit with several adjustable straps yield the least bounce and slosh of any product I have tried
* height-adjustable sternum strap, with fabric covers to keep sweat and debris away from sliders
* great back padding, with channels for air flow
* main compartment is just big enough to carry essentials such as food, clean shirt, flashlight, rain jacket, etc. without being so large as to encourage overpacking
* entirely separate compartment for bladder; no messing around with the supplies in the main compartment just to refill the bladder
* zipper on side of bladder sleeve makes bladder removal and insertion extremely easy, even when the pack’s main compartment is full
* very well hidden drainage port at bottom of pack; necessary for drainage of condensation
* built-in strap storage elastics on shoulder straps and waist belt; these help secure a nice fit for the pack while preventing both the straps from loosening and the strap ends from flapping around
* side-mount bottle holders, perfectly placed; any further back and it would be difficult to grab the bottles, and any closer to the front and you would hit the bottles too often on your backswing
* stiff piece of material at the top of each of the side bottle holders, which enables the pack to “grab” the bottom of the bottle while you slide your hand up enough to push the bottle down the rest of the way into the holder. Try this a few times and you will get the hang of it. UD made a phenomenal choice of materials here. Most pack manufacturers would simply have used elastic at the top of the bottle holders, and this would leave the runner struggling to return the bottle to the holder.
None. At all. The only suggestion I would make to Ultimate Direction is to change the color of the fabric on the pull tab for the bladder pocket zipper. The light color blends into the other fabric, making the zipper very hard to notice. This will cause some shoppers (and even some product owners!) to fail to notice the zipper, leaving them struggling to take the bladder in and out of the pack, a tremendous feat with the zipper up. Since this zipper pull is hidden, day-glow orange would be a great touch.
Summary: After trying numerous packs over the years, the Highline has become my all-time favorite. It’s my go-to pack for any run longer than two hours.
About me: 5’10”; 165 lbs; 43 years old; 35 marathons and ultramarathons