Camelback Mountain located in Scottsdale, AZ must be one of the most deceptively hard urban hikes in the world. Nestled between the suburban sprawl of Phoenix and Scottsdale, it makes a spectacular landmark for both communities. Two different trails lead to the top with promises of a phenomenal view. I recently agreed to "run" up one trail to the top and down the other side for a distance of "only" 9 miles. I thought this would be a perfect way to put my Camelbak Ultra LR water vest to the test. And it was.
Camelbak designed the vest with this type of a run in mind. In the early morning hours before the sun rose, the vest worked as a reflective vest for me. Had it been any earlier, I could have easily fastened my butt blinker to a strap designed just for that. I carried a phone, room key, and cash. I had no problem finding good spots to store them on. The pockets are tight enough to keep stuff tight to your body, but easy enough to access when you need it.
The 1.2 mile trail we picked to go to the summit rises 1,280 feet from the valley floor. It's incredibly steep. Some of the trail is marked very well -- for instance one stretch is separated from a cliff by a chain link fence and has handrails drilled into the mountain. Others are not. Every week, authorities end up plucking over-confident hikers who have misread tracks in boulder fields and find themselves stuck on a cliff. The Camelbak Ultra LR includes a built in whistle to get help in a situation like this.
The vest holds up to 70 ounces of water. I loaded it with probably 30 ounces, because I new it would get hot, and it did. Multiple fasteners along the waist, under the arms and across the chest guarantee a good fit. The vest fit snugly for me, but the mesh structure let it breathe at the same time.
Like all the Camelbak products, the valve and tube worked exceptionally well, even when I was down to the last 5 ounces. After getting back about 2 hours later, I put the vest out on the porch. The vest dried in about three hours. Great stuff!