After the 80’s, vests got a bad rap in the fashion world. They were associated with New Kids on the Block, MC Hammer and—horror of horrors—Blossom. But the outdoor world knew vests still served an important purpose. Down and fleece vests remain popular, and the form itself is evolving again. VestPac, a company in Jackson, Wyoming whose designs are created to keep skiers, snowboarders and stand-up paddle boarders hydrated while on the go, is one of the outfits leading the way.
On a recent ski trip to Colorado, I took the VestPac GrandPac with me to try out.
When I arrived at the mountain, I threw everything I needed into the front pockets, including my ID, some trail mix and cell phone. I hooked my keys onto the key ring holder and filled up the 1-liter, BPA-free water pouch in the back. In total, this pack has six areas for storage: two pockets with security flaps on the chest panel; a large zippered pocket that can fit a locator beacon or GPS device; two clear pockets that work for your ID or credit cards; and the area in back for the water bladder. Despite all the storage volume, the vest is still very compact and fit under my ski jacket without any noticeable bulge.
The straps on the side and the top adjust for a snug fit. The combination of lightweight elastic and even weighting between your gear in the front and water in back made the pack very comfortable with minimal pressure on my shoulders. In fact, the vest was so light that I forgot I was wearing it several times…until I noticed that extra padding behind me on the chair lift.
The hose also has several helpful features. First off, the 360-degree bite valve has an “on” and “off” position to make sure you don’t have any accidental spills. A plastic clip on the front helps you lock the hose into position.
While I was initially worried that one liter of water wouldn’t hold me over, the quantity worked well for a half day of skiing. I'd recommend this pack for snow or water activities of around four hours. If you’re headed out for a longer trip or it’s a very hot day, you’ll likely need something with a larger water bladder.
Size: 15x12x2 inches
Works well for: Fishing, skiing, snowboarding, short hikes, stand up paddleboarding
For more about this product, visit VestPac’s website.