Terra Nova Ultra 1 Bottle Pack Review

Terra Nova Ultra 1 bottle packTerra Nova’s Ultra 1 is the most incredible waist bottle pack I’ve ever seen or used. Why? It weighs in at just 1 ounce/30 grams and is easily trimmed down to 26 grams (.95 ounces). To put that in perspective, the next lightest single bottle pack in my gear collection is a simple Nathan pack that weights in at 5.40 ounces/154 grams. In other words, the Ultra 1 will be my race day bottle pack going forward.

What is the Ultra 1?
A single bottle pack made out of a crazy-light material called “Ultra.” Thin strips of Ultra hug your hips before transitioning into a 3/4 front strap. There’s a small, rear key pocket (you’re brave if you use it as such) that holds up to 3 GUs.

How best to use the Ultra 1?
As with most bottle packs, the Ultra 1 takes some adjusting to get the fit right and eliminate bounce. I find that keeping the pack low and tight is key. When I first put the pack on I’ll often tighten it, then take it off to shorten the strap another inch or two, then reattach it below the points of my hips. If, after a few hours, I’ve found it’s ridden up above the points of my hips, I unclip it for a second and reattach it lower. After many hours, I do get a bit sore on the front of each hip, but the minimal weight of the pack and its limited contents prevent this from being too much of a bother. For me, the race-day weight savings are worth the trade off in comfort.

Is the Ultra 1 the most comfortable pack you’ll ever use?
Heck no! There are plenty of comfortable single bottle packs out there. This is a light-as-possible, no-frills, race-day pack. If ounces and grams matter to you, this is your pack. They do to me and that’s why I would strongly consider wearing the Ultra 1 for all races up to 100 miles.

Will this pack last forever?
Um, no. I’ve not found its breaking point, but it is made from ultralight fabric. If you want to prolong its life, I’d use a few times it to see if it works for you and then use it only on race day. Or, if you’re like me, you will use this incredible product as often as you want and enjoy carrying one less weighty item.

Can I make the Ultra 1 even lighter?
Yes! I was able to make the pack 10% lighter in less than five minutes, including tool finding time. The only way to significantly lighten the pack (if 3-4 grams is significant) is to cut off some of the pack’s excess strap. I would not do this until you’ve logged a few runs and know how much strap you need… then loosen it and still be generous with leaving strap. You don’t want to be left with too little! I would lightly singe the cut end of the strap to prevent fraying and, if possible, sew a doubled-over end onto the strap to keep it from easily slipping out of the buckle.

I also cut out the small tag found inside the bottle holder and used tin snips to cut off the mouth piece of the whistle included in the waist buckle. While the whistle still works, you’d be as well off cutting your finger nails as making these latter two changes.

How can I get my hands on the Ultra 1?
You can get the Terra Nova Ultra 1 ($45) and other game changing running products in the iRunFar Store. To make things easy, you can also order the pack directly from this review. Flat rate shipping in the US is $6, while it’s $11 to Canada and Mexico and $12 to the rest of the world.

Questions and Comments
As always, feel free to ask any questions you may have. I’ll do my best to answer them.
Disclosure
Yes, I’m reviewing a product that is sold in the iRunFar Store. You’ll see more of that and with good reason. It’s because I will only include a product in the iRunFar store if I think it’s the very best at what it’s intended to do. These are products that get me genuinely excited. These are products I fully believe will help you perform at your best.
For example, the Ultra 1 stopped me in my tracks at last summer’s Outdoor Retailer show. I waited anxiously to get one… and then for my runs to become long enough to warrant using it. As soon as I’d run 32 miles with the Ultra 1 at the Antelope Island Buffalo Run, I knew I needed to share it with all of you by way of the iRunFar Store, a place where products carry the weight of my personal and professional endorsement.

There are 14 comments

  1. Jon R

    Oh no! Bryon, don't go all Backpackinglight.com on us where weight is king over comfort/function/durability/sanity :)

    1. Bryon Powell

      Looking for any shot in particular? I didn't think I could do any better than the stock photo.

      My only in use shots are from the front or from far away when taken from behind.

  2. Stephen

    Might added comfort outweigh the small additional weight over ultra distances? It's hard for me to imagine that 5 or 6 ounces would make much of a difference one way or the other where as comfort could be the difference between ditching something halfway through a race or not. 1/2 a cup of water is almost the same weight difference.

    However, I've never run more than 26.2 so I am definitely not speaking from experience.

    1. Bryon Powell

      The other side of that coin is that you've got to carry that weight… all 100 miles. There are plenty of waist packs that aim to maximize comfort. I'm just pointing out and providing an option for those who'd prefer weight savings at the expense of some comfort. The pack is comfortable enough for racing. I think it's ideal for 50k to 50 miles. Once you get to 100 miles, it's certainly a closer call.

  3. KenZ

    As a fellow weight weenie, I commend you in your search for minimalism. Now, how about a recommendation for the lightest bottle to go inside!

    1. Bryon Powell

      The bottle is one area where I don't skimp. I love my Ultimate Direction bottles with kicker valves. You can, however, use tin snips to cup off the extra plastic loop on the lid. :-)

      1. KenZ

        Thanks. You know, someone should build a bottle that is 1/3 bottle (including the top with valve obviously), and 2/3 elastic bladder. As you drink, the bladder (or strap over it??) would keep down the sloshing. Just a thought. Or, going with the idea, even 1/3 bottle and 2/3 regular bladder. But when you shove it in your bottle pack you effectively compress the bladder part down to, again, reduce all the slosh.

        Granted, I'm usually a Nathan HPL pack guy, so the thought may not be relevant. But with the weight of this as low as it is, it's making me rethink my game plan.

        1. Mike

          Excellent idea, you should make one! I'm thinking something that just shrinks as you suck on it, a la wine cast. mmm, might have to try that!

  4. KenZ

    Did some checking, I think the material is actually called "cuben,' not ultra. Seems to have a sail / America's cup background, and is now owned by North Sails. The ultralight backpackers make their stuff from it (like, <1lb full size packs!). Are you listening Nathan… how about using cuben for the next HPL variant?

  5. KenZ

    Quick user review here now.

    I've used this for a bit, and one should understand that this mini-review comes from someone who does NOT normally use waist pack bottle carriers (I'm a Nathan HPL 020 user primarily).

    Pros:

    *Super light

    *Appears well thought out in the minimalist sense.

    Cons:

    *I have a really hard time getting my water bottle back in. Who knows, maybe my particular water bottle is somehow slightly wider than most, but since it was the freebie from Javalina Jundred, I'd assume it would qualify as a standard water bottle. Sometimes I have to slide the pack around to the front to be able to get it back in.

    *The key cord holder thing came out on one side after about two runs, but as Bryan noted, use the key holder with caution anyway.

    *My main gripe is the Cuben/Ultra material as it comes out from the sides of the holder. The waist strap itself is 3/4" wide, but it doesn't go all the way to the pack; instead there's 3/4" wide Cuben/Ultra material nearer to the pouch. That turns out to be a big problem for me, as its so thin that it bunches and might as well be a thing clothes line cord cutting into my hips. Had they continued the 3/4" strap all the way to the holder main (adding like 0.0002 oz), it would be about five times more comfortable IMO.

    I will likely modify mine to remove the 3/4" Cuben/Ultra and put in a new strap to address the last shortcoming. Once I do that, I'll probably use it a bit more, especially if I can figure out how to stretch the opening to fit my bottle better.

    SUMMARY: It's one of a kind, that's for sure, but needs another spin on the design. I'm still glad I bought it, but I'm also still glad I race with a Nathan pack.

Post Your Thoughts