Ultimate Direction Apparel Review

Ultimate Direction is well-known for highly performing, technical running packs, but over the past few years, they’ve slowly but steadily expanded their wearable-gear offerings. This fall, Ultimate Direction has added a few more pieces that focus on warmth and perhaps reach into the casual-wear arena a bit more. Over the past several months, I’ve had the opportunity to test the unisex Ultimate Direction Ultra Flip Glove ($49.95), the Ultimate Direction Women’s Ultra Hoodie ($149.95), and the Ultimate Direction Women’s Duro Legging ($129.95) while running, camping, hiking, and lounging around a Solo stove. For those who are wondering, the men’s line has an equivalent Men’s Ultra Hoodie and a looser Men’s Duro Pant. If you’re already gathering holiday gifts, these are interesting ideas.

The author testing the Ultimate Direction Women’s Ultra Hoodie, Women’s Duro Legging, and the unisex Ultra Flip Glove. All photos: Kristin Zosel

Ultimate Direction Ultra Flip Glove

For anyone who runs in wildly variable, cool-t0-cold, and balmy-to-windy conditions, or for anyone who understands Raynaud’s phenomenon-type symptoms, convertible gloves can be amazing options for the fall, winter, and spring. There’s still a time and place for multiple glove layers including down and waterproof overmitts, but for the bulk of my runs in the lower elevations of the Front Range in Colorado and the milder days up high, the Ultimate Direction Ultra Flip Glove is on the warmer side of nearly perfect. Temperatures from 15 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit with some wind and possibly snow thrown in are completely within the realm of cozy hands with these gloves. Balmier days for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing are well within the gloves’ abilities for protection as well. At about $50, they’re fairly priced compared to other similar-quality, convertible performance gloves.

The five-finger glove itself is well-constructed with 76% nylon/24% polyurethane fiber grid fleece, which has an almost smooth, wind-resistant outer feel and a brushed, gridded cozy fleece inside. The inner fleece wicks moisture away from the hand easily and without the flip mitt on, the fleece breathes well enough to stay dry inside yet keeps a stiff breeze out. The wrist portion is wisely lengthened which prevents drafts from rushing in between the glove and the sleeve of your upper-body layer. It layers easily beneath or over the top of the sleeve depending on your preference and keeps the weather out. On top of the extended wrist portion is the stowage pocket for the nearly weightless Cordura flip mitt. It’s super easy to get the mitt in or out, and once the mitt is stowed, it stays in due to the lightly elasticized rib across the large opening.

The Ultimate Direction unisex Ultra Flip Glove.

The Cordura flip mitt itself is 100% silicone-coated Cordura ripstop and feels like a thin waterproof rain jacket of sorts. Once deployed, the mitt covers nearly the whole hand and thumb all the way up to the wrist pocket. On the palm side, most of the hand, thumb, and palm are completely covered with just a bit of palm exposed with the wrist for breathability. My thumbs absolutely love the more complete coverage offered by this glove since with most convertible gloves, they’re left to freeze or huddle awkwardly in my palm. I haven’t been in a soaking rain in these, but they stood up well to 90 minutes of running in wind-driven snow and 17 degrees Fahrenheit after the initial warm-up phase.

The only thing that is strange about these gloves is the sizing, which is made a bit more challenging by the lack of a size chart describing the small, medium, and large sizes on the website. I have large hands shaped like baseball mitts, so I typically buy large/extra large in women’s gloves—this keeps my circulation happy and allows for layering liner gloves beneath. I was unaware these were unisex, so with the large size I received, the width of the glove is perfect, but the fingers are about an inch too long for each one. This doesn’t affect comfort or warmth, but it does limit my ability to perform any tasks where dexterity is required. The pointer finger and thumb have touchscreen-compatible tips that work for most people based on other reviews I read, but I didn’t have good luck with that aspect of the fingertips either.

Since warmth and comfort are the two things I care about most with the gloves I wear for running, I really like the Ultimate Direction Ultra Flip Glove. They’re a permanent fixture in my adventure mobile since we’re in that phase of the running season where temperatures may just drop 60 degrees from the time you pack your gear until you get to the trailhead.

The Ultimate Direction unisex Ultra Flip Glove.

Ultimate Direction Women’s Ultra Hoodie

The Ultimate Direction Women’s Ultra Hoodie is a slim-fitting performance fleece designed to be equally as comfortable on the trail as it is for post-run snacks and sitting around the campfire. It comes in two colors—cream and a slate gray—and four sizes (extra small/small/medium/large) which covers chest measurements of 31 to 41 inches per the website sizing chart. The 10-ounce/285-gram hoodie is made from 94% polyester and 6% spandex grid-back fleece, which gives it a really cozy and soft interior and a smooth, knitted exterior that breathes and resists a bit of wind as well. The angled half zipper is offset from the center below the chin and disappears into a dart of sorts, giving it a fashion-forward appearance when zipped up. A large strip of fleece extends behind the zipper for added warmth. Unzipped, a lot of heat can vent quickly given the length and angle of the zipper. A low-profile kangaroo pocket lines the abdominal area and has zipper closures on each size which again, when zipped, disappear into their seams. The pocket itself serves as an internal wind barrier for the front aspect of the hoodie, which makes the garment warmer than one might assume based on the weight and feel. Because of the close-fitting style and the position of the kangaroo pocket, whatever you place in this pocket is on full display. For me, this makes the pocket most useful as a hand warmer.

Ultimate Direction typically excels in long sleeve length and placement of thumb loops, and thankfully, the Ultra Hoodie is no exception. The sleeves of this lovely fleece are long enough for me to pull over my hands completely without stretching the raglan shoulders, and the thumb holes within the wide wrist cuffs are amply sized and well-placed so when you want to hold the sleeves in place (such as under the Ultra Flip Glove perhaps?), they do so beautifully. Similar to the wide wrist cuffs, the waist band with the crossover front lengthens the hoodie a bit so no cold drafts hit the mid-section when the arms are fully raised overhead. The semi-fitted hood is more fitted than a cowl-neck style but has enough laxity near the neck that any sort of breeze will chill you right down or poof the hood off. Around a campfire and over a beanie, it’s actually quite lovely and not restrictive.

The Ultimate Direction Women’s Ultra Hoodie.

Overall, I find that the Ultra Hoodie warmth-to-weight ratio is impressive. How it creates as much heat as it does, I’m not quite sure, but if you run cold and don’t mind a less-fitted hood, you’ll stay super cozy with this as a mid- or outer layer. For me, the Ultra Hoodie falls more into the dressy-fleece-casual-wear side of things than a tear-up-the-trail-on-a-cold-day side of things given the thickness, warmth, and design. It’s a lovely piece and looks great with a skirt/leggings and boots combination at a restaurant or window shopping. I wore it during the cool hours of a multi-day camping trip in the Colorado mountains and loved it—cozy and soft to sleep in but warm to brew the morning cuppa. I overheated in it on a chilly-morning mountain-lake paddleboard once the sun came up, but threw it back on in the shade afterward for the second French press. It’s an easy but relatively pricey piece to throw in the post-run bag as I race off to an afternoon of kid activities where I want to look a bit more put together yet stay true to my general ethos of comfort over fashion every time.

Ultimate Direction Women’s Duro Legging

Ultimate Direction looked to combine a very on-trend, moto-style tailored legging with a durable, woven pant when they created the Women’s Duro Legging. The double-weave fabric utilizes 75% nylon, 14% polyethylene terephthalate (a kind of polyester), and 10% spandex to create a stretchy, form-fitting, element-resistant tight that looks just as at home downtown as it does on a rugged hike. The pants feel a lot lighter than the 8.8 ounces/250 grams would suggest and have two large lateral thigh pockets that can hold at least an iPhone X or other fuels. I absolutely love these pockets because whatever I put in them stays. I don’t even have to employ obsessive pocket-checking techniques as I scamper down a hill. A small, zippered key pocket along the left front waist band is large enough for a gel or two should your key fob fit elsewhere. I love the security of the zipper and the location keeps the key relatively hidden and out of the way functionally.

The Ultimate Direction Women’s Duro Legging.

The legging comes in cement gray or a heathered black and fits sizes extra small/small/medium/large, which works for a rather narrow range of waist sizes from 24 to 34 inches per the website size chart. There’s still a ways to go on inclusive sizing here. I’m typically between a small and a medium in Ultimate Direction’s pants sizes, so I went with the medium given the cut and style. The medium fits on the slightly roomy side of well in the waist, hips, and length, but is rather tight for my large calves to the point of being a wear-limiting factor. Anyone with slimmer calves would likely not have an issue (i.e., most people).

I love the pockets and the concept of the durable material in the Duro Legging for when talus and scrambling are included in the outing, but I think I’d prefer a looser-fitting pant—particularly through the legs—like the men’s version. I prefer unencumbered motion while wearing tights, and though these are amazingly flexible and stretchy for the material they are, I still felt a little more restricted with high stepping and low squatting than I prefer. This is purely a preference thing, however, and shouldn’t take away from the super-high-quality construction, fit, and design of the pant. They easily can go from trail to dinner and look sleek with city-wear styles as well as dirty trail shoes. For those who like to limit their purchases and have fewer clothing items, this concept is for you.

Ultimate Direction Apparel Overall Impressions

With the Women’s Ultra Hoodie and the Women’s Duro Legging, Ultimate Direction offers two interesting options for those who like to blend their performance and outdoor-casual wear. The coziness of the hoodie makes it an easy choice particularly when I’m feeling like lounging or on a slow- to moderate-pace hike where I need more warmth from clothing than I’m going to generate with exertion. The moto detailing and side-leg cell phone pockets level up the legging, but the fit will be perfect for some and not-quite for others. Perhaps Ultimate Direction can offer a women’s version of the looser men’s pant as another option.

The piece that shines for me from a performance perspective is the Ultra Flip Glove. Having the wind and waterproof coverage over the entire hand–yes, even the thumb–is a game changer from an ability to ward off numb fingers yet vent as needed as the weather swings on the pendulum. I keep these in my car now so I can choose warmer hands when the weather switches it up between my door and the trailhead, and if I guess wrong, they slip easily into the back pouch of my pack. Stocking stuffer, anyone?

Call for Comments

Are you using the Ultimate Direction Ultra Flip Glove, the Women’s or Men’s Ultra Hoodie, or the Women’s Duro Legging or Men’s Duro Pant? If so, leave a comment to share your experiences with them!

[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]

A back view of the Ultimate Direction Women’s Ultra Hoodie and Duro Legging.

Kristin Zosel

is a mom, wife, ultrarunner, physical therapist (on sabbatical), and transcriptionist for iRunFar.com. Her love of steep uphills, high mountain environments, and Swiss “lovely cows” keep alpine visions dancing in her head and strong cappuccinos in her mug.

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