Terra Nova Ultra 1 Bottle Pack Review

A review of the Terra Nova Ultra 1 waist bottle pack.

By on May 25, 2011 | Comments

Terra Nova Ultra 1 bottle pack

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Terra Nova Ultra 1 Bottle Pack Review

Terra Nova’s Ultra 1 is the most incredible one-bottle waist 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.
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.
Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.