Utah based Black Diamond Equipment might not be the trail running household name. However, the brand is a highly respected producer of climbing and skiing equipment. The step towards trail running comes naturally to complete the mountain-based product line up. I got the chance to test their latest update of the Distance 4 Hydration Vest (Version 2). The 4-liter vest was the latest addition to the Distance collection back in in 2019. The product line features an 8 liter and a 15 lite model. Now it got a proper update. I was using the vest throughout the last couple of weeks on several runs ranging from technical mountain runs to hot runs on the roads.
The first thing that really amazed me was the slender and elastic material. Whilst it was hard in the past to find the right vest, this one felt proper right from the get-go. The light fabric is stretchy but still very secure and comfortable. Even runs without a shirt weren’t a problem and chafing as well as hotspots aren’t an issue. The seaming is pretty thought out and doesn’t cause issues. Something I had been stressed about in the past. Breathability is not an issue, and the vest absorbs water in a efficient way – meaning it doesn’t suck in your fluids and stays light and comfortable throughout the run.
Somewhat of an undisputed highlight – the On-the-go Z-Pole storing. It’s a technique that allows you to gather your running poles outside the vest. There are methods around that can be attached to backpacks but this one is an internal feature developed by Black Diamond. It will only work for poles that can be folded. With the use of two stretch panels, the Z-Pole carry system will let you easily attach the poles and move it over your head to have them fixed on your backside. What sounds difficult isn’t the matter if you take the time to grasp the system. I found it to be a super pleasant trait and you will be able to use it fast and efficient. Even through fast and technically difficult downhills, the poles stayed where they should be.
Here is a picture that shows the stored poles on the backside of the vest. The whole system is quite thought out as the stored poles do not block any of the pockets and allow easy use and accessibility of all features the vest has to over.
The front flask pockets fit two Black Diamond 500mL HydraPak SoftFlasks. Note that only the supplied 500mL flasks are safe to use. I tried some other brands, and they wouldn’t stay. The flasks come with the vest. I also used minor flask and they remained fine and with no problem. Saying that, the provided flasks are super nice, and they comfort the shape of the front pocket which makes it pleasant and easy to run with. I used the vest through faster road runs, and it worked super fine also all the trail running I got in, no problem. Easy access to the flask and a safe storage. These pockets get complimented by a zip up chest pocket, a back zip security pocket and small store pouches that present sufficient storage capacity for essential supplies.
A close-up of the material used throughout the vest.
The update of the Distance 4 Hydration Vest is a proper one. I liked the elementary use and easy access for all provided compartments. The front pocket is well placed and hold more stuff than I was used to in the past. It appears that gels, phone and other stuff falls in the right place and stays safe without moving while you run. I used the vest for work commutes (without PC or iPad) and because of its stretchability it worked wonders when storing clothes and smaller items. Whilst running on trails and on the road the flask stays well and can be used without any problems since they sit at the right height. So, it is not really required to take them out while drinking. The vests center has a large zip-closure section and bladder covering that holds garment and food neatly. I use the pack for daily runs and longer one day explorations. I can not see myself using it for a multi-day outing.
Tune of the day: Big Sproxx – Duality (feat. Planet Asia, The Legend Adam Bomb & DJ Grouch)