The brand USWE was founded in 2007 by a group of Swedish backcountry motorcyclists. With a primary focus on minimizing pack movement, they designed the No Dancing Monkey (NDM) suspension system that utilizes a single buckle in front combined with elastic side panels which secure the pack and significantly reduce bouncing. This design feature is central for the entire USWE collection that now includes packs designed for hiking, cycling, skiing and running in addition to motorsports.
The Pace 2 is designed specifically for trail and ultrarunning with a lightweight and minimalist approach, yet the pack maintains a compelling feature set. Front storage consists of two pockets for 500ml soft flasks (included), two exterior stash pockets and two pockets on the shoulders. In our testing, the two larger, front pockets provided adequate storage for essential items such as keys, lip balm, gels and even an oversized iPhone (8 plus). These pockets are located directly on top of the hydration flasks. Access here wasn’t an issue, even when the flasks were full. Slightly less versatile are the two shoulder pockets with a minimalist design that puts the opening on the bottom side, with a sewn flap to hold in the contents (see photo). This makes them useful for a small gel packet, but that is about all – and even then, it depends on the brand. GU and Clif gel packets fit well, but other larger varieties did not. The only other storage on the vest is a lumbar pocket on the back. The location of this pocket keeps the weight low and balanced when in use, and a zipper keeps the contents secure. With a 1L capacity, it is perfect for holding slightly larger items, including a lightweight shell. Access to this pocket was a tad tight for our larger testers, some who had difficulty retrieving stored items due to the size of the zipper.
As previously described, the NDM system uses a single buckle attachment point in the front, and two elastic side panels for compression and adjustment. This system works well, assuming the sizing is right. We found the size chart on the website to be consistent with other brands we’ve used. The single, circular buckle in front rotates on itself to automatically adjust to fit a wide variety of body shapes – just clip and go. With no adjustment happening on the buckle itself, fit is controlled via the side panels, which are essentially a laced shock cord. The elasticity allows for a personalized fit and gives the user the ability to adjust the vest quickly. This is accomplished via routing the elastic cord into the front pockets, putting them right at your fingertips. A simple pull of the cord adjusts any extra length. Need to relax the fit? Press the toggle and the cord relaxes. The side panels play a vital role in the overall fit of the vest as well by providing the necessary compression needed to eliminate bounce and vest movement, while still allowing the runner to breathe. One user noted that the laced design of the elastic side panels was more comfortable than other packs that relied on straps for the same job. The drawback to the simple design is that it lacks the ability to fine-tune or customize the fit, but this wasn’t an issue for our testers.
The soft flasks fit the vest well, sliding into the angled pockets easily when unbuckled and held securely when buckled, with straws held in place by straps on the shoulders. The bottles do sit a little lower than in some other vests, but not uncomfortably so.
Also built into the vest are pole attachment points, a safety whistle and reflective markers. And to keep you wearing the vest as long as possible, it has been treated with Polygiene for odor-free protection. Our testers did note that the vest didn’t have the ultra funk – even after 200+ miles.
The USWE Pace 2 is available at https://www.uswe-sports.com.
Specs and Features:
- Weight: 192g (size M/L, without flasks)
- Cargo volume: 2L
- Hydration volume: 2x 500ml soft flasks (included)
- No Dancing Monkey™ (NDM) harness system
- 2 quick-stash front pockets, 2 small gel/food front pockets, 1 zippered rear pocket
- Ventilated mesh pack panel
- Front pole attachment
- Polygiene odor treatment
- Front and rear reflective accents
- 3 unisex size options
- 2 color options
- MSRP: $139.95
The Pace 2 from USWE has a lightweight, minimalist design that allows runners access to their essentials while maintaining a low-profile, bounce-free experience. With thoughtful design for access, the Pace 2 puts almost everything up front: 2x 500ml soft flasks, quick-stash pockets, gel/food shoulder pockets and pole attachments. The simple, yet effective NDM harness and adjustable, elastic side panels allow for a snug fit while maintaining the ability to breathe. They also reduce or eliminate bounce and are easily adjustable without removing the vest. The single buckle design allows for the vest to be quickly and easily removed and replaced without hassle. The Pace 2 is a solid choice for training days where less gear is needed, and for those looking for a lightweight, minimalist option come race day.