Things that carry things may be our favorite things of all here at GFHQ. We've long been fascinated by clever small packs, and the CamelBak Ultra belt definitely fits in that category. It's a waist/belt/fanny pack for the minimalist runner/biker/hiker/skier, and the only question is: can you fit your stuff in it?
The Ultra has one design feature you need to be aware of up front. It doesn't have a buckle or any adjustments: you step into it and pull it up and that's it. It's got a decent amount of stretch built in, and we still found the M/L size – the largest of three sizes – very snugly fit onto our 5'10" 190lb frame and 34" pants size waist. Based on that we'd recommend going with CamelBak's fit guidance.
The lack of adjustability is a feature, not a bug. The Ultra belt is for activities where ounces count, like ultrarunning competitions. What you get in this bare-bones package is a decent amount of storage. The front zipper pocket will stow a plus-sized iPhone, and it expands for snacks or even a very tiny shell jacket. On each side at the 3 and 9 clock positions are two small gel-size mesh pockets (four pockets total, one on the left with a key clip). In back is the mesh pocket for the included 17oz Quick Stow flask, a collapsible bottle with a standard CamelBak nipple and a safety switch to ensure no leakage en route. The flask pocket has a shock cord to cinch it up as you empty the flask, as well as two additional cord loops that can carry trekking poles or a rolled up layer.
There's a hang loop on the back that can be used to clip a safety light for training outings, and reflective highlights will give you some added visibility as well. The mesh construction is very breathable, and once you shimmy into the Ultra belt you'll barely notice you have it on. Being able to carry a pint of fluids plus some energy snacks, a cell phone, keys, ID/credit cards and maybe even trekking poles or an ultralight shell layer all where the gods intended – on your hips – is a pretty nifty feat of engineering. If it's time to go light or go home, definitely check out the CamelBak Ultra belt.