Kit Review: Gecko VP12+ pack

Ultra runner and #TeamMontane athlete Howard Dracup reviews our ever-popular Gecko running vest pack. His verdict is in…

A running vest pack is essential for anyone eager to take their running to the next level. This is especially true for those seeking to take on longer distance running. Cue our Gecko vest packs, which have been especially designed with experienced runners in mind. 

Developed using body hugging design and with built-in hydration systems, these running packs are a huge hit with runners (just take a look at some of the reviews). They also come with tons of storage pockets and are Polygiene treated - helping to avoid those notorious running odours. 

But don’t take our word for it! #TeamMontane athlete Howard Dracup has been a fan of our Gecko pack for a while now and recently put it through its paces on the challenging multi-stage Cape Wrath Ultra, based up in the far north of Scotland. Keep reading to hear his Gecko pack review.

First Impressions

I love the look of the Gecko pack. I like the colour and its very sleek look. It's light, compact and made from mesh fabric that breathes and stretches very well.

There's also plenty of pockets on the front, all fit for a purpose. It's been very well thought out. The old Montane packs were asymmetrical but the new ones are now symmetrical making them miles better. I'd say it can carry a bit more than 12L as well; it's very roomy!

Geck running vest pack | Montane

Cape Wrath Photos: No Limits Photography

Cape Wrath Overview

Over the 8 days at Cape Wrath it did a fantastic job. I felt like I was wearing the pack, not carrying it. It fit all my kit in, plus there was still room for loads more if I needed any. 

The Cape Wrath Ultra is a multi-day stage race 8 days long that goes 450km up the west coast of Scotland, starting in Fort William and finishing at the Cape Wrath Lighthouse, on one of Scotland’s most northerly points. The days can range from 20 miles to 45 miles and the weather can be absolutely anything, making it a great test to see how the Gecko pack performs. 

Pack Fit 

Im 6ft 2, 93kg, have quite a wide back with a big chest and I found that the large pack was the best fit for me. The fasteners on the front are adjustable so there is a good size range on it.

Favourite Features

My favourite features are the 2 external side pockets that start under your chest and then go under the arm to the back of the pack. They are huge and I find, if you pack them right, you can fit loads in. I usually put extra food in them, a pair of gloves, a hat and a thin waterproof or windproof. My second favourite feature is the weight of it and how fast it dried.

I also love how much room there is on the back. The back is just one zip, so it's really, really simple. It's just one, huge pocket made from stretch fabric so you can pack loads in. I also find the pole stash good as well. I tuck the bottom of my poles at the front of the underarm/side pockets, so the poles sit vertical and then there's a piece of elastic higher up on the pack on either side with a toggle on, I just put the top of the poles through that and pull the cord. Having them this way makes them really accessible and they can't fall out.

Overall Verdict

You could use the Gecko packs for absolutely anything. I use mine for running, fastpacking and mountain biking. I can conclude that the Gecko pack served me well at Cape Wrath and absolutely cruised through this challenging test! The pack felt like a second skin and the zips were strong and sturdy. On a stage race like this, you don't want your zips busting or breaking (this would cause you never ending problems) so I felt really confident. 

I fell over about 50 times over the course of the 8 days - primarily because it was very muddy. Despite this, there was no damage done to the pack, so it's very tough, robust and durable. Some days I carried lots of kit and needed the room, other days I didn't need as much kit, so the pack was nowhere near full. I didn't feel as though I needed a smaller bag - I just tightened the elastic toggle on the back which took the slack out of the bag making it really versatile. As is typical in Scotland - it also rained every day. Because of the fabric of the vest pack, it didn't hold onto much water and make it weigh more. This also meant the pack dried very fast each evening - ready to go the next day. I already know what pack I'll be using at the Montane Dragon’s Back Race later on in the year!

Feeling inspired?

Howard reviewed our Gecko VP 12+ pack. Head to our webpage to find out more, including hearing from others who have tried and tested this running pack. Looking for more vest pack options? Take a look at our entire hydration pack range

For those seeking even more inspiration, don’t miss our full pack range, featuring options for a wide range of activities, including walking and climbing.