Tuesday 3 June 2014

Gear Review: Scott Jurek Endure Belt

We bought an Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek Endure Belt from the Ultramarathon Running Store to trial.  It looked good –lightweight and minimalist, so I decided to give it a go on a warm spring day when a backpack just didn’t appeal.  It looked good – lightweight and minimalist, perfect for something like Rocky Raccoon, where you only have 5-6 miles between check points.

The Belt

The belt has two pouches which hold 2 x 295ml (10oz) water bottles, a large, waterproof, zipped pocket at the front, and a Velcro-sealing pouch at the back and a bungee holder thingy that you can stuff things into.  It also has two race number clips on the belt, which is a nice touch.  The belt has an off-centre clip, which makes one-handed adjustment quite easy.  Three separate bungees help keep everything stable, and give some opportunity to overload with extra bits and pieces.  There's one for each of the bottle pouches and one for the mesh pouch in the middle.

The Scott Jurek Endure Belt is pretty versatile, and very comfortable (extra reflective tape added).
Overall, the belt is, simply put, built for use.  It's pretty stripped down, but still has everything you need to spend a few hours on the trails.  If I start from what I want/need in a belt/pack, we can get an idea of how this one stacks up.  I often consider our mandatory kit list as the minimum for a day out on your own in mixed/cool weather.  So, can I carry my full kit list easily with this belt?
  • Phone: in the waterproof pocket. A normal phone fits.  The latest phablets don't.  I can just fit my oversized Nokia 920, but if I were racing I'd go with an old dumb-phone that I kept years ago for just such a purpose.
  • Drink (500ml): nearly 600ml
  • Windproof: most come in a little pouch (ranging from the £5 one Nic bought to the £££ one I bought that really isn't any better), which can easily be attached to the belt.
  • A couple of gels: even with my stupidly large phone, I can get a couple of gels in the pocket.
  • Hat/bandana/etc: fits easily in the rear pouch, or, if you're lazy like me, just attach to a bungee.
  • Foil blanket / bin liner: roll a bin liner up tight, and it also fits in the pocket (now it's a bit full, though).
  • Whistle: hook one onto the bungee, or stick it in the pouch.
  • Small selection of first-aid supplies: this is really what I'd put in the rear pouch, with the whistle.
Well, all that fills the belt up, with a bit of extra room for stuff hanging off the bungees or strapped in by them.  With a small, cheap phone, it's even quite comfy.
What else do I want from a running belt? A waterproof pocket for my phone, easy adjustment, comfort, good load balance, and a few little touches to prove somebody thought about what they were doing.

So, let's look at how the Scott Jurek Endurance Belt does.


The adjustability of the pack is pretty easy, thanks to the off-centre clip.  The belt includes an elasticated loop so that excess strapping can be shortened and tucked away efficiently without dangling around and flapping against your leg.  Talk about nice touches!  Since we're sharing this one, and have rather differently sized hips, it's nice to be able to quickly and easily adjust.  The rolled up belt end also gives a useful handle so you can quickly tighten up if you need to for a particularly hairy descent.


The bottles are held in place by a small elastic loop, which means they can’t bounce around.  The thin mesh material that is the base of the belt doesn't soak up water, and allows good air flow.  The body contact area is quite small, so you still have plenty of evaporation surface to keep cool.  Overall - comfy!

Load Balance

The two smallish bottles distribute the water well.  You can swap between them, or drink one dry and then the other.  Either way, it stays in place and you don't feel off-center.  The waterproof pouch sits better than expected.  It looks a bit like it was stuck on as an afterthought, but it sits fairly well on either side, hip, or back, depending on which you find more comfortable.

The Little Touches

The little race number clips are great.  They are reflective, which is an added bonus, and have snap closures, instead of the dongles that are used on other belts.  So, there's nothing slapping away at you and your number.  They can also be moved around on the belt a bit, to make sure your number is on your front, where it belongs.
Three bungees, not just one wound all over the place, makes it really easy to secure the bottles, the pouch, and also add some extra bits to the belt.  If you're really slim, you can even use the middle one to effectively cinch out the middle pouch and make the thing really tiny.
Lots of little reflective flashes.  We added some big ones as well (why not, there's all that space just asking for it!), so you've got plenty of visibility as long as you're not wearing a jacket over it.

Kurt's View

Simply put, I probably should have bought two.  I really hate the sound of sloshing water, but I'll trade that for sweating less than I would with my race vest.  If Nic and I are both running, she gets the belt, so I have to just watch in envy as she is running along light and cool.  The bottles are easy to get in and out, ride secure even on downhills, and the pockets are enough for most sub-ultra events with a bit of thought.  I recently raced with it, more for practice than need, and used the little race number clips.  The numbers for the event were pretty rubbish, tearing easily, but mine stayed in place comfortably.  I like the snaps much more than the toggles you tend to see on other race belts - nothing dangling and slapping against the number.  Comfort-wise, it's just kind of there, which is exactly what I want.  What would I like to see different?  It's a very small thing, but I'd like to easily move the waterproof pocket to the front.  It struggles over the little elastic section of the belt.

Nic's View

I finally found a running backpack that I like (the Osprey Verve 5) but you don’t always want to take a full hydration pack out when you go for a run, whether road or trail.  Sometimes a little water, a phone and a Buff are all you need.  I’ve tried a couple of waistpacks which I didn’t really like, mostly due to fit, preferring instead to use pockets or a backpack.  I generally find waistpacks don’t sit in the right place on my (somewhat pointy) hips, riding up to around my middle, which I hate.  I have also managed to lose two water bottles from a waistpack, due to excessive bounce – not good for me or for the environment!

I've taken it out a lot on warm days for a few hours.  600ml was just about the right amount of water , perhaps a little light, so this belt wouldn't be ideal for a long summer run, but for shorter runs or racing where you have regular re-fill points, I think it is perfect.  The only problem I had with the bottles was the sports top, which is quite stiff.  Make sure you push down on it until it snaps, or you will end up with a wet leg!  Getting the bottles in and out is easy enough.  The larger pocket was fairly neat with what I'd stuffed into it – I took quite a few photos on the run, but I had to take my time over replacing my phone into the pocket, as it required great care to make sure I didn’t end up losing my car key.  It would be just fine if you didn’t take your phone out of the pocket every 10 minutes to take a photo!  Or had a smaller phone….

Good points – no sweaty back from wearing a pack; comfy; adjustable; lightweight; uncomplicated.  Easily fits everything you need for most summer runs of 2-3 hours.
Bad points – only just fits your average smartphone; bottle-tops are quite stiff: Make sure you push down on it until it snaps, or you will end up with a wet leg

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