Developing the Pace Pro Running Vest

This is the story of the development of the Pace Pro, Bounce free Running Vest, the high end USWE product for all runners that loves mountains, trails, city running and everything in between. It all started with the No Dancing Monkey Harness. This piece of gear makes mountainbike packs glued to the back of the riders. With the Pace 12L we took the challenge to adopt this technology into running. With the Pace Pro we took the extreme to the next level.

My name is Jacob Westerberg, I’m an adventure racer and a mountain runner. I´m also CEO of USWE Sports and very proud to take part in the development of this piece of gear. I’ve been racing all around the world in different climates and cultures for years. When developing the Pace Pro I tried to get this experience channeled through the skills of our top designer at USWE. 

 

THE SEARCH FOR THE BEST FABRICS 

We spent the first few months just trying to find the correct fabrics. The features were very clear to me, but the fabrics need to meet our expectations as well. When we were satisfied we put together different prototypes and started the testing. In Sweden. In winter time. Helen Westerberg was one of the testrunners for the early prototypes. At winter runs the hydration system is preferably in the back pocket to protect from the freezing winds. In this way the drink is kept at "comfortable" temperature.

Me and Helen made the first few tests in the winter of 2018/2019.

 

We made several adjustments of the features during the winter. We found a mesh fabric that we were really excited about. The fit were extremely good, but it didn’t hold the shape when loading the pack with mountain running stuff. So, we changed and improved.

 

PLANNING SOME KICK-ASS TESTING 

When spring was closing in we were all pretty satsified. Our top designer Jörgen Gustafsson was also happy about the design and we started to plan some real challenging testing. The idea was to bring the vests through several ultra runs, including the CUET in Italy a 60km mountain run with 5000m in altitude as well as the austrian championships of Sky Running and of course the Ultravasan 90km race, Swedens biggest Ultra Race. But as always we started with the testing at home in the south of Sweden. The coastline in Skåne is beautiful in the spring time, however as you see in this edit, the technical level is not that high. When we need more technical terrain we make a visit to "Kullaberg" a rocky peninsula with very nice trail running (see the last video in this post from Kullaberg).

 

This video is caught in the first few spring runs in 2019. It shows the first few runs with the Pace Pro fabrics all set and put together. 

 

BLADDER OR SOFT FLASKS?  

When I do my long runs I usually use a bladder in the back and the tube over my shoulder. I use the front pockets for snacks and my mobile phone. The side zippered pocktes is for my car keys, credit card and other safe keeping stuff. Helen on the other hand is always using the soft flasks in the front pockets. She really likes how the flasks is kept in place and she prefers to have them fully accesible. I´m only using the soft flasks when racing the long races, where you need to refill at the aid stations. Runners preferes different options in this area and that´s why we decided to package the Pace Pro as a product where the customer can choose their prefered hydration system.

The soft flasks in the front pockets are kept in place due to the angle of the pocket and the overall design of the vest. Most vests use a vertical pocket for the soft flasks, which tend to get the pocket and the soft flasks in vertical motion. The Pace Pro pockets in 45 degrees prevents this. Pace Pro also comes with an adjustment system for the back bladder compartment. Two straps, one at each side makes the runner the option to secure the bladder tightly in the pocket. On the go that is.

 

ULTRA, MOUNTAIN AND SKY RUNNING PROVEN 

In April we tested the piece in a 60km Race in Denmark. The fit was superb and the features were great! But, we made the decision to change some of the manufacturing techniques. This made our release very late for the 2019 season. But, we didn´t hesitate as we wanted to make a better piece of gear than anyone else. In early June we brought the packs to Italy for the first mountain running test. The CUET 60km race with 5000m ups and downs.

 

The start line of the CUET 60km, in the early morning in June. Helen used trekking poles in this race and used the front attachment system of the vest from time to time. 

 

The vest performed super in these surroundings and our runners got 2nd and 4th place in the race. However we still decided not to put the Pace Pro in production just yet. We were already late with the relase, but made a decision to make one more change.

 

I brought 1.0L of sports drink in the back pocket and a soft flask for refilling on the go at the aid stations.

 

After the mountain premiere we decided to close the stash pocket from top opening and we also made changes in the production process for some of the seems. We wanted the best piece out there and this was how to achieve it. 

 

THE SKY RUNNING TEST 

The final test were made in the Italian alps with a super nice feedback and we took the piece to Austria for a Sky Race. The Schlegeis Sky Race was also the Austrian championships and every Sky Race component were present. High altitude, rocky terrain and several thousands of meters in altitude, both up and down. The start were at 1800masl and the course climbed to almost 3000m altitude. There were snow, hail, storm and a fantastic race... just as expected in the alps. The Pace Pro performed outstanding. I got challenged in the 1000m ascent to the finish line and really pushed the downhill. The vest was just glued to my body even though we were flying down the mountain in insane speed. 

 

I was really happy to compete with the Austrian guys on the highest level and to feel that we finally had a finished product.  

 

When summer reached August we had been using the Pace Pro in one 60km ultra race in Denmark, the Birken Ultra 60km in Norway, The CUET 60km mountain Race in Italy and the Sky Race in Austria. It was finally time to use it in the Ultravasan 90km race in Sweden. This was the last running event for me and Helen before we shifted our focus to this years big race, the World Series of Adventure Racing in Croatia. 

 

At the Ultravasan I got the oppurtunity to use my preferred sports drink and to use the USWE disposable bladders. These 0.5L bladders fit perfect in the Pace Pro pockets. Normally I use the 0.5L softflasks, but in this race I needed 6x0.5L flasks and I custom made the design by cutting some tubes and installing the mouth pieces. 

 

At Ultravasan I had the oppurtunity to run together with Swedish legend Jonas Buud as well as the new star of Ultrarunning, James Walmsley. Walmsley got out of site early in the race, but I was proud to run with Jonas in the middle of the race discussing if his course record would hold or not. I didn´t have my best day running, but enjoyed the race and promoting the new Pace Pro. 

 

IF YOU CAN´T BE IN THE MOUNTAINS - CREATE YOUR OWN!

USWE is located in the south of Sweden and mountain terrain is a challenge to find. But, we have some pretty cool locations that gives pretty much the same training as mountain terrain. The climbs are obviously not that long, but the terrain is really good. One of these locations is the peninsula called Kullaberg. This is one of the locations where we have been testing the Pace Pro several times. Check out this edit for an interview from trailrunningsweden. It includes some nice drone videos from one of our testing locations for the Pace Pro. 

That´s all for now! I´m hoping you will like the pack as much as I do.

Good luck with your gear and your running!!