USWE, pronounced ‘you – swee’, is a Swedish company that started out making packs for the two-wheeled enthusiast. While they have other packs that are marketed towards runners, the Pace 12 is their first pack that I would consider a true long-distance running hydration pack. This is mainly due to it being the only pack in their lineup with front storage. I have been wearing the pack as my go to for a few months now, and while I have a few feature requests, this is a solid entry in the hydration pack market, particularly for longer distances where you need to bring more than just some food and water.
The pack is unisex and comes in three different sizes, all based on chest measurements. Adjustments are made via the single strap on the front, wide Velcro straps on either side, as well as two compression straps running the full length of the left and right sides of the back of the pack. I am 5’ 10”, weigh 162 and wear a medium. After making slight adjustments to the side straps when I first received the pack, I only have to adjust the front strap ever so slightly depending on how much I am carrying. I was initially skeptical that a single front strap would be enough to keep the pack secure, particularly with the pack loaded down, but it does the job admirably under all conditions. The single strap design choice also allows for the pack to feel less constrictive than other packs I have worn which makes breathing easier, while still using a stiff material instead of a stretchy material that other packs have chosen to get the same expanding effect. This is important to note because the stiffer material tends to stay put better after adjustments as compared to straps made of a stretchy material.
Another design choice that makes this pack fit incredibly well is the placement of the hydration bladder. The bladder sits a little lower than what I am used to, which not only helps distribute the weight better, but it moves the hard plastic slide top that many bladders utilize away from the shoulder blades. This makes it less likely that a runner will get poked in the shoulder when the pack is loaded down. Frankly, when I realized this, that was all I needed to make this pack my go to one.
USWE has trademarked its patented zero bounce design, calling it No Dancing Monkey. While I have not had a hydration pack that moved around so much as to be uncomfortable, I believe that part of this zero bounce design includes the placement of the bladder. That, combined with the fact that this pack moves with you instead of against you, makes this one of the most comfortable packs I have worn to date.
First, let’s talk about all your storage options. On the front of the pack starting top to bottom, there are two small pockets, one on each shoulder, that can fit a couple of gels, or salt tabs, or gins-gins. Next, you have two large pockets designed to hold the included 500ml soft flasks. Below each of these is a stretchy pocket that can hold gels. These two pockets do not have zippers and secure their contents with a fold at the top that you use to wrap the pocket over the top of the contents. On the left, there is another pocket on top of the flask pocket that is stretchy and secured with a zipper. On the back of the pack, you have two medium sized mesh stretchy pockets and one large main pocket secured with a vertical zipper that runs from the top middle of the pack about two thirds down. Within the large main pocket is a secure sleeve that stores a hydration bladder, which is not included.
Going back to the front, both flask pockets have an elastic loop that works to keep the flask from collapsing into the pocket as you drink. There is a whistle located in the top of the right-hand flask pocket as well. It is not super loud but would work in a pinch. Finally, there are two larger, adjustable elastic loops, one on the top left, and one on the bottom right to hold trekking poles diagonally across the front of the pack.
Since I generally prefer using a hydration bladder over soft flasks the amount of storage up front is ample. I typically use the right-hand pockets for my food items, the left-hand flask pocket for my iPhone, the left-hand gel pocket for my trash, and the zipper pocket to hold my Territory Run Co bandana, gloves, and maybe a few more food items depending. While you can stuff a ton of items into this zipper pocket due to how stretchy it is, you cannot always zip it closed. I talk about the zipper more in the feature requests section.
Accessing the rear storage is a breeze due to the design of the pack and the ease with which you can operate the front strap. As I demonstrate in the video, swinging the pack around to access the side mesh pockets, as well as the main rear pocket, is a quick process. The vertical zipper on the rear main pocket makes it easy to access anything you might have stored there without worrying about dumping other items onto the ground. I can easily keep the pack on one arm, access everything with the other arm, then swing it back, secure it quickly and be on my way in no time.
An aspect of this pack that was completely unexpected is the number of visibility touches on the back of the pack, as well as a spot to clip a red blinking light. This makes it a fantastic run commute pack, particularly in the rainy, winter months here in the Pacific Northwest.
First, the placement of the zipper on the front pocket could stand to be changed. The first pack I received, I placed my iPhone 8 plus in that pocket, pulled on the zipper, and the zipper separated. This occurred the same night I received the pack, and USWE was kind enough to send me another pack to review with a functional zipper. While the issue was caused in part by me being too aggressive with the zipper, it was also in part due to placement…and maybe the fact that the pocket doesn’t easily fit an iPhone 8 Plus. The placement has the zipper up against the edge of the left strap, thus reducing the amount of give it can handle. In fact, I have almost had the same thing happen after stuffing my winter running gloves in the pocket and pulling on the zipper. Placing the zipper vertically in the middle of the pocket or at the top of the pocket might alleviate this situation.
Second, while I love the idea of having attachments to keep your poles on the front of the pack, the current iteration places the straps too far apart for the poles I use. Currently, I am using the Leki Micro Vario Ti COR-TEC Trekking Poles which are z poles. Moving the straps closer together should make poles of this size fit without issue.
Third, the front strap buckle tends to make a little noise, particularly on fast descents. I do not want to make too big a deal of this because I really love the large button on the single buckle front strap. Maybe if some rubberized coating/material was added to the button that would rectify it.
I really like this pack. The fit for me is very comfortable, and it didn’t take much to get it dialed in either, unlike other packs I have owned. I love the vertical zipper on the main back pocket, and the large side mesh pockets. A runner can easily store your poles in one of these side mesh pockets, securing them with the side compression straps. I am also a huge fan of the large button on the single front strap. It makes getting the pack off and on incredibly easy, including in conditions where gloves are necessary. If you are currently looking to get a new hydration pack I highly recommend putting this one at the top of your list.
Purchase the pack direct from USWE here.
- Volume: 12 Liter
- 320g (excl. flasks)
- 2x Ultraflasks á 500ml
- NDM™ harness technology
- High-vent mesh body
- Ergonomic form-fit
- Light mesh back pane
- Fuel and gear front pockets
- Quick stash pocket with compression straps
- Secure phone pocket with zipper closure
- Main compartment with multi organizer pockets
- Trekking pole carry system: both front and back
- Sizes: Small-Medium (Adult), Medium-Large (Adult), Large-Extra Large (Adult)
- Emergency Whistle