While getting ready for a mountainous 50 miler I was trying to figure out how I was going to carry water bottles while keeping my hands free for my trekking poles. As a woman, storing bottles in the front leads to uncomfortable sloshing, so I looked at the Orange Mud website again about 2 weeks before the race and saw that they came out with the VP2. It features large pockets in the front for gear storage in addition to the rear pockets for bottles. Sold.
First things first, the bottles in the back are genius. I hate bladders/reservoirs. They are impossible to clean or sanitize, they are impossible to fill on the go, and it's impossible to have two separate beverages. I thought I would like bottles in the front, but when I tried that out I learned what it felt like to be a double D and I did not enjoy it. With the two bottles in the back, I was able to carry my drink of choice and some separate water without any sloshing or leaking. Filling them up at aid stations was a snap. The heat signature was a lot less than having a bladder up against your back. Most importantly I was easily able to grab my bottles and replace them in their holders WITHOUT STOPPING!
There is an additional bungee in the back which I tend to use for my shell, but it is configured to securely hold a third bottle. On the shoulders there are Velcro pockets that have a surprising capacity. In these pockets I store my pill bottle with electrolyte tabs, my headphones, my keys, and my headlamp. The only complaint I have is that the Velcro got stuck in my hair a lot. I think I would have preferred a snap or a magnet closure. The front pockets are smartly designed to hold in a lot of gels without them bouncing out - narrow at the top and deep at the bottom. I could easily fit as much as I wanted in these pockets.
When I looked at pictures of the VP2 online, I was unsure what to think about the fabric. When I put the vest to work, I was pleasantly surprised. Not heavy or cumbersome at all, just breathable and meshy. I really didn't find myself sweating more than normal in the vest, and the first time I wore it it got up to 104 degrees!
My biggest concern about the vest before I received it was the fit. There is only one size, but it can be cinched up in the front and on the sides. When I put it on, I had to tighten the front buckle as far as it would go and then had to crank the side straps a good bit. This pulled the vest a little farther into my armpits than I would have liked, but otherwise I couldn't get it tight enough. I was worried that it would rub on my armpits and cause chafing, but for the 50 miler and during 30 miles the following weekend I had absolutely no problems with any rubbing. The fabric that lines the sides is very soft and so there was no scratching. I think the only improvement that could be made would be to come out with a women's specific version that is a little less broad through the shoulders and the front.
Overall, this vest outperforms any other vest I've worn. The VP2 has everything I want in a vest but when I wear it, I barely notice that I have it on. You won't catch me on a trail adventure without it.