The 18 is Ultimate Direction’s middleweight skimo vest, with more storage space than the ultra-minimalist 8, yet slimmer than the bubba 28. It might be called the default option for those used to skimo race packs. Competing feature-for-feature, the Skimo 18 can carry everything you need for basic day tours and most races. It is also “vest-style”, which is the specialty of Ultimate Direction, a leader in trail-running equipment. That means more storage up front for your hydration and energy needs. But it will also carry your skis and stash your crampons from the side. The UD Skimo 18 is lightweight workhorse for daily touring and racing.
Surprisingly durable 100D rip-stop nylon is also light and breathable.
Multiple ski-carry options with a quick-hook AND a wrap-around included.
Side-access crampon pocket also great for extra layers, hydration, or pizza.
Crampon pocket is gusseted so the Velcro gets a perfect seal every time.
Partner-tow attachment has a storage locker for tucking it away.
Front pockets hold hydration flasks, gels, and even a bit more.
* Measure your chest with your clothes on. Round up if you plan on packing the vest full.
In terms of next-level vest style skimo packs, the UD Skimo 18 is a clear winner. UD knows what they are doing when it comes to functional vest-style pockets for nutrition and hydration. The ski-carry is dead simple and easy to use and while not as easy to use as the Dynafit style, the crampon garage is easy enough for extra emergency skins, clothes or even crampons.
I really want to love this thing and give it 5 stars but what is really killing me is that I cannot for the life of me fit a shovel in it. And I am talking about an Arva Plume, not a full blown Voile Telepro. Even my Dynafit RC18 holds any shovel I want to carry. So with that "feature" it appears that this pack will be relegated to non-race resort laps. Upon second glance, the UD site states in the fine print: "Main Pocket, will hold race shovels typically sized 22x 29 cm and probes under 47cm length when folded" - there are not many shovels that fit that description (luckily you can find most of them on this site!) so just be aware when you are thinking about a pack that can do it all (which this thing "almost" can!). Note - this limitation also appears to apply to the larger Skimo 28. I really don't want to own something like a Camp Crest just for racing but I may have to.
It does, it is just a bit tighter than pictured (the handle T goes a bit higher into the top of the shoulder strap). Not ideal and not super comfortable but fine in a pinch - I think an easy fix from UD would be to just upon up the area between the crampon garage and the back panel similar to the Dynafit packs. If you have any input with them, make the suggestion? But so far this season, I am very happy with the pack.