Even though I already have a handheld I couldn’t resist picking up the Ultimate Direction FastDraw Plus to see how it compared to my GoLite HydroClutch. It’s a sickness, I know. The UD handheld has some nice features lacking on my GoLite. The most obvious differences are the large finger loop on the cap, the unique kicker valve design and the extra wide mesh hand strap.
I like having the finger loop as a convenient way of clipping the water bottle to my CamelBak using a carabiner. The additional 20 oz adds another hour of “flight time” to my scouting missions. The kicker valve is made of soft plastic that is easy on your teeth. It also prevents dripping from the valve that is common with the standard valves used on other handhelds. I like this feature the most because I always forget to push down the valve after drinking and end up loosing a lot of fluid and soaking myself in the process. I did notice that I had to suck harder than usual to get the fluid out of the bottle. That was somewhat annoying but I think if I bit on the valve like I do with the bite valve on my CamelBak, the fluid would have flowed better. I’ll try that next time out. The wide, mesh hand strap does a good job of keeping your hand cool and the rounded edges do not cut into your hand like some of the flat narrow straps will. The strap also has a zippered pocket large enough to hold a few gels and your car keys.
The only downside for me is that it feels a little larger in circumference than my GoLite making it more difficult to get a comfortable grip. My hands are on the small side (dainty me) so this shouldn’t be an issue for someone with larger hands. Overall I give the Ultimate Direction FastDraw Plus an A-.