This hydration pack was designed for ultra runners by ultra runners (period). The pack was designed in part by Dana Miller, a multiple time Wasatch 100 finisher. But, I was attracted to it because so many ultra and trail runners not only sung its praises but wore it. What pushed me over the edge to go for this pack is my ex roommate from college. He started running trails and said, I got a Nathan because everyone else has them and it has been great never really looked at anything else. This guy has never led me wrong so here goes.
It is minimalist and lot lighter than I expected it to be. I had purchased the 1.5L race vest first and sent it back because it just seemed so small..this one is not that different, but I do appreciate having more water. I honestly held it out of the box and I was very skeptical. How could so many people like something that is this simple. There were no bells and whistles on this vest it simply was what you needed and very little of it.
The pack is more of a vest, like a fishing vest minus the feathers and gigs and funky smell. It is intended to fit loosely. In the back part of the pack there is the main compartment (for the 2L water pack), a zipper pocket with a divider in there and a key ring thingy (the technical name); in the front there is a zipper compartment on the right and a drawstring compartment on the left. There is also a bungee type chord that can help you lock down a jacket or windbreaker in the back. The chest strap also doubles as a tub clip so you always will know where the water source it, and that’s nice…less moving parts.
According the Nathan Website here are some of the specs (my comments):
Three way – Propulsion Harness (not really sure how it helps – pack is loose fitting and once you adjust it that’s pretty much where it stays, but ok)
2 Liter Hydration Bladder with Slideseal top closure and bite valve (like the slideseal, took me a minute to get used to the idea. It helps you clean the bladder quickly, but the bite valve is great, quick on the giving fast on the closing)
Dual front Power Stretch Mesh pockets –– one with zipper closure (awesome, can easily work either the draw string pock or the zipper pocket on the run…last night had GU in one side and a headlamp in the other with no problems.)
Shock Cord with one-pull tension lock for jacket or gloves (I assume this is the bungee thingy…not sure about putting gloves there…but ok)
Vertically adjustable sternum strap with tube clip (I thought the tube clip part was sort of odd, but it does work well on the run, you can adjust it to feel a wider chest or narrow it up. It allows you to change the feel of the bag quickly and not having to take it off)
I have done both a trail and a road (I know a sin for ultra training) runs in this vest. The trail run was in the middle of the day. The actually put the vest on after having been out for about an hour running with some friends. It fit well and was not uncomfortable even thought I was already sweaty. I able to adjust it a little while moving, but those adjustments were limited to the chest strap. In the heat of the day the pack did not rub me in the wrong way nor did I get any hot spots after the run. Def noticed the weight at first but after half a mile it felt similar to wearing a loose wind breaker…it is there only if you focus to notice it.
The road run was late at night. The pack did not feel the pack as cumbersome, but I did sense the weight at the beginning of the run, I think a full 2L bladder may have had something to do with that (recurring theme?). Had the vest been tight inevitable it would have ridden up my back and bothered me especially at night. I think the darkness and the solitude every little thing gets noticed, with the exception if anything directly in front of you.
There are pieces of equipment that after you get sweaty and gross stick to your skin and feel awful. The fact the vest was loose seems to let its mesh wick away sweat so it did not get that stuck to my body feeling, which is a huge plus.