Hydrapak E-Lite Vest

Introduction
I
first saw the E-Lite vest on the Running and Rambling Blog (Link) and
subsequently on the Runblogger (link). My first thought when reading was why would anyone want a 1 liter
vest? At the time I read the reviews I ran heavy when it came to gear selection. When I hit the trails I over packed. I carried everything but the kitchen sink. I still believe that more is better than less when you are starting out but once you get your trail running in tune you find you can make do with less. Now that I have my “routes” and run efficiently I find myself “in
between equipment”. Often I want to carry enough but not too much because lean towards a bare bones or minimalist style.
Specifications
Weight: 9.09 oz with reservoir –  5.6 oz without – (empty)
1 Liter Reversible reservoir with Plug-N-Play Connector
2 Expandable Front Zippered Pocket
4 Integrated Holster-style pockets
Soft Mesh Back pouch holds 1 liter Reversible Reservoir (included)
Quantum Clip (I think this means magnetic)
Impressions
Right
off the bat I can tell you this looks toddler size. I am worried that the single pouch approach for the bladder will not be enough for all the bouncing on trails. The mesh overall seems very “airy”. The vest reminds me of the Nathan #028 vest + a bladder. Even though the Nathan
#028 is a staple of any ultra field I am not sure if that is a good
thing or a bad thing yet.

Construction / Structure
Pockets
The two zippered pockets are well designed. The zipper is not sown all the way down as was the style with the original version of this pack. This improvement keeps the pocket sleek without the worry of dumpling all the contents out while trying to access them.
The Hydrapak site states that there are 4 integrated holster style pockets. Do not get excited. They are helpful but bigger items fall out of them. On runs I reserve these for used Gel packs, i.e. trash, or a convenient place to have your plastic bag with Salt Caps.

Adjusting
The standard for pack adjustment is pulling the straps down or back in order to tighten or loosen. This makes it tough to know if everything is balanced. I know its a tiny difference but over the course of a few miles you will notice that the left or right shoulder is sore and then you will thank me for reminding you to check.
This pack adjusts by pulling forward which allows you to see that the sides are even. As an additional benefit it lets you adjust on the run. Try pulling backwards while trying to run forward, not as easy as you think.

Bladder
The construction is as solid as they come. The Hydrapak bladder is a top fill bladder with a slide close. This system is great for ultra marathons because you refill and move out of the aid stations quickly. 

Testing 

I
have not only used this vest for medium to long range road runs but
have also used it for the Rock’n River 50 Miler (report). The decision to use
this vest rather than my standard Salomon Advanced Skin 5 was
because the distance between aid was not so great to need the extra
fluid and I focused on running light.

Running with the E-Lite Vest @ Rock’n River 50

Because of the sleekness of the pack and its light construction I find that i adjust it on the run as the bladder empties which is not really an issue or consideration with larger packs like the Salomon Advanced Skin (Updated Review). This is probably not a big deal, but if you are against adjusting anything at all you will probably find this fact annoying since the fit is completely different when you have a full bladder as opposed to an empty one.

For
me the E-Lite Vest fits perfectly into that in between category. One
liter gave me enough fluid for a longer run without having to plot a
course with water stations to refill bottles. The storage also permits
carrying gels, maybe a phone or light if getting caught in the dark is a
concern. So with that in mind I have put the vest through its paces and
have come up with a few concerns for an otherwise wonderful piece of
equipment. 

Pro’s
-Size – enough water, but not overbearing
-Light – you literally feel like you have little to nothing on
-Construction – its sturdier than I initially gave it credit for.
-Magnetic Connection for Drinking Tube – thought it would be terrible, but despite lateral movements on trails it held up and secured the tube. (may be an issue for you depending on how you adjust – fyi)

Con’s
-Chest Strap – this can be adjusted vertically or horizontally. However, when it goes vertical and the pack has too much stuff in it, it will actually un-clip from its wires and forcing you to stop and fix it. 
-2 of the “holster pockets” are behind the zippered pockets, I think they could have done without them and given you a “pills pocket” with a magnetic connection or something.

Conclusion
If you can afford to pick this up definitely do so. Its a sleeper item since it is not as well advertised as some of the bigger brands “minimalist” vests but it is worth a look. It is reasonably priced compared to its competitors and it offers a lot of features for such a small item. If you ever find yourself in between I suggest you have this in your gear closet. The pack can be purchased from iRunFar.com (LINK) and while there be sure to check out the work Bryon does, he is the NYTimes of the ultra running community.

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