Guest review by Bart Rein
For several years, my “go to” hydration pak has been Nathan’s HPL #020. It’s been comfortable and functional. With a 50 mile race coming up I thought I might give Nathan’s new VaporWrap hydration vest a try as it advertises a “sculpted fit” and more storage areas that are accessible without taking the vest off, useful during a long event such as this.
The fit was as advertised. With four adjustment points, upper and lower sternum, shoulder and waist, the pak fit smoothly and snugly against my body without constricting my breathing. It was easy to adjust as I was moving and as the fluid was depleted in the pak, I could continue to snug up the pak so there was virtually no bouncing. The bladder itself is the same tried and true as the HPL #020. Easy to fill and refills are quicker as there is no zipper to open to expose the top of the bladder for refills. The bladder also comes with a insulated sleeve to keep cold liquids colder longer. The pak has a pocket along the inside where it sits against your back that you can fill with ice or an ice pack to help keep you cool on a very hot day. The numerous pockets offer ample storage space for gels, additional water bottles, food, articles of clothing and just about anything else you might need for a 50-100 mile race.
When I first put this vest on it immediately felt like I was wear some sort of floatation device. I eventually got past that feeling but never got the close to transparent feeling that the HPL #020 has. The original configuration of the drinking tube was with a magnetic clip high on the left sternum strap near the shoulder with the mouthpiece dangling about a foot past the lower sternum strap. This was completely unacceptable. Only after a call to Nathan and a call back with his suggestion did I take off the tags and take it for a test run. He told me to route the tube through the right shoulder and bring the tube across my chest; move the magnetic clip near the mouthpiece and the attach in the same spot ( as it can’t be moved ) along the upper sternum strap. In the end this just did not work as the mouth piece laid against my neck for the entire run. The removable pocket on the right shoulder strap sat high enough to brush up against my face when I turned in that direction. The adjustable shock cord for trekking poles and the one with the emergency whistle flapped about the entire run with the ones at the top of the shoulders occasionally knocking into my head. The side pockets were too far back along the side to be easily accessible while moving and the zippered pocket on the left shoulder strap had the same sort of issues.
When I first saw the VaporWrap on Natan’s website I was pretty excited for more of a good thing. Unfortunately, in this instance, more of a good thing turned out to be too much. There is so much here that it becomes a constant reminder that it is indeed there but moreover, fails to function well for my purpose. For now, I’m sticking with my tried and true HPL #020.
Specs from Nathan:
Nathan writes “All you need in the most comfortable vest on the market. A sculpted fit and highly-breathable, moisture wicking fabrication give you all-day, chafe free comfort and performance. Specialized, adjustable compartmentalization makes this the perfect multiday event partner.
– UTMB-capale with expandable cargo space
– Bladder Control System keeps water and gear close to the body for maximum no-bounce comfort
– Secret center back pocket holds ice pack for added body cooling
– Strategically-placed Shock Cords with one -pull tension lock offer customizable trekking pole configurations
– Available in two sizes: s/m, l/xl
– Hand-wash only: Penguin Sport-Wash recommended
5’7” 160 lbs
Average mileage 50+ miles/week, 6(?) marathons, 18 ultramarathons, Marathon PR 3:38, 50k PR 5:20
I began running ( apart from punishment for high school sports teams ) in 2005 and went straight from a 5k to a marathon in 2006. In 2007 I ran my first trail race and was hooked on trail running from there. I still run on the road but prefer the trails.
I love the feeling I get when I run and I love the people I’ve met and the great friends I’ve made running.
Check out Bart’s guide to trails in Maryland: www.trailchasing.wordpress.com