There are a ton of new options in the running hydration pack world in 2013. A few companies have come out with brand new designs, and others have offered refined versions of their proven packs. The first new design I have tried out is the Nathan VaporWrap. This is a hydration pack targeted to the ultrarunner. It has a similar style to other great packs on the market, and I was eager to try out this new product.
The Nathan VaporWrap comes with a 2 liter (68 oz) Hydrapak bladder. I have always been very happy with the Hydrapak products and this time was no different. These bladders are simple, and work great. The bladder had a wide opening and removable hose which made cleaning easy. The pack also shipped with an insulated sleeve for the bladder which was nice to keep the moisture away from the pack contents, and I found it made inserting the bladder into the pack easier. The only minor point I would raise is that this bladder didn’t have the plug and play hose valve. This just meant that the hose had to be pulled out of the valve, rather than being able to simply press a button and remove it. I liked the option of carrying 2 liters if I needed it, but also having the option to just partially fill the bag when I required less. Better to have too much capacity, than too little.
The pack had a great suspension system to keep the hydration bladder in place, and prevent it from sloshing around. It was basically a piece of fabric that was held in place with webbing that extended out to the shoulder straps and waist straps. These straps could be tightened to secure the bladder against the back. I tightened this when I first put the pack on, and then also cinched it up as I drank the water. This was a simple, but smart way to keep the bladder against the body, and prevent it from sloshing. I was very impressed with this feature.
There were a ton of pockets on this pack. It had a large detachable pocket on the shoulder that was great for carrying my iPhone or camera. It had two chest pouches which were designed to carry bottles if you needed even more hydration (or simply preferred bottles on the front). It had a small expandable zippered pocket on the chest strap, and two larger ones on the waist straps. It also had a small little velcro closure pocket on the strap that could be used for items like salt tabs, but I used it as a great spot to put my iPod shuffle. Finally, it had two large zippered compartments on the main back pack. One was a top loading sleeve, and the other was a larger side zip compartment. The VaporWrap also had adjustable shockcord to secure a jacket or other item on the back.
I really liked this pack when I knew I had to carry “stuff” on my runs. It was great to carry my phone, a camera, some nutrition, car keys, ipod, etc. I was able to put it all into the various pockets, and didn’t once notice it while running. I didn’t have any problem with things bouncing around, or interfering with my arm movement – the pockets were all well positioned. I used it with more water than I needed and never noticed the pack feeling too heavy, or moving around. Once it was on, I could basically forget about it.
The only two things I wished I could change were the location of the magnetic hose clip, and the elastic pole loops. The magnetic hose clip was great, and I loved this idea. However, I would have preferred it to be lower. The hose is quite long, and I needed to secure it closer to the lower chest strap, while the clip was on the upper chest strap. I would have liked to see two clips, one on each chest closure strap. I also wished there was a way to stow or remove the pole loops (short of cutting them off). They ones on the shoulder bounced around too much for my liking. Neither of these issues would be a dealbreaker for me, but there is always room for improvement!
If you’re in the market for a new hydration pack this year, you have your decision making cut out for you with all of the great offerings. I would definitely give consideration to the Nathan VaporWrap, especially if you need lots of storage and water capacity. You will get this in a well designed and manufactured pack with the VaporWrap.