Review: Nathan Intensity Race Vest

I first published this review in December 2013. It is now July 2017 and I felt I should update it to reflect how the vest has proved over time. In brief, it’s wonderful. I’ve worn it more times than I can count now, on trail runs and on hikes. 3 1/2 years later, it’s still in excellent condition and working perfectly. It’s never chafed me on my back or my shoulders and I’ve worn it in great humidity in just a sports bra. It’s invaluable, and I love it. I’m sure Nathan have updated their range since 2013 and am not even sure they still make this vest, but I can only wholeheartedly recommend this vest. If I were in the market for another vest, I’d go straight to Nathan. Hope that helps! 

This is my first ever gear review. I’m a little uncomfortable doing so because it implies I’m an expert and obviously I’m not. However when I was choosing my hydration vest, I read several other blog reviews by normal people and they were really helpful, so I wanted to pay that forward and contribute myself. 

Obviously no-one gave me this product or compensated me for doing this review. I purchased it using my Husband’s hard-earned cash. My opinions are all my own, as you can probably tell. 

I wanted a hydration vest for longer runs, especially in the summer. I did a couple of 2 – 3 hour trail runs with no opportunity to refill my handheld water bottle and it was uncomfortable. As I get more into trails, I need to be able to carry my own water! And we hike so much as a family that a hydration vest makes perfect sense for our hikes as well.

Under Consideration:

Nathan was the only brand I really considered, having done some basic online research. This was despite my scathing opinion of their handheld water bottle! But apparently it was all about Nathan, and these three products in particular. The third option was very much my least favourite option.

* Nathan Intensity – 2L bladder, LOADS of storage pockets. $75 – $100

* Nathan Minimist – 2L bladder, very limited additional pockets. $45 – $80.

* Nathan HPL #020 – 2L bladder. Not as female-body friendly. $70 – $120.

I ended up choosing the Intensity basically because of the additional pockets for storage. Bearing in mind I wanted to use this vest as much for family hikes as for my own running, it made perfect sense to choose this vest! I also thought they’d be useful for running. And also.. it’s really foxy.

Back View
Back View

My opinion in summary?

Basically, I REALLY like it. I might even love it. I totally recommend it.

Want to know more?


  • I really like the look of it! Call me shallow but if I’m going to spend lots of money and wear something, I like it to look nice. I’m a big fan of red so although the pink version was a little cheaper, I spent more of the Husband’s dollars to get the red one. I don’t regret it for a second.
  • It has LOADS of pockets. The bladder pocket will carry more stuff, but there’s also an additional pocket on the back and a drawstring also on the back for stuffing layers in. At the front (within easy reach whilst running) is a drawstring pocket and a zip pocket. One for my camera, one for my phone.
  • No leakage. I was hugely suspicious that the water would leak, so I filled the bladder, sealed it and laid it side-ways overnight. Nope, nothing. No leaks.
  • No chafing. Ever. The first time I wore this was on a 12 mile, 3 hour trail run in 70 degrees with Jen. It could have been an agonising disaster but it wasn’t. Nothing chafed.
  • Nothing hurts either. My shoulders and back do not ache at the end.
  • Although in the sunshine, my lower back did get a little warmer and maybe a little sweatier, it was minimal and didn’t leave me sweaty and horrible like cheap backpacks when you’re cycling.
  • It doesn’t budge, once strapped into place. You can run, jump, dance and jiggle. It’s pretty secure.
  • The bladder comes out and can turn inside out for cleaning and drying.
  • I like how the chest clip gives me cleavage. (I know). However if you have more sizeable bazungas, you might want to check it out prior to purchase. I can imagine that proper boobs would be more cumbersome here. Yay for having a flat chest.
Front View
Front View


  • For the amount of money I spent, I would have appreciated some instructions as to how to use the bladder. A few weeks later and it all seems ridiculously simple but at the time, I was clueless. Basically, to open the bladder, slide the black lock-bar to the left. To secure it, fold the plastic over and slide the black lock-bar to the right. It was very stiff at first which made me unsure, but it works smoothly now.
  • Similarly, I was unsure as to how to unhook the tube. Pull on the tube, not the black bit at the bottom.
  • For the first few slurps of every use, there is a quite unpleasant taste to the water/juice. This was especially the case the first time. But the rubbery taste DOES go and everything tastes normal pretty quickly.
  • If the bladder is not fully filled, there can be a strange sloshing noise as you run. It didn’t bother me particularly and it stopped quite quickly.
  • I have yet to attempt to clean the tube or mouthpiece. Don’t judge. Apparently it can be a little tricky.


As I said before, I REALLY like this vest and am really glad I chose it. I would totally recommend it if you’re in the market. For reference, I’m 5’1 and a US size 4/UK size 8 – 10.

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Layla says:

    Sloshing tip: Once you fill the pouch with water, turn it upside down so the hose is in the remaining air pocket. Then suck the air out so there’s no room for the water to slosh. (This is especially handy if you don’t want a full two liters of water.)
    I have this same vest, and the chest straps move up and down, so they’re pretty flexible for women with more/less cleavage.

    1. Cathryn says:

      Thanks for the sloshing tip…and the chest info too 🙂

  2. I have never thought about getting a vest but you make it sound like something to get especially as I do those longer runs for my next marathon. (I can’t seem to find people to hand my water as I run by unless it is a race!) Great review!

    1. Cathryn says:

      Thank you! Glad it was useful. I have been really impressed by the vest and I think it would be ideal for long marathon runs!

  3. Lexi says:

    I have this vest & in the same color. I have been using it all winter. Now that it is more summer-like weather, I am getting chaffing in the shoulder and middle back. Any advise on how to wear & adjusting the straps? I have a largish chest but a small size 5/6-US waist. Thanks!

    1. Cathryn says:

      Hi, thanks for reading and leaving your comment! You know, I haven’t had any chafing issues so far but I have yet to wear it with a sports bra, which I think might cause some problems. For the shoulders, could you put anything over the place it rubs? Something to soften the edges? Ref the back, I can only think of body glide or something similar. Anyone else got any experience like that? I’m taking it on a hot trail run in 2 weeks, I’ll drop you a note if I have similar issues.

  4. Susie says:

    Hi Cathryn,
    Thank you for the review. Could I ask how tall you are? I am struggling to find a pack that fits as I’m a 5ft 2 inches so be interested to know your height. Thanks!

    1. Cathryn says:

      You’re on luck…I am 5’1 1/2!!! You’ll be fine!

  5. Susie says:

    Great! Thank you 🙂

  6. Jennifer says:

    I just got mine in the mail yesterday and was so excited to take it out on my long run this morning (17 miles). At mile 2, I started feeling it…the chafing. I was heart broken. I didn’t want to stop my run BUT I didn’t have any other means of fueling my body. I wore a sports tank so maybe my option would be to wear a t-shirt but unless it wasn’t fitted/adjusted properly (I’m also petite and small chestiest), it really shouldn’t chafe. All the reviews I read said that anyway. Maybe i just need to readjust the straps or something but I must say that I do LOVE all of the pockets/storage and the 2L!!!! Helped a great deal in this darn humid Florida summer heat!

    1. Cathryn says:

      I would def try readjusting the straps and also try different tank tops, I know Jen had issues with one of her tank tops!!! Keep testing it out.

  7. Christina says:

    Loved your review! I have a hydration backpack that I could never use for running because it is a bit large, but your review seems to have me just about convinced! I am also short and flat. 😉 The selling point was how happy your face was modeling that backpack!

    1. Cathryn says:

      Thank you for your lovely comment, it made me laugh a lot. To be honest, when the smiley photo was taken, I hadn’t run a step in my hydration pack so I was clueless. However I can honestly say that a year later and many runs later, I still adore this hydration pack. No chafing (I’ve never worn it with just a sports bra) and no discomfort, it’s a great piece of equipment. Hope you get one and love it too!

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