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.
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.
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.
- 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.