Nathan Sports produces top-notch hydration gear and thus I was delighted to hear that I’m receiving their VaporAir 2.0 hydration vest for testing. I received the vest in the spring, and immediately started wearing it for running and hiking. The Nathan VaporAir 2.0 offers 7 liters of storage space and is thus ideal for long distance running. However, I was really curious if it’s big enough to also be used for day hikes and fast alpine ascents in the summer. On such adventures I’m typically carrying a half-empty Osprey Talon 22 daypack and for quite some time I’ve been wondering if I should instead use a smaller pack that can hold a bit of snacks, water, an extra layer and other essentials. The VaporAir vest seemed like a good option. In the last couple of months, I thoroughly tested the Nathan VaporAir vest. I wore it regularly for running and on several day hikes. Below is what I learned about it.
The Nathan VaporAir 2.0 Hydration Vest is suitable for:
- Trail running
- Day Hiking
The first thing I noticed when I unpacked the Nathan VaporAir hydration vest was that it’s extremely light. The vest weighs merely 235 grams (8.3 oz.) without the hydration bladder which is indeed not much taking into consideration that it offers 7 liters of storage space. It’s made of lightweight nylon and a polyester mesh fabric. The polyester mesh fabric is used everywhere where the vest makes contact with the wearer while the other side of the vest is made of strong nylon fabric. I was happy to see that the mesh fabric is very porous for good breathability, but I got a bit worried that it will chafe me because it feels a bit rough to the touch. Nevertheless, my worries proved unnecessary. During the testing period I haven’t experienced any chafing. The buckles, drawcords and zippers are also high-quality and so far, I haven’t had any trouble with them. All in all, I’m very satisfied with the materials because they are durable yet lightweight.
Fit and Comfort
When I put on the vest for the first long distance run, I was positively surprised how well it fits and how easy it is to adjust. To adjust the vest, you buckle and tighten the two sternum straps to the middle and then you simply pull the two straps that are in the zippered pockets on the front side of the vest. By pulling these two straps you bring the vest closer to your body as they shorten the sides of the vest. If necessary you can tweak the fit additionally by adjusting the sternum straps again. This so-called adaptive-fit system works extremely well. If in doubt, do check out the adjustment process in the video here.
When I started running with the vest, I was amazed that there is almost no bounce. The vest fits perfectly and follows your body while you are running. I believe that part of the reason for this is the included hydration bladder, which is slightly narrower and a bit longer than the other hydration bladders I have at home. Due to the oblong shape, it sits closer to the spine and thus bounces less. The bladder is attached to the vest at the top with Velcro strap and it seems to me that it has very little impact on the center of gravity. All in all, I really couldn’t be happier with the fit of the vest.
The vest is also comfortable to wear. The mesh fabric is not the softest, but since you probably won’t wear the vest directly against the skin, this shouldn’t be a problem. I’ve been wearing the vest both over several layers (like my Salonom S/Lab jacket and a lightweight fleece jacket) and directly over a base layer and I haven’t encountered any chafing or other discomfort. In terms of breathability the vest also performs well. Of course, you’ll sweat a bit more than you would without it, but that’s just the standard tradeoff of any hydration vest/pack.
Compartments and Pockets
In terms of storage space and organization, the Nathan VaporAir simply excels. The vest has 3 compartments and 9 pockets as well as attachment points for trekking poles. The three compartments are on the backside of the vest. The biggest compartment is designed for the hydration bladder and has a Velcro strap at the top where you attach the hydration bladder. This compartment is located closest to your body for good weight distribution. Then there is a large compartment behind the hydration bladder compartment, which is suitable for storing extra layers, snacks etc. Behind this compartment is a smaller compartment which doesn’t come to the bottom of the vest. This smaller compartment is perfect for storing gloves, hat and similar small items. The vest also has a zippered pocket behind the last compartment which I haven’t really used so far.
On the front side the vest has 8 convenient pockets, 4 of which are zippered. The two zippered pockets at the bottom are quite big and fit a 5-inch smartphone and the other two are perfect for storing powerbars and running gels. Then there are two pockets for bottles and flasks which have Velcro closures at the top and fit flasks with the volume up to 650 ml (22 oz.). In front of these two pockets are two smaller stash pockets which can be closed with a drawcord. The vest also has attachment points for trekking poles which are simple in design but work very well. They are located at the back of the vest.
I’m very happy with the storage capacity and organization options. The vest is perfect for running but it can also be used for day hiking in summer when you carry only food, water an extra layer and essentials such as sun cream, phone etc.
Ease of use
I find the vest easy to use as everything just works. Inserting the hydration bladder is easy because the vest has a large opening at the top. Getting the hose in the sleeve in the shoulder strap is also not a problem. I really like that the vest has a magnetic clip for the tube. One part is attached to vest’s top sternum strap and the other part is attached to the tube. So, when you want to drink you simply grab the tube, take a couple of sips and then it basically attaches back to the vest on its own. The zippers run smoothly, and the buckles are easy to use. I literally don’t have a single bad thing to say in terms of usability.
The vest is available in two sizes: XS-M and L-XXXL and to achieve the perfect fit it’s of course important to buy the vest in the right size. Now, here it got a bit tricky for me because my chest circumference is 96 centimeters and according to the size guide, size XS-M fits chest circumferences to 96.5 centimeters. Nevertheless, I didn’t dare to go for size XS-M because my chest circumference is usually larger, and you can’t really wear a vest too small because you won’t be able to buckle the two sternum straps. Like everyone else, I was hoping/expecting that corona restrictions would be lifted in early spring and that gyms would open again, thus adding to my chest circumference…. So, I decided to go for size L-XXXL. However, the gyms did not open yet at the time of writing this review.
Now, the size L-XXXL does fit me but the side adjustment straps are almost completely tightened which means that I really can’t lose much weight if I want to wear the vest. So, I do recommend following their size guide and in case you are between sizes do consider whether you are working towards losing weight or gaining weight.
The vest comes with a 2-liter hydration bladder. The hydration bladder is from HydraPak, a well-established brand within hydration technology. It has some very neat features such as being reversible and dishwasher safe. This is my first reversible hydration bladder and I’m really happy with this feature. It makes the hydration bladder very easy to dry. You simply turn it inside out and let it dry. The bladder has a wide opening at the top and is thus also easy to clean and fill. The tube is detachable so that it can be cleaned. I was a bit disappointed that the tube doesn’t have an on/off lever. The on/off lever prevents accidental leakages during transport and would be a great addition to this otherwise perfect hydration bladder. The water flow is also fast, although not as fast as at Camelbak Crux reservoir. Nevertheless, I find HydraPak’s tube easier to handle because it’s not as stiff as the tube of the Crux reservoir.
I’m incredibly happy with Nathan VaporAir 2.0 hydration vest and I’m sure I’ll continue to use it for many years to come. The vest thing about this vest is the fit. It provides excellent fit and nicely follows your body while you are running. If you don’t pack it too heavy, you literally forget you are wearing it. Another thing that really impressed me is the storage space. With the total storage capacity of 7 liters, it can be used for running as well as for day hiking in summer. The vest also allows you to perfectly organize your stuff because it has 3 compartments and 9 pockets. So, if you are looking for a high-quality hydration vest, I do really recommend the Nathan VaporAir 2.0.
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.
We field tested this product. The rating shows its overall performance.About Rating
- Storage capacity
- Many pockets/compartments
- Reversible hydration bladder
- Magnetic tube clip
- Easy to adjust
- The tube doesn’t have on/off lever