I’ve been searching for a while for a solution to hydration on long runs and at longer events, but couldn’t quite find the right thing. I finally pulled the trigger on a Nathan VaporAiress hydration pack.
Note: I bought this product with my own money and have not been compensated in any way for this review. Nathan, if you want to send me a check, I’ll gladly give you my address.
Early in my running and triathlon career, I discovered the need to have a water bottle with me on long runs or hot days. For a long time, I used a handheld bottle holder that was from Eddie Bauer and was almost certainly not designed for running. It was laying around my house and I used it for many years until it mysteriously disappeared one day. The thing I liked about it that is uncommon to many handheld bottle holders is that the bottle was covered. I have an autoimmune disease and holding cold stuff hurts my hands. At the time, I didn’t realize that was why cold stuff hurts my hands, but I just knew I couldn’t carry a bottle of cold water for any length of time.
After the bottle holder’s disappearance, I tried a hip belt bottle holder. It was okay, but seemed to move around a lot, and the pockets were not big enough for my phone, or much of anything, really. I struggled through with it for a while, though, all the while debating on how to best replace it.
Finally, I was inspired by seeing other folks’ pictures with their hydration packs to look into one for myself. The VaporAiress was highly recommended in several places, so I went with that, snagging it on sale from REI. The VaporAiress comes in two colors, a teal blue and a bright pink. I went for bright pink. One great thing about living in a house full of male humans is that my pink gear is generally safe from being commandeered. The VaporAiress holds up to 2L of water and weighs in at 9.3 oz. It is very lightweight.
I must say I was worried about it moving around too much, or being bouncy, but it is not at all. It has two chest clips that hold it very securely. The bladder that is included with it is very easy to fill, although I’ve heard it is still difficult to refill on a run at an aid station. I like that it opens at the top with a slide lock as opposed to other bladders I’ve used, which screw closed and can be difficult to get threaded correctly.
My other favorite feature is the number of pockets and amount of storage. There are small pockets on the front that are perfect for ClifBloks. There is a tiny pill pocket, which would probably be great for someone who uses salt or glucose tablets. There are pockets under the sides, which are perfect for my phone. The back has enough space you can stash some stuff there, where the bladder is. Often, on a long run, I start out with too much clothing, and will sometimes stash things to retrieve on my route home. With the Nathan VaporAiress, I was able to take off my over shirt and stow it in the back pocket.
The material is surprisingly light and has some stretch to it, which is nice for the pockets. There are load adjusters on the shoulders, but I’ve honestly been able to put it on and forget about it. It really “feels like wearing nothing at all.”
I rocked my VaporAiress on an eight mile run this past weekend, after doing a GORUCK Light event the day prior. My shoulders were toast, and I was a little worried how it would feel carrying water, but it was very comfortable and did not put any additional strain on my shoulders.
The only negative I have noticed is that the hose on the hydration pack is a little bit longer than is needed. I compensated for this by wrapping a small loop up with a twist tie, but it did seem odd to me that the hose was so long.
I went with the size L/XL and it is a great fit. I think it could go fit someone a bit larger or smaller than me. I am usually a size 14 or 16 in women’s. The sizes go XXS, XS, S/M, L/XL.
I ordered from REI, where it was on a great sale, but the size/color options were a bit limited. On the whole, I definitely recommend this model to anyone in the market.