Nathan HPL #020

This year, I’ve signed up for my first marathon, following a plan from Jack Daniels’ Running Formula. Training for a marathon involves running. A lot of running, at least by my previous standards. I’ll be clocking 50-70 km/week, possibly more if I can stay injury-free. Some of these runs are long, and with summer coming up, I figured I was going to need a hydration solution.
Now, for hydration, I’ve been looking at a number of other solutions, and I’ve never much liked any of the ones I’ve tried. Carrying a bottle for two and a half hours: Forget it, the water splashing around in the bottle gets tiring very quickly. A hip belt with a large bottle worked no better – when I first tried it, I turned around before five minutes had passed, and left bottle and hip belt at home. Hip belt solutions with small bottles may work well if your hydration needs are small, but for a 2.5 hour run in 30℃, it’s just doesn’t provide me with enough fluids. So, I started looking at hydration packs (for the non-runners: That’s essentially a backpack with a drinking bladder and tube you can drink from). Most of the ones I tried would either bounce around quite severely on my back, or be ill-fitting to me.

Quite by chance, I came across the Nathan HPL #020, dubbed a The ultimate trail and ultra running hydration vest. by Nathan Sports.

I’ve now tried it on a couple of runs, including a [half marathon training/transportation run from home to work], and I have to say I’m convinced:

  • It’s very lightweight – empty it weighs less that 400g (14 oz), which means that you’ll hardly notice it when running.
  • The fit is very comfortable. When I was shopping around for vests, I dismissed a number of them because I could instantly feel I was wearing the vest. I figured that if I noticed that before even hitting the road, it would be a pain half an hour in, and even worse at two. With the Nathan, I couldn’t really tell I was wearing it.
  • I have a fairly normal build and chest size, and there was very little reason for me to adjust anything when I first wore it: I put it on, adjusted the chest strap, and that was basically it.
  • It doesn’t bounce. This is quite unlike any of the other vests I’ve tried. While that may have been due to not having properly adjusted any of the vests I’ve tried, this was a huge surprise, as I’ve also heard other people complain about running with vests due to the bounce they add.
  • It’s not constricting – I can run without altering my form or arm swing.
  • Enough fluid, but no more. At 2.1 l, I can carry enough for a 2.5-3 hour run, even on a warm day. It also has a few pockets for carrying gels, small items like keys and phone.
    However, before buying a vest like this, you need to understand that it’s not a vest for transportation runs:
  • With the bladder in, there’s not really room for other than small items – you won’t be able to keep an extra change of clothes in (but a lightweight running jacket may fit under the external shock cord.
  • If you only ever run less than 60-90 minutes, I probably wouldn’t want to bother wearing one. Above that, I probably would (even if I’ve gone out on 2.5 hour runs during winter without carrying water).
  • The reservoir is easy to clean, as the slide-top allows for turning the bladder inside out. It also means though, that it’s not quite as easy to fill as bladders with a cap top. In the future, I might try to see how other reservoirs fit in the bag, like Camelbak’s Antidote.
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