Review: Nathan VaporHowe 4l Race Vest

By Julia - 14:30:00

Let's talk running packs today!
It's a pack I've been using for over a year now and it never disappointed, never chafed majorly and is still going strong! Let me introduce you to the VaporHowe 4L Race Vest (designed and inspired by the great Ultrarunner Stephanie Howe).


The VaporHowe 4l hydration pack by Nathan is the smaller version and includes two soft flasks. The bigger version fits 12 litres and comes with a 1,8l bladder.


Appearance.
The 4-litre version comes in a coral colour which I like. It might not be the most practical but it works fine for me. The laser-cuts that help inside the pack with ventilation are found all around as well. Along the back and on the front is reflective print which wore off a little during the time.



Fit.
I was looking for a vest to use for my weekly long runs. To bring water, maybe a snack, maybe a jacket. Which is why I decided on the smaller version of this pack.
One of the first things that got my attention right when first trying on this vest is the comfortable fit. It's customized for the female body, comes in a size range from XXS to XL and there are multiple options for adjustability.
The two sternum straps on the front are adjustable in width and you can change their position up and down along a reel on the vest. Furthermore, you'll find adjustable straps on each side of the pack to perfection the fit. When I wear this vest it sits very snugly against my body which eliminates chafing and bouncing.




Material.
The other factor for the pack being so comfortable is the fabric. It feels very soft and lightweight.
The fabric which sits on your body feels a little bit sturdier than the outer material but it's still very thin. For breathability, there are circular laser-cuts along the back.
Even when I wear it directly on the skin it doesn't rub, chafe or blister me.
The rest of the pack is made of a slightly more stretchable fabric which feels more like a running top.
When necessary you can wash the pack by hand in lukewarm water.




Storage.
Let's move on to the other most important aspect of a running pack: pockets. How much can I stuff into it?
The back part consists: of three bigger pouches. One is designed to hold a 1,5l bladder (I use a 2l bladder but don't fill it to the brim and that works fine too). Another pocket, only separated by mesh, sits right on top of the bladder compartment. And the third goes all the way along your lower back and is accessible from the front: perfect to cram in every layer you want to shed during a run.
And of course, there is more in the front. Each side offers three pockets in different sizes, nicely stacked on top of each other. You will find one zipper pocket for your phone (up to the size of an IPhone7 Plus), which also contains a whistle, tucked away in a smaller pocket.
The rest closes with a little velcro patch and an elastic band along the rim helps to keep everything you pack close to your body.
And finally, there is one small mesh pocket on each side close to your ribs.
You'll for sure find space for everything. And the placement of every single pocket keeps bouncing, even if fully packed, to an absolute minimum.




Hydration.
The pack comes with two long straw soft flasks (340ml) which perfectly fit in two of the front pockets. There are elastics in place to hold the straws and keep them from moving around. I use the bottles rarely but one broke already. Not to an unusable degree, just the plastic in the mouthpiece cracked, but still... I prefer to use bladders in general and I can fit my bigger bladder in the intended compartment - no problem. Plus a little magnet attaches the straw to a front strap so it doesn't wave around.
I did as well try soft flasks from different brands and all of them fit in nicely so far.



As mentioned I wear this vest since a while now. And even though they are minor I still want to mention the weak bits of the pack.
The straps, I feel like they might be the first thing to give up, some start to fray along the sides. Maybe they get in contact with the velcro bits too often?
You will need a water-resistant pouch if you carry something that can't get wet. The pack is not water resistant and because of it's thin material sweat gets into the pockets which lay against your back (I used to carry tissues in this pocket and they got drenched).
Add to this the disappearing reflectors and the broken bottle.

But overall, I think the pack did hold up great and the quality is sure worth the money - not a single stitching opened or frayed, nor do I have any broken or torn fabric.
It's still going to be my favourite for a while.

Note: There is a newer version of this vest available.



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