Product Review: Nathan VaporKrar 12L

Tim Mosbacher is a RErun Ambassador for 2017/2018. We asked him to test out the Nathan Vapor Krar 12L hydration vest as a potential option for the Rut. You can read more of his reviews and stories from running here. 

Prior vest experience: The Nathan VaporKrar is my third running vest.  My first running vest was a Nathan HPL 020. The vest was a huge upgrade from the old hydration packs that were not designed for running. The HPL was a dream come true because the vest did not move all over my back during a run. The vest was light, but on 50+ mile self-supported runs, I struggled with the pack’s lack of room (3.6L). My second vest was an Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek (9.2L). This pack definitely had better pockets and more room than the Nathan HPL. I wore the Ultimate Direction during my one attempt at a 100-mile trail run and on a number of self-supported 50+ mile trail runs.

The Nathan HPL was so comfortable I could wear it shirtless. On the other hand, the Ultimate Direction Jurek rubbed my neck the entire run, which drove me crazy. When I first saw the VaporKrar I thought this vest could be the answer to my personal trail running issues. I needed a pack that did not rub, but had room for all my food and drink.

Fit: 

This vest fits like a glove. There is no rubbing and no uncomfortable spots. I even wore the vest with a racing singlet and had no rubbing.

Hydration:

I usually prefer not to use a hydration bladder. I tend to drink less water when I use one.  The weight on my back, the water sloshing, as well as the difficulty in filling the bladder has made me a big fan of hand held bottles. The VaporKrar pack eliminated the sloshing water. The unique shape of the hydration bladder as well as wave reducing material located midway make this bladder one I would use. The front pockets held my 17oz soft flasks and can even fit my 20oz hard bottles. The one modification I need to make is to trim about 4 to 6 inches off the bladder tubing.

Storage:

The description of the vest is an ultra-light racing vest, yet it comes with plenty of storage. I loved the flexible material of the pockets in the front.  On different days I would pack a phone, soft flasks, gels, and Clif Bloks in the front pockets.  I did struggle with the largest zippered pockets on the shoulders. These pockets are large enough for a phone, but since a phone does not bend with your body, it was a little uncomfortable as well as a struggle to put the phone back into the pocket without taking off the vest.  In addition, if I placed Clif Bloks in the pockets, they crinkled so much a few inches from my ears that I eventually removed them.  Nice pockets, but I just need to find the perfect item for them.

A large storage sleeve runs the length of the rear bottom of the pack. I used this to store quick items on the go and it was excellent. There are a total of three huge rear pockets. Only one has a zipper, while the other two are secured by a small piece of Velcro. This worries me a little since rain will easily go into the tops of the Velcro pockets. The pack also holds poles conveniently on the back, but one would need to take off the pack to insert the poles into the attached loops. The poles do not interfere with ones running form. There are no shock chords on the rear of the pack for additional exterior packing.

If the VaporKrar has too much storage, Nathan has a similar pack with no bladder that has only 4L of storage.

Overall I love the vest. It rides comfortably and does so no matter how much is stored in it.  It will be my go-to vest on short or long trail runs. This vest would be perfect for the Rut!