Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Nathan HPL 20 Hydration Vest Review

I must tell you about the greatest hydration pack ever: the Nathan HPL 20 Hydration Vest. (They didn't sponsor or provide anything for this review by the way.)

This was the third hydration pack that I have used. The first was a Costco special that was fine for hiking but totally uncomfortable for running. The second was the Camelbak Rogue. It was more comfortable than the first but still not great. It rubbed against my lower neck and bounced around quite a bit. It's not a horrible pack, but not something I wanted to wear for tons of miles.

I noticed that in pictures from ultramarathons, many runners were wearing the Nathan hydration vest. I'm training for my first 100 miler so I figured I should go with the experts and try Nathan. Notice that they call it a hydration vest instead of a hydration pack. The vest wears differently. It's kind of like the vest is hugging your body instead of riding on your back.

This made it super, super comfortable. It doesn't bounce around even when it's filled to the 2-liter capacity. It has some storage on the back, but my favorite part is that it has two storage compartments in front for easy access. I keep my camera on one side and my gels in the other. It is SO nice to not have to take my pack off to reach my camera. My sister described the look perfectly: from a distance it looks like a saggy bra.

*Easy to refill
*2 liter capacity
*Storage compartment in the back
*Two storage pockets in front
*Very comfortable

*None (if you don't count that saggy bra look)

If you're in the market for a hydration pack (or vest) for long distance running, the Nathan HPL 20 is definitely the way to go.


  1. Good to know. I use a camelback mule but suspected better solutions must exist for running.

  2. I avoided the Camelbak backpack because I was afraid it would move around too much, that one looks like it would do a great job of staying in place. I ended up with a waist pack which I like, but if I'm ever in the market again maybe I'll check this one out.

  3. Although I totally see the saggy bra thing, I think you've found something good here. That looks like just the ticket to a comfortable way to stay hydrated. Nice work!

  4. Wow, that looks awesome. I hate handhelds. I've been OK with my CamelBak, but I think it's really made for cyclists (I will never be one of those). The front compartments for snacks and stuff....where have you been all my life? I sense a Christmas present request coming on...

  5. Any chance your wife would give it a try and write a review? Kind of wondering if it's a look women should stay away from, and also if a woman thought it was comfortable running in it....just sayin'

  6. Ha! I really think that this vest's only "con" could be a "pro" for me. I will just fill those puppies up with gels and pretend for a while! :)

  7. i think you must have read my mind. literally LAST night i was thinking about what people do about water in ultramarathons or trail runs. so my next thought was to ask you when i remembered. then you post this review. amazing. thanks for the tips!

  8. Great review. If I can ever talk myself into running more than 10 miles I'll have to check into this vest.

  9. Thanks for this review! I've actually been checking this vest out, but have delayed buying it because of the price. I might just have to pull the trigger.

  10. Thanks for the advice! I've been looking at water belts and stuff on line a lot lately. I'm getting tired of dropping water bottles for my long runs and I want to try something else. I'll check it out.

    The saggy bra look is totally in these days. I guess your sister didn't know?

  11. Have you heard about this new company Ultraspire. They make amazing Hydration packs you can customize the pack to you. you can find their stuff at Ultraspire.net. they are also giving away a pack if you take a picture wearing their tattoo I think the contest ends November 26, 2011 you just have to get a tattoo. I think I know where you can get one. :D