Monday, March 19, 2012

Nathan Product Test 1 & 2

Endurance Rear View
While I have been using a number of Nathan products over the years (hand helds and safety gear) there are many I have never tried. Nathan Performance Gear has provided me with an amazing opportunity to test and review a number of these products and over the next several months I will provide periodic reviews on each.  The first two included in this post will be my opinions of the Endurance and Minimalist Vest.

Endurance Front View
Last weekend I ran with the Nathan Endurance Hydration Vest. Saturday I covered 24 miles up and down Bear Mountain climbing and descending more than 6,600 feet and Sunday another 22.5 miles of rolling on the trails of Rockefeller State Preserve. I have of course seen the Nathan Race Vests often around the ultra community but had never tried one. Over the years I have used a couple of other brands from my adventure racing and mountain biking days.  I honestly never gave it much thought, after all its just a pack right? Wrong!

The difference to me was clear the moment I put on the vest.  You can see all the technical specs at the link above, but I am going to focus on function and fit.  The first thing I noticed when I put the vest on was how well it fit. It seemed to flow perfectly with the shape of my shoulders and back and the contoured back panel was very comfortable. I also felt the pack sat in just the right spot on my back, not riding to high or low.  The simple strap system was easy to adjust to comfort and the single front strap made for quick adjustments on the fly as I gradually emptied the bladder. There was also very little to no movement with the pack even on the jarring downhills. It fit like a glove!

Functionally I am not yet sure what else I could ask for in this model. There is enough storage for the duration of runs I would use this vest for and a number of other convenient features. One of my favorites is the tube clip.  Such a simple concept but so meaningful having a designated spot to anchor the tube and easy to use. I also love the waterproof pill pocket. I can't tell you how many times I have reached into a zip lock to grab on to a pile of mushy S-Caps. There is of course a zipper pocket for your phone and an expandable pocket to shove in a bunch of gels. Additionally there is a mesh holster in the front which can hold a 22oz Nathan Handheld bringing the fluid capacity of this vest to 92 oz.

Minimist Rear View
This past Sunday I ran 14.5 miles with the Nathan Minimist Hydration Vest (specs available at the link). My comments for the most part are similar here. Overall a great fit and extremely lightweight. I again struggle to find anything wrong with this vest but if I am going to be picky, I did notice the bladder bounced around in the pack a little at the beginning when it was full.  However, within about 30-45 minutes as the bladder was emptied the bouncing was gone.

Minimist Front View
Access was easy to whatever I needed with several pockets at the front for gels, pills and cell phone. I actually used the pill pocket for money which stayed perfectly dry. I would love to see the tube clip feature on this model too although it was not really an issue as I just stuck the end in one of the front pockets to keep it from bouncing around. With its 50 oz bladder and storage capacity I will be comfortable running with this pack for durations of 3 hours or less (more in cooler weather).

I hope you find my thoughts on these products helpful and trust you will like them as much as I do. Thank you to Nathan Performance Gear for the opportunity.  I am looking forward to miles of great running together and writing a few more reviews including one on Nathan's safety gear, one of my favorite topics.


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