For longer runs, or runs where I need to carry more gear, I’ve been playing with the Nathan VaporShadow pack.
Right away I noticed this pack has a lot going on. It’s advertised as a high-capacity race vest designed to fit a women’s torso. In terms of storage it’s got plenty of compartments if you like to separate and organize your gear. The front has what seems to be the standard on most packs, one zipper pocket and one quick drop pocket, but then they have added this neat little quick access gel pocket and one of my favourite features a salt pocket. There are two good sized side zip pockets and then four separate compartments that make up the back of the pack. It holds a 2L bladder in a compartment that is lined to keep liquids cool, I really liked this feature. Then there is two storage spaces divided by a mesh lining and then another space separated by a thicker lining that is accessible from a side zip. As well as they added a bungee rope system on the outer back. Lots of options for how you want to carry and sort your gear.
I love the colours, it’s great to see that they chose fun bright ideas, and it’s covered in reflective markings from front to back. There is a load stabilizer system built into the pack that I played around with a bit with the pack fully loaded up, but in all honesty I didn’t notice that it made a huge difference, the pack fits well to my body to begin with and I didn’t find there was much movement when running. The front secure straps are built on an adjustable ribbing with an easy clip system that works well for me, I like being able to adjust where I feel I need the front straps. However the magnet mount for the hydration hose wasn’t a feature I liked or trusted, I found I spent more time trying to line that magnet up then I do with packs where it’s a simpler clip. Which brings me to the second feature I struggled with, there are a lot of hanging ropes and plastic bobbles on this pack that need to be tucked away or managed somehow. Specifically the side ropes that are used to secure the pack further. Another item that didn’t work for me was the small clip that secures the top of the bladder to the pack, I found it not quick and easy so refills took a bit longer. The pack sits on the heavier side of most of my running packs as well.
Over all I was happy to see that clearly there was a lot of thought put into this pack, there are some great features that I find key when I pick a running pack, the salt pocket, the compartment options, 2L bladder, trekking pole loops, and the snug fit. The ability to adjust the front secure straps is great and for a long run where I need to carry extra layers and fuel I really liked the storage options. Seems like a pretty tough pack and can handle some serious kms.
~Kelly Wald is an ultra runner in Barrie, Ontario.