Nathan TrailMix 7L - Women's Review
Cons: Less gear storage, less frills
Manufacturer: Nathan Sports
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Nathan TrailMix 7L - Women's
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|Pros||Affordable, ample water storage, user-friendly, durable||Lightweight, great features, well-designed pockets, good compression system||Rugged, affordable, comfortable, intelligent hydration system, solid pole holders||Simple, compact, easily navigated pockets, affordable||Breathable, water resistant, lightweight|
|Cons||Less gear storage, less frills||Basic hydration system, mesh could be softer||Poor volume to weight ratio, less soft||Poor volume to weight ratio, less comfortable||Less comfortable, hard to use hydration system|
|Bottom Line||This is an affordable pack that offers ample storage with enough room for your trail running essentials||For its lower-than-average price, this vest offers well-designed and placed pockets with a great compression system||An affordable running partner with a great design, built for the grittiest trails you can find||This is a rugged and affordable pack that can stash all of your goodies for shorter mountain excursions||A breathable and weather-resistant hydration pack that offers basic gear-hauling for a reasonable price|
|Rating Categories||Nathan TrailMix 7L...||Ultimate Direction...||Osprey Dyna 6 - Wom...||REI Swiftland Hydro 5L||CamelBak Ultra Pro...|
|Hydration System (15%)|
|Volume to Weight Ratio (15%)|
|Specs||Nathan TrailMix 7L...||Ultimate Direction...||Osprey Dyna 6 - Wom...||REI Swiftland Hydro 5L||CamelBak Ultra Pro...|
|Weight (without hydration system)||7.13 oz||5.26 oz||10.69 oz||8.57 oz||5.33 oz|
|Carrying Capacity (liters)||7L||5L||5L||5L||6L|
|Included Liquid Capacity (liters)||2L||1L||1.5L||1.5L||1L|
|OGL Volume to Weight Ratio (bigger is better!)||0.98||0.95||0.46||0.58||1.12|
|External Storage||Rear daisy chain, pole holder loops, and nutrition pockets||Bungees, easy access to front left pocket||Back flap pouch, front external pockets, zipper pulls are bungee loops||Back flap, mesh pockets||Pole holding loops, underarm mesh pockets, front nutrition pouches|
|Type of Water Storage||2L reservoir||2 500ml soft bottles||1.5L reservoir||1.5L reservoir||2 soft 500mL bottles|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The TrailMix aims to give you just what you need for shorter excursions. It's comfortable and breathable with well-conceived pockets, all at a far less wallet-draining price than other options.
The TrailMix 7 offers balanced comfort and durability. The thick material is not as silky smooth as other vests we tested, but it lends itself well to dirty days deep in the woods. Even when stuffed to the brim with goodies and gear, the weight is evenly distributed and comfortable.
The front closures connect with clips and can be cinched to your heart's content. This pack also offers the option to adjust underarm space, a feature that we find totally necessary to accommodate a range of body shapes.
Because this pack is frameless and only supported by two vertical, parallel pieces of boning on the front panels, we think the comfort offered is top shelf. Despite its hearty countenance, this pack never chafes or rides up, making it an exceptionally comfortable choice for hikes and trail runs alike.
One of the things we love the most about the TrailMix is that it takes gear-hauling back to basics. Many of the hydration vests we've tested over the years have offered diagonal zippers, secret pockets, and esoteric closures. We love that the TrailMix rides like a mini backpack instead.
The bladder hose hook on the right breast panel holds the extra-long hose in place, and the reflective branding makes this pack an appropriate choice for running in dim light if that's your jam. We love the daisy chain on the back panel as well. We found it to be super useful for attaching things that we couldn't store inside the pack. Moreover, this pack has 4 separate loops that make for convenient and comfortable trekking pole storage. The nylon and polyester body are tough and durable but breathable enough to be worn in the heat. We've tested fancier packs, but for the price, this option is a true winner.
The TrailMix comes equipped with a 2L bladder with an incredibly long hose. While we found the hose to be a bit too long, you might find the length offers the option to run with it configured in whatever way you like best. We often ended up tucking it behind the main closure straps to eliminate bounce, and it worked comfortably well. The TrailMix has large breast-panel pockets that can accommodate soft bottles if you prefer those to a bladder. We typically don't run with both bottles and a bladder, but we do love having the option to decide based on our excursions.
This pack offers the standard structure for securing your hydration hose, both atop the shoulders and again with bilateral loops on the clavicle. The hose hook can slide up and down the breast rail but is securely fastened to the right side. We had a bit of trouble squeezing the full 2L bladder into its narrow-mouthed compartment. With a full bladder, the available real estate also dwindles quickly. We experienced some sloshing on our testing runs as we began to deplete our water supplies, but ultimately, that is mild enough for us to look beyond. We have learned a thing or two about sloshing during our time as hydration vest testers, and in this case, the affordable price point allows us to look beyond some minor noise.
Volume to Weight Ratio
When weighed without the hydration system, the TrailMix weighs in at 7.13 oz. This is a standard and predictable weight for a female-specific pack. The volume to weight ratio lands at an average number. We've tested packs with better ratios, but this one is fairly unremarkable.
Oftentimes, we have found that the less expensive hydration packs are built with more affordable materials, which tend to be heavier. We believe this to be the case with the TrailMix, but if durability is what you're after, this volume to weight ratio is just right.
As we've mentioned, the TrailMix is a back-to-basics option amid a sea of high-tech running packs. This pack features a large back pocket that is split into two compartments with a zippered closure. The deepest, or closest to your body, is the compartment for the included hydration bladder. This is separated from the other chamber by a sturdy piece of fabric with elastic at the top. The most superficial pocket on this pack also has a zippered closure and runs the length of the pack. This one is embellished with a useful daisy chain.
The front panels each have long pockets, specifically designed to house soft bottles. The right panel has an additional pocket that is perfect for storing nutrition that you need access to on the fly. Each of these three pockets has light elastic at the top. Because this pack comes with a hydration bladder, this is predominately how we tested it, save for a few runs with soft flasks in an attempt to be thorough. Without the bottles, the front pockets are easily accessible and useful for small bits of gear you want quick access to.
We found that the pockets aren't quite snug enough to only house a smartphone. One reviewer reported storing her handkerchief and iPhone 12 Mini in the same front pocket to eliminate the bouncing of the phone. The TrailMix doesn't have many specialized pockets, which makes it awesome for navigating while your hands are cold and your mind is tired. Even though there isn't a specific pocket for keys, we felt safe enough tucking them down into a zippered pocket for safekeeping.
The TrailMix was the obvious choice for our Best Buy Award. Its functionality paired with its affordable price tag makes it an awesome choice. This pack offers supreme comfort and durability for much less than other hydration vests we've tested.
We remain excited to explore the trails with the Nathan TrailMix 7. From its digestible price point to its long lifespan to its simplistic functionality, we love trail days with this sidekick. It offers ample water storage and enough remaining space to pack in (and out) the bare necessities. If you're on the hunt for an affordable trail running hydration vest, look no further because this one is likely to be your best match.
— Ally Arcuri
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