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Nathan TrailMix 7L - Women's Review

This is an affordable pack that offers ample storage with enough room for your trail running essentials
Nathan TrailMix 7L - Women's
Photo: Nathan Sports
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $100 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Affordable, ample water storage, user-friendly, durable
Cons:  Less gear storage, less frills
Manufacturer:   Nathan Sports
By Ally Meller ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 20, 2021
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 9
  • Comfort - 30% 8
  • Features - 25% 7
  • Hydration System - 15% 7
  • Volume to Weight Ratio - 15% 7
  • Pockets - 15% 7

Our Verdict

The Nathan TrailMix 7 is a heartily engineered, trail-specific hydration system. It wears like a small, snug backpack and quickly became one of our affordable favorites for long, meandering trail days. As its name suggests, it has a total capacity of 7L, which includes 2L of water storage. This frameless design has well-contoured shoulders and multiple cinch straps to ensure a proper fit. The front pockets are deep enough to accommodate soft flasks, but those do not come included. If you're looking for a simply-designed pack to take on day trips into the backcountry, the TrailMix might be the one for you.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award  
Price Check Price at REI
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Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Affordable, ample water storage, user-friendly, durableComfortable, huge storage capacity, great pockets, lots of size options, durableUltra comfortable, stretchy, breathable, simple yet precise pocketsIncredibly comfortable, great pockets, breathableRugged, affordable, comfortable, intelligent hydration system, solid pole holders
Cons Less gear storage, less frillsExpensiveNo trekking pole attachment, slight sloshing, priceyStrange hydration straws, average storage capacityPoor volume to weight ratio, less soft
Bottom Line This is an affordable pack that offers ample storage with enough room for your trail running essentialsThe most comfortable and spacious hydration pack that we have tested to dateA super comfortable and brilliantly designed hydration pack for long days on your feetA storage-oriented hydration vest that wears like a silky-smooth second skin and packs all of the essentials with easeAn affordable running partner with a great design, built for the grittiest trails you can find
Rating Categories Nathan TrailMix 7L - Women's Pinnacle 12L Nathan VaporHowe 2.0 12L Salomon ADV Skin 8 Set Osprey Dyna 6 - Women's
Comfort (30%)
8
9
9
9
7
Features (25%)
7
8
8
8
8
Hydration System (15%)
7
7
7
7
8
Volume To Weight Ratio (15%)
7
9
9
6
3
Pockets (15%)
7
10
9
8
7
Specs Nathan TrailMix 7L... Pinnacle 12L Nathan VaporHowe... Salomon ADV Skin 8... Osprey Dyna 6 -...
Weight (without hydration system) 7.13 oz 7.20 oz 7.09 oz 10.16 oz 10.69 oz
Carrying Capacity (liters) 7L 12L 12L 8L 5L
Included Liquid Capacity (liters) 2L 1.6L 1.6L 1L 1.5L
OGL Volume to Weight Ratio (bigger is better!) 0.98 1.6 1.69 0.79 0.46
External Storage? Yes- rear daisy chain, pole holder loops, and nutrition pockets. Yes- large rear kangaroo pocket, front nutrition or soft flask accomodations. Yes- Nutrition pouches on the front Yes- many bungees and one kangaroo-esque pockey Yes- back flap pouch, front external pockets, zipper pulls are bungee loops, plus a bottom loop that runs horizontally
Type of Water Storage 2 liter reservoir 1.6 liter hourglass, insulated reservoir 1.6 liter hourglass, insulated reservoir 2 soft 500mL bottles 1.5 liter reservoir
Pole Holders? Yes Yes No Yes Yes

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.

Performance Comparison


The TrailMix offers affordable and durable gear storage.
The TrailMix offers affordable and durable gear storage.
Photo: Ally Meller

Comfort


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.

We love that the underarm straps are easy to adjust and remain super...
We love that the underarm straps are easy to adjust and remain super secure while in motion.
Photo: Ally Meller

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.

The TrailMix's next-to-body material is soft and ultra-breathable.
The TrailMix's next-to-body material is soft and ultra-breathable.
Photo: Lauren DeLaunay

Features


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.

Easy to use and wear with highly accessible pockets on the front.
Easy to use and wear with highly accessible pockets on the front.
Photo: Ally Meller

Hydration System


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.

We found the hose to be a bit too long but it's easy enough to tuck...
We found the hose to be a bit too long but it's easy enough to tuck beneath a strap as to not negatively impact your workout.
Photo: Ally Meller

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.

When used with soft bottles in the front pockets, the back of the...
When used with soft bottles in the front pockets, the back of the pack can accommodate an extra layer, some socks, snacks, and of course, dog treats.
Photo: Ally Meller

Pockets


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.

Well-placed front pockets offer plenty of storage for quick-draw...
Well-placed front pockets offer plenty of storage for quick-draw essentials.
Photo: Ally Meller

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 external daisy chain provides a bit of extra storage on the days...
The external daisy chain provides a bit of extra storage on the days when you end up bringing too much gear.
Photo: Ally Meller

Value


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.

The right breast panel of the TrailMix has a double-layer pocket and...
The right breast panel of the TrailMix has a double-layer pocket and a hook to secure your hydration hose.
Photo: Ally Meller

Conclusion


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.

Can't stop, won't stop in the Nathan TrailMix 7.
Can't stop, won't stop in the Nathan TrailMix 7.
Photo: Ally Meller

Ally Meller