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Nathan VaporAir 2.0 Review

An overall great running hydration pack that has a few minor comfort issues.
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Price:  $150 List | $98.35 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Easily accessible Hydrapak bladder, lots of pockets, extra storage capacity, magnetic hose clip
Cons:  Expensive, some comfort issues
Manufacturer:   Nathan Sports
By Brian Martin ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 1, 2019
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 14
  • Comfort - 30% 5
  • Features - 15% 7
  • Hydration System - 15% 9
  • Storage Capacity - 15% 8
  • Pockets - 15% 8
  • Weight - 10% 5

Our Verdict

If you're looking for a high performing alternative to chest-mounted soft flasks, the Nathan VaporAir 2.0 is a good option. While it doesn't offer the ultimate comfort you get with our Editors' Choice, it gets the job done and has enough storage options to keep you going throughout the day. The easily accessible pockets, adjustable fit, and large hydration capacity make this a truly effective and functional hydration pack for running. There are two critical issues, though, that put this vest out of the running for any awards. The flank fit adjustment straps were unnecessarily hard to use, and times when we had the hydration reservoir filled, and the front of the pack was light, the pull towards the back was uncomfortable.


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Pros Easily accessible Hydrapak bladder, lots of pockets, extra storage capacity, magnetic hose clipComfortable, great fit, tons of easily reachable pockets, very versatileComfortable, lots of storage, great pocketsTons of storage, comfortable, expandableExcellent hydration system, great storage and pockets
Cons Expensive, some comfort issuesExpensive, must buy hydration bladder separatelyNo trekking pole attachment, expensiveBulkyItchy material, tight fit
Bottom Line An overall great running hydration pack that has a few minor comfort issues.The best running pack on the market, with excellent pockets and a comfortable fit.A comfortable, plush running pack with room for all your favorite gear. This thing is on another level.The highest expandable capacity for gear and water among the running packs we tested.Great storage and hydration with a less comfortable fit.
Rating Categories Nathan VaporAir 2.0 Salomon ADV Skin 12 Set Nathan VaporHowe 2.0 12L Ultimate Direction FKT Salomon ADV Skin 8 Set
Comfort (30%)
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
6
Features (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
Hydration System (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
Storage Capacity (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
8
Pockets (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Weight (10%)
10
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5
10
0
8
10
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6
10
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5
10
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7
Specs Nathan VaporAir 2.0 Salomon ADV Skin... Nathan VaporHowe... Ultimate Direction... Salomon ADV Skin 8...
Weight (oz.) 14.1 oz 11.9 oz 13.2 oz 14.5 oz 12.0 oz
Carrying Capacity (liters) 7 L 12 L 12 L 18 L 8 L
Included Liquid Capacity 2 L 1 L Yes, front storage pockets, backpack 0.6 L Yes, many external pockets
External Storage? Yes, bungees Yes, "Kangaroo Pockets" One 1.6 L bladder Yes, bungees, many external zip pockets Two 0.5 L soft flasks
Type of water storage Internal Bladder (included), can accomodate front bottles (not included) Two 0.5L soft flasks (included), plus bladder sleeve (bladder not included) 1.6 liters One 0.6L bottle included 1 liter
Pole Holders? Yes Yes No Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Vapor Air 2.0 is a functional and capable hydration pack for running. It is loaded with features, accessible pockets, and enough hydration storage to get you deep into the mountains. The comfort level and fit adjustments have strayed a bit from past Nathan vests, which is unfortunate because we had high expectations for this pack.

Performance Comparison


The Nathan VaporAir 2.0 is loaded with features but lacks the ultimate comfort necessary to put a pack in the running for an award.
The Nathan VaporAir 2.0 is loaded with features but lacks the ultimate comfort necessary to put a pack in the running for an award.

Comfort


The bar is high these days in the comfort of a running vest. During the testing period, our main area of frustration with the VaporAir was the imbalance felt with a full hydration bladder as well as the difficulty dialing in the flank adjustments.

While most packs we tested are a bit more self-explanatory with fit adjustments  the VaporAir requires a bit more trial and error.
While most packs we tested are a bit more self-explanatory with fit adjustments, the VaporAir requires a bit more trial and error.

When pulling either side of the adjustment strap, located inside a pocket (meaning its nearly impossible to adjust while moving or if you have things in the pockets), you don't feel the strap becoming snug until you pull an excessive amount through. The result for us was a less than perfect fit as well as some frustration with the design. Throughout our testing, we found that vests with hydration packs required large easy to adjust v-straps along the flank to keep the pack from bouncing all over.

The sternum straps are easily adjusted by sliding the clips up and down the mono-rail on each side of the shoulder straps. The upper clip also contains the magnetic clamp for the hydration hose. The VaporAir is still a functional pack, and if it had attained the comfort level of some of the other high-end models, it would have been closer to being in the running for an award.

Features & Design


For basically any desired hydration pack use, the VaporAir had the features we wanted. The hydration capacity is expandable, it has a bungee jacket trap on the back, it's equipped to attach collapsible poles, and even has a magnetic hose clamp.

The chronic sagging of this vest in the back was annoying. When the front of the pack is loaded down  it isn't as big of an issue.
The chronic sagging of this vest in the back was annoying. When the front of the pack is loaded down, it isn't as big of an issue.

As far as design goes, we feel that the fit of the vest should be intuitive, quick, and easy. The past version of this vest was indeed quick and easy as well as comfortable. This new fit system is not so intuitive and didn't adequately manage the weight of the 2-liter water reservoir.

Hydration System


The VaporAir comes equipped with one of the better hydration reservoirs we have used. It is lightweight, easy to fill/hold open with one hand, and is totally leak-free. It also comes equipped with a quick release hose that allows you to quickly remove the bladder without unthreading the hose from its shoulder straps. The magnetic hose clamp on the chest strap also proved to be an excellent way to keep the hose tidy when it wasn't in use. The added bonus of the magnetic clip was not having to look down when reattaching. If we just got the hose close, it would clip.

The Nathan 2 liter reservoir is easy to fill and didn't leak at all. It's also one of the lightest reservoirs as it doesn't have any unnecessary plastic attachments or handles on the outside.
The Nathan 2 liter reservoir is easy to fill and didn't leak at all. It's also one of the lightest reservoirs as it doesn't have any unnecessary plastic attachments or handles on the outside.

The stretchy chest pockets are certainly large enough to add some soft flasks if you want to expand the capacity of this pack, and potentially balance out some of the weight from the two liters on the back. Of all hydration packs tested that utilize a bladder, this bladder/hose/clamp combo was our favorite.


Storage Capacity


The VaporAir 2.0 isn't a cavernous running pack. It is designed for ultra-marathons where you encounter aid stations periodically and have the ability to refill your stores. That being said, there is plenty of space to pack along any required race equipment like extra layers, certain water capacity, or first aid supplies and lights. We put together a typical but slim kit we take out running and stuffed it into the VaporAir. Everything fit fairly easily, and we had a bit of space left for either more food or extra layers.

The VaporAir 2.0 had a decent storage capacity that allowed us to have two liters of water and a nearly a days supply of food on board.

Pockets


As a long distance race oriented hydration pack, there are ample pockets for packing in the essentials and keeping them organized. The layout of the pockets isn't our favorite from the test group, though. We spent a lot of time using both hands to simultaneously push items through the pack's skin while reaching into the deep, narrow chest pockets.

While the breast pockets do hold quite a lot of food and gear  our testers' hands were a bit too big to fit down inside them making it a bit difficult to get some items out.
While the breast pockets do hold quite a lot of food and gear, our testers' hands were a bit too big to fit down inside them making it a bit difficult to get some items out.

We did appreciate having ample sized and easily accessible zippered breast pockets to keep things like our phone and single car key. Sometimes, during our testing with other vests, it was challenging to find an appropriate place for these items.

Both shoulder straps had large zippered pockets that are both easy to access and large enough for a smartphone plus extra food.
Both shoulder straps had large zippered pockets that are both easy to access and large enough for a smartphone plus extra food.

The breast pockets are big enough for use with water bottles or soft flasks if you prefer that hydration method or want to carry extra water.

Weight


While Nathan designed this pack to be a competitive ultra vest, our testing revealed it to be a bit heavier than other ultra-focussed vests. The VaporAir weighs 14.11 ounces, putting it toward the bottom of the pack for weight among the vests we tested.

Not the heaviest  but far from the lightest.
Not the heaviest, but far from the lightest.

Best Applications


For anyone who has a strong preference of a hydration bladder over chest mounted soft flasks, the VaporAir is a pretty good choice for trail running. It has ample storage for equipment and food and has one of the best hydration systems we tested. It would be a stretch to make this pack work for really long days out without a resupply, but you might be able to make it happen if you know fair weather is in the forecast and you aren't afraid to leave behind the bulky layers.

Value


With the amazing options on the market offering fantastic comfort and expandable hydration systems, it's hard to say this pack offers incredible value. If you're a long time Nathan running pack user, definitely try one of these on before you jump into it blindly as the fit is significantly different from the several Nathan vest we have tried in the past.

Conclusion


The Nathan VaporAir 2.0 is hydration reservoir style pack. Overall it functions well but has a few issues, mainly the fit and comfort. The hydration system, pockets, and storage capacity all get the job done.


Brian Martin