Often on my long runs, pretty much anything over 25km, I find myself making repeated trips back home to refill my water bottle, and maybe have an energy gel or two. I must confess, I am not a fan of strap on running belts, and like to run as free and light as possible. The repeated trips I must make back home also limit the routes I can take, leading to some degree of boredom. A few weeks ago now, I began to look into the possibility of using a light weight hydration pack. I looked into a few different options and manufacturers, but the ones which seemed to click best with me, both in design and functionality, were from Nathan.
Without hesitation, I ordered the Vapor Cloud and Vapour Wrap models, with the intention of keeping one and sending the other back. In fact, they were both so good in their own way, that I decided to keep both. Here is a summary of my thoughts on these vests.
The Vapor Cloud is the newer model, which I picked up from Sweatshop for £110. It is very light weight and contains a 2 litre hydration bladder, which can be filled with water. Now this is more than enough for me, and I cannot envision ever requiring more water than this on my long runs. There is also the storage space for two additional bottles at the from of the vest, as well as several zipper pockets which are ideal to hold gloves, nutrition bars, carbohydrate gels, etc. The addition of a draw string on the back is also an excellent feature, which can also be found on virtually all hydration vests on the market, and are designed to hold a jacket in place, without taking up internal storage.
One slight negative point about the Vapor Cloud bag is the lack of any designated front pocket for a mobile phone. With the Apple watch on the horizon (which lacks GPS), it necessitates the need for me to carry my mobile phone, should I wish to use the Apple Watch to record my run data. The front bottle holder does allow my iPhone 6 Plus to slide in, with a small part of the phone protruding, but it does the job just fine (provided there is no rain!).
The Vapour Wrap is the predecessor to the Vapor Cloud, but still has some features that are not found on the newer model above. A front zipper pouch, larger front zipper pocket and slightly larger front bottle holder pockets are the main differences. The small Nathan bottles I have in the Vapour Wrap do not fit in the Vapor Cloud, which meant I had to go out and find a narrow bottle that did fit. Fortunately, I stumbled upon a SIS bottle, which you can see comfortably sitting in the Vapor Cloud vest above. The addition of two zipper compartments in the back and also a drawstring on the back make this an ideal companion for longer runs.
I managed to bag the Vapor Wrap (no pun intended) from Amazon.com for £75, including postage and import taxes to the UK. On arrival, the hydration bladder pipe was severely bent, and Amazon.com agreed to refund me £15, seeing as I could not use it. This is not a problem, as I already have a hydration bladder from the Vapor Cloud, which is interchangeable between the two bags, as and when I require it. In all honesty, the hydration bladder works much better for me in the Vapour Wrap, which I am planning to use for all my long runs, whereas the Vapor Cloud will be used more for commutes.
Conclusively, I must confess that I had some reservations about the comfort of using a running vest. Suffice to say, it has been a very comfortable affair, and when running, you really don’t notice much of a difference. The convenience of having all my rations with me is an asset, and will now allow me to venture further away and explore new routes, without the fear of running out of supplies.