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Nathan Endurance Race Vest-Initial Review

Just before our Palmetto 200 run, we received a few water packs to test.  Our first, received from Hydrapak, is review here.  The second of our packs is the Endurance Race Vest from Nathan Sports.  A special thanks to Nathan for the sample.

About Nathan Sports:

Nathan Sports is a division of Penguin Brands and manufacture a number of race belts, vests, packs, bottles, and reflective gear for runners and triathletes.  We’ve reviewed a cheap and useful pouch from Nathan that we use on almost every run.

About the Endurance Race Vest:

According to the Nathan site, the Endurance Vest is “The hydration pack, redefined.”  The Endurance pack is full of interesting features you’d expect to find on a nice pack and a few you wouldn’t.  The pack has a 3-way Propulsion Harness designed to reduce or eliminate bounce during your run.  The pack has a two liter bladder, made by Hydropak, with the nifty Slideseal top closure.  There’s a front pocket that can hold up to a 22 oz. bottle, we used it for gels, and a waterproof pocket for pills or small bits of kit.  The front zippered pocket is useful and holds a full-sized smartphone without issue.  We used a HTC Evo and also an iPhone 4 without issue.  The chest strap features a clip for the water tube.  The Endurance vest can be purchased online for approximately $80.

Testing the Endurance Race Vest:

We’ve used the Endurance race vest on a number of training runs, from 3 to 14 miles and carried it with us to the Palmetto 200.  During the Palmetto 200, we completed a 10 mile and two 8 mile legs wearing the pack.  Our training runs were completed in varied weather, ranging from 70 to 87 degrees and all during the day.  Our Palmetto 200 runs were done during the day and night and in temperatures between 50 and 85 degrees.  For the Palmetto runs, we completed all three runs within 18 hours.

Initial Impressions of the Endurance Race Vest:

During our test runs, we noticed immediately that the Endurance Vest from Nathan is well balanced.  Unlike a number of other packs we used, the 3-way harness system significantly reduces the bounce from running.  Unlike most other vests, the Endurance doesn’t feature standard shoulder straps.  It’s hard to explain the difference, so it’s probably best to look at the attached pictures.  Basically, instead of attaching the bottom of the shoulder strap to the rear of the pack, the Endurance attaches from the side of the shoulder strap to the back of the pack.  Slight difference, but very noticeable when running.  We didn’t have to cinch the pack uncomfortably tight to prevent bouncing.

This pack is highly reflective.  One of our teammates described us as being “lit up like a redneck Christmas display” during a night run at the Palmetto 200.  The Palmetto 200 required reflective vests at all times, but this pack is more reflective than most of the vests we used during the race.

This pack is large, but comparatively light when you factor in all the features and pockets.  We didn’t get tired of wearing the vest on most runs, even our final run in the Palmetto 200 which brought us to 30 miles in about 24 hours.  The only time we grew tired of the pack was due to a mis-adjustment in the shoulder straps.  We overtightened the pack and moved the chest strap too far up our body.  This caused additional pressure and strain on our shoulders and neck.  Once we adjusted the pack, we didn’t have any further problems with discomfort or pain.

Though we’re still reviewing this pack, out of the gate it’s one of the most useful and comfortable packs.  We’ll bring you our final thoughts in the next few weeks.

About Eric H. Doss

Eric is a triathlete and writer. He has competed in all distances of triathlons, from sprints to full Ironman distance races. He founded FitEgg.com in 2009 to meet the increasing need for professional, unbiased reviews of triathlon gear.

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