Nathan Fireball Race Vest Reviewed & Rated

It’s common wisdom that running is a very simple method of exercise. On the surface, it appears that the only thing required to start running is a pair of legs. However, the timelessly popular pastime of running is deceptively complex, as any runner looking to improve their experience will quickly realize. Locking down an effective routine and finding a reliable pair of running shoes are only the tip of the iceberg. Since running is an exercise that heavily engages the cardiovascular system, excessive sweating is often associated with a long and effective running session and using the Nathan Fireball race vest might be helpful. This sweating leads to a loss of moisture in the body, necessitating proper hydration. The simple answer to this problem is to carry a small water bottle during each running session. However, this can become a more serious issue when running for longer periods of time or in dangerous environments. To address these specific circumstances, many athletic accessory designers have created different forms of hands-free storage for runners to stow not only water but also other necessities. The Nathan Fireball race vest is one of these products, designed to offer the most utility to trail runners and hikers while being wrapped in an appealing package.

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Where to Buy
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Where to Buy
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Pros & Cons


  • Comfortable and stable fit
  • Multiple forms of hydration storage
  • Highly breathable shoulder straps
  • Excellent low-light visibility
  • Lightweight and durable



    • Disappointing storage options
    • Potential for skin irritation

      Key Features
      The primary intended use for the Nathan Fireball race vest is to store water and other hydrating liquids. To accomplish this purpose, this running vest comes with a large pouch in the rear that is designed to hold a water bladder of up to 2 liters. Additional water storage is provided on the front of this vest with two shoulder strap pouches capable of holding one flask or bottle each.

      While this is mainly intended for storing water, the high versatility of this running product means that it can be used as a general portable storage bag, similar to a backpack. For example, the expandable back pouch designed to hold a bladder offers enough room for many other items that can come in handy for long hikes and trail runs, such as a map, a GPS device, some food, or an emergency survival kit. More storage is available in the front, with one of the shoulder pouches featuring an extra pocket. This pocket is very small but it can still be used to hold essentials such as pills or small snacks. Something worth noting is that these features can definitely be useful for runners but they shouldn’t be the main selling point. If an individual is simply looking for storage during a hike, they would be better off buying a full backpack.
      When it comes to providing decent breathability, the two most important aspects of a product’s design are weight and construction materials. Especially in regards to apparel, objects that weigh more will generate more heat and lead to an increased need for breathability. As a consequence, many forms of athletic apparel, including footwear, will use a material that is lighter and more accommodating to airflow.

      This same design philosophy can be observed with the race vest. Based on appearances, this racing vest seems to be predominantly made from a polyester mesh fabric. This material is nearly translucent in all areas except for the rear pouch, resulting in a design that is light as a feather and accommodating to individuals prone to sweating or heat flashes. While these are important features for a running vest that certainly come in handy for the race vest, this style of design doesn’t result in a great deal of durability. This could become an issue for runners who wish to take this vest with them on trail runs but if they manage to exercise proper caution it shouldn’t be a major concern.
      Many of the features implemented by Nathan into the development of their race vest that is intended for providing benefits in weight, utility, and breathability have secondary benefits for the product’s comfort. After all, a lighter and thinner article of clothing is going to be less noticeable when worn than one with a greater weight or thicker padding.

      While this does mean that some comfort can be derived from the lighter nature of the Nathan Fireball race vest, one area in which this running vest can begin to feel uncomfortable is in regards to its weight distribution. Whether runners use the back pouch to stow a water bladder or just assorted accessories, this will most likely result in most of the Nathan Fireball’s weight being distributed to its rear. This is a common feature of most similar storage apparel such as backpacks and is usually mitigated through the use of tight straps on the front. This running jacket does offer one such strap that connects the two shoulder pouches toward the top of the wearer’s chest. Additionally, holding one or two water bottles in the front pouches can correct the weight distribution issue. However, these design caveats aren’t as well implemented as they are on backpacks due to the lighter and less durable materials used.
      The main difference between the race vest and a more traditional backpack or hydration pack is its size. The Fireball is much smaller and lighter than these other forms of running storage apparel; depending on the needs and preferences of the prospective customer, this can be either a positive or a negative.

      Individuals who would find this size difference to be a positive feature are those who aren’t as concerned with storage. These runners would be more concerned with having an easy way to store a decent amount of water that can be accessed without very much fuss and won’t add a great deal of ballast that would slow down their running times. For these particular people, Nathan Fireball makes sense over a more traditional running backpack. However, they can find an accessory that provides even more convenience at an even lower weight if they pick a hydration belt instead. Those who would see the smaller size of this running vest as a negative are probably the hardcore trail runners. These individuals are used to carrying extra weight for their various survival tools and accessories and will want something that has greater resilience to the elements.
      When used for its intended purpose and in an appropriate environment, this running vest offers enough durability to last for a reasonable amount of time before needing to be replaced. In the event of unforeseen consequences, however, many runners may be disappointed with the level of resiliency offered by the race vest.

      The reason why this is the case has to do with the concessions made in this product’s design. As previously mentioned, the nearly translucent polyester-based material that makes up the Nathan Fireball race vest shoulder straps and vest offers an impressive lightness and breathability at the expense of its durability. While resistant to errant fraying, it isn’t unrealistic to see tearing after taking a nasty fall while running on a rough trail. For these reasons, this running vest may not be the best choice for trail runners. One area in which more effort was placed for the purpose of durability is in the rear pouch. Since it is meant for holding water bladders, which aren’t as sturdy or resilient as standard water bottles, the designers compensated by using reinforced fabric for its housing.
      Something that is conspicuously absent from the package when ordering a race vest is a water reservoir, also commonly referred to as a water bladder. This is something that this running vest was designed to hold but isn’t included when ordering the product. To compensate, two 12 oz SpeedShot flasks are included which fit easily into the shoulder pouches.

      While the lack of a water bladder can be disappointing, something nice about the Nathan Fireball is that it can accommodate different models of water reservoirs. Runners who already own a reservoir from another company such as CamelBak can easily place it in this running vest, provided that it is the right size. Depending on the model, this product can either hold a 1 ½ liter or 2-liter bladder. If a runner doesn’t want to store a bladder in the rear pouch and simply use the two included flasks, this reinforced pocket can be used to stow other small items. This can come in handy for holding small essentials such as a smartphone, keys, snacks, or a map. Without adding a rear pouch, the Nathan Fireball race vest can hold enough water through its two SpeedShot flasks to provide adequate hydration for roughly an hour and a half of running. Adding a bladder will drastically increase this amount.
      Despite being more of a vest than a traditional backpack, the race vest style more closely resembles the latter. The larger rear pouch designed for holding a water reservoir has a similar look to something more heavy duty. Don’t be deceived, however; the storage and durability of this running vest are significantly less impressive than a customer may be led to believe thanks to its appearance.

      Comparisons aside, this is a decent looking running accessory. High-quality materials were used to make it and all available color schemes are well-coordinated. Some use palettes of cooler colors to accessorize well with clothes or shoes while others use bright neon colors to increase visibility for the purpose of safety. Many of these color options can be found when shopping through third-party online retailers but others can only be found through the manufacturer’s website. One final word about the Nathan Fireball race vest’s style: wearing it without the two flasks in the shoulder pouches will help to make it look more like a running backpack and less like a diaper bag or combat bandolier.
      The initial cost for the Nathan Fireball race vest, according to the suggested retail price found on the manufacturer’s website, is fairly high. Despite not having the same utility and durability as a common running backpack, this running hydration vest has a price much higher than many of these products. The justification to this price hike seems to be the lighter design and the ease in which runners can access water while wearing it, either through the reservoir in the rear or with the SpeedShot flasks in front.

      Fortunately, the passing of time has seen the price for this product drop, albeit not to as much of a degree as some budget shoppers may like. Still, it’s possible to find the Nathan Fireball race vest at a cost that is 25% lower than the suggested retail price. This does mean that some sizes and color options won’t be available to purchase but it may be worth it for individuals who see an option they like. Unfortunately, even with the discount, this product is overpriced. For the same cost, runners could purchase an adequate backpack capable of holding more items and a hydration belt that could hold their water reservoir. The only way that this hydration vest is a better buy than that combination is if the customer is more interested in a lighter accessory since the Nathan Fireball weighs only 3 ounces on its own.
      Key Features

      • Lightweight and breathable construction

      • Pouches for water storage on shoulder straps and rear

      • Includes two 12 oz SpeedShot flasks

      • Fits water reservoirs of up to 2 L

      • Pockets can be used for storing other items

      Bottom Line
      It’s tough to justify purchasing the Nathan Fireball race vest since it attempts to fill a niche that really isn’t there. Yes, some runners appreciate quick access to water while running but this can be achieved with the use of a lighter and less costly hydration belt. Others may like to have an easy way to store valuables on their back while trail running but this can be accomplished with a much sturdier backpack that offers more storage space. The particular customer who is most likely to get enough use out of the Nathan Fireball race vest to justify its purchase is a low-intensity trail runner or marathon-runner who wants a form of hydration that is as light as possible. For these individuals this running vest is a great pick; however, others are less likely to share this enthusiasm.
      Where to Buy
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      By Mike Valverde
      Last updated:
      Where to buy
      Best offer on: Aug. 01. 2021

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