Water is a key essential to life on our planet. Without consistent access to clean water, life is simply not possible on Earth. Although humans have grown to achieve far greater things than any other living species, one thing that we have not outgrown is our need for water. This need is exacerbated when exercising, as fluids are lost during the process of perspiration. Because of this, many medical professionals recommend consuming at least 8 ounces of water for every 30 minutes or so of intense physical activity.
For runners, finding the best way to store this needed hydration can be a dilemma. The obvious first choice is a water bottle, due to their lightweight construction and ease of use while running. However, longer running sessions will necessitate the consumption of greater volumes of water than that which can be contained in an ordinary bottle. To meet the needs of half-marathon and marathon runners, running accessories have been developed that take the form of apparel. These include belts that can hold multiple water bottles and vests that can hold bottles and water bladders. The Nathan Vaporcloud is one of these running vests and it includes a plethora of features that are sure to appeal to hardcore endurance runners.
The rear pouch is the perfect size to fit a water bladder that can then be fed through a hose that is connected to the top portion of a shoulder strap for easy access. In addition to this primary function, the design of the Vaporcloud also allows for storage of accessories in the rear with extra zippered pouches, as well as two pouches on the shoulder straps for storing additional water bottles. Nathan advertises the fact that this running vest features stabilizing features that help keep all stowed accessories compressed and rigid during a run, preventing a loss of balance due to an insecure load. In total, this hydration vest has the capability to store up to 50 ounces of water at one time.
To address this, the Nathan Vaporcloud was designed with a few breathable elements built into its design so the impact of this drawback is lessened. On the two shoulder straps, this design philosophy manifests itself as a highly perforated synthetic mesh. While this doesn’t do much to offset the potential for moisture accumulation that is caused by the large rear pouch, it does help to reduce sweat around the shoulders and underarms of the wearer. In general, this hydration vest seems to have been designed for the purpose of providing more hydration through its bottles and bladder that would be lost from perspiration. However, additional breathability can be managed by simply storing less weight in this vest while using it.
However, Nathan has attempted to mitigate some common comfort-related issues found in most running accessories with this particular hydration vest model. The most common issue with running vests, stability under larger weight strain, was addressed with the inclusion of an elastic band that wraps around the rear pouch. This rudimentary stability system manages to provide enough compression that the rear pouch will stay secure and avoid excessive movement, even while running. Another design element of the Nathan Vaporcloud that assists in its overall comfort is the use of perforated mesh for its shoulder straps; in addition to improving its breathability, this feature acts as an insulating cushion for the wearer’s shoulders.
In regards to size as it relates to water capacity, the Nathan Vaporcloud is very impressive. Thanks to its sizable rear pouch, this vest is capable of storing up to 2 liters of water in a hydration bladder. That much water is able to accommodate intense physical activity for over an hour, according to the estimated need made by medical professionals. Aside from this, two smaller bottles can be attached to both shoulder straps of the Vaporcloud that can store an additional 20 liters between the two of them, adding another 40 or so minutes of precious fluids. This means that over two hours of intense running is possible while wearing this product, making it an excellent choice for runners engaging in an endurance run or embarking on a camping adventure.
It seems that the Nathan Vaporcloud manages to provide enough durability to be viable for most forms of running. This means that in addition to offering the water capacity to accommodate a longer run, enough protection is present in its design, in particular,t trail running sessions as well. The shoulder straps in particular show an impressive amount of layered padding, but the extra stability system implemented for the rear pouch provides a solid layer of defense as well. Since this product is still meant to feel comfortable after running for extended periods of time, it isn’t as protective as it could possibly be. However, a generous warranty offered by the manufacturer will handle any issues, making this a worthwhile investment for any dedicated trail or marathon runner.
Aside from this, the Nathan Vaporcloud has elements of its design that make it compatible with a number of accessories that aren’t made by the same manufacturer. The most notable one is a hydration bladder like those popularized by CamelBak; when placed in the rear pouch located on the wearer’s back, an attached hose can be fed through the top of this pocket and mounted to a shoulder strap. From here, it’s simple and intuitive for the wearer to grab this hose and suck on the valve in order to drink some water during a run. This pocket is large enough to hold a bladder with a volume of 2 liters, which more than makes up for the limited volume of the two front bottles. In addition to these pouches, a few other storage compartments are located along the sides and back of the Vaporcloud, providing some extra space to hold energy gels, survival tools, and the wearer’s smartphone.
That said, Nathan has still put considerable effort into making this hydration vest look appealing. For starters, this vest doesn’t cover the wearer’s entire back and only takes up a small portion. This helps to differentiate it from a standard backpack and gives it a bit more of a tactical design aesthetic. This is reinforced by its color scheme that predominantly uses shades of grey with highlights of neon green. These bright color elements serve an important purpose aside from looking stylish since they denote the location of the zippered pouches on the sides and back. Although Nathan doesn’t seem to offer any different color options for the Vaporcloud, this grey and green palette is versatile enough to coordinate well with other aspects of the wearer’s outfit.
Something that is certain after comparing the benefits and drawbacks to this product is that those who decide to look elsewhere for their hydration needs will be missing out on this high-quality accessory. It’s true that it comes with a premium cost that may be more than the average runner would be willing to spend on a simple water vest. However, the Vaporcloud was designed for the purpose of being resilient, aerodynamic, and highly functional over long runs and running sessions in harsh environments. Because of this, and because of generous coverage options provided by Nathan Sports through their website, this higher cost can be justified as an investment in a high-quality running accessory.
- Capability for up to 50 ounces of water storage through its multiple pouches
- Can hold other valuables with additional zippered pockets
- Rear stability system prevents excessive movement while running
- Breathable mesh padding on the shoulder pads
- Adjustable for different sizes with the aid of cords and straps