Nathan Vaporcloud

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.

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Where to Buy
Backcountry Link
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Where to Buy
Backcountry Link
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Holabird Sports Link
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Pros & Cons
  • Capable of holding enough water for more than two hours of running
  • Stability features prevent excessive slippage during movement
  • Multiple pockets for storing water and valuables
  • Breathable accents around shoulders and back
  • Adjustable cords allow a better fit for different body shapes
  • Cons
    • Higher price may intimidate casual runners
    • Included water bottles offer meager storage capabilities
    • Key Features
      This hydration vest is similar in construction to a backpack in that it is comprised of a large rear pouch with two sturdy shoulder straps keeping it in place. However, the reason for its title as a vest over a standard pack is that the rear pouch is more shallow and gives the entire product a closer resemblance to an article of clothing.

      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.
      One common downside to running accessories such as hydration packs and backpacks is that they cover a larger area of the wearer’s body. The reason why this is considered a negative design element despite being able to evenly distribute weight in a manner that is comfortable and stable is that it can lead to increased perspiration due to heat retention.

      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.
      Every hydration accessory comes with its caveats in regards to comfort. Hydration belts often suffer from uneven distribution of their weight, backpacks suffer from the undue strain on their shoulder straps, and vests will have issues with instability. Because of this, the most comfortable option usually involves not wearing a hydration accessory at all.

      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.
      As a hydration vest, this product is between a hydration belt and a full backpack in terms of size. This means that it isn’t as lightweight and breathable as a simple water belt but is far from the same level of weight and discomfort that would come from a backpack. For many runners, this can be seen as a happy medium between the two extremes that offers benefits from both styles of design.

      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.
      There’s a delicate balance that needs to be struck when designing running apparel that is supposed to provide a very specific function while also feeling unobtrusive. If too much emphasis is placed on the functionality and durability of a product, it will naturally become heavier and more difficult to use. However, veering too far in the direction of providing a lightweight and aerodynamic product will often result in a less durable accessory.

      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.
      One accessory made by the manufacturer is compatible with the Nathan Vaporcloud hydration vest, although it isn’t included in the purchase. These are small water bottles that are designed to fit into the two smaller pouches located on either shoulder strap of the vest. They offer extra water storage capabilities, although the minuscule size of these two pull-valve bottles means that the extra hydration they provide is fairly meager.

      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.
      Although the Nathan Vaporcloud is classified as a hydration vest, it’s appearance is a bit of a departure from that of an ordinary vest-style garment. While the front-facing components of this accessory resemble a vest to a small degree, the back looks much more like a slim backpack or diaper bag. The illusion is further shattered when the rear pouches are filled with a water bladder and any other accessories, causing it to more closely resemble a turtle shell.

      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 may alarm some potential customers is the higher price for the Nathan Vaporcloud. Seeing as this design is specialized in a manner that combines elements from two different forms of running apparel for the purpose of providing the benefits of both with none of the drawbacks, it can be understandable why it would cost a bit more. However, this higher price tag can lead some shoppers who are on the fence to give it a pass.

      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.
      Key Features

      • 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

      Bottom Line
      When looking for a hydration vest, there are two kinds of customers. One is the more casual runner who is simply looking for a product that will allow them to hold some extra fluids during their running sessions. The other is a more dedicated endurance runner or trail runner that needs a product with the durability and performance to carry them through physically strenuous activities. For the first kind of customer, the Nathan Vaporcloud will certainly provide the functionality they require; however, the increased cost will probably lead them to pick a different model. The reason for this is that the Vaporcloud was designed around the wants and needs of the second kind of customer. For these individuals, this product from Nathan Sports will provide them with everything they need to get across the finish line.
      Where to Buy
      Backcountry Link
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      Holabird Sports Link
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      By Mike Valverde
      Last updated:
      Where to buy
      Best offer on: Jul. 27. 2021

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