Article by Peter Stuart
Nathan Vapor Air 2.0 (7 liter, $150)
The Nathan Vapor Air 2.0 is a 7 liter hydration vest/ pack that has a great deal of flexibility in both fit and ways to carry lots of different items.
Lots of storage
Front pockets don’t have elastic loops to hold soft flasks in and up (not as big a deal as I initally thought)
The Vapor Air 2.0 feels soft to the touch, has a ton of pockets, comes with a bladder and looks great. The biggest concern up front is that it only comes in two sizes, XS-M and L-XXXL. I’ve had sizing issues with vests before and this seems like a big stretch of sizes for each of these vests to span. There are lots of pockets, many of them zippered, so the vest looks to be pretty versatile. The proof is always out on the trail though.
Fit and Features:
Any fear I had about the fit of the Vapor Air 2 just, um, vaporized when I put it on and got to work with the Adaptive-Fit™ adjustable fit system.
Each side of the vest has a lower zippered pocket that’s about as big as a phone, see right above.
Inside that pocket on each side is a blue pull strap that allows you to pull the side panels of the vest tighter and lock them in place so that the vest fits snugly around the rib cage.
The black band pulls the material on the sides of the vest to tighten
While this adjustment wouldn’t be that easy to do on the fly with a loaded vest, I found that once I got it dialed in I didn’t have to double back to adjust it at all.
It’s a very effective fit system that allowed me to dial the vest in so that there was no bounce and no chafing whether I had the bladder in or not and whether the vest was loaded up or not.
The front of the vest has 8 pockets.
There are the two zippered pockets at the bottom of the vest where the adjustment straps are. Each of those two pockets is about the size of a large iphone.
Sitting in front of each of those two zippered pockets are two pouch pockets.
At the bottom is a roughly 4” high semi-transparent pocket with a locking elastic pull. It’s a perfect size for a few stroop waffles or chews and you can close it up tightly so nothing goes flying out. Behind those two pockets are two taller pockets that are a good fit for a 20 oz soft flask.
My concern about these soft flask pockets was that without an elastic strap to wrap around the top of the flask, the flasks might just bounce right out of the vest. Fortunately you can use the elastic on the lower pockets to help cinch in the flasks behind them. This also helps keep the flasks from slipping down the pockets as they empty out.
Turns out there was no need to worry as my flasks stayed put. Finally there are two more zippered pockets up at pectoral level. They are a bit narrower, but they stretch and are a great place to put salt tabs, gels, peanut M&M’s or any other little treats that you might want to get to fast. But wait, there’s more!
The back of the vest features even more pockets. At the bottom of the vest there’s a big kangaroo pocket with elastic on either side to help keep bigger items like jackets or vests tucked in, but easily accessible on the run.
Bottom Arrows: Kangaroo Pocket, Circles: Poles Holders, Top Arrow: Zippered Pocket
Above that there are essentially three areas of interest.
There’s the pocket for the bladder which has a handy Velcro strap that holds the bladder up, there’s a divider and then a bladder size area for yet more gear and then one more zippered pocket on the back of the vest.
The pocket below is on the upper right hand side (if viewed from behind). And leads to a separate area for yet more gear.
It’s not a pocket that would be easy to get to during the run, but an excellent place to stash things that you might need later (headlamps, restocks of supplies, etc). Rounding out the rear are four elastic loops that are a great way to secure poles and keep them from bouncing around too much.
The front of the vest features a slide rail on either side that allows you to move the clasps and straps up and down to get your best fit on.
One of the closures has a clip on it to lock the straw from the bladder into which helps keep it out of the way. The adjustable closures allow a nice, secure fit without much hassle.
The combination of Nylon and Polyester here give the vest a nice feel. The pockets on the front section all have a good amount of stretch and make the front extremely versatile for holding and cinching down all sorts of stuff. The internal layer of the vest is all mesh that looks a bit like swiss cheese. Lots of breathability and ventilation. The back of the vest has a nylon panel that crinkles in a very satisfying way. Overall it’s a relatively light vest weighing in at around 8.3 oz without the bladder.
I don’t have a ton of vests, but I’d say that the fit of the Nathan Vapor Air 2.0 is better for me than the fit of the Salomon Sense Pro and about equally comfortable to the Salomon Advance Skin 5 pack. I like the variety of pockets on the Nathan Vapor Air 2.0 and ultimately find it to be easier to keep some items separate in the Nathan. The materials feel just a little softer and more comfortable to me as well.
The Nathan Vapor Air 2.0 7 liter is an extremely adjustable, comfortable and versatile pack that can haul tons of gear and water either with or without a bladder. There’s plenty of room for clothing, poles and food. It looks good and I’ve gone through several long runs without any chafing. I’d highly recommend giving it a try and trusting that it is as adjustable as you’d need.
Peter lives in Austin, Texas and has been a sub 3 hour marathoner as well as a 1:25 half marathoner in recent years
Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'