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Patagonia Fore Runner Vest
Weight: 11 oz including 2L bladder
Patagonia totally nailed this running pack.
The fabric of the Fore Runner is light and appears durable, with a polyurethane and DWR water-resistant finish. The pocket arrangement covers all the bases. The mesh strap pockets in the front are perfect for easy-access snacks and a cell phone for photos, but can also be used for hand bottles. The tiny pockets located up high on the straps are just the right size for chapstick and a small tube of anti-chafe cream—what else could you possibly need?
The fit is comfortable and secure as well as intuitive. The straps can be easily tightened as water capacity decreases to minimize bounce (and this pack has very little bounce to it, period). The only drawback to the strap system is that the chest straps are not vertically adjustable. Women with bigger chests may find it annoying to not have the option to slide the chest strap higher or lower.
The 10L capacity is suitable for all-day outings, with much more room than expected considering how small and compact it is. You can easily load up the pack with several layers, lots of snacks, maps and 2L of water (bladder included) … and still probably have some room in the main compartment. One design drawback is that the top of the pack has no cover or “lid,” which may result in the main compartment filling with water from the drawstring opening if you’re caught in a storm.
Overall, this pack was super comfortable—after five hours of trail romping, my shoulders and chest did not feel restricted or sore—and versatile, making an excellent go-to for activities from mountain biking and skiing to traveling (it can even fit a small laptop).
—Jacky Thompson is an avid mountain and desert trail runner. When she isn’t rock climbing, running, foraging or frolicking outside, she can be found practicing yoga and playing music.