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Nathan VaporKrar WaistPak
Weight: 4.5oz [with flask], 2.1oz [without flask]
For distances between 12 and 20 miles, many runners employ a handheld bottle(s), then switch over to a hydration vest for longer efforts—typically because of the need to carry food and more layers, not necessarily more water. The VaporKrar WaistPak by Nathan is an in-between option for longer runs that may require additional nutrition, but not extra layers.
Nathan made a great race-worthy hydration option in the VaporKrar. We’ve all experienced chaffing from hydration packs hours into an effort, or sore shoulders from the weight of a handheld bottle or two. The VaporKrar is a form-fitting, fast fanny pack that stores an 18-ounce soft bottle with minimal jostling or riding up.
You may feel slightly self-conscious, though, when you step through the WaistPak and pull it up your legs and over your shorts—but by omitting a buckle, the pack is lighter and fits more comfortably. Once on, it fits snugly over the top band of running shorts and turns any old pair of joggers into a pair of epic adventure shorts.
The WaistPak features a velco hydration pocket in the back for the soft flask, two velcro side pockets for nutrition, keys or other items and a front zipper pocket for a cell phone. There are adjustment loops on each side of the pack. The top of the loop cinches the top elastic of the pack situated above the pockets, while the bottom of the loop cinches the elastic below the pockets. These adjustments, combined with the elastic stretch top band with grippy silicone, makes the WaistPak sit snugly in place while running fast and with the pockets full of goodies. An easy tug of the loop tightens the pack above and below the hip bones at both adjustment points. This is especially helpful as you hydrate or eat and lighten your load.
After seven runs, I grew accustomed to the feel, but struggled a bit putting the soft flask back into the pocket. The bottle has a stiffening bar along its spine, offering structure so it doesn’t bunch up in the pocket and making it easier to place into the pocket. The problem comes when deciphering what is the pocket and what is the pack. During glove weather, it was not easy. A small tab of webbing on the pocket could help. As for the bottle, I experienced some leaking only when the bottle was completely full. A locking top could remedy this.
Both side pockets fit three gels or two bars conveniently. The size of the pockets allows for a variety of snacking options and isn’t designed around one shape of gel packet. The front pocket would be great for storing a map or additional resources, if you do not run with a phone.
The VaporKrar WaistPak is great for 50K to 100K races in good weather. The pack is nearly flawless, very light and efficient for hauling food and drink. Overall, Nathan (with the help of Rob Krar) crushed this design and made the fanny pack … cough cough, waist belt … a highly effective technical piece of gear.
—Jeff Colt, an avid mountain runner, lives in Carbondale, Colorado. He seeks trails, tele turns, freshly baked bread and high-mountain huts.