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June 4, 2014 Comments (0) Featured, Gear Reviews, Store, Trails, Videos

Nathan Elevation Hydration Pack – Review

Nathan Elevation Hydration Pack

Miles run (so far): 236 miles

Of all the packs we’ve tested from Nathan, this is definitely the most serious pack in terms of capacity. It boasts being UTMB ready and there’s no doubting that it’s more than capable. With 15.5 Liters of storage capacity, 2L bladder, two front storage pockets capable of 22oz SpeedDraw bottles, trekking pole clips, tons of storage pockets, water resistant pill pocket and a removable whistle, it has all the bells and, quite literally, the whistle. All you’re really missing is the entry fee for UTMB with this pack.

Our testers loved this pack. For so much pack, it was really convenient and comfortable. But, a bigger pack it is, so be ready for it. Here’s the final score for this piece:


Nathan Elevation high above the Salt Lake Valley

Fit & Comfort – 3.75

“Pack fits very well, with 4 main adjustable straps for a customized, comfortable fit. The main complaint being that the chest straps were a little too thin and stretchy so some knot tying was needed to stay put.”

The testers definitely agreed that this pack fit surprisingly well and comfortable for how much pack it actually was. Once the straps were adjusted right and Nathan’s patented 3 way propulsion harness in the back was adjusted correctly, there was minimal bounce. The breathability and comfort made this an ideal pack for long unsupported runs yet able to take on any distance a pack would be needed with ease.

The reason for the score not being a perfect score is that there was one flaw. And this wasn’t the little nit-picky type of flaw. With all testers, the chest straps were TOO stretchy and the materials were such that they never stayed put. Adjustments needed to be made in both packs to keep them from getting too loose and causing a bounce in the pack. The easiest fix, which I’ve done with many packs personally, was to get the perfect fit and then tie a knot in the strap to prevent it from being able to loosen up.

Still comfortable, even after 12 hours

Still comfortable, even after 12 hours

Storage Capacity – 5

“I went on multiple unsupported runs, ranging from 8-14 hours, and was always able to comfortably fit more than enough supplies to last the run. Not normally a huge fan of bladder packs, more often than not I found myself reaching for this pack anytime any additional storage was needed.”

This score was practically a given with a 15.5L pack. This was specifically designed with a UTMB runner in mind. Those kinds of races require that you have a certain amount of emergency items (bivvy, cell phone, whistle etc), which can demand larger packs. With storage in just about any place you can think of putting it, there’s no shortage of specified pockets for your gear. I love that because it really helps keep me organized out on the trials and in race day situations.

With a 2L bladder in the back and storage for two 22oz bottles up front you can certainly get through the hottest parts of the day with plenty of hydration. And the 3 way harness is great for carrying any quick grab items like a jacket or hat. But even with all that storage it still feels like a great on the go pack.


Climbing high with the Nathan Elevation Pack

Ease of Access – 5

“This is the first pack I’ve used with the side holster type pockets, and I love that feature. Perfect for stashing gloves, hats, bandanna, PB&J, and whatever else you could imagine.”

So many pockets definitely brings the advantage that there’s plenty to access. It seems that Nathan really put some attention where these pockets were placed. Everything seemed to make sense and felt very natural when reaching for your gear/nutrition. Obviously the pack has to be removed to access the rear packs, but that’s the case with any pack.

Fully Loaded Elevation on an unsupported 50 mile adventure run

Fully Loaded Elevation on an unsupported 50 mile adventure run

Bladder & Valves – 5

“The pack comes default with a 2L bladder, but I’m sure you could easily substitute a 3 or 4L bladder. The front pockets can also alternate as bottle holsters for additional hydration options. Bladder didn’t bounce for me when all the straps were tightened down securely. The magnet tube holder is a fun feature.”

Nathan’s set-up in the pack for the bladder really helped secure it in place. There wasn’t much movement or bounce with all the security of the fitting straps and propulsion harness. The bladder was pretty standard with a Hydraflask slip top bladder and a twist-top bite valve. The one feature that really helped it stand out is the magnetic clip Nathan uses to keep it in place, even during the jumble of a hard technical downhill.

Nathan Elevation

Nathan Elevation in Zion National Park

Quality – 4.5

“If it’s anything like my older Nathan, it will easily last a couple of years without major breakdown. The fabric is a bit of an unknown but it and the components all seem high quality.“

This company has a history of making great quality pieces that stand the tests we runners put them through. Everything seems to point to Nathan hitting it out of the park again. The newer lighter weight materials seem to handle the hard test that we put on them. And we definitely tested them with plenty of miles. The only thing that kept this from getting a perfect score was that one of our testers had a pinhole leak in his bladder from day one. A little duct tape took care of that and it’s hardly Nathan’s fault since they use Hydraflask’s bladders. We were also promised that they have QC measures in place and that this was an isolated incident. It’s a not a huge knock on the company but definitely worth mentioning.


Fully loaded – including poles – for yet another 10 hour unsupported run.


Nathan did it again! This is the first of a couple new packs we’ll be featuring and we anticipate very similar scores from the rest of the “pack” (HA! See what I did there). Their new light weight materials and convenient design really make this a versatile pack. Whether you’re heading out for a long day on the trails, a quick jaunt, or even competing on the rough trails through Europe’s UTMB, this pack is a great option for all the above. Happy trails!



For a taste of one of the many adventure ‘runs’ this pack was put through as a part of testing:

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