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August 20, 2011 Comments (0) Gear Reviews

Nathan HPL #020 Running Backpack Review

nathan hpl #020 trail running backpack
  • Overall Design: 4.75
  • Weight: 4.5
  • Durability: 5.0
  • Capacity: 4.5
  • Value: 5.0


I  can be a little picky about stuff.  Running gear falls into this category; especially any gear I use on the trails and in ultra marathons.  I want it to be almost perfectly functional and rugged.

Buying a running backpack was gonna be tough.  Besides my other requirements I also wanted the pack to be versatile.  Meaning, can I used it for 2 hours and as long as 6 hours?  At the time I was shopping  Camelbak had the lead in number of packs and popularity.  I tried many Camelbaks but never felt they had the versatility to support me for longer runs.

In comes the Nathan packs.  I remembered seeing Scott Jurek wearing a Nathan product online and decided to look at their offerings.  Immediately I had hope.  The pack had pockets and pouches on the front and back.  The test would be the fit and ruggedness.  I tried one on at Luke’s Locker in Dallas TX and found their loose fit system to be very comfortable.  Nathan designs the packs to be worn loosely to minimize hotspots while still providing stability to avoid chaffing.  And even though the harness and pack look like they might be heavy,  the material is very light weight and ultra soft.

Convinced enough to buy the pack I crossed my fingers that this would not be a $90 failure.   Hundreds of hours later I’ve determined the storage capacity for water, food, phone and clothing is very well suited for hours on end.  Also, the storage has a lot of flexibility;   depending on my needs for the day I rarely feel I compromise what I bring.

The pack has passed the ruggedness test with flying colors.  Hasn’t lost a single stitch in all those hours of running and many washings.

Initially the water fill system was counter intuitive but after volunteering at aid stations I’ve determined that the filling system works much better than Camelbak’s.

Only additional pockets could make this any better.

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