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June 13, 2014 Comments (1) Featured, Gear Reviews, Store, Trails, Training

Nathan Hydration VaporShadow/VaporCloud – Review

Miles used (so far) – 617 miles

Next on the list for our Nathan Hydration series review is the VaporCloud/VaporShadow race vests. The VaporCloud and VaporShadow are identical in features with exception of the VaporShadow being designed specifically for a female fit with a slightly different front pocket and torso wrap that better fits a female frame. As with their Elevation, Nathan made sure that this vest was UTMB capable with 11L of cargo room, pole clips, removable whistle and smart phone specific pocket. Our testers were pretty happy about this vest and their scores definitely prove it so let’s get to it.

Nathan VaporShadow (L) and VaporCloud (R)

Nathan VaporShadow (L) and VaporCloud (R)

Fit & Comfort – 4.34

“As a woman with a wide back and a sizable chest, the fit was just right. It was snug where it needed to be snug, and adjustable in all of the right places”


This is one of the better scores we’ve seen for a race vest. With gender specific models, Nathan ensured that their fit was felt more tailored to each runner. For what it’s worth, our female testers both gave it a 5/5 and put the most miles on the vests.

The only real complaint from the vest was that it was a little difficult to fit the side straps with the little amount of adjustment they have due to much of the material comprising a pocket and not just straps. However, this complaint was only with our male tester and he did mention that he was in between sizes. It’s definitely suggested to go with a smaller size if you think you might be in between.

You can see the custom shape and fit between the men’s and women’s packs

You can see the custom shape and fit between the men’s and women’s packs

Storage Capacity – 5

“I’ve been out for about 7 hours with this pack and was able to hold a full bladder, couple of PB&Js, a small container of electrolyte tablets, TP, Power Shower wipes, car keys, a very thin rain jacket (ie Patagonia Houdini) and about 8-10 gels. You could conceivably fit more in the various pockets, and there are many.”

With 11L of storage, I wasn’t shocked to see our testers come back with such a high score. Nathan did a great job at spreading all that room throughout the pack. With side pockets and various front pockets, including a water resistant pill pocket, there is designated room for just about everything. And if you’re anything like me then you like to know exactly where everything is and all your gear has its own place.

The weight being distributed makes carrying your gear super comfortable and the pockets all seemed to feel natural. These vests also boast a harnessing system that ensures no bounce even as the bladder is emptying throughout your run.

Even the front storage options are different between the VaporShadow (L) and the VaporCloud (R)

Even the front storage options are different between the VaporShadow (L) and the VaporCloud (R)

Ease of Access – 4.34

“The various pockets are many but are suited to different usages… once you figure out where everything is, the pack is quite intuitive, from the whistle to the, straps, etc.”

ANOTHER great score for this vest. Nathan has done a great job at really looking into what their runners are using vests for and tried to make their vests fit a particular type of runner. This vest really fits the runner that likes their gear to all have a specific spot and be able to access it quickly and easily. As mentioned by multiple testers, the pockets just seemed to be very natural and intuitive.

'Trailfie' with the Nathan VaporShadow

‘Trailfie’ with the Nathan VaporShadow


Bladder & Valves – 4.67

“Once you figure out Nathan’s bladder type, refilling and closing/locking it is very easy”

I promise we aren’t in bed with Nathan here. These are legitimate scores! And don’t worry, it’s not ALL roses with this review. But I digress.

While Nathan shares their Hydraflask bladder design with most all other hydration companies, their mouthpiece is a little more unique. It may take a few runs to get the hang of but like all things new, it begins to become second nature. Their locking system is great for preventing leaks but I could never remember if I had it locked or not on the go. Double checking the mouthpiece every sip does get a little annoying. But overall, that is a minor detail and just about the only thing I could mention to justify the non-perfect score.

Quality – 3.84

I am VERY rough on everything I own. This pack holds up to even my rough and tumble lifestyle. It is very easy to clean (hand-wash and air-dry)

I told you we weren’t padding this test! In a big oversight and construction/quality concern, it appears that there was a common theme among these packs and most others produced by Nathan Hydration. The front pocket draw strings have repeatedly snapped from the stitching, making the pocket useless for any sort of gel stashing. Luckily there is a zippered pocket on the opposite side should this occur during a race or long run. Other than this one issue, our testers found this vest to be virtually bomb proof. And with over 600 miles on this vest (more than half coming from a single runner), this is a pretty thoroughly tested area of the product.

A common break in the drawstring that we encountered

A common break in the drawstring that we encountered

*UPDATE: After speaking with Nathan Hydration, they confirmed this is a known problem and we have been reassured that it has since been resolved.


Our testers agree that Nathan did a great job with this pack. It was solid all around and only received a couple complaints. It’s been a fun pack to play with and really works for most runners in all situations. Again, not a shocker coming from a company that really listens to its runners and constantly is looking to improve its products to meet the demands that we put out there. If you like the wrap design and are looking for a full function pack – the Vapor may just fit the bill.

One Response to Nathan Hydration VaporShadow/VaporCloud – Review

  1. Bob says:

    i own a VapourCloud and have been very disappointed. None of the zippers work. It is great foe carrying 2 L of water but the ONLY place to carry fuel oe other accessories is the pockets up front – which don’t provide a lot of space.

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