The Nathan Vapor Krar 12L and Nathan VaporHowe 12L are the great packs for long days on the trails. The large pockets up front can be used for a soft flask or to hold your phone. In front of those are two smaller pockets that will hold 3-4 gels each, plenty of space for most everything you need. The fit and feel is more in line with many of the vests in the industry today, but more comfortable when going shirtless. Overall, it’s a great vest.
The vest includes two tall zip pockets high on the front of the vest for a phone, keys, or anything else you might need to have easy access to. While the 12L comes with a 2L reservoir, the chest pockets will hold soft flasks. In the back, there is a reservoir compression pocket (to reduce sloshing), an additional full-length pocket (top entry) behind that, and a final smaller pocket (side entry) behind that. The vest does have full side coverage, but it also has compression straps to tighten it up. The vest is super light weight and extremely comfortable.
Fit – 4.5
The Nathan VaporKrar 12L is extremely comfortable. You can wear this vest without a shirt and really not have to worry about chafing. The Nathan VaporHowe fits the female form really well. After trying many different packs, this one doesn’t have gaps or fit issues like most.
Performance – 4.5
This vest rides really well. Depending on body shape, the bottom front stabilizers may rub, but we were able to fix the problem by manually turning up the bottom of the stabilizers away from the body so they don’t dig in (see photo under ‘Appearance’). Everything stayed in its designated place and even after several hours we didn’t feel discomfort.
Storage Capacity – 5
There is a ton of storage with this vest. Even when it is not held to capacity, the pocket areas sit flat unless filled and don’t move around when empty. One negative is that the front zip pocket – while fitting any standard phone, caused a good deal of rubbing. We found it was better to place the phone in the lower front pockets behind, or in place of the soft flasks.
Stability – 4.0
The VaporKrar 12L is considerably more stable upfront than other brands. The front stabilizer ‘bars’, while they have the potential to rub (see above for fix), really hold the vest upright and make it comfortable. The front chest straps are also thicker and stiffer than other brands, which hold your adjustments in place well and reduce bounce, but the trade off is they are harder to adjust mid-stride.
Durability – 4.5
With well over 200 miles put on this vest, there were no considerable signs of wear and tear. Overall it seems very durable and capable of standing up to the elements.
Appearance – 4.5
This vest looks much better than last few Nathan iterations. The VaporHowe 12L has great colors and comfortable fit.
Overall – 4.5
Fit, capacity, and weight are all the high points of this vest.
The front zip pockets, while capable of holding just about any phone, are uncomfortable and the front stabilizers needed to be adjusted to reduce chaffing.
The pack has been used on many long mountain days (8-12 hours). It was able to hold two soft flasks in the front of the pack as well as a large storage of water in the body of the pack, a jacket, gloves, first aid, spikes, food, and camera. Everything fit well in the pack and the weight was well distributed causing no strain on back or shoulders. It is durable, comfortable, and stable on many different trail and weather conditions.