Nathan HPL #020 Review

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Nathan HPL #020 2.0 Liter Men's 2-Liter Hydration Race Vest
Manufacturer: Nathan
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List Price: $90.00
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Rundurance Review

It doesn't matter how hard you train, there's one thing that can ruin a race (or any long run) faster than anything else.  And that's getting dehydrated. There are 2 primary methods for carrying your water (or drink of choice).  The first, and most common, is a hand held water bottle.  For this I've recommended the Nathan Quickdraw Plus Handheld.  Nathan is unmatched in quality, so you can't go wrong with this bottle for a 5-10 mile run. If you're going longer than 5-10 miles, you're probably going to want more than 22oz's that the Nathan hand held water bottle carries.  For this, you're going to need a hydration backpack. So when I got my Nathan HPL #020 and took it out for my first run, I immediately fell in love.  Why?  Let me count the ways.


The unique (and somewhat strange looking) technique that Nathan designed to keep the hydration pack tight against your back is incredible.  When I first saw this pack, I thought it looked like a Mansier (or Bro?  Seinfeld anyone?). But it works amazingly, it keeps the pack right up against your back, which means no bouncing.  This is the single most important factor to consider in a hydration backpack. Now, the one problem with keeping it tight against your back is that it's a sweat trap.  Nathan avoids this by having a small insulator between the pack and your back, wicking it away and keeping your back cool.


The pack itself weights only 6oz's.  That's less than half a pound.  In other words, it's virtually non-existent.  The only weight is what you're carrying.  This is extremely important when you start talking about running 20, 50, or 100 miles with it on your back.  Every ounce matters.  I'm not aware of a lighter pack, but if anyone knows of one I'd like to hear about it.


By convenience, I mean the ease in which you can access everything.  It comes on in off in seconds, which means you can stop, refill, and go in no time.  The propulsion harness easily snaps in the front, which means it's not flopping around and it's extremely easy to access, drink, and put back.  No messing around with it while you're running. This Nathan pack also has 2 front zippered pockets for carrying gels, snacks, phone and electrolytes.  It's easy to access while running, unlike most of it's competitors.  I also have a Camelback pack, and I swear I can't get the front pocket open without stopping and using both hands to get the zipper open.  This is not the case with the Nathan.  Lastly, the Nathan has two large compartments in the back, capable of carrying a light jacket, flashlight, larger snacks, or just about anything else you think you might want to bring on your long run.


Let's just say I've had my Nathan HPL #020 for 2 years, trained for an ran countless ultramarathons, and I'm still using the original  bladder.  So if you are worried about the extra cost of Nathan over it's competition, consider that.  Every other pack I've had has started leaking, or ripped, or the zipper broke, or something.  In the end, my Nathan has proven to be the CHEAPEST option because it lasts forever.


OK, I have to be fair.  I don't like the look of this pack.  The elastic meshing in the front is effective, but it looks like a bra.  Butlet's be real, I don't look so hot after 50 miles in the Texas heat anyways, so the last thing I'm concerned with is the look of my bag.

Product Details

  • New easy adjust system for faster on and off
  • Reconstructed bladder tube now exits from top of pack to eliminate skin contact
  • Front power stretch mesh pockets and two rear zippered compartments store all your essentials
  • Wall mesh shoulder straps and back panel channel air across your skin and wick moisture away
  • 3 way propulsion harness moves in harmony with your shoulders and upper back reducing wasted energy

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