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Nathan Sport Vapor Wrap Hydration Vest

So after searching all over the internet and reading what felt like hundreds of different reviews, I finally decided on going with the Nathan Sport Vapor Wrap for my hydration vest.

As all of you know, competing in OCR races and navigating some of the obstacles is tough enough to do with just yourself, never mind having some bulky bag on your back moving all around on you and hanging you up.

Specs of the Nathan Vapor Wrap: 

  • UTMB-capable with expandable cargo space
  • Bladder Control System keeps water and gear close to the body for maximum no-bounce comfort
  • Secret center back pocket holds ice pack for added body cooling
  • Strategically-placed Shock Cords with one-pull tension lock offer customizable trekking pole configurations
    • Weight: 23oz
    • Storage Capacity: 8.19 L / 500 cu in without bladder, 6.55 L / 400 cu in with bladder
    • Bladder Volume: 2 Liters

I have used many different packs now over the years and this was my first experience using a vest vs a bag.  I bought this vest to take with me on the beast course in VT and it turned out to be A okay.

First off the pros of the bag.  I was looking for a hydration system that would stay close to my body during racing and not have much bounce to it while I was running.  This vest delivered both of those things and in a very positive way.  This vest has 6 different point of adjustment that seem to all work together in keeping the bag close to the body even when the water starts to diminish.  2 straps on the chest, 2 at the waist, and 2 down along the front sides, all squeeze the vest itself and the bladder tighter and tighter as you continue to drink the water volume.  One great advantage to this system is that you can easily adjust this on the fly and don’t need to waste time stopping to fiddle with it.

Another huge bonus was the amount of storage this bag had and how easy it was to get to everything I needed on the go.  For starters, you have two separate storage compartments one on each side of your waist that are attached to the waist strap.  I was able to store 10 gel packs (5 in each side) and could have pushed a couple more into each side if I wanted to but figured that 10 would be enough for what I needed and a couple extra left over just in case of an emergency.

Besides the two side pouches on the waist, this vest also has a detachable Velcro pocket, two front storage pockets that were made to hold 20 oz water bottles, a left side upper chest zippered pocket, a very little pocket under the Velcro one (not really sure what you can fit in there), a top zippered pocket on the rear of the pack, and a larger storage area on the back of vest as well that serves as a larger compartment for items that are not needed on the go.  Also has multiple points of contact for trekking poles if you were to ever use them, and a bungee system that would hold some xtra layers if this vest was being used for just running and not OCR racing.

So besides my gels, I packed 3 packs of chews along for the ride which sat in one of the front pockets made for a bottle.  I also carried a 20 oz water bottle with Amino Acids in it for the beginning of the race as well as 2 cliff bars in the detachable velcro pocket.  I also had my head lamp and 2 glow sticks in the rear outside compartment of the vest just in case.

The hydration bladder included with this vest is pretty decent.  It is not a snap in bottom like camel-backs are, but all in all it did the job.  One thing I really did appreciate was how easy this bladder was to fill.  Instead of the typical circle opening most have, this bladder opened from the top and has a almost ziplock type opening and closing.  This made things extremely easy when I did stop to refill and only took me honestly what felt like seconds vs minutes.  I know for a fact there were pple  filling before me and I also know they were still there playing around with their packs while I was on my way running again.  +++points for this one!

The vest itself is made of super soft stretchy material and it seemed to literally not hold any unwanted water what so ever.   The positioning of the front water bottle pockets are great and are placed in such a way that there is zero interference with your natural arm swing while running.  +++ points once again!

Now with all good things, there of course has to be some negatives.  Although I would recommend this bag to others and I myself was very happy with it, there are certainly a few spots Nathan left for improvements.

For starters, the vest itself needs to be able to open and expand a little more than it does.  I am 5’8″ 190 lbs with a 43 1/2 inch chest.  I don’t consider myself a huge guy, but I am def not tiny in any way at all.  For this articles sake, I do have an athletic build and my shoulder and upper back area are much wider than normal “runners” who typically have smaller frames.  Keeping in mind this bag was probably made for them, seeing that I ordered a L/XL, I would have thought there would be a little more play room.  I had this bag out to the limits and it just kinda came around me pretty close to the way it should have .  Next time they should not pre-judge and label endurance runners to tiny frames (especially now in the days of Sparta :)).

Although the side pockets are great and do hold plenty of stuff, for some weird reason they have the zippers going from front to back vs back to front.  They also could be moved up just a little bit more closer to the front of the runner.   Typically on the run, you would open from back to front to make things easy.  Although I was still able to access these and didn’t have much trouble, it would have made much more since to face the zippers the opposite way and make life easier.  Not to mention, if you get caught up on some brush, you don’t want your stuff to come flying out.  If zippers are facing back to front, the brush would close your pocket for you not open it wide up for stuff to go flying out.  Thank GOD this did not happen to me, but I did read of it happening to a couple others when I was reading reviews.

The hydration bladder is a tricky one.  Like i mentioned above, the ease of opening and filling this bladder on the go was a pure joy.   They do have a small cheap plastic pc at the top that is supposed to lock your bladder into the loop at the back of the pack.  Apparently this is supposed to hold the bladder in place and not let it fall down into your pack squishing up against your lower back.  I didn’t really have an issue with the bladder falling down, but it definitely  did not stay “locked” in place like it said it would.

The hose of the bladder is way to long in my opinion and kinda gets in the way.  I landed up cutting mine down to the size I wanted and just shoved the mouth piece back inside.  They do have a handy magnetic clip on the hose that does hold it in place on the chest strap, but like mentioned, this create a loop at the bottom of the tube and if left alone would be slapping into you every step you took.  The bite valve on this system was okay and does also have a locking system to prevent water leakage.  +++ points for this again.

One of the last things to point out, is back to the material.  While it did dry and drain water very quickly, it seems that it is almost to thin of material.  My pack already does have a couple tears in it, and some of the reflective tape on the back along with some of the Nathan logo are already starting to fall off.  Trying to keep in mind that  I did run Spartans toughest race of the year with this best, they could put a little more effort into the material to make it a little stronger.  It is great for no chafe and draining, but a little more durable would make this guy happy to not have to keep buying new bags every year.

Overall, I was pretty happy with this purchase and found mine on Amazon for around 30 bucks cheaper than anywhere else which also made me a happier guy.  I gave it a 4 out of 5 due to the couple of fixes that I personally think they should have nailed, especially with them saying that they talked to and worked with some of the top ultra runners in the world to bring this bag together.    I would myself buy another Nathan Product but I am also interested in checking into Saloman racing vests as well as I do have a pair of their trail running shoes and I would not want to race in anything else.


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Giegerrig 700


I first purchased this unit after some slimeball stole my old Army issue Camel at the Tuxedo Sprint. I initially loved the squirt method of the pack because you know what a mouthpiece looks like after a barbwire crawl. Besides the ability to squirt water, this pack has a huge amount of room in easy pockets. So far, squirts and has pockets, sounds like my 10 y/ son. I also liked its comfort factor on  my back. Sturdy, good padding, no sweat buildup. Everything looked great except bladder size. I like 3 liter bladders, I can’t get enough water in the woods and 70 oz is not enough.

My first excursion with this bag was almost its last. The pump inflater would not stay attached. I really hate when my Soldiers have to pickup after me, and when they bring the pump to me like a self inflation device. Also the chest strap failed. Not a great start.

I was going to use this on family only trips as I no longer trusted it. But then I needed a bag system for killington. I needed storage for all the gummies/ jerky ect and water Id be carrying . I just substituted my camel bladder in and Id be happyish. The 700 bag carried 3 packages of Gatorade gummies, 2 lbs of jerky, more crap then I wanted but just enough to get me through.

When I got to Killington, I found the Giegerrig Rep! Expecting nothing, I told him my problems. I got an entire swap out of bag and bladder! I took that bag and “ran” through the Beast. I did not use the pump only because i did not want it to break and leave me hanging. Chest strap and pump bulb stayed secure through out race.

Overall, I have to give product a 4 due to dud I got originally vs superior customer service.

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Salomon Speedcross 3

the speedcross 3 shoe is part of salomons mountain trail running series shoes. i wore these for the first time at the spartan spring Amesbury after hearing nothing but good words about them.


First off for the sizing when i went to a local retailer to buy them i was told that the speedcross normally dont come in half sizes so i was a little worried about having to upsize by a half size but i normally wear a 12.5 wide  so i tried on the 13 and they fit perfectly. next thing i was not 100% sure on was the lacing system because i prefer a nice tight snug lace, the quicklace system isnt all that bad most of the time they do a great job at keeping the laces tight and not loosen up at all but this was also where i feel one of the shoes biggest downfalls was. the quicklace locking system did not handle well for a mud run and once we hit the mud and grit of the course when i tried to remove the shoe to get out a few rocks the lock was seized up and a real pain to loosen up. one little trick with the laces is there is a little pouch in the top of the toung to store the laces once they are tightened . also i did notice quiet a bit of rocks getting into the shoe from the heal area. the tread on this shoe is a agressive treat and does amazing in the dirt, mud and hills i never once felt like i dident have a great grip on the mudy hills but this tread does not feel good on the feet if you have to do more than a few feet of paved surface.

overall this is a solid shoe and if i can figure out a way to correct the quicklace system it becomes that much better of a shoe

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Saucony Peregrine 2


Being a novice runner I do not have a vast experience with running shoes but I do know that I’ve had some I ended up not liking and others that I love.  The Saucony Peregrine 2’s are ones that I definitely love.  I was looking for trail runners at my local Eastern Mountain Sports last year when I spotted these and decided to try them on.  I was immediately in love. They fit my feet better than any other shoe I’ve ever worn.

The Peregrine 2 has a 4mm heel to toe offset which provides a good balance between a traditional running shoe and a minimalist.  at 9.9 oz they are a little heavier than some other shoes but lighter than what I have been used to.  The tread is what I would consider as moderately aggressive: more aggressive than a traditional trail runner but not as aggressive as say the off-trail models by Inov-8.  I have found that the tread under the heel will trap some mud but I have not had a problem under the ball and I consider that more important as that is where my weight is going.  During the Spartan Montreal Super I witnessed countless people slipping on the muddy hills but my shoes held fast.

Obviously another concern for OCR usage is drainage and I have found these to drain very quickly.  Having only done 3-4 races in them (roughly 25 miles) it is hard to really judge durability but so far I have seen no problems.  They clean up quite well and have only needed to go through the wash once.

They may not be the best shoe out there but I am very happy with them and would more than willing to buy a second pair but I also want to try Inov-8s. Unfortunately I do not have a retailer nearby that I know of.

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Garmin Forerunner 410


I picked the Garmin Forerunner 410 up during a holiday sale – watch and heart rate monitor for $150 – and it was my first GPS style watch. I wanted to start tracking my races, without the hassle of dragging my iPhone with me.

So – one thing the watch needed to be was durable. It was going to get submerged in muddy water, knocked over walls, dragged through barbed wire crawls, sunk in mud and who knew what else …

So far, so good. It’s taken anything I can throw at it so far, and is still going along, and doing it’s job well.

Being my first GPS watch, I can’t comment on it’s time to lock in a GPS signal, it’s quick enough, but sometimes I do find myself making sure I’ve started it up early enough. It’s battery life isn’t so good you can wear it as a normal watch, and it’s a little bulky for that anyway, but it’s never died on me. It has an internal rechargeable battery, and a weird clip to charge that has two metal prongs that have to make contact – don’t like that. I’ve had to pull mud from the contacts before, and would have preferred some kind of simple, standard USB or mini-USB connector.

The interface on Garmins is odd. Just … odd. I use technology all day every day, and interfaces for watches, phones and other stuff is usually no big deal – I’m still trying to figure out how to drive the Garmin properly, and find myself turning somethings on and off without knowing how. It also has a touch bezel, which I find gets in the way and is pressed by mistake more than I’d like, although there are no moving parts … after one race, the watch was so gunked up, I couldn’t get the touch bezel to respond at all, and I ended up tracking my hour and a half drive home – that made for an oddly plotted map!

I do love that it auto-syncs. I pull my car into my garage after an event, and my watch beeps – it’s within range of the dongle on my Mac and is synching up … by the time I’m unloaded and changed, I have a map waiting for me, ready to edit.

Mine came with a heart rate monitor strap that I’ve never worn, so can’t really comment on that.

The online interface is ok – it looks a little dated, and feels more complicated than it needs to be – but it gets the job done.

Overall, it’s a nice enough watch. Despite not being rated for water and submersion, it’s not failed me yet, and I’ve had it underwater more than a few times (and mud, slime, gunk etc). It feels more complicated than it needs to be, but seems to be reliable and rock solid.

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camel bak – lobo

the camelbak lobo comes with a 100 oz bladder and also has 3 storage compartments ( 2 zippered and one just a pouch ) that i think works perfect for OCR. the 100 oz is more than enough fluid you will need you any race and the storage areas give you a perfect place to store any energy treats or anything else you may want to carry for your trek. it has a minimal profile so it dosent feel to bulky when running and has nice solid padding on the back area to make it more comfortable for runs. i only have two complaints about this unit one is the shoulder straps could use a little more padding to soften the stress it puts on your shoulders when running with 100oz if fluid and second there is no cap for the mouth nozzle ( but one can be purchases seperatly from or any other site ) and that is a critical must for me in the mud runs you want to try and keep that area as clean as you can. i know some people perfer osprey but i have yet to use there gear and can not speak for it but for the $80.00 price tag of the lobo i think its a great starter hydro pack


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Hyperwear Vest SXY

I received a Hyperwear Vest SXY for Christmas 2012. This is a review of the product.

First off it’s a very nice vest. It fits well, and can be adjusted with corset-like lacing on the sides. This makes the vest very comfortable for running, walking, hiking or working out in. It really is designed to fit a woman, smaller shoulder straps, understanding of a woman’s chest and waist areas. It comes in a couple of colors – I have the red, shown here:

One con to the vest (and several of the Hyperwear vests) is the belief that a small woman can’t carry larger weights. This vest goes to 8lbs. I’ve managed to squeeze two more pounds in there but the weight vest is seriously maxed out.  I really wish there was a way to increase the amount of weight that could be carried in here. It would definitely make the vest have a longer useful life.

I really do like this vest however, and would recommend it.