Nathan Vapor Air Race Vest Review

Nathan-VaporAir-Race-Vest,-HydrationHydration running vests require that ‘barely-there’ feeling that’s absolutely essential for long distance runners. You need to focus on one thing: running — you need as little distraction and interference as possible. True to its name, the Nathan Vapor Air Race Vest is almost like air, weighing in at only 9 ounces (264g)! Fill the bladder to its full capacity of 2-liters, stash the pockets with your gels, necessities, energy bars, and a change of clothes, and you’re ready for your race.

Whether indoor or outdoor, long runs and races require proper hydration. Grip bottles and belts don’t offer nearly enough support. The Nathan Vapor Air Race Vest allow you to hold up to 2 litres of water its hydration bladder, plus an addition 20-30 ounces from a supplementary bottle that you can stash in your front pockets! That’s 100 ounces of liquid. Plenty to keep you moving toward your goals!

Nathan can often be overlooked in favor of its competitors or high-end counterparts, but we encourage you to read our review of the Nathan Vapor Air 2L and see for yourself how it measures up.
What’s Inside?

What’s Inside The Nathan Vapor Air Race Vest?

If you’re a woman reading this, don’t go away! It’s the Vapor ‘Airess’ that you’ll be looking for. It’s just a different name, color, and fit. But the features are all the same.

It’s true that the Vapor Air is hardly noticeable. Like the VaporCloud (Read our review!), the super breathable, “body-mapped” materials in this pack keep you from overheating and cursing your retail choices. It’s near impossible to blame a bad run on this running vest. The weight really is non-existent, and we all found that you will often forget it’s even there. Nathan-VaporAir-Race-Vest,-Hydration-1

The Nathan Vapor Air Race Vest includes tons of pockets, a cord and hooks for trekking poles and zippered compartments for all your running paraphernalia, with plenty of space even for a change of clothes, Having so many storage options can be a bit bewildering for beginners who think they may not need all of that space, but veterans fill them up quickly with plenty gadgets and gear.

Like others in the Vapor series, the Vapor Air has a snug, elastic fit for zero chafing that gives you enough room to breathe (or breathe hard) and easy-to-adjust, over-the-shoulder load lifters to keep your pack close to your body. Zero bounce, zero discomforts.

Another nice feature is that there’s virtually no water ‘sloshing’ around in the bag! The bladder has a dual stabilization system you can easily manipulate while on the go. Have a good long drink, and simply pull on the cord to compress the bladder.

Speaking of drinking water access, the Vapor Air has a handy magnetic clip on the front to hold the hose. After you’re done drinking, snap it on there. Need a drink again? It’s right there. No distractions from having to fumble with your hose. I know we’ve certainly been there with other bags…( “Where is it? Ahh here. Ow. Poked myself in the nose…”)

The hydration bladder in the Vapor Air is also very easy to clean. Just fill the bladder with hot water and soap. Rinse and store upright to let the water evaporate.

The Nathan Vapor Air is great for long runs, long rides, hikes, treks. You have everything with you, you have both hands free, and you’re hydrated.

What It’s Not


What we immediately noticed is that unlike the VaporCloud, the Vapor Air doesn’t include an insulated bladder. You’ll have to buy an insulated one separately unless you don’t mind drinking water that isn’t temperature controlled.

We had mixed feelings on this one, but a couple of us felt that the lightness of the materials sacrificed durability. While this pack is great for marathons, we wouldn’t recommend it for obstacle courses in harsh, outdoor conditions.

When we tried only using the front pockets for water bottles, the pack kept sliding forward a bit. It seems you need to fill the bladder even partially to maintain balance.

This one is a very small annoyance a couple of people noticed; the side pocket zipper can chafe your armpit if you don’t position in properly on your torso.

Key takeaways


  • Tons of storage
  • Ultra lightweight
  • Snug fit
  • No water sloshing
  • Great hydration capacity


  • Bladder not insulated
  • Not waterproof (material is breathable mesh)
  • Not durable for runs or races in harsh weather or rough terrain

Final Thoughts

If you love running but aren’t a fan of bringing a ton of stuff with you, then you’ve found a match in the Vapor Air 2-Liter Running Vest. Just remember that’s it’s for running (not rolling around in obstacles), but it is a high-quality hydration vest that will serve you well. The Nathan Vapor Air Race Vest series seems to be built and designed with the summer and hot climates in mind. We wouldn’t recommend taking this pack out in the rain. Otherwise, this is a great pack. We think the Vapor Air would be a particularly nice choice for runners who sweat quite a bit, as this hydration vest won’t add a notch to your body temperature.