I've been on the hunt for a good waist pack to take on long runs. Last year I used the UD Blaze Plus along with handhelds for long runs and although it worked out pretty well, there were a lot of things that I was not happy with. Like the UD Fastdraw bottle, the pockets on the Blaze are a bit small, and it is really hard to fit even a bar or two into them (although the UD bottle nipple is far superior to the Nathan bottle top - luckily they are interchangeable). This is no problem on shorter runs or aid supported runs, but for big solo days in the mountains (20+ miles) I found it difficult to carry everything. So this past week I picked up the Nathan Elite 2V Plus, which has two benefits over the UD Blaze - it carries more water so I don't also have to have a handheld, and the pockets are much bigger and removable. So yesterday I went out to demo the Nathan pack up at Elk Meadow Park on Bergen Peak (9,708'). I was a little nervous about potential bouncing as you carry (or can carry) up to 44oz around your waist, as well as a substantial amount of food, gear, camera, etc. Since I tend to the minimal side, I did not use the pack to capacity for this short run (I took the two pockets off), but rather wanted to see about fit, whether there was any bounce, and how the pockets and other features worked out.
I ran two laps covering the trails in the park and tagging Bergen Peak twice for a total car to car time of 4:03 with 4,689' of gain over the course of 22 miles. I carried two bars, one gu, and one fruit strip, along with two full 22oz bottles in the pack. I also had a very light wind/rain jacket along as it looked like it could rain at any moment and a camera. There is no way I could have carried this much with the UD Blaze without also carrying a handheld. Although I was not going super fast, the Nathan pack worked out very well.
- Very little bounce, even running on the downhills
- Easy to access water, although it took a bit getting used to putting them back in their slots
- Felt small and comfortable on the back, with no excess sweat or heat buildup
- Plenty of room - enough for three times as much food
- Removable pockets - the pack comes with two extra side pockets that you can remove when not in use
I'll have to see how the pack works out on longer days this summer, but so far I am very happy, especially when considering the price (around $50 depending on where you shop). The pack has a ton of material, and not all of it seems necessary - I'm sure I will take a knife to it and get rid of any excess here shortly to try and lighten it up a tad.
The resident elk herd...
Looking east from the summit...
Looking west from the summit at Evans and beyond
Hard to see, but that is Pikes way off to the south....