Nathan Sports built the VaporKrar 2.0 for Rob Krar, one of the top trail runners in North America. We put it to the test.
Knock on wood. I’ve stayed healthy this entire running season, logging just over 1,000 miles in the last 3 months. This includes some mountain trails I’ve been dreaming about for years: Wonderland, Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim, Timberline, and Teton Crest, among others. Yet most of these sweaty, muddy miles were on forest roads, through regional parks, and less-glamorous urban sidewalks.
This summer, I tested the VaporKrar 2.0 ($165), an updated running pack by Nathan Sports. Any time I planned on a long run — generally anything more than an hour — I would throw on the VaporKrar, stuff a few GU Energy snacks inside, fill the bladder with water, and head out.
I did this so often that my dog now associates the pack with a long run and gets extra excited when she sees it.
Nathan VaporKrar 2.0 Fit: Like a Glove
The new trend in running packs is to fit like a piece of clothing, hugging your body as tightly as possible. The rationale for this is straightforward physics — mass closer to the center of gravity takes less energy to move.
Many brands have taken note, designing shorts, shirts, and packs that help distance runners tuck snacks, spare layers, and water close to the body.
The VaporKrar 2.0 is especially good at this principal, with a streamlined design that I barely notice on my runs. The downside of this design that contours tightly around your chest is that, when you’re really pushing hard up a steep hill or grinding on long trails at elevation, your breathing is restricted just a little.
But the trade-off is certainly worth it — water and nutrition are necessary.
Durability: Small Cosmetic Tears, Still Full Integrity
My initial gripe with the pack was some small rips. Early in the season, I tackled a 50-mile route in the Grand Canyon and, admittedly, carried a lot of stuff. Still, I was surprised to see a couple of small tears at the top seams after the run.
Like all running packs, Nathan worked exceedingly hard to keep this pack as light as possible, and that led to some weak spots. I found them pretty quickly.
But after months of use in mud, rain, sleet, and dirt, the pack still performs like new, and these small tears haven’t expanded at all. It now has some sweat stains and mud marks, but all of this is cosmetic; the performance hasn’t declined at all.
Bounce: Best in Class
I’ve used a lot of other packs — Salomon, Ultimate Direction, and Patagonia to name a few — and nothing compares to minimal bounce of Nathan’s VaporKrar. When packed right, the apparel-like fit helps mitigate almost all bounce.
The front pockets are designed to provide easy access and spread out the weight. The pack has a compression strap that runs behind the hydration bladder, allowing you to compress the bladder as you drink. But the biggest difference comes in the bladder itself. It is an hourglass shape that helps eliminate the mind-numbing slosh sound and the equally painful bounce.
Storage: Pockets Everywhere!
Each shoulder strap of the VaporKrar 2.0 has two large pockets, good for hydration and snacks, plus a pill-specific pocket and a waterproof cellphone pocket. The back has two large slide-in pockets (for the bladder).
Plus, there’s an even larger zipper pocket for layers and more snacks as well as an easy-access slide-through pocket that you can reach with either hand. I use this most frequently for gloves, a hat, a headlight, and a windbreaker. Despite being listed as 4 L of storage, I’ve found that if you get crafty you can fit much, much more than that.
VaproKrar 2.0 Specs
- Includes patented 1.8L Vapor hydration bladder
- Apparel-like fit with a lightweight, breathable structure
- Compression system tightens the load against your back for stability
- Adjustable sternum straps attach for maximum flexibility and personalized comfort
- Rear bladder pocket is easy to access on the go
- Main rear zippered pocket with internal stash pocket
- Multiple stash pockets for on-the-go access to essentials
- Front storage for soft flasks, nutrition, smartphones sized up to iPhone 7 Plus
- Storage capacity: 732 cubic inches
- Weight: 12 oz./340 g (includes bladder)