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Review: Nathan VaporHowe 2.0 12l Women’s Race Vest

Woman running in hydration vest

Lightweight, snug and comfortable. Versatile, great for racing, short runs or even for commuting to work!

I chose the Nathan VaporHowe running vest because I was after a lightweight running vest that I could use to carry a few necessary items of clothing for my commute to and from work in the Surrey Hills. This vest is ideal, especially in the warm summer months, as it has the perfect combination of lightweight, breathability coupled with excellent carrying capacity. This allowed me to run comfortably and freely without feeling weighed down.

Nathan VaporHowe 2.0 12l Women’s Race Vest: The stats

Best for:Short summer trail runs, training or racing
Water carrying capacity:1.6 litre bladder (included) space for 2 additional 600ml soft-flask style bottles on the front of the pack
Total storage capacity:12 litres
Number of pockets:2 large main pockets: one for the bladder and one zipped, plus multiple smaller pockets
Weight:15oz / 422g

Features of the Nathan VaporHowe 2.0

Main fabric

Woman wearing Nathan hydration vestThe outer fabric is soft and stretchy allowing you to really stuff the large pockets full if you need extra kit for changeable weather or for longer races. The fabric on the back panel is thicker and tougher but remains soft and comfortable.

Water reservoir

Water-bladderThe vest comes with an insulated hourglass shaped bladder designed to minimise sloshing when half full. It sits in the main compartment, against the back and is kept upright by a velcro strap.

Bladder hose attachment

Hose attachment on running vestThe bladder hose can be looped over either shoulder and there is a magnetic clip on the shoulder strap to keep it in place and out of the way. This can be moved to either side to suit your preference.

Internal compression system

Adjustment strap on running vestOn either side of the vest, towards the back is a compression strap that tightens the vest around the waist. They can be easily loosened if carrying a bigger load or tightened for snug fit when it is not filled to capacity.

Chest straps

Chest straps on vestThere are 2 chest straps that are attached to stiffened rails which enable them to slide up and down for a tailored fit. They can also be tightened or loosened easily depending on your chest size.

Shoulder straps

Chest strap pocket on vestThe shoulder straps are nice and wide which spreads the load nicely and means a comfortable fit. The width allows them to have a small zippered pocket on each side. Inside the zip pocket on the right shoulder is a smaller pill pocket to store smaller items securely. On the left hand side there is an emergency whistle which is essential for those all-important race kit checks

Front stash pockets

Bottle in pocket of vestThese pockets are great for carrying additional water. Or, if the 1.6 litre bladder included is large enough, then these pockets are great for storing snacks and easy-access items. On the left hand side there is also a water resistant zip pocket, ideal for storing your phone.

Back kangaroo pocket

Running vest pocketThere is a small pocket at the top of the bag which closes with a Velcro tab. Designed to act as a quick stuff pocket for quick-access items. A waterproof jacket or a pair of gloves for example.

Back pockets

Water bladder in running vestThere are 2 main compartments. The one nearest the back houses the bladder and is plenty big enough for a few more items if needed. The other pocket sits on top of the bladder pocket and is accessed via a small zip near the top. This pocket is made from a super stretchy fabric allowing you to carry all the essentials.

Nathan VaporHowe 2.0 12l Women’s Race Vest review

I had never used a running vest before and I was looking for a lightweight vest to use during short and fast trail runs to and from work (about 7km each way). When I received the Nathan VaporHowe I was immediately impressed with the quality of the materials and the lightweight feel of the vest.

The VaporHowe is a female-specific race vest made out of a stretchy and flexible lightweight fabric that expands as you stuff clothes and other items into the pockets. I predominantly use this vest to commute to work in the summer months since it is just about large enough for a full change of summer clothes, my lunch and a few essential items. In winter, I use a slightly larger bag as I need to carry warmer clothes to change into when I get to the office.

I have also used the Nathan VaporHowe for longer runs – up to a half marathon distance trail routes in changeable conditions. It has proved to be ideal for this, with multiple pockets to organise my race nutrition, water and spare layers.

Profile of running carry pack

Comfort and fit

The vest fits really securely. It stays in place well while I’m moving with no rubbing or extra pressure on the bust. Plys, the quick access straps, located on the chest/ribs, make it easy to adjust the pack as I add or remove gear or nutrition/hydration. The straps that adjust the ribs work well, too. I would, however, recommend going a size up, or at least trying two sizes before you commit to one. For me, a larger one would mean that the straps could be loosened to allow for extra space to fit a jacket under the vest.

Easy to adjust? Yes. The two lateral straps under the arms are easy to reach and use while running. The bag has some clever sliding sternum straps which allow for adjustment. This stops too much pressure from building in the bust area.

True to size? Almost too true! The vest becomes too tight around the armpits if I add an extra layer underneath. Not ideal for cold runs when extra base layers are needed. I recommend going one size up – especially if you have broad shoulders.

How stable is it when fully loaded? Very stable, no bouncing or rubbing, the stretchy material expands brilliantly if extra capacity is needed.

How stable is the vest when it’s not packed full? Surprisingly, it’s also very stable as the straps can be adjusted to fit the vest more tightly to the shoulders and chest.

Woman running in hydration vest


The rear of the pack has a large main pocket that is big enough to fit a jacket and an extra layer and the stretchy material of the bag will expand as you stuff more things in. The internal pocket that holds the water bladder can be used for stashing more things like spare layer, wallet, headlamps and any other snacks, providing once again more space!

What I love the most about the vest

I love the stretchy breathable mesh panel of the vest. I am a real sweater and I really appreciate the extra design details put in place to improve the wicking capability of the vest- that prevents me from overheating! I also love how easy it is to wash, I usually chuck it in the washing machine with the rest of my muddy running gear, it comes out clean as new and it dries super-fast!

What I don’t like so much

I don’t particularly like the colour choice of purple and baby pink, but that is personal preference. The sizing is also on the small size which means I can only really use it when the weather is hot/mild as the bag wouldn’t fit comfortably over a jacket.

Woman with hydration vest on back


The Nathan VaporHowe is a fantastic running vest that is highly comfortable with a second skin feel! There are loads of storage options and water carrying capacity, making it an ideal vest for run commuting as well as longer days out in the hills. It is a very good quality vest, that feels very durable and long lasting.

The women specific fit is a nice touch, however, because of my body shape (I am tall with broad shoulders) I feel that the women specific fit is less advantageous as I could have done with the extra length, especially down the back. Compared to the men’s version it feels and looks smaller.

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Nathan Sports | Amazon | REI

About Fran

Fran author

Fran Scarampi is a natural born athlete and sportswoman who also works darn hard at whatever her focus is. She has played Ultimate for many years, representing GB on multiple occasions. She's also a very proficient cyclist and runner, and though she used to prefer indoors, she has become more comfortable in adverse conditions and wilderness settings. She may even admit to rather enjoying it!

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