Run Like Monkey

mind like water | run like monkey

Nathan Endurance Hydration Vest Review

Since January, I have been testing out a fantastic new hydration vest from Nathan Hydration.  It’s the Endurance just released this year.  The Endurance is fairly close overall to the classic Nathan HPL #020 that I, and many others, have loved.  Here is the #020 on the left, and the Endurance on the right:

The most notable difference is the topmost opening for refilling the bladder.  The Endurance has a velcro top flap and side zippers, which make it easier to slide the bladder in and out.  The outer pocket has moved down lower, which is nice when you have it packed with heavier items.

Another nice tidbit are two additional micropockets on the front of the vest.  They don’t fit much, but are handy for a small bag of S! caps, keys, peppermints, etc.  They have also changed out the open fishnet-style mesh on the right front pocket and outer left front pocket for a tigher mesh.  This is minor, but a nice improvement so things like the corners of gel packs don’t snag up as much.  One of my favorite features/coincidences is that my HTC Incredible fits perfectly inside the left front zipper pocket!

I think one of the best improvements is the new bite valve.  The new Endurance bite valve is on the left below and the #020 on the right.  The new valve is a twist valve, and the old valve pulled out to open and pushed in to close.  The old valve used to drive me nuts.  In winter it would freeze up.  When I tried putting HEED in my #020 pack at the Zumbro 100 mile last year (very bad idea) the valve would get stuck closed and I even ripped it all the way out once trying to pull it open with my teeth.  I suppose the twist valve would also gum up with HEED, but I have so far much preferred the twist open approach; I can even pull it off one-handed.

My winter testing was very hampered due to cold Minnesota temps.  On some of the extremely cold runs I would put hand warmers inside the pack against the bladder down by the outlet valve to prevent freezing, and then tuck the bite valve down my collar against my skin.  This would delay freezing, but on long runs the exposed shoulder portion would still freeze out.  On a frigid run in Fargo I left the bladder out completely.  I put a water bottle and a Gatorade bottle each inside a wool sock, packed them with Clif bars and gels, and then put a hand warmer in each sock.  The good news is that everything stayed room temp even at -28 F windchill, and the Endurance stored everything without a problem.

I have way too many hydration packs in my closet, but the Nathans are the only ones that get used on a regular basis.  I wore my #020 for 31 hours at Zumbro last year, and it was totally comfortable the entire time.  The Endurance seems to use the same vest system, and provides the same comfort as the #020.  I am loving this vest, and with our Spring thaw its back in action on a regular basis.

Disclosure: Nathan has provided me with products for testing.  But I have also spent (plenty of) my own money on Nathan products!


17 Responses to “Nathan Endurance Hydration Vest Review”

  1. […] Nathan Endurance Hydration Vest Review […]

  2. SteveQ said

    I’ve always like Nathan handhelds, but have kept from getting the vest because I’ve heard complaints about bladder leaks. Have you had such problems?

  3. Daniel said


    I love my Nathan HPL, my Nathan handhelds and my Nathan waist packs.

    I didn’t have any problems with the bladder leaking, but I just bought the new Camel bladder to replace it as it was starting to go nasty. I actually did this because people at aid stations seem to have a much easier time filling Camel bladders! It fits in it perfectly. I would never buy a pack because of the bladder, you can always swap.

  4. scott said

    @Steve – the timing of that question is really funny. When I pulled out the Endurance to take these photos just before a run, I filled it and noticed a pinhole leak in the bladder! I have had my #020 for a year and had no trouble at all. I didn’t realize they have a rep for leaking? Maybe its due to being able to turn them inside out for drying? I like that feature of their bladders over Camelbak’s, but I could see how that might damage them more readily.

    @Daniel – I’m also a Nathan handhelds fan, I have 2 QuickDraw Plus handhelds that I use a lot and used for almost the entire Superior Trail 50 mile race. You are so right about the aid station complaints! At Zumbro, there was a guy who vocally complained about my pack when he saw me coming into the station. It’s definitely more of a hassle than a Camelbak for a quick fill, and practically impossible to refill while someone is wearing it.

  5. Mike Epler said

    Have you seen any documentation on a Warranty? I have the HPL #20 and the rubber piece failed after 9months and after 2 attempts to contact them on their web site NO RESPONSE….looking at ALL Packaging and their website you will not find a warranty…think twice about a company that doesn’t stand behind their product, especially one that ranges $50-$80!!! Maybe this and other postings will get some notice and they will change their policy…

  6. scott said

    Mike – I had the barrel clasp on my #020 break soon after I first got it. I also had trouble getting ahold of someone at Nathan and was pretty frustrated. My experience was that when I finally did get ahold of them, they were extremely responsive and fixed my pack free of charge. I made them aware of your situation and I think they are working to get the listening channels improved. I hope your situation is worked out, I think they are fundamentally a good company.

  7. Kel said

    Thanks for the review Scott! The new vest looks pretty sweet, but not enough changes for me to replace my Nathan Intensity (women’s version of HPL 020)- which I love – just yet.

    I also use a Camelbak bladder in my Nathan vest – couldn’t stand the constantly leaking bite valve (which was also awkward to operate) and heard several stories of the bladder rupturing along the seams. More than one runner complained of a wet butt and no water out on the trail. Wrote about my experiences here:

    I’ve found that blowing water/Heed/whatever back into the bladder after drinking during cold weather runs prevents the tube and bite valve from freezing.

  8. Mindy said

    I am very interested in the new Nathan Endurance, but wonder how well it works for women. All of my running girls use the Intensity and they love it, but all complain about leaking as well. That would drive me crazy, but so does the burn on the side of my neck from my camelbak. I only run trail marathons and further so I need something light and comfortable. I like the new features of the Endurance.. Any women out there tried it yet?

  9. Sean Cunniff said

    Thanks for the great comparative review. I have been trying to decide whether to get a second 020 or the new Endurance, and seeing them compared side-to-side really helps me out!


    Sean Cunniff
    Santa Fe, NM

  10. scott said

    Sean, I hope you are enjoying your choice. They are actually both great packs but I think the Endurance has an edge. You can’t go wrong with Nathan – I have been happy with everything I have used from them.

  11. scott said

    I haven’t heard specifically from women, but I think this has the same basic wear as the #020 so would work out the same. I find the Nathan vests way more comfortable than Camelbak straps for long runs, so its a done decision for me. I definitely consider these packs to be “light and comfortable” – I have run 31 hours with one on.

    Some people complain about leaking in the bladders. I haven’t had a lot of trouble, but did have one that got a pin hole leak in it. I am wondering if the fact that you can turn the bladders inside out means they have the opportunity to get punctured more. I do like that feature for keeping them clean, so maybe a spare bladder is a worthy investment trade off for that feature.

  12. Bob said

    I agree with the user that wrote that you can blow air back into the tube to help prevent freezing in the tube. Has always worked for me.

    Anyone know where I can purchase a Nathan Endurance? They all seem to be sold out.

  13. Rick said

    I’m about to try out an Endurance with the new Geigerrig pressurized bladder which opens up a nice filtration and spray option for longer unsupported backcountry runs. I’ve had great luck with the Geigerrig bladder backpacking and mountain running with a Marmot Kompressor day pack, but am really looking forward to the more bounce-free vest experience.

    Is it silly of me to wish for an all black version (ahem Nathan guys!) of the vest to hide the grunge? I use a lot of black gear and wear a lot of black merino in the mountains and even on hot days don’t find it’s that unbearable – in fact it provides better SPF at higher altitudes… Maybe it’s just that it’s never that hot here in Oregon 😉

  14. scott said

    Rick – I have not heard of Geigerrig before or pressurized bladders, thanks for sharing that. I definitely think the vest style is way more comfortable than backpack style with straps. I have worn these Nathans for many hours comfortably. I hear you about the color – some variety might be nice. In fact, a black pack might help a bit in winter keeping the bladder from freezing? I suppose the visible dirt on a lighter color does encourage me to wash it more than a might with a dark color!

  15. Frank said

    Hi All,
    I’m currently utilizing the Endurance with the Geigerrig 2L bladder. It is easily set-up, no astray tubes or straps either. I am very hard on gear, XCR trails with river swims, MTB, rappelling and all the rest, 60+ Km on the last outing combining all the activities and never a glitch or rash! Hope this was helpful,

  16. Webaschtl said

    Which is the color of the Endurance? Dark like or in a light gray like in your pictures?

  17. Webaschtl said

    A similar question to my previous one:

    Does anybody know the differences between the Endurance on the Nathan website (see my link “above”) and the testet model on this page?

    Thanks a lot!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: