Camelbak Marathoner Vest

I remember my first Camelbak pack.  It was a hand-me-down M.U.L.E. from my uncle that was already well worn when I got it.  I still have that pack, over 10 years old now, and  it is still in working condition. Camelbak has been creating innovative hydration packs since 1988 and the Marathoner Vest is one of their latest innovations. Designed with marathon training and trail running in mind, the vest presents some innovative solutions to some of issues faced on long distance runs. Many thanks to Camelbak for this opportunity.

The Vest:

Specs and Features:

  • Material: 70D Diamond Box Rip with DWR & 1000 mm PU coating
  • Weight: 12.7 ounces (Pack only)
  • Warranty: Camelbak “Got Your Bak” Guarantee

I would venture to say that the Marathoner Vest is more of a hydration pack with storage on the shoulder straps, but for the sake of the review and the product name, we will refer to it as a vest.  The main goal of the vest is to give you a greater amount of storage for the extra items that you need for long distance road training and trail running. Check out this short video as I point out some of the features of the vest: http://youtu.be/NRcDEGmiiuY

The Bladder (Reservoir) :

Specs and Features:

  • Access: Quarter turn for easy open/close cap.
  • Drying/Cleaning: built in dryer arms to hang dry your reservoir.
  • Size Correction: Center baffling to keep the filled reservoir from bulging.
  • “Big Bite” valve
  • HydroGuard™ technology
  • PureFlow™ tube

The Marathoner Vest comes with Camelbak’s Antidote reservoir. This 70 oz. (2 L) water bladder is new from Camelbak and has some new features that I am excited about putting to good use. See the following video as I point out some of the new features included with the new Antidote reservoir. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tj7ZO_aPqmw I’m excited to get some miles in with the Camelbak Marathoner Vest.  Check back in about month to get my latest update on the vest. -Kaleb R.

Update: 7.9.12

I’ve spent the last month with the Camelbak Marathoner Vest.  So far, I’ve used it on trail running, on road runs, and on a day hike. It has been nothing short of scorching hot in the Upstate of South Carolina for the last few weeks.  Temperatures have reached as high as 107 F and have averaged in the high 90s F.  Not necessarily ideal running weather, but with hot weather, hydration is vital.  Luckily, the antidote water bladder puts 70 ounces of water on your back for your entire run.  Below is a synopsis of my likes and dislikes so far with the vest:

Likes:

  • Easy access pockets on the front straps.  They are easy to get your nutrition and whatever you want to store in them in and out.
  • Quick stash pocket on rear of vest.  Securely stores whatever fits back there.  I used it on my day hike to store my waterproof stuff sack.
  • Comfort.  So far the Vest has proved comfortable and cool in this hot weather.  After spending some time sliding down a waterfall in DuPont forest on the NC/SC line, we had to make a quick dash of about a mile out of the woods to avoid an afternoon thunderstorm. In the rush of events I threw the vest on without a shirt, and as we made it to the car with the bottom-dropping-out, I didn’t experience any chafing or rashes.  The run to the car was about 1.5 miles.  I’ll get some more mileage by my next review in this manner.
  • Water bladder is the best I’ve ever used. Mad props to Camelbak’s latest innovation. The 1/2 turn opening is very easy to use, and the zippers which I was skeptical of in my initial review have worked like a charm.

Dislikes:

  • Water sloshes around.  I don’t think there is really anything that can be done to fix this, and as the miles wear on, I was able to forget about it.
  • None other at this point!

Check back in a month for my final review of the Camelbak Marathoner Vest.

Final Update: 8.13.12

When it comes to outdoor gear and how we use it, a line appears that we often flirt with.  There comes a point, especially with the proliferation of technology in outdoor products, where the gear we use no longer enhances the activities that we practice but, rather, detracts from them.  This line is often a grey area, and is always different from person to person, you have to draw it for yourself. I’m afraid that the Camelback has crossed over this hypothetical grey area and into the realm of “activity detraction” for myself.  Yes, when reviewing a piece of gear, I am more aware of how it performs.  By necessity of being a gear reviewer, I must pay closer attention to the gear that I review in order to get my opinions and feedback to you. However, if a piece of gear makes a once fun and enjoyable activity no longer fun, then it’s not worth its salt.

A recent trail run with the Marathoner Vest tipped the scales for me. At the end of my run I couldn’t even remember much of the trail that I had just traversed.  Almost all of my attention had been focused on the vest; the constant tightening of the straps that would continually loosen, the trying to figure out the obnoxious noise that the pack made every time my foot struck the ground, and the feeling of being constricted and confined in an activity that usually makes me feel free.

One of the things that I noticed is that the adjustable straps at the bottom rear of the shoulder straps need to be adjusted quite often when running.  A quick pull away from the body with the straps and the vest snugly fits closer to the back.  Yet it appears that with the constant pounding of running, the straps loosen and need to be readjusted so that the vest fits snugly against the back and doesn’t flop around as you run.

Camelbak Marathoner Vest

Buckle that needs constant adjusting

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad product.  There were many features that I liked about the Marathoner Vest. Overall, the vest just seemed to detract from my positive experiences, especially trail running. I tend to prefer minimalism on the trail. While I felt very prepared with the Marathoner vest with its water bladder, and storage pockets, in the end, it just was too bulky and the straps and mass of the vest made me feel constricted.

Final thoughts:

  • In the future I think I may use the Vest for light day hikes where the need for gear is minimal.
  • The Antidote water bladder is a home run.  It’s by far the best I have used to date.
  • If you are looking for storage and space on your runs, then the Marathoner Vest may be for you.
  • If minimalism is your game, then the Marathoner Vest probably isn’t for you.
  • This is a high quality product.
  • See if you can borrow someone else’s before you splash the cash.
For me, while running, the Marathoner Vest didn’t work out.  That’s not to say that it won’t for others.  This is a very innovative and utilitarian product that can be used in a variety of ways.
-Kaleb R.

 

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