I’ve been a 2-bottle waist pack wearer for years, but our Nathan Intensity Vest has been so popular for so long, I finally got a hold of one to give it a try. The Intensity is the women-specific version of the #020 pack, also a best-seller. The fit is different from the men’s pack, so that you can get a snug fit at the sides of the pack without the shoulders bunching up on you. The bladder in this pack was updated early this season from a screw-top to a slider top (great improvement in quality), so no time like the present.
My first test was on the road. I wanted to run for 2-3 hours and not worry about hitting water fountains. The Intesity’s capacity is 2 liters or roughly 70 ounces. My two bottles would have given me a total of 44 ounces. I didn’t need a whole lot of other stuff with me. The vest has two pockets in the front. The zipper pocket was good for a few gels, the pocket with the bungee cord was good for my iPod. And that was about it. The fit on the pack is super adjustable. The criss-cross side straps are really stable. The front strap adjusts in length and slides up and down, so it can cross your front exactly where you want it to. When I first set off I had that strap too tight across my chest and realized I couldn’t breathe. I found I could loosen that one up a lot and still have a completely no bounce pack!
It’s true that you can hear water slosh while you run (iPod helps with this problem). It kind of sounded more like someone was following me, which just made me run faster, so I thought that was a good thing. The mesh in the front and throughout the back seemed to breathe well. I didn’t get too sweaty or have a claustrophobic feeling. I liked having nothing extra on my waist. The other advantage was that I didn’t have to worry about my shorts getting stuck up under my pack.
For the trail run, the Intensity was just as good. When I set off I thought I might have trouble sucking down water on some tough uphills, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly. The bite valve has a good flow and is easy to clip back into the front strap while on the move. Another advantage: I didn’t have to keep reaching behind me for a bottle (which can be awkward sometimes).
So now, any time I’m going out for 2 hours or longer, I pick up the Intensity pack. It’s easy to fill, quick to adjust and I’m always comfortable in it. I’m not sure if it’s what I would use for races, but I have a while to figure that out!
Here’s our Nathan Intensity product page.