CamelBak Marathoner Vest
Lightweight and comfortable, the Marathoner is a good alternative to traditional hydration packs, although its one-size-fits-all approach may not make it right for all runners.
The Marathoner hydration vest has a radically different design than the traditional hydration pack that we’ve all come to know and love. In fact, it more closely resembles a fishing vest rather than a backpack. That unique design may garner more than a few curious stares on the trail, but it also delivers a snug fit that moves more naturally with the runner than similar products.
In keeping with its minimalist approach, the Marathoner has been designed almost exclusively for carrying water. The included hydration bladder holds 2 liters of fluid, and two front cargo pockets provide storage for water bottles up to 24 ounces. A small overflow pocket on the back of the vest offers very limited space for keys, energy bars, and the like, but that is the extent of the onboard storage capacity. Runners looking to carry more gear with them on the trail may be better suited with pack rather than this vest.
Adjusting the fit on the Marathoner is simple, as there are just two chest straps and two sternum straps to pull into place. That simplicity means that the vest may not be right for everyone however, as taller runners may struggle to find just the right fit. I also found that the straps could work loose on longer runs, requiring a readjustment on the go.
Despite a few drawbacks however, CamelBak clearly had runners in mind when they designed the Marathoner. Thanks to its soft, lightweight, breathable fabrics it is a versatile piece of gear that can be used in a variety of weather conditions. Those same fabrics are also non-abrasive, making them comfortable to wear against the skin, and reflective elements have been incorporated to aid in visibility during low light conditions. Convenient tube traps keep your water supply close at hand at all times and the built-in safety whistle is a nice “just in case” addition as well.
The Marathoner is scheduled for release in February of 2012 and has the potential to be a very popular piece of gear amongst distance runners who don’t want, or need, a full-blown hydration pack. Despite its unique look, it has quickly become an important part of my daily running routine.
How We Tested It
The AdventureBlog's Kraig Becker tested the CamelBak Marathoner on multiple runs ranging in length from 5 to 12 miles each, and in temperatures in excess of 100ºF. The runs were conducted on both paved roads and dirt trails.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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