CamelBak Marathoner Vest ReviewJanuary 4, 2012
The CamelBak Marathon is a “hydration vest” designed to keep long distance and trail runners well hydrated while on the move. It is capable of carrying 70 ounces (2 liters) of water in its included hydration bladder, and an additional 48 ounces in water bottles stored in front loaded cargo pockets. The vest has a small amount of overflow storage for energy bars and other gear items as well.
- Fits snugly against the body without restricting motion while running
- Carries two liters of water in the included hydration bladder
- Two bottle holders allow runners to carry even more water
- Breathable, reflective fabrics make the vest a great option even in hot weather
- Antidote Reservoir is easy to fill and seals tightly
- Minimalist design doesn’t provide much capacity beyond carrying water
- Fitting straps can loosen up on longer runs
- Not as versatile as a traditional pack
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.