Nathan RunLite Travel Pack reviewed by trail runner Laura Clark. Laura is an avid mountain, trail and snowshoe runner who lives in Saratoga Springs, NY, where she is a children’s librarian. Pack provided free of charge by Nathan.
“Tiny but mighty” is how Nathan describes the latest addition to their hydration pack lineup. Versatile, adaptable and willing to please, this latest offering fills an often-neglected niche category for those who are searching for a serviceable, lightweight, take-anywhere product. Look elsewhere for an Adirondack High Peaks companion or a multi-day backpacking kit. A trail or town jaunt is where this creation fully comes into its own.
And it is not so tiny after all. Capable of holding a 2L bladder (not included), with two backside pockets for snacks or bottles, you will be more than ready for any moderate expedition, whether running, hiking, biking or commuting. Let’s tackle running first. The two front adjustable straps fasten snugly and prevent the dreaded jiggle. Truth be told, I was a bit skeptical of the top strap since it rides higher to the neckline than I am used to, but that didn’t seem to be a problem and in fact prevented shoulder chafing. As the day heated up and the predicted rain failed to materialize, a few quick clicks and the pack was off and ready to store my jacket, again with no content shifting. For me this is a boon as the usual trick of tying said jacket around my waist makes me extremely self-conscious, embarrassed that I had once again failed to outfit properly. Granted, I know on some level this is ridiculous since even weathermen can’t predict the weather, but there you have it.
Originally, I had felt that having the food/bottle pockets in the back was a disadvantage for those running solo without a willing companion. I experimented with both a hard water bottle and the soft, flexible kind and was surprised to discover that flexible, aka squishy, is not always your friend. It was easy enough to reach back and withdraw, but a bear to squeeze back in. The more rigid type was a quick in and out.
For hiking with kids or grandkids, this is the pack I would select. It is so expandable that it readily corrals all those “carry, please” items that your kids will invariably shed with plenty of room leftover for trail treasures. I could picture filling one of the outer receptacles with treats they could grab for those occasional fussy moments. Similarly, if you like to combine errands with exercise, this would be the choice for quick main street shopping. I have tried those string bags that you are often given at races, but have found the jounce and slippage factor to be beyond annoying, frequently having to awkwardly run one-handed while steadying the bag with the other. This bit of adaptable bit of gear would be the perfect bike to work companion as well, with plenty of leeway for a fresh outfit and a few business accessories.
The RunLite is billed as a travel pack for a reason, and now that distance travel is more of a possibility, I plan on stashing it in my summer vacation suitcase for the perfect solution to touristy expeditions, whether on the trail or in town.