Nathan’s longstanding VaporKrar and VaporHowe packs have been popular among ultrarunners for both training and racing. Both are designed with a minimalist 4L model for traveling light and a more robust 12L version for longer durations. This year, those vests got a new name—the Pinnacle—and a minor makeover in construction, with an emphasis on lightweight materials that makes these models 20% lighter than their predecessors. Cargo capacity remains the same, but the pocket configuration has been revamped a bit to maximize convenience of use. We tested both vests over the course of the summer and early fall during high-volume training blocks.
Construction of both the 4L and 12L vests is similar, and a key update is the use of a very thin poly-blend pocket fabric that stretches in all the right places and is very breathable. The stretchiness was ideal when we packed the vest full of extra layers and nutrition. On the interior surface, the Pinnacle vests feature tapered back panels in combination with lightweight mesh fabric that creates a chimney-wicking effect to move moisture up and out of sweatier locations. This technology was first seen on Nathan’s new apparel line this year, and works effectively to move moisture and prevent chafing or heat buildup. The overall shape of the vests is also modified in comparison to the Krar and Howe versions; they are longer and slightly narrower in the rear compartments to disperse the cargo capacity from top to bottom. We found that in combination with the stretchy fabric, the main rear cargo pocket had minimal bouncing with either a small or large amount of gear.
Extensive external pockets – 12 on the 4L and 13 on the 12L vest – allow multiple storage configurations to suit your needs. On the front side, pocket configuration is identical on both vests. Each have dual front zipper pockets (one on each strap) that can accommodate large phones, positioning it against your body and behind the front pocket storage. These zippered sections are advertised as waterproof pockets, but in our testing, the fabric is only waterproof on the front side while the inner fabric allows moisture through pretty easily. These pockets are a carryover from the Krar and Howe vests, which were much more effective at keeping our phones dry.
The larger pockets on the front straps can fit 500ml bottles and while the 4L vest comes with these included, while the 12L version does not. We had a moderate amount of bouncing from the front flasks when full and found ourselves wishing these pockets could be a bit more compressive. Both hydration pockets have smaller stash pockets on top with a Velcro closure, which we found perfect for gels or trash storage. Dual sternum straps have a magnetized attachment point on the fixed side to hold the hydration hose in place. This feature is present on the 4L vest as well, which can accommodate a small (1.6L or smaller) reservoir in the back, but in our testing, we found this can offset the weight balance of the 4L vest too much. The sternum straps can be moved up and down, but this is the only customizable part of the whole vest, so sizing is important. Make sure to follow the size guide provided on the Nathan website.
On each flank there are stretch-style kangaroo pockets that are handy for smaller items like headlamps or gloves. Layered on top of these kangaroo pockets are larger stretch pockets that are different on the 4L and 12L, with a large diagonally-zippered compartment across the entire back panel that is included on the 12L but absent on the 4L. Otherwise, both vests have asymmetric vertical stash pockets that are accessible on the flanks and can accommodate rain gear and other larger items. The larger pocket is easily accessible without removing the pack which makes it a great place for frequently accessed gear during a race. The only exception to this is trekking poles, which Nathan suggests stashing in the vertical pocket, but we found removing them to be cumbersome on the move.
Closest to the body is the full-length housing pocket for the included 1.6L IsoBound insulated bladder. Nathan has cleverly designed this bladder to be hourglass-shaped specifically to cut down on sloshing during runs, and the insulation keeps cold fluids chilled in warm temperatures. We found both of these features worked as advertised, with minimal sloshing from a full reservoir and fluids that stay cooler much longer than traditional non-insulated bladders.
The Nathan Pinnacle 4L and 12L vests are available at www.nathansports.com
Basic Summary: An update and re-branding of two of Nathan’s most popular items, the Krar and Howe vests. Primary updates include lighter and more breathable material construction, and additional kangaroo pockets for cargo storage.
Specs and Features:
|Pinnacle 4L||Pinnacle 12L|
|Weight||142g / 5.0oz||311g / 10.9oz|
|Hydration included||Two 500ml Hydrapak soft flasks with exospine stability||Insulated 1.6L hourglass reservoir|
|Gender||Unisex or women’s||Unisex or women’s|
|Available sizing||XS through XL for unisex,
XXS option for women’s
|XS through XL for unisex,
XXS option for women’s