Review of Nathan Trail Mix 7 Liter Women’s Race Pack

For years I ran with a Nathan hydration waist belt and was pretty happy with it. I say that, but it was honestly more like a love/hate relationship. I loved having my favorite Nuun on my long runs plus a small area for my phone and Honey Stinger chews but I hated having to constantly push the belt down when it inevitably slid up my hips, further and further up my waist.

Finally, last October I took the plunge and bought a running vest, namely the Nathan Trail Mix 7 Liter Women’s Race Pack. From here on, I’m going to call it a running vest even though Nathan calls it a race pack. I had seen running vests primarily on marathoners and trail runners but also half marathoners and debated for a couple of years whether to buy one. Why the delay in buying one? Well, running vests are considerably pricier than running belts, about twice the price. Still, I thought since I could also take my vest hiking it would be dual-purpose and well worth it (plus no more struggling with it during runs).

I ran my fastest 5k ever wearing my Nathan running vest!

After looking at several other companies’ running vests online last fall, I thought I’d go to REI to try one on and see which I liked the best. I tried on an Osprey, Salomon, and this one by Nathan. I just liked how it fit better than the others plus it didn’t seem like more than I needed. The Trail Mix 7 Liter comes with a 2 liter hydration bladder, weighs just 7 ounces without the bladder and 11 ounces with it (empty of course). It’s also specifically designed for women, has multiple adjustable straps, three pockets in the front, and three zippered pockets in the back.

Another reason I bought my running vest at REI is their generous return policy. You can return anything within a year of purchase. I wasn’t sure how breathable and comfortable the vest would be for summer runs, so I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to test the vest out, including for hot, humid runs.

So how did it hold up for those hot runs? Great! I thought for sure I’d have a hot, sweaty back and would be too uncomfortable to wear the vest during the summer months (which, let’s be honest, the heat kicks in during the spring here and doesn’t cool down that much until mid-October) but never once was it an issue. I also took my vest hiking every chance I had, including Hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park- Redux. The 2 liter hydration bladder is the perfect amount for me, and believe me, I drink a ton of water when I’m hiking.

When I go out for a long run, I don’t run with the hydration bladder, but I do run with a 500 mL flask in one front pocket, a 10 ounce flask in another front pocket (each has Nuun Endurance), and Honey Stinger chews in the third front pocket. In the back pockets, I have my phone and some emergency supplies should I ever need them (things like Bandaids, tissues, a mask during COVID, migraine pills, and things like that). There’s plenty of room in the back pockets, even with the full bladder. When I’m hiking and have the bladder (it’s full of only water), that goes in one back pocket and my emergency supplies go in the other back pockets.

So far you may have noticed there are only pros mentioned here. The only con I have is the adjustable straps don’t always stay put on long runs. Occasionally I have to grab them (usually both come loose at the same time) and tighten them again. This only takes a second, though, and is really a minor point. There’s probably a way to hook them to something once you tighten them, but I haven’t researched that because it’s such a minor thing.

The Nathan Trail Mix 7 Liter Women’s Race Pack comes in the pink color I have and a blue color that was out of stock when I bought mine. I just checked Nathan’s website and the blue is currently out of stock. They only have the men’s version on the REI site. That’s perhaps also a con I have about this vest: there apparently aren’t enough blue vests that they’re consistently out of stock. If anyone from Nathan (or even a competitor brand of running vests) just happens to be reading this, make more colors of running vests for women. Not all women exclusively like pink and purple.

Do any of you run with a hydration vest? Are you on the fence about buying one?

Happy running!


Author: runningtotravel

I'm a long distance runner with a goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states in the US. I also love to travel so I travel to other places when I'm not running races. Half the fun is planning where I'm going to go next!

9 thoughts on “Review of Nathan Trail Mix 7 Liter Women’s Race Pack”

  1. I’ve always stuck with a camelbak. I’ve had the same one since 2009. I guess I’m just old school. I’ve considered a vest, but I never use more than 2 gel packs and my phone typically sits in a pocket I can reach up and grab. I have considered a vest though. I’m just waiting for my camelbak to fall apart.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hate having to constantly push my hydration belt down too. The one I have now is comfortable, but I started running loops from the rec center for my long run just so I don’t have to carry water! Even though I do a lot of trail races, I don’t wear a vest or a belt. I just count on getting my hydration at the aid stations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a picky stomach so many forms of hydration just don’t sit well with me and for long runs I need more than plain watet because I sweat so much. When I started running races with my own Nuun, it was one of the best decisions I made.


  3. You name it, I have tried it when it comes to hydration. I did start using a hydration vest while training for my first trail half. My only con for it is that it chafes up my running clothes (and I, too, have used it for hiking).

    Otherwise it’s so light weight & I love how long the water stays cold!

    I almost always wear it in a half (sadly it’s been almost 2 years since I rain a half) because I’m a slower runner & I’ve definitely had aid stations run out of water in more than one race.

    I also like the fact that I can drink when I want to — I’ve had lots of hot races where I’m looking for an aid station long before there is one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To your point about being able to drink when you want to at races, that’s why I started carrying my own water in the first place. I was tired of there only being Gatorade or something else I didn’t normally drink and didn’t train with. I’d much rather have the ability to drink what I want to drink, when I want to drink it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the review. I just stuff my gu into my skirt pockets. And I carry a bottle only when it is very warm. Mostly loop to get a drink.

    Yours sounds like a good one. I’ll keep it in mind if I get one.

    Liked by 1 person

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