Arc’teryx Norvan 7 Vest review: premium-quality hydration pack with more features than you’ll ever need

The super-streamlined Arc’teryx Norvan 7 Vest is a highly breathable hydration pack with all the bells and whistles (well, whistle) to satisfy race requirements

Arc’teryx Norvan 7 vest
(Image: © Pat Kinsella)

Advnture Verdict

The ideal vest for competitive fell runners, ultra enthusiasts, adventure racers and long-distance lightweight hikers, the streamlined Norvan 7 from Arc’teryx comes complete with two fantastic flexi flasks, offers amazing storage capacity and a range of well-thought-through features that help keep you safe, comfortable and in control of your own destiny while out on the trails. It’s a premium product, priced accordingly, but the components (including the bottles) are top quality and the materials used and build quality are both very robust.


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    Flasks included

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    Body hugging without being restrictive

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    Excellent ventilation

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    Lots of carry capacity

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    Easily accessible pockets

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    Multiple attachment points for poles, etc

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    Zipped pocket

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  • -

    No recycled materials used

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    Over specced for some users

You can trust Advnture Our expert reviewers spend days testing and comparing gear so you know how it will perform out in the real world. Find out more about how we test and compare products.

Meet the reviewer

best fleece jackets: Artilect Halfmoon Bio Pullover
Pat Kinsella

Pat has hiked all over the world, his adventures taking him to Mont Blanc, the roof of Western Europe; the Norwegian Alps; the highest peaks on Australia; and New Zealand’s Great Walks – among others. He’s an experienced tester of hiking footwear and gives each pair a thorough thrashing before reviewing.

Arc’teryx Norvan 7 Vest: first impressions

There is an awful lot going on in the seemingly small, body-hugging Norvan 7 hydration vest from top-end Canadian brand Arc’teryx, which manages to offer a huge amount of carry capacity and performance-orientated functionality while remaining impressively minimalist looking.


• List price: $160 (US) / £140 (UK)
• Weight (without bottles): Women’s: 165g / 5.8oz; Men’s: 205g / 7.2oz
• Materials: Nylon (72%), Elastane (28%)
• Colors: Women’s: Black / Solitude; Men’s: Black / Neon Yellow
• Liquid capacity: 1 liter (2 x 500ml flasks)
• Fit: Women’s / Men’s
• Sizes: Women’s: S / M / L; Men’s: S / M / L
• Compatibility: Fell runs, ultras and adventure races, and epic speed-hiking challenges

When you unpack the Norvan 7 (which is available direct from Arc'teryx), the very first task is to familiarize yourself with the various features and attachment points that proliferate the product. 

I must admit, my initial thought was that this vest was over-adorned with attachment points, cords, loops and hooks, which could potentially get in the way or even snag on foliage during trail runs. 

But on closer inspection I realized each of these elements can be stashed away in its own little pouch or removed altogether if you find them surplus to your requirements (which many will be for most people, even those doing some full-on running or hiking challenges).

Arc’teryx Norvan 7 Vest: design and construction

Arc’teryx Norvan 7 Vest

There are more loops than most runners will know what to do with (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

To start with the obvious, the Norvan 7 comes with a pair of 500ml soft-sided water bottles (or flasks if you prefer), positioned in purpose-made pouches on the chest and held in place with elasticated cord hoops with pull-tabs. These BPA- and PVC-free Hydrapak flasks are top quality, with a brilliant bite valve and a no-leak guarantee. 

Below each of these bottle pouches is an open-topped pocket, comfortably large enough to accommodate several running gels and an energy bar or two. Inside one of these pouches (the left one) you’ll find an interior pocket that zips shut, so you can secure anything important, like emergency cash or a credit card, your car key, ID or essential medical information. 

On the back of the vest are two expansive ‘dump pockets’, easily big enough to take a running jacket, emergency lightweight shell layers, a space blanket, gloves, or a hat, cap or sun visor

As mentioned previously, there are multiple loops and hoops for attaching running poles or trekking poles, or indeed any other accessories that might become necessities during an ultra challenge, adventure race or epic trek – arguably too many (but they are removable). 

High on the left shoulder is a secret pocket (at least it took me ages to find it) with a little whistle secured to the vest on a cord (which is long enough to get it to your mouth) – a nice touch that could genuinely save your life in an emergency, but certainly helps tick off something often listed as required kit in many fell, ultra and mountain races.

Arc’teryx Norvan 7 Vest

A whistle is hidden in a secret pocket (at least I think the pocket was supposed to be secret considering how long it took me to find it) (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

To do the vest up, there are two pieces of cord with plastic hooks that you attach to corresponding hoops, before pulling the cord tight – essentially a minimalistic equivalent to the sternum straps you find on backpacks. You can change the lateral position of these cords to get a comfortable fit (an especially important factor for women), but it’s crucial to choose the correct size vest in the first place, because this is the only way of getting the garment tight and secure.

The Norvan 7 is constructed from PowerNet stretch mesh, which allows a full range of movement while facilitating maximum airflow and breathability. The nylon-and-elastane material mix is stretchy, lightweight and tough, and should last the distance during all sorts of ultra shenanigans, but sadly, there’s no evidence that Arc’teryx have used any recycled fabric here.

Other features include a reflective logo on the rear for safety when running or hiking around vehicles, and simply to add extra visibility in low-light situations.

Although available in gender specific versions, other than the sizing and the color options, we can’t identify anything different about the women’s vest that makes it better for the female form. (As noted, you have the ability to move the chest straps, but that’s a feature on both the men’s and the women’s iterations.)

Arc’teryx Norvan 7 Vest: on the trails

Arc’teryx Norvan 7 Vest

Easy-to-locate pull tabs on the cords that keep the flasks in place mean you can get the flasks out easily for refilling at water stations (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

I’ve been testing the Norvan 7 hydration vest from Arc’teryx during long training runs in springtime in the South West of Britain. I put the vest to its first true test during an event aptly called The Grizzly, a 20-mile (32km) mixed terrain running race along pebble beaches and country lanes, across cliff tops and muddy fields, through thigh-deep deep bogs and over the high, heartbreaking hills of East Devon. 

Although there are water stations at various points along the route of this race, organizers recently banned plastic cups and asked participants to provide their own drinking receptacles, and the flasks on the Norvan 7 proved perfect for this application. I kept one for use with electrolyte tablets and other for pure water. 

The Hydrapak softflasks are excellent, and they feature bite valves that make them to easy to sip from mid run, without breaking your stride. Aside from using good components, however, Arc’teryx have paid careful attention to detail in the construction of their new vest, and one of the little things I really loved was the inclusion of easy-to-locate pull tabs on the cords keeping the flasks in place, so you can get them out nice and easily for refilling at water stations. 

Arc’teryx Norvan 7 Vest bottles

The BPA- and PVC-free Hydrapak flasks are top quality, with a brilliant bite valve and a no-leak guarantee (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

The carry capacity of the vest is seriously impressive too. The pouches positioned below the flasks can fit most of your fuel and snack requirements in (although running with these stuffed full of gels, plus having two full bottles bouncing around on your chest can leave you feeling a bit like Dolly Parton).

The much more expansive pouches on the back of the vest can swallow a huge amount of kit, including base layers and waterproof jackets that you may want carry just in case, or which you might put on to fend off the morning chill but soon need to take off and carry. Because they’re stretchy, when not in use these pouches stay flat to the vest and don’t flap around in the wind.

The huge array of attachment points means you can also carry tools such as poles in a variety of ways, while leaving both your hands free to help negotiate technical and rocky routes. I still think there are a couple more sets of hoops and hooks on this vest than anyone realistically requires, even during the most epic adventure race scenarios, but I appreciate having the ability to customize the setup (especially because methods for lugging poles is a very personal thing).

Arc’teryx Norvan 7 vest

On the back of the Arc’teryx Norvan 7 Vest are two expansive, elasticated ‘dump pockets’ that can take a surprising amount, but which lay flat against the main pack when empty (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

The two-strap closure method on the Norvan 7 is a simple system that works fairly well, but I did think I might have a achieved a slightly tighter fit around the base of my ribs with a pull cord hem positioned there, which would come in useful when the vest is fully loaded.

Overall, though, the Norvan 7 is a very comfortable vest that can accommodate lots of kit and caboodle, and it stays securely in place during activities.

Pat Kinsella

Author of Caving, Canyoning, Coasteering…, a recently released book about all kinds of outdoor adventures around Britain, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing stories involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon and Dorset, and once wrote a whole book about Toilets for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades on Strava here and Instagram here.