A wonderfully designed one-size-fits-all running pack with pole quiver and 2 x 500ml soft bottles. Despite some great features, sadly the adjustable side straps come at the cost of some much-needed easily accessible pockets.
Fits larger runners
Bottles included (2 x 500ml)
Male & female fits
Pole quiver (40g) included
While the side straps make this vest extremely adjustable, they come at the cost of pockets in an easily accessible area – the lack of will be missed by trail and ultra runners
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CamelBak Zephyr Pro Vest: first impressions
The new, updated CamelBak Zephyr Pro 12L running vest/hydration pack has a lot of great features. At 10.5oz / 299g it’s light for its capacity, the easy-to-use side adjustment straps mean it’s one-size-fits-all, and the 3D mesh venting down the back and under the shoulder straps is specifically designed for the different sweat areas of male and female bodies, based on CamelBak’s own body mapping research.
• List price: $175 (USA) / £140 (UK)
• Weight (including 2 x 500ml bottles): 10.5oz / 299g
• Colors: Women’s Turquoise; Men’s Gray
• Capacity: 12L
• Fit: Male & female 3D mesh body mapping
• Sizes: One size
• Compatibility: Short and long runs carrying spare kit and equipment
Inside the right-hand zip pocket there’s a smartphone pouch with a grippy silicone edge to keep your device in place, and the back of the pocket is made from water-resistant material. At the front is a water-resistant pocket that would be ideal for electrolyte and salt tablets, jelly babies and other small sweet snacks.
The pack is compatible with the two 500ml soft bottles that it comes with, or a hydration bladder (not included). The large, zipped back compartment is easily large enough for spare clothes, a first aid kit and food. On the outside of the back compartment are two stretch pockets, one across the middle and one at the base that will fit a lightweight waterproof jacket or rain pants, with silicone grippers at the edges of each pocket so kit doesn’t slide out. Finally there’s an included trekking pole quiver secured by poppers diagonally behind the pack.
CamelBak Zephyr Pro Vest: on the trails
Having used the previous version of the Camelbak Zephyr Pro 12, it was great to discover that this updated version has silicone grippers that stop kit slipping out of the elasticated pockets. Also welcome were the water-resistant pockets up front for sweets and electrolyte tablets, and extra reflectivity to make the zippers easier to see by headlamp light during night races, as well as adding to your safety in traffic. The new pole quiver is also a great idea – we wish we could take it and hook it on to other running packs too but that would mean a bit of sewing to accommodate the popper points!
The quiver clips on easily to either side of the pack depending on your favored hand, and after a bit of practice it’s relatively easy to get poles in and out – quicker than looping them into a bungee to store them on the shoulder straps or at the base of the pack behind you. Having said that, the quiver does bounce around a little bit.
The only downside in our view is the lack of underarm side pockets, which is due to the adjustment straps that are situated there instead. While we understand this makes the pack one-size-fits-all and is great for larger runners who don’t fit into the standard vest sizes, this area is prime real estate for easily accessible side pockets containing snacks and small accessories like gloves, hat, map and compass. It would be great if CamelBak made extra side pockets to clip onto these straps – then we’d be interested in using this pack on our ultras this year.
The co-founder and former editor of Trail Running magazine, Claire now runs the YouTube channel Wild Ginger Running, creating films packed with trail- and ultra-running content. An award-winning journalist, writing for outdoor and adventure sports magazines and websites, her first book The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running 5k to 50k is out in January 2021. Claire also speaks and presents at events and races.