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Camelbak Zephyr Vest hydration pack review

The Camelbak Zephyr Vest is a lean, efficient pack for the minimalist who likes to move light and fast

Camelbak Zephyr Vest
(Image: © Brian Metzler & Casey Blaine)

Our Verdict

A very versatile vest with excellent storage capacity. Easy to use and highly functional, this pack is well-suited to running short to medium distances, and races/training sessions where you can refill the water bottles. It can also be used during shorter days out, especially if you add a bladder.

For

  • Body-mapped ventilation
  • Extremely light

Against

  • Bottles bounce some
  • Durability of mesh suspect
  • Bladder not included

First impressions

The Camelbak Zephyr Vest is a breathable unisex vest that's so comfortable and airy, you hardly know you’re wearing it. The super-light, meshy material at the shoulders and back keep things cool as well.

Although is was the smallest pack on the list we tested, with just 1L/34 fl oz water capacity (more if you add a bladder), this smart design offers surprisingly ample space for fuel and gear storage, with two bigger pockets in the back to stow a jacket or bulkier gear, and six smaller pockets up front for easy access.

There’s even an attachment for trekking poles and a safety whistle, for adventurers heading into the wild. We noted some bounce when moving fast on a trail run, but the adjustable chest straps – while not at all easy to move up and down – helped mitigate that movement, offering a secure, nuanced fit to accommodate a variety of shapes and sizes.

The vest comes with two soft bottles that sit comfortably in deep pockets up front, and there’s room in the back for a bladder if you want add one (sold separately).

On the trails

We tested the Zephyr Vest on multi-hour runs on the trails around Boulder, Colorado, in the heat of summer. During one particularly hot week in July, we ran the Skyline Traverse, a 22-mile route that traverses the five highest peaks on the edge of the city.

The Camelbak hydration reservoir and tube were among the best we tested. Not only did we find it easy to fill, with the extended plastic handle and wide fill valve, but the tube was easy to manage through the front straps of the pack. The effective design of the on/off valve was also easy to use on the run, with just one hand. Despite initial sweat build-up, the pack remained snug, secure and comfortable.

On most hot-weather runs, we found the open mesh straps and the slightly tighter mesh pack panel did an exceptional job of wicking moisture away from the skin and encouraging the evaporation process.