This is a super-comfortable, airy, flexible, easy-wearing pack for a fun adventurous day on the trails, and it’s available at a good price.
Nimble and agile
Hydration tube is extremely long and fiddly
Not much storage space
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Nathan Trail-Mix 7L: first impressions
For its relatively cheap price, the super-comfortable Nathan Trail-Mix 7L vest stands out as a real gem.
Our first thoughts were that, while space is limited when compared to some other hydration packs we tested (see: Best hydration packs), there is still sufficient storage for a day’s adventuring. You can easily pack in required gear such as a raincoat or windbreaker, snacks and other essentials.
We particularly liked the simple, convenient way that storage is arranged, with two deep, zippered pockets in the back plus three easy-to-access stretchy pockets up front for an easy-grab of your phone, gels or sunscreen. If you’re more of a stuffer than an organizer, then having fewer, bigger pockets works better than loads of little ones (see also: Best women’s hiking backpacks).
Hydration is well-served by a 2L bladder that sits in the back, and a drinking tube is secured up front with a sternum clip. There was some fussing with the tube to find best placement for it so the hose didn’t rub against a shoulder or arm, yet the nozzle didn’t flop down against the abdomen. An option would be to cut the tube once you know the best length, but I found that securing it underneath the sternum straps worked just fine. If you’re not a bladder fan, you can sink an 18 oz bottle (not included) into a pocket up front. All in all a good argument why you should buy a hydration pack.
• RRP: $100 (US) / £85 (UK)
• Weight (empty): 312g / 11oz
• Hydration capacity: 2L hydration bladder (included)
• Gear capacity: 7L
• Colors: Sangria / Magenta Purple / Sky Blue
On the trails
In short, the Nathan TrailMix 7L has proved itself to be A+ for a trail running day out. My minor complaint about the hydration tube still stands. That said, I've used soft bottles in the front pockets instead of a bladder and… problem solved (though the pack doesn't then carry enough water for a super-big day). I think I could sub in another bladder to carry more water, but this would, of course, compromise the space in back for jackets and so on.
The pack’s gender-specific design helps dial in fit, but that said, we also got a running buddy to test the male version, and found it could be quite easily adjusted to suit both genders. However, if you’re a woman who is either large-chested or more petite in stature, consider seeking out the woman’s version for a more nuanced fit.
Hikers and trail runners will appreciate the elastic holders for stowing poles. Well-suited to trail running, day hiking, scrambling.
A seasoned writer and editor in the endurance sport space, Casey has worked with top athletes and coaches on training books and memoirs. A regular contributor to Women's Running, she especially loves writing about running and hiking adventures, which have taken her on trails around the world – including to the Indian Himalaya, the DMZ in Korea and the Tibetan Plateau. She lives in Colorado, where she’s slowly chipping away at hiking all the state’s ‘14er’ mountains.