Camelbak Marathoner Vest Review

Hydration Pack for the Long Miles

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Camelbak Marathoner Race Vest. © Camelbak

When you are doing long distance walk or run training, you need to carry enough water and/or sports drink to drink every mile, and you need enough carrying capacity for essentials. The Camelbak Marathoner Vest has a 70-ounce easy fill water bladder and five mesh pockets for quick access to essentials. While I was skeptical about a vest design rather than a backpack design, I ended up very pleased with the Marathoner vest.

Easy-Fill Hydration Bladder

I last bought a Camelbak before they redesigned the tube and bladder to be easier to take apart and clean. The Marathoner Vest comes with a 70-ounce bladder that opens far easier than the older designs. It only takes a 1/4 turn to open and close the wide mouth. The mouth is big enough to easily add ice cubes.

Inside, the bladder has a central baffle and dryer arms, so you are better able to clean and dry it. You especially need to be able to fully clean the bladder if you are using it with sports drink. Otherwise, you would soon see pond scum growing in it.

The bladder is also low profile, so it doesn't add as much of a bulge on your back. This is important to me as I need to wear my hydration pack under my raincoat on many rainy training days. The lower profile of the Marathoner vest means that it fits better under a coat or rain poncho.

The Big Bite valve found on all Camelbaks has always worked well for me. There are two hooks on the front of the vest to keep the tube and bite valve out of the way of your arm swing, but with easy access.

The 70-ounce capacity is big. You can carry enough water to get you through three to four hours of walking without a refill.

I generally train with a 35-ounce hydration pack and plan on refilling. While I often only filled the Marathoner half-full, it's nice to have the extra capacity if needed.

Race Vest Design

The vest is open at the sides, attached with adjustable straps.

I like the length of the vest -- I have a shorter torso and have difficulty with many hydration packs being too long in back. This vest ended far enough above my hips so I didn't end up with unwanted pressure on my lower back.

The vest closes in front with two adjustable elastic sternum straps. I often used both, but at times just fastened one or none and still had good stability for the pack.

I wore the vest in early spring training over a long-sleeved shirt and found it comfortable. The vest has several reflective strips in front, but fewer in back. It has a small emergency whistle in front, although I found it difficult to use. Camelbak recommends handwashing the vest if it needs cleaning.

Pockets and Carrying Capacity

The vest has two pockets on each side in front.

The top pocket can be a place to stash gels or energy bars. The lower pockets have more carrying capacity and close with an elastic slider. They are big enough for me to carry my iPhone and wallet in the same pocket, or iPhone, snack, and keys.

The lower pockets can also be used to carry bottles of water or sports drink, if needed. However, using these pockets can result in a bulge that could get in the way of your arm swing if you have a short torso. I loved being able to carry my iPhone and camera in those locations for quick access.

In back, there is a larger mesh pocket that closes with an elastic toggle. There are two bungee cords attaching further up the back of the pack. These came in handy quite often for me to stash a jacket or layer I no longer needed.

There is another bungee in front and one on each side -- offering lots of locations to clip items to.

Bottom Line on the Camelbak Marathoner Vest

I think this is a great hydration pack for distance training and racing for walkers and runners. It has enough capacity to carry the walking essentials I want to have with me, and to keep them organized. I have been wearing it in half marathon training walks of three hours and plan to wear it for my next half marathon.

Style-wise, I would probably wouldn't wear this on city walks or walking tours, preferring a backpack. It would probably work fine for day hiking unless you like to carry a lot of extra layers and gear.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer.

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