Nathan VaporMax Plus
The Nathan VaporMax Plus is a handheld water bottle ideal for staying hydrated on runs long and short while storing necessities (keys, ID, money, fuel). While there are notable design and functionality improvements, I found some components to be troublesome.
Nathan VaporMax Plus First Impressions
I always, always, always run with water. Hot, cold, humid, dry, I’m always on the roads, trails and/or treadmill with a water bottle in hand. I have found that handhelds provide the most comfortable means for me to carry my hydration. I have run thousands of miles with a bottle strapped to my hand and have gone through bottles like I go through my running shoes – I tend to have to replace them after about 500 miles due to wear and tear. I’m always on the hunt for a bottle that is able to keep up with the abuse I put it through and allows me to run un-distracted.
Upon first look, I was happy to see a longer bottle (than I was used to) that would fit my hand more comfortably than handhelds-past. Rather than the usual barrel bottles that were “one size fits not very many,” this bottle was slender with cut angles that would allow for a more precise and natural grip. While comfort was gain, capacity was lost as the VaporMax Plus maxes out at 22 oz of fluid capacity (versus 24-26 oz held in other Nathan handhelds that I use).
The zipper pocket is fairly restrictive in what it is able to hold as the pocket itself is smaller than in previous handhelds and only unzips on one side. There are multiple compartments inside of the pocket but very little can be fit here. I immediately began to jam my usuals into the pockets to see what would or wouldn’t fit. Cell phone in case of emergency? No. Car key and TP? Yes. ID? No. A few dollars cash? Sure. I found that having the multiple pockets was only useful to keep my car keep packed tight so that it didn’t bounce out and into the weeds when the pocket was unzipped (which has happened before during a very, very dark run that left me stranded). The material for the hand grip and pocket, though, is very durable and a big improvement from water bottles-past.
Nathan VaporMax Plus Fit
The water bottle has an adjustable hand strap that promises grip-free running, a promise that Nathan has come through with. I took the bottle on trail and road runs and found that I could run grip-free on the flats, climbs and drops without an issue. The adjustable strap of the lightweight (3.8 oz) bottle did not have to be adjusted during my runs, long or short, at all. It was a nice surprise to truly not have to worry about re-tightening the strap whenever I went grip-free; past water bottles had me fidgeting at the tightening strap quite often.
I could not find a position where the bottle sat comfortably in my hand, though. Early on in my runs, I found myself twisting and turning the bottle, moving my finger positions, adjusting where the strap laid across the back of my hand, etc. in hopes of finding a comfortable grip but to no avail. Run after run, I found myself longing for the barrel bottles of my old handhelds, back home in my kitchen cabinets. The handstrap was incredibly comfortable and the mesh allowed for the flow of air but I wanted to hurl the bottle itself across the trail in frustration.
The VaporMax Plus has a “Blast Valve (that) offers a quick burst of fluid when opened and prevents leaking when closed.” Check and check. The Blast Valve works great in regulating water flow which is incredibly useful on long runs in the heat where one (including yours truly) finds him/herself slugging back large gulps of water only to crawl into mile 20 like a dehydrated desert traveler who ran out of fluids. The Valve gives you just the amount of water that you need while ensuring proper regulation of fluid levels for the length of your run. While this is a major “Pro” for this water bottle, I found this to be my biggest “Con” as I found myself constantly needing more water than what I was able to squeeze out of the bottle. While running, I want to draw the bottle up to my mouth as quickly and naturally as my stride, almost without a second thought. Yet I found myself having to go back for two, three and even four draws to get enough water to wet my whistle. You know the amount of water you get in the very last swig of a bottle of water? I felt as if that was the amount I was getting each and every time I drank from this bottle. While this is by design, this “Con” is that of a personal preference rather than a design defect. I’ll have to adapt.
The nozzle prevents leaking when closed and I’ve never run with a bottle that was more leak-free than this one. I have always had an issue with caps and nozzles that leak (which could be a design/manufacturing flaw or a temperament flaw from yours truly who has been known to slam water bottles into the ground in frustration for a missed interval split!). The soft nozzle allows for easy opening with one’s teeth and locks securely with a quick “smack” from the palm of my free hand.
Nathan is always at the forefront with hydration products. The VaporMax Plus touts a more comfortable and breathable mesh grip and a soft yet leak-free rubber nozzle. What was gained in these design improvements was lost in the capacity of the bottle and stash pockets. I would like space to carry certain items if need be (cell phone when traveling or pepper spray for late-night/early-morning runs) and the extra few ounces of water would be beneficial on those hot and humid runs. The VaporMax Plus comes in blue/neon green, gold/gray and aqua/hot pink and can be purchased at $35 (MSRP).