Camelbak Marathoner Vest | Guest Review

I was recently asked by our good outdoor blogger friend Brian Green of Brian's Backpacking Blog to review the Camelbak Marathoner Vest. He saw that we had gotten back into the running scene, and though it would be perfect for us to review. When I received the vest from Brian, I couldn't wait to try it out. (I'll admit I'm a bit of a gear junkie. This might turn into a serious addiction to which, I hope, Robin can help me control. Otherwise our bank account may never see black again).

Since we were training for the Cove Lake 5K, I decided to try it out at the park on one of our training runs. I thought it would be perfect as it has a mesh pocket on each shoulder strap right at chest level, easy to store a protein bar, Gu gel (what ever refueling item you prefer), keys and/or phone. The back has another mesh pocket for storing non-essential run items that you have to carry with you such as wallet, bug spray, headlamp (you know if you're running at night or on the trail), etc.

The hydration bladder is short but still holds the standard 2L as most other Camelbak packs, and has the new Big Bite Valve which I find to be a major improvement over the straight valves older Camelbaks came with (unless you are trying to squirt water out into a dog's mouth or water bowl. That in and of itself is quite a feat with the Big Bite Valves). The opening is easy as pie too with only a 1/4 turn needed in either direction to open and close tight.

The size of this thing is sort of an issue depending on your build. I'm 5'8" 180+ pounds but with no clue as to my torso length. The first time I put this thing on, I thought it was a bit small. There are a few adjustment straps on the sides and one on the included chest strap. The shoulder straps are also adjustable. There is a hook and loop fastener inside the bladder sleeve, and the outside has little marks so you can line up both sides. However, for me it didn't matter how I adjusted the thing, it still didn't feel quite right. Perhaps when I lose this thick protective covering for my rock hard abs, it might be a bit different. It's also pretty lightweight, too, weighing in at 12.7 ounces.

One other thing I noticed, since I was on a short 2 mile training run at the time and didn't fill the bladder to it's full 2L, was the almost deafening sound of water sloshing around in the bladder. It's enough to drive you mad if you have to run very far. Okay well maybe it's not that bad, but it's a bit unnerving. And if you are one of the types to have to run to the restroom anytime you hear water running, this might be your downfall during a long run.

Of course all that being said, it's a vest and I'm not big on vests and never have been. I mean yeah they look pretty cool on some people but I've never thought vests (regular clothing vest) were my thing.

I will say this though, if you are on a long run (trail, road, etc.) and need a viable hydration solution, especially if it's a training run, and there are no water stations available then this vest will definitely solve the conundrum of having enough water to finish with. Most running bottles are barely 1L and hydration belts have even smaller bottles on them that might equal a liter. If you are training in the summer in the South (like me), then the Camelbak Marathoner 2L Vest Hydration will sufficiently do the job of keeping you hydrated.

As an added bonus, there's a little whistle on the front of the vest. I'm not really sure what this would be used for during an actual race. If you're a fast runner, maybe you could use it to clear yourself a path. Maybe it's purpose is for "ringing the bell" with the last bit of breath you have left. But I can totally see my wife with her ninja-stealth approach using it to scare the bejeezus out of unsuspecting runners.

Specs for the Gearheads:

  • Hydration Capacity: 70 oz (2 L) 
  • Includes the new 70 oz (2 L) Antidote reservoir with 1/4 turn - easy open/close cap, lightweight fillport, dryer arms, center baffling and low-profile design, patented Big Bite™ Valve, HydroGuard™ technology, PureFlow™ tube, easy-to-clean wide-mouth opening. 
  • Pack Weight: 12.7 oz (360 g) 
  • Dimensions: 15.5 x 7 x 4 in (39 x 18 x 10 cm) 
  • Fabric Specs: 70D Diamond Box Rip with DWR & 1000 mm PU coating 
  • Torso Length: 15.4 in (39 cm) 

Happy Running, Tim and Robin

Tim and Robin are attached to the Southern Appalachia region. In their minds, East Tennessee is the only place to be, surrounded by the glorious wonders of the ages old mountains. During the week they lead frantic lives raising a family and working for the man. On most weekends, Tim and Robin are following their hearts and dreams, running, working outside around the house or mostly playing in the outdoors enjoying the mountains and the woods from two feet and capturing them on memory card to share with others from their blog Appalachia & Beyond. They constantly try to share this love of the outdoors (hiking and camping) with their teenage daughter and as of late exposing their infant daughter to it more and more. Their constant four-legged companion Clover always loves the adventures too. Tim and Robin also have three cats, who were constantly trying to plan their untimely demise and one cute as a bag of buttons hamster, Ms. Coo.

Disclaimer: Tim received the Camelbak Marathoner Vest from Brian Green for the purposes of doing a guest review post on Brian's Backpacking Blog. Appalachia & Beyond are in no way affiliated with Camelbak and are not being compensated by Camelbak or Brian's Backpacking Blog for this review. The opinions expressed above are Tim's independent thoughts and experiences.

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