Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Review of the Nathan Firecatcher Race Vest

After using many of race packs from several brands over the years, I was very keen to try out another pack from another Brand to compare to what I have loved or what I have not like as much about some of the other packs. This week I had the chance to test out a sample race vest from the guys at SportCo NZ / Nathan.

First impressions was the pack looked very very small to what I have used before. It basically has a large velcro pocket in the back for your 2L bladder and a small jacket, gloves, hat & and couple of energy bars. On the front of the pack on the two shoulder straps the pack comes with two 9oz fluid bottle what are great to carry gels or electrolytes drink to keep it separate from your water in the bladder. A small gel pouch to carry packet gels if you needed more, and also an expandable pouch what easily fits the Iphone4 or a couple of energy bars/food for your longer runs. The last little pocket it has was for a couple of electrolyte tablets on the front what was a great idea, easy to pop into your bottle when needed. But as you can see from my little description I actually fitted enough to tackle the mountains for a few hours, that was me happy! Unfortunately it is just a little too small for some of the ultra races with bigger mandatory kit list what you have to carry in order to compete like the TNF100 or the UTMB. Never the less you can go and train easily for a few hours and compete in race up to the ultra distances if you only need to carry a smaller amount of gear/food! 7/10

From a fit point of view I must say it has to be right up there for comfort.. It fits my back perfect! No bounce, no irritations, no rubbing and no harsh straps digging in around the back or torso. My first outing with the pack was an easy 2 hour mountain run with nearly 3500ft of elevation change, so it had plenty of opportunity if it was going to bounce around with all the ups and downs on my route. 9/10

Now lets be perfectly honest a lot of runners buy shoes/apparel/accessories on looks and colour. Well this race vest has that covered too, it is a awesome light blue with electric yellow piping and attachments with a darker blue panel on the back. It really does stand out from the rest.. 9/10

A few little things where I feel the pack could improve: The capacity could be increased a bit to be able to carry more kit/gear for the tougher and longer races out there. Maybe some side pockets around the sides? I would also like to see maybe a bungy cord over the outside of the pack to carry bukier items like a jacket on the outside to free space up inside the main compartment for food. Possibly a couple of hooks to accommodate for a small set of poles for them long hours in the mountains.

Overall verdict : Really pleased with the pack and can see me using it a lot over this next season. 25/30 Capacity : 7/10
Performance : 9/10
Looks : 9/10 


  1. can we use it with a 20oz bottles in the front pockets?

    1. Sorry for the huge late reply Ricardo! Only just seen this comment, I use 10oz in the front pockets of this pack. The Vapor 12L (my other pack review on here) will take 20oz bottles no problem! Sorry again for the late reply and hope that helps!

  2. That isn't the VaporCloud. It's the Zelos.

  3. Thanks for your comment Antonio, but this pack is defiantly not the Zelos! The Zelos is a much bigger pack with zipper pockets and outer strapping for compressing the pack. And is the male version of the females Zeal pack. I was testing this pack before it came on the market in NZ and It was originally going to be called a smaller version of the Vapor Cloud 12L but actually after it hit the markets it was finally called the 'Firecatcher' leaving just the original 12L Cloud to have it's own name. Cheers!