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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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  • Jason Kass

    No chafing issues? I’d be concerned that on longer runs (10-15 miles), those contact points would get very uncomfortable.

  • Tim

    None on the shorter distances but once I get up to longer distances I’ll let you know. I would think if you are wearing a good wicking short sleeve running shirt, it should provide good protection from chaffing. I’ve run in cotton before for a training run some time ago (5yrs) in the rain and ended up chaffing from it without anything on, but I’ve never chaffed with good wicking materials.

  • It’s not like you’re carry a whole lot of weight in that vest other than the bladder. And if you get a good POSE running method going you should be able to minimize the amount of movement. When I tried it on I was impressed with the way the shoulders do most of the load bearing, which leaves the side straps for structure and support only.

    Hope to see Tim work up to a longer run and let us know how it goes. Each person is different anyway, so kinda hard to speculate – good comment and something to watch out for :)

  • Ahmad

    This looks awesome. Those front pockets are a really smart idea. It would be nice if they integrated reflective material into it so that it would act as a safety vest for running near traffic especially at night.

  • Eugeneius

    The sloshing of water inside a bladder can be eliminated by forcing all the air out of the bladder after filling it up, then twisting or shutting the bladder lid/closure without letting air back inside. You may get a little water spill, so do this in the kitchen sink if at home. This bladder trick pretty much kills the water sloshing syndrome people speak of.

    The whistle is a bit gimmicky, probably included for emergency use, in some unlikely situation where you found yourself down or out of sight on trail perhaps.

    If Camelback designed this vest right there shouldn’t be any issues with chafing, that is the whole point behind a vest, comfort and running appropriate. I’ve seen guys running ultramarathons without shirts on with running vests just like the Camelback. If you’re looking for a very refined vest for running, fastpacking, ultras, etc. then check out Ultraspire.

  • burningbright

    As a large breasted female (got your attention? lol) I’m wondering how comfortable and adjustable the front of that vest is. It looks like it might chafe some tender bits if you know what I mean. Perhaps we can get Tim’s other half to give a review from the female perspective?

  • Eugeneius – I recently wrote a short blog post about “How to Tame That Noisy Hydration Bladder” in which I explain the technique of forcing out all of the air in order to keep the water inside the bladder from sloshing around. Funny you mention it here.

  • Tim didn’t mention it specifically, but I’m pretty sure that there are lots of sections of 3M like reflective material on the back, front, and sides of this vest.

  • burningbright

    also loved the comment about the “thick protective covering for my rock hard abs” In my house, we call that being “famine resistant” for when the world ends after the zombie invasion ;-P

  • Beau Harbin

    I love my vest. One thing I did not see mentioned are the hidden pockets. Above the shoulder strap pockets are another set of pockets. In the picture above you can get to it under the middle piece horizontal trim. To prevent sloshing I fill the bladder and then hold the vest upside down and suck out the air. No air – no sloshing. One last thing the two chest straps really help and can be moved up or down as needed to fit your chest well.

  • Beau Harbin

    I have used it on long (10+ miles) runs and hikes without and chafing or soreness.

  • Tim

    Thought I’d come back and check on this one. I’ve worked up to 24 miles with this pack now and we’ve become one with each other. Running my first 50K next week and this will be on my back. I’ve only been chaffed by it once and it was during a 10 mile trail race. I had taken my shirt off because it was so steamy on that race. Where the bottom of the pack hits the small of my back is where I chaffed but it wasn’t a major chafe, I didn’t notice it until two days after the run. It’s carried all the food and water I’ve needed and a rain jacket on my long runs without issue.

  • Tim

    The hidden pockets are great. I didn’t really notice them on my first review but I have since used them to hold small items like chap stick in the winter. And yes, the Upside down trick works like a charm.