Mountain Running packs are becoming an exploding category, it is difficult to decide which ones to carry.  We are testing out quite a few packs this spring.  Here is our most recent review by Frank Klein, a runner, climber, and mountaineer.  The CAMP USA Trail Vest Light is available at Sage to Summit.

The vest is very light (310g or 10.9oz). It has a lot of storage options; four zippered storage pockets and two water bottle holders in front, one large zippered main compartment with two small Velcro pockets inside of it on back, and a separate hydration bladder storage compartment. The water bottle holders on front are large enough to hold most squeeze water bottles i tested, but they won't hold a one liter water bottle. The holders also have a draw string closure so you can use them to hold other items securely. There are attachments for trekking poles and an ice axe. The storage on the front side of the vest can hold all the food I take on an all day mountain run (a bunch of gels, a few bars, etc.) in addition to two water bottles. The main compartment is roomy enough to hold extra layers and has dedicated small pockets for cell phones and maps. The hydration compartment has the space to hold up to a three liter bladder. The material is very breathable and quick drying. The pack is light but the material seems pretty durable, although I probably wouldn't want to scrape it against too much rock.The straps on the front of the pack are made of elastic webbing. The adjustment system for the straps offers a lot of precise adjustment but is somewhat complex. There is a high strap and a low strap, but the lower one is still above where a traditional backpack's waist belt would be. 

I've used this vest on 10 runs from 6-18 miles long so far with the longest outing taking about four hours.  I wouldn't hesitate to use it for a longer day, I just haven't yet had the chance. My trips have taken place on trails, on dirt roads, and in cross country areas of the local high desert. On a longer run in sketchy weather I carried a two liter bladder, a rain shell, a lightweight wool layer, gloves, a beenie, a handful of gels, some dried fruit, a water bottle with a sports drink in it, and my cell phone and it was absolutely comfortable! The vest will carry better if the weight is balanced between the front and the back storage areas. This works out well if you keep food in the front pockets and light bulky items like clothing in the back main pouch. I've found the vest to be very secure and not restrictive at all when the load and fit are dialed in, which is really great given how much it carries. The pockets in front are all convenient to unzip and get to while running. The water bottle holders up front are accessible mid-stride and comfortable. The vest has withstood a bit of rock scraping and some pokes and stabs from the sharp and unruly vegetation found in my area. I've found durability to be sufficient so far. The trekking pole attachment system is simple and functional. 

There are a few problems. The vest nature of this pack means that it isn't great at hauling weight. If you load the back of the vest with too much weight it can be bouncy, which can get pretty annoying on a long run. This vest can still hold a lot of stuff, just make sure it is appropriate lightweight gear! I find the material the shoulder straps are made out of to be a bit too rough to wear against bare skin. I expect that opinions may vary on this point, but I had to put my shirt back on after 10 miles of running in the heat. The straps can be pretty tricky to dial in, and as you consume food or adjust the load in the vest you will need to adjust the straps to maintain a good fit (there is plenty of adjustment range to compensate, just make sure you get the right size).

The Camp Trail Vest Light strikes a nice balance between running freedom, carrying capacity, and organization. If you find traditional packs restrictive in terms of motion but still want to carry lots of essentials, this is a great option. Even though it has lots of features, they were all done in the simplest, cleanest, and lightest way possible. The vest really finds its stride with longer runs or long fast hikes. It works well for short runs too because it is so light, but it can feel like overkill if you are out for less than two hours. I'm very excited to use this vest in The High Sierra this summer! 

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