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Nathan Pinnacle 12L Hydration Race Vest Review


Article Categories: Gear
Article Tags: Hiking Gear | Running

We had the chance to test out the Nathan Pinnacle 12L running vest. This review will talk about our experience with this hydration vest while putting it to the test trail running, hiking, and fishing in the Utah and Colorado backcountry.

Quick Navigation:
About Nathan | About The Vest | Testing The Vestt | Our Review | Summary


About Nathan

Nathan has been one of the top brands in hydration for runners for several decades. They have become a market leader in running vests and hydration solutions due to their high quality products that are well thought out, well designed, and highly respected by the running community.

Learn more about Nathan’s mission, awards, and values here


Where To Buy The Nathan Pinnacle 12L

View Men’s On Nathan | View Women’s On Nathan

It is also available on:

REI:  View Men’s
Backcountry: View Women’s
Amazon: View Men’s | View Women’s
Moosejaw: View Men’s | View Women’s

And other retailers.


Our Testing Scenarios

Trail Running In Utah – We’ve taken this vest on short runs, long runs, trail runs, and road runs. We have hit the trails on warm days, freezing days, windy days, rainy days, sunny days, cloudy days, and even hail. Basically, we’ve tested it in all conditions to give this product a thorough test through real conditions.

Hiking in Colorado & Utah – More than just trail running, we also did some hiking in the vest.


About The Vest

The Pinnacle Vest was designed to be a high capacity running vest that fits just as well fully loaded, as it does mostly empty. Tight to the skin, with tons of storage, so that you forget it’s there until you need it. That’s the exact versatile design we are looking for.  It is boasted as being 20% lighter and more breathable than other Nathan vests and is considered one of the top of the line products they offer.

Features: This vest comes with well designed features, and tons of storage that we will dive into deeper in this review.

Material: The 86% polyester, 4% spandex, 8% nylon, 2% rubber wire material breakdown keeps the vest lightweight, durable, and breathable.

Fit: This vest is a unisex fit, but a female specific version also exists to better fit female frames. This is a tight fitting vest to avoid any jostling.



Best Use

Running / trail running / ultra marathons

Gear Capacity (L)

12 liters (732 cubic inches)

Bladder Compatible

Yes (comes with water bladder)

Bottle(s) Included

No (purchase preferred bottles separately)

Liquid Capacity

1.6 liters (54.1 fluid ounces)

Number of Exterior Pockets



With bladder: 12.5 ounces

Without bladder: 6.5 ounces


86% polyester

4% spandex

8% nylon

2% rubber wire

Size Chart

S: 36-38 inches

M: 39-41 inches

L: 42-44 inches

XL: 45-47 inches


Unisex & Female version


In Depth Review

Here’s how the vest performed during our testing:



Rating: 5/5

Nathan Pinnacle without a shirt

Nathan Pinnacle without a shirt

This is the most comfortable running vest i’ve ever worn. It fits nice and snug (medium size – I am 5′ 10″ and 165 pounds), so it avoids any bounce or movement while heavily loaded. It does this better than any vest i’ve owned in the past. Because of this, it is ultra comfortable, avoids any chafing concerns, and I can even wear it comfortably without a shirt on. Having been on long runs where other vests have bothered me, or caused annoyance, I have been thoroughly impressed with this vest on the 10+ mile trail runs with lots of vert.

Aside from being comfortable fully loaded, it also still maintains a great fit without the hydration pack, and just a bottle or two up front. This makes it super comfortable on the shorter runs, making it very versatile for our uses.



Bounce is a major part of comfort, but we wanted to call this out once again. This vest doesn’t move on your body. It is thoroughly impressive. In terms of comfort, preventing movement may just be one of the most important traits of all vests, and this does it extremely well.


Pocket Design

Rating: 5/5

The pocket design on this vest is simple, easy to access, and features more storage options than you think you need:

  • 2 water-resistant front pockets for small bottles or soft bottles. These function incredibly well. These can also be used for smartphones, sunglasses, and other objects.
  • 2 Mini pockets on top of the bottle pockets for extra items like gels or food. These are extremely easy access pockets. They also have velcro to keep items secure.
  • 2 front zippered pockets big enough to store a smartphone, gel packs, food, keys, wallet, and more. These pockets also have tightening cords to get an extra snug fit.
  • 2 kangaroo style side pockets. These are perfect for gels, gloves, or other small items.
  • The large back pocket is used to slide anything in, like extra jackets, layers, gloves, socks, gear, or anything else.
  • A zippered back pocket for items that need to be stored safely (keys, wallet, cards, etc)
  • 1 vertical storage pocket for hiking poles or other items.


Pocket storage is intuitive, ample, and easy to use. If we were to talk about the best features of this vest, it would be the pocket design and usability.



Rating: 5/5

The capacity of this vest is outrageous. Let’s use some photos taken just before walking out the door for a longer run just to show you. In these photos below, we have in our vest:

Backside of vest with jacket, keys, wallet and bladder out of site Phone in vest Sunglasses and bottle stored nicely Easy access gels

Not only does it all easily fit, we have tons of extra room for everything including: more hydration, more food, more clothing layers, hiking poles, and other items.



Rating: 4/5

The materials of this vest keep it breathable. Of course you are sweating no matter what, but the added breathability can help you stay a bit cooler, a little longer in a warm environment. Overall, most vests do very well with this, and the Pinnacle doesn’t fall short.


Bladder System

The bladder included has an hourglass shape, is 1.6 L, and works extremely well with this vest. The tube is easily cut to the length of your need, and the bladder comes insulated helping keep it cool on hot days.

We love that Nathan encorporated the magnet system to the bladder tube. This keeps the drinking end in an easy to access spot, makes it easy to put back, and prevents it from bouncing around. In our opinion, that’s the best way to handle hydration bladders.

We always like to highlight other who do great video reviews of products as well. This is a great review from Run Tall with Tim:


The Look

This is a great looking vest with a few color options.


Other Notes

If you do decide to purchase this vest, we wanted to highlight some key information and tips.

  • The vest comes with a hydration pack with a tube that is too long. Set up the pack, and cut the tube to the proper length for the best for your needs.
  • Use the water resistant front pocket for your phone, it is so easy to access, and perfect for quickly grabbing on the run.
  • When filling your bladder, remove all air from the bladder by turning it upside down and sucking the air out. This prevents sloshing.


Overall Rating – 5 Stars

We would give this vest a 5/5 stars. It is the most comfortable vest we own, and has the most user friendly pockets on the market. The high volume makes it extremely versatile. The only downside of this vest is that it is on the more expensive end of the market. That being said, it is worth spending the extra amount as this is a piece of gear you’ll have for years, and one bad adventure with another vest will have you wishing you had a more comfortable option. This will be our go to running vest for longer runs and events.

If you are a trail runner looking for ample storage in a vest, this is one of the best options on the market.

View Men’s On Nathan | View Women’s On Nathan

It is also available on:

REI:  View Men’s
Backcountry: View Women’s
Amazon: View Men’s | View Women’s
Moosejaw: View Men’s | View Women’s

Disclaimer: To support our site, we insert affiliate links within articles. This means that you can support our site by purchasing products through affiliate links. We do not in any way let affiliate links or commissions sway our reviews.

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, backcountry skier, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued climbed all of the Colorado 14ers, is always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about