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.
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
It is also available on:
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.
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.
Running / trail running / ultra marathons
|Gear Capacity (L)||
12 liters (732 cubic inches)
Yes (comes with water bladder)
No (purchase preferred bottles separately)
1.6 liters (54.1 fluid ounces)
|Number of Exterior Pockets||
With bladder: 12.5 ounces
Without bladder: 6.5 ounces
2% rubber wire
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:
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.
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.
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:
- Full 1.6 L bladder
- Full 800 ml bottle in front pocket
- 1 Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody
- 5 gels
- 3 granola bars
- 1 Iphone
- Large set of keys
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.
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.
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:
This is a great looking vest with a few color options.
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.
It is also available on:
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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, 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 his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about