One of the problems with most trail running gear nowadays is that itâ€™s specifically made for competition use, and this has benefits and drawbacks. Some aspects, such as the wide range of highly technical features, light weight and exceptional performance are, of course, beneficial. However, to achieve this, it often means sacrificing comfort and functionality. General users often find that these drawbacks, together with the high price tag, often outweigh the benefits.
Trail running packs are a clear example of a product specifically designed for competition use. These backpacks are designed in the shape of a vest, for improved performance and are highly valued by professional or amateur trail runners during competition.
Our technical team has tested the Trail Vest Light, by the renowned Italian brand, Camp. It is ultra-light and designed for high-performance activity. However, by combining a backpack with a vest-like design, the brand has achieved a less radical, more relaxed and comfortable trail running pack.
We have chosen a very special athlete to test this pack and a great example of an all-round trail runner. TomĂˇs TomĂˇs, at seventy years old, is a keen trail runner and mountaineer. He is the father of one of our colleagues here at Barrabes, and is well-known for his passion and knowledge of the world of mountaineering. His years of experience also include skiing and duathlon competition.
His participation in the Aneto Marathon is proof that his devotion to the mountains has not diminished over the years. The experience he has gained also allows him to balance performance and pleasure and appreciate small details that may be missed by younger or inexperienced runners.
CAMP TRAIL VEST LIGHT TEST
TomĂˇs took out the vest for a test and shares his impression with us here:
â€śThis is the second vest pack I have used for training and long-distance mountain running. The previous one was very efficient, but I also found it a little too tight and uncomfortable as well as lacking in load capacity. I understand that for those who want a place on the podium or to beat their personal best, it is efficient, but for me its discomfort outweighed its benefits and this affected my performance and more importantly, my enjoyment.
When I first put on the Camp Trail Vest Light, I immediately noticed that there were no side adjusts, just front waist and chest straps, which felt much more comfortable than the previous vest. There was no feeling of tightness in the torso, since the adjust was now divided between the chest and waist. I felt that the pack was more comfortable as soon as I put it on, but whether this would hold when put to the test, remained to be seen.
At first, when you see the streamlined back, itâ€™s hard to believe that the pack can hold ten litres, as advertised. However, this changes once you see the front of the pack, with the two waist pockets, two shoulder pockets and two water bottle holders as well as a number of other features. I decided to use all of these features and the pack proved to offer the same capacity as a ten-litre pack, with the difference that with this vest, everything was much closer to hand.
The back of the pack has two compartments: a hydration sleeve next to your back for a three-litre reservoir, which can be accessed without removing the pack. There is also a separate, main compartment with two inner zip pockets for keeping items safe, such as documents and money.
It also has an ingenious pole carry system, which allows you to remove them while on the go. Iâ€™ll go into details on that later on.
During activity. Stability and support:
The first time I used this pack, I went running in the hills nearby and was pleasantly surprised by how stable the pack was. I wasnâ€™t carrying a very heavy load, but it was enough to realise that as most of the gear holders and pockets were on the front, the back was almost empty. It was like running without anything on my back, yet I had all I need on the front; energy bars, water, my mobile, nothing was missing.
The mesh back panel is highly breathable and allows good air flow.
It took me a while to get used to adjusting the bottle holders and I still havenâ€™t mastered the toggle system, but others who have tried this system have had no trouble.
I really liked the quick and easy front strap openings. You just pull the red levers on the waist and chest straps, shown in the photos.
The following weekend, I went running again, but this time to the Pyrenees, which meant I needed to carry things like warm clothing and would have a greater load.
Here, I noticed a slight problem with the pack, which has since been resolved.
I donâ€™t usually carry a reservoir unless I run long distances, and less so with this vest that has so many handy water bottle holders. Before setting off, I put a fleece and lightweight waterproof jacket into the pack along with some food and my wallet.
However, when I started to run, I felt the pack was slightly unstable and soon realized that this was because the hydration sleeve against my back was empty. This was maybe due to the more limited strap adjustment system. It wasnâ€™t much, but it was noticeable.
The solution was simple: when youâ€™re not carrying a reservoir, the load needs to be distributed between the two rear compartments. As the hydration sleeve panel is made of mesh, itâ€™s better to put something like your waterproof jacket in the sleeve or anything else that wonâ€™t absorb perspiration.
The following weekend, I ran the Aneto Marathon and this time the pack showed no signs of instability, because I had filled and compressed the pack with the reservoir and other gear. So this problem only seems to occur if the pack is â€śhalf loadedâ€ť.
Once properly loaded, the pack offers total stability and itâ€™s a pleasure to run with. The load doesnâ€™t move as it is compressed by the elasticity of the pack.
The pole carry system is something I found quite ingenious, although I prefer to use one of the other two systems.
Nowadays, most trail runners use ultra-light, foldable poles. The pack has an ingenious system for carrying them horizontally on the lower back. This is the best place; itâ€™s comfortable and stable. And it al