Naked HC Running Vest – Review5 min read
The Naked HC (High Capacity) Running Vest is the newest product from US brand Naked Sports Innovations. It follows the hugely successful Naked Running Band and their previous iteration of hydration vest. I’ve been giving the Naked HC running Vest a thorough going over the last few months and I’m happy to report my findings.
Naked is now a popular brand on the trail ultra scene. They have established themselves through supporting elite runners and providing the community a great set of products that help the runner run long distances in greater comfort.
I’ve been lucky enough to be using naked products for a while as you can find previous reviews for the Running Band and Running Vest on these pages. Because of this previous experience with Naked I was eager to get my hands on the HC Vest.
The HC Vest is like the name suggests a High Capacity version of the previous Naked Running Vest. However with this vest the improvements extend well past a capacity increase. Naked products are designed to give the runner a feeling like the band or vest isn’t there, hence the name Naked. Due to this they wear quite tight.
The first notable and arguably the best feature improvement in the HC Vest is the introduction of the zipper in the middle of the vest. This takes the comfort of the HC vest to a new level. Really my only criticism of the previous vets is that it wears tight and this is noticeable after long periods in the vest or when hot. The introduction of the zipper eliminates this issue, while the HC vest wears tight you can loosen to adjust the comfort. I use my HC vest on long trail runs and usually have a 1.5L reservoir loaded in the back and one or two soft flasks in the front. When these are full the HC vest is supremely comfortable, however as they empty through the run I can lower the zipper and the HC vest still retains the no bounce attributes that Naked are aiming for. It’s a great addition to the vest and makes it very comfortable for runs of any distance or during heat. A great example of this is Ragna Debats 3rd place finish at this years Western States 100 miler wearing the HC Vest in the extreme US summer.
As the HC vest indicates it offers more store than the previous vest. This is another welcome addition to the vest and lets the trail runner fit the mandatory gear for any distance ultra, comfortably and without bounce. The HC Vest has a secondary pocket on the outside of the vest. With this it allows the runners hydration reservoir to be placed in a separate pocket any clothing and further fit more gear into the pack. The same can be said for the front of the pack with small pockets in front of the flask storage pouches. These are a great addition to carry nutrition in easy reachable places.
The vest is entirely made from ‘Exopower mesh.’ This is Naked’s breathable, quick drying and non-chafe bounce resistant fabric. It’s the key behind all the Naked products and ensures that it holds its shape and snugs to the runner’s torso regardless of the gear inside. As I’ve previously mentioned the mesh wears tight, however doesn’t lose its compression when wet or over time. It’s a game changing fabric that Naked have at their disposal. I still use the same Naked Running Band on every run for the past three years without any loss of condition.
The ‘Exopower mesh’ fabric’s stretch ability is quite remarkable. With the entire vest made from this fabric it allows the vest to stretch and grow as you utilise it’s capacity and shrink as it decreases. This ensures the HC remains a perfect fit throughout your run. Whether you have a full pack or empty it will hug the torso and remain in place. The band at the bottom of the vest is what keeps the HC vest in place and eliminates it riding upwards. It is substantial in design but comfortable when and not a hinderance when running.
The HC vest comes with 2 x 500ml soft flasks. These fit perfectly into the front bottle drops and easily stay in place via the small bungee cords that hold them in place. With the flasks in place they sit high enough that you can easily reach while running without having to constantly lift. The only issue with these is as they empty, they fall somewhat and can become loose in the pocket.
The major contributing factor when deciding which hydration pack is for you is the running feeling. This is typically difficult when you can’t run in the vest before purchase. The Naked HC Vest is a different design to traditional hydration vests, so how does it run? The feeling when running in the HC Vest feels very minimal and this only changes as we fill the storage of the vest. The design and Exopower fabric combination mean that regardless of how full the pack becomes the bounce is very minimal. This is a large positive as the running feeling is only impacted by the weight of what you carry. The running gait is not affected by the limitations of the pack meaning running long distances are comfortable.
The HC Vest comes in 12 different sizes. The positive to this is you’ll get a great fit if you get your sizing right. The negative is you need to get your sizing right. It is important to do your due diligence on fit, do this and you’ll get a great vest that will fit perfectly.
Overall the improvement made from the previous Naked Vest puts the HC Vest in the conversation for every ultra-runners consideration list. The inclusion of the zipper is a major step forward, not only is this an improvement on the Naked vest products and it aligns closer to traditional vests. Both Naked vests are hugely innovative and may been overlooked for some sceptics, the zipper inclusion may see this on the shoulders of runners which may not have considered a Naked Vest before.
Otherwise the extra storage given is a positive, particularly as gaining this extra storage doesn’t make the vest bulkier or impact the running feeling of the vest. Running in the Naked HC Vest is an excellent experience, coupled with comfort, increased storage and the inclusion of the front zipper which allows for further comfort this is an excellent product. For any runner looking at a hydration vest for any distance runs from small to the longest ultra distance this is a vest worth considering.
Disclaimer: Naked Sports Innovations provided me a Naked HC Running vest for the purpose of this review. Please note my review is based on my honest experience with the product.