Nathan Sports Fireball Hydration Pack | Review
Lightweight running vest come pack from niche US specialist brand, Nathan Sports banishes bounce from mid-distance outings.
'Stable and secure running vest come pack that works with bottles or reservoir but can feel a little restrictive due to lack of stretch.'
Outdoors Magic: Stable, light and secure, neat bottles, just enough capacity for medium outings.
Outdoors Tragic: No stretch can impact on breathing. Lacks quick access storage.
Outdoors Grabbit? Looks like a miniaturised pack, but works well and we like the bottles. Very stable and planted, but the lack of elasticity meant it felt slightly restrictive to us. It also has fewer quick stash storage options than alternatives from Montane and Osprey.
Lightweight hydration pack / two 500ml Insulated SpeedShot Flasks in front pockets / 1.5L reservoir compatible main compartment / reflective trim front and rear / double chest straps / phone pocket to fit up to iPhone 6 / pill pocket / unisex design with sliding lower chest strap / mesh front pockets.
Full Review Below
Fireball 7L Race Vest - The Tech
Out of the box, the Fireball looks disconcertingly small, like a sort of miniaturised hydration pack for little people. That's a little misleading, it actually technically holds around 7 litres and while it comes with a pair of Nathan's insulated, reflective bottles, it's also compatible with a 1.5L reservoir.
It's light too, thanks to extensive use of mesh fabrics. And, it says here, unisex. That's possible because the side webbing slides freely so you can position the two front bottle pockets to suit. Or that's the theory.
As with both the Osprey Rev 1.5 and the Montane VIA Fang 5, the Fireball sits high up on your torso and uses a double chest-strap to keep things in place. Where it differs from the other two is that there's no elasticity in the harness system.
The bottles are the same 500ml ones supplied with Nathan's Trail Mix hydration belt, and are both insulated and reflective - drop one at night and you should find it again relatively easily. They live in twin, shock-corded front pockets.
If you prefer to use a reservoir, there's space for a 1.5L version out back complete with central exit port and guide loops on either side.
Fireball 7L Race Vest Performance
Like other race vest-type running packs, the Fireball sits high on your torso and, once adjusted is very secure and stable even over rough ground and doesn't interfere with your lower body movement.
Where this pack differed from others we've used is that there's no stretch in the harness system, which means if you're breathing really hard, it can be slightly restrictive across the chest. Mostly its not a problem, but in full-on panting mode, we found it a little irksome.
Also slightly irritating were the flapping excess ends of the lower chest strap. If it were our pack we'd trim them to suit, but they could do with a more secure anchorage than the elasticated loops supplied.
What we did like was the self-adjusting side webbing that give a flexible fit and allow you to slightly tweak the position of the front bottle pockets and the sliding upper strap fixings.
'Too big to use as a short 1-3 hour bag, and not enough storage for a 4 hour+ bag'
Capacity is 'interesting'. Occasional OM contributor and proper runner, Tim Budd felt it was 'too big to use as a short 1-3 hour bag, and not enough storage for a 4 hour+ bag', though that does depend a little on how ultra-lightweight your spare clothing in particular is.
Tim did like the zipped phone/food pocket, for its deceptive capacity - it's gusseted and stretchy - but found the inability to access the main storage compartment easily on the move a little frustrating.
Overall we reckon it could do with a few more 'easy access' stash pockets plus maybe a bungee attachment to allow overloading on days when you want to carry a little more.
We did like the bottles. They're easy to hold and the insulation, while it may not be useful in UK conditions, could be handy elsewhere.
Fireball 7L Race Vest - Verdict
Tim's take was 'It's an ok bag, but not one that i would buy,' and we'd say that's a pretty fair assessment. While the Fireball is stable and secure and we do like those little bottles, the lack of stretch in the harness and the paucity of easy access storage means it's a little limited compared to similar packs we've tried.
In particular, there's no bungee cord for storing excess baggage and only a couple of gel pockets plus a tiny 'pill-pocket'. That's not to say that it's a bad pack, it's just that the competition is fierce.