Thursday, May 24, 2012

Nathan HPL #020 Hydration System Review

I recently purchase a second hand hydration system from Jeff Ooi (the runner, not the politician) for a bargain. He was selling it as he found out the system is a bit too small for his overseas run due to limited storage spaces. Myself, on the other hand, was looking for a smaller system for those short run or ride in the trails where carrying a 20liter pack with 3liters of water is an overkill. Wifey would say my decision to buy these is actually because of my obsession with bags. Anyway...
HPL #020 as seen on official website
I have a few Camelbak brand hydration system with me. Being a loyalist to Camelbak due to the built (of the bladder) and choices (of bags and capacity), going for Nathan were purely based on the pricing of a "race vest" from Camelbak that is higher than that of Nathan - even brand new.
I collected the pack from Jeff on Saturday morning as he was about to set his run in Kiara Trail. Immediately, I filled the pack up with about 1.5liter of water. First most obvious difference with my Camelbak bladder is that Nathan uses the Hydrapak Reservoir which opens fully at the top via a slide-lock.
Basic 2L bladder suitable for the job
With the reservoir filled, there is still some space left to tuck/pack basic items into the pack such as a lightweight collapsible jacket (those that can be rolled up) or a small first aid kit.
The pack comes with two zippered compartment - the one you see at the photo above that houses the reservoir, and a separate compartment with key holder.
Could comfortably fit in a 1liter drypack to keep essential documents and car key away
I managed to put in my wallet (small) and the car key inside this top pocket. Just be careful about overfilling the bag as to keep in mind, this is a pack meant for a bare minimal run/trail run/race. If you are used to Camelbak BigBite valve, you will have to get used to the Hydrapak SurgeValve. My preference is still with the BigBite as water just literally pours out once i bite with minimal effort. The SurgeValve need some "sucking".
Bite and Suck.
The SurgeValve is lockable for those leak-free storage in the car boot or when transporting the reservoir. I always lock my valve when transporting to prevent mishap of wetting the whole car and not having any water once i reach the ride/run site. All it takes is a bit of pressure on these valve to "open" it.
Nathan call their harness system a "3-point Propulsion System" where there is two highly adjustable strap on both side of the shoulder strap to "hug" your body. I like my hydration system tightly strap to my body. With the last strap on the chest - it completes the pack securing system that will ensure snug fit and minimal pack movement while running/cycling/adventure racing.
See is the two straps for adjustment and the power stretch with quick-draw for securing the nutrition.
One of the main reason for the purchase of this pack is the ability of it being used as a full-on adventure racing vest. With pockets built onto the shoulder strap, it gives trouble free storage and instant access to items such as race nutrition and most importantly, the camera/phone.
The left side is a zippered front pocket with a another mesh holder at the front. Perfect for items that  are essential, like a compass (or in my case, phone)

I put the pack to test by running a 15km Sperm Loop and the only complain i had was the reservoir sloshes around - in my excitement, i forgot to turn it upside down and take the excess air pocket out!  That aside, the pack fits snugly on my back and across my chest with the sternum or chest strap holding the two soft mesh shoulder strap where it should be. In fact, at about 200grams with 1.5liters of water, i hardly feel the bag to be "there". And the best thing? I had both my hands free with no water bottle to hold and no phone/camera to hold. Everything is NOW on the pack! Nice!
The front elastic band are meant for strapping larger bulky item such as jacket or gloves. Just don't expect it to carry a pan, let alone a kitchen sink - unlike my Camelbak.
The Unit is easily cleaned and because of the light weight construction, washing and storing is easy. This was easily the best valued buy (at second hand price) i ever gotten. I thank you again Jeff! This bag is in good hand (and will be used). I am contemplating to carry this for SCKLM 2012.
Cleaned and dried
As with all hydration system. Bladder must be washed and dried before storage. If you choose not to dry them, always store the bladder in the freezer to inhibit bacteria growth. The last thing you ever wanted in your reservoir is algae growing. I been storing my Camelbak bladder in the freezer when not using for the past (close to) 10 years. No issues there!
Wait up for my review on Camelbak Octane 18X, which has up to 18liter of storage for a longer and more demanding race.


  1. I learn something from you store the bladder in freezer!! the man!

  2. LG - i also learn as i go along :) Gambate!

  3. Hi Stupe, hoping to get a reply 2 years since you published this :)

    How do you detach the tube from the bladder? Is this even possible? If not how do you dry the tube itself?

    Thanks bro

    1. Hey bro! Yes, you just pull it out. Also, don't bother drying it, just put it straight into the freezer. :)