Last updated: 24-Oct-18
By Luke Jarmey
A late player to the trail running game, Arc’teryx have only recently been releasing a slew of specifically-designed and targeted running products. Along with the 14 litre version, the Norvan 7 represents their first punt at a hydration vest.
Would it live up to the gold plated reputation of Arc’teryx’s craftsmanship prowess? Or would it be a flawed first rendition?
Well to find this out, I picked a hearty mix of rolling English countryside and jagged French alpine trails as my testing ground and gave the Norvan 7 a thorough thrashing over a 4-month period.
- 4 front envelope mesh pockets – 2 compatible with 500ml soft flasks
- One back internal zipper pocket
- 3 back mesh dump pockets, 2 with pole carry pockets and tension straps
- 1.75L weather resistant storage bag tucks away when not in use
- Two front zipper pockets
- 2L Source™ hydration reservoir included*
- Detachable emergency whistle on right shoulder
- Precision fit for exceptional comfort and stability
- Dual sternum straps and side tension straps fine-tune fit, increase stability
- Weight – 265g
- RRP: £150
Photo credit: Luke Jarmey.
Pros: What’s good about the Arc’teryx Norvan 7
As with anything you’re trying to drape around your physical curvature, fit is of paramount importance. I would actually go on to say that this is the single most vital factor when choosing a vest. There’s nothing worse than running for hours on end with a pack that bounces uncomfortably around.
Of course this is a subjective matter. I’m 183cm/6ft with a slim build and opted for the size medium; from my experience at least, the fit has been absolutely spot on. Arc’teryx are well known for their research and application of anatomical design and it really shows.
Adjustment wise, you’ve got two tabs on the bottom left and right of the back. These combined with the two adjustable chest straps, which can have 7 different anchor point options, allowed me all the necessary fine tuning.
Next up the hydration carrying capability. You’ve got space for x2 500ml soft flasks (not included) on the front and a hydration bladder (included) in the back.
I’m not a huge fan of camelback style reservoirs, largely due to the sloshing noise they make when running. But there are many who are and it was good to see the necessary attachment points for the reservoir itself and the hose.
They include a 2 litre Source model with the pack and it seems to be of high quality.
Moving on the front, the flask holders here worked well with my Hydrapak 500ml soft flasks; with nice little adjustable loops of elastic strategically placed to fit around the base of the mouth pieces. Once secured in, it was easy to drink from the flasks without taking the pack off.
As you’d expect from Arc’teryx, build quality is very good. The material used for the pack has a stiffish, very durable feel and in all honesty still looks new after extended use. It has honey comb/mesh construction which aids breathability without impacting durability.
I found it very comfortable when used in conjunction with a vest or t-shirt, though maybe not quite soft enough when used without.
Features wise, the various pockets are well thought out, with a mix of stretchy quick access open slots and more secure zippered pockets. If you’re maxing out the 7 litres of space, there’s a useful elastic draw string on the back of the pack.
Weight wise, it comes in at 265g. Which is good, but there are certainly lighter, albeit more minimalistic options on the market.
Priced at £150, it’s not a cheap option. But it is in line with its peers from similar quality brands.
Photo credit: Arc’terix.com.
Cons: What’s not so good about the Arc’teryx Norvan 7
I did find the front flask holders slightly small. My 500ml soft flasks fit in there fine, but it does take a bit of jiggling.
The bladder pocket may work better with a slightly smaller hydration reservoir. Seemed like quite a tight fit when full and with other items (ie jacket) bunched up in the back of the pack.
Personally, I would rather have had two 500ml soft flasks included, instead of the hydration bladder.
Softer material would be more comfortable next to the skin. However, would likely be less durable. Same goes for the breathability, they probably could have made it more so, but I think they opted for a good compromise on this.
That said, I almost always run with a vest or t-shirt, so regular bare-chested warriors may want to consider something slightly softer.
This is an extremely well made hydration vest that just works really well, with minimal fuss. There are a few little niggles, but unless you regularly run topless, they are very minor.
If you’re looking for the ultimate, stripped down but feather light race vest, then there are lighter options you may want to consider. However, if you’re after an all-round model, that has exceptional fit and adjustment, I would take a serious look at the Norvan 7.
Other vests you may want to consider:
Salomon S/LAB Sense Ultra 8 – £150
Ultimate Direction Jurek FKT Vest – £125
Montane VIA Fang 5 – £110
Raidlight Responsiv 10L Race Vest – £145
Have you tried the Arc’teryx Norvan 7 hydration vest? Don’t agree with this review? What’s your opinion? Add your own comment to this review and share your experience and passion for running with others.
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See more of Luke Jarmey’s images here.