Last updated: 07-Jan-20
I associate Ronhill with no-nonsense, practical gear for the hills and this is very much what you get with these two hydration packs. They are designed for different things, the Pioneer having more features and the Nano being very stripped down and race ready.
The Ronhill Pioneer 8L Vest
I liked the look of this vest as soon as I had it out of its wrapping. It was reasonably simple but with a number of features. Initially I was a bit concerned with the “one size fits all” but in fact when I put it on I found that the stretch fit panels and the vest chassis with stretch webbing meant that it actually fit me very well.
There was absolutely no chafing or rubbing and very little movement on the run, so ten out of ten on that front.
I am a thirsty Kirsty and run a lot in quite warm temperatures so I am always looking for a vest that gives me a really good hydration capacity and this one did. I actually tried it out with the 328ml bottles and they were perfectly adequate but on a longer run I took 2 x 500 ml bottles and a two litre bladder and I was set for several hours.
I liked the two Velcro loops for securing the bladder as they kept it perfectly in place. The mesh back kept me nice and cool, although I was a bit worried that as I heated up, I might heat the water up with me.
I didn’t get to test how waterproof the vest was but the fabric and inner pocket are pretty sturdy.
There is definitely lots of capacity to stuff this pack with your kit and I managed to get in everything I needed for a full day out including a reasonably heavy jacket and an additional fleece as well as a plethora of snacks.
One thing I wasn’t keen on was the positioning of the waist pockets. I take a lot of photos when I am out and they were a bit too far back for me to get to really easily. The other thing I noticed was that the little plastic bits that are tied on to elastic to do the zips up came off a couple of times – you definitely need to knot them.
There are plenty of features on this vest, from bungee cords on the back to store extra kit, to a key ring and whistle in the front stuff pocket.
PROS: Comfortable and good fit with no movement, lots of space.
CONS: Positioning of pockets, not the lightest pack, the zip fasteners.
The Ronhill Nano 3L Vest
The Ronhill Nano 3L Vest is designed for runners who want minimal weight but a safe place to carry the bare essentials. It really is stripped down and weighs in nice and light at 195g.
I liked its simplicity. Unlike some vests, it takes you about three minutes to get to know it and how it works and it is unlikely that you will lose your keys!
It was very comfortable to wear. The stretch fit and panels and adjustable panels worked and once I had slipped it on, I couldn’t really feel it, it didn’t move while I was running and I didn’t suffer from any chafing or discomfort.
I tried it out with 2 x 328ml bottles but found that they slipped down and as I like to drink a lot anyway I swapped them out for 50ml soft bottles which worked well and also my rigid 75ml bottles with straws which actually fitted perfectly. I actually used this as my preferred solution as it gave me enough water in between refresh stops and I found the position of the holders perfect.
There is one big inside pocket on the back to hold all your stuff and it does have a key ring. However, this was just too stripped back for me and I really missed having a zipped side pocket or front pocket to put my iPhone and emergency cash in.
You can fit all your basic race kit into this vest and that is what it is really designed for.
PROS: Light, comfortable, stripped back.
CONS: A bit too minimal on features for every day running, particularly somewhere handy to keep your phone.
These are both good, practical hydration vests. They are well made and clearly thought out. I preferred the Pioneer because it gave me more features and therefore more options. I found it a very good vest for a long day out. However, if you are looking for a light, very comfortable, stripped-back, simple race option, then the Nano is definitely the better choice.
All images unless stated: Alice Morrison.
About the writer: Alice is a slow runner – definitely to the novice end of the spectrum. She spends most of her time in Marrakech so does her daily runs in mainly dry conditions but the mountains offer scope for very technical work and lots of wet and snow in the winter.
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