I bought this pack for my son to use during our training for the Pennsylvania Spartan Super and the Vermont Spartan Beast, I currently have a Nathan Zelos pack and will be using that as a point of comparison.
The first thing I noticed was that the pack sold here is really an “AONIJIE” which sold as a “Triwonder” through the AMAZON vendor. It has not even been relabeled to match the “Triwonder name”from the Amazon storefront. That isn’t a bad thing, but is seemed strange when I opened the box. The second is that it is marketed as a hydration vest, but they don’t sell a bladder for it (yet) and you need to depend on water bottles. I knew that when I purchased it, But It can easily be converted into a vest to carry a bladder by dropping in a 1.5 or 2-liter Camelbak bladder. Doing this raises the price to about $60, which is still about half the price of my Nathan vest.
So with that out of the way, as I gave the “Triwonder” a once-over the fit and finish appear to be very good for a $40 vest. In fact, it was far nicer than I had expected. At first glance, the only thing that I didn’t like was that the bottom strap was fully elastic and I thought that might lead to more bouncing than would comfortable.
So my son put it on and we got it adjusted in just a couple of minutes. The straps were easy to set in place and the height adjustable chest straps were a nice touch for an inexpensive vest. The 8 ounce water bottles that came with the vest didn’t seem to be anything special, but they weren’t expected to be. I saw them as throw away items once the bladder was installed and then the front pockets could be used for more important cargo like energy bars or gels. There is also zippered pocket on the left chest strap that can be used for other items such as a cell phone or anything else small that you might need to carry and would like to have in a zippered pocket.
When the vest was on my son, the bottom chest strap would stretch and not fit snugly. My first thought was, “That is going to cause the pack to bounce a lot.” Then I realized that the Nathan only had one chest strap so it shouldn’t be a big deal. I just lowered the upper strap by about an inch to the level on the Nathan and it looked great. When he took the pack out for his first run, he used the small (8 oz.) bottles and he said that they were barely noticeable. On some subsequent longer runs he moved up to a large cycling (26 or 28 oz.) bottles which he said were very noticeable and he could feel them bounce as he ran. I wasn’t surprised, since I can feel a 20 oz. bottle bounce in the Nathan when I place it in the front pocket.
Recently, even on his shorter runs where he only carries the little bottles the vest has replaced his Amphipod hydration belt as his “go to” for carrying water. And that belt in his words were “the best $30 I ever spent.” (He got it on a great sale at REI.
After looking at the photo of the back of the pack and going to REI to look at their bladders, I came to the realization that the bladder in the photo looks a lot like a 2-liter Camelbak Antidote, so I picked one up and brought it home, and sure enough the fit was perfect. Now the vest is complete and need to get out for a run with the bladder to see how the vest performs when carrying 4.5 pounds of water, but, based on the way it has performed so far I don’t expect it to be an issue. I expect it be stable and comfortable.
So to make a long story short. It is not as nice as the Nathan vest and is missing some of the bells and whistles. It is literally missing a whistle. But at half the price, it is worth considering, especially if it turns out to be a durable piece of gear. I will learn more about the durability as the summer progresses and I will update as needed.
If you are interested in finding one you can look here.