Sunday, July 18, 2010

Review; Nathan X Trainer Mutation

P1030026 I was always a bit cautious about wearing a waistpack, my early experiences were with something from Nike that slid about and the bottle bounced up and down. I have run two marathons with a Fuel Belt but the weight is distributed around the belt much more than a single bottle belt, that being said I was more than pleasantly surprised with this pack, but I am getting ahead of myself.

First here is some of the technical blurb from Nathan’s website:

Evolution to minimize detection.

The X Trainer takes on features of other race products to emerge lighter and more comfortable, offering even greater ease of access and creative capacity. Horizontal bottle positioning offers a minimal footprint and bottle stability and security while climbing and jumping.

  • Dual XTS Cradles, reinforced with ultra-light Tech Mesh
  • Insulated holster allows access from right or left side
  • 22 oz. (650 mL) Hydration Bottle
  • 5 oz. (150 mL) Nutrition Flask in horizontal side holster
  • Dimensional Power Stretch Mesh pocket expands to hold items snugly in place
  • Shock Cord with one-pull tension lock for jacket or gloves
  • Lightweight, breathable Wall Mesh with soft perimeter binding back panel and waistbelt feels great against skin and won’t damage technical apparel
  • Limited-stretch elasticized waistbelt
  • Fits 26” to 42” waists

I’ll talk about the belt first then the bottle. Like most of the country summer has finally arrived in Southern California and the mercury has been up and over 100 most of the last week. It’s inevitable that if you put something on your body in a constricting fashion its going to add to the sweat creation even around your waist somewhere you might not associate with ‘being sweaty’, despite this the waistband handles it well, it doesn’t overly absorb the moisture and doesn’t lose its shape when wet, mostly it seems to wick as best as it can.

It secures at the front by way of your typical plastic buckle and you can cinch it in to tighten it, the actual strap is partially elastic and so this allows you get a snug but forgiving fit. One thing it could do with is a couple of loops to fit the excess strap through as they tend to flap around a bit although you can tie them up with electricians tape or cut off the excess if you really wanted to, I would class my waist was average but would imagine if you were slim you would have quiet a lot of excess especially as it can fit up to and around a 42” waist. Moving clockwise there is a 5oz gel flask which sits parallel to the ground, it’s securely mounted within a mesh net pouch with a draw cord to stop it from falling out, of course you can remove the flask and add what you like; keys, camera etc if you want to.

The bottle container is essentially a semi rigid cradle, again its sits parallel to the ground and this means you can access it with both hands, a snug partial cover keeps it from bouncing our and around, I was a bit dubious at first but this works very effectively Underneath there is a drawer string for you to stash a jacket, arm warmers etc. There’s a loop to hang it up with on the top and some reflective piping.

Finally on the left side there is a small pocket, it’s large enough for keys, camera etc but at 4.5” it’s too small for an iPhone (‘cos I know you were about to ask, but a newer Blackberry fits). Inside there is a little hook to attach keys to so they don’t drop out unknowingly…that would be very bad! Interestingly both the pocket and the gel flask are not sewn all around so you could stash an extra gel or two behind them, of course you run the risk of then falling out but the option’s there.

The bottle is your standard 22oz bottle it has a rubber nipple so it’s a little more forgiving than you usual cycling bottle and it has a handy spring clip in case you need to hang it of something in a hurry. A nice wide mouth means you can minimize the wait time at the Aid Stations.

So in summary. Having used this for a while now I am almost convinced it could replace handholds for me, I am only almost because I haven’t gone anything over 90 minutes with it and it is only one bottle; so it depends on the space in between Aid Stations. It’s comfortable, fits me well with no bounce or slosh from the bottle, the partially elastic strap allows me to get it to sit on my hips rather than around my waist and that’s perfect for me. My only real negative is the color, light grey stays light grey for not very long when you’re on a dusty trail.

Available online through multiple outlets this belt including the two bottle retails for around $40. If you choose to pick one up check out Wilderness Running Company and don’t forget using ‘Quad10’ at the checkout will save you 10%.

There are more photos here:

This Belt was provided free of charge by the good folks at Wilderness Running Company. See previous gear reviews in the sidebar on the right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at

You can read my other Hydration product reviews here:

Up next is the FuelBelt H2O

I am also working my way through the Endurance Drinks, you can follow my thoughts here.