Our take To state the obvious: Women are shaped differently from men, and the more form-fitting a pack gets, the more glaring those differences become. The Women’s Zephyr Vest (it also comes in a men’s version) steps up to the challenge with gender-specific body mapping on the knit-mesh backpanel of this running pack. The design maximizes ventilation along the mid- and lower back, where women tend to sweat most (unlike men, who experience more upper-back sweat). “The vest felt airy even when I was working hard—no sweat-monster here!” said one tester after using the Zephyr during hot, sunny hikes in Alaska.
The details Organization is superb. The chest harness pockets kept bear spray and two full 500-milliliter soft flasks (included) handy, and the 10-liter main pack body held snacks, midlayer, shell, camera, phone, and a large bag of blueberries harvested during a 14-mile hike in Alaska’s Chugach State Park. “A lot of vests (this one included) lean heavily on mesh fabrics, but the Zephyr isn’t flimsy,” one tester says. “Even when I overstuffed it, it held up admirably.” She also praised the side adjustment straps (the men’s version has them, too) which lie alongside the ribs and let her customize the shoulder harness fit; she was able to achieve maximum comfort with up to 10 pounds of gear in the pack. Ding: Because the Zephyr has less packbag organization than other models here, testers experienced a tad more sway than with other running-vest style packs we tested.
$150; 7 oz. (w’s); one size each, m’s (Zephyr Vest) and w’s (Women’s Zephyr Vest)