nathan crossover hydration pack cover
AccessoriesGear Reviews

Nathan Crossover Hydration Pack Review: Run? Hike? Both?

What You Need To Know

  • The Crossover Pack is just as ready to run as it is to hike
  • It comes in 5L, 10L, or 15L capacities
  • Plenty of pockets to carry more than you need
  • Available now from $80

RYAN: I never considered myself a big hydration guy while running. It’s terrible to admit, but I never liked the sloshing sound in my stomach while plodding along. Then, summer started to kick my ass. I don’t know if it was the 1,000% humidity or the jump from 60-degree days to 90-degree ones, but I was struggling. Then, like a gift from the rain-soaked heavens, the Nathan Crossover Hydration Pack arrived.

The Crossover Pack is Nathan’s new attempt to tackle a few birds with one stone. You could take it out for a well-equipped trail run or go slower for a longer hike without any trouble. It offers a sizeable main pocket where you can shove a jacket, extra shoes, and all the nutrition you could ask for. The pack has two side pockets at 45-degree angles, allowing easy access to water bottles. Honestly, it’s tough to use up all the storage in the Crossover Pack, thanks to the strap-mounted zipper pockets and the rear bungee cord to hold any wet gear.

See also: Nathan Sports Summer Shorts Review

While the broad strokes are the same across all three packs, there’s one difference to be aware of. The small 5L pack only offers two chest straps, while the 10L and 15L add a third. It shouldn’t be a big deal since you can’t jam as much into the small pack, but good to think about as you decide what you need for your run.

JAYTON: Oh, Texas summers, where the highs reach the triple digits and the lows look like right angles (90 degrees). I’ve always been a minimalist runner (shoes, shorts, socks), but I have no idea how I’ve gone so long without a hydration pack. It’s genuinely changed how I run in the summer. No more switching my water bottle from one hand to the next — thanks, Nathan Crossover Hydration pack.


15L Crossover Hydration Pack

nathan crossover hydration pack pocket

Price: $125

RYAN: As I said, I didn’t think of myself as a big hydration guy before. I’d slowly sip water before a run and chug the rest of my bottle afterward. Not anymore. I’m all-in on carrying water, even if I haven’t quite nailed the best way to insulate the hydration bladder. I was worried about how the weight would sit on my back, but the trio of straps helps to spread things out nicely. The straps also bring me to my hands-down favorite feature: A magnet. The drinking tube features a small magnet that attaches to one of the chest straps, so I never have to worry about the tube (or the end) slapping me in the face. Kudos to the design team.

While I like the 15L capacity for hiking, I’d guess that 10L is probably the true crossover sweet spot. I think the 15L Nathan Crossover Hydration Pack might be just a bit too big if you’re planning to run. It holds so damn much stuff that I feel like it encourages me to overpack. If you’re heading into wet weather or planning for a post-run dip in a creek, it might be just right. You could easily pack a towel and some recovery slides… anything, really.

I don’t have small handheld bottles for while I run, but the 45-degree pockets are just begging for them. They’re easy to reach, and I imagine they stay colder much longer than the bladder pressed up against my back. If you want a pack for a day hike and you’re not too worried about weight, you could probably shove a good bit of ice in the bladder and be all set. I just haven’t tried hiking lately since it’s Summer GRIT, baby.

The price is also worth mentioning — these packs are right in the sweet spot. $80 is more than fair for a 5L pack, and the 15L option for $125 is a downright steal.

Shop Nathan Crossover Hydration Pack

15L Crossover Hydration Pack

Price: $100

JAYTON: Hydration is key to a good run and even better recovery. The Nathan 10L Crossover Hydration pack is a perfect size for any long run in the heat. The overall build quality of this pack is excellent, with premium buckles, straps, zippers, and fabric that feels like it’ll hold up for a long time. That’s important since these hydration packs can get pretty funky (friendly reminder to wash your packs, you filthy animals). I also love the angled side pockets, which make it super easy to grab water bottles without taking the pack off, and the trio of security straps.

Okay, I’ve done enough gushing about this pack, so I should pick out some flaws. The bladder is thin and confusing to use for the first time, with no concise instructions found online or in the packaging. It doesn’t feel that durable and certainly isn’t insulated, so you must get creative to keep your water remotely cold.

Overall, I love this pack’s versatility and the storage it offers. The waist strap keeps everything in place and almost makes me forget I have anything on my back. I’d recommend this pack if you’re going to be hiking, trail running, or just setting off for a hot run in the neighborhood and you want to carry additional gear. However, if you’re looking for an easy-to-use and insulated bladder, you might have to look elsewhere.

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