Rab Veil 6L Running Vest Review
I’ve been trialling the new RAB Veil 6L Trail Running Vest over the past few months, and I have to say I am very impressed with it. Small enough to feel like an item of clothing rather than a backpack, but big enough to get you through most mandatory gear lists, or big days out in the mountains.
The vest comes with a standard 2x 500ml bottle setup, but also has the capacity to carry a 2L bladder. I haven’t tried this option as I find the bottles work better for me. I did find though, that the whole thing sits a bit better on the move when there is some stuff in the back compartment as well as the bottles on the front. Counter balances the weight. When I first tried the vest on, it seemed to have a bit more weight and structure to it than other vests I had tried.
The advertised weight is 240g, so we’re not talking huge numbers here. This may be a little more than some other hydration vests of similar capacity, but it seems that the structure of it helps distribute the weight, rather than having it hanging on your shoulders when the pack is full, or bounce around when running downhill.
And on that note, when fully packed the Rab Veil 6L seems to punch well above its weight (pardon the pun) when it comes to capacity. I’m not sure how the 6L is actually measured, but this vest seems to be able to carry a lot more than that. The stretchy material of the main compartment, lower stash pocket and side pockets enable it to expand to feel like a pack much larger than 6L, without feeling overfull.
I recently competed in the Lavaredo Ultra Trail 120km ultra marathon in the Dolomite Mountains of Northern Italy. The mandatory gear list of said race is not as extensive as something like Ultra Trail Australia (UTA), but it still contains everything you need to keep you safe in the mountains at night. The Rab Veil 6L passed with flying colours. The race took me 13.5 hours, but at no point was the pack bothering me, either from rubbing or bouncing. It is rare to find a running vest that performs this well.
The vest uses a material called “mono-mesh”, which allows it to stretch in one direction whilst staying firm in another. Used strategically in different configurations throughout the product, this means the vest can fit comfortably around the body, but not have unwanted bouncing or stretching when on the move. It is also claimed to have less moisture holding capacity than a spacer mesh equivalent.
Apparently this means you won’t get the damp and sweaty feeling on your back, although to be honest this is not something I have found. If you’re running several hours in the heat with a hydration vest on, it’s going to get sweaty – can’t really get around that.
The zippered pockets on the front of the bottle holders are a nice touch, and I usually keep my phone in there if I think I’ll need access to it during the run. I wouldn’t want anything too heavy in these, as that would add to the ‘bounce weight’ of the bottles. However, the side stash pockets are easily big enough to fit gels, bars, Gopro, gloves, etc. The lower rear stash pocket is great for storing a rolled up rain jacket. Generally speaking I’ll put things that I need to have, but hopefully won't use in the main compartment on the back (space blanket, thermals, first aid, PLB, etc.).
Then I have everything that I want access to during the run in the front, sides and lower rear stash pockets. That way there’s no need to take the vest off during the run except for in an emergency. There is also a little zippered pocket inside the main rear compartment, to store your keys, wallet, or other small valuables.
The vest comes with elastic loop attachments on the outside of the bottle holders that work well for carrying poles. I was a bit sceptical at first thinking that might be a bit too much weight up front. And to be honest, when bombing down a fast downhill, and without much counterweight in the back, it probably is. But for the most part, when jogging along the poles fit pretty well there – non intrusive and not too much bounce.
However, I found that I didn’t like stashing them in this fashion during a race simply because it’s a bit fiddly getting them in and out. During a long training run it’s not such a big deal, but I’m not keen on using up precious seconds when I’m on the clock.
The Rab Veil comes in a 2L or 6L option. My only frustration is that there is not a slightly larger version available that would accommodate a more extensive mandatory gear list, such as UTA or Alpine Challenge. As I said before this can fit a lot more than you would think for a 6L vest, but squeezing that fleece in along with everything else might prove a bit of a stretch (pun definitely intended this time).
All in all I really like this vest. It has a sleek design, a high quality build, and is just really comfy to wear. It’s not reinventing the wheel, but a simple design done well. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a new vest to carry their essentials on the trails.