Hydrapak E-Lite Vest

Manufacturer Description

Weighing a mere 9.9 ounces, this featherweight harness can carry essentials in 2 expandable front zippered pockets or 4 integrated holsters. Includes a 1L reversible reservoir that slips into the back panel.  Five adjusting points allow users to dial in the perfect fit.

Features

  • 2 Expandable Front Zippered Pocket (iPhone Compatible)
  • 4 Integrated Holster-style pockets
  • Soft Moisture Wicking Back panel holds 1 liter Reversible Reservoir (included)
  • Includes 1L Reversible Reservoir with Plug-N-Play Connector, Quantum Clip, and Surge Bite Valve
  • Weight
    • 281 g (9.9 oz) w/Reservoir
    • 159 g (5.6 oz) w/o
  • Retail – $55

YMMV Review

Before this review, I did not know much about Hydrapak.  I had heard of them, mainly from their reservoirs being in other packs I purchased.  Through these reservoirs I was impressed enough to reach out to them and see if I may be able to test a pack.  The E-Lite Vest is the first of two packs I will test on the site.

With the Vest on from the Front

Hydrapak is a small company that continues to innovate with their hydration designs.  While I have been impressed by the reservoir, their packs were also carefully thought out.  You can tell they had some real athletes helping with the design process.

Testing

The E-Lite Vest is made for runners, and that is how I mainly tested it.  I used it on runs from 10 – 25 miles during the winter and spring.  I had the opportunity to test it in temperatures ranging from 25 – 80 degrees.

Design ★★★½☆

With the Vest on From the Back

Appearance (10%) ★★★☆☆

Construction (35%) ★★★½☆

Pockets (20%) ★★½☆☆

Sustainability (10%) ★☆☆☆☆

Weight (25%) ★★★★½

The E-Lite is a small vest made to carry what you need and nothing extra.  The vest is actually really simple with a large drop in style pocket at the back for the reservoir and some smaller pockets on the front straps.  It is made primarily of mesh material of different weaves and finished with contrasting edging for comfort and clean looks.  The back pocket is sized to hold the included 1 liter Hydrapak reservoir.  There is a clip on the top of the panel to attach the reservoir.  The reservoir tube runs over the shoulder and through the elastic guides on the shoulder straps.   The tube comes with a magnetic system to secure it in place on the sternum strap.  The valve at the end of the hose is a bite valve with a twist system to lock it so water cannot accidentally come out.

Back of the Vest

Even though this is a simple setup, the E-Lite has six pockets at the front.  There are four drop in holster type pockets and two expandable zipper pockets.  The frame of the zipper pockets is where the sternum strap can adjust up and down depending on the user.  Under the arms, there is also and elastic adjustable strap to keep the vest tight to the body.  If it gets too loose, then it will bounce all around.  This tightening of the pack also puts pressure on the reservoir allowing for a more forceful flow.  Both the straps at the side and the sternum strap are releasable by plastic buckles for easy on and off.  The E-Lite weighs in at 9.9 ounces with the reservoir making it an extremely light option.

Through searching the Hydrapak site, I was not able to find any information on the use of green or sustainable materials in the making of the pack.  There was also no information on corporate initiatives.  For this reason, I gave them a one in sustainability, giving them credit for making reusable hydration options.

Fit ★★★★☆

Adjustability (20%) ★★★½☆

Comfort Next to Skin (20%) ★★★★☆

Ease of Movement (20%) ★★★★☆

Strap Comfort (20%) ★★★½☆

Torso Sizing (20%) ★★★★☆

Even though the E-Lite is a minimalist pack, Hydrapak did a good job making it adjustable to a wide range of body types. It is a unisex one size fits all pack.  The E-Lite has five adjustment points to create a fit that works best for you.  I was pleasantly surprised by how well the pack fit on runs up to 25 miles.  Even though there is only one sternum strap and one strap around each side, the pack felt very stable and comfortable.  The straps are easy to adjust, even on the run.  Unlike some other packs I have tested I did not have to readjust the E-Lite as the straps stayed in place.  The E-Lite is also much smaller than other hydration packs.  It sits up higher on the shoulders because of this.  By sitting higher it seems like it is barely there.  The upper torso has much more bone structure for support than the lower torso does.  I also have not had any discomfort issues with the E-Lite, that is probably why with each new iteration, the general design and fabric do not change. Since the pack is on the smaller side, it does not obstruct your movement in any way.  I could easily swing my arms and never felt like the pack was in the way.  It is also so light that it does not really change your balance either.

Front Straps

Performance ★★★½☆

Breathability (10%) ★★★★☆

Durability (20%) ★★★½☆

Ease of Use (20%) ★★★☆☆

Reflectivity(10%) ★★½☆☆

Versatility (10%) ★★★½☆

Weight Distribution (30%) ★★★½☆

The Hydrapak E-Lite was good for runs of any distance.  Since the reservoir is smaller, you will most likely need to stop and fill it up on longer runs.  Depending on the run this may be the deciding factor whether to use it or not.  Some of my runs I do not have the option for a water stop, so I have to go with a pack that has a larger reservoir.  One of the drawbacks I did have with the E-Lite is since there is so little fabric on the pack, there is nothing to insulate the tube and reservoir.  On my cold winter runs I had the tube and valve freeze on more than one occasion.  Hydrapak does sell an insulated tube that will help with this so take note if you want to use the E-Lite in the winter.  Apart from that this is the best reservoir I have used thus far.  I really like how you can unclip the tube for easier refills.  The reservoir is also really easy to clean, all you need to do is turn it inside out; this is a great concept, I am surprised other manufacturers have not come up with.  The 1 liter reservoir does not come with the new shape shift technology but since it is smaller it is not needed, the water does not slosh around.

1 Liter Reservoir

The pockets on the pack were hit and miss for me.  The back pocket is only big enough for the reservoir, not really anything else unless your shell is extremely small.  The location of the reservoir hanger was also slightly troublesome; it did not keep the reservoir in place very well.  I thought it actually worked better when unclipped.  Hydrapak must have noticed this as well as the main change I noticed on the 2013 model is a change in this clip so rest assured it should work better than on mine.  The front drop in pockets is good for gels, gloves, hats, and other small items.  The zipper pockets work but are a little different due to the wire structure on the sides.  This structure is what allows for the adjustability of the pack but also makes it a bit more cumbersome for storing electronics.  My iPhone still fit and worked well, but it was not a seamless fit, after a couple of times I figured out the quirks, and it was a bit easier.

The E-Lite is a comfortable carry and distributes the weight well.  Through my runs, I would tighten the pack every so often as it would slightly loosen as I drained the reservoir.  By tightening the pack it also helped put more pressure on the reservoir for more flow. The reservoir will site directly against your back so plan accordingly on hot days.  Either drink your water fast or add ice as your back will heat up the water quickly.  An insulated reservoir cover may be another option for Hydrapak down the road.

Bite Valve

Overall ★★★½☆

Overall, the E-Lite is quite a pack for its light weight a basic appearance.  The reservoir definitely is one of the best features.  It makes sense why I see so many other manufacturers use Hydrapak reservoirs in their packs; they are really solid and work well.  The E-Lite is best for runs from 1-2 hours as it only carries 1 liter of water.  This of course will depend on the individual.  If you do have water available along the route or aid stations as in a race, the E-Lite may be a great option assuming you do not have to carry too much other gear.  The E-Lite does have a smaller carrying capacity than other packs, but that is much of the appeal.  The front pockets worked well enough, especially after you figure out you carrying scheme.  I find that where I carry items changes from pack to pack depending on the pockets.  One of the best parts of the vest is how it can adjust to different sizes rather easily and even with only two straps to secure it; the pack wears very comfortable.  If you are looking for a smaller pack for just your essentials, the E-Lite is a great option.  At $55 you get a lightweight comfortable vest with a very nice reservoir.  As always, your mileage may vary.

Close Up of Zippered Pocket

Pros

  • The Hydrapak Reservoir is one of the best
  • 5 points of adjustment
  • Very lightweight
  • 6 pockets in the front
  • Good Value

Cons

  • Reservoir hanger needed to change (and it was on the new model)
  • No insulation for hot or cold

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About the author

I am an avid runner, cyclist, swimmer, hiker, climber, skier and many other activities that would make this list too long. I started Your Mileage May Vary Reviews in Early 2011 to combine two of my passions: sports and gear.

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