Nathan Synergy pack

Recently I ordered a Nathan Synergy pack for longer ultras. The main feature is the bladder which has two reserves so you can fill one up with water, and the other up with your sports drink of choice. This was not the reason I got the pack though. My Kathmandu pack that I used for longer runs is very uncomfortable and causes the worst chafing ever so I really wanted something that was big enough to carry all the mandatory gear and be comfortable too. Everyone raves about how comfy the Nathan packs are, and I like the pockets, so that was my main reason.
Nathan Synergy 3-Liter Adventure Pack

This morning I took it for a test run out in the rain. I filled the bladders up and after spending about 5 hours trying to get the air out, in the process squeezing most of the water out, I gave up and decided to use my Camelbak bladder. I don’t know why the air just wouldn’t get out of the Nathan bladder. This was really annoying, although I have heard many reports that the Nathan bladders suck and a lot of people use a Camelbak bladder in a Nathan pack. So unfortunately this time I did not get to try the double bladder, which would be really handy in long ultras so I don’t need to pack my special drink at aid stops.

I loaded the pack up with just over 4kg as I think that is what it weighs when I carry the usual mandatory gear, food and water.

Once loaded, I couldn’t believe how comfortable it was! There is NO bounce! At all!! Even the sternum strap was comfortable, and usually I don’t use it on any of my packs. It wasn’t needed this time either but it was in a comfy position so it didn’t bother me.

As usual, I found I had to do the shoulder straps up as tight as possible, but unlike my other packs, I could take the pack on and off without dislocating my shoulders. The pockets on the shoulder straps were just perfect. I can fit my phone (which doubles as a camera) and there is also room to carry snacks. There are some other side pockets on the main body of the pack which are easily reached without taking the pack off. These will be perfect for carrying my ultra food.

The pack didn’t feel heavy at all. I don’t know how it works, but it doesn’t weigh down on your shoulders and I didn’t feel my form suffer from it. Usually even 2kg is too heavy for me but over 4kg felt like nothing.

I am so happy to finally get a large pack that is comfortable and doesn’t chafe. I hope I can get the hang of getting the air out of the Nathan bladders so I give the whole ‘Synergy’ thing a try with two drinks. Although I am a bit scared of the bladders bursting like many others have reported.

I am really looking forward to using this pack for my next ultra, but the weather has been terrible and the road to Wilsons Prom was washed out this week, with people needing to be rescued by boat. I imagine the tracks will be a wreck but hopefully the run wont get cancelled.


6 thoughts on “Nathan Synergy pack

  1. wirehairedrunner

    Anna, thanks for the great review. I have been running with this pack for several weeks now. My only complaint (and the reason that I actually returned the first one of these packs that I purchased, several years ago) is that the bladder is difficult to remove/replace if the pack is full of other gear. You have to take the contents of the pack out to get the reservoir out (for refilling on the run). When the pack is empty, you can just roll down the top and get the bladder in. But that is not the case if the pack is already loaded. I use a Camelbak bladder with all my hydration packs. I really don't have a use for dual fluids in a bladder. But, I really love this pack. And like you said, it runs nice when fully loaded. I even did a run to the post office the other day and had to carry some heavy, odd-shaped items in it for the remainder of the run (9 miles). It was quite comfortable with an estimated 8-10 pounds of stuff in it. Did you try sucking the air out from the bottom? Happy running.

  2. anna

    It is such a comfortable pack, isn't it. I think that's where Nathan really excels. I tried for ages to get the air out but there was always a bit left. Do you find the Cambelbak bladder in the Synergy pack is easy to refill?

  3. billso

    I read your review and bought one of these packs last week. I've used it twice and it's better than I expected! I use it for running, but I don't load it up with a lot of gear. The tip about inverting the pack and sucking the air out of the bottom is great!

  4. anna

    Hi Ty. I used a 2L Camelbak. The Synergy pack is pretty big though so you could probably fit a 3L in there if you wanted.Recently I have been using the Nathan Intensity pack (smaller) and the bladder that comes with it is pretty good. The valve is still better on the Camelbak but I now prefer the smaller 2L Nathan bladder as it is easiest to refill get the air out.


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