Gear Review: Nathan Sports IceStorm Insulated Waist Pack

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not an insane snowshoe enthusiast, pitting myself against the elements, strapped into a pair of racing snowshoes every chance I get. That said, I am familiar with freezing temperatures. Growing up and living in Wyoming provides plenty of opportunities to enjoy and despise the below-zero winter weather. As a result, I’ve made it my goal to get out and roam around in the elements. Fortunately, the folks over at Nathan Sports have made winter wonderland adventuring slightly easier with their hydration belt. 

I tested the small-but-surprisingly-capable IceStorm™ Insulated Waist Pack, which I was a little wary about at first. We were a big track running family when I was young. However, we stayed hydrated by filling up a few empty Gatorade bottles. So, the idea of a hydration belt/fanny pack floating on my waist as I ran wasn’t really appealing. I was sure this thing would flop around and get in the way more than it would help keep me hydrated. Nevertheless, I scratched the itch with my doubts in mind to strap this baby on and give it a try.

product photo: nathan sports icestorm insulated waist pak

Photo: Nathan Sports

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Indoor Use

Believe it or not, my first inclination wasn’t to hop outside and stomp around in the snow. So instead, I put on a pair of shorts and jumped on the treadmill for a decent run. I kept the IceStorm™ Insulated Waist Pack hydration belt snugly strapped to my waist.

Comfort

Admittedly, I’m still unsure if I’m a big fan of something pulled tight against a thin layer of clothes as I run. The repetitive motion mixing with the stretched fabric of the belt took some getting used to. Also, I adjusted the straps as I walked before I felt the thing was sitting “right.” But that’s probably because I’m not used to using hydration belts.

That said, once I found my stride, I was surprised at just how comfortable Nathan Sports has managed to make the Insulated Waist Pak hydration belt. The company advertises the belt as being bounce-free, but a full 18 oz bottle slapping against my back was my biggest concern. So, having this thing hug my body without as much as a jiggle made me happy.

In fact, I had my smartphone tucked into the stretchy side pocket (there are two of them on the right wing of the belt – one perfectly suited for a phone and the other quite a bit smaller) playing music to my headphones. Overall, the entire setup sat comfortably as I ran.

Ease of Use

Aside from being comfortable, the IceStorm™ bottle/holster combo is pretty easy to use. Reaching an arm around mid-stride to pull the SpeedDraw™ Flask out of its insulated holster can be a bit of a shoulder stretch. Doing so at full-stride can be a little awkward. I don’t think it was necessarily meant to be used while you’re running quickly.

That said, the holster is slightly slanted. So, it’s easier to pull the bottle out. In addition, I really liked how the slim, grabbable shape of the bottle itself fit in my hand. Another nice practical feature I really appreciated was the Blast Valve™, which made squirting a quick drink into the mouth super simple.

For indoor use, from personal experience, working up a sweat for half an hour with the IceStorm™ on wasn’t anywhere near the uncomfortable experience I expected. The belt seemed to stay dry. I only had to re-adjust a few times. Thanks to the insulated holster/bottle, my water even stayed refreshingly cold throughout the run.

Read More: Ask the Coach: How to Stay Well Hydrated While Running

icestorm insulated waist pak indoor use

Once I found my stride, I was surprised at the comfort of the Insulated Waist Pack. Photo: Andrew Call

Outdoor Use

The following day, I decided to test Nathan Sport’s hydration belt/bottle pair in the elements they made it to withstand. So I put on my boots, pulled on a pair of snow pants, made sure my head and hands were covered and buckled on the IceStorm™.

Right out the door, I noticed the slight discomfort from my indoor run had disappeared. Instead, I actually really liked how everything felt with a few layers providing a little padding. It reminded me of a coat’s powder skirt or the waist buckle on a trekking pack. It was tight but reassuring, and within minutes I almost forgot I was wearing the thing.

Using the Features

With my camera around my neck, I set out for an hour of wandering game trails through a small valley and up an adjacent hill. I knew I’d be out a little longer, so I took the opportunity to use the zippered pocket that lined the back left wing of the belt and packed some crackers for a snack.

I also wanted to stretch out the external shock cords that sat over the right-side pockets. They are advertised as stretchy enough to hold an extra layer. So, I stuffed a pair of gloves in there. Overall, there was a little more weight and bulk than my treadmill run. But I was pleasantly surprised with just how much more I liked using the IceStorm™ Insulated Waist Pak outdoors.

Over the next hour, I hiked through a foot of snow and stopped periodically to snap a few photos. Then, I took a break to munch some crackers, all the while popping the SpeedDraw™ Flask out when I was feeling a little parched.

For the most part, I tried using the bottle/holster system with one gloved hand. I tested to see how conveniently I could grab a drink without stopping and pulling off the gloves. It was easy enough to draw the bottle, pull the flexible colored cap off with my teeth, and blast a few swallows down the ol’ gullet. Plus, putting the bottle back into place was a piece of cake.

It was warm enough out that I didn’t test the behind-the-bottle pocket meant to house a hand warmer (to keep your back warm), but it’s a nice touch to round out the package.

Read More: Gear Review: Nathan Sports X Trainer Mutation

icestorm insulated waist pack laying on rocks

There was a little more weight and bulk than my treadmill run. However, I was pleasantly surprised with just how much more I liked using the IceStorm™ Insulated Waist Pack outdoors. Photo: Andrew Call

The Verdict

When all was said and done, I was delighted with this little guy. Of course, it only houses 18 oz., so it’s really best for shorter trips or an afternoon run. But, for those purposes, it does a respectable job of staying in place while giving you a little room to work with for extra-warm weather or cold weather gear.

Also, it’s a lot easier and a lot less restrictive to buckle on the IceStorm™ than it is to pack around a shoulder bag. I really appreciated being able to hike and run without shoulder straps digging into my armpits or a chest strap or feeling like it was restricting my breathing.

If you’re in the market for a hydration belt, find your water freezing, or call yourself curious, the IceStorm™ Insulated Waist Pack is worth trying out.

Nathan Sports hydration belt: close up of waistpack on man

The waist pack is best for shorter trips or an afternoon run. For those purposes, it does a respectable job of staying in place while giving you a little room to work with for extra warm weather or cold weather gear. Photo: Andrew Call

Have you used the Insulated Waist Pack hydration belt by Nathan Sports? Would you? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

This article was first published on Feb 27, 2016. Susan Wowk most recently updated it on July 19, 2021.

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Andrew Call

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