RaidLight Responsiv 10L Race Vest (women’s review)

RaidLight is a relatively new entry into the US market. If you aren’t already familiar with the brand, it’s time to get the lowdown. If you “watched” Hardrock this this year, this is the same vest that women’s winner Sabrina Stanley was sporting during her run. The Raidlight Responsive 10L Race Vest is a whisper light vest that can take you from short to long days on the trail. Super stretchy comfort material, combined with boa-style adjustment toggles, allow you to customize your fit on the go. Women’s specific styling offers bottle pockets that are slightly higher to accommodate women’s anatomy.

RaidLight Responsiv 10L Race Vest
Front view of the RaidLight Responsiv 10L Race Vest

Specs

  • Volume Capacity: 10L
  • Weight Without Bottles: 210 grams (7.4 ounces)
  • Materials: Hollow 3D mesh for breathability, ripstop fabric for durability. Mesh is 100% polyester, pockets are 75% polyester/25% elastane.
  • Features:
    • 2 vertical front pockets (can fit 600ml bottles; included)
    • 2 deep, slightly horizontal pockets
    • 10L main back pocket
    • 1 zippered compartment in the back
    • Hydration bladder compartment
    • 1 small size shove it pocket on back
    • Trekking pole holders
    • Boa style toggles
    • Integrated safety whistle

The RaidLight Responsiv 10L Race Vest is designed to keep you moving through all types of conditions. This lightweight vest has lots of storage, and an ingenious strap system to help the vest mold to your body just so. From short runs in hot weather, to bigger days in the mountains, you’ll be able to almost do it all!

Now for more details. In this review, we’ll break things down in to six areas:

What’s good: the new, differentiating, or simply well designed or built features or aspects of the pack.

Fit
The Responsiv 10L is light. Like super light. It almost feels like you aren’t wearing anything at all. The front pockets are big and super stretchy. The lower pockets are big enough to fit an iPhone 8 Plus (however, do so with caution; make sure you tuck it all the way into the pocket, or else it might fly out on you), plenty of calories, a jacket, or just about anything else you can think to shove in them. The lower pockets stay easily accessible even when you are carrying full bottles up front.

Boa-style Side Ratchets
The boa-style side ratchets are absolutely fantastic at providing you with the perfect fit. When putting on the vest, release the ratchets, then size the front straps, before tightening down the ratchets. They have quite the range, so you can really snug the vest down. With a quick click you can easily tighten the ratchets on the fly as you reduce the volume of what you are carrying. Click in the opposite direction to fully release. This design is just magical!

Hydration Options
You can choose to opt for front bottle pockets, a hydration bladder, or both, and you will be comfortable with any combo you choose. The back pocket takes a 2L bladder in its own compartment, that can be held in place with a simple velcro loop. The vest comes with 2 600ml Easyflasks which have the extended drinking tubes. The tubes tuck into a horizontal strap on the side straps to keep them from flapping around. The bottle carry well and are held in an optimal position for women.

Zippered Pocket
One of my early complaints about this vest was that there wasn’t a secure pocket. Well, turns out there is one, it is just so well hidden I didn’t immediately see it! The back pocket on the pack is all white with several dividers. There is a zippered pocket with a white zipper against the white fabric. Easy to miss! It’s good-sized and can securely hold your keys or wallet.

Construction
The mesh fabric is lightweight and super breathable. Combined with lightweight stretch fabric it is easy to forget you are wearing anything. The best part about the stretch fabric used in this vest is that while it is very stretchy, it isn’t super bouncy, even if the pockets are fully loaded. Based on my analysis of the design, I think this is because of the piping they used around the edges of the entire vest. It’s still stretchy, so the vest can move with you, but it has more structure and stiffness than the rest of the vest fabric. This provides stability to the pack and prevents the dreading bouncing of some of the super lightweight vests. I can’t stand a lot of bounce in a vest, and was delighted with the way the Responsiv 10l carried.

Trekking Pole Attachment
You still have to take the vest off to load the poles on to the vest—unless you are super coordinated and stretchy—but you can deploy them while on the go. Having to only take the vest off for either stow or go is a plus. The stowing system is intuitive, so you shouldn’t need a tutorial in how to get the poles on the vest.

Thanks to a reader for directing me to a few other options for pole setup. These are screenshots captured from another blog. I have not tried these configurations. If I do, I’ll take some photos and report back on how they worked for me.

What could be improved: tweaks or improvements that could be made to make the pack better.

Bottles
While I finally did figure out how to easily get the bottles into the pockets—just shove them down, hard, into the pockets, don’t try any finesse moves—I wasn’t in love with them. When I switched to the Nathan 14oz bottles that all changed. I think the size is much better and they are easier to slide in and out. While I appreciate the desire to maximize the fluid carrying load, I recommend opting for a small bottle for comfort and ease of use. If you need to carry a lot of fluid, throw in a hydration bladder.

Security of the lower pockets
As I mentioned above the lower pockets are big enough to hold a large phone. But, they aren’t fully secure so the phone can fly out of the pocket if you aren’t careful. I made a slight modification and placed a small piece of cord through the tab on the pocket and then attached it to one of the upper straps. Clip the cord to the strap and now you have a secure pocket.

When to use it: the situations or scenarios where the pack excels.

Most situations. The only time I wouldn’t pull out this vest is if I was going on a long, unsupported run over multiple hours where I wouldn’t be able to filter water, OR in cold weather where I needed more layers. I loaded up 2, 14oz bottles, the 2 liter bladder, my phone, 1200 calories in the front pockets and another 800 in the back pocket, a headlamp, lightweight jacket, gloves, my wallet and keys, and a very small first aid kit and was quite comfortable.

How it compares: my current go-to pack and how this pack compares.

It’s lighter and easier to get the right fit as compared to the UD Adventure Vesta, but it won’t carry as much gear. It’ll take more gear but has a comparable weight and fit to the Nathan VaporMag with more secure storage and better size range.

Sizing

XS: 86–92 cm (33–36 inches), S/M: 92–98 cm (36–38.5 inches), L/XL: 99–110cm (39–43 inches)

Note: Measure at the fullest part of the chest.

I was really surprised to find myself in an XS in this vest. Since RaidLight is a French company, I expected the sizing to run small. It doesn’t. But it does run true to their size chart. I’m a 33/34 and found the XS to fit well.

Should you purchase? My overall recommendation on whether to purchase this vest or not.

Honestly, I love this vest. It’s been one of my overall favorites. It has been THE pack I have reached for over the last month and a half of testing. I head out with it for my short morning runs, and I grab it for longer trail runs. I would not hesitate to encourage you to pick up the RaidLight Responsiv 10L Race Vest. Another nice perk, you can toss it in the washing machine on a gentle cycle and it cleans up perfectly.

Purchasing Information for RaidLight Responiv 10L Race Vest

If you are interested in purchasing this vest, check out your local, independently-owned running specialty store to check them out. Click here to go straight to go to the Responsiv 10L Race Vest on RaidLight’s website.

Your Reviewer: Sarah Bradham

I started my love of gear as a climber and as I turned my attention to running I shifted from carabiners, ice tools, and crampons to hydration packs, midsole foam types, compression clothing, and everything in between. After several years of foot injuries, I’m enjoying getting back to my beloved muddy and rocky trails near my home in Portland, Ore. In my work life, I enjoy coordinating an annual Mountain and Ultra Running Camp at the base of Mt. Hood with Yassine Diboun, Amy Sproston, Joelle Vaught, Krissy Moehl and Jeff “Bronco Billy” Browning.

This product was provided to URP/me for review purposes. Compensation was neither offered nor requested and all words and thoughts are 100% my own.

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