Nathan Sports Pinnacle 4 vs 12: Which hydration vest is best for you?

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Nathan Sports makes a wide array of awesome, high quality outdoor gear that I have always been impressed with. So when I had a chance to test out both the Pinnacle 4 and Pinnacle 12 up next to each other I jumped on the idea. I was surprised to find how different each of these vests are, and how they are both meant for different people, so in this article I hope to show you what those things are, and help you choose which one is the best for you!

Please Note: These vests were sent out to me free of charge, however all opinions in this article are my own.

What is the Pinnacle 4?

I have been using hydration packs for years at this point for going on hikes, and just for every day use! However this is the first hydration pack that I have used, with the water being contained in two collapsable water bottles on the front of the vest.

Having the water on the front allows for easy access to the bottles whether you want to drink directly from them while on-the-go or if you want to remove them to drink from them while sitting or standing.

The Pinnacle 4 not only carries water, but this compact and lightweight vest also includes small pockets that are perfect for phones (including its case), extra food, and even a place to keep a jacked on the rear of the vest.

This vest also comes in quite a few different sizes, meaning you don’t have to deal with those one-size-fits-all vests, and can instead get something specific to you.

What do I like about the Pinnacle 4?

  • Honestly, I am completely blown away by the water bottles on this vest! We find that we constantly use them, not only with the vest, but also keeping them with us when out boating, or just going into town. They are compact, and the collapse when you no longer have any water in them, making them extremely portable.
  • The vest is also extremely comfortable, and obviously made of high quality lightweight material.
  • Not having the water on the back also allows for your back to breath, and keep yourself from sweating back there.
  • If you are someone that likes to go out running when it isn’t light, the vest is made with reflective material, allowing for you to be seen without wearing anything extra.

Pros & Cons of Pinnacle 4


  • Extremely compact
  • Easy to access collapsable water pouches
  • No sloshing while running or hiking
  • Basic pockets for quick runs
  • High quality materials
  • Reflective
  • Multiple sizes available to fit you right


  • Not a ton of storage space if you need to use this for longer runs or day-hikes

What is the Pinnacle 12?

The Pinnacle 12 takes everything that is great about the Pinnacle 4 but just allows for considerably more water (1.6 liters). Instead of using two collapsable water bottles on the front, they have moved it to the more traditional spot at the back of the vest.

The water container is a traditional water pouch in shape only, as it utilizes an insulated pouch and an easy to use spout at the top.

With this vesting being larger than the Pinnacle 4, it also is able to carry more, with up to 12 liters of space to keep food, jackets, and anything you need. This is achieved with some small pockets in the front for easy access, but also has a backpack style pocket in the rear of the vest as well.

This makes it one of the better vests for longer runs, or even day hikes.

What do I like most about the Pinnacle 12?

  • The water pouch on this vest blew my mind, and is by far the nicest one I have ever used. Sure, the insulation is awesome, but the star of the show was the top, where you put the water in. You can completely open the top of the pouch up, and when ready to close up, you fold over the pouch a bit, then you slide a little piece of plastic over the seam to make it completely water tight. It’s easy to do, and it is also the easiest pouch I have ever seen for cleaning because of this.
  • Having this larger vest also allows you to keep more (or less) items, depending on what you need.

Pros & Cons of Pinnacle 12


  • Large water capacity
  • Larger storage for items
  • Awesome, and easy to clean water pouch
  • Still very compact and lightweight considering the storage that is available


  • The blue color isn’t my favorite, and prefer the black color of the Pinnacle 4

What is the cost difference between the two vests?

The best part about these two vests, is that price isn’t a huge differentiating factor! The Pinnacle 12 sits right at $200 (at the time of this writing), and the Pinnacle 4 is at $175 (at the time of this writing).

Basically, you will want to choose the one that you want, and just go for it!

Which vest is my personal favorite?

This one is definitely easy for me, I highly recommend and prefer the Pinnacle 12. I feel like the additional storage for both water and item storage outweighs the small amount of bulk that it adds.

That said, every one is different, and you really can’t go wrong with either vest.

If you are someone who goes on daily, fast paced runs, the Pinnacle 4 is probably your best bet, as the collapsable water bottles are great for keeping the slosh down.

If you are someone who is going to use this for hikes where you may need to take extra food, jackets, and water, then the Pinnacle 12 is the obvious choice.


If you are new to the brand, you should definitely take a look and see what Nathan Sports (including these sunglasses) has for sale! Not only do they have these hydration vests, but they also have plenty of other exercise gear.

As for these vests in particular, I hope you have learned a little about these vests, and which one you might choose for your running and hiking journey.