Inov-8 Race Elite Vest Review

Letting yourself get dehydrated is the quickest way to derail your performance and ruin your run. Using a hydration vest is a convenient and easy way to bring along that precious water, without interfering with your hands. Different systems combine varying amounts of hydration capacity with a wide variety of cargo options, meaning you can carry everything from an energy gel to all the gear you need for a full day out. One of Inov-8’s vest offerings is the Race Elite Vest.

Inov-8 Race Elite Vest

Easy to Use

The Inov-8 Race Elite Vest is constructed entirely of mesh and featuring only stretch pockets means there are no zips and access is super-fast. The vest is easy to use and adjust, putting it on is a simple slip over the shoulders and two quick snaps of the front clips. The all-mesh construction makes this hydration pack both lightweight and breathable, an ideal pack for any type of runner.

Breathable Mesh Construction

With stretch pockets and no zips for cold and numb fingers to deal with, access to your run kit is quick and simple. The Inov-8 Race Elite Vest gives runners the options of having two flat plastic bottles floating against the ribs or the option to use a hydration bladder. The flat Inov-8 bottles took a few runs to get used to, after the initial adjustment, they ride extremely comfortably. The bottle positioning may be a little strange, but once you have it on and start running, it makes complete sense.

Right Side Easy Access Pockets
Left Side Easy Access Pockets

Race Elite Comfort

The Inov-8 Race Elite Vest fits close to the upper body using six easily adjustable straps and doesn’t bounce around when running like some conventional packs. The design of this vest places the flat bottles against the sides of the body at the bottom of the ribs, rather than right in front of the chest. The uniquely designed flat bottles almost hug the body which reduces any unwanted movement.

Form Fitting
Easy Front Clips
Side Hugging Bottles

The lightweight and breathable mesh material wicks moisture, dries quickly, and promotes ventilation so you stay comfortable as you navigate the trails. The two pockets for the water bottles provide quick and easy access to on-the-go hydration, while multiple storage pockets keep lightweight rain shell, gloves, headlamp, and fuel, secure and close at hand.

Race Vest Elite Front Storage


While the Inov-8 Race Elite Vest is very lightweight it still has plenty of storage options. A total of six pockets on the front, the two large pockets that double up as bottle holders. The four remaining deep front pockets are great places to stash keys, id, gels, trail snacks and a small action camera. They will not however fit a smartphone, unless it is an older phone the size of an iPhone 4 or smaller.

Six Front Pockets
Square Water Bottle
Water Bottle Loop Retainer

On the back is one large pocket for an optional hydration bladder (two convenient routing choices for the hose; over the shoulder on either side) or a great place to store that extra layer of clothing. The Race Elite also has a bungee system that will quickly and easy secure a lightweight jacket should the weather get to warm. The last versatile feature of the vest is that it has the ability to carry trekking poles which can be attached via the rear loops. The Inov-8 Race Elite Vest can comfortably hold all mandatory race kits and still have a little bit of space left over.

Bungee System
Trekking Pole Loops
Optional Hydration Bladder Pocket


  • One Large Rear Pocket
  • Size Adjustment Straps
  • Four Upper Front Pockets
  • Two Lower Bottle Pockets
  • Two 500 mL Flat Bottles
  • Trekking Pole Loops
  • Whistle – easy to locate and quick to use in an emergenc
    Flat Water Bottle
    Emergency Whistle


  • Volume Capacity: 3 litres of fluid or 4 litres of kit
  • Fluid Capacity: 2 x 500 mL bottles and 1 x 2L bladder (not included)
  • Weight: 210 g (~550 g with bottles and reservoir) / 7.5 oz (~19.4 oz. with bottles and reservoir)
  • Height: 36 cm / 14 in.
  • Sizing at the Chest (Unisex) : 31 – 44 in. / 78 – 112 cm Note: Measure wearing the clothes you intend to wear

Final Thoughts

The Inov-8 Race Elite Vest is a low profile, well ventilated vest that is stripped down to the bare essentials for maximized performance, making it perfect for racing. And yet it retains enough storage for a 50 miler. At just under 8 ounces, this is a hard pack to ignore due to it’s value and durability. If you are in the market for a light weight race vest or even a great starter vest, the Inov-8 Race Elite is worth looking into.

For more information please visit   MSRP $90

Mark Ranum: Mark is an outdoor adventure seeker, living in the beautiful state of Michigan. He loves trekking hundreds of miles through the wilderness, whether on two feet or two wheels, always looking for the next new trail or road to see where it will take him.
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