Rab Veil 6L Lightweight Running Vest Review

An in-depth review of the Rab Veil 6L Lightweight Running Vest, which offers exceptional storage options, countless pockets, and a sleek and light design.

By on March 28, 2024 | Comments

With the wide range of gear and layers required for the daily run, it’s hard to beat packs with ample storage options in that small-but-not-tiny range that collapse close to the body when not carrying much and keep a full load snug at running speeds. The Rab Veil 6L Lightweight Running Vest ($160) is right in that sweet spot of capacity, and if you pack it right, it holds more than seems possible given the claimed size. Are you doing a 50-kilometer or 50-mile race with three to four hours between aid stations? It’s not a problem with this hydration pack … unless the required gear list is extensive.

The six-liter pack weighs only eight ounces (240 grams) without soft flasks in a unisex size medium or 11 ounces (320 grams) with the two included Hydrapak 500-milliliter soft flasks. The pack easily holds up to a two-liter hydration bladder (sold separately) if you need additional fluid capacity.

This unisex vest comes in three torso sizes: small (34 to 37 inches), medium (37 to 40 inches), and large (40 to 44 inches). This is a surprisingly narrow range, especially on the smaller end.

Rab, originally a scrappy mountaineering and alpine adventure gear company with roots in Sheffield, England, has continued to evolve and now creates gear designed for light and fast mountain exploits that appeal to ultrarunners and mountain adventurers alike. Rab created this vest with a streamlined, environmentally conscious, and elements-tested perspective. It’s thoughtfully designed with a priority on functionality so that your focus can be on the adventure.

Shop the Rab Veil 6L Lightweight Running Vest
Rab Veil 6L Lightweight Running Vest - front view

The Rab Veil 6L Lightweight Running Vest. All photos: iRunFar/Kristin Zosel

Rab Veil 6L Lightweight Running Vest Construction and Fit

I’d like to address the unisex fit of the Rab Veil 6L Lightweight Running Vest right from the beginning. I wear a 34A bra size and a women’s medium shirt and I have a hard time getting the vest to fit with no bounce if I’m only wearing one thin shirt, particularly if all I’m carrying is two bottles, a couple hundred calories, a phone, and keys. Despite the smooth brushed material edging the perimeter of the higher-riding pack, I tend to develop a chafed spot near my neck on one or both sides. With more gear or a thin fleece layer added in cooler weather, the fit is secure and I don’t experience any chafing.

Extending the size range to the smaller end would be amazing for the many folks with more compact upper bodies, and my guess is those beyond the upper end of this size range would also appreciate options in that direction. This aside, it’s a really well-designed pack.

Rab Veil 6L Lightweight Running Vest - front detail

A detailed front view of the Rab Veil 6L Lightweight Running Vest.

The Rab Veil 6L Lightweight Running Vest is constructed with what the brand calls a Mono Mesh Chassis. It’s a material that’s smooth, durable, and densely constructed, yet almost see-through, with more stretch on the diagonal than the vertical or horizontal planes. This serves to reduce the bounce with the vertical translation of running, especially with heavier loads while staying comfortable as it contours to the body.

Side panels made of slightly more stretchy fine-pore mesh improve the snugness of the fit and add breathability. Much like some sports bras, I do find I need to approach donning this pack with a bit of care to prevent an inadvertent shoulder tweak. What the Mono Mesh Chassis lacks in flexibility and stretchiness, it makes up for in sturdiness and function once I start running.

I do find it tends to trap some heat and sweat against the torso after an hour or two, particularly once the temperatures are above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The material doesn’t absorb the sweat, which keeps contents dry, but it leaves moisture to your base layer to dissipate. While it’s not the hottest running pack I’ve worn, it does cause me to reach for lighter-feeling, more breathable packs on hot-weather days. On cooler days, or even in winter, it’s not an issue and perhaps is even welcome.

The customizable sternum fit is one of my favorites on the market. It consists of a series of loops down the left side of the sternum and two sliding bungee loops with two adjustable hooks providing the attachments. The best part of this system, besides the adjustability, is that the hooks face outward. All companies need to take note of this because it’s infinitely easier to snag the loop with gloves on or in the low-dexterity state later in a long run or race if the hooks face out rather than in toward the chest. It’s a brilliant detail I appreciate every time.

Rab Veil 6L Lightweight Running Vest - back view detail

A detailed back view of the Rab Veil 6L Lightweight Running Vest.

Rab Veil 6L Lightweight Running Vest Storage and Hydration

Storage capacity is where the Rab Veil 6L Lightweight Running Vest really excels and all praises can be sung. Any pocket and little feature I’ve ever wished for is included in this little pack, and they are functionally accessible even for sturdy hands. The back panel sleeve closest to the body can hold up to a two-liter hydration bladder with a Velcro suspension tab at the top to keep the bladder from slipping. The pocket is completely unobtrusive or useable for other gear if no bladder is used. No routing tunnels guide the hose, so you can send it in either direction and eventually through a loop that will hold the hose in place just above the bottle pockets on the front side of the pack.

Overlying this back sleeve is a second full-length stretchy mesh pocket large enough for an outer layer, a filter bottle, many calories, a headlamp, and so many other things. A small wallet- or headlamp-sized zip pocket is suspended atop this sleeve to keep important things safe and secure. A third stretchy, fine-mesh, horizontal pass-through pocket is also attached at the base of the pack that is large enough for a wind layer or thin insulation layer. I love this pocket because it doesn’t require gymnast-level shoulder mobility to utilize while the pack is on. I can retrieve or stuff an extra layer while moving down the trail without removing my pack, and nothing has ever fallen out.

Rab Veil 6L Lightweight Running Vest - back view

A rear view of the Rab Veil 6L Lightweight Running Vest.

The front of the pack has the same pocket set up on both sides, which keeps things simple — a key concept when the brain gets hyper-focused on the trail or alternately, happily dissociated. Each side has a soft flask pocket that easily accommodates the 500-milliliter cylindrical or tapered soft flasks. Overlying the full length of those pockets and the entire front of the pack on each side are large stuff pockets accessed from just outside the bottle pouch. These are like the magician’s magic hat — able to hold my gloves, food, beanie, and maybe even a magic rabbit.

If that isn’t enough storage, concealed full-length zippered stretch mesh pockets lay flat over top of the whole setup and can hold large phones or any combination of calories and important things you want to keep secure. These pockets are particularly designed to keep awkward things, like those 300- to 500-calorie pouches with twisty lids, secure and not digging into the chest.

Adjustable bungees on either side of the bottles can stow collapsed poles. They are easy to manage in the cold. Take note, iRunFar does not recommend stowing poles vertically on the front of the body due to the risk of serious injury in a fall.

The last pockets on the front side of the pack sit over the collarbones just above the bottles. These are more useful than on other packs as the stretch mesh material folds like a pouch to add more stability to the gel or buff you might stash. I’d put low-priority things here with one exception — keys. Amazingly, Rab included a key attachment and safety whistle on one side, so anything with a little loop, like a key or a mini GPS safety device, can be secured.

Rab Veil 6L Lightweight Running Vest Overall Impressions

In my experience, the design of the hydration and storage options on this svelte Rab Veil 6L Lightweight Running Vest ranks as one of the very best. There is perhaps a bit of a learning curve to balance the load front to back to maximize the stability while running. Though I have tweaks I’d make to the fit and temperature regulation as discussed, you simply cannot beat the size, location, and functionality of all the pockets and pouches included in this pack.

If you only want to have one pack, and you fit in the size range offered, this is an exceptional option that will outperform your expectations of what adventures a small-capacity hydration pack can facilitate.

Shop the Rab Veil 6L Lightweight Running Vest

Call for Comments

  • Have you used the Rab Veil 6L Lightweight Running Vest or one of Rab’s other Veil packs? What did you think of it?
  • What features do you rank as most important in smaller hydration vests?
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Kristin Zosel

Kristin Zosel is a long-time iRunFar contributor starting first as the lone transcriptionist and then moving over to the gear review team. She is in constant pursuit of the ever-elusive “balance” in life as a mom, student, mountain lover, ultrarunner, teacher, physical therapist, overall life enthusiast, and so much more. Kristin’s trail running and racing interests range anywhere from half marathon to 100k trail races, facilitating others’ 100-mile races, and long routes in the mountains, but mostly she just loves moving efficiently through nature solo and with friends.