No matter what you do outdoors, there's always something you need to have: water.
Of course some can resist longer without it but depending on the level of your physical exertion you will need to drink water sooner or later. Weather conditions, the nature of your activity (hiking, trekking, cycling, trail running) and your metabolism will dictate how often and how much water you'll drink.
So, how do you carry your water?
Well, the modern outdoor athlete has what's called a hydration pack, also known as a camel bag.
To be honest I never considered buying one until I got my Hydrapak Big Sur from the guys at Outside PR. Now I'm really getting over my drinking problem...
There's a certain comfort of carrying and drinking your water this way. Once you fill your reservoir, you know you're set for hours.
I've been converted and now I'm a believer. If you care about time and convenience when doing endurance sports, having a hydration pack with a water bladder of at least 1.5 liters may be the key to improving your last time record or who knows...maybe getting on that podium.
Watch me test the pack for the very first time in this winter tour (starting at min. 3:00 in the video)
Stuff I don't like about Hydrapak Big Sur
Let me tell you right from the start that I love the product - and maybe not just the product but the concept of a smart hydration system that you can carry on your back. So no matter what flaws I outline here, this is is a positive review overall. Just wanted you to know how biased I am. :-) (I work in the honesty industry, remember?)
It immediately caught my attention that the shoulder straps are sewn at a 90 degree angle on the bottom of the pack (see picture below). This is rather unusual for a backpack (of any kind). The rule is to have these straps sewn at a 45 degree (or similar) angle for an even distribution of weight across the webbing. The way I see it this is a design error that must be fixed. Why? Let's say one time you'll load your pack with rocks (coz you may a be an amateur geologist). The weight will cause the thread in the sewings to pop due to uneven distribution of force on the sewings. Hydrapak guys, fix this!Update: After a conversation with Jim from Hydrapak (see the comments) and after some extra inspection my conclusion is this: if you let the pack hang low on your back, there will be a crease in the upper part of the webbing. But since most athletes keep the pack as high as possible on their back, the webbing is loaded correctly and takes most of the weight. So the pack is carried more like a harness not like a regular pack and thus the shoulder straps don't need to be sewn at a sharp angle with the backpack. However, I'd go somewhere in between if I were to design how the straps should be sewn.
the better the weight distribution of weight.
- The shoulder straps - the part that rests on your shoulders in particular - are not was I expected. They're like a tube coz the drinking hose runs inside and they don't stay flat as in other backpacks. So you have the pack on but feel like the shoulder straps don't kiss your shoulders as you'd expect - if you know what I mean. Once you have your reservoir full, and maybe some power bars inside and some clothing, the weight of the pack make the straps flat and firm. However I would expect a rugged construction right from the start - it would simply feel better!
- The zippers could have been waterproof but they aren't (a silicone tape zipper or something like the new waterproof jackets have now may be a good solution). I guess you want your paper money to be dry after a long ride in the rain. How are you gonna pay for your Starbucks with green pulp that used to be money?
Well, just about everything else which compensate for all the the previously mentioned inconveniences.
- Awesome drinking system: from the easy to fill reservoir to the plug and play hose and smart drinking valve. The bladder is smarter than Camelbak reservoirs just because the large mouth and the easy sealing with the sliding rail allows you to operate it faster and to empty or fill it in no time, whatever the conditions (water dripping from a weak source as rock cracks or melting ice, etc.). The drinking valve has an On/Off switch and when it's On - it doesn't leak. If you wanna drink, just squeeze the transparent rubber with your teeth and drink - it's simple and effective. Hydrapak Inc. offers lifetime guaranty against leakage on the drink system, including reservoir, drink tube and bite valve.
- Tons of pockets. If you're a triathlete and consume energy gels and power bars you'll have lots of designated pockets for those goodies. Elastic straps will hold them in place so you can visualize your menu in one glimpse and pick the one you want.
- Adjustable position for the chest strap. Each buckle of the chest strap is fixed on a rail which allows you to place the strap higher or lower. I see this useful especially for women (you know what I'm referring to).
- Cool materials and finishings.
- Wicked design of the pack and interesting design of the quick release buckles.
- The magnet that holds the drink tube on the chest strap for fast access is another sweet feature that I love.
This is one of the best choices you can make regarding a hydration pack. You can turn the reservoir inside out when cleaning it - which also means you can drink whatever you want with a Hydrapak system: milk, juice, Gatorade, Iso Star, or any other drink without bubbles.
If you go on longer trips with a bigger backpack, you can take the bladder with you and still use it. So once you have one, you'll enjoy the versatility of the drinking system with other backpacks as well.
I highly recommend it! But you don't have to take my word for it. Top athletes like Rebecca Rusch, Devon Crosby-Helms and Mike Curiak use Hydrapak.
And to see how rugged the water reservoir is, take a look at the video below where the Hydrapak guys test and abuse it like hell (the bladder withstands passing over with a forklift whereas Camelbak reservoir fails the test).
Also, check out the reversible reservoir animation video:
See details on design and features in the pictures below.
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