Don’t dry up this summer. MR puts five hydration packs to the test.
1. North Face Enduro
Heading out on the trails forces you to be a good Boy Scout and be prepared. For those occasions, North Face’s Enduro pack delivers just what you need. Its two-litre reservoir can be compressed with its Boa cable tightening system in just a twist of a knob to prevent sloshing and unnecessary movement in the pack. Zips and catches are in abundance to help reduce pack size as required while two mesh pockets sit nicely on the waist strap and are perfect for your compass or gels. But we really love the magnetic catch on the hydration hose that sits across your chest rather than drops down by the side of your arm. Even running on the most jolting trail we found the magnet was strong enough to keep everything attached with minimal ‘slosh’ in the back.
2. Salomon XA 10+3
Designed with the trail runner in mind, Salmon’s beautifully-designed pack allows for everything to be adjustable and lightweight with the option of expanding the pack by an extra 3 litres if needed. Using a bladder offers the convenience of hydrating on-the-go; the difficulty comes when you need to refill or clean the bladder. Salomon resolves this by using a separate pocket for the bladder for easy, speedy access while the nifty Plug n Play hose on the Hydrapak allows you to remove the bladder without any buggering about re-threading it back onto the back again.. The XA achieves a great balance between making hydration simple while packing in the features, including external stuff pocket, built-in whistle and even pole straps. Serious.
3. Camelbak Classic
Sometimes you just want to get out and run. Camelak’s Classic pack offers just that, a great minimalist hydration bladder that leaves you unencumbered so you can just focus on running. No bells and whistle, it just does exactly what it needs to with maximum comfort, lightweight construction and a zipped pocket for just enough essentials. Most importantly, in one pull of a flap and quarter twist of the cap you’re able to refill the 2 litre bladder on the go. Staking its reputation on the quality of its hydration bladders, Camelbak also offers a lifetime guarantee. If you want hydration simple and uncomplicated, this is your pack.
4. Asics Trail
Hydration bladders have two weakness: access can be difficult in the heat of a race and, if they sit next to your body, have a tendency to warm your water. Not nice. Packs that offer bottle carrying systems are one solution, but Asics trail pack goes one better and offers both. Allowing a maximum hydration capacity of around 2.3 litres across its bladder and two bottles, it’s perfect for those long trails. While the bladder and bite valve is not as advanced compared with others on test, overall Asics has delivered everything a trail runner needs with inbuilt rain cover, sturdy construction, plenty of storage and, best of all, terrific value.
5. BCB Jetstream
If Schwarzenegger ever felt the need to use a hydration pack, the BCB is what he’d choose. A no-nonsense, big brute of a pack that wouldn’t appeal to ‘girly-men’, muscling its way to achieve one aim: getting water down your neck. It packs in a robust 3 litres - perfect for those really
long trail runs - and while its shoulder and chest straps can at best be described as minimalist the pack is perfectly comfortable on the back if you’re not fazed by a little sloshing. The Source hydration reservoir is the real star here with a fast flow valve for quicker drinking, taste-free tech so water actually tastes like water and insulated cover for the hose to protect against the elements (i.e. no frozen tube coming between you and hydration).