Q:

What hydration pack should I buy as a Christmas gift?

I'm looking for a recommendation for hydration packs as Christmas gifts for my brother and his girlfriend. They live in the Bay Area and do a lot of outdoor activities such as trail biking, hiking, and climbing. Would you recommend the se model for each of them, or different ones? Verna Washington, DC

Sep 18, 2003
Outside
Outside Magazine
A: How's this? Buy the CHEAPEST ones you can find! Honestly, hydration packs are a mystery to me. I mean, what was the problem they solved? In all the years I hiked, climbed, biked, or skied before the advent of hydration packs, I never once suffered from extreme dehydration, nor can I recall coming across anyone who did. We used water bottles, which cost on average $2, and everything was just ducky. Now it seems you can't break a sweat without a $90 pack strapped to your back that's too small to carry anything besides the hard-to-manage water bladder and maybe a few candy bars. I don't understand it.

But, enough of my ranting. I do at times carry a hydration pack, mainly on long, hot bike rides where the big bladder in the pack cuts out the need to find water. So I do see, to an extent, their utility. But they're basically just water bottles with straps attached, so there's no reason in my mind for the current ultra high-tech trend in this market. The Camelback Classic ($40) is a perfectly good, basic hydration pack. So too is the Cascade Designs Breakaway Plus (also $40). The Ultimate Direction Shadow (also $40—I sense a trend here) is a good fanny-pack design. And, if you really feel obligated to splurge, the Gregory Intertia ($110) provides decent pack space in addition to the bladder-and-tube assembly.

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