Break the Ice

The Indigo Tango, Backcountry Access' Stash Alp 40, & Orange's PPV2 Jacket

    Photo: Greg von Doersten

1.) The INDIGO TANGO pack dispenses with bladder and hose altogether, embracing the humble bottle instead. Stab yours into the Pocket of Liquid Delights in the pack's top section—picture a beer cozy sewn into the lid, just over your left shoulder—and cinch the drawcord. Our 16-ounce bottles didn't freeze, even when the Tango was at rest for a full hour, and the pack was the most stable ski carrier. Big bummer: The pocket won't easily accept full-size Nalgenes. Toting large volumes of water apparently makes the load noisy and unstable, so don't plan on going too far with this one. ($165; 970-429-1005, www.indigoequipment.com)

2.) BACKCOUNTRY ACCESS tucked the sipping tube on its STASH ALP 40 pack inside an insulated shoulder strap to keep the hose close to your warm bod. You may get a slushy first sip, but water will flow from the generous 100-ounce reservoir after a full hour of chillin' at ten degrees—and keep flowing, even if you take it off and park it in the snow. This 2,850-cubic-inch pack was the top overall performer in our test, but the company could make it even better by adding an easier-to-clean bladder lined with one of the antimicrobial treatments now common on the market. ($165; 800-670-8735, www.bcaccess.com)

3.) Following up on similar products by Nike ACG and The North Face, ORAGE marries hydration and insulated outerwear in the DPV2 jacket. Snap the 50-ounce reservoir inside this waterproof-breathable parka (complete with powder skirt, pit zips, and removable hood), snake the hose either over your shoulder or under your arm, and feed the bite valve through a hole at the chest, along the zipper. In tests, our agua didn't freeze up, as long as the tube remained inside the jacket. Leave the valve protruding from the DPV2 at Alta in January, however, and you'll be kissing ice. ($380; 800-250-5056, www.orageski.com)

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