I'm looking for a lightweight system with the largest-capacity bladder. I'll use it primarily for ultralight hiking, and long trail runs. My primary concern is that it doesn't slosh around against my back and hips, as I'd rather not have underarm chaffing. Any suggestions or places I might find this info on the Web? Larry Santa Monica, California
That said, I can sure make some suggestions to start you in the right direction. I'm a fan of the Ultimate Direction packs; they're light, well-made, and come in several sizes for different activities. For you, their Wasp ($70; www.ultimatedirection.com) might be a good choice. It's designed for trail running and endurance races, and has a snug fit that won't jiggle around when you're on the move. It's got a pretty large bladder with 115 cubic inches of capacity (nearly half a gallon) and just enough room for a few energy bars, a light jacket, and some gloves.
For the same price, CamelBak's Rally ($70; www.camelbak.com) has a similar-sized bladder but more room for gearabout 1,100 cubic inches, versus less than half that for the Wasp. So you can carry more stuff for your longer hikes. The downside: The Rally, even though it's designed with adventure racers in mind, isn't going to fit quite as snugly as the more vest-like Wasp. But it has bungee cords to make sure the pack contents are stable, and with a light load should be fine for trail runs.
One other good candidate is Gregory's Inertia ($99; www.gregorypacks.com). About the same size as the Rally, but of course Gregory is famous for its excellent suspension systems, so it should carry exceptionally well. Worth a look.
Check out Outside's reviews of the best hydration packs in the 2004 Buyer's Guide.