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October 2017 Issue
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2017’s best hydration packs

Featured pack: Osprey Duro 6 ($199.99).
For fast-paced activities like mountain biking and trail running, you need a low-capacity hydration pack. 

Lightweight ripstop nylon and polyester fabrics predominate.

Back panels consist of open or die-cut foam with ventilation channels to aid airflow and moisture-wicking. The harness works with the shoulder and sternum straps to keep the pack stable and close to the body.

Storage and capacity
While some hydration packs have capacities over 10-litres, most are smaller, designed to hold essentials like food, hydration, bike tools and an extra layer or two. Slim-line pockets and hipbelt pockets hold energy bars and basic cycle tools. Bike packs should have a helmet attachment.

Shoulder straps and hipbelt
Moulded foam straps provide comfort. They may be perforated or die-cut to save weight and be covered with a mesh fabric that helps wick sweat and promote quick drying. Smaller packs may have a sternum strap rather than a hipbelt.

Reservoir, hose and bite valve
Made of polyurethane or food-grade plastic, reservoir volumes are typically between two and three litres. The bite valve prevents water from dripping. Some reservoirs have an on/off valve.

Cleaning the reservoir
Wash and dry the reservoir after use to prevent mould. This is especially important if you have used a sweetened electrolyte drink. Those who use their packs often might want to invest in a purpose-built brush for the hose and reservoir – though slide-top models allow you to get your hand inside to do the job. Dry the reservoir out of direct sunlight and in a way that allows residual water to run out.

Now you know what to look, it’s time to choose a pack…

Osprey Duro 6 $199.99
Running pack with vest-pack fit, harness pockets, 1.5-litre Hydraulics reservoir, soft flask compatibility, bounce free carry, dual accessible stretch mesh pockets, zippered access to main compartment. Fabric 70D ripstop nylon Capacity 5-, 6-litre Weight 505g (sml), 540g (med).

CamelBak Rim Runner 22
Diamond mesh harness, removable webbing hipbelt, organiser pocket, side pockets, four point compression, lashing points for extra gear, reservoir included. Fabric 70D x 160D nylon dobby, 400D nylon plain weave Capacity 19.5-litre, plus 2.5-litre hydration Weight 730g.
CamelBak Helena 20 $189.99
Women’s-specific design, mesh back panel, anatomical S-curved harness and shoulder straps, main compartment with separate essentials pocket, stretch stash pockets, hiking pole attachment, 2.5-litre reservoir included. Fabric 70D x 160D nylon dobby, 400D nylon plain weave Capacity 17.5-litre, plus 2.5-litre hydration Weight 680g.
Macpac Amp H20 v3 $89.99
Moulded foam backpanel, zipped organiser pocket, stretch stash pocket, shoulder strap pockets, reflective detailing, breathable shoulder straps. Fabric 420D nylon Capacity 2-litre Weight 560g.