Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gear Closet: Hydrapak Tamarack

Looking for a versatile and full featured new hydration pack to accompany you on your outdoor adventures? Something that can serve you equally well while trail running, snowshoeing, mountain biking or just plain hiking? Then look no further than the new Tamarack hydration backpack from Hydrapack, a comfortable and affordable bag that also happens to feature one of the best water bladders you'll find anywhere.

The Tamarack has a capacity of just 7L and weighs in at 1.1 pounds (.52 kg). Despite its diminutive size however, this pack is capable of swallowing up quite a bit of gear. The numerous pockets and organizational sleeves help to keep everything well organized and I appreciated the small touches, such as the integrated key clip and fleece lined media pocket with a headphone port.

For a pack of this size and weight, I was quite impressed with its level of comfort the Tamarack offers. Often times a company will scrimp on the padding in order to save weight and bulk, but Hydrapack has managed to include shoulder straps and a back panel that are still very nicely padded. As a result, I was able to wear this backpack all day long without every feeling uncomfortable. Even while loaded up with gear and supplies, the bag was a joy to wear and the thin waist and chest belts kept the pack from jostling about even while moving at a quick pace.


Any review of the Tamarack would be remiss if it didn't mention the fantastic hydration bladder that is included with the pack. For starters, it is a full 3-liter bladder, which is amazing for a bag of this size. But beyond that, the bladder features a great slide open top that makes it easy to fill and yet seals tight when you're ready to hit the trail. Best of all, no matter how much abuse you throw at it, the bladder doesn't leak or drip, keeping you plenty dry while on your active excursions. It is also PVC free, which makes it healthier to drink from, and the high quality bite valve and hose feel like they'll last forever.

Clearly Hydrapack has put a lot of thought into their water bladders and it shines through when you put it to use. But after you're done with a full day of activities, its important that you get the bladder both clean and dry. The Tamarack's hydration bladder is actually fully reversible, which means you can turn it inside out, making it a snap to keep clean. That means no more strange fungi growing in the lower corner of the bladder that you can't possibly ever get out. It also means that you won't be going through bladders as quickly as you have in the past.

Another nice touch on the Tamarack is a hydration sleeve that features 360ยบ of insulation. With your water source well insulated, it will stay warmer or cooler long than with a typical pack. It even protects against body heat, which is fantastic on those warm weather excursion. I was surprised at how well this extra insulation works, particularly since I prefer my water to stay cool for as long as possible.

The Hydrapack Tamarack carries an MSRP of $109.99, which is an excellent price for a pack of this quality. During my testing of this bag I fell in love with its size and comfort, and I think you will too. This is a versatile and fun pack that also happens to come with an excellent hydration bladder, making it an incredible bargain overall.

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