PACK IT IN!

When head­ing off road, it pays to be pre­pared – here, tests the very best mid­dleweight hy­dra­tion packs available

Trail Running (UK) - - Contents -

8 mid­dleweight packs put to the test

This light­weight pack weighs in at the bot­tom end of our re­view’s range, with just a four-litre ca­pac­ity; it bumps up to five with the ad­di­tion of two 500ml soft flasks, which can be car­ried by the pack. Even the fab­ric used is min­i­mally con­structed, with the re­sult be­ing a breath­able and stretchy vest for run­ners who like to hit the

trails un­bur­dened. With a ten-litre ca­pac­ity, plus two-litre water reser­voir, you’ll never be stuck for space on race day with the Race Ul­tra 10 Boa. The gar­gan­tuan vol­ume doesn’t come at a price (well, ig­nor­ing the ac­tual price); this pack re­mains se­curely fit­ted on the move. Also in­cluded are a sur­vival blan­ket and 150ml soft cup – manda­tory kit for races

like the UTMB. Named af­ter liv­ing ul­tra-run­ning le­gend Marco Olmo, the Olmo 5L is kit­ted out with pock­ets, net­ting and buck­les. Say­ing that, it felt light­weight and close fit­ting even when ca­reer­ing over bumpy ground – there was no ‘bounce’, which gets a big thumbs up from us. Ex­tra de­tails like re­flec­tive ma­te­rial and a safety whistle are

nice touches, too. By far the heav­i­est on re­view, the Aquarius is de­signed for com­fort on long-dis­tances; its mesh back is ef­fec­tive at sup­port­ing its weight, even when full. Its six-litre ca­pac­ity can be ex­panded by an ad­di­tional three litres if needed, though it does come at the cost of an even heavier pack. Blue­sign cer­ti­fied ma­te­rial earns this an eco-friendly

com­men­da­tion. Our light­est pack on test, the Salomon S-Lab Sense Set is a light­weight, stretchy vest de­signed to carry a min­i­mal amount of water and nu­tri­tion for shorter races. It still sports an im­pres­sive six-litre ca­pac­ity, how­ever, and the meshed fab­ric across the back of this vest is com­fort­able against the skin, which is ideal for hot

sum­mer races. It might be the cheap­est pack on re­view but that doesn’t trans­late to a lack of qual­ity; as you’d ex­pect com­ing from the team be­hind The Orig­i­nal Moun­tain Marathon, the Ul­tra 8 per­forms. Its util­i­tar­ian de­sign – one main com­part­ment with a sin­gle small pocket and side bot­tle hold­ers – al­lows the pack to re­main light and com­fort­able

on the move.

This is Bat­man’s hy­dra­tion pack, both in colour and con­struc­tion. The light pack sits com­fort­ably in the up­per mid­dle back and boasts a large ca­pac­ity – along with many, many pock­ets for stor­age. The Via Jaws 10 has a good se­lec­tion of chest-strap height op­tions, too, and its chunky Vel­cro waist belt moves with you

as you breathe. The Duro 6’s plain de­sign be­lies its per­for­mance. It was among the most com­fort­able packs whilst on the move, largely due to the dual clasp at the chest, which works a bit like a zip but with­out the ac­com­pa­ny­ing tight­ness. Add in the abil­ity to drink on the go from a chest-mounted bot­tle and you’ve got your­self a pack that

ticks all the boxes.

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