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Schlep water down the trail in the most comfortable new hydration systems on the market
Let’s face it—hydration systems can be annoying and cumbersome, for example, when you’re wearing an ill-fitting pack that sloshes with every step or using a handheld that is difficult and uncomfortable to hold. We tested several new models featuring the latest technologies, and present here our six favorites for the upcoming off-road season.
AK RACE VEST
Perhaps the best feature of this innovative hydra- tion unit designed by elite mountain ultrarunner Anton Krupicka is Cuben Fiber (CTF3), an ultra-light, tear-resistant fabric that doesn’t stretch. Despite a full-pack weight, CTF3 holds its shape, seemingly dissipating weight and making the vest feel nearly empty. Plus, the unit has plenty of pockets—slip-in, zippered and Velcro—for extra gear and fuel.
VAPORWRAP (MEN’S) AND VAPORSHAPE (WOMEN’S)
The gender-specific vest from Nathan is ideal for long runs and races. The unit wraps your torso comfortably with body-mapping fabric that won’t cause chaffing. Beaucoup pockets provide ample storage for fuel and electrolyte caps (a specific pocket for these), and bungee systems securely stow extra layers and trekking poles—required gear for Europe’s Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc.
TEMPO (MEN’S) AND PACE (WOMEN’S)
$99 (three-liter version)
Part of backpack-maker Gregory’s first-ever trail-running-specific line, the Tempo and Pace are slim-fitting running packs. The units come in three-liter, five-liter and eight-liter options. Large compartments offer ample space, making the pack ideal for long mountain slogs requiring extra layers and gear. The chest-strap design is comfortable, fitting almost vest-like and reducing excess bounce.
The lightweight waist belt was designed after the fanny packs typically worn by European fell runners. A roomy pocket holds extra gear and fuel and an external slip-in stash pocket is ideal for an extra layer. Plus, two compression straps secure the pouch for a close fit.
SENSE HYDRO S-LAB SET
$40 (includes two gloves and one bottle)
Designed by Salomon’s S-Lab—a performance- driven product-development laboratory—the Sense Hydro S-Lab Set is one of the company’s most innovative hydration products: A soft, compress-as-you-drink flask (either 250 or 150 milliliters) is secured to your hand via elastic bands that are connected to a palm- covering glove comprised of terry cloth and mesh. The best part of the setup: You don’t have to actually hold the bottle.
The sleekly redesigned AVILA houses a two-liter bladder that is easily accessible for refilling through a side zip pocket. An internal mesh pocket offers additional storage. A drawback is the lack of chest-strap pockets, which makes eating on the run a pain