Hydration Backpacks Compared

Over the last couple of weeks I have had a chance to compare a couple different Hydration Backpacks. It was my first time using a backpack running and I thought it might be really annoying.  Surprisingly, they are not that bad and after a while I hardly noticed I was carrying a liter of water.

High Sierra - Soaker
High Sierra - Soaker

First I tried the High Sierra – Soaker.  It holds about 2 Liters of water, which is plenty for longer runs.  I went about 18 miles and had some left and was well hydrated on a sunny day around 60 degrees.  I was really impressed with the drinking tube.  It is insulated and stays put on the shoulder strap.  There’s nothing worse than a tube bouncing around hitting you in the chest with every step.  The hands free bite valve was hard to open, which defeated the purpose of having it hands free.  I was also pleasantly surprised with all the storage the pack provided.  The front pocket is roomy for a lot of supplies, along with an outside mesh pocket.  A cool feature was the slit in the top of the pack to run headphones out so you can stash your music player inside the bag.  The downside to this feature is you have a hole in the top of the bag in which rain can penetrate.  Probably the best design aspect is the tuck away mesh flap at the bottom that clips to the top of the pack.  When untucked and clipped it can be used to carry a helmet or large sweatshirt.  There is also a small reflector loop at the bottom which you could attached a blinking tail light for night running.  Overall the pack felt alright to carry and the sloshing water sound was drowned out by my music.  I really liked the drinking tube and how it stayed put along with the fold away mesh flap.  For your money, it’s a nice pack.

CamelBak - Octane
CamelBak - Octane

On my next long run of 20 miles, I strapped on the CamelBak – Octane ‘Race’ backpack.  The image display is the Octane, which is slightly different than the ‘race’ model I tried out.  I will have upload some actual images.  The one I tried is also a reflective yellow color which would be great for night and dusk/ dawn running.  Immediately after putting on the pack and getting the straps adjusted, I could tell this one was going to be lighter on the shoulders and overall more comfortable.  It holds the same amount of water, 2 liters, and has the same drinking tube.  Unlike the High Sierra, this tube is uncovered and had a tendency to bounce around.  I would occasionally have to push the extra tube into the pack but it would work it’s way out after awhile.  The drinking valve was easier to use and the sloshing was less with the Camelbak.  A huge difference between the two models is the ability to take out the water reservoir.  According to CamelBak’s website, ” No other hydration company places as much of an emphasis on keeping your reservoir clean as we do” and it shows.  After a couple uses my guess is an unclean reservoir will cause the water to taste a little weird, not to mention unsafe.  The ability to remove the reservoir and clean is a huge plus in my book.  The CamelBak also has lots of storage and I love the side pockets vs the larger back pocket.  During my run I had to take off the High Sierra backpack to pull out a GU but with the side pockets, I was able to leave it on and just unzip the pocket.  They are also a great place for a music player.  The adjustable bungee cord would be good for carrying extra clothes.  Another major difference was the dual straps around the body.  Not only does the Octane Race have the waist strap it also has a chest strap with loop to hold the drinking tube.  After a couple miles with both packs, I could tell the CamelBak was moving around less than the High Sierra.  Overall, I really like the Octane Race pack.  I definitely prefer it over the High Sierra.  The only downfall is the tendency for the drinking tube to bounce around.  It would also be cool it they added an insulated layer around the tube.

Coming soon…Hydration Waist Packs Compared