Hydration packs are one of the most important products one can buy when they begin running trails and graduating into ultra running. There are so many great packs on the market today and they really have come a long ways over the past few years but one of the most noticeable problems I have always come across is the weight of the bag. I used to only carry a backpack for all my runs until this past year when I started carrying two hand held bottles but as I approach summer in the Valley of the Sun I know I will need more than 40-48 oz. to get me through a long run. I am lucky that several of the trails that I live around have places to fill with water but the downfall of that is my route needs to be geared towards running towards a drinking fountain which is not always the direction I would like to go. I have been on a mission to find a small pack that could handle extra liquid and not weigh me down while I am competing and feel comfortable at the same time.
With Zane Grey 50M lurking right around the corner I really have been trying to figure out just how I will handle my hydration needs. Most of the course is set up with aid stations every 6-8 miles but the hardest section from miles 33-44 combines a few thousand feet of climb, afternoon heat and torrential terrain that humble even some of the best ultra runners. I know for this section I will need to carry two hand held bottles plus a small back pack and after quite a few tests I am inclined to use the Hydrapak Avila. This is one of the lightest packs on the market and weighs just 7 oz. when it is empty which is the equivalent of one Vertical K trail shoe. The pack holds up to 70 oz of liquids which makes it great for shorter runs or races when you’re going from aid station to aid station but for longer training runs this pack is going to be a little small.The Hydrapak Avila is very similar to some of the new running packs that are on the market as it allows you to simply carry your liquid and a couple small items such as Gu’s or Gel’s. The majority of the pack is taken up by the bladder and when it is full it does not leaves room for any additional storage but that is not what this pack is designed for. They have basically taken a beefed up hydration pack and stripped it down to make it one of the lightest, easiest to run with packs on the market. In order to do this they used light weight straps and buckles with thin, lightly padded shoulder straps ensuring there is just enough comfort for running. The pack is designed to cinch down on your back and keep it from moving or sloshing around even when it is full by providing you with Speed Harness Ultimate Mobility Straps (SHUMS). When you cinch the pack down there is no movement even when flying downhill or changing direction at a fast pace on switchbacks. Most of us have experienced the up and down bouncing of the pack as we increase our speed heading downhill but with the Hydrapak Avila you will not experience these issues.
The final test in reviewing any pack is how easy can it be filled at aid stations by your crew or volunteers, and is it easy to clean? I have come into aid stations countless times only to hand my pack to a volunteer who is struggling to get the cap removed to put in new liquid because it is stuck together from my EFS liquid or Gatorade. Those caps have a tendency to require a Gold’s Gym body builder to open them and half the time it ends up spilling all over the volunteer. This pack is designed with a fold over flap and slide on clip to hold the liquid in place. I did not have any issues with spilling or the clip slipping during my runs with a full pack of water. Since you fill this pack from the top of the bag it makes cleaning a snap as the bag is removable and can be turned inside out to wash and dry. The hose easily comes apart from the pack making it take just a few minutes to clean the bag.
My overall impressions of the bag is that it is a good buy at $49 and is a perfect solution for some of your shorter runs that require more than a couple hand held bottles. I like the positioning of the hydration tube and the surge valve closes easily after taking a drink. The pack fits so snug on your back that it is hard to tell you’re carrying 70 oz of water. I would recommend this for anyone looking for a low priced bag that is comfortable and will stay put on your back even when sprinting.
Powered by Facebook Comments