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Drink Up: Hydration and Purifying Gear for the Trail

Stay hydrated on the trail with these innovative filters and containers.

1 [better bladder]
Source Widepac WLP

Goodbye, rectangle. Hello, donut. The advantages of the WLP’s oval, hollowed-out shape are apparent the minute you start loading your pack. “It doesn’t balloon like rectangular reservoirs do, so I could load bulky items around the WLP and cram my pack to the brim,” says one tester who used the system on a five-day trip in the Grand Canyon. The WLP’s shape is also more stable, distributing water weight evenly across the back when carried in a pack’s hydration sleeve (it fits most packs). More to love: The top opens wide like a paper bag for rapid filling, and closes tight with a sliding plastic clip. Source reservoirs are made from a triple-layer polyethylene with an antibacterial treatment embedded in the plastic itself. Crud has a hard time clinging to the WLP’s glass-smooth surface and the antibacterial treatment doesn’t wear off like coatings can. In fact, Source says their reservoirs don’t need to be cleaned or emptied after use to prevent slime buildup. Our tester left water in the WLP for eight weeks without cleaning and reported no stinky taste or smell. Comes in 1.5-, 2-, and 3-liter sizes. $33 (2 liter); 7 oz.; sourceoutdoor.com

2 [first-aid kit essential]
Aquamira Frontier Emergency Filter

No bigger than the palm of your hand, the Frontier is an excellent back-up filter—and small enough to carry on dayhikes, trail runs, or in your first-aid kit. One tester says it saved her on a dayhike that went much longer than planned. “I ran out of water,” she says. “This straw filter let me suck straight from the source and keep on moving.” It takes a fair bit of sucking power to get it going, but after that it’s fairly effortless with clear water, say testers. The Frontier removes 99.9 percent of cryptosporidium and Giardia, and filters up to 30 gallons (much less if water is silty). Bummer: It’s not cleanable. When it’s done, it’s done. $12; 1 oz.; aquamira .com

3 [stable daypack]
CamelBak Octane 22LR

“This pack actually makes carrying 3 liters of water feel good,” said one tester after a 12-mile dayhike in northern Arizona. Unlike most hydration packs, which suspend reservoirs from the shoulders, the Octane’s rides in a sleeve at the bottom of the pack, so the triangular-shaped reservoir snugs comfortably against the small of the back. The Octane has a roomy main compartment (fits a jacket, first-aid kit, and lunch), a couple of internal security pockets, and dual mesh hipbelt pockets big enough for an energy bar and a GPS unit. The soft silicone bite valve makes it easy to suck in gulps but it doesn’t drip when dangling from a pack strap. A 3-inch-wide cap on the reservoir allows easy access for cleaning and filling, and two collapsible rods around the plastic cap expand the reservoir opening for more efficient drying. For the best-tasting water, drain and dry the bladder between uses or store it in the freezer. Water left in the bladder for three weeks became musty. $130 (includes 3-liter reservoir); 1 lb. 13 oz.; camelbak.com

4 [secure lid]
Liquid Hardware Outrigger 27 oz.

The simple addition of a magnetic lid to an otherwise ordinary stainless steel bottle made testers say, “Why didn’t anyone think of this before?” Unlike bottle lids that are attached with a plastic strap, the Outrigger’s magnetized lid doesn’t get in the way while you’re drinking or pumping. “I’ve lost a lid when I dropped it while treating water from a fast-moving stream,” says one editor. “The Outrigger is the perfect solution for fumble-fingers like me.” $24; 8.3 oz.; liquidhardware.com

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