[best hydration pack]
“Even without the best-in-class reservoir, I’d pick this pack for fast-and-light trips,” says one tester. “Add the included 100-ounce hydration system, and it’s a slam dunk.” The new Antidote reservoir upgrades CamelBak’s proven technology—like a no-leak bite valve and antimicrobial treatment—with a low-profile design that enhances stability with a full tank, and a “quick-snap” cap that’s much easier to tighten and loosen (a quarter turn) than its predecessors. It’s a cinch to refill on the go, since the bladder slides into a dedicated zippered pocket under the backpanel. And the pack?
“It was comfortable from the moment I strapped it on in the morning to the moment I finished by headlamp in the evening,” says a tester who carried about 15 pounds while scouting new routes in southwestern Oregon’s Callahan range. “The pack didn’t shift around even on steep traverses and dense bushwhacks.” The tall and narrow design keeps the load tight against your back, and the wide hipbelt wraps securely, he says, “so it never felt like the pack was falling away from me.” And the pocket configuration seems precisely calibrated to please organizers without offending minimalists; testers particularly liked the large hipbelt pockets (stash a camera on one side and a snack on the other), the stretchy shove-it and side compartments (which are solid nylon, not mesh, increasing durability), and the easy-grab zipper pulls (metal tubes make them glove-friendly).
Only gripe: It comes in only one size, for 19-inch torsos, so smaller hikers might be out of luck. (Just want to upgrade your reservoir? The Antidote is sold separately, starting at $30.) $115; 1 lb. 12 oz.; 25 liters