Thule Rail 8L
Best hydration pack
Model: Rail 8L
Our take The Rail’s speed-friendly design impressed our testers when they were legging it down the trail. Huge, 5-inch-wide hipbelt wings and shoulder straps that widen around the ribs ensured the pack hugged one tester’s body at all times as she ran down steep switchbacks in France’s Aiguilles Rouges National Nature Reserve. It’s slim enough that it never interferes with arm swing, and despite the small volume the long, narrow packbag has plenty of room for the included 2.5-liter HydraPak reservoir, extra layers, and lunch.
The detailS The Rail is designed with mountain biking in mind, but its feature set ably crosses over into hiking and trail running. “My favorite part is the 6-inch magnetic covering on the hydration tube that locks it to the shoulder strap,” one tester says. “Most tubes won’t stay in place, but this one never bounced around.” The pack’s interior has three mesh pockets (and a sleeve for a bike pump). The mesh-covered, foam backpanel didn’t wet out on an 11-mile, 90°F day in the French Alps. The straps on the bottom of the Rail—unusual for such a small pack—let us lash on towels and a yoga mat. Caveat: pricey for the capacity.
Trail cred “Even when I stuffed it with 15 pounds of wine, bread, and cheese for an alpine picnic, the Rail followed my every move,” our tester says.