Our take The Journey is Hydro Flask’s first foray into the dedicated hiking pack category (the company is better known for insulated drinkware and portable cooler packs), and we’re impressed with its warm-weather performance. The included 3-liter reservoir is insulated, as is the internal sleeve that holds it, so one tester happily sipped cold water all day on a 10-mile hike in the Everglades. “It was 95°F, but even after four hours, the ice I put in at the beginning of the day hadn’t melted,” he says. Caveats: This pack is heavy for its size—and the most expensive in the test.
The details Testers carried loads up to 18 pounds with minimal pack sway (there are no compression straps, so stuff it carefully). Waterproof zippers and PU-coated nylon can handle deluges (the Journey is not submersible, though). The sleek packbag lacks hipbelt pockets and stuff-it pouches.
Trail cred “This pack’s bullet-like exterior has no protruding pockets, so it never snagged in the grabby hardwood forests of North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains,” one tester says.