With summer quickly approaching and the temperatures already soaring in some parts of the country, there’s a new series of hydration packs on the market for you to consider for your national park adventures.
Platypus, which has a long history in the hydration world, has come out with several day packs that offer more room for gear than you actually might want for a day hike, as well as up to 100 ounces of water.
The hydration packs are part of Platypus’s X. T. Series, which is aimed at both day hikers and more aggressive backcountry scramblers. The packs feature weatherproof designs -- taped seams, waterproof fabric coatings, and water-resistant zippers -- that should shield your gear from snow and rain as long as you’re not caught in an extended deluge or fall into a river, stream, or lake.
In addition, there are external straps on both the pack’s back and sides that allow you to carry a wide variety of items. I found the straps perfect for toting a camera tripod during a 6-mile round-trip hike into Horseshoe Canyon at Canyonlands National Park earlier this spring. You also easily could accommodate a climbing helmet or rope, and in winter an ice axe or shovel could be cinched onto your back. If that's not enough, there are also mesh side pockets for stuffing miscellaneous small items, such as binoculars, snacks, or even rain gear.
The X. T. Series of packs come in both 25-liter and 30-liter capacities -- three of those liters (100 ounces) are the water. The packs feature top-loading zipper access to the main compartment, as well as a smaller, zippered top pocket for those easily lost items that you don’t want to dig too far for, such as keys, a cell phone, or wallet.
The waist belt, which also can be left home, has two small zippered hip pockets for more items.
One thing I really like about these new packs is the hydration bladder itself. These bladders feature a wide-opening mouth that makes it easy both to fill, add ice cubes if you have them, and then clean up afterwards. Some hydration bladders are difficult to clean after a trip because of the small opening, but that’s not the case with Platypus’s Big Zip SL bladders. They feature a “slidelock” that securely seals the bladder, as well as a “SlimeGuard” anti-microbial treatment that further helps keep the bladder clean and tasteless.
If there’s a possible downside to these packs, it’s that you might find yourself stuffing too much in for a day hike. The 35-liter pack could, without too much difficulty, be put to service for ultra-light overnighters. To make such a trek comfortable, the packs feature both a padded and ventilated suspension system and a frame sheet with aluminum stay.
How versatile are these packs? The 35-liter is going canyoneering with me.