Grab a hose, bite, sip, and then drink – hydration reservoirs are the modern day canteen, a water-toting vessel so useful and mandatory that I would never think of heading outdoors without one in my pack.
So it was with interest that I tested a product this month, the self-proclaimed “Ultimate Hydration System” from Source. The Israel-based brand ( www.sourceoutdoor.com) ships worldwide and sells the kit for $54.
Over a month I have hiked, biked, and ran with the system. It offers no huge diversion from existing reservoir designs, but the Source package has won me on a couple of fronts.
First, the reservoir itself is made of a thin and semi-rigid polyethylene film. Water tastes clean from the reservoir, which is anti-microbial and so smooth that the company advertises it as “glass-like” in function and to the touch.
For filling it up with water, the Source reservoir opens wide on top to let you pour in H20. It seals closed with a simple plastic clamp that slides into place. (It didn’t leak a drop in my test.)
The hose has a woven nylon covering. This was made ostensibly to protect from errant sharp edges. UV light is blocked out, too, keeping liquid in the hose cooler if you’re hiking in the sun.
Snap-on connectors allow you to detach the hose for fill-ups. The mouthpiece, a silicone bite-valve, twists to open and close. It comes off for cleaning.
The company includes a neat add-on called the Universal Tube Adapter (UTA) that clicks in place where the mouthpiece goes. The UTA can hook to a water bottle or a sink faucet. This lets you add water to the reservoir from the drinking end, eliminating the need to take the whole unit out of your pack.
Finally, the Ultimate Hydration System ships with a magnet clip. Attach it to a backpack strap and your bite-valve can click onto it instead of flopping around as you hike. (Just watch compass needles around strong magnets when trying to navigate on a trail!)
In the end, the Ultimate Hydration System is a solid kit for beginner hikers or those with miles under their boots. It’s more expensive than some of the competition. But in my use the product worked well and held up to abuse, all while keeping me hydrated in the woods.
On the Web: gearjunkie.com.