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Interbike 2010: Hydration pack round-up

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Just need to carry fluid and nothing else? Hydrapak's range of sleeves are just the thing for kayakers and campers.

Just need to carry fluid and nothing else? Hydrapak's range of sleeves are just the thing for kayakers and campers. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Jolla is one of Hydrapak's biggest packs with up to 18L of storage volume, most of which is housed in a gigantic main compartment.

The Jolla is one of Hydrapak's biggest packs with up to 18L of storage volume, most of which is housed in a gigantic main compartment. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Hydrapak certainly isn't afraid of a little color for its 2011 range.

Hydrapak certainly isn't afraid of a little color for its 2011 range. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Hydrapak reservoirs come in four different sizes depending on your hydration needs.

Hydrapak reservoirs come in four different sizes depending on your hydration needs. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Hydrapak's superb reservoir is far stronger than necessary and boasts a fantastic reversible design that's a cinch to clean.

Hydrapak's superb reservoir is far stronger than necessary and boasts a fantastic reversible design that's a cinch to clean. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The lower compartment on the Hydrapak Big Sur is intended to hold tools and tubes.

The lower compartment on the Hydrapak Big Sur is intended to hold tools and tubes. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The mid-sized Hydrapak Big Sur sports a 3L reservoir and 7.3L of storage.

The mid-sized Hydrapak Big Sur sports a 3L reservoir and 7.3L of storage. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The air mesh suspended back on the Hydrapak Del Mar helps you arrive at work with minimal sweat build-up.

The air mesh suspended back on the Hydrapak Del Mar helps you arrive at work with minimal sweat build-up. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Hydrapak Del Mar is aimed at commuters with a generous 21.25L of storage and a versatile rectangular form factor.

The Hydrapak Del Mar is aimed at commuters with a generous 21.25L of storage and a versatile rectangular form factor. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The versatile Hydrapak Laguna boasts a 3L reservoir and 9.8L of storage volume, plus various exterior straps to attach additional gear and a spot for a helmet.

The versatile Hydrapak Laguna boasts a 3L reservoir and 9.8L of storage volume, plus various exterior straps to attach additional gear and a spot for a helmet. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Multiple layers of storage on the Hydrapak Laguna help keep your gear organized and easy to find.

Multiple layers of storage on the Hydrapak Laguna help keep your gear organized and easy to find. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Heading out for just a couple of hours? Hydrapak's Selva model can haul 2L of fluid and just enough extra clothing to handle uncertain weather.

Heading out for just a couple of hours? Hydrapak's Selva model can haul 2L of fluid and just enough extra clothing to handle uncertain weather. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Heading out for just a couple of hours? Hydrapak's Selva model can haul 2L of fluid and just enough extra clothing to handle uncertain weather.

Heading out for just a couple of hours? Hydrapak's Selva model can haul 2L of fluid and just enough extra clothing to handle uncertain weather. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Hydrapak's ultra-minimal E-Lite Vest carries just the bare essentials: 1L of fluid and a few strap-mounted pockets for energy gels and the like.

Hydrapak's ultra-minimal E-Lite Vest carries just the bare essentials: 1L of fluid and a few strap-mounted pockets for energy gels and the like. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Hydrapak's ultra-minimal E-Lite Vest carries just the bare essentials: 1L of fluid and a few strap-mounted pockets for energy gels and the like.

Hydrapak's ultra-minimal E-Lite Vest carries just the bare essentials: 1L of fluid and a few strap-mounted pockets for energy gels and the like. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Morro is Hydrapak's top-end do-all pack, built with lightweight ripstop nylon and offering up to 13.1L of storage in a multitude of compartments.

The Morro is Hydrapak's top-end do-all pack, built with lightweight ripstop nylon and offering up to 13.1L of storage in a multitude of compartments. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The interior of the Hydrapak Mission includes a laptop sleeve and a variety of pockets and compartments.

The interior of the Hydrapak Mission includes a laptop sleeve and a variety of pockets and compartments. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The ventilated back panel on the Hydrapak Mission looks to allow for some airflow when on the road.

The ventilated back panel on the Hydrapak Mission looks to allow for some airflow when on the road. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Commuters that prefer a messenger-style bag can look to Hydrapak's Mission model.

Commuters that prefer a messenger-style bag can look to Hydrapak's Mission model. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Hydrapak's tidy Avila model is aimed at shorter cross-country races with a 2L reservoir and minimal storage.

Hydrapak's tidy Avila model is aimed at shorter cross-country races with a 2L reservoir and minimal storage. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Hydrapak generally prefers to go the more minimal route in terms of its hydration pack back panels, as seen on the Avila model.

Hydrapak generally prefers to go the more minimal route in terms of its hydration pack back panels, as seen on the Avila model. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Camelbak RaceBak gets a much-needed full-length front zipper plus additional hose routing.

The Camelbak RaceBak gets a much-needed full-length front zipper plus additional hose routing. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Camelbak's new Charge 240 pack is a lightweight, minimal option suitable for racing or shorter rides.

Camelbak's new Charge 240 pack is a lightweight, minimal option suitable for racing or shorter rides. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The new raised back panel on the Charge series isn't as effective as the articulated NV design but weighs a lot less.

The new raised back panel on the Charge series isn't as effective as the articulated NV design but weighs a lot less. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Key features on the new Camelbak Antidote reservoir include a quarter-turn lid that's said to be at least 40 percent easier to open than before plus integrated drying arms that hold the reservoir open.

Key features on the new Camelbak Antidote reservoir include a quarter-turn lid that's said to be at least 40 percent easier to open than before plus integrated drying arms that hold the reservoir open. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Camelbak's updated bite valve lock is now harder to inadvertantly open or pop off than before.

Camelbak's updated bite valve lock is now harder to inadvertantly open or pop off than before. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Updated Camelbak hydration packs include a new pocket to more securely anchor the Antidote reservoir.

Updated Camelbak hydration packs include a new pocket to more securely anchor the Antidote reservoir. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The new baffled Camelbak Antidote reservoir sits flatter than the old model.

The new baffled Camelbak Antidote reservoir sits flatter than the old model. (Image credit: James Huang)
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One of the benefits of Camelbak's new quick-release hose attachment is the optional plug-in charcoal filter. It doesn't make non-potable water safe but supposedly does remove taste and odor from tap water.

One of the benefits of Camelbak's new quick-release hose attachment is the optional plug-in charcoal filter. It doesn't make non-potable water safe but supposedly does remove taste and odor from tap water. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The new Camelbak Charge 450 has the same capacity as Camelbak's classic MULE but at just two-thirds of the weight.

The new Camelbak Charge 450 has the same capacity as Camelbak's classic MULE but at just two-thirds of the weight. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The workhorse Camelbak HAWG sports a more tapered shape for 2011 and a slightly reduced capacity.

The workhorse Camelbak HAWG sports a more tapered shape for 2011 and a slightly reduced capacity. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The new MudFlap accessory swaps into your existing Camelbak Podium bottle to help keep mud and other contaminants out of the valve.

The new MudFlap accessory swaps into your existing Camelbak Podium bottle to help keep mud and other contaminants out of the valve. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The new Camelbak Podium Big Chill bottle boosts maximum capacity up to 750mL (25oz).

The new Camelbak Podium Big Chill bottle boosts maximum capacity up to 750mL (25oz). (Image credit: James Huang)
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Camelbak's new lightweight packs use pared-down shoulder straps to help save weight.

Camelbak's new lightweight packs use pared-down shoulder straps to help save weight. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Camelbak Octane LR places its 2L reservoir down around your hips, where the load is more stable and less likely to shift around during technical maneuvers.

The Camelbak Octane LR places its 2L reservoir down around your hips, where the load is more stable and less likely to shift around during technical maneuvers. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Handy stretch side pockets on several new Camelbak packs are perfect for energy gels and mini-tools.

Handy stretch side pockets on several new Camelbak packs are perfect for energy gels and mini-tools. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The revised MULE NV articulated back panel is a bit more streamlined than the original.

The revised MULE NV articulated back panel is a bit more streamlined than the original. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The redesigned Camelbak MULE still holds a generous 3L of water but total cargo capacity now bumps up a liter to 12.5L from last year's 10.

The redesigned Camelbak MULE still holds a generous 3L of water but total cargo capacity now bumps up a liter to 12.5L from last year's 10. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Camelbak's new LR reservoir redistributes the weight down around your hips for a more stable feel.

Camelbak's new LR reservoir redistributes the weight down around your hips for a more stable feel. (Image credit: James Huang)
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(Image credit: James Huang)

Camelbak has redesigned nearly its entire bicycle hydration pack lineup for 2011, with some models getting updated styling, while other key models get wholesale reworks – plus there are several brand-new options on tap, too.

Leading the way is Camelbak's new Charge duo, featuring lightweight materials and more minimal unpadded mesh straps to cater to cross-country riders looking to shed every possible gram. The top-end Charge 450 is the larger of the two with a three-liter reservoir matched to 12.5 liters of cargo capacity – the same as the company's popular MULE but at two-thirds the mass with a claimed empty weight of just 450g.

Pocket layout is very similar to the MULE with a capacious main compartment, a protected media pouch up top, and a flip-down outer area ideal for mini-pumps, tools, and energy bars. Newly added stretch pockets on the webbed waist belt provide quick access for other items, too.

Gone is the MULE's exaggerated padded back panel, though, in favor of a more minimal Lightweight Exoskeleton raised EVA pattern to help air pass through. Also, the MULE's foldout catchall that was just big enough for helmet has been deleted as well.

For shorter rides there's the smaller Charge 240 with a smaller two-liter reservoir and a far more streamlined 1.5-liter cargo capacity. Claimed weight is – you guessed it – just 240g without the included reservoir.

All new for 2011 is the intriguing Octane LR model, which relocates its two liters of fluid down around your waist. We tried it during the Outdoor Demo portion of Interbike and while the sensation is unusual at first, what we noticed later was the pack's unwavering stability.

Meanwhile, the iconic MULE is wholly overhauled with a cargo capacity bump to 12.5 liters and a slightly tapered shape. Riders looking for more airflow than the MULE's standard Air Director back panel can still opt for the MULE NV's more advanced NVIS articulated design and handy waist belt pockets. Cargo capacity on the NV has similarly jumped from last year to 8.52 liters and both packs include three-liter reservoirs.

All-day riders requiring more space have the revised HAWG NV's mission with a larger 19-liter space capacity – up from 18 liters in 2010 – and newly tapered shape that sits more naturally on your torso and repositions more of the weight down low. Some of the added room comes courtesy of a pair of zippered side pods that are perfectly sized for energy bars.

Hidden inside all of Camelbaks for 2011 is the vastly improved Antidote reservoir, which includes a larger quarter-turn cap that's consistently much easier to operate and can't be over tightened, a baffled design that sits flatter when full, integrated flip-out arms that hold the bladder open for faster drying, and a quick-release hose connection that also allows for an inline water filter.

Hydrapak steps up its game

Hydrapak is Camelbak’s main competitor and has long kept to the lightweight construction theme with durable-yet-minimal ripstop nylon construction and more intentionally basic back panel constructions over its entire range. As a result, Hydrapak packs tend to feel a bit more unstructured but the upside is generally less mass to lug around and a more form-fitting feel on the bike.

Sitting at the top of the range is Hydrapak's Pro Series collection with heavily padded and anatomically shaped shoulder straps, three-liter reservoir capacities, plus a ventilated foam back panel to help even out heavy loads.

The Morro is the smaller of the two options with 13.1 liters of gear storage spread across a large main compartment, a lower tool pouch, a dedicated media sleeve, and two zippered side areas big enough to hold water bottles. Four compression straps help keep everything held down.

The larger Jolla boasts a similar overall layout to the Morro but moves the tool organizer inside and bumps up total storage capacity to a whopping 18 liters.

For shorter jaunts there's the race-oriented Avila with just two liters of fluid capacity and just enough room for a shell and some food and the slightly larger Soquel with four liters of gear storage. Stepping up to the Reyes, Big Sur, or Laguna models nets you another liter of fluid capacity and cargo capacities that stretch from 5.3 liters on the Reyes up to 9.8 liters on the Laguna, which also integrates five compression straps for attaching extra equipment.

One of Hydrapak's most interesting models for 2011 is barely even a pack at all, comprising little more than a barely-there ripstop nylon sleeve for the one-liter reservoir, spindly mesh straps, and six small pockets to hold energy food and maybe a multi-tool – there's no padding whatsoever and the reservoir compartment doesn't even zip shut.

But the benefit of the E-Lite Vest is weight, or rather a lack thereof – claimed weight with the reservoir is just 280g (or 159g without), making it an enticing choice for mountain bike racers who just need to carry a bit of extra fluid and nothing else.

While Camelbak still enjoys the lion's share of the hydration pack market, Hydrapak's clever reservoir definitely makes it worth a closer look. The slide-lock top is exceptionally easy to operate and reversible for cleaning (and drying!), while the BPA-free material is remarkably strong and stretchy.

Quick-disconnect hoses are included on upper-end models, too, while integrated magnetic clips also help keep the lockable bite valve within easy reach.