Outdoor Retailer Summer Market ’10: Hydration packs with a few tweaks, too

Not to be ignored amidst the flurry over bottles, hydration pack companies had a few tricks up their sleeves too, including new looks in reservoirs and pack design concepts. SNEWS took a look at a few highlights.
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We first covered the burgeoning bottle battle in the hydration category in an Aug. 20, 2010, SNEWS® story. After traipsing up and down the aisles stunned at how many bottles there were (we counted 30 different brands, with 12 on their first or second show -- and we know we missed some), we found it’s all-out war out there.

The SNEWS Forum on the story quickly filled with comments supporting, advocating and otherwise promoting one or another brand. (Click here to see the story and to read forum comments.)

One coming trend to keep an eye on -- bottle companies getting into containers to carry food. Both Aladdin and Stanley debuted some at the summer show, Takeya already does containers for other markets and a couple of others have shared with us that they will be looking at this category.

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With all that ruckus over the littl’ ol’ bottle, we didn’t want to overlook hydration packs since for many outdoor adventurers, a reservoir with a drinking tube in a pack remain the vital link to maintaining hydration. And, lo’ and behold, there were a few new shapes and features this year in that area:

The original backpack system, CamelBak pulled out all stops this year with a launch of many items. We’ll cover a few here: First is its new reservoir design to address complaints of many -- keeping the crud out and getting it dry to stop crud buildup. The Antidote (photo - left) has a system of arms that look like sunglass arms incorporated around the opening that you can fold out and will then serve to keep the reservoir wide open for air circulation. The rather clunky handle and port have been made lighter -- 19 percent, per the company, with a 28 percent lower profile -- and the opening is larger so all hands can fit inside. A new QuickLink System attaches the tube to the reservoir, also for better cleaning but also to accommodate other features such as filters, tubes or meters (MSRP $35/100 ounces; $33/70 ounces; $30/50 ounces), and a baffle system keeps the reservoir in a lower profile and avoids the bulbous sausage. Also a new lumbar reservoir system will fit several new packs. It puts all the water in a wrap-around system at your lower back and hips, and has flex grooves on the “wings” to help it wrap smoothly, even on smaller people. Plus, it leaves more cargo room up above while stabilizing the load of water, the company said. The new Octane LRpack (MSRP $89, photo - right) is one new pack that will use the lumbar reservoir in a sleek, lightweight, multi-sport system. www.camelbak.com

Realizing packs were a necessary part of its systems, Cascade Designs launched its first-ever line of Platypus hydration packs, including seven models serving everything from a three-hour workout to light-and-fast overnighters. Each Origin pack is waterproof (with taped seams) and can hold a 2-liter or 3-liter Big Zip SL reservoir (MSRP $79.95-$159.95). The design is simple and clean, with few straps and buckles, though it sports some comfort features, like ventilated back panels. www.cascadedesigns.com

Not to keep all its designs in its origin country of Germany, Deuter showed off its new 10L Race and 12L Race X packs (MSRP $59 and $69) for hiking, running, skiing and other such fast-forward endeavors. Per usual for European brands, the packs include integrated rain covers and the Airstripes back system to keep more of the pack off your back for better venting. www.deuterusa.com

Continuing with its Active Trail category for the third year, Gregory maintains the Biosync suspension system so the pack moves with your body better. Although introducing only two larger packs this year (22L Miwok and Maya, MSRP $110), the company has updated all the packs’ tube systems to make them simpler to use, and refined the Biosync system for a more streamlined fit. Other packs go from 6-18 liters (MSRP $60-$100). www.gregorypacks.com

Coming from a bike heritage, Hydrapak has also dabbled more and more in fast-and-light and ultra endeavors. Take a look at the E-Lite Vest (MSRP $50, photo - left), which is a wisp of a hydration carrier at only 9.9 ounces. More of a harness, it has two front zippered pockets for small essentials or gels; plus, it can tote a 32-ounce reservoir in its back pocket panel. Five different fit points allow all sized users to dial in their preferred fit.www.hydrapak.com



In the last few years, the Nathan line has become the go-to for trail, ultra and distance runners, many of whom run long enough that they have to refill along the way. That means quick and easy access to the reservoir is a must. This year Nathan’s Endurance (MSRP $90) took a huge step forward in the area of access. It is a Velcro-attached flap top, instead of zippers and other things to fumble with, that can be opened in one quick rip motion. It adds one zipper down each side so you can open up the top for a tasty refill without even taking out the reservoir. Zip, snap and you’re on your way again (photo - right). www.nathansports.com

Already hot in the hydration market with its Hydraulics line, Osprey (www.ospreypacks.com) added two packs for more of a price-point product -- the men’s Viper and women’s Verve (MSRP $64-$94, photo - left) use the same reservoir as the higher-end packs but the back panel and Hydralock systems are pared back and simplified. Both come in sizes 4-13 liter. Also look for a new accessory line such as cleaning kits and hoses.

As we mentioned in the bottle story, Source of Israel has re-launched in the United States, introducing an eye-opening new pack design with a cross-over wrap style in the back to help it fit more body types better. The Dune (MSRP $100, photo - far right) is a sleek, low-profile look that we think we’ll see flying along the trails soon. Also new is a reservoir it calls the WLP, or Widepac Low Profile (MSRP $30, photo - right), which seriously took a whole new look at how reservoirs are made. This actually has a cut-out in the center -- instead of how some are using baffles -- to spread out the water for less shifting, splashing and load-settling.(www.sourceoutdoor.com)

--Therese Iknoian

The SNEWS® team of seasoned reporters covers a trade show to seek out product highlights, indications of a trend (to a product category, a company or the industry) or products that are new to the market. In our post-show reports, we do not write about every last piece of gear or equipment we have seen, although, promise, we have most likely seen nearly everything. Even if not in a show report, you never know how information may be included in a future report, trend watch, product review or story. If you have any comments or questions, please email us at snewsbox@snewsnet.com.

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