TEST SERIES BY CHAD EMERSON FIKE
August 01, 2008
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Chad Emerson Fike
Oakland, Maryland USA
5' 10" (1.78 m)
150 lb (68.00 kg)
I have gone camping, usually very close to home, since my teens but only started seriously backpacking around age 30. I do mostly weekend trips and often take dayhikes. My backpacking experience has been mostly in West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia, including parts of the Appalachian Trail. Each trip has been a learning experience about techniques and equipment. I try to balance weight, durability, and cost with my gear choices.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
|photo from www.hydrapak.com|
March 12, 2008
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: www.hydrapak.com
MSRP: US $52.99
Listed Weight: 15 oz (.43 kg)
Listed Gear Storage: 160 cu in (2.6 L)
Measured Pack Weight: 16.3 oz (462 g)
Measured Reservoir Weight: 5.2 oz (147 g)
Listed Reservoir Capacity: 70 oz (2 L)
"Lifetime guarantee against leaks on Reversible Reservoir
and two-year warranty against defects on backpack."
DESCRIPTION & INITIAL IMPRESSIONS
The Hydrapak Streamline arrived with a hangtag describing the item as "A high-performance pack with a surprising amount of gear storage". The Reversible Reservoir II is advertised as "Smarter. Cleaner. More reliable. Our reservoir outperforms screw-top systems".
When laid flat, the blue, grey and black pack measures roughly 14 in (36 cm) long and 8 in (20 cm) wide. There are two zippered pockets on the pack. The lower outside pocket measures roughly 6 in (15 cm) tall, 5 in (13 cm) wide and about 2 in (5 cm) deep. Inside this dual-zippered pocket is a section of daisy chain webbing, a hook for keys and two small interior pockets. On the outside of this pocket is a grey pouch with a hook and loop closure. A small semicircle of black material provides a tag to pull the pouch open. An energy bar fits inside this pouch, but since there is no zipper or any other way to close the pouch completely, I would not feel comfortable placing smaller or more valuable items inside. The upper pocket is located on the front flap. The single zipper access to this asymmetrically shaped pocket is about 7 in (18 cm) wide. The inside is fleece lined, apparently intended to protect an MP3
player with the headphones able to exit through a small rubber portal marked "Hydratunes". The stylized "H" symbol on this pocket is reflective. The front flap attaches to the main pack body with two quick release buckles. The webbing on the buckles is not adjustable but does attach to the pack with elastic fabric. Lifting the top flap allows access to a large mesh interior storage pocket and the heavily padded reservoir pouch. Portals allow the drinking tube to exit over either shoulder, and a quick release buckle is provided for hanging the reservoir inside the pouch. The hangtag claims the "Air-mesh back panel creates air flow between back and pack". The grey "air-mesh" sections are heavily padded sections running parallel to and along each side of the spine. The center area of the back panel is unpadded, thereby creating a channel between the pads. The shoulder straps are padded with the same grey "air-mesh" material. Each shoulder strap has two elastic straps the drink tube can be run through. Another unique method of securing the tube is also provided. A hook and loop covered piece of material wraps around the shoulder strap webbing while a similar piece wraps around the drink tube. The two pieces of hook and loop materials can then attach to one another and hold the tube in place (see TUBE ATTACHMENT photo). The pack also features a sternum strap and removable waist belt. The waist belt is made of 1 in (2.5 cm) wide unpadded webbing and, like the sternum strap, attaches with a quick release buckle. Overall the pack seems well made with extra stitching in high-stress areas, but upon close inspection I do notice many loose threads. It does not appear that any stitching is coming undone, rather the thread is just hanging loose at the end of the stitch. If these loose ends had been clipped it would give the pack a higher quality appearance.
The Reversible Reservoir II system has several features that I find unique. Rather than the screw-top systems I have exclusively used prior to this test, this reservoir actually has a fold down flap that is sealed with a sliding piece of plastic. The drink tube is removable and connects to the bottom of the reservoir via an angled push-button drink tube connection. The push-button feature is similar to the system I have seen on some water filter connectors. The opposite end of the tube features a "soft, high-flow bite valve with one handed lock-out" called the "EasyFlo valve". Pulling the end of this valve opens it while sliding it back shuts the valve off. The reservoir material feels rather thin and pliable but is advertised as being "super-strong". The material is flexible enough that it can actually be turned inside out. The clear reservoir has markings printed on the outside to indicate the level of fluid ounces or liters of liquid inside. The reservoir also has a quick release buckle for hanging inside the top of the reservoir pouch and a small plastic hook to attach inside other style packs. I have described some of these features in more detail in the "Reading the Instructions" section.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
There are no instructions related to the pack itself, but there are several associated with the hydration reservoir. Directions and illustrations are conveniently printed on the reservoir regarding removing the drink tube, turning the reservoir inside out and filling with liquid. The following instructions are provided for removing the drink tube (see photo): "To remove, press button and pull apart. To reinsert, simply push back into place". I found the connector to be somewhat difficult to remove. When the button on the connector is pressed, a section of the button on the opposite side of the connector protrudes slightly. There is not much room to grip the angled hose connector without my finger or hand interfering with the protruding piece of the button. Reinstalling the connector also seemed to require quite a bit of force. The instructions for filling the reservoir are: "Squeeze the mouth to create a wide mouth, easy to fill opening." The reservoir opens easily, but since the mouth is about 6.5 in (16.5 cm) wide, I must open my hand about as far as I can to grip the mouth. To turn the bag inside out, the following steps are provided: "1. Open reservoir by squeezing the sides near the top opening; 2. Reach inside, grab bottom of reservoir, and pull back through opening (like reversing a sock); 3. Pull reservoir material through opening until fully reversed. (Don't worry - it's strong, flexible and won't rip". It was harder than reversing a sock and took a bit of negotiating to get the reservoir inside out, but it seems like a great feature for reaching those hard to clean spots or drying out the inside of the reservoir.
The reservoir opens by first sliding the blue plastic keeper off of the mouth of the reservoir. The plastic keeper is slid halfway off in the "HALF CLOSED" photo. Once it is all the way off, the top 1 in (2.5 cm) or so of the mouth of the reservoir (composed of a stiffer, yet still flexible, material) can be unfolded as shown in the "OPEN RESERVOIR" photo. This operation is similar to unfolding the opening of a dry sack except the flap only folds one time. When the mouth is opened, instructions can be seen printed on the reservoir for resealing the reservoir. The user is instructed to "#1 Fold Towards You and #2 Slide to Seal" with a corresponding arrow showing the direction to slide the blue plastic keeper.
TRYING IT OUT
I have not used the Streamline in the field yet but I did adjust the shoulder and waist straps and was able to get a comfortable fit. I also cleaned and filled the hydration reservoir. The pack does not offer a great deal of storage room. With the full reservoir inside, I was able to fit a long sleeve synthetic shirt inside the mesh storage pocket under the top flap. Removing the shirt, I was able to stuff my lightweight Marmot Precip rain jacket inside, but it was a tight fit. The storage seems better fit for small, lightweight items. Although the sliding top of the reservoir does not really look like it should be leak proof, I squeezed the full reservoir rather forcibly and spotted no leaks. I found no leaks around the drink tube when it was disconnected or when I reconnected it. The bite valve had no leaks in the closed position and allowed water to flow freely when open. I did not notice any aftertaste after drinking a few mouthfuls of water.
Overall the Hydrapak Streamline seems well made, but there are many loose ends of thread. The pack does not have a large capacity of storage. During my initial fitting I found the pack to fit comfortably. The Reversible Reservoir II has some unique features that appear to make it easy to use and clean, but the drink tube disconnect is rather hard to operate.
This concludes my Initial Report on the Hydrapak Streamline. The Field Report will be amended onto this report in two months time and will include field testing data. Please check back then for further information on the Streamline.
Thanks to Hydrapak and BackpackGearTest.Org for the opportunity to test this product.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
May 29, 2008
The majority of testing has taken place in the forested terrain of the Appalachian Mountains including Herrington Manor State Park, Garrett State Forest and Swallow Falls State Park in Maryland, and the Dolly Sods Wilderness and Canaan Wildlife Refuge in West Virginia. Elevations ranged from around 2500 to 4100 ft (762 to 1250 m). The warming spring temperatures during the final months of testing ranged from slightly above freezing to around 75 F (24 C), with most of the temperatures being well above 55 F (13 C). During a two week vacation testing occurred in Grand Canyon National Park, Lost Dutchman State Park, Chiricahua National Monument and the Coconino National Forest in Arizona and Bandelier, El Malpais and Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monuments in New Mexico. During this trip elevations ranged from around 2,000 to 7300 ft (610 to 2225 m) while temperatures ranged from around 65 to 100 F (18 to 38 C). I used the Hydrapak Streamline pack and Reversible Reservoir together on 16 bike rides totaling 129 miles and during 5 dayhikes. I paired the Reversible Reservoir bladder alone with other packs during 5 dayhikes and during a three day backpacking trip.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The majority of my testing of the Hydrapak occurred while mountain biking. The adjustable waist belt and sternum strap allow the pack to be worn securely and I have not noticed the pack moving around, even on bumpy trails with many rocks and roots. There is not a great deal of storage room inside the pack but there is enough for basic biking equipment such as first aid kit, bike pump, wallet, keys and a few small repair items. With a liter of water, my average biking weight was around 4.5 lbs (2 kg) and I found this load to ride comfortably. The "Interior Pockets" picture shows the interior storage with the reservoir visible inside its padded pocket. The mesh pocket containing the bike pump is the only interior pocket. I often also carried a small saw used for trail maintenance in this pocket. There is no method to close this mesh pocket; items are (hopefully) held in place when the top lid is buckled shut. I would have preferred a way to securely close this mesh pocket. I often imagined my pump or other items falling out but thus far I have had no problems. There is not a lot of room for bulkier items like extra clothing. When I wanted to take my rain jacket on a ride I had to remove the pump and saw to make room. When temperatures grew warmer and I was less likely to want to take extra layers of clothes with me on a ride the storage issue became less of a problem. The pack was subjected to a reasonable amount of mud and abuse while mountain biking but I have experienced no durability problems. All buckles, zippers and straps continue to function. A bucket of soapy water and a scrub brush easily cleaned several bike rides worth of mud off of the pack when I wanted to make it more presentable for hiking.
When hiking I found the lack of storage space to be of greater concern. During vacation in Arizona and New Mexico my wife and I did several short dayhikes. When I wanted to carry some extra gear like rain gear, food, a video camera or extra layers of clothes the Hydrapak did not have enough room. In these instances I used the Reversible Reservoir alone inside another backpack that provided more storage space. The pack and reservoir worked well together on a few shorter hikes in the 3 to 5 mile (5 to 8 km) range in temperatures around 95 F (35 C). Under these circumstances I did not need to carry much extra gear but wanted to take plenty of fluids due to the warm temperatures. Due to the lack of storage space I find the pack better suited to biking than hiking. This is rather what I expected and had applied to test the pack mainly for biking as the pack appeared a bit small for my hiking needs.
I like the concept of the "EasyFlo valve" with a "one-handed lock out" that can be pulled open or pushed shut to regulate the flow of water. However, I find the valve extremely hard to pull open with one hand. This is not a real problem when both hands are free to operate the valve while hiking but I found it very annoying while biking. I sometimes had to stop riding in order to use both hands to get the valve open all the way. The bite valve itself is soft and comfortable in my mouth and, if the valve is open, allows a nice flow of liquid. The bite valve is pretty touchy and even a slight bit of compression will allow liquid to flow. Placing the pack on the floor on top of the drink tube when the valve was open left a wet spot on the floor. The drink tube itself is about 7/16 in (11 mm) in diameter.
|SMALL CRACK IN VALVE|
The valve also developed a leak in the angled plastic part of the valve assembly (see picture). I first noticed this while using the bladder with a larger backpack while on a backpack trip. At first I thought it was just the bite valve itself leaking and it took a while to realize there was actually a small hole or crack in the plastic. Trying to avoid water dripping all over me became rather annoying. During later bike rides I did not appreciate the irony of barely being able to operate the valve with one hand to get a drink while the valve slowly dripped water over my shorts. After taking a drink, I eventually began blowing back any remaining liquid out of the tube back into the reservoir and making sure I pushed the valve shut as far as it would go. This seemed to stop the worst of the leak. The crack appears small but is large enough to cause some inefficiency when drinking as a small amount of air is sucked through the crack.
I have also had some durability issues with the Reversible Reservoir. After one the initial uses of the pack I cleaned it out and turned it inside out as directed to dry. I really like this feature and found the bladder dried quickly. However, when I turned the pack right side out, I found that about a fourth of the upper section had become unglued (see "Reservoir Failure" picture). After this point I did not turn the bladder inside out again and tried to be very careful not to exacerbate the problem. The reservoir still seems to dry very quickly even when this feature is not used. At the end of this test period the section has now come about two-thirds of the way undone. My monitor contacted Hydrapak customer service soon after this occurred. I made a follow up call in early May and was told a new reservoir and valve would be shipped to me. I was unable to make any follow ups to this call since I was leaving on vacation. When I returned I placed another call to customer service and mentioned that the replacements had not arrived. I got an email response the next day and was told that the items were shipping this week. The representatives I spoke with were friendly and helpful.
I have found the Hydrapak Streamline pack to be comfortable and secure even during bike rides on rough terrain. I have had no problems with durability of the pack itself. The pack has a limited amount of storage room for dayhiking but carries the small amount of gear required for biking well. I am less impressed with the Reversible Reservoir. I like the concept and convenience of features such as the removeable drink tube and "Easy-Flo Valve" but found both quite hard to operate. I have also had durability problems with a piece of the reservoir coming undone and the valve leaking.
This concludes my Field Report on the Hydrapak Streamline. The Long Term Report will be amended onto this report in about two months time and will include further field testing data. Please check back then for further information about the product.
Thanks to Hydrapak and BackpackGearTest.Org for the opportunity to test this product.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
August 1, 2008
The majority of testing has taken place in the forested terrain of the Appalachian Mountains including Herrington Manor State Park, Savage River Reservoir, Garrett State Forest and Swallow Falls State Park in Maryland, and North Fork Mountain and the Canaan Valley area in West Virginia. Elevations ranged from around 2500 to 3500 ft (762 to 1067 m). Temperatures during the final months of testing ranged from around 60 to 90 F (16 to 32 C). I used the Hydrapak Streamline pack and Reversible Reservoir together on about 18 bike rides totaling 171 miles and during 1 afternoon of kayaking. I used the Reversible Reservoir bladder inside another daypack during 1 dayhike.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
During the previous phase of testing I contacted Hydrapak customer service regarding problems with my reservoir and bite valve. On June 5, 2008 a replacement Reversible Reservoir II including a new drink tube and bite valve arrived. The new items did not appear different than the originals except that the detachable drink tube and EasyFlo valve seemed to work a bit easier. All testing except for one bike ride occurred with the replacement items.
With the arrival of the replacement reservoir I was finally able to utilize the "reversible" aspect of the product. This feature really makes the product easy to clean. Instead of using a brush or rag to access the corners and creases inside the reservoir, I could simply turn it inside out and wipe it clean. Once reversed the interior dries quickly and can then be returned to normal. It was nice to be able to remove the detachable drink tube and not have it flopping around when cleaning, storing or filling the reservoir. It still takes some pressure to remove the new tube but it seemed easier than the original. I occasionally put a half full reservoir back in the refrigerator rather than clean it after every use but I did not have any problems with mold growth or strange tastes. For the most part I filled it with water but occasionally used sports drinks. Overall I had no problems with durability of the replacement reservoir or bite valve. While the new "EasyFlo valve" seemed to function a bit easier than the original part I still found the "one-handed lock out" rather hard to operate with one hand while biking. It was not an issue if I could use both hands. The pack seemed to insulate the hydration reservoir well. During an afternoon kayak trip the pack was exposed to the sun and temperatures around 85 F (29 C) for about 3 hours but the drink inside remained noticeably cool. The pack was easily adjustable to fit over a personal flotation device.
When biking, my average pack weight with a liter of water continued to be around 4.5 lbs (2 kg) and included basic equipment such as first aid kit, bike pump, wallet, keys and a few small repair items. As it grew warmer and I rarely needed to carry extra clothing I became less concerned about the lack of storage space within the pack. The pack is not really suited for my style of dayhiking since there is not enough room for the extras that I like to take on longer hikes and I rarely feel the need for a hydration reservoir for short little strolls. For the most part the Hydrapak website seems to infer that their packs are primarily designed for biking. While I continued to be nervous about gear falling out of the interior mesh pocket I did not have any such problems. I would still feel more comfortable with a way to secure gear inside the pack. I did not use the "Hydratunes" pocket and port for any kind of electrical devices. Hydrapak claims that the "Air-mesh back panel creates air flow between back and pack" but I did not notice any air flow. Any part of my back that contacted the pack was usually sweaty after a bike ride. I did appreciate that the pack is rather small and the area of the pack in contact with my back was only about 13 in (33 cm) tall and between 7 to 8 in (18 to 20 cm) wide. Mostly I rode my bike on terrain with lots of rocks, roots and bumps but the pack remained comfortable and secure. I always used both the sternum strap and waist straps to help secure the pack. I find that if my thoughts are on my pack it is often because of an annoying feature or something that does not quite feel right. Therefore I think one of the most positive things I can say about the Streamline is that I rarely thought about it while wearing it.
The Streamline pack has held up well. I feel I subjected the pack to a fair share of abuse since most bike rides took place on bouncy, muddy trails with the occasional undergrowth and the pack was usually tossed in the bed of my truck for the trip back home. Despite layers of mud and sweat the pack still came clean with a garden hose and brush. The only real signs of wear I noticed were on the two elastic pieces of webbing that secure the drink tube on the right shoulder strap. Both shoulder straps have these pieces of webbing, but I used the ones on my right shoulder exclusively. The "Shoulder Strap Comparison" photo shows the difference between one of the slightly stretched pieces of webbing on the right shoulder (left side of photo) compared to the unused webbing of the left shoulder strap. This is a rather minor issue since the webbing still has enough stretch to be usable. All other buckles, straps and zippers continue to function smoothly.
|SHOULDER STRAP COMPARISON|
Overall I am pleased with the Hydrapak Streamline. While I was disappointed with the initial durability of the Reversible Reservoir and valve during earlier testing, I had no problems with the replacement parts. I really liked being able to turn the reservoir inside out for cleaning and drying. I still found the EasyFlo valve rather hard to operate with one hand. The pack itself proved comfortable and I had no major issues with durability other than some slightly stretched elastic webbing. The pack does not have a great deal of storage space for extra gear or clothing but it carried everything I needed for summer bike rides.
I look forward to continuing to use the Hydrapak Streamline for mountain biking during warm summer months. If I want to pack some extra clothes or extra gear in the cooler fall and spring months I may switch to a bigger pack with more storage room. I do not expect to use the pack for dayhikes very often due to the lack of storage space.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
This concludes my Long Term Report on the Hydrapak Streamline.
Thanks to Hydrapak and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.
Read more reviews of Hydrapak gear
Read more gear reviews by Chad E. Fike