R.E.I. Hydration Ski Pack
Reviewed by Judy Nugent
R.E.I. is no stranger
to the outdoor market, and their backpacks show that they have paid
attention to details. In addition to carrying other brands, R.E.I.
has their own line of equipment. Snowshoe Magazine chose to look
at R.E.I.'s Hydration Ski Pack to see how it stacks up to the competition.
The design team at R.E.I.
made the Hydration Ski Pack with snow lovers in mind. First they
designed it with a ski or snowshoe carrying system of no-slip top
buckles and hook-and-loop bottom straps. These straps are adjustable
to fit any number of winter accessories such as shovels, skis, probes,
and snowshoes. Another good feature is that you can still access
the inside of the pack while your snowshoes are strapped on. You
can tell that the designers tried to anticipate the needs of snowshoers
and make the pack user friendly. R.E.I. is promoting this pack by
saying, "for those who like to explore lift-served areas with
forays into the backcountry."
As the name says, one
of the many features in this pack is a hydration system. This is
an important, almost necessary feature that can separate a backpack
from its competitors. The R.E.I. pack has s a 2 liter reservoir
included with the pack that can be accessed through the back panel
for fast refills. The hose is routed through the shoulder strap
to prevent freeze-up on those long winter treks. Another convenient
feature is a top pocket lined with fleece. Made to hold a MP3 player,
this pocket can house anything from sun glasses to a cell phone.
The U shaped aluminum rod frame gives plenty of support without
being too rigid or poking you in the back. The sturdy frame and
the waist belt made carrying heavy loads a breeze. It is constructed
of water resistant polyester and weighs only 2 lbs 5 oz. The interior
volume is estimated at 1300 cubic inches, plenty of room for stowing
extra layers and your lunch.
One potential drawback
to snowshoers is that this backpack is not waterproof. Although
it is water resistant, when I dipped it in water the water leaked
in through the seams and through the headphone jack opening at the
top. The pack was resistant to snow, but this isn't a pack you can
take out in the summer when there is a threat of rain. If you are
looking for an all season backpack, this probably isn't the one.
My suggestion is that if you intend to bring anything valuable on
your winter excursion, buy a small waterproof pouch and pack your
items in that before you throw them into the backpack. Then you
will have the piece of mind that they are protected against any
moisture. This is much safer and smarter than wrapping your iPod
in a tee shirt.
This pack sells for
$89 at R.E.I. stores and is affordable when you consider the hydration
system, the durable construction, and the sturdy internal frame.
If being waterproof is a must, R.E.I. offers many other choices
depending on your price range. For more information or to shop the
rest of R.E.I. products go to www.rei.com.
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