Gear Review: Mountain Hardwear Fluid 26 Backpack

A family that hikes together has more fun than families that stay at home.  This is proven.  The Mountain Hardwear Fluid 26 backpack is what coaxed me and the “fam” out into the backcountry of Colorado this summer.  I used the Fluid 26 as a lightweight daypack combined with a hydration bladder – worked beautifully.  Even with a full three-liter bladder placed in an easy-to-access pocket, there was still room for the essentials: sunscreen, first-aid kit, binoculars, energy bars, emergency gear, and a few other items.  Even better, I let my wife carry the pack: From her reports, it’s a great fit for the ladies.  It’s comfortable, lightweight and has straps that aren’t overbearing.    

The first feature that jumped out at me was the pack’s plethora of pockets (I’ll hold for the alliteration applause).  Pausing….  Thank you.  Quite seriously, for as much stuff as I packed into the Fluid 26, all the pockets had some kind of responsibility:  

The front panel organizer pocket included plenty of space for car keys and such, but it also had an internal zipper to keep it all secure.  The pleated front compression pocket was stuffed with emergency gear, such as raincoats, extra shoelaces and a Barbie doll for my daughter.

I used the quick access zip pocket on top of the pack.  Its fleece-lined pocket contained not only two pairs of sunglasses but a few packets of Ibuprofen (used to quickly stifle any mid-day hiking pains).  The zippered mesh pockets are constructed with padding on the ventilated hipwings.  They held our energy bars, gel packets, a compass and a Batman action figure for my son.  

The stretch woven side pockets securely held my binoculars and a water bottle for the kids.  All in all, the Fluid 26 is a nice daypack for a family outing.  Of course, I use it frequently for daily lifestyle needs: Going to work on a bike is always fun, but requires a sturdy pack for high-speed excursions down the Platte River bike trail.  

For snowshoeing, I can see the Fluid 26 acting as my go-to daypack for quick hikes.  It doesn’t deserve something too technical for winter hiking, but can come in handy for lightweight snowshoeing adventures that don’t demand much.  I’ll give it a try!  

More features:

  • OTF (On-The-Fly) Compression lets user adjust load stability while wearing the pack without restricting motion
  • HardWave framesheet keeps backpanel flat for a stable fit without compromising flexibility
  • Breathable spacer mesh backpanel with air channels for cooling ventilation
  • Soft-edge shoulder straps with ventilated foam are comfortable on bare skin
  • Easy access, zipper-free hydration sleeve speeds refilling and fits most bladders up to 100 oz./3 liters

To purchase the Mountain Hardwear Fluid 26 Backpack (20% off, limited time offer), click here.

For more information, click here.

About the author

Ryan Alford