No better buddy-for-the-back exists for a feather-light rack holding 100-ounces of your favorite stack than the Tamarack. What better name for a snowshoe backpack than Tamarack with its origins tracing back to Native American languages for the wood used in snowshoes; equally cool is the name refers to a species of Larch, a coniferous non-evergreen that drops colorful yellow leaves in the fall offering perhaps a new backpack color.
Filling the Hydrapak Reservoir with a wicked blend that when ingested acts as your personal kryptonite—so you are super-energized for the feat-at-hand—takes work away from those long endurance treks.
Start with the Plug-N-Play hose and nozzle combo that snaps into its vertical holder so the hydrate points in the correct position . . . toward your parched throat. It is one of life’s joys to find connectors that easily lock into place like Hydrapak’s without requiring a pound of flesh from a finger to dislodge it.
A foldable lip with a clip that moves like a slide-rule, slipping across the top of the full bladder locking your trail’s life-liquid safely away. One doesn’t need a slide-rule to calculate the immeasurable good the Tamarack will do for your performance though if you wish, there is the International Slide-Rule Museum for your computing pleasure; competitions, too.
The Hydraflex drink tube connects with a Surge Valve, their inventive bite-valve that tilts toward your mouth, making its use comfortably easy; the high stream from the soft tank flows easily like a mini-pump is assisting.
Your body will be pleased to know Hydraflex is free of phthalates, a group of industrial chems used in PVC that do nothing good for your hormones but make great car mats and bug spray. The tubing is BPA free; meanwhile Rome fiddles as the FDA burns, innocently reporting “some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children.” Since its use started in the 1960s, looks like regulators have given up on the rest of us. Thank goodness industry leaders such as Hydrapak avoid the plasticized coating like the plague.
Tamarack’s TPU rugged tubing fights abrasion, resists chems and flexes even in low temps; if you’ve ever fallen on trails or snowshoes, the materials are impact resistant, too. If you haven’t yet tumbled with the devils of the dirt don’t worry; you will.
This is not a pedestrian liquid transport, by the way, ready to break, bust or bubble all over you at the first aid station but rather a sophisticated cocoon for portable liquid transportation. Baffles inside buffer sloshing so that annoyance is history.
The tube snakes over the shoulders, guided by a stretch strap and then locked into place with a snap-holder on the shoulder. On my 34-mile trail endurance race recently at the Surf-the-Murph ultras in a wilderness park just south of the Twin Cities metro, the nozzle was there for a simple grip, yet never bouncing or getting in the way.
The Tamarack rides well on both shoulders, holding tight without suffocating you. Start-time temperatures in the mid-20s were no problem as the tube, mouth-piece, and reservoir showed no freezing effects at all.
An important feature is the 365-degree insulation surrounding the reservoir to keep fluids protected from heat and cold and body heat generated through one’s back. Though Hydrapak publishes no temperature ranges I’m confident with ingenuity and wrapping, I can take my honey-of-a-tangerine out to spend many hours moving when deep cold settles in without the “My gosh! It’s frozen!” concern.
The reservoir is so durable it is found in military applications meaning it can handle whatever you can dish out.
I specifically wanted the Tamarack model as I was looking for a large carrier of liquids (though one can load less on shorter hauls) that is light as a feather (Jeez, 1.1lb) plus room to carry goods and services to handle needs and problems when wilderness training, which often means by myself on over-night jaunts.
I chose their new color Tangerine with white piping to brighten the woods. The Gray with bright lime, Red with gray, Royal Blue with off-white and Black with gray are my in-order rankings of the remaining selections; your personal style will no doubt differ. No matter, they’re all snazzily attractive.
Hydrapak lists capacity as 450 cubic inches of storage space; what I see are five areas to stuff everything I own in three zippered and one clip-pocket. The largest pouch filets down the back with two zippers opening the section wide as a four lane highway. Inside one finds a separate storage sleeve with a Velcro closing to help separate one’s bounty.
Inside the bottom-most of the zip-enclosures are two slip-sleeves; one a fabric, the other a netting. A key holder dangles in waiting. Videos are abundant at their site for all of the functions and needs of your pack.
A key advantage to Hydrapak’s design is their four-pad Hypalon gently buffered with baby rip nylon, meaning it is comfortable, soft, super-light yet tough as clay mud on running shoes. The crosshatch pattern seems almost 3-dimensional.
The same covering fits the pack over the shoulders and back along the sides so you are as cozy moving on mountains as sitting in a favorite sofa.
Stuffing my bag with so many essential necessities has never been easier. Adding a roll or any other clothing can easily be bungeed to the Tamarack. Then with a click-click the strips of the tangerine surrounds you with your own Tangerine Dream
music by the creative group producing driving bass notes from their Moog Sequencer. The NY Times calls them, “the best synth band of the world” as their sounds have graced more than 60 films. With their Cruise to the Edge music, one can sail on personal trails wrapped in soft Tamarack orange, ending only when the cares of the world, day and authority are left in the mist of a morning dew or cleansed by the flakes of a drifting snow.All of this is available just by racking a Tamarack comfortably on your back. Sorry, but I’m leaving now to take Tangerine out for a glide; ready to smack negativism on its silly back, soak in the positive oxygen . . . and just let the wind cut the way.
More details on the Hydrapak Tamarack.
Details on the Surf-the-Murph Ultra Endurance Races.
Trail photography courtesy of Bryan Cochran Photography who effectively uses his engineering brain on the technical aspects of photography. Other photos of the Surf-the-Murph race are at his website; check it out.