Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hydrapak Morro: One World - One Pack

Paper or plastic?  “I’m good.  I think I can get it all in my pack,” I answered at the checkout at the state liquor store in Park City Utah after our four hour ride.  As she swiped my credit card, I pulled the micro brew bottles out of the six pack holder and stuffed them into my new Hydrapak Morro.  While the people behind me in line waited patiently for me to bag my “groceries,” I wrapped one beer in my vest, two in each of my arm warmers, set all six above the first aid kit, slid my map and the cardboard six-pack holster along side of the pump, tucked in my full-fingered gloves, zipped and cinched it up and swung it on my shoulders.  They were astonished.  I rode off.

2012 Morro
It was probably a four mile ride back to our condo at the Canyons Resort.  Sure it felt a little heavy, because now I had a six pack and a good 30ml of water in that thing with tools and Band-Aids and clothes and a puppy and my wallet and phone and energy bars and a 29er tube and a bottle of ibuprofen, but everything balanced out.  It wasn’t a chore to ride.  Did I say puppy?  For the record, I did not stuff a puppy in my backpack, but if I had to, there was room to lash one to the outside if need be, probably two.

Mid Mountain Trail Above Park City
I’m the last guy on Planet Mountain Bike to actually like a big pack.  A Hydration backpack to me was the equivalent of straight jacket made from hot wet monkeys.  The crazy thing is I have one of the smallest possible, an older Camelback Rocket with a 50oz reservoir.  I can’t tell you how many times I’d swear, “I’m never riding with this thing again!”  And, I didn’t.  I used to pride myself on minimalism, even on epic rides in Pisgah and Tsali.  I’d take bottles, use a seat pack and my jersey pockets, tape a 2nd tube to my stem, and tuck food under my short and sleeve hems.  If necessary, I’d reduce first aid and tools to the most extreme basics: a chain pin, a tri-allen wrench, a tiny chain tool CO2, 3 big band aids and a 3oz tube of Neosporin…anything to avoid the hot wet monkey straight jacket.

I used to think Camelback was the only option with their specialized bite valve and oversized filling hole.  The Hydrapak is just as innovative, albeit different.  For one, the Hydrapak reservoir is a zip-lock bag of sorts.  On our Utah trip my wife used her Camelback.  I think my Morro was easier to fill.  She had to sort of let the camel drink, while I poured 2 32oz Gatorades down the Hydrapak’s neck with a quick ker-sploosh, added a tray of ice cubes and zipped it closed.  With Camelback’s we’ve always had to awkwardly hang them upside down on a hanger with a paper towel stuffed inside so air could circulate and dry out the reservoir.  To clean and dry, the Hydrapak reservoir folds inside-out and the plug and play drinking tube simply unclicks from the bag.  On the bike, the neat-o magnet on the drinking tube allows the tube to magically return itself to its stored position after you drink.  No more getting slapped in the knee or baffed in the chin with an unwieldy tube. 
Hydrapak Avila

If you haven’t had a new pack in a while, The HydrapakMorro is nothing like the bulky pack you had even 5 or 6 years ago.  While a larger pack, at a stout 1lb 13oz, the Morro is extremely versatile.  (Wienies may want to check out the Avila pictured left weighing a scant 7 ounces while still having a pocket and a 70oz bladder) The man-sized Morro even makes a nice gear bag.  Pre or post ride, it’ll easily fit your kit, shoes, tools, tube and helmet.  Whether packed light or full, the Morro feels surprisingly light thanks to the vented back padding and secure cinching straps.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but if there were a rather unsupported 5+ hour ultra endurance event, I’d be tempted to race with it.  Maybe.

Morro's Magnet in use at Stewart Falls - Sundance, Utah
Packed full, on a 5 ½ hour navigation of Park City’s famous Mid-Mountain trail I never felt bothered by having a ton of stuff on my back.  I even scored extra hubby points by carrying my wife’s tools and tube.  I still climbed awkward switchbacks and zipped through rock gardens as easily as if I wasn't wearing a pack.  Off the bike, I used it on a quick day hike to Stewart Falls in Sundance with nothing more than a first aid kit, a long sleeve shirt, an energy bar and 50oz of water inside.  With a smaller payload, you simply cinch up the Hydrapak Morro and it feels like a smaller lighter pack.  So, if you come across an orphaned puppy on the trail, no problem, he can ride shotgun. 

Check out the video below for more on the Morro.

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