Hydration Rucksack: Dogfish 6
Three years ago I went to Greenland on a climbing expedition. We were new routing on big walls. On the first day we started out at around 7.30am as soon as it got light, and topped out 13 pitches later close to 10pm. We then stopped to eat and drink for the first time! Not good for you at all. We had water and food with us, but were so absorbed in what we were doing that we just didn't get around to eating or drinking it. People have since said (when I recounted that story to them) that we should have had a hydration pack with us. I don't agree. Hydration packs seem to be all the rage and I see every Tom, Dick and Harry wearing them these days (normally whilst prancing along the top of Stanage with a pair of walking poles on a nice sunny day!).
Hydration packs are ideal for running, biking and any other activity where you don't want to break your rhythm by stopping for a drink, yet you need to take on water regularly because you are expending it quickly. This is not the case whilst out walking! Take time out every now and again to stop and admire the view (after all that's one of the reasons you are there), and grab a quick swig from your trusty old plastic bottle with a mouldy screw-top whilst you are stopped. The same goes for climbing. It would not have been practical to carry a hydration pack on a 13 pitch route. Where would we have put our shells, food and torch? Besides which, climbers spend most of their time sitting on ledges and not actually moving.
So, now we have established when hydration packs should be used let's cut to the chase. The Dogfish 6 is a compact little number, suited to relatively short spans of activity that don't necessitate taking along much extra kit. It features a small zip pocket for tool kits or a few items of light weight clothing, and a secondary mesh pocket with a strap and buckle. Inside is a removable 2 litre Nalgene bladder with a quick connect hose, and wide opening mouth. The bladder is easily removable, though you have to detach the hose first. This bladder is suspended either from a hook and eye system, or a couple of Velcro loops which should cover most 3rd party bladders if the need arises. The shoulder straps are made of a nylon mesh, adding to the light weight nature of the pack, whilst the perforated foam back panel is naturally breathable and further cuts down on the weight. A neat little feature, common to most TNF packs, is the built in whistle in the chest strap buckle. This chest strap, combined with the minimalist waist belt mean that you can adjust the pack to fit very snugly indeed. The hose has a stop lock at the mouth end, so you can take the thing into your sleeping bag without fear of leakage. Interestingly, the entire pack is insulated, presumably to keep cold liquid cold on a hot day, and to provide an extra layer of protection for the bladder inside. Having gone to great lengths to make the pack lightweight (mesh straps, perforated foam back system and a narrow waist belt) it would seem that this is an obvious area for further cuts to be made.
All in all, a neat little hydration pack I use regularly for biking and running.
Reviewed by Matt Heason on behalf of planetFear