CamelBak PowderBak Wearable Hydration Review

CamelBak PowderBak Wearable Hydration

CamelBak has expanded their line of wearable hydration gear with the new PowderBak vest. Worn as a mid-layer for winter sports, the integrated hydration reservoir lets you ditch your bulky pack and prevent your water from freezing while you play. I have been testing out, over the past few weeks, one of the PowderBak vests that CamelBak sent me and it has quickly become one of my favorite pieces of gear. 

The PowderBak is a full zip mid-layer vest with an integrated 72 ounce hydration reservoir. Made from QuickFit, CamelBak's proprietary compression fabric, the vest is lightweight, breathable, moisture wicking and quick drying. 

CamelBak PowderBak wearable hydration

The HydroPouch compartment on the back of the vest supports and stabilizes the low profile, baffled hydration reservoir. Water, or your favorite sports drink, is kept above freezing temperature by your own core body heat and a neoprene sleeve over the hydration tube keeps water from freezing inside the line. 

An air-mesh, insulated back panel insert in the HydroPouch keeps your back cool and comfortable while further insulating the hydration reservoir at the same time. The reservoir is completely removable from the back pouch for easy filling and cleaning of both the reservoir and vest. 

I have been wearing my PowderBak for both snowshoeing up in Lake Tahoe as well as trail running here in San Francisco. In terms of winter sports, this will probably become a staple on my future Alpine climbs where the cold weather is a huge factor and where I may not carry a pack that is "hydration friendly" for weight reasons. 

I would have loved to have this on Kilimanjaro last summer, as the hydration reservoirs of my teammates continually froze and I did not use one for that reason. I find I don't hydrate properly however without one, as you can really only drink during a rare break after removing your bottle from your backpack. 

The PowderBak, or any of its wearable hydration family members such as the
, are perfect options for beach or trail running. I normally run or hike with a
CamelBak HydroBak
. This small backpack functions alright but is a bit uncomfortable for running as it tends to shift quite a bit. The pack is also very hard to de-stink post workout. 

The HydroPouch in the PowderBak vest by comparison does an amazing job at keeping the hydration reservoir in place, tight against your body, so much so that you can't really tell you are wearing 2L worth of water on your back.  For warm weather activities, the insulation pad and neoprene sleeve act to keep you water cold, a big bonus in the California sun. Plus I can throw the vest in the washer now after every run if I need to- no more offending my running partners!

In terms of sizing, I would recommend trying them on if possible or maybe going up a size from what you normally wear in a base layer. The vest is made of compression material so is meant to fit snug, but I struggle to zip up my women's medium, especially with a full reservoir.  

I would love to see CamelBak incorporate a tiny zipper pocket somewhere on their wearable hydration vests, especially for activities where you are going to ditch your backpack. I had no place to put my keys when I went for beach or trail runs. 

The CamelBak PowderBak will be released in September 2010 in both men's and women's versions and retail for $100. 


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