Well, I finally got about ordering me a hydration reservoir from L.A. Police Gear (it’s really a must have here in the Southern USA). I asked around and the consensus I received was that nothing beats CamelBak. Well, that’s all good and well, but no one could give me a reason for NOT choosing the Blackhawk hydration systems… so, me being the anti-lemming, chose to try the Blackhawk route.
When it comes down to hydration reservoirs, most think it’s basically a plastic pouch with a plastic tube, with a rubber valve you bite. Well, there’s a bit more to it than that. The pouch itself is made with Microban technology that helps resist bacteria and mold reproduction. Being that this is part of the manufacturing process, you do not need to worry about a coating or chemical wearing off; it’s permanent. The pouch itself is thick and has two holes at the top from which to hang or attach the bladder. Near the bottom of the reservoir is where the drinking tube attaches. Through the plastic you can see the o-rings used to seal it tight and prevent leakage. The bite valve is large and covered in a thick rubbery material that seems thick enough to last quite some time. The switch that turns on or off the flow of water appears to be made of nylon and seems rugged and rotates easily (although it is easy to feel when it’s in the on position and ready to use).
I had a chance to test this out recently in a trek through the woods. The large opening to the reservoir made it easy to fill using either a faucet or water bottles. After it was full, I headed out. The neoprene sleeve around the drinking tube did help prevent the water in the tube from heating up, but only for a while. I was pleased to see that the bladder’s internal divider did an excellent job at preventing a sloshing sensation as I was running with the pack on. The bite valve was great. I was surprised to experience the volume of water that passes through it easily. It was much more than the CamelBak bite valve allows for. With little effort I was able to drink from the hydration pack. During my entire day I never experienced a leak, or a problem with the bite valve. I will say, that as I got to the last of the water in the reservoir, it began to taste a bit plasticy.
Overall the Blackhawk hydration reservoir is awesome. The flow rate is great, and the internal baffle works excellently. My only real gripe is that the bite valve is a bit larger than most causing it not to feed well through some D-rings like the ones on the Maxpedition Condor II. For the money, this is an excellent hydration pack.
tags: blackhawk hydrastorm