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Hydrapack AS Trail Hydration System : Stay Cool 101

I remember the first time I saw a hydration pack. My wife won it in a bike race on the Velodrome in Colorado Springs, CO. How appropriate to win a big gulp drinking system on the 7-11 track. Since that day, nearly fifteen years ago, I have witnessed and participated in the evolution of hydration systems through scientific research and wear testing. What better a venue than the Lance Armstrong Foundation LiveStrong ride in Oregon to put my pack through its paces. (A surprise bonus...I got to ride next to Lance, Eddy Merckx, George Hincapie and Bob Roll while I was out enjoying the beautiful late September weather.)

The AS Trail doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles; it's a slimmed down pack with just the essentials for a road race. Featuring a 70 ounce reservoir (2 liters for those who prefer the metric system), the AS Trail also features Hydrapak's unique AirScoop (AS) ventilation system which consists of a curved pack that follows the contours of my back, plus ergonomically placed cushioned pods that lift the pack off of my back. The idea behind this design is to cool off your back by allowing air to circulate under the pack while you ride.

Other features of the AS Trail include an EasyFlo™ shutoff valve. When I first tried out the pack (I wore it around my house as I was doing some strenuous housekeeping chores) I forgot to read the directions completely, so I thought the valve was broken since I could barely get any water through it. Later I learned that the valve is actually made up of 2 parts, the bite-valve and the shut-off portion. The shut-off piece works just like the top of a typical sports water bottle (i.e. pull to open; push to close) making sure that no water gets through the bite-activated valve. The bite-valve operates independently of the shut-off portion. The result: I don't spill any water.

Here are some of the other benefits of the AS Trail:
o Comfortable shoulder straps that didn't inhibit my upper body movement.
o Bungee cord to secure a jacket or vest to the outside of the pack.
o Easy-to-fill reservoir. The wide mouth allowed me to easily mix and carry my favorite beverage (and ice cubes).
o Extra straight EasyFlo™ valve - no kinks in my hose.
o Good flow of fluids through the bite-valve with very little effort. A real benefit when you're trying to sit on Lance's wheel.

**As a side note, I am not a fan of wearing headphones when riding a bike, so I didn't try out the pack's Hydratunes cord port feature while I was riding, but I am looking forward using my iPod in this port when I go cross-country skiing this winter at Mt. Bachelor.

Bottom Line: Overall I thought the AS Trail was a very comfortable and functional hydration pack. Available in four colors.-- M.P. (Nov. '05)

Price: $59.99

Manufacturer's Site: www.hydrapak.com, www.livestrong.org

BUY ONLINE : Hydrapak

When traveling, pack a jump rope and some rubber tubing so you'll have an instant workout kit when you arrive.

Source: American Council on Exercise

 
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