Mid-size: With a 100-ounce fluid and
450-cubic-inch storage capacity, the
Tamarack proved to be a perfect option
for our normal trail rides, which usually
last two to four hours.
Slosh-proof: Hydrapak’s Elite reservoir
features an internal baffle, which helps it
hold a consistent shape regardless of the
amount of water inside, as well as keeping
water from sloshing from side to side as
While some hydration packs push
the limits of what you can carry when
looking to tackle an epic, others battle
it out for the featherweight title. Most
riders need something that splits the
difference, with sufficient storage to
carry the essentials and enough water
for a few hours without the feeling of
shouldering a fallen comrade off the
battlefield. This middle ground is
where the $110 Hydrapak Tamarack
lives, and middleweight or not, the
Tamarack has big shoes to fill as it
replaces Hydrapak’s most popular
model, the Big Sur.
Tech features: The Tamarack holds
100 ounces of fluid and has 450 cubic
inches of internal storage for everything else. It is constructed of two
types of 210D nylon and hypalon, with
a tougher 420D HD nylon bottom
panel. The shoulder straps are E.V.A.
;;;;; Delivers above-average value and performance
;;;;; Recommended for intended application
;;;;; Shows potential but has drawbacks
;;;;; Save your hard-earned bucks
MBA FIELD TEST RATING
Not too big, not too small, just right
padded and link via a sternum strap
and a removable waist strap to keep
the pack secure. Adjustable straps on
the sides of the pack allow for expanding and contracting the overall size.
The pack features three main compartments. The medium-sized, outermost compartment has individual
internal pockets perfect for multi-tools,
as well as a built-in loop for attaching
a taillight to the outside. The large
main compartment features a dedicated pump sleeve and another general
pocket. A third, smaller compartment
at the top of the pack is perfect for a
phone, camera or iPod.
One of the Hydrapak’s most talked-about feature is its reversible Elite
reservoir with Shape-Shift technology.
The reservoir and hose are BPA- and
PVC-free, and the reservoir can be
turned inside out for easy cleaning.
Additionally, the snap-zip baffle keeps
the bladder in a low-profile shape that
is claimed to move around less on the
rider’s back. The reservoir has a dedicated zipper closure and is insulated
from all sides in the pack. The
Tamarack weighs 1 pound 5 ounces.
Field test results: After spending a
few months riding with Hydrapak’s
largest offering, the Jolla, we were
impressed with how well it carried its
weight, but realized we didn’t need
quite so much storage space. Enter the
The Tamarack is a good size for an
average trail ride. The 100-ounce
reservoir holds plenty of water for
three to four hours of riding, and the
pack itself has enough storage for all
the spare tubes, tools and food we
would ever want to carry, plus room
for a light jacket and knee and arm
warmers. The compartment layouts
are logical and accessible, and the
upper compartment fits an iPhone
The straps and back padding are
both comfortable, and while we liked
the idea of the easily removable waist
strap, we left it on for extra stability.
The secure straps, along with the light
weight of the Tamarack, mean that
you don’t fight it through corners or
over rough terrain. It simply stays connected to your body.
The Elite reservoir is an upgrade
compared to many other reservoir
designs. Our favorite aspect is the baffle that runs down the middle, which
helps it maintain a low profile and
keeps it from shifting around as water
sloshes from side to side.
Hydrapak decided to go with a standard hose clip rather than the magnetic one found on other models. This
won’t be an issue for many, but it was
a bit of bummer for us after coming
from the Jolla, which had the magnetic
option. Thankfully, the clip is available for $6 from Hydrapack.
The Tamarack has become one of
our go-to hydration packs for standard
trail rides. The Tamarack is versatile.
It can maintain a low profile if you
don’t need to carry much or it can
expand if you’re up for a full day in
the saddle. ;