I have a love/hate relationship with hydration packs. I love the ease of hands-free drinking but I hate the taste of stale water and the process of cleaning and drying a hydration reservoir after each hike.

For the past several months I’ve put the Jetflow Tomahawk along with a sample of Essentia Super Hydrating Water to the test on trails in Southeastern Wyoming and Northern Colorado. With the Jetflow’s sleek design and versatility it is a comfortable and durable alternative to the standard hydration pack.

The Jetflow system is unique because it is designed to use a water bottle instead of a plastic hydration bladder. By using a little plastic device called a manifold it works with standard Nalgene bottles and single-threaded water and sports drink bottles through various adapters. It’s a clever way to use water bottles that most of us already have.

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Pros

  • For backpacking and camping I’ve always avoided hydration bladders. It’s difficult to purify water in a hydration bladder and when I’m sitting around a campsite I don’t want to be drinking out of a nozzle. I like that I can use my Nalgenes with the Jetflow and it’s easy to transfer the manifold and tubes into a larger backpack or daypack.

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  • There are only two pieces of plastic to clean and dry after a hike, the manifold and the tubing. The entire system can be cleaned and sanitized in a dishwasher. While I prefer to drink water while I hike, knowing that the system can be tossed into a dishwasher eliminates the gross factor that comes with putting a sports drink into a traditional hydration bladder.
  • A lot of thought went into designing this pack. It is fully adjustable and not a detail was spared. It has zipper pulls, reflective taping, a key holder, a small pocket with a headphone hole and a sternum strap. There are also two large zippers on the outside pocket, making it easy to store bulkier things like a rain jacket. The buckle on the sternum strap is bright yellow. I’m not sure why but I like it, but it makes the buckle easy to see.

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  • While testing this pack I also tested Essentia super hydrating water. Typically I’m a tap water drinker and so drinking bottled water enhanced with electrolytes and minerals is not something I frequently do. Essentia uses reverse osmosis and ultraviolet exposure to purify water. Then they add calcium magnesium, sodium and potassium. On days when I’d hike after an early morning hot yoga class it did a great job of keeping me hydrated.  And this water tasted delicious. It was smooth and refreshing even after I left a bottle sitting in my hot car at a trailhead.

Cons

  • It can be a bit awkward screwing a water bottle into the manifold the first time, so I’d recommend trying this at home instead of at a trailhead. I like to screw the bottle in, tip it upside down, squeeze the water bottle (if it’s not hard plastic) and give it a few hard shakes to ensure that the bottle is screwed down tight enough.
  • Because there are several different water bottles that can be used with this system it comes with many different small parts. Things with small pieces and parts tend to get lost easily at my house, so I just keep all of them together in a ziploc bag inside the pack.

Summary

Initially I was skeptical of this pack. I wasn’t sure if it would be comfortable having a water bottle nestled right up against my spine while I hiked. I was also convinced that the the Jetflow manifold would leak, but both of my concerns were put to rest. The manifold never leaked, even testing it out with several different bottles and because of the contoured fit of the pack it felt just as comfortable as a standard pack with a hydration bladder.

*I didn’t test this pack running or cycling but works great for hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

 

Jetflow Tomahawk Features

  •  Use any standard water bottle.
  • Hydration Load Cell – Easy Open EVA Exchange Pocket for Quick Access
  • 3D Gusset Load Cell does not compromise storage capacity or interfere with comfort
  • Bullet Bite Valve – maximum flow patented bite valve
  • Oversize organizational pocket
  • Adjustable sternum strap
  • Earphone / headphone access
  • Reflective taping
  • Padded ventilated EVA back panel
  • Active harness suspension
  • 30-day test drive

Manufacturer: Essentia & Jetflow

Date available: Currently available

MSRP: Essentia 1L Bottle (12 pack): $32.00 * – * -* Jetflow Tomahawk: $59.95

Hydration Volume: Varies: Download compatible bottles PDF.

Maximum Storage of Two 1.0 Liter Bottles (2.0 Liter – 66 oz.) in back load cell. (smaller volume bottles acceptable) 1.5 Liter Bottle or Two 1 liter bottles recommended

Gear Storage Volume: 250 cubic inches (does not include holding cell)

Warranty info: Jetflow offers a lifetime warranty on all Jetflow components. If it breaks, has a flaw or a manufacturer defect we will replace the component for you. The warranty does not cover product failures resulting from abuse or improper use.

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