The hydration pack “Goldilocks zone” can be hard to pin down. You know what I’m talking about: the perfect balance between adequate water, sufficient storage room for gear, all without being too bulky. The perfect pack needs to be neither too big nor not too small: just right.
For me, the Hydrapak Tamarack successfully toes that very fine line between sufficient storage and excessive bulk.
Weighing in at 1.1 lbs dry, the Tamarack has 7 liters (450 cubic inches) of storage room. In terms of hydration, the pack comes with a 100 oz Hydrapak reservoir with Shape Shift technology and features 360-degree reservoir insulation, thanks to its own dedicated reservoir compartment. For more information on this type of reservoir, check out my previous review of the Hydrapak Big Sur.
The pack is made from 210D Baby Rip Nylon and 210D Nylon and features Hypalon Construction. The bottom panel is made of tougher 420D HD Nylon.
As far as performance features, the shoulder straps incorporate EVA padding and both the straps and back panel feature air mesh ventilation. The waist belt is removable if you so desire, and the pack features load control straps along the sides to cinch it down when needed.
In addition to the reservoir pocket, there is a dedicated electronics pocket at the very top of the pack. The main compartment includes a pump sleeve and a slot for a tube on the inside as well as plenty of room for an extra layer or two. The smallest pocket at the very bottom of the pack has a couple of mesh dividers that are perfect for keeping tools and CO2 canisters secure. Finally, there is a very deep exterior pocket without zipper that works great for storing food.
Available in Black, Black Green, Navy, Red, and Tangerine (tested), there’s a color for almost everyone.
Out on the Trail
As you can probably guess from my introduction, I have found the Tamarack to be the perfect size for my daily mountain biking needs! If I want to pack less gear and a little less water, no sweat: the Tamarack still rides very well even without a full load. But when I do need to load it up, there’s plenty of room for tools, tube, pump, spare parts, food, water, and an extra layer or two.
Like all the packs from Hydrapak, the Tamarack is extremely comfortable and well-constructed. While some packs incorporate a stiff back panel to keep the reservoir in place, the Tamarack takes the opposite approach with a soft back so the entire pack and reservoir conform to your body automatically.
The Tamarack is very similar to Hydrapak’s Big Sur, but it addresses the key issue I had with the Big Sur: there wasn’t quite enough storage room. The extra capacity of the Tamarack is basically perfect for how I pack and ride. While the Tamarack isn’t going to be conquering the Tour Divide anytime soon, it is plenty big for use on epic rides.
Bonus of the Tangerine color that I tested: the bright color is great for increased visibility, both in the woods during deer season and on the roads while commuting.
After several months of use, I haven’t had so much as a single issue with this pack. If you are looking for a well-built pack that rides comfortably and lives in the Goldilocks zone of plenty of space but not too much bulk, be sure to give the Tamarack a hard look.
Many thanks to Hydrapak for sending the Tamarack down for review.