As someone who uses outdoor gear almost every day of the year for work, daily training, and for general mountain life, I wanted to share some stand out products that have become our favorite items. No company is paying for any of this, I’m just trying to share what we’ve found to work perfectly based on real life experience.
Keep in mind that our needs are for the conditions and style found in the Alps, and we’re primarily trail running, trekking, rock & alpine climbing, and ski touring, all while making photos – and trying to keep things light and simple.
I’ll post a different product each day this week.
Ueli Steck designed chest pockets in his custom Mountain Hardwear alpine clothing specifically for soft flasks
Hydrapak’s Soft Flasks
Soft Bottles? Seriously, these things make a difference. Hydrapak is making superb, small, soft, sport flasks that other brands put their names on. While they’ve been hugely popular for ultra running, thanks to the convenience of being able to have them in the shoulder strap pockets on several running packs, they are now being used by ski mountaineers, climbers and hikers who appreciate the form fitting, minimalistic design.
In Ueli Steck’s custom Mountain Hardwear alpine climbing line, he built chest pockets into his insulation pieces specifically for soft bottles. The bottles stay next to the body so as to avoid freezing and thanks to the soft material, are barely noticeable. Other brands are doing the same, notably the European running and ski mountaineering clothing.
In four years of using them, I have yet to puncture, or have any problems with them. The beauty is having them readily available in either a chest pocket or pack shoulder strap. Less weight is on the back, and they are easy to stop and fill, which is a luxury available in Europe thanks to readily available mountain water sources. Also, since you are carrying less water, and filling more often, you can choose if, when and which drink mix to have in the bottle. Or, carry two bottles and have one with, and one without a drink mix.
For more general uses, like in the climbing pack, the bottle is only as large as it is full, which can be good when space is important. Plus, they weigh almost nothing empty.
Hydrapak is the company that makes a wide range of sizes with their own name, but Salomon also uses Hydrapak for production, and offers some different styles.
Rather than having a bag of water sloshing around on your back, try a soft flask in the chest pocket of most of the running packs.
As a side award, while we’re talking endurance sports, I had the bittersweet discovery of Trail Butter this summer. Sweet because I love it, LOVE it, but bitter because it isn’t in Europe. If you haven’t tried this miraculous concoction of nuts and sweets, and live where it is readily available, go out and get some. And if you are coming to Europe anytime soon, bring me a care package.