Hydrapak Soquel hydration pack review

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

I’ve written to you before about the importance of staying hydrated while I’m out swimming, biking, and running. For years I relied upon a hydration belt.

Recently though I was given the chance to try a Hydrapak hydration back pack. I’ll be honest, I’ve always considered hydration packs a little too, well, not triathlete. Packs are for mountains bikers, trail runners, and people who go hiking. Right? Over the last few years I’ve found myself out in the woods more often on the trails. My trail runs typically take longer than my road runs. I go slower. The terrain is more challenging.

Unfortunately, I was running out of fluids before some of my runs ended.

So I was curious about a hydration pack. I selected Hydrapak’s “Soquel” model. The Soquel is a fully insulated pack that holds 70 fluid oz. Not much chance of running out of water on my local trails with that sort of capacity.

Here are the Soquel‘s Features and Specs:

Features:

  • CrossSoft Nylon Diamond Rip with Interlock Stretch
  • 360 Degree Reservoir Insulation
  • Applied Mesh Pocket with Pump Loop
  • Silky Slider Sternum Strap
  • Key Clip
  • Reflective Light Loop

Specs:

  • Weight: 10 oz
  • Gear Storage: 90 Cubic inches (1.5L)
  • 70 oz (2L) Elite Reservoir with Straight Shot Connector (Upgrade to Plug-N-Play optional)
  • Measures 13.5″ x 6.25″ x 2.75″

I tested the Soquel on a local 8 mile loop called the Chickasaw Trace.  I loaded the Soquel all the way up and after a bit of sloshing figured out that I needed to get the air out of the reservoir. It was an easy fix and the sloshing ended immediately. Rookie hydration pack mistake.

I loved the pack’s ease of use on the trail. Instead of reaching for my hydration bottles around my waist, I was able take a drink on the run without any fumbling for bottles and belt holsters. Ultimately I drank more, because it was easier to get to. That’s a good thing. Hydrapak’s “bite valve” made no mess or spill drinking easy.

It also has ample padding against your back for long runs over rugged terrain.

And the chest strap is comfortable and easy to adjust for a true custom fit.

The Soquel has plenty of room in the interior for your stuff too. I carried my phone, my keys, and several gels. You could stuff it with much more though: a bike pump, gloves, hat, bars, first aid kits come to mind.

The thing that concerned me the most about switching to a hydration pack was how easy/difficult it would be to load with water. I was pleased to learn that it was much faster than getting my normal 8 0z water bottles ready. You simply remove the reservoir from the pack, fill it, zipper it shut, clip it back in, plug in the “plug n’ play” connector, and go.

It’s also easy clean. Hydrapak products come with a reversible reservoir that’s simple to turn inside out and wash.

Having used the Soquel on the trails a few times, I was tempted to use it for a long road run as well. I tried it out during a 9 miler and loved the simplicity on the road as well.

Here’s a cool little video created by Hydrapak showing just how easy it is to get out and playing with the Soquel:

Consider me a convert to Hydration packs. For me, the Hydrapak Soquel is a valuable piece of my training arsenal, regardless of whether I’m on the trails or the road.

I love you,

– Daddy

ps. I was curious what “Soquel” means. It’s a town in Santa Cruz, CA that is notorious for flooding issues. Makes sense.

* I was given this product for purposes of this review. However, my opinions are my own and I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.