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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Gearing Up!: Tactical Performance Hydration Pack

Source:'s article on dehydration
Hydrate or Die. Seems a bit of an extreme way of reminding one to carry and drink plenty of water, but an accurate one. A frequent mistake of many varieties of athletes and/or people engaging in leisure activities such as hiking or camping is forgetting to bring with them an adequate supply of water. Whether this is simply because it never occurred to them that they would be without it where they were going or an innocent ignorance of the importance of keeping hydrated varies from person to person. It is not however a mistake often made twice because dehydration tends to be a rather unpleasant experience with symptoms that run from headaches similar to a hangover, to dizziness, fainting, and even if untreated DEATH. It's important enough that it is among the first things drilled into the minds of new military recruits and one of the last things ever forgotten.

Hydration systems range from pouches for water bottles, to canteens, to pouches and packs with dedicated water bladders and drinking tubes. I tend to favor the latter as hydration packs often have the additional utility of carrying additional stuff. That's more space to carry ammo for what ever type of game you are participating in, some food to sustain your energy for a long day in the field, some tools for maintenance, or even some video equipment to document your wacky adventures. All of that is generally held back out of the way while you do your work, held by straps that distribute the load over your body to minimize the impact of carrying it.

With all that in mind I picked up a hydration pack from my local Academy sporting goods store. This pack is part of the Tactical Performance line sold exclusively through Academy. I usually try to avoid chain exclusives for the purpose of review to try to make sure what I review is available to the largest possible audience of my readers, but this one was an impulse buy that was all about me.

This pack boasts a hydration pouch that accommodates up to a two liter bladder(included) and is accessed through the back panel of the pack, meaning one does not have to empty their pack to refill the water supply. The pack interior can hold up to 1250 cubic inches of stuff, though I have in no way tested this yet. To tame that load of stuff the pack comes with adjustable compression straps on quick release buckles to hold the load tight while in motion, but make it easy to get to once you doff the pack.

The pack also comes with a sternum strap and waist belt to aid in load distribution across the body, however the waist belt didn't even come close to fitting over my large frame. Thankfully rather than have an uncomfortable loose strap buckle prodding me in the back the waist belt is easily removeable and lack of it doesn't seem to adversely affect its wear or load distribution.

The outside boasts webbing for the attachment of MOLLE compatible pouches and equipment, though as I found while moving my Apex Weapon Systems N-strike Mag carriers onto the sides of the pack, not all of the webbing is to the proper standardized spacing, making mounting of some pouches utterly impossible. Each side as a pair of 2x2 panels, along with the face of the pack possessing a 2x5 and a 3x3 panel. On the bottom where the guides for the compression straps run there is also a 1x3 panel. Aside the side panels that gave me fits mounting my mag carriers I haven't tested any of the others. None of them look to be spaced properly.

This pack offers plenty of space for a day's gear and sustainment, more than enough for attending a day at an HvZ game as a guest player, however I cannot give it a good rating on compatibility with tactical gear made for any of our various hobbies.


 With a full bladder of water and 4 mags strapped onto the outside, and without the use of the waist belt this pack distributed the load across my shoulders and back admirably. Obviously designed with smaller guys in mind, might be a tight fit depending on what gear you wear


Holds 2L of water and 1250 cubic inches of stuff, thats plenty. will hold at least six N-strike 18 round mags inside the main compartment.

 Non Standard spacing of the webbing on the PALS panels means that very little in the way of pouches can actually be added to this pack system. Side panels were a challenge to get the 1 inch standard MOLLE strap through. All panels are incorrectly spaced, so nothing that is correctly spaced should fit, but gear only two columns wide should be able to be forced.

Combined score 8

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