Source Outdoor - Hydration System

Do you ever have a hard time keeping hydrated during training or events?  Do you hike or spend long periods of time outdoors with no water source?  I tend to have a difficult time staying hydrated.  If you're like me, then keep reading.
No matter how much fluids I drink, I tend to end up dehydrated. I've asked my doctor for reasons, but have never been given any true explanation. As an athlete, it becomes more difficult to your body hydrated. Over the last few years I have reduced my salt intake considerably by eliminating processed foods and not adding salt to my recipes and when I cook.  I've been told that it can have an impact on your ability to retain water. Any time I ever go to the gym, go for a run or hike, have a sporting event, or whatever, I always struggle with how I want to manage my hydration.  I have so many different hydration tools like hand held water bottles of all kinds, waist packs that hold bottles, and some backpacks with bladder and tube systems.

Unfortunately, the pack systems tend to not fit me very well. I am 5' tall and am around 100 pounds. Children's packs do not have a waist strap which creates an unstable pack when running or doing any other sort of activity where shifting may occur.  Handheld bottles are an inconvenience, especially since they don't hold very many ounces of fluid. Waist packs, again, tend to shift too much on my small body.  All of these options, as you might have guessed, are not OCR friendly.

I was given the opportunity to test out a hydration system from Source Outdoor.  I came across their products from a link that advertised a divided reservoir.  I thought, "How great! I can carry my water and electrolytes at the same time."  The thought of not having to take extra care to keep myself hydrated with water, but to have electrolytes with me at the same time without having to mix on the go, was a dream come true. The reservoir is called the Widepack Divide Hydration System. It comes complete with a divided reservoir that allows you to fill one compartment with water and the other compartment with a different fluid. Another benefit to the design is that you can fill one side more than the other to suit your needs. Depending on the capacity, you can choose to fill 1/4 of the one compartment and 3/4 of the other compartment. You can also fill them equally.  It also has two tubes. One for each fluid and are color coded.

The next challenge was to pair that bladder with a pack that would suit my needs.  I needed a pack that would fit my body and one that was stable enough to withstand bouncing and shifting.  The customer service staff recommended the DUNE X-fit Hydration Pack.  When the pack arrived, I took some time to get familiar with the features.  The "X" design of the straps made for a very comfortable fit.  The straps are also quite long, but can compress down to fit my frame perfectly, even with minimal clothing on. The chest strap comes with an emergency whistle, which I thought was an clever touch. There is a stretchy pocket on the back to expand to fit everything I need to carry. The waist belt has a pocket on each side that zips closed for those necessities that you need quick access to without taking the pack off. The fabric is made of ripstop material but is lightweight. There is plenty of reflective piping for visibility.

At the starting line with my WOR Teammate Heather

Now for the bladder.  The DUNE came with a 50 oz. bladder that is different than any I have ever seen. The top opens wide for easy filling. The shape of the included bladder is round with a cutout center to prevent sloshing.  The tubes are a different material than any I've ever owned. The tubing is also coated and has reinforced ends. The valve is a twist on/off design which also included a cover to keep it clean and is made of silicone so it is very flexible and easy to bite. The manufacturer claims a "glass like" technology of the bladder to prevent that plastic flavor.


The Dunk Wall obstacle at Spartan Race
I didn't have time to test the system before my first race of the season or during any training due to the extreme weather we experienced this winter as well as my surgery recovery.
This was for the Spartan Race New Jersey Beast . The "Beast" is a 13+ mile obstacle course race held at the largest ski area in New Jersey. Since I didn't get to try out the pack, I decided to at least test out the reinforced tubing and bite valve with my existing pack and bladder. I do not have a pack large enough to accommodate the 50 oz bladder or the 3L DIVIDE bladder. I connected the tubing easily to my existing bladder. The tubing came with a magnetic tab to secure the tubing from flailing around rather than my other packs that only have a clip or has to be tucked into a pocket.  The cover came in handy during my race, especially when submerged in muddy water.  The magnetic clip held up well to keep the tube in place when not in use but was also easy to pull off when I needed a drink, then quickly snapped back onto the magnet.  The valve cover is connected with a tether so it never got lost.  The tubing never leaked, even when I accidentally left the valve open.  Another benefit to the valve design is that it does not have to be bitten on a specific side because it is round instead of flat, like most others. In all, the tubing stood the test of functionality without any problems.

Now, the test of the DUNE X-Fit pack and DIVIDE bladder system.
While I did not test this at a race or test it out for water and mud absorption, I did wear it on an obstacle course.  In fact, I tested it out on an Icebug Official Testing Center at Shale Hill Adventure in Benson, VT.   The course is said to be the hardest fixed obstacle course in the northeast. It is a perfect place to race and train. I filled the DIVIDE bladder with 1/2 straight water, and the other half of the bladder with NUUN electrolyte tabs and water. While not my favorite electrolyte, it is a commonly used source of electrolytes for many athletes.  I filled the bladder easily due to the wide opening with the divided sections and secured the opening. My only concern with the design of the seal is that the slider that closes the bladder is not actually attached to the bladder. I fear that it would be easy to misplace this piece. I would prefer that it be attached somehow.
I attached the two tubes to the bladder. I used the orange tube for electrolytes and attached it so the tube was on my left.  I used the blue tube for the plain water and on the left because that's what felt most comfortable for me.  I slid the bladder into the DUNE pack but noticed that it was a tight fit. I wasn't sure if this was normal.  I packed my gear which consisted of a pair of gloves, a few Clif shot blox, a Honey Stinger waffle, some tissues, bandaids, duct tape, biofreeze individual packs, and a few other necessities. I also brought my Olympus Tough Camera.  Some items I placed in the waist pockets for easy access. The pockets easily fit my camera and gloves.  Two items that I take out and put back often.  I adjusted the straps to fit comfortably and secure. Unlike my other packs, I really felt that the pack was positioned better on my back. I didn't pull down at all as I've experience with others.
 As we took off running on the course, I barely noticed the pack on my back. There was no chafing or rubbing and it never dug into my shoulders, even with the pack full.  The weather was a beautiful 75 degrees and sunny, but I never felt hot or uncomfortable. There seemed to be great air circulation. There was never any sloshing whatsoever, even as the bladder emptied. I did notice that you can easily squeeze the bite valve to slightly spray the water. This comes in handy when your hands are muddy. If you are anything like me, as I get heated up during activity, my hands tend to get swollen and uncomfortable. The ability to spray water right from the tube to my hands is much better than sucking the water from the tube and spitting it on my hands.  The waist pockets were great and easily accessible on the run. While I take the pack off on most obstacles when I have the option, I felt as though I really didn't have to. The straps on the pack stayed in place the entire course. My other packs tend to loosen during activity and need adjusting. I felt like the pack actually moved with me instead of bouncing around as I moved.  Having electrolytes in my bladder along with the water was perfect. I didn't even need to use my fuel I packed nearly as much as I would have without the bladder filled with energy.  The water even stayed cool throughout the day. If I had used the insulated tubing, then the liquids inside the tube would have probably stayed cooler.  The taste of the liquids was as if I were drinking from a nalgene bottle. There was no odd plastic taste!  When we got home, I left the pack in my hot car for 2 days. When I took it out, it was easy to clean with the wide opening. The tubes were more difficult than my other tubes to clean. I couldn't get the valve off to run water through the tubing. But otherwise, it cleaned up really well and could easily be dried with a towel through the large opening.

So, to recap....
  • DIVIDE bladder is perfect for carrying electrolytes and water at the same time. It would almost eliminate the need for energy gels.
  • Bladder had more than enough capacity for my needs. I would prefer a bit smaller capacity than 3L.
  • Pack was very lightweight and fit comfortable.  Others in my group also wore it and was easily adjusted on the go.
  • Pack was roomy enough for essentials
  • Waist pockets are convenient and easily accessible.
  • No strange taste from the bladder or tubing
  • Good air circulation
  • No bounce or sloshing of liquids
  • Side pockets and waist strap was a little long on my frame. (But fit well on everyone else in my group) The bulkiness may have been a little too much for me on the obstacles but would be perfect for someone a bit taller or larger than me.
  • Padding on the pack between your back and pack may be a little too thick for OCR. I can see that it would likely soak up too much mud and water.
  • I lost the magnetic clip on the training course and the DIVIDE tubes did not come with magnetic clips.
  • Closure clip for the bladder will get lost easily during storage. I would like to see it attached to the bladder somehow.
  • The loops on the adjustment straps could get caught on obstacles. There should be a way to tuck the ends in to secure. 

See it in action here! https://plus.google.com/photos/111689476383329319685/albums/6150783784197910161

The Widepac D|vide
The Widepac D|vide

D|vide Hydration System

  • BPA Free

D|vide Hydration System

  • BPA Free