In 1998 I was living in Kailua Kona Hawaii and had been running a little bit off and on but got super fired up after watching the Kona International Triathlon. The start and finish line was less than a quarter mile from the Pizza joint I worked at and for about 10 days before the race I met so many incredible athletes. I worked with a triathlete that had competed in Kona a few times and she was so inspiring. So I decided to run the Honolulu marathon 7 weeks later. It was a great idea in theory as my heart was in the right place but man was I naive. One of my downfalls was that I did not stay hydrated during the race. I finished the race but just barely.
I had bought a hydration pack with a bladder thinking I could just skip the water stops since there were 35,000 other people running I didn’t want to get bunched up in a water stop. In hindsight it was good thinking but the pack I had was terrible. I won’t name names but I can still recall the taste of that bladder to this day. That bladder contributed to my horrible first marathon experience and ultimately contributed to my continued hatred of running for a few years after that.
Not to worry, I did fall in love with running again and I learned a thing or two about hydration. Although I steered clear of hydration packs and went with hand held bottles. Until Now. I was given the opportunity to test out the JetFlow Tomahawk Hydration Pack. I was intrigued because it doesn’t use a bladder but bottles. I was dubious yet curious so I agreed to do this guest post. Now I am not afraid of writing honest and sometimes scathing reviews. I stay unbiased and open minded and in that frame of mind I came to the conclusion that the Tomahawk pack is pretty brilliant!
What makes the Jetflow Tomahawk unique is that it uses bottles. They screw into a manifold that the tubing is connected to. The plastics are all BPA free and the manifold is dishwasher friendly. The tubing is easily flushed out with warm water and hung to dry. So not only is it a simple design it is also easy to maintain.
There is an extensive list of bottles that are compatible at the Jetflow website. If the bottle is single threaded then chances are that it will fit.
Everything is put back into the pack after you have given the bottle a little squeeze to make sure there is no leaking. If there is any leaking, then unscrew the bottle and try again and making sure that the hosing is firmly in place on the manifold. I have yet to run into problems with screwing in a bottle and I am not always as graceful as I look….hahaha!
The flap has a hook and loop closure. The back of the pack has some structure to it as well as padding where it sits against your back and yet the whole pack is light weight.
The hosing comes out of the pack and is snaked down each of the shoulder straps of the pack. One side is the bite valve where the liquid comes out and the other side has a tube with a twisting end to it for relieving pressure and letting air into the bottle. There are plastic clips along the shoulder straps to keep the hosing in place. These took a bit to get the hand of but with a little practice I was able to get the hand of using them one handed.
Want to bring along some snacks, your phone, a pair of sandals? There is 250 cubic inches of storage space to accommodate your stuff. There is also a headphone line out port at the top to keep your cords organized. Reflective piping runs down both sides of the pack so you are better seen when the light is low.
As I said before I was worried about the bottle waste however there are 2 adapters that come with the pack so you can find the right bottle for you. Jetflow also offers reusable bottles on their site.
I could totally see cruising into an aid station and handing over my pack and the experience for the volunteer being fast and efficient. As soon as you open the pack it makes sense right away how it works. If you are a city runner it would be very easy to refill your bottle at a water fountain or if you need to purchase a new drink at a convenience store. You could just slip the old bottle into the pocket to recycle later.
The fit is quite comfortable and I like that it doesn’t have pockets along the sides. Those seem to get in the way of my arms and I like using the pockets on my shorts or skirt for a GU or my phone. The minimal design suites my sensibilities. I found the adjustable sternum strap to fit me just right however I am a bit concerned that it would not fit someone larger than me as I had it at the widest setting. The adjustment of the length of the straps will accommodate just about anyone.
There was not much bouncing as the sternum strap kept it in place and it sits just comfortably right between my shoulders for an ergonomic fit. The straps are just the right width to distribute the weight evenly as well. There are other colors to choose from. I think the yellow would be fantastic!
Overall I thought this pack was an excellent design that was both a comfortable and logical replacement for a pack with a bladder. I would recommend it for the weekend warrior, a hiker, urban explorer, as well as an ultra marathoner.
Are you tired of cleaning your stinky hydration bladder?
Editor note: Please join me in welcoming Angie Bee (@BarefootAngieB) as a guest gear reviewer on Brian’s Backpacking Blog. Angie is a VIVOBAREFOOT certified barefoot running coach who runs barefoot to stay sane and because she enjoys it. She ran her first barefoot mile on June 19th 2009 and has never looked back. Angie is also a gluten and casein-free wife and mother to four brilliant boys, one of whom has autism. You can read more excellent posts by Angie Bee on her blog at: www.barefootangiebee.com.
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Disclosure: Jetflow provided Brian’s Backpacking Blog with a complementary Tomahawk hydration pack for the purpose of this review.