The Hydrathon is a fabric pouch with a CamelBak type design that uses the frame of your bicycle to help maximize the amount of water that you can carry. With two small 1-Liter internal reservoirs and two long hoses that lead from the reservoirs up to your mouth, you can carry two different types of liquids on your bike and not be forced to carry all that extra weight on your back or body.
The need to carry extra water is something many athletes struggle with and carrying that liquid weight on your back or body is best avoided when possible. That’s where the Hydrathon starts to sound like a great idea. The weight of the liquids carried inside the Hydrathon is put on your bike (not your body) and the product itself can also be used to carry your keys, wallet, multi-tool, patch kit, or any number of small items and accessories.
For the athlete who needs to carry excess water on his or her bicycle, the Hydrathon might turn out to be a great piece of gear.
At the moment, the Hydrathon is currently being sold in five different colors:
- Green/Gray (shown in this review)
The cost is $65.00 USD and replacement reservoirs and drinking tubes can be purchased from the company if necessary. Shipping and handling is extra.
While I love the idea behind the Hydrathon, I do see a few problems with its overall design.
First of all, the fact that there are two reservoirs might sound like a benefit to some (as having two separate reservoirs will allow you to carry two different types of liquids (orange juice and water for example)), but to me, having two different reservoirs to fill up sounds like a lot of extra work. I find filling up these plastic CamelBak type reservoirs to be difficult enough, not to mention having to do it twice.
The other problem with there being two reservoirs is that having the two different reservoirs means that the product also has two different drinking tubes. When not in use, these long plastic tubes have to be either tucked into one of the Hydrathon‘s pouches, or they need to be secured to your bicycle’s handlebars so that they are within reach while you are riding your bike. The fact that there are two tubes makes the set up of this product both complicated and frustrating.
That said, I think both of these problems could be solved with a simple re-design. If the company gave me a choice between having one reservoir and two, that would be nice. And if I chose to have just one drinking reservoir, that would obviously get rid of the need for two different drinking tubes – another perk!
If I did want the two different reservoirs however, it would be nice if there were simply a way to use one drinking tube on both reservoirs. Maybe there would be a simple switch at the head of the drinking tube that would allow me to switch back and forth between the two reservoirs? Or maybe there would be a way to physically detach the drinking tube from one reservoir and easily hook it up to the other? Either of these options would be better than having two, long, dangling tubes to deal with.
My other complaint about the Hydrathon’s design is that because it hangs down between your legs and it does have some girth to it (especially when filled up with liquid), it tends to interfere with your cycling. I noticed this interference the very first time I rode with the product in place on the frame of my Fuji Touring bicycle, but my photo model complained about this even more – stating that he was having to ride with his knees way out to the side. I assume this is something that will be different for everyone, as each and every rider has a slightly different form on the bike… and each bike frame is made every-so-slightly different. On some bikes and with some riders, I imagine there is no interference at all. But the fact that both myself and my model immediately felt as though our riding style was being compromised by the Hydrathon’s position on the bike is a major problem.
What is most interesting about the Hydrathon is that it works not just on your bike, but off your bike as well. If you are a runner or hiker, the Hydrathon can be stripped from your bicycle and quickly transformed into a backpack (see photos below). When I first heard about this feature, I thought it was really quite creative and I couldn’t wait to test out the Hydrathon in backpack form.
From the front, the Hydrathon as a backpack is impressive and it looks like a regular backpack or CamelBak product you would see on any other cyclist, hiker, or outdoor athlete. From the front, a passerby would have no idea you were wearing anything but a normal backpack.
From the back, however, the Hydrathon looks like a tiny jet pack, a flying squirrel wing suit, or some kind of brightly colored, suicidal bomb jacket. Both myself and my model found the Hydrathon as a backpack to be somewhat comical.
That said, as a backpack, the Hydrathon actually performs better than it does on the bike. Now very much like a traditional CamelBak product, the two hoses are easier to manage and drinking from the product is extremely easy.
In the end, I think the idea behind the Hydrathon is a good one. There is a need for some cyclists to carry extra water on their bicycles and it would be nice if there were a way to carry that extra water without having to carry the weight of those extra liquids on your back or body. But because of some medium-sized design flaws, I don’t think this is a product I would ever use.
While I happen to love products that can be used in a number of different ways, I think the Hydrathon needs to concentrate on being really good at one thing (carrying water on a bike, for example) before attempting to function elsewhere (i.e. as a backpack).
Additional information about the Hydrathon product can be found at: www.hydrathon.com
Review Status: This product was sent to Bicycle Touring Pro for free for the purposes of this review.