When it comes to hydrating on the bike there are seemingly endless choices these days. Basic water bottles have taken on custom shapes and sizes, have insulated options, built in water filters, and even locking on/off squirt valves. Hydration packs come in an almost infinite amount of sizes and are now produced by a number of different manufacturers, but most people will agree hands free hydration originated with the CamelBak.
Hydration Pack History
According to CamelBak, hands free hydration came about over two decades ago in 1988 when a man by the name of Michael Edison was racing in the "hotter than hell 100," a 100 mile road race in Texas, where as you can imagine, water is a scare resource. Michael was a medical technician and presumably a resourceful one at that. During the race he rigged up an IV bag filled with water, stuffed it into a tube sock, and attached a hose to his mouth, thus beginning the hands free hydration revolution.
Today it is a rare sight to be on a ride without a hydration pack in sight, especially as complex suspension designs evolve leaving little room for water bottle cages. Man, woman, or child, there are now hydration packs to outfit the masses. The CamelBak Magic is one of the more recent offerings for female cyclists and it is designed to be women's specific, with a low profile, and as CamelBak claims, is ideal for two plus hours of mountain biking with essential gear.
Women's Specific Technology
What exactly encompasses a women's specific hydration pack you ask? The Magic features an S-curve women's harness and short pack profile which is ideal for the shorter torso and curvier female figure. I find the Magic fits my five foot two inch frame noticeably better than any other unisex hydration packs I have tried. The lower harness hugs the hips comfortably and securely while the chest strap offers additional stability without encroaching on your bust.
The water and carrying capacity of the Magic will not get you through an all day hammer fest nor schlep the water and gear needed for a high altitude jaunt, but most female riders will find the size ideal for their typical rides, whether it be an after work spin at the local park or a half day crusade on an IMBA epic. The 70 ounce Antidote reservoir was sufficient for all but my most ambitious riding needs. If you are looking for a full day's worth of hydration but want to stay light on your back, supplementing the Magic with a full water bottle in the bike cage should do the trick.
Simple & Enjoyable Hydration
When it is time to refill, the bladder is easily accessible and the new quick seal cap cuts down on time and hassle by minimizing turns to screw the reservoir cap on and off. Once the bladder is accessed for filling purposes, simply undoing the Velcro top strap will allow the bladder to be removed for drying and cleaning if you feel so inclined.
Drinking from the Magic hydration pack is simple and enjoyable courtesy of the patented Big Bite valve which allows for ample flow, even when you desire to do nothing but chug water in hopes of catching up on hydration. I have always been discouraged by dripping hydration valves and thankfully the Magic does not suffer from this problem. The water was only emitted when my lips requested it. For those wary of leaky valves, the Magic is equipped with a locking bite valve, dubbed HydroGuard technology. I find this feature mostly useful when tossing the hydration pack in the car or packing for a race or weekend getaway. Locking the valve eliminates water leakage no matter what sort of pressure you may put on the Magic's bladder.
The CamelBak Magic hydration pack is available in three colors, blue shadow, dark chocolate and white. There are also subtle reflective accents on the Magic which can provide additional visibility on rides that end later than expected.
- Comfortable woman's fit
- Color choices that don't scream, "I am a girl!"
- Great function from filling to drinking
- Too small for a do-it-all pack
- Bladder filling takes precision without removing from pack