What Run Oregon is Trying: Mazama Designs – SideStream Hydration Pack (and Windigo Hydration Reservoir)

Company: Mazama

Mazama Designs is an outdoor-products development company, committed to providing innovative, high-quality products that will enhance your enjoyment and performance.  We’re a group of outdoor enthusiasts and athletes with a passion for improving the gear we use every day. Our testing grounds are just out the back door in the high desert country of Central Oregon, where there is no shortage of gear challenges.

Matt Hoskins, our company’s founder and chief product developer’s search for the perfect hydration pack that inspired our Sidestream™ waistpack. Matt sought to design a comfortable, convenient system that would allow a runner to drink on the move with minimal distraction and without disrupting the pace. The Sidestream™ embodies the Mazama design philosophy: build clean, streamlined products that integrate seamlessly with the activity at hand. Whether you’re recreating or racing, every minute counts, they shouldn’t be wasted messing with your gear.

Product: Sidestream Hydration Pack
Cost: $59

Specs:

  • Retracting drink tube
  • 45 oz.(1.3 L) fill in-pack reservoir
  • Gel pocket
  • Zippered accessory pocket
  • High flow, 360 degree bite valve
  • No BPA/PVC
  • Pack dimensions: 16″ x 8″ x 2.5″
  • Pack weight: 13 oz (empty)
  • Colors
    • Lava (grey)
    • Aqua (blue)

Impressions:

I have both a running pack and a running belt and utilize both on occasion. My running belt is an everyday accessory, while the pack is more of a longer run thing. If a gun was put to my head and I had to choose one for comfort, I would go with a belt as opposed to a pack. However, one thing that my favorite running belt doesn’t provide is the ability to carry hydration with me. I know some belts have water bottle capabilities, but the sloshing and struggling to secure the water bottles back in the belt have always been something that has led me away from these types.

Hose in the “pocket”

Sidestream Hydration Pack reached out to us about trying one of their belt packs. We loved that this company was from right here in Bend and I appreciated that my problem may be able to be solved by a local company. Here is a description of the waistpack:

Inspired by afternoon runs on the DesChutes River Trail, Mazama’s Sidestream hydration waistpack lets you hydrate smoothly and easily on-the-fly. Sidestream’s self-storing drink tube allows you to hydrate in-stride without slowing down or taking your eyes off the trail. Just draw-up the bite valve from the waist belt and drink, when you’re done let the drink tube recoil back into the pack. Sidestream features a fill-in-pack, 45 oz. reservoir, large bore drink tube and our original high flow DesChutes Bite Valve. Sidestream sits in the small of your back, close to your center-of-gravity for a comfortable, no bounce fit. You stay in balance and your fluid doesn’t slosh.

Uncoiled hose and “pocket”.

The waistpack is a little bigger than I anticipated, but it’s neutral visual design (I received the grey version) made it appear less so. Inside, the bladder is connected to the pack around the neck, which effectively assists with keeping it in place inside. It expands nicely and the pocket itself is designed to not have it be flexible, but not bulge out too much. There is also a small zipped that would be ideal for a key or energy gel.

In all honesty, my expectations were far surpassed and this is something that I would be more likely to take on long trails runs and on will be perfect for road runs this summer. My first test with this was on a 15 mile trail run along Wildwood and Leif Erikson.Even with lots of rolling hills and elevation changes over 2+ hours, the pack stayed really snug to my body. Once I got the correct tightness, there was no additional need for sizing.

One of Mazama’s new reservoirs tucked away nicely inside.

The big selling point of this to me, is the super easy way to get a drink from the bite valve. Their patented DesChutes Bite Valve offers a steady strong flow without effort. It’s just bite and go. The 360 degree bite valve meant that I could just put my mouth around it and the tube did all the work. The valve is tucked away on the right side in a quasi-“pocket”. Thirsty? Simply give a little tug and pull the hose up to your mouth. No fiddling with water bottles – just simple and easy hydration. When done, the Sidestream hose easily recoils back into the pack, the nozzle rests gently in the pocket, and you continue on your way without breaking stride.

I dealt with the hose popping out of the pocket a few times before I realized that I needed to stop trying to be so gentle with it. I mean, I was trail running – that is no time for being careful. The pocket has an opening on both ends, and by tucking the hose all the way through the pocket after having it recoil , it stayed snug and wouldn’t pop out. My 6’2 frame caused the hose to come up just a tad too short. It wasn’t a major issue, I just had to tuck my head a little bit when drinking. Any taller and you may need to war the pack a little higher or understand that your head may have to come down when drinking.

Windigo Reservoir

Mazama also sells reservoirs that can fit in almost all popular hiking packs, many of which are new and appear to be pretty technologically savvy. The new Windigo reservoir seems to be a solid choice. Here are some of the specs (from the product website):

…features a wide mouth, leak proof top fill port and made-in-the USA, PVC/BPA-free bladder film. The low profile, top fill closure opens wide for easy filling and cleaning and positively seals every time with a quick flip of the twin locking levers. Windigo’s full-length handle provides a sturdy handhold during fill-up and helps you load the reservoir into a full pack. Windigo includes our high flow, original DesChutes bite valve with a one-hand push button shut off. Super magnets on the bite valve and a strap-mounted magnet retainer provide easy, but secure bite valve access. A mid-line quick connect lets you load your reservoir while leaving the drink tube connected to your pack.

For someone who is a relative novice when it comes to hiking bladders (well, as relative to hardcore hikers) this was really easy to figure out. The open top and handle made storage and filling a cinch – much easier than what I was used to. And for only $37, this seems like a steal. If you run with a bladder system, or are a hiker in addition to a runner, check this out. There is even their Dualocity reservoir, which allows runners/hikers to carry two separate fluids at once.

Don’t forget to support local companies like Mazama!

Easy open!

About Matt Rasmussen (1599 Articles)
Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching the Olympics, sampling craft beers, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.
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