I have a collection of hydration packs, bottles, fanny-packs and sometimes I just wedge a waterbottle under the deck straps on my Starboard Astro Touring board. As training, exploring and down wind adventures demand lots of time, sweat and hydration I am always seeking the best solution. I recently tried the Mazama Sidestream: Hydration Waist Pack which holds 1.3 liters of fluid.
I have found that a hydration pack that fits over my shoulders is sometimes awkward while paddling. Adjusting the shoulder and chest straps is helpful, but not always ideal. The first time I used the Mazama Sidestream I noticed that I actually forgot I was wearing it – a good thing!
In order to drink I did need to grab the bite-nozzle and bring it up to my mouth. Even during a race it seems like a quick movement, practically effortless. There is a neoprene holder near the front of the Sidestream. The bite nozzle fits easily and securely into that holder, so the hose/nozzle stays out of the way while paddling and is easily available.
Once you’re done hydrating, you simply let the drink tube recoil back into the pack, and with a quick motion, insert the bite valve into its neoprene holder. 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.
On the water I like to carry my phone in its waterproof case. There is plenty of room in the Sidestream for my phone, an energy bar and even my car key – but remeber to protect your electronic key from water if you plan to carry it.