Trail-Running Hydration Pack
Gregory Tempo 8L
$149, 1 lb. 2 oz. (M/L, including 2L Hydrapak bladder)
Sizes: S/M and M/L
For trail runs of more than a couple of hours, I want a hydration pack that holds two liters of water, a jacket, hat, maybe light gloves, and enough energy food to get me through several hours—but that also glues itself to my back without jostling. After numerous runs on Boise Foothills trails and a rugged 14-miler in California’s Tahoe National Forest, on steep paths constantly dropping into and climbing out of tributary canyons of the American River, I decided the Tempo 8L may be the best trail-running hydration pack I’ve found.
This small pack remained remarkably stable on my back, hardly bouncing, thanks to a unique harness design. The pack clips only in one place, with a sternum strap—there’s no waistbelt. But the bottom of each shoulder strap connects to the pack via a thin strip of nylon webbing running through a pulley-like plastic tab. The result: As your torso moves, that webbing absorbs the motion, preventing the pack from bouncing. (It only jounced slightly when I gained speed downhill.) The harness also positions the pack in the middle of your back, against your spine—exactly where you want the weight for maximum stability and minimal burden.
The Tempo includes some great features, like a pull cord to compress the packbag when it’s not full, to prevent shifting. I really like the organization. You can fit a light jacket, several bars and snacks, and the full two-liter bladder in the main compartment, which is accessed by a full-length front zipper. Or you can jam the jacket and other items into the front stuff-it pocket. (The two pockets overlap, so space in either is limited when one is filled.) Side pockets are big enough for bars or gloves, and the shoulder straps have small, low-profile pockets (one zippered, one hook-and-loop, two with stretchy fabric) for a car key, phone, point-and-shoot camera, or similar small items.
The perforated foam in the thin, flexible back pad and shoulder straps keeps your back and chest cool. The two-liter Hydrapak bladder that comes with the Tempo is easy to fill and dry out, and has an internal divider to help minimize jostling from water swishing side to side; but I wish its hose detached from the bladder for easier cleaning. Still, the Tempo 8L is ideal for three-season trail runs or dayhikes when you don’t need more than water, food, and a little extra clothing. The Tempo also comes in 5L and 3L versions for shorter runs. The two sizes (S/M and M/L) differ in chest girth, not torso length; the M/L fits the biggest range of people, according to Gregory (and fit my 18-inch torso well).
See my review of another hydration pack I like for trail running, The North Face Enduro.
NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.