Mammut MTR 201 10+2L
$90, 10-12L/610-732 c.i., 9.5 oz.
How can the lightest hydration pack on the market be stable enough for trail running and mountain biking, yet have the capacity for a big dayhike? When that pack morphs into a different animal with the pull of a zipper. From mountain bike rides of up to five hours and numerous trail runs of up to 20 miles and 3,600 vertical feet in the Boise Foothills, to dayhikes in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains, the MTR 201 10+2L proved unusually versatile and carried surprisingly well for being lighter than any hydration pack I’ve reviewed.
The sleek profile and low weight make it appropriate for trail runs, rides, or hikes of an hour or two, when you may carry only water, a bar or two, and a light jacket. But by opening a perimeter zipper, you can increase the pack’s volume like a bellows expanding, from 10 liters to 12 liters, making it large enough for a dayhike of several hours or a one-day ultra-hike.
Because it has no suspension, just thin, highly breathable, perforated foam against your back and in the shoulder straps, you don’t want to overload it: I found it carries up to about 12 pounds comfortably. (Mammut recommends a max weight of 5 kg/11 lbs.) I stuffed about 15 pounds of water, clothing, and food on dayhikes in the Dolomites, and that caused it to tug somewhat uncomfortably against my shoulders. Still, it was surprisingly comfortable and stable when running or biking, and rides high, so it doesn’t my lower back sore like some daypacks that ride lower. Having water in the bladder actually creates some rigidity that helps stabilize the load because of the way the pack hugs your back.
You get an impressive array of features for such a minimalist pack. A separate, zippered bladder pocket means you don’t have to remove pack contents to refill it. A thin, webbing waist belt helps prevent the load jouncing when running. There’s a pocket on each shoulder strap, one for a small bottle and a stretchy second pocket for a phone. Two small, stretchy side pockets fit items like gloves or bars. A compact, zippered front pocket holds keys and such, and a front bungee secures a jacket, with a loop below it for a light.
I’ve reviewed hydration packs that are slightly more stable for running, like the Gregory Tempo 8L and The North Face Enduro. But the MTR 201 hardly bounces going uphill or downhill and is half the weight of the Tempo 8L and one-third the weight of many daypacks. If you tend to go fairly light on trail runs, rides, hikes, or multi-pitch rock climbs and want a very light hydration pack with great versatility, take a look at the MTR 201 10+2L. There’s also a seven-liter version for $80
BUY IT NOW: You can support my work on this blog (and find the best price) by clicking this link to purchase this at backcountry.com.
See also my stories “My 10 Most-Read Gear Reviews,” “The Simple Equation of Ultralight Backpacking: Less Weight = More Fun,” “Buying Gear? Read This First,” “5 Tips For Spending Less on Hiking and Backpacking Gear,” and “Ask Me: How Do We Begin Lightening Up Our Backpacking Gear?”
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