Staying hydrated on a multi-pitch climb can be a nightmare. Rooting for a bottle, trying not to drop it and drinking without spilling is complicated and difficult while you’re suspended at a hanging belay. And once the water is inside you, what do you do with the bottle? It just takes up space in your pack/haulbag. If you use a bladder, you risk losing all your water if it is punctured.
On a recent trip up the Rainbow Wall in Red Rocks, Las Vegas, I used what may be the perfect multi-pitch water bottle. The SoftFlask 750 from Hydrapak, an IV-like bag that has a tab that you can clip to your harness, to the anchor or to an inner keeper loop on your pack/bag. The flask is easy to hold and not too big to climb with. The silicone bite valve makes getting a drink easy and eliminates spilling or dropping a loose bottle top. Best, the bottle collapses as you drink, adding room to your pack with every sip.
The SoftFlask 750 was light (about half the weight of a Nalgene of equal size) and surprisingly durable—it survived being crammed in with gear on the two-hour approach and the trip up 12 pitches. For what it’s worth, a video made by Hydrapak shows someone standing on a full SoftFlask without popping it.
My only beef was size. Thebottles only come in sizes up to 750 milliliters. While a couple of these saw me up the Rainbow Wall, it was 104 degrees in Vegas that day and I would have preferred two full liters for the climb. When Hydrapak makes the SoftFlask in the liter size, they really will have the perfect multi-pitch water bottle.
About the Rating: The SoftFlask addresses most of the problems inherent with conventional, screw-top, hard-bodied water bottles or bladders. I just wish they made a bigger size.
*Large opening for easy filling.
*Construction: Thermoplastic polyurethane
*Easy to hold
*Volume: 750 ml
*Length: 10.5 inches
*Width: 4.25 inches
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