I've never owned a hydration pack before, so I had no prior experience in the matter, nor any preferences to work with. All I knew was that I wanted a hydration pack with me on my upcoming Mount Washington hike. So like Andrew, I did a lot of research on hydration systems, sorting through various brands, pack sizes, and bladder features. I finally decided I wanted a basic, light-weight pack, small enough to allow full mobility, but large enough to hold a full-size 3L bladder and some additional essentials. A few friends recommended a more common brand, but their bladders received mixed reviews. Since the bladder is the core of the hydration pack, I set out to find the best bladder design, which led me to Source, and ultimately this Commander 5L model. From the glass-like interior, to the high-flow Storm valve, the bladder is so well designed and executed. All of the components work as intended, and the unit has never leaked. There is a bit of a learning curve with the Storm Valve, but it really is easier to drink from than the bite valves on my friends' packs. You just have to remember to lock the valve when you're done drinking or it'll end up dribbling all over your clothes. As for the pack itself, it is definitely a bit tight on storage, however I find its simplicity and quality of manufacture impressive. In retrospect I probably should have gone with the 10L capacity for my hike, but the 5L proved sufficient. Since I wasn't able to overload it, the lighter weight enabled me to move at a faster pace, and get to the mountain summit before nightfall. It ended up being a hot day out there - I left with a full 3L, but 6 hours later had less than .5L remaining. I honestly believe that without my Source Commander, I would not have made it up that mountain.
I purchased this product after about a month and a half of research to find the perfect pack for my needs. I ran, hiked, and walked A LOT with this thing and i can safely say that it met my demands quite well and exceeded my expectations.When i first bought this pack i was afraid that it wouldnt be the best pack for running but it actually turned out to be awesome for running activities. The straps can be adjusted to ensure that it does not bounce or "slap" your back during running or any other activity. The extra storage is great for holding your food and other items if you are going to be spending the day outdoors. Its been used very heavily for a month and a half and its stitching is still in pristine condition. Nothing has frayed, snapped, ripped or separated. The MOLLE webbing that it comes with lets you attach a variety of pouches and other accesories so you can hold more items or attach reflectors etc... I would recommend this item to anyone who likes to go on 1 to 15 hour adventures and to runners who like to carry extra items with them while they run.