Editor’s Note: This article is part of the Mtbr Guide to hydration packs, featuring the new CamelBak Low Rider line. To see all the articles, head over to our Low Rider hydration pack hub page. This article and the articles in this section are courtesy of CamelBak.
Yuri Hauswald knows how to go long. Whether it’s 24-hour racing, epic gravel grinders, or cross-country stage racing, the California resident has a penchant for logging major miles — and doing it at the front of the pack. Through the years, Hauswald’s won a pair of 24-Hours of Adrenaline solo category events, the Dirty Kanza, and he was part of the second place 40-plus team at the grueling Pioneer MTB Stage Race in the Southern Alps of New Zealand earlier this year.
Besides sheer talent on the bike, one of the things that sets Hauswald apart is that he often opts to use a hydration pack rather than just water bottles. That was certainly the case during his time in New Zealand, where he and his teammate covered more than 350 miles and logged more than 30 hours of saddle time while wearing the new CamelBak Skyline 10LR Low Rider hydration pack. We caught up with Hauswald to learn more about why he chooses the gear he does — and what it’s like to go so deep into the pain cave.
Question: Why did you opt to use a pack instead of bottles in New Zealand?
Yuri Hauswald: The main reason I use a pack for stage races and many of the other endurance events I do is for hands free hydration. I like being able to keep my hands on the bars when I’m hydrating, especially in big events like Dirty Kanza. The fact that I could only carry one bottle on my race bike also influenced my decision, as well as the fact that I needed to be able to haul the required minimum safety gear.
Q: Generally speaking what do you look for in a hydration pack?
YH: Stability, ease of hydrating, comfort, and hauling capacity.
Q: For the Pioneer stage race, you used with the CamelBak Skyline 10LR. Why was that your pack of choice?
YH: No. 1 is the fact that the lowered lumbar design keeps your water and cargo weight low and centered on your lower back, which when racing over 350 miles of Southern Alps trail really made a huge difference. It was a lot more comfortable, and I felt less strain on my arms, forearms, triceps due to the fact that all the weight was centered around my waist. The pack was also extremely stable on steep descents, and the side pockets on the waist band were excellent for stowing GU gels and solid foods. I also really appreciated the comfortable back padding, which breathes really well.
Q: What was the essential gear that you carried in the pack each day during the New Zealand event?
YH: I carried two tubes, a pump, a Swiss Army knife multi tool from Lezyne, tire boot, quick link, small container of lube, rain jacket, and multiple CO2s. I stuffed the side pockets with GU gels and bits of solid food. All the pockets make it really easy to stay organized.
Q: Last question. Can you recall a specific instance where having a hydration pack (and the gear inside it) saved your ass?
YH: Well, I’m not super proud of this one, and my wife hates it, but me and two buddies got lost on the Toiyabe Crest Trail, just outside of a small mining ghost town in Kingston, Nevada. It was the kind of lost that means you’re filtering water at any spring or creek you come upon, and spending the night on a cliff at 8500 feet, and making a fire so that you can dry your shoes, socks and feet after crisscrossing a high alpine creek for hours. We were completely shattered and utterly exhausted.
You could say that my CamelBak, which was filled with spare tubes, a water filter, a space blanket, a PB&J, and some extra CO2s, saved my ass. I was the lucky one that got to “sleep” in relative comfort in a sage bush due to my space blanket. We spent 26 hours lost and the best part was that the National Guard was just moments away from mobilizing a search and rescue mission for us when we stumbled into the Kingston fire station.