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Hands-on Gear Review
TETON Sports Trailrunner Review
Cons: No storage, difficult to fill and clean
Bottom line: This is an inexpensive hydration pack with minimal storage.
The TETON Sports TrailRunner 2.0 is an inexpensive hydration pack geared towards minimalists on a budget. This pack doesn't have a lot of frills or extras but is a basic pack that performs well enough when used for day hiking and nontechnical riding. If you're looking for an inexpensive hydration pack for casual use, this pack is worth a look.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Is the TETON Sports Trailrunner 2.0 our Editors' Choice or Best Buy? Top Pick? No, not even close. What this pack does have is a low price and it does work well enough for occasional use. For the recreational day hiker or someone who may occasionally carry a water bottle on their walks and wants to try something new, this pack is worth a look.
When you take a look at the chart below, you'll find how the TrailRunner 2.0 compared to the other lightweight packs in our hydration pack test.
Ease of Drinking
The TrailRunner has a two liter BPA free hydration bladder included. This water supply is connected ultimately to the bite valve via a potentially problematic threaded fitting on the kink-free hydration tube.
We actually did experience kinking at the top of the shoulder just outside the tube exit port on the left shoulder. The drinking tube had a mind of its own and seemed to like to bend sharply before traveling down the shoulder strap. While the kink didn't completely occlude the drinking tube, it restricted the already less than impressive flow that much more.
With that exception the hydration tube was kink-free. The bite valve supplied with the TrailRunner delivers an adequate but not impressive flow of water. Our testers all commented on the effort needed to satisfy their thirst while on the trail.
Even the other tied for least expensive in our lineup, the Wacool 2L delivered water with less effort. The TrailRunner also had the push-to-close style bite valve; slide the valve forward to open and back up to close. The mechanism seems to work, although we still experienced an occasional drip even with the valve supposedly closed. If you're a light water sipper, this may be a non-issue, but for those of us who tend to gulp now and then, it wasn't ideal.
Ease of Filling
The hydration bladder of the TrailRunner has an ample supply of water once filled, carrying two liters of liquid goodness. The bladder can be accessed via an opening on the main pack compartment itself which opens completely across the top and is secured with a one inch hook and loop closure. On the outer half of the pouch is a flap that folds over the upper part of the hydration bladder.
This flap needs to be pulled upward out of the bag in order to access the bladder. Once you've done this, there is a simple hook and loop strap to loop through the water bag to keep it upright. Undo this and remove the hydration bladder approximately 6" to access the fill port which is 2" in diameter and capped. We felt like we needed to exercise extra caution with the hydration bladder since it seems thin and flimsy, not in the same league as our other packs from CamelBak, Platypus, Osprey, or Deuter.
The TrailRunner has the smallest opening in our test, by roughly half. This doesn't affect filling if you've got access to a sink, even easier if it's a deep sink. For other water sources, it may prove a tougher task to fill up than our other test packs with their wider openings, handles, etc.
Once loaded with water and a jacket strapped to the external bungee cord on the back of the pack, we found the TrailRunner carried well enough, though we were not overly impressed. Our testers with narrower shoulders commented that the pack straps were too wide and had to be cinched in with the sternum strap, much like the Wacool 2L. Our testers with broader shoulders didn't mind the fit, and the shoulder straps stayed put where they should.
The independently thinking drinking tube rode annoyingly, either rubbing users' arms or chests. Perhaps shortening the tube a few inches would help? The TETON Sports TrailRunner is a simple hydration pack and has a lightweight 420D ripstop body attached to a padded, insulated, and somewhat ventilated mesh back panel. We found the ventilation was not in the same league as other packs like the Osprey Syncro 10, but then the price is over $100 cheaper. The simple two layer mesh shoulder straps did an okay job supporting the hydration pack and the primary adjustable webbing waist belt kept the pack from bouncing around too much. Overall, for an inexpensive hydration pack, the comfort level was okay, though it did not compare to the more expensive models.
Being a minimalist lightweight pack like the CamelBak Classic and CamelBak Rogue, the TrailRunner's storage is limited. The pack only has one dedicated storage area, which is a simple unsecured mesh sleeve on the back of the pack with an external stretch bungee cord to pull over it.
If you're gentle, you can possible store soft items inside the main body, along with the hydration bladder, although there would be nothing to protect the bladder from your gear. A simple zipper would likely puncture the seemingly fragile bladder. TETON Sports says the pack will carry wallets, phones, and snacks which sounds pretty accurate after testing. We found that strapping a light shell jacket under the bungee worked well and didn't affect the carry of the pack. For an inexpensive lightweight pack, the TrailRunner carries just enough.
Here's one area where this affordable model stands out. While it lacks in other metrics, it is indeed lightweight. Coming in with a measured weight of 12.8 ounces, the Trailrunner weighs the same as the CamelBak Rogue, and 1.6oz heavier than the CamelBak Classic. This pack weighs in with the frontrunners, pun intended.
Ease of Cleaning
The TrailRunner was the most difficult to clean in our test lineup. The opening of this pack is small, the smallest in our test. To clean, the bladder is removed from the main pouch, and for better or worse, the drinking tube can be unscrewed from the bladder which gives easy access to brushing it out. Cleaning the hydration bladder proves more difficult with the narrow 2" opening. Where all of the other packs can easily be cleaned by hand with a cloth, sponge, or brush, the bladder of the TrailRunner can really only be cleaned with a relatively narrow bottle brush.
The drinking tube is easily accessed for cleaning from the threaded fitting on the bladder end. Unfortunately, we were unable to remove the bite valve for complete cleaning.
The valve has a similar fitting like all the other packs, but when we attempted to pull and twist it to remove the valve, we stopped for fear of breaking it. Cleaning the inside helped us relive the past when we let our hydration bladders become microbiology experiments since they were a pain to clean.
If you're looking for a simple lightweight hydration pack and don't care about extras, this bag could be for you. The pack provides an adequate carrying experience for light day hikes and casual riding. And at $25, it won't set you back too far.
In a tie for most inexpensive hydration pack in our 2017 lineup, the TrailRunner is a basic pack with a pleasant light weight and adequate comfort for broader shoulders.
If you're an occasional hydration pack user and don't need anything fancy, check out the TrailRunner. It'll carry your water and a couple small extras without breaking the bank.
— Jason Cronk
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