Hydrolight by Hydrolight Outdoor Gear: A first look
Want to find out about a simple idea that will light up your world while keeping you hydrated? Read on.
I have a few criteria for making gear choices. A couple I used to share with my students who were on track to being outdoor professionals. “Good gear is cheap gear that does the job well. The best gear is free gear that does the same. Buy good gear, aspire to best gear.” Another thing I find important is that if possible each item has many purposes. This is a tricky one, not every multi-use tool is designed as well as a Swiss Army knife. More often than not rather than doing several things well they do nothing of note. So while I aspire to multi-use items I am usually pretty wary. In the last few months, I have come across a couple of them that knock this concept out of the park. They will also change what I carry. Recently, I reviewed Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape and now we have Hydrolight by Hydrolight Outdoor Gear.
So what is Hydrolight and why am I excited?
The concept is simple. Take a hydration bladder. Use materials that are both sustainable and healthy and then make them translucent. Throw in a pocket that will hold a few small items you need to keep dry and a head lamp. The lamp beam shines through the water diffusing the light and cutting down glare. Now you not only have a bladder you also have a lantern. I have never carried a lantern into the backcountry, this is a treat.
The real treat was meeting one of the people behind the venture.
Every now and again you come across someone with the exuberance of an Apple employee and the intensity of an outdoor adventurer. When this person has been working on a passion project for some years and wants to share it with you watch out. You are about to embark on a wild ride.
Brian Mielcarek came over to the house to drop off a pre-production sample of the Hydrolight. He had just finished shooting video footage for publicity and that had followed a day at work. The smile and handshake told me I was going to like him. The energy that followed ensured it. Why do I tell you about this? This is a gear review after all. Well…
When we pick up a product we don’t usually see the blood, sweat, tears, and conviction that went into breathing it to life. We are oblivious to the various evolutions and obstacles of its journey. We are unaware of the number of times the instigators picked themselves up, dusted themselves off and got back into the fray. I have been fortunate enough to be around visionaries who have brought gear into the world. Trust me drive and conviction is significant factors in success. What counts a lot more though is the intention behind the product. Why are these people doing what they are doing?
During our time together Brian had shared what was important to him. Never was making money mentioned. What he wants, is to see people enjoying themselves. The idea of sitting around in the wilderness with a group of friends is what brings him alive. He wants others to experience this community. He wants them to share excitement, kindness and a thoughtful approach to life. Amen brother. When people have these kinds of values they keep on regardless of how hard the journey.
So how does it perform?
The bladder is simple and has many neat features. The pipe can be removed so that it can be placed through the sleeve of your pack. The joint is at the bottom of the bag making it less likely to come unattached accidentally. (One of my pet peeves with my current bladder.) It has a wide mouth roll-top opening. There is a simple handle that also holds the shape of the bladder. Because of the last two features it pulls inside out and holds its shape.
This is huge folks, you can put your bladder in the dishwasher and dry it on a rack. This translates as no nasty chemicals required to clean it. The bite valve is simple and effective. There is a hanging strap. And, of course, there is the headlamp pocket that is big enough to put most headlamps of choice in it.
The light produced is beautiful and diffuse. It does not blind you and yet illuminates a large area. I took it into the shed to find some illusive ski gear last night. It was completely sufficient to navigate the overstuffed Tupperware in a dark space.
So far things are looking bright for HydroLight. I will update the review after an extended test.
The Kickstarter launches on 6/18/2019
It was 11.30 when we finally said goodnight. Two strangers had become friends over shared values and excitement for a product. I hope it does so well it inspires more from this particular stable. And yes, there are a lot more good ideas ready to surface when this takes off.
Wil was born in North Wales and steeped in its rich maritime, mountain and river folklore. In response to the request to “get a real job” he became first a teacher then professor of adventure education.
He then emigrated to where the sun shines for 300 days and snowfalls for 100 (Colorado). During more than 25 years as an outdoor educator, he worked Scottish winter seasons, taught canoeing, climbing, kayaking, and skiing throughout the States, Europe, and Australia. He also regenerated the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Outdoor Education program. His biggest adventure (by far) is fatherhood. It has also been the inspiration for his website www.wherethefruitis.com.
Things he likes to do include (middle) aging gracefully, and skiing (telemark) aggressively. He is happiest outdoors with a good view, good company, good weather/snow and the residue of self-powered adventure; sweat, a manic grin, and wild eyes.