Throw your packs away and get rid of your water bottles. Okay, not really, but at least consider not bringing them along when you are on the mountain this upcoming season. With 686‘s new jacket, the GLCR Reservoir Jacket with Hydrastash, you won’t need to wear that pesky pack thanks to an innovative, built-in reservoir system that sits in the powder skirt of the jacket. The new winter ski and snowboard jacket debuts in September for $350, but is it as promising as it sounds? We decided to test it out.
Right out of the box, the 686 Hydrastash jacket is a stylish, sleek outer layer. The integrated bladder is so well hidden in the powder skirt that I almost thought I got sent the wrong item. It’s a waterproof, breathable winter jacket with insulation (80 grams polyfill in the body, 60 grams in the sleeves, and 40 grams in the hood) and all the amenities necessary when spending a day on the slopes: pit vents, wrist gaiters, a zippered sleeve pass pocket, a large internal mesh stash pocket, and an inner media audio pocket, too.
The entire jacket has a slightly fitted feel with enough stretch to not feel encumbered when making turns, and it sits just below the hips. The wrist gaiters were a bit short for my arms and the hood didn’t fit over my helmet, but the Hydrastash system made up for those shortcomings.
I stuffed my jacket full of snacks, my pass, and my phone, and then proceeded to check out how this Hydrastash system works. 686’s premise is that the long, skinny bladder, which holds 25 ounces, is easy to fill, seal up, and stay near your hips for a bother-free day both on and off the chairlift.
In reality? It’s actually pretty genius. At multiple times throughout the day, I forgot that I even had a special jacket on, until I got thirsty and was able to sip easy without having to go inside.
I filled the bladder fully and headed to Beaver Creek. Even in the car, I could not feel the bladder resting behind my hips. Once ready to ride, I snapped the powder skirt tight around my waist, and clipped the three buckles to my snow pants so nothing would ride up.
The day was extremely cold (single digits), extremely windy (boo), and extremely snowy (yay). I had put on my usual base and mid-layers and felt chilled but not cold throughout the day. To my surprise, the bladder and straw, which runs up the zippered inner lefthand side of the jacket, did not freeze. In fact, the water was ever so slightly warm. The microbite valve did get icy, though it was more exposed to the elements since it ends right near the top of the zipper, and I didn’t have my coat fully zipped up. Day one was a success – I rode hard and didn’t have to stop inside for water, yet was fully hydrated.
Day two was similarly cold and windy, though a bit more sunny at Keystone. I scrapped one layer, yet was still warm throughout the day.
Again, I filled the bladder up in the morning, preparing for the day. 686 makes this filling process pretty seamless – you don’t need to remove the bladder from the jacket entirely. Unzip it from the powder skirt and pull it out a bit to get to the opening for easy filling.
I found that for the best, spill-free fill, first start by blowing into the bladder to get it puffed up and ready. Then, I’d recommend using a water bottle or cup to pour the water in. I did try using a drinking fountain, as well as a rapid water-bottle filling station, but between the line behind me and trying to keep the sensor on, a cup was much easier.
Load it up with water to a bit below the first hook-and-loop closure, then roll up the top and secure. Zip the bladder back in, and that’s it. According to 686, the bladder could be filled, run over with a small car, and still won’t burst. It can also be easily removed from the jacket to clean and air out. The powder skirt, however, cannot be removed.
Throughout the day, I drank freely and shared some of my secret stash with friends; I filled up again at mid-day using a cup from the water station.
If you want to rip in-bounds without having to carry a pack or stop inside during the day, the 686 GLCR Reservoir Jacket with Hydrastash is a warm, comfortable jacket that will quench your thirst on the go.
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