Terradrift: ExtremeMist® Personal Cooling System review

Yeah, yeah, I know summer is basically over, but down here in the south and southwest where 5 out of 7 days are still above 85º, we’ve still got a lot of toasty hikes ahead of us. And while we are personally masochistic (or desperate?) enough to head out into dry, sweltering summer temps to hike shade-less trails with naught but a few Nalgenes full of water, we recently discovered a piece of gear that makes those outings exceeding less miserable: The ExtremeMist Personal Cooling System (PCS). And we’re gonna tell you all about the whole misting-and-hydration-in-one in this here review.

Don’t wanna read? Watch the video above. Rather read? Get to it, then!

ExtremeMist PCS hydration bladder and blue pump technology
The ExtremeMist hydration and misting system from one hydration bladder.

ExtremeMist Personal Cooling System: How it Works

Its purpose: keep you hydrated–and cool–during the hottest outdoor adventures. Why? So you can go out there and get to it no matter how hot or dry or sunny it is (and fly down trails everyone else avoids because it’s too dang hot). Hiking, trail running, mountain biking, long walks down sunny, deserted sidewalks, you name it.

Here’s how it works: Because it’s drinking and misting from one bladder, it’s got a couple more parts and pieces than your traditional hydration bladder. You have the usual drinking hose, of course (the clear one), but there are a few more blue hoses that go in and out and every which way, starting with one coming straight out of the bladder.

The blue pump nestled in its very own pocket.

That one goes from the included 2-liter bladder (complete with wide-mouth top for easy cleaning and filling and an insulating sleeve) into the ExtremeMist Blue Pump Technology, a battery-powered pump. Then another hose with a mister nozzle goes from the pump out the front of the pack to send a nice, cooling mist up into your hot, sweaty face.

The battery charges via USB and you can tell if in needs a charge with the push of a button. Extra bonus, it can be used to charge your phone or other small devices via a second USB output port.

Tada! Drinking and Misting in one! And all in one trail-friendly vest-style backpack.

ExtremeMist PCS

ExtremeMist PCS: What We Thought

Spoiler alert: we dig the ExtremeMist Pack.

First off, the drinking hose is great. It has a delightful magnetic attachment point, which is fantastic and I didn’t even know I needed in a drinking hose, plus the mouthpiece has a lock so your bladder doesn’t leak all over the place when it’s in the back of your car or your tent and you accidentally set your cookset or shoes or whatever on top of the mouthpiece, opening the valve and soaking all of your belongings in the process. We’ve all done it and had to wear soggy pants or wake up to find a puddle on the tent floor…

This hoses are flexible, so you can wind them through any of these loops and clip it wherever you want it, which is nice, making it tolerably customizable and easy to get all the hoses where you want them. The mister hose even has a fully articulating head so you can adjust it depending on your direction of forward motion (point it in front of you if you’re moving fast, straight up if you’re hiking slow, down if you’re going downhill…you get it).

The ExtremeMist’s Blue Pump technology (and battery pack).

The Pump & Mister

The pump/mister has eight different speeds depending on how…misty…you want it. The faster speeds obviously use more water–about 6.5 cups per hour, so you wouldn’t probably want to use those on longer excursions where you’re trying to conserve water for drinking purposes–but the slower speeds only use about one and a half cups per hour if the mister is on continuously. And we found that the lowest speeds still pumped out plenty of mist to keep us cool most days. Plus, we generally started and stopped it every couple of minutes instead of letting it run as it puts out plenty of misty goodness. And it’s all controlled with a little remote, which tucks securely into one of the 4 pockets on the front of the vest.

As for battery life, the pack should last up to 12 hours with continual use, according to ExtremeMist (we still haven’t had to recharge it after a good handful of test runs).

The Pack

Now, here’s what we liked about the pack itself: it’s comfortable and very adjustable to fit people of multiple sizes. In fact, it only comes in two sizes. The extra small expands to a L and the L to a 4XL. Josh and I could both easily use the smaller size with only a few easy adjustments when we passed it back and forth.

Another thing we appreciated about it: lots of little pockets to stash frequently-used items like chapstick and sunscreen, sunglasses and cell phones on the front, back and sides. And to our surprise, even the non-zippered front pockets were secure enough to keep our cell phone from jostling or falling out when we ran with the pack. The side pockets are easy to reach, and are the perfect size for a few snacks or energy gels or whatever.

Adjustable sides make fitting the pack easy.

That said, it’s not really designed for long day hikes. While there are lots of small pockets for snack bars and such (here’s a list of our fave vegan hiking snacks), because the blue pump, hydration bladder and hoses all take up quite a bit of room, there’s not enough space inside the pack for much else (namely, the 10 essentials). When we tested it on a 10-mile hike, there was barely enough room for a light extra layer, a couple sandwiches, and an extra water bottle, so we definitely had to carry an extra pack for that stuff.

However, if you do need more space, ExtremeMist designed a solution: They also sell a separate waist pack that can be used on its own or zipped onto the bottom of the pack (brilliant!) to add pockets for water bottles and more snacks or first aid kits or whatever, plus offers the stability of a waist strap. Super handy and solid planning on ExtremeMist’s part.

The hose connection on the hydration pack (drinking hose on the left, pump intake hose on the right).

But! We also discovered you can temporarily disassemble the hoses from the hydration pack in order to transfer the whole thing to a larger pack if you need more space for gear or want to take the mister system backpacking (or want to set it up in your tent, on your hammock, on your dog’s harness…). Of course, if you’re going to do that, you might just want to go with the ExtremeMist retrofit kit that lets you convert an existing hydration bladder into a mister pack, which is pretty cool. Say, if you already have a pack you love and don’t want to clutter your gear closet.

I only had one very specific personal gripe: There was nowhere to attach my Peak Design Capture Clip, which means I couldn’t attach my camera to the outside of the pack for easy access. I had to clip it to a belt instead, which is less comfortable, but doable.

But like I said, that’s a very specific gripe that applies to a very specific group of people. Probably about 6 of us.

hiking with the ExtremeMist PCS in Texas

For shorter day hikes, though, it was plenty of space for a few snacks and was more comfortable than a lot of small daypacks. It really hugs your back, chest and shoulders, just like a good vest should, so it really didn’t feel like you had anything on at all and we both felt like we had to make very few adjustments once we started hiking. It didn’t rub any hot spots and didn’t make our shoulders sore or anything. The straps are a light, thin, breathable mesh-type fabric with no extraneous padding, proof that sometimes, less is more.

If trail running is more your thing, well, we tested it out at faster clips, too, and it stayed put nicely without all the jostling around of a lot of other packs. Which is good, because this bag is technically designed more as a vest than a daypack, anyway, so it better not bounce all over the place when you’re hustling up or down the trail.

The Weight

One downside, though: it’s not light. The pump and battery pack alone weigh 1 lb. So if you’re an ultralight trail runner or hiker, this system is probably not for you. But if you frequently hike or run in dry, desert climates where the sweat evaporates right off your body before it has a chance to cool you down and that keeps you from getting out there any time you want, this pack is a really nice thing to have.

Personally, I may have dealt with the extra weight of the battery pack and put the whole contraption in my backpack when we backpacked rim to rim across the Grand Canyon a few summers ago. 120 degrees in the sun doesn’t feel great, lemme tell you. And so dry! A cool mist would have been a God send.

And the several times we’ve hiked up Camelback in Scottsdale, Arizona or in Utah’s national parks (like Canyonlands) where it’s hot and dry and there’s no shade, well, lets just say that it would have made those experiences way more pleasurable. And we’ll definitely be bringing this pack along the next time we head that direction. It’ll come in handy for all the hiking we do in Texas, too, when temps rise to 110 and sunny trails start scorching out less prepared hikers.

hiking in Texas, pedernales falls state park

Bottom Line

Is the ExtremeMist PCS perfect for every outing? Well, no. There’s not enough space in the pack for long hikes or excursions and the heavy pump won’t appeal to ultralight outdoorists, but for shorter adventures in hot climates and for anyone who’s willing to trade a lighter pack for a bit more comfort in the outdoors, it’s a very handy tool for when the sun is hot, the humidity is low, and you still want to be able to go play outside without being totally miserable. Wanna try it out for yourself? Get yourself the full Extreme Mist PCS Pack here or the Retrofit Kit here.

And don’t let summer stop you from getting out there to explore. Wander on.

 

Source: Terra Drift