Jetflow Tomahawk Hydration System Review

Jetflow Tomahawk Hydration System Review

Suppose I told you that a company was designing a hydration system designed to compete with the ubiquitous hydration bladder.  What if I then told you that this system can use anything from a Nalgene 1L to a plastic bottle that you picked up the local gas station?  Enter the Jetflow, a small startup that has the promise to compete with the big boys.

Jetflow Hydration Systems Features:

  • Jetflow Technology Included – Jetflow Eagle System
  • Hydration Load Cell – Easy Open EVA Exchange Pocket
  • Bullet Bite Valve – Maximum Flow Patented Bite Valve
  • 1 Oversize Organizational Pocket
  • Adjustable Sternum Strap
  • Earphone / Headphone Access
  • Reflective Piping
  • Padded Ventilated EVA Back Panel
  • Active Harness Suspension

My Experience

The Jetflow’s main feature is that it can accept virtually any bottle, allowing users to easily imbibe their favorite fluids.  We’ve all sucked the air out of a plastic bottle and had our tongue sucked into it, and this illustrates the problem that the Jetflow overcomes: we create a vacuum in the reservoir when we drink through a bite valve.  If someone wanted to use a hard reservoir (or a bottle), there would have to be a way of releaving this pressure.  Hard reservoirs themselves have been around for years, but currently there aren’t any popular systems that allow people to use water bottles in a hydration pack setup.

Jetflow’s solution is a unique manifold with both a bite valve hose and a patented Jetvalve hose which releases pressure.  The Jetflow uses adaptors to accommodate dozens of bottles (everything from Smart Water to Gatorade to Nalgene), which are listed on their website.

There are a couple of clear advantages to a system like this: for one thing, the infamous plastic flavor of hydration bladders is gone, and the water (or whatever you’re drinking) tastes just like it does straight from the bottle.  Additionally, the Jewflow is really easy to clean: all of the hoses detach, and the Jetvalve unscrews so that a Schrader pump can be attached to blow out the system.

Jetflow is plagued by a few of the problems associated with startups.  For one thing, customers will have to buy extras like insulated hoses or alternate bite valves from another company.  Moreover, I have to say that the plastic choices are a little dubious; liquids taste great when they’re being used immediately, but if the Jetflow is left overnight the water’s taste becomes incredibly plasticy.  I daresay that better hosing and more options will become available as the Jetflow gets more popular.

A 1L Nalgene hooked up to the Jetflow Manifold. Note the red plastic adaptor.

The particular pack that I tested is called the Tomahawk, and it’s one away from their smallest system in the lineup.  The pack’s main compartment holds the Jetflow manifold and could easily accept the odd protein bar.  An outside pocket allows for additional storage and can hold a wallet, phone and keys.  This small pack revealed what may be the only downside to using a hard bottle in a hydration pack: when the pack’s pockets are full, the bottle makes its presence felt between your shoulder blades.

While the Jetflow system itself is pretty awesome, I’d say the pack options right now are a little lacking.  For one thing, the fabric has hardly any water resistance so my belongings picked up a nice sheen of moisture whenever the weather turned foul.  The pack comes with two clips per hose (the bite valve and Jetvalve hoses) and I can’t fathom why they’d do that on the hydration side; Jetflow’s choice of hose is so soft that it kinks at the clips when I tried to drink from it.  I ended up just ditching the clips.

If you don’t need a pack but are interested in the idea of using your own bottles in a hydration pack, I would highly recommend using the Jetflow with another hydration-compatible pack.  The Jetflow’s hoses are sufficiently long for most packs so I’d say that this is a good option while Jetflow continues to improve the quality of their packs.

My Jetflow is only showing one significant problem: the plastic on the Jetvalve has cracked.  It’s not affecting performance now, but ultimately I’ll need to replace the part.

A mud-spattered Tomahawk after a wet ride.

The Good:

  • Beverages taste great when immediately used – no plastic taste
  • Whole system is easy to clean
  • Works with a wide range of bottles
  • Affordable, especially compared to conventional bladder
  • Great for travel where water bottles are safest water source

The Bad:

  • Beverages taste really bad when left in the system overnight
  • Lack of hosing and bite valve options
  • Hose kinks easily
  • Backpacks feel a little rudimentary
  • Jetvalve has developed a crack

The Bottom Line

The Jetflow is a great concept and I’ve enjoyed testing it out.  While there are some evident teething pains, I think it’s a good enough product to make it to the big leagues.  I can’t say that I would recommend their packs, but the Jetflow system itself is great; for days when I don’t need a full 2L bladder, the Jetflow will be my go-to system for hydration.

Buy now:  Available from Jetflow.com

Written By

Kevin Glover is an outdoorsman living in Northern Nevada. He hikes, bikes and backpacks where he grew up near the beautiful Ruby Mountains, not to mention a little place called Tahoe.