The Mountain Bike Life
It doesn’t matter where you ride – through central Oregon in 100+ degree weather, or bombing down Who’s Yer Daddy in the B.C. rainforest – the fact is, you need water. What’s better than water? Well, how about a lot of water, plus a lot of extra space to carry all your gear. It’s not impossible, honest! Below, I’ll give you the rundown on the Dakine Drafter pack,which has faithfully had my back (hah) from dusty Bend to boggy Duncan.
Literally the most organised part of my life right here. Tools in one pocket, patch kit/tubes/levers in another. Up top, I have my basic “what if I get lost in the wilderness” pocket plus the dedicated pump area. The upper-most section is a Velcro flap for an MP3 player (there is a wire vent too), also fleece-lined.

All kinds of vented padding on the back panel and shoulder straps. Also, yes, my carpet was laid in the 60s.
The top of the 100oz/3L bladder clips to the top of the tanker pocket – not a huge deal, but it keeps the bladder from rolling and lumping up as it empties.

The Good: Cool as hell; lots of pockets (perfect for those that are “organised” only to the extent that sharp things do not go with your spare tubes; tons of room; great features (helmet strap, armour/gear straps, wax/oil pocket, bag hanger); chest and waist straps (as well as shoulder straps) comfortable and adjustable; good padding; lots of loops for miscellaneous gear (knife, for example); Polyurethane bladder (bit tougher than rubber, in my experience, as well as [theoretically] antimicrobial).

No, I’m not really a weight-weenie. No, those wrenches are not the same size. Yes, I also carry a master link and two spare tubes (they just haven’t made it in from the car yet).

The Bad: hose is smaller diameter than CamelBak packs, and kinks much more easily than a real CamelBak (though it’s gotten better with time); straps tend to loosen themselves (not really too much of a problem); built to accommodate very large people, often resulting in loose ends of straps flapping around/getting into places you don’t want them (spokes!); bottom of back panel is tricky to set up properly when the water is full; there’s more than enough room to carry all your crap, so you carry all your crap.

 XC carry. That helmet fits perfectly even with a visor.

The Down and Dirty: Overall, it’s a great pack. Much easier to use for carrying and separating tools from bug spray from pumps from tubes. Not a huge fan of the bladder (esp. with the sliding closure) or the hose, but that’s easily replaceable with a different bladder. Fits well, adjusts easily, works for biking/hiking/climbing. I would definitely recommend it!

XC carry from the top. The sort of squished pocket is the fleece sunglasses pocket (not often used in BC). I usually keep my phone and maps in there while riding, and haven’t had any issues yet with space.

Some of my favourite things about this pack aren’t immediately obvious. For instance, I thought the smallish zipped compartment on the back was kind of odd, but decided to put my oil in there, partly to keep it separate from the rest, and partly so I didn’t lose it. The next ride I went on involved one of those fantastic endos that winds up with a few rolls down the trail, over the rocks and roots. The end result amongst other things, was a broken, (used to be) full bottle of oil in my pack. However, thanks to the coating on the pocket I had put it it, nothing actually came out!
The famous “silver-lined pocket”, oil-proof and even padded on one side!

Note: I have since been informed that this is, in fact, a map pocket – purpose-built to stay dry. Well, this is embarrassing.

The other part of this pack that I really enjoy is the separate pocket for the bladder. I really like being able to fit the same amount of stuff in my pack whether I pack it while the bladder is empty or full. Now, this does get a tad frustrating – the bladder is kept on the inside of the shoulder straps, so the fit of the pack will change somewhat depending on the amount of water you’re hauling. I find myself pretty frequently adjusting the straps on hot rides, but to be perfectly honest it’s a small price to pay for the consistent amount of storage.

Full-face carry, complete with goggles still muddy from the last ride.

I think this pack is great for DH riders too, because of it’s extra snaps along the back – two to hold your armour (or jacket, if you’re a hiker), and two combined with a pocket that can carry your full-face on the way up and your regular helmet on the way down.

Full-face carry from the rear. It sits low on the pack, but so far I haven’t had it hit my back or get caught on the seat. It has hit me in the back of the head, however.

Wanna buy one? Head on over to Amazon: Dakine Drafter Hydration Pack (Cypress, 18 x 7.5 x 5-Inch)

DIY: Surviving winter with studded tires.
Building a Pump Track