The Mountain Bike Life

I owned a slim CamelBak for years. I really thought I had the best option out there, until I saw the Dakine Amp 12L hanging on the shelf. This attractive pack really has exactly everything I need, including some options I wanted, yet didn’t even know were available. For a do-it-all pack that holds 3L of water, ample space for tools, and numerous organizational pockets, check out the Dakine Amp.

My main complaint with traditional hydration packs was the points of contact on my back.  I get seriously sweaty when I ride, and I hate having the mesh of my backpack drenched in sweat.  What I always wanted in a pack–but didn’t even know was already a ‘thing’–was Dakine’s air mesh suspended back.  It uses a nonabsorbent thin mesh that is suspended from a contact point at the top and bottom of the pack, while the bulk of the pack is actually extended outwards in an arch.

Close-up of the airflow mesh.

While riding, the airflow definitely feels great, but what really works for me is that my pack is completely sweat free after my longest rides.  I was worried that a full hydration bladder and a very full pack would stretch the arc and force the pack against my sweaty back.  However, there seems to be a stiff liner that prevents the pack from rubbing against the breathable mesh.  The mesh also spreads the weight distribution quite comfortably.

Detail of where the airflow mesh meets the top of the backpack.  Great seams.

As far as dedicated pockets go, the inside has two mesh zipper pockets where I keep my tools and personal items.  In the main interior pocket, I keep a spare tube and snack.  On the outermost pocket, I can fit a dry shirt.  There’s a rain fly that takes up very little space, and a separate pocket on the outside that contains an elastic helmet carrier to be clipped into the exterior of the pack.  It has a fleece-lined sunglasses pocket, and on the inside of the main compartment, another fleece-lined pocket for my phone.  Fleece-lined pockets are great when you have to take of your sunglasses mid ride and don’t want them scratching against your keys while you ride.

The chest and waist belt function well, and also contain a safety whistle–because you never know what might happen.  It’s made of durable materials, and the zippers are silky smooth.  I tried to find a fault in this pack to make a well-balanced review, but I really couldn’t.  The bladder system is not a screw-cap like a CamelBack, but rather a folding edge with a plastic securing mechanism similar to a Ziploc.  As far as I can tell from a half-summer’s worth of use, it’s durable.

Some light reading.

What really succeeds for this pack is capacity without feeling overstuffed.  The pockets are deep, and the pockets have pockets.  Even when the bladder is filled to the brim, I can comfortably fit a pair of sunglasses, wallet, keys, allen wrench set, rain fly, patch kit, spare tube, clean shirt, digital camera, portable pump, phone, and a snack.  This leaves room to spare.  It gives me the option to drink 3 liters of water on a ride, while still carrying whatever else I might need, which is important to me.  Follow the Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared.”

The exterior helmet strap being used to carry some fairly bulky Vans sneakers.

The charcoal color is classy and muted but the green accents keep it unique.  I’ve used it hiking, and it works perfectly.  I strongly recommend this pack to anyone looking to comfortably carry more than some water and a multi-tool.  Find it on the internet anywhere from $80-$125.

Hydration pack on the outside, next to my iPhone 4 for size comparison.

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