Reviews are like fluff these days. Magazines for the most part have created a feeling that if a review goes to print, someone’s signed a nice advertising deal. I generally don’t read reviews, so writing one, something I have not done for years, is odd. That said I had been meaning to review this pack for my own ex-blog for years, quite literally. For some reason it never happened and to be honest, I’m glad it hadn’t. Almost 4 years with this pack has given me plenty of time to mull it over and after all this time, aside from a few small quirks, I still think it’s one of the best.
I have a pack fetish. Yes, I have sought help but to no avail. There is just something about really great packs that I love. After many years with all manners of hydro packs, from most of the main players, I knew I wanted something more than the half arsed attempts at harnessing 3 litres of water to my back. Most packs are ill conceived for life on the bike, with harness systems being nothing more than a half baked tweak of a hiking set up. It’s never seemingly occurred to most pack designers that when you’re on a bike, throwing the weight through one’s hips might not be the smartest thing to do.
So in my quest to find the ideal pack, I came across UK based company, Kriega. What makes Kriega so special is that they make packs for people who ride motorcycles, road and off road, so I guess they know that dumping weight into your hips is a stupid idea when you’re bent over on a bike. Looking through the Kriega site, they have a large range of packs and accessories that revolve around their particular way of thinking, which like I mentioned, is rather smart.
The X factor.
The main component of any pack is the harness system, that being the straps etc and how they attach the load to your body. Most packs have shoulder straps and a waist belt, well designed or not, that the pack maker usually relies on the stabilise the load. Better designs of the past few years have seen the straps play a bigger role in this area but for the most part, the majority of packs need the waist belt to either stabilise the load or carry the weight, with the shoulder straps there to just hold it to your back (or in some cases, look good). This is all great when you’re upright and walking but on a bike you bend at the waist, so a belt is both uncomfortable and ineffective.
Kriega, being based in the world of two wheels rather than running/walking/hiking, developed a system that meets the unique needs of wearing a pack on two wheels. Recognising the fact that if you are on a bike, you probably are not going to carry huge loads on your back, they developed a harness system that does away with the waist harness and instead keeps the load firmly attached to your torso. Called the Quadloc system it’s a very effective harness that effectively forms an X shape once on and secures the pack to you it’s four points. On the Hydro 3, the straps have a single central buckle that makes doing it up simple and quick. Fully adjustable, once set up the pack lives up to the claim that it will be the most comfortable pack ever.
The proof is in the pudding.
No, the pack does not come with pudding (wish it did…mmmm pudding).
Out in the real world, things can sometimes be different than if you’re playing with something in a shop and the idea of a torso hugging pack might seem great but prove a disaster. Not so here and once adjusted right, the Hydro 3 becomes ‘invisible’. First up it’s a different feeling having the straps quite firmly wrap around your chest but once you get over that, the pack really is very comfy. It does not move, at all. The Quadloc system holds the pack firmly in place yet does not constrict chest expansion, so from moving around on the bike, as one does through single track, or puffing and panting on climbs, the Kriega is one with you, rather than some thing hanging off your shoulders. While the Hydro 3 comes with a waist belt, I find that I don’t need to use it and actually have it tucked away.
The only gripe I have with the the Quadloc Lite system which is near perfect, right down to the fully length adjustable straps (with nifty markers to make sure both straps are the same length) that once on, work a treat, is that I really dislike the way they they are not tied into the pack; something presumably done to make them adjustable. The webbing that runs down the length of the strap acts as the anchor but when I take the pack on and off, quite often the strap pad pulls out of the pack and I have to feed it back in. Fiddly, especially when the bladder’s full.
Storage wise, the Hydro 3 is slim. In the stash compartment, I can put a multitool, micro pump, small tin-o-bits and some other small odds and ends. The bladder hose has a velcro sleeve that attaches to the strap and the back of the pack has both webbing ladder lock points and a bungie cord web. You won’t be doing an Epic using the Hydro 3 by itself, but you will when you add on on of Kriega’s nifty strap of storage compartments, the US-5 or US-10. With a few straps, you can add 5 or litres of storage to the pack, making it perfect for long epics.
The materials used in the pack are first class and tough and the detailing is simple, functional, yet attractive and purposeful. I guess that’s what you get when a company offers a 10 year warranty on their goods. Real quality, not look good in the shop quality. So in the real world, the Hydro 3 is near perfect… from my point of view.
Famous last words.
After using the Kriega on everything from a 60km Fling to short sessions around the local, near 4 years has past and the Hyro 3 looks and works just as well as it did on day one. With the Quadloc harness working such a treat, I do not see myself replacing the Hydro 3 any time soon, or if I do it will be with another Kriega product.
I now return you to your regular programming.