I realized the other day that I haven’t touched any of my hydration packs in months. Unless I’m going to be way out in the middle of nowhere, I much prefer to have gear and water mounted to the bike, and off of my back. But what about those days where you need to carry more water and gear than your bike can carry—without going full hydration pack? Thanks to a new bladder and more room for cargo, the new Bontrager Rapid Pack Hydro may be the perfect answer.
What’s new? Well, take the popular Bontrager Rapid Pack shape and add more water and a larger 3.5L storage capacity.
More Water, Bladder Style
The integrated bladder is made by HydraPak and has large circular welds that keep it relatively flat when filled up to the 1.5L capacity. Thankfully, it has a quick release coupling to make it easy to remove and fill—or to remove completely if you’d rather just use the bottle storage pocket on the outside.
Take note though, the opening flap was completely stuck down when it arrived and it’s easy to think the opening is in the middle of the flap, instead of at the top as shown above. Once you figure that out, and initially peel it apart, it’s super easy to fill, fold, and seal.
More Water, Bottle Style
For longer missions (or for drink mix), there is a bottle pocket on the outside like the original Rapid Pack. To me, this is probably too much weight for the pack, so I use one or the other. Not both at the same time. However, that external pocket becomes useful for things like sunglasses, or a light jacket.
The large zippered pocked provides access to the hydration bladder, but you’ll also find velcro straps to stash a pump. There’s also enough room in there to store other things as well.
The front zippered pockets offer decent internal organization for smaller tools, snacks, keys, etc. There’s also enough room inside for an iphone 12 with a bulky case.
To keep the hose in check, there is a magnetic mount which makes it pretty easy to find, drink, and stow while riding. You may have to cut the hose down to size though depending on your size. For me, the stock 36″ hose size is definitely too long and catches on my arm. It’s pretty easy to pop out the bite valve, cut down the hose, and reinstall.
How Does it Fit?
To be completely honest, I’ve grown weary of most of these types of hip packs. By the time you add in the weight of a full hydration bladder, most of them are uncomfortable, sag while you’re riding, and are generally a pain in the rear (literally).
Because of that, I wasn’t really that excited to try out the Rapid Pack Hydro—but I’m glad I did. Between the shape of the belt, bladder, and everything else, it actually stays in place without having to cinch it so tight you can barely breathe. That seems to be thanks to the wide profile that keeps the weight closer to your back, so it’s not cantilevered out behind you as you bounce down the trail. The foam back panel keeps the contents from digging into your back, and in spite of the wider profile, it keeps your back cooler than a typical hydration pack. So far, if I was looking for a hip pack with a hydration bladder, this would be the one.
Pricing & Availability
Offered in addition to the original Rapid Pack, the new Rapid Pack Hydro is priced at $89.99 and available now.