While many have ditched the backpack, I’ve been a holdout when it comes to wearing hydration packs. That said, I was pretty curious to try Dakine’s Hot Laps Waist Bag (which we first checked out at the Sea Otter Classic) after scoring one at the Impact Sun Valley media camp. Dakine’s Gabe Schroder said this bag quickly became his go-to pack for any ride under two hours long, and I wanted to see if I’d start wearing it for my hot laps too.
The waist bag provides 2L of storage space with a soft-lined pocket for smartphones or sunglasses, two more internal pockets, and a key loop inside. There are also two strips of webbing loops, one inside the pack and one across the outside. If you plan to bring a pump on your ride, you’ll have to have one that’s less than eight inches long. Alongside a compact pump, a spare tube and levers would easily fit in the bag.
The left side of the pack features a water bottle holder which can be buttoned down flat when not in use. They’ve also included an adjustable elastic strap to loop over the top of your bottle in case the elasticized holder doesn’t keep it secure enough.
On my first test ride, it was awesome to feel air flowing freely over my back. There is simply no comparison – the waist bag kept me far cooler than any hydration pack, even my nicest one with its suspended mesh back panel.
The Hot Laps bag has wide bases for its waist strap, which distribute weight nicely and aren’t too bulky to pedal comfortably in. The back of the pack and straps are covered with a breathable mesh, which helps a bit but won’t keep you from sweating behind the pack.
The bag stays in place pretty well as you ride, and the waist strap doesn’t need to be super tight for climbing. I would recommend giving it a snug-up tug before dropping in to any rough descents or hitting any jumps, but you won’t have to choke yourself out to keep the bag secure.
While I could not get the water bottle back into the holder on my first few tries, I quickly figured out a technique for replacing the bottle while riding- If you grab the elastic mesh panel with the tips of your first two fingers and pinch it against the side of the bottle, the bottle will slip into the holder. After a bit of practice, I was getting my bottle in and out fairly easily. Still, hydration packs can’t be beat when it comes to the ease of grabbing a quick sip, especially when you’re bobbling over technical terrain.
I have not used the elastic strap to secure my bottle yet, and haven’t had the bottle move inside its holder at all… perhaps if the holder loosens up with more use the strap will come into play. One other detail I appreciated was the bag’s large zipper pulls, which make it easy to access your stuff with gloves on.
I do a lot of shorter before/after work rides, so I’m happy to welcome the Hot Laps waist bag into my gear closet. As expected, not having my back covered made a huge difference for keeping cool on the trail, and the bag wears comfortably enough that I don’t even think about it while riding. For shorter loops the Hot Laps bag can carry everything you should need, so why bulk up with anything larger and hotter? Dakine has convinced me- I’m officially hip to the hip/waist pack!
The Hot Laps 2L waist bag sells for $40 USD, and there are five different colors/patterns available. Dakine also offers a larger 5L and a smaller ‘Stealth’ version of the Hot Laps bag.