by Megan Welch, Manager at The Path Bike Shop. Photos: Called To Creation (top) and Megan Welch
As someone who has tried to stuff all the needed trail tools into a jersey pocket instead of sporting a full hydration pack, I am on board with the fanny pack trend. On The Path Bike Shop's first shipment of Dakine Hot Laps packs, I grabbed one right away. I took that pack on every ride except for the occasional epic ride where I would succumb to a full pack. It fit one water bottle and everything needed for a quick trail fix. Camelbak came out with the first fanny pack (that I saw), the Camelbak Palos 4LR that included a bladder. Not longer after that Dakine came out with their version (the Low Rider) and again I picked one up on the first batch.
I went with the Dakine Low Rider 5L for a few reasons: the Low Rider is a smaller pack both length and height wise, has a larger bladder, $10 less than Cambelbak, and I prefer the Dakine color options. However, I did learn if you fill the pack to the limit it becomes bigger. My first ride with the pack was a 4 hour epic so I filled it up and by the end of the ride it deflated. So it isn't a deal breaker as it reminds me to drink more water and I only have to suffer with the extra weight for a bit. On the daily, few hour rides I fill the bladder halfway and I'm good. Both the Dakine and Camelbak have a comfortable back padding that also provides a good air flow. No one likes the sweaty back full packs give, another reason why the fanny packs just make sense.
My main issue with full hydration packs is the upper back/shoulder pain it gives me. When packs began to come out with lumbar bladders, I thought this was great and a lot of customers agreed. Customers are now able to choose either bladder placement with the equal amount of storage space. I chose the Low Rider over the full lumbar packs cause they're minimal and with just a quick spin around the waist I have access to my items. The Low Riders hose wraps in front of the waist and has a secure clip to keep it from moving around. So though the full packs do have a more convenient hose and bite valve, it didn't take long to get the process of removing the hose, hydrating, and clipping it back all while pedaling.
With the bladder halfway full, it allows more room in the storage pocket to fit the trail necessities. I am able to fit a tire lever, Co2 inflator w/ 2-3 cartridges, glue less patch kit, tubeless tire plugs, CrankBrothers 17-multi tool, ChapStick, 2 nutrition bars, my cell phone and my car key. I have fit a spare tube in there but I find taping a spare to my bike allows me to keep the pack less bulky. On occasion I will climb without gloves but no way can I descend without them. The external pocket allows me to strap my gloves to the pack with easy access. Depending on size, either knee or elbow pads could also be stashed there. An awesome discovery I made (that made the pack even better) was that I was able to strap my half shell helmet tightly to the pack! For the enduro racers out there who know the struggle of having to climb with a helmet but also to have to descend with a full face helmet, this is a great alternative. I practiced with the helmet strapped tight around the pack and felt no discomfort or even noticed it was there.
I liked this pack before I bought it and all it did was convince me of the trend more. There's always more that I want from a product but on my last Dakine fanny pack I wanted a bladder and they delivered. Maybe some pockets on the belt next year, Dakine?
So if you are on the fence about this trend, at a very little price, it is worth a try. Fanny pack wearing pro tip: if you wear it on the waist vs the hips, it sits more comfortably plus it's less noticeable while you pedal.
- Dakine Low Rider 5L pack
- MSRP: $65
- Color tested: Moroccan (Black is another option)
- 2L / 70oz Hydrapak® lumbar reservoir with Phaser bite valve
- Breathable air mesh and foam back panel
- Fleece-lined padded phone pocket
- Internal organizer pockets
- External attachment straps
- Safety light attachment
- Reflective Logo