Source produces a wide gamut of hydration packs, ranging from the minimalist running packs to various sized biking hydration packs. With the Whistler 20L Hydration Backpack, Source aims to implement some tech features into a pack that can hold a larger amount of gear and water without weighing you down.
Source Whistler 20L Hydration Backpack Highlights
- Lightweight Fabrics - Ripstop 70D Nylon
- Loop for helmet attachment
- Padded shoulder straps
- Valve Docking station
- Adjustable sternum belt with integrated whistle
- A padded and vented back system with porous foam
- Elastic strap retainers
- Fast access hip pocketsfor easy reach and more storage
- Lightweight buckles
- External straps for fastening protective gear
- Concealed rain cover
- Reflective LED tab holder
- Essentials compartment with internal storeganizer™
- Insulated hydration compartment
- Carrying handle-
- Size - H 46.5cm W 26.5cm
- Weight - 949 gr
- Volume - 20L
- MSRP $135.00
Out of the packaging, the Whistler 20L is noticeably larger than your typical day pack and looks to meet the needs of someone that is going out for longer rides and/or needs to bring along additional layers and gear, and a solid amount of water. With the mesh side pockets and extra long straps across the back, its obvious that this would be also be a great pack for a multi-stage Enduro races where riders might want to ditch the knee pads and full face during the long climbs. I tested out this scenario quickly and found that it’s straightforward to strap in a full face securely and pads if needed. Additional technical features like zip pockets in the hip belt, a docking station for the valve, insulated hydration tube, and included rain cover show that Source have put some thought into the design and features.
On the Trail:
My first weekend out with the pack started with a 20 miler ride, requiring me to pack a good amount of gear such as a rain jacket, an additional long sleeve layer, plenty of Clif Bars, a mini pump, and a multi tool. The Source really shines in the volume department, allowing plenty of expandable room when needed but still feeling comfortable on the body. The light weight pack felt centered and didn’t shift around much, and the porous thick rear padding combined with the vent channels helped to keep airflow moving. For my shorter rides, simply cinching down the rear straps tight compacts the pack down nicely and makes it a usuable day pack for those shorter rides. What set the Whistler 20L apart for me are some of its technical features that Source added. On our ride, we spent about 80% of our time in the pouring rain and mud, so having an included rain cover and a valve that docks into a protective shield so you’re never having to swallow bits of mud and dirt was much appreciated. I really liked the idea of having quick access on the hip belt to items like a cell phone or an energy bar, and I wish more packs would implement this feature. The pack has extra long straps pretty much all over, so riders of all sizes should have no problem making this pack fit. At first I wasn’t a fan of the Widepac hydration bladder, but its ease of filling has it growing on me. Not to mention Source includes a UV protecting covering on the tube as well as technology in the plastics that prevent bio-film buildup and inhibits bacteria growth so you can leave water in the pack for a few days and just top it off before your next ride (guilty of this!) and not have to worry about funky tastes! Learn more about their hydration reservoir technology HERE.
What could be improved:
One area that I could see improved on the Whistler 20L pack is some of its internal organization. In the two main compartments, there are only large zippered pockets that don’t really isolate items too well, especially if you toss your phone inside with keys or multi-tools. It’s also a bit of a pain to have to undo all straps on the rear to access both compartments completely. Being someone that rides in variable conditions, I’d also like to see the hip pockets be made of a sealed material instead of mesh as to help keep water & mud off a stored cell phone.
Long term durability:
During testing of the Whistler 20L, I had a pretty serious OTB onto my back landing on a section of roots, rocks and plenty of east coast mud. There were no rips or tears in the Ripstop material, and after a quick run through the washing machine, the pack looked brand new again. All the seams look to be of great quality and I can see this pack lasting many seasons.
What’s the Bottom Line?
If you’re someone that is looking for a light weight pack with plenty of space to wrangle some extra gear when needed and appreciate the technical features listed above, the $135 price tag makes the Whistler 20L a competitive option compared to packs of similar capacity.
For more information visit http://sourceoutdoor.com/en/