Review by Johan Hjord // Photos by Tal Rozow and Johan Hjord
Say Mavic and most people think of rims and wheels, of the bright yellow variety more often than not. Well, over the recent years the company has also been developing a line of apparel and accessories, aimed squarely at the kind of riding the staff at Mavic themselves enjoy the most – climbing a hill and bombing down it. First introduced at Eurobike 2013, the Crossmax 15L hydration pack was developed to be the perfect companion for longer days out, and we’ve been putting it through its paces for almost 4 months now to see what gives.
Mavic Crossmax Hydropack 15 Highlights
- Main Fabric: 420D RIPSTOP
- Pocket for cell phone
- Adjustable belt with pockets
- Backlight clip
- 15L cargo capacity
- Tool compartment
- Roll-out helmet flap
- Delivered with 3L hydration bladder (made by Hydrapak)
- 4 front zipped pockets integrated on straps
- Separate hydration compartment
- Padded belt with large buckle
- Adjustable sternum strap
- MSRP: $149.95 USD (EUR 130 in Europe)
When you first lay eyes and hands on the Crossmax pack, the initial impression is of quality. The pack is designed by Mavic from the ground up, and manufactured by Salomon, which should tell you everything you need to know about how well it was made. The looks are understated yet decidedly modern, and the attention to detail is second to none. Super-neat stitching, yellow tabs on all the main zippers, lots of different materials used in different places…no corners were cut here!
15 liters is quite a lot of cargo capacity, but the design of the pack is very compact. Furthermore, Mavic added a lot of clever little external pockets in addition to the numerous internal compartments available, to make it easy to reach stuff you need frequent access to without removing the pack. Mavic has a top level Enduro team led by Jerome Clementz, Fabien Barel and Anne-Caro Chausson and many of the requirements for the pack came directly from them. That’s a good thing, because beyond the fancy name, Enduro is really what riding a mountain bike is about for many of us – minus the stopwatch.
The Crossmax pack offers 2 main internal compartments plus a dedicated hydration compartment. The largest cargo compartment is free of internal dividers, while the secondary compartment offers internal zippered pockets and specific tool holders. There is also a soft internal pocket for carrying your cellphone, and a specific external pocket for your pump. To round off the features overview, there is a nifty helmet carrier that can adjust to anything from an XC lid to a fullface. The only thing missing is a rain cover.
To keep you cool, the backpanel of the Crossmax features raised pads and sizeable air channels, dubbed “Climaflow”. The large waist strap also features an internal mesh for breathability, while the small sternum strap is adjustable in height. To ensure that the pack and its contents stay put when the going gets rowdy, there are also cargo compression straps on the side of the pack. The Crossmax is delivered with a 3 L bladder from Hydrapak, and on that note, it’s time to fill it up and go hit the trails…
On The Trail
Packing the Crossmax is easy, with so much dedicated storage available everything has its place. Despite the seemingly compact exterior, the pack will handily swallow enough cargo to keep you going for a full day out. Tools, spares, pump, tubes, food, first aid, rain jacket will all fit with room to spare, and you can load up the small frontal pockets with energy gels or CO2 cartridges if you race. Internally, the tool holders are at the bottom of the pack, with the smaller mesh pockets found up top – keeping the center of gravity as low as possible. The tool compartment opens fully to make your mobile workshop experience comfortable.
Once on the trail, the pack is very comfortable. It is easy to adjust the fit, and the pack stays put even through your most vigorous efforts. The padded and ventilated back panel keeps your back fairly cool, although the pads do absorb a bit of moisture when it gets hot outside. The included bladder from Hydropak works well, its compact design with an internal divider keeps the water from sloshing about, and the wide opening makes filling and cleaning it easy. It is taste free and the bite valve is drip free. Note that the isolated bladder compartment will take any bladder if you happen to have a preference you’d rather stick with.
The cut of the pack is pretty much perfect. Everything feels snug, and as previously mentioned, the pack doesn’t move around as you get your enduro on. Having an energy bar or your phone available in the small pockets up front is also a nice touch on the trail.
The built-in helmet carrier is one of the better solutions we’ve come across. It holds any helmet securely, and yes, that even includes an actual fullface. If you like to carry your helmet on your pack for lengthy climbs, this feature alone is worth considering the Crossmax for (many packs claim helmet-carrying capabilities but leave much to be desired in reality).
We didn’t get to test the Crossmax in proper rain. The pack lacks a dedicated rain cover, and although it has weather-sealed zippers it is not waterproof, so prepare to invest in an external cover of some sort if you ride in the rain a lot. (Note that Mavic’s own rain jacket comes with expansion zippers in the back to allow you to wear it over the pack, a solution to the lack of a rain cover in the pack which works well enough – although we do recommend going up one size of jacket if that is the route you intend to take).
Things That Could Be Improved
The list of things to improve on the Crossmax pack is a very short list. The lack of a rain cover is of course far from a deal breaker, but for $149, it would not be too much to ask to have a simple one included. We also think the dedicated internal phone compartment should be made moistureproof and feature a bit more padding for protection.
The pack does not feature an excess of external straps, so if you need to attach lots of body armor to your pack for climbing, the Crossmax may not be the first choice. The main cargo compartment can take a pair of kneepads, and of course you can easily carry pads in the helmet carrier or attach them to the compression straps or the carrying handle as well. For the kind of riding the Crossmax was designed for, we sort of doubt you’d need much more anyway.
The included Hydropak bladder has worked well for the test, but we’d like to see it come with a clip of some sort for securing the hose while riding. The hose is a bit long, and although there is dedicated routing along the shoulder straps for it, it still dangles about a bit (cutting it down in length is an easy DIY remedy). The bite valve is also not most comfortable to use we’ve come across, but not something you can’t get used to.
Long Term Durability
We’ve ridden the Crossmax pack extensively for close to 4 months, including 2 months in blazing summer heat that left the pack drenched with sweat after each ride (yuck, right?), and it’s showing no signs of early demise. Not a single stitch has come loose, and there are no tears or scuffs to report either, despite several unscheduled incidents involving rolling around on the ground at speed. It smells a bit funky after all that sweating, but nothing a good hosing down won’t set straight. The Crossmax Hydropack is in it for the long run, and that’s a good thing!
What’s The Bottom Line?
Mavic only makes one hydration pack (in two sizes), and they have put all their riding experience into designing it just the way they want it. The result is pack that holds all the cargo you could need for a day on the bike, looks (really!) good, and is made to the highest quality standards. Lots of storage options for all your gear in a design that makes it super comfortable for everyday use, and it’s close to full marks for Mavic.
More information at www.mavic.com.
About The Reviewer
Johan Hjord loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.