by Lee Trumpore
Hydration packs have come a long way in the past few years, with more and more features being added to what was once just a simple method of carrying extra water on a ride. With many riders (and an increasing number of bike designs) forgoing traditional water bottles the need for just the right pack has become more important than ever. The Source Race 15L is aimed at riders looking to maximize water capacity and accessory space in a minimalist design. We filled it up and hit the trails to see what it is really made of.
Source Race 15L Highlights
- 15 liter storage capacity
- Light weight, minimalist design
- Expandable main compartment
- Insulated hydration compartment
- Covered tube with Helix bite-valve
- Docking station
- Padded shoulder straps and adjustable sternum belt
- Essential accessory storage with internal organizers
- Taste free, 3 liter hydration bladder
- MSRP: $121 USD
It was immediately apparent how much smaller the Source Race 15L is than all the other packs I regularly ride with. But despite the small size it's certainly not lacking for space to store clothing, tools, keys, food or other essentials. Every internal compartment is subdivided into smaller pockets and pouches to keep the contents organized and separated. The light weight construction is top notch with attention to detail that the end user will appreciate.
On The Trail
This is not a pack for someone who wants to carry their whole shop and an extra wardrobe on their back. For an afternoon of riding in the hills around my house there was plenty of room for a spare tube and pump, essential tools, snacks, and a raincoat with the 3 liter hydration bladder filled up to the max. It was too small, however to pack my DSLR camera with anything more than the shortest lens I own. While this is not necessarily a bad thing at all, it speaks to the point of choosing the right pack for where you ride and what you need to carry.
Immediately obvious on the trail was how much more comfortable this pack was to ride with than some of the larger, bulkier bags in my collection. The narrow, slim design stays put without having to over-tighten the straps and the smaller footprint left my back a whole lot less sweaty. The carrying capacity of the Source Race 15L is impressive for a pack of any size. I didn't even come close to maximizing all the accessory pockets even with enough spare parts and tools for a worst-case mechanical scenario. Taipei is pretty warm so I never needed to carry much more than a thin raincoat, though with the option to expand the main compartment you should have no problem carrying extra gear should your own rides feature much more variable weather.
The hydration hose tucked nicely out of the way and attached to its own docking station, which in addition to keeping it from swinging around prevents the valve from getting covered in grime. Anyone who has spent any time riding in the Alps, or other trail systems that cross farmland will appreciate this feature tremendously. Nothing can ruin a clean, tasteless, odor free hydration bladder quicker than a field of cow paddies on a rainy day.
The taste-free bladder is made of a medium weight, fairly thick material that so far has shown no signs of cracking or leaking and its full-width opening allows for easy filling, drying and cleaning. After a few months of use in hot, humid Taipei there are no signs of foreign growth in either the bladder or the detachable hose. For more information on the bladder you can catch our full review of Source's hydration systems HERE.
Things That Could Be Improved
The fit of the Source Race 15L is fantastic, however I managed to max out the adjustability of the waist belt to get it snug. If I was any thinner this would have been a real problem. Having 2-sided, limitless adjustment would be an easy fix to this potential problem. If you're a 32-inch waist or above then you won't even notice.
The pack has an expandable compartment for carrying a helmet, however it's not really meant for a full-face. I was able to fit one with some creative strapping, but if you're someone who like to carry both (say for some enduro events) this this might be something to consider.
Long Term Durability
Good packs don't come cheap, and they certainly aren't an item you want to be replacing every year. A few months isn't much in the lifespan of mountain bike equipment, but so far there are no signs of abnormal wear. The bladder, hose, and valve can all be easily separated and purchased individually. The lifetime warranty gives added peace of mind.
What's The Bottom Line?
The Source Spinner Race 15L is a fantastic pack for those looking to carry their essentials (and a bit more) in a minimal, highly functional pack. If you're someone who avoids hydration packs at all cost due to their heft, then it might be worth giving this one a try. Aside from the times I want to take my full size camera with me I've never found myself wanting a bigger bag or more storage. With a place for everything, comfortable fit, and a contamination resistant and taste-free bladder system there aren't too many reasons not to choose the Spinner Race 15L. Unless of course you need something bigger, in which case Source also has you covered.
For more information, check out www.sourceoutdoor.com.
About The Reviewer
Lee Trumpore has been riding bikes for more than 20 years on just about every material and technology the bike industry has come up with. In more than a decade of professional DH racing, Lee won a Collegiate National Championship and was a mainstay at major North American races as well as occasionally snagging a last page result in the World Cup series. Testing prototype components and suspension setups was common during his racing days. He has a smooth, light style on the bike even while holding it wide open. An East Coast native, his favorite trails are fast and flowing technical descents with as many corners as possible and just enough moisture to keep things interesting. Nowadays, rather than racing the clock, he'd rather enjoy a rad descent after a hard pedal to the top. A closet nerd with a Master's degree in education policy Lee currently lives in Taipei, Taiwan where he splits his time teaching mathematics to the next generation of computer geniuses and behind the lens as a photo mercenary for Vital MTB and other industry clients.