Thule Enters the Hydration Pack Market

Fresh and loaded with features, the Swedish transportation specialist is looking to impress with its new line of hydration packs.

Thule Vital Hydration Pack

What is Thule doing in the hydration pack business you ask? The Swedish transportation specialist, perhaps most well-known for its line of automotive bike carriers, has been steadily growing its travel and backpacking range over the last few years, and has now decided to take a closer look at the mountain biking side of the story. They will be launching three full hydration pack collections, the first of which is being shown here at Eurobike. The focus of this first offering is to create a fast and lightweight set of hydration packs that is designed for short to medium length rides, where you don't need to pack all that much gear. Thule says another driving factor behind the design of this line of packs is the proliferation of bikes that lack space for a water bottle in the frame.

This line of packs is named "Vital", not to be confused with your favorite website but nevertheless an early indication of quality which a subsequent detailed examination of the goods revealed to be entirely befitting. The quality of construction on display appears absolutely top-notch, and the consideration given to functionality is impressive (we'll try to get our hands on a sample to further validate this in the field).

The three new packs on display all share three major sets of features: Retract, Jersey Pocket Design, and Low Center of Gravity.

Retract

The nifty feature called "Retract" was the first to catch our eye. Retract is a magnetic hose sleeve that matches up with a magnetic strip on the shoulder strap of the pack, which allows the hose to automatically snap back into a secure position whenever you let go of it. This eliminates the need for any fiddly clips or docking stations.

Two matching strips of magnets hold the hose securely in place.
Lift the hose and it peels right off the magnets.

Jersey Pocket Design

Jersey Pocket Design was inspired by road racing, where rider will store things like tubes and gel packs in pockets on their back as opposed to on their hips or in front. The "jersey pockets" on the Vital packs sit as far back as possible in the lower back area and allow you to store your phone and your energy bars in a place where they are easy to reach but won't risk bending or cause discomfort. They also feature a locking "lip" to keep contents secure without resorting to a fiddly zipper.

Low Center of Gravity

In regards to the overall shape of each pack, Thule sought to put as much of the weight on your back as low down as possible, to promote better breathability at the top of your back and to leave this area of the body free to move when exerting yourself.

The Vital packs are available in three different sizes: 3, 6, and 8 liters. The 3 liter pack takes 1.75 liters of hydration whereas the 6 and 8 both take 2.5 liters of hydration. The Vital 8 also features a built-in "structure pad" which sits in the back and helps the pack keep its shape. It would also offer some degree of protection should you fall on your back, but it is not certified to any standard.

Other nice features: a strap management system, an expansion storage pouch in the back that will also carry helmets, and a fleece-lined media pocket for your phone if you don't want to carry it in the hip pockets to keep it a bit more protected.

The Vital line will be available through Thule's global distribution network as of February 1st, 2018. The packs will retail for $89 USD for the Vital 3, $119 USD for the Vital 6, and $139 USD for the Vital 8, including the hydration bladder.

Thule takes a very serious approach to design, so although there is no shortage of good hydration pack offerings out there, we are still excited to see them enter this market space.

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