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Two MTB Hip Packs Reviewed by Top Member Reviewer and Jenson USA Award Winner 3

You can earn $100 at Jenson USA for your Vital MTB member reviews. See the best reviews from last month's Top Reviewer and learn how you could earn the top spot in August.

Every month we award the Top User Reviewer with a little prize. This month Jenson USA pitched in another $100 gift card! Vital member mntnmrtn took home top honors with his reviews of two mountain bike fanny packs:

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CamelBak Repack LR4 - MSRP: $80

The Good: Stays on tight and is comfy. Packs everything you need for a half day. Durable materials and good looks. Very well organized. Better weight distribution than a backpack for technical rides.

The Bad: The bladder's opening/handle is too hard and takes up a bit too much space.

"The most important thing was the fit, as I didn't want to crush my organs to keep the pack stable. Good news, the strap tightening system on the Repack is really well thought out. The wide and well padded "wings" and back portion of the pack have just the right density and amount of padding, and keep the bag stable. What differentiates the Camelbak from some other brands -and what makes it so nice- is the fact that you can cinch the straps on the front, even while riding, and this pulls on the front of the bag, tightening the contents close to you and your hips.In my experience, this is the best way to keep the weight from swinging everywhere. It's easy to pull on the straps, and the can easily be adjusted tighter or looser if you want to turn the pack around to grab something or to put it back on after a break.

The compartments are really well laid out, and you can easily have access to the most needed items quick. The left zipped hip pocket keeps my tire levers and Crank Brothers multi tool safe and easy to access if I need to adjust something. I stash the tool in a small zip bag to keep if away from water and to keep my presta adapter and quick link from falling on the ground. It's rolled into a bandana to cushion it a bit and this makes for a great safety item if one needs to stop blood or to wipe sweat or anything. In the right elastic pocket, I always leave an energy bar just in case I get too hungry or if I need some energy quick. The front flap is kept in place by two velcro pieces and can be fully unzipped open with two parallel zippers. Inside there are 3 thin sleeves where I store compresses and tube patches, and there is another zipped pocket to stash keys and a thin wallet.

The main compartment hosts the 1.5l bladder, pump, tube and cell phone, and there is still some space left for a small jacket or shirt. Speaking of the bladder, it is a really good quality one, with a thick material and a sturdy handle/cover/opening that is easy to fill. The straw is just the right length, and it's held in place on the front of the pack by a magnetic clip (which I removed since I didn't like it). I'm using just a regular tube clip instead, and route the hose inside the left hip section where the straps pass through. The water capacity is just right for 2-3 hour rides if I have drank some water before the ride, and usually gets emptied in the last kilometers of the ride. The only thing that I don't like about the bladder is the hard plastic opening hole/cover/handle that takes up precious space and can be a hindrance if you crash on it.

So far, after three seasons using it, I am quite convinced that this is an awesome pack." - Read more»

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Dakine Hot Laps 5L Waist Bag - MSRP: $75

The Good: Excellent bladder. Nice subtle appearance. Well organized. Durable materials and fabric.

The Bad: Needs to be a bit too tight around the waist to keep it stable when full. The cinching straps are a bit more finicky to adjust.

"First, the compartments are very well thought out. You'll find the bladder in the back section, and the hose pokes through to run externally around the hips. It's held in place by a magnetic clip like on most other hip bags. This isn't too bad, but I'd prefer the hose to be routed inside the hip pads like on the Camelbak as it keeps the tube from snagging objects. The "main" compartment has a key holder and a few sleeves to store your phone, wallet, multi tool etc. I actually like this configuration, as most things you need are easy to access without fuss. The side hip pockets are nice to stash a key or a small energy bar, but not as substantial as those on the Repack LR4. Both bags carry around the same volume of things, but I feel like the Dakine is a bit less refined. It's got really durable fabrics and is well fabricated, so durability should be really good. It's backed by Dakine's lifetime warranty, so you are in good hands if something happens.

Comfort-wise, it's pretty good, and the rubbery mesh on the back helps the bag stay on your clothes. Unfortunately, the straps used to cinch the weight aren't as wide and as easy to use as on the Camelback, which makes the weight less easy to manage. After two rides, I thought that you could feel more the center strap "digging" into your body, and I didn't have this sensation ever with the Repack. I think that the Hot Laps 5L would be more comfortable with a bit less weight inside, like on shorter rides with less water.

Speaking of water, the Hot Laps' bladder is the main reason why I got the bag. It's super soft and flexible, doesn't taste like plastic, has no hard parts, and doesn't take much space in the bag. Conveniently, the size fits perfectly in my other hip pack too, so they are pretty much interchangeable if one likes a brand or the other.

All in all, in my opinion, the Dakine Hot Laps 5L isn't as good as the Camelbak Repack LR4, but it's still a good choice if you don't fill it up completely. They share a lot of things in common, and each one has something better or worse than the other, but the Dakine's strong points are the easy content access and the excellent bladder." - Read more»

Shop the Camelbak Repack LR4 and Dakine Hot Laps 5L at Jenson USA


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Want to be in the running for August's award? Review the components, apparel, or bikes you ride in the Vital MTB Product Guide and keep an eye on the Top Reviewer leaderboard. We'll announce the winner in early September.

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