Source Fuse 12L Hydration Pack

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Source Fuse Hydration Pack 12L
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Tested: SOURCE Fuse 12L Hydration Pack

Rating: Vital Review

Review by Fred Robinson

SOURCE Hydration might not be the first name you think of when it's time to buy a new hydration pack, but with what we've seen from SOURCE so far, that will likely be changing in the near future. Recently we've had the chance to test a slew of products from SOURCE Hydration, with the latest being the Fuse 12L Hydration Pack. With a large 12L cargo carrying capacity and 3L bladder, the Fuse Pack is intended for short hikes and rides, but in our opinion a pack this size is ample for longer days in the saddle. With a minimalist approach in terms of construction yet still packed with plenty of storage compartments, dividers and unique features, let's see how this lightweight and large volume pack stacks up.

SOURCE Fuse 12L Highlights

  • Lightweight Fabrics
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Adjustable sternum belt with integrated whistle
  • Padded and vented porous foam back system
  • Lightweight buckles
  • Essentials compartment with internal Storeganizer™, key holder, pen pockets
  • Velcro sealed phone pouch
  • Insulated hydration compartment
  • Raincover included
  • Carrying handle
  • Cargo Volume - 12L
  • Hydration Volume - 3L Widepac (included with pack)
  • MSRP: $60

SOURCE Hydration Features

  • Widepac™ hydration system
  • Helix™ bite valve - Comfortable valve with safety shut-off mode
  • Co-Ex tube
  • Triple layer taste and odor free film
  • Glass Like™ Film Technology
  • Grunge-Guard™ Technology
  • Taste Free™ System
  • Easy Care & Low Maintenance

Initial Impressions

Despite the Fuse's hefty 15L carrying capacity, the pack is fairly flimsy and shapeless when empty. This isn't a bad thing by any means though; we could have just said the pack is “lightweight and minimal,” but that would undercut how truly light and minimal the pack really is. Once loaded with gear and water, the pack conforms to your back nicely and isn't rigid or bulky making fitment and adjustment extremely easy. The shoulder straps, sternum belt and waist belt are all adjustable and the excess straps are easily tucked away with elastic bands to prevent them from flapping around or catching on objects while riding.

The bladder features SOURCE's unique Widepac Hydration System and Quick Connect Adapter which allows you to remove the drinking tube making pulling the bladder, filling and adding ice easy. The bladder's overall construction is exceptional with a thick-skinned, leak-proof and flexible material which is taste free, easy to use and conforms nicely to your back despite what you're carrying in the pack.

In terms of storage, the pack features three main pockets, each with dividers inside allowing you to organize and separate gear to your preference. With the large 12L cargo capacity, there was ample room to carry all we needed for longer rides without over-stuffing the pack keeping the fit snug and comfortable.

On The Trail

For such a large cargo volume, the flimsy and shapeless nature of this pack really allows it to settle into a comfortable and secure fit making it an afterthought while riding. We were able to keep the straps nice and snug in order to keep the pack in place when things got rowdy and their lightweight mesh construction kept things cool and comfortable, even on warmer days. The sternum strap height is also adjustable to dial in the ideal fit for your body and also has a built-in whistle located on the buckle should you ever need it in case of emergency.

The insulated bladder compartment which sits closest to your back kept the water from getting warm despite being right up against our body. The Helix bite valve was easy and natural to use, simply unlock the valve by twisting it open then bite and drink. Placement of the valve is up to you as SOURCE provides multiple loops and securing options. SOURCE spent a lot of time on developing anti-bacterial and non-leaching plastics in order to keep your water taste and grime free and despite our best efforts to foul up this bladder, the water has always tasted fresh and there are no signs of green fuzz or gross slime accumulating. And yes, to test this we left the pack half filled with water in our car for two weeks. Gross, maybe... but science isn't always pretty.

We were able to pack quite a bit in the Fuse Hydration Pack, enough gear for three hour-plus rides without worrying about running out of water or snacks. Even when packed with nutrition and liquids, there was ample room for kneepads, a multi-tool, hand-pump, CO2, tube, tire-lever, keys, phone, glasses and other miscellaneous gear without feeling over-stuffed and bulky. Should you want to carry a helmet on the pack there are two side straps which make securing it to the back of the pack easy and without occupying additional storage area. Every external zipper has a nylon loop with a rubber coating, making access to pockets easy. The backing of the pack has a flow channel keeping the pack from resting on your spine to aid in keeping your back cool. One problem we've seen on some high-volume packs is helmet interference on steep descents when your head is back in order to keep your eyes on the trail. This was never an issue, despite all the gear we packed.

Things That Could Be Improved

SOURCE covered pretty much everything you could want in a hydration pack as far as functionality, comfort and durability are concerned. The color and graphics of the Fuse Pack we tested might not be everyone's thing, but it comes in a black-on-black option as well as orange and yellow if you desire something else. Perhaps one improvement that SOURCE could make is adding more external straps in order better secure loose gear inside the pack as it tended to shift around when not fully packed. Adding a couple straps to cinch down on the pockets would easily remedy this issue. Beyond that, we found very little to complain about with the Fuse Pack.

Long Term Durability

We've been testing the Fuse SOURCE Pack for nearly 6 months now and it shows ZERO signs of wear. We've crashed with the pack multiple times with no resulting tears or damage. The fabric the pack is constructed of doesn't hold dust and dirt, keeping it almost as clean as it was the day we pulled it out of the box. All zippers and buckles have remained problem free as well and the bladder never required the standard clean, hang and dry after every use (but it's not a bad idea). The rubber drinking tube has yet to discolor which is a good sign no chemicals are leaching into your water and the bladder // bite-valve have both remained taste free, despite our unsanitary habits. All signs point to this pack lasting us a very long time.

What's The Bottom Line?

For a full sized, long-ride hydration pack, we'd be stretched to find a better pack out there than the SOURCE Fuse. Minimal, functional, lightweight and well constructed: what more would you want in a pack? We found the pack carried plenty of water and gear for long days out on the trail while being light enough and out of the way should you use it for a short ride that requires more water than just a bottle can hold. Despite how much we jammed into the pack, it stayed comfortable and secure no matter what type of ride we were on. In terms of price, the Fuse comes in at substantially less other packs similarly spec'd at only $60 MSRP. Light, durable and inexpensive; it's not often you find something that checks all three boxes, but SOURCE managed to with the Fuse Pack Hydration.

For more information visit SOURCE Hydration


About The Reviewer

Fred Robinson, a.k.a. "Derf-Dog," has been on two wheels since he was two years old. He picked up a mountain bike in 2004 and started racing downhill in 2006. He has seen moderate success racing CAT 1 but focuses his efforts on building, maintaining and riding his local trails. He's deceptively quick for a bigger guy and likes steep, fast trails where he can hang it off the back of the bike. As a SoCal native he mostly rides trails covered with loose, traction-less turns and sharp, immovable rocks. Besides downhill, he rides trail bikes, road, and also enjoys the occasional dirt jump session. He also enjoys tasty whiskey and long walks on the beach.


Specifications

Product Source Fuse 12L Hydration Pack
Rider Unisex
Hydration Pack Type Backpack
Bladder Capacity 3L (100 oz)
Storage Capacity 12L
Materials Pack: Lightweight Fabrics, Padded Shoulder Straps, Adjustable Sternum Belt with Integrated Whistle, a Padded and Vented Back System with Porous Foam, Lightweight Buckles, Carrying Handle // Bladder: Widepac Hydration System, Helix Bite Valve with Safety Shutoff Mode, Co-Ex Tube, Triple Layer Taste and Odor Free Film, Glass Like Film Technology, Grunge-Guard Technology, Taste Free System, Easy Care and Low Maintenance
Pockets Three Zippered Storage Compartments, Insulated Zippered Hydration Compartment, Two Mesh Side Pockets, Valve Docking Station
Colors Black Red // Orange Yellow // Dark Blue Green
Miscellaneous
Price $60
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