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Source Pulse Hydration Pack

Vital Rating: (Outstanding)
Source Pulse Hydration Pack
 Source Pulse Hydration Pack  Source Pulse Hydration Pack  Source Pulse Hydration Pack  Source Pulse Hydration Pack  Source Pulse Hydration Pack
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Tested: Source Pulse 2L Hydration Pack

Rating: Vital Review

Review by Monica McCosh // Photos by Ryan Grani

Source hydration packs have hit the mountain bike scene with some pretty well thought out design features. While they may not be as widely known or “cool” as some of the lifestyle brands in this space already, their functionality and technology might cause a bit of a paradigm shift in staying fueled.


Source Pulse 2L Highlights

  • Bladder Capacity 2L (70 oz) or 3L (100 oz)
  • Storage Capacity 3L (38cm Height x 22cm Width, 412g) or 4L (45cm Height x 24cm Width, 444g)
  • Lightweight Ripstop 70D nylon, mesh shoulder straps, elastic strap retainers, removable waist belt, reflective LED tab holder
  • Widepac Hydration System: Co-Ex tube, tube comes with UV protection thread cover, triple layer taste and odor free film, "Glass Like" film technology, "Grunge-Guard" technology
  • Insulated hydration compartment with vertical opening, helmet carrier, mesh pocket, detachable storeganizer pouch, air pump loop, and valve docking station
  • Colors:Black/Red, Dark Blue/Green, or Orange/Yellow
  • MSRP: $80 USD for 2L hydration/3L cargo option, $85 USD for 3L hydration/4L cargo option

Initial Impressions

The Source Pulse 2L hydration pack feels a bit flimsy at first grasp. The bag has no special lumbar support structure or rigid back panel for unproven chiropractic benefits. In fact, the Pulse 2L is pretty minimal in purpose: carry water and a few essentials. Yet, Source went above and beyond with the design and the attention to detail.


The straps are all adjustable with handy sewn-in elastic loops that secure the unused extra strap length. The clasps of the chest strap where it meets the shoulder straps also glide up and down to adjust the fit to one’s torso length. The waist belt is removable if you so desire, to really make the pack as minimalistic as possible (although in my experience, this will cause it to move around more when riding).

A multi-tool, mini pump, and tube can be inserted into the side pocket opposite the water compartment; however, I would really try and narrow down the amount of items carried inside this pack to eliminate any awkward displacement of weight or bulk, as it is easy to feel bulkier items through the thin fabric. Instead, the detachable organizer pouch can hold your tire levers, keys, cell phone, replacement tube(s) and mini-tool while a handy elastic loop added to the exterior of the pack can securely house the air pump (for which it was designed).


At first bite of the valve, you can tell the difference in this pack. The specific films added to the bladder itself claim to be antimicrobial and taste free with its FDA-approved Polyethylene film and Glass-Like films that are also BPA and Phthalate free. The Co-Ex tube is insulated by a UV-Block woven cover, which helps keep the tube bendable while supposedly aiding in the reduction or elimination of bacteria that grows in sunlight and can degrade plastic over time.

The bladder is easy to fill and slide into the side panel at the front of the pack. There are two big loop handles on the bladder itself; they can be used to hold the bladder open for filling by pinching them, although this wasn't incredibly useful in my eyes.

On The Trail

The Pulse 2L is feature packed for function. Sometimes it comes down to the smallest things - I was most impressed by the detachable docking station that keeps the drinking valve covered and grime free even when tossing the pack into the back of the car where my dog sits. I had always wanted this out of my previous hydration packs as I began to loathe biting on my old one. Speaking of valves, the Helix valve features a spring-loaded twisting mechanism that makes using it hassle and bite-mark free.

The orientation of the tube can be adjusted to exit via either the left or right side of the pack (or even on the backside, underneath) - another example of how much attention to detail and customization went into this pack. Even the loops that hold the tube in place are reflective.


The chest buckle has a whistle built into it in case of emergencies on the trail - thankfully, I have never had to use it. The Pulse also features a removable waist belt, but I found the pack would slide around a bit without it, so it remained in place for me. The straps are all easy to adjust with the exception of the tool pouch buckles; for some reason, I had a tough time adjusting these on the trail - they felt more snug/stiffer to manipulate. The fit straps are easy to adjust while wearing, to secure the pack snug against the natural arch of the back, and the lack of structure or stiff materials made this form-fit possible.


While I kept the contents to a minimum, I was able to use the space between the organizer pouch and the main pack body to store my kneepads, jacket, and helmet chin bar while up on a climb. Without those added articles, the pack itself is actually surprisingly lightweight, to the point that I’m hardly aware of it at all while riding. Additionally, if you're just out for a quick rip and don't want to pack the tools and layers, the "storeganizer" pouch is detachable making it easy to either carry around or just leave in the car.


In removing the pouch, you lose the storage space as well the added benefit of being able to strap items in between of course, but if you really just want to carry some water and a phone for a shorter ride, this modularity is cool. Finally, the air pump loop is a great idea as most pumps won't fit inside the organizer pouch.

Things That Could Be Improved

Overall I think the functionality of this pack is excellent. I would, however, change the bladder opening to accommodate an easier way of drying it out after rinsing. Source does state that due to the specific FDA-approved and EPA-registered anti-microbial agents that line the bladder and tube, no special washing is required in the first place, so maybe that’s why they did not feel the need to design around a rigorous washing regime.

I think some cooler graphics and a less prominent logo placement might make the pack more attractive off the rack - although those types of concerns are quite subjective of course.

Lastly, if the tool organizer pouch was just a few inches longer, it could accommodate internal storage for normal-sized pumps. It is open to debate whether or not you prefer it in-pouch or in the loop.

Long Term Durability

I have been using this pack regularly for about two months and so far no loose threads nor tears in the fabric. I didn’t find the pack to be prone to getting grimy either, as the fabric is easily washable after a particularly muddy day; just toss it into the washing machine sans hydration system.

The bladder is hands-down one of the best I’ve utilized and really lives up to the Grunge Guard name - even after I left the pack sitting in the back of my car half-filled with water for over a week…although I have not attempted to use it with beer for fear of how the films might react to carbonation. The bladder I was using previously did not stand a chance against my experiments with such unhygienic practices, unlike this Source one. I have noticed, however, that my valve now tastes a bit like pepperoni so just note: do not eat pungent trail snacks and expect a taste-free valve experience weeks after. Read more about our experiences with Source's hydration systems HERE.

What’s The Bottom Line?

This is a no-frills, minimalist hydration pack for those who would rather access water on the fly than carry or wear water bottles. Even if you cannot part with your current expensive hipster brand pack, I highly recommend replacing its hydration system with Source’s for a clean, taste-free, and low maintenance hydration experience. If you see the Pulse pack on the racks of your local shop, spend a few minutes exploring the details listed on the hang-tag. It is so feature-packed, even I initially overlooked some of the finer details like air pump loop, detachable pouch, detachable waist band, and customizable tube orientation. I feel like when it comes to the Pulse 2L, Source have thought of everything (for me).

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About the Reviewer

Monica McCosh has been riding bikes in British Columbia for over 5 years through the dusty desert interior, the gnarly roots of the North Shore, and the flow and jump lines of Whistler Bike Park. Not quite a competitive racer, but most definitely a freeride enthusiast, Monica attends various bike events and organizes guided bike excursions throughout BC. She is a marketing professional in the mountain bike industry having worked at Ryders Eyewear and now Easton Cycling.


Product Source Pulse Hydration Pack
Rider Unisex
Hydration Pack Type Backpack
Bladder Capacity 2L (70 oz) or 3L (100 oz) Options
Storage Capacity 3L (38cm Height x 22cm Width, 412g) or 4L (45cm Height x 24cm Width, 444g) Options
Materials Pack: Lightweight Ripstop 70D Nylon, Mesh Shoulder Straps, Elastic Strap Retainers, Removable Waist Belt, Reflective LED Tab Holder // Widepac Hydration System: Co-Ex Tube, Tube Comes with UV Protection Thread Cover, Triple Layer Taste and Odor Free Film, Glass Like Film Technology, Grunge-Guard Technology
Pockets Insulated Hydration Compartment with Vertical Opening, Helmet Carrier, Mesh Pocket, Detachable Storeganizer Pouch, Air Pump Loop, and Valve Docking Station
Colors Black/Red, Dark Blue/Green, or Orange/Yellow
Miscellaneous $80 for 2L Hydration/3L Cargo Option // $85 for 3L Hydration/4L Cargo Option
Price $85
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