The Bike List

Platypus Origin 9 Hydration Pack £90

Tested by Neil Watterson, tester for The Bike List

Once a Scout, always a Scout. I'm sure that's probably been said a million times, but the 'Be Prepared' philosophy does tend to stay with you.

Take heading out for a simple bike ride; what could go wrong? But rather than throw caution to the wind, jump onto my bike and pedalling for the hills, I have to get my kit together first - and I need some way of carrying it.

If I was a roadie boy, I'd strap the pump to the frame, put a bottle or two in the bike's cages and dump the spare tube, tools and snack bars in my back pockets. But I'm not. Although I cover a lot of leisure miles on tarmac, I do like to venture off it now and again, even with the most unsuitable bikes, so, I have to be more mountain biker than mile-muncher - and that means everything can go in a pack on my back; I don't want to leave my kit strewn along a bumpy trail.

The biggest consideration for buying a hydration backpack is the capacity; too large and you'll either never fill it or it will be unwieldy, too small and you'll not have enough room to store your essentials - and you'll know what you need to carry.

I bike all year round so I know that I need room for the water, pump, innertube or two, patches, multitool, spare chain links, money, phone, snacks and a small waterproof. On top of that I'll often carry a small camera and a mini tripod, in case I see anything interesting on route. So I need no more than 10-litres of carrying capacity. Which is handy as the Platypus Origin 9 has 9-litres capacity.

That's not to say you can use it all for carrying kit. The Origin 9 comes with a huge 3-litre bladder, using up a third of your storage when full, but you appreciate the volume of water on longer summer rides.

The bladder is one of Platypus' Big Zip items. It's essentially a thick soft plastic vessel with a sliding closure at the top - like sandwich bags. Open it up, fill it with water, slide the SlideLok closure across and it's sealed. Toggles inside the bladder sleeve in the backpack locate in the SlideLok, preventing the bladder from sinking to the bottom during use, and bite valve is fitted to the end of the drinking tube.

The Origin 9 is fitted with five different exit points for the drinking tube: two from the waist strap points on each side and one central just between the shoulder straps. As the drinking tube attachment on the bladder can rotate, you can use any of these without worrying about the tube being pinched and swtopping flow.

That said, I've not found the flow from the bite valve as good as from a CamelBak valve, though the Platypus valve is certainly easier to clean - as is the bladder itself. The huge opening at the top means you can get your hand in with a washing up sponge to de-gunk the inner surfaces - much easier than having to use bottle brushes.

With the bladder in place you can run the drinking tube up or down the shoulder straps and secure it into one of the numerous clips. The pack itself has a chest and waist strap to keep it from sliding about and the pack itself is reasonably low profile. It has a few reflective logos to help increase visibility, though the main one, a huge Platypus logo, runs down the centre of the pack, between the twin foam back protectors - it won't be seen unless you take the pack off!

But there are two light attachment points on the back but, unless you ride a sit-up-and-beg bike, only the lower one is really suitable for bike use. You can also clip lights to the front of the shoulder straps, should you wish.

Two small loops on the back are provided for attaching your helmet to, but in practice, it's too fiddly to be feasible - they can be used as light lashing points, though.

While I'm on about the outside, there's one large slip pocket, capable of holding a D-lock and cable, in case you fancy stopping for some refreshment on your trip and two pockets on the triangles where the waist strap attaches to the pack.

Inside the bag, there's one large pocket in addition to the bladder pocket and within that there's a smaller mesh pocket and key clip. Both this pocket and the bladder pocket are secured with a waterproof zip - so your kit should stay dry. The pocket has enough room for my kit, plus more. I've also managed to cram a small DSLR camera in and a rolled-up jersey, though it was bulging a bit by then.

It's quite a stable pack to wear. You don't really notice the shoulder straps and the waist and chest straps keep it from sliding around. The foam on the back of the pack adds a bit of padding between you and the bladder, but although it looks like it should allow air to flow down the central channel, I haven't found this to be the case - certainly not when it's fully loaded. But it's not uncomfortable - if you carry a backpack when you're cycling you've got to accept that your back will get sweaty.

On road, the pack is relatively unobtrusive, off it it's steady. As you can route the drinking tube numerous ways you'll find a way that suits you perfectly and the three-litre drinks capacity means you can head off on epic rides without the worry of having to refill halfway round.

If I've one complaint, it's that the triangular waist pockets don't have zip or Velcro closures - they're ideal for keeping the phone to hand, but I daren't leave it in one, just in case it bounces out.

At a glance

Verdict Good all-round pack, ideal for all day epic rides.
Value
Performance

Platypus says:

The ultralight Origin 9 hydration pack expands your range thirst-trouncing 3.0L Big Zip Reservoir and nine liters of dedicated gear storage. It's your go-to pack to stoke adventures lasting from a 2-hour, cold-weather blast to ultralight all-day epic.

Specification:

  • Colour: Black
  • Gear capacity: 9 liters
  • Reservoir capacity: 3.0 L Big Zip SL
  • Total capacity: 12 liters
  • Pack weight: 1 lbs 2 oz / 497 g
  • Reservoir weight: 5.8 oz / 165 g
  • Total weight: 1 lbs 8 oz / 662 g

Features

  • Weatherproof Protection: Waterproof, 10,000mm-coated fabrics, welded, all-weather zippers and heat-taped seams.
  • Integrated Hydration: Dedicated, easy-access compartment for included 3.0L Big Zip™ SL reservoir, options for top, bottom, left or right hose routing, lightweight reservoir suspension toggles, and locking hose clips.
  • Clean Design: Precisely what you need and nothing you don't to keep things light and simple.
  • Refined Fit: BioCurve™ back panel, plus ergonomic shoulder straps with soft, stretch-woven surfaces and high and low shoulder strap attachment points for long and short torsos, respectively.
  • Essential Features: On the go waist pockets - quick-access external sleeve pocket - internal organizer - welded light loop/lash points - reflective detailing.

Supplier: Cascade Designs, 001 206 353 8814, cascadedesigns.com/en/platypus