The Bike List

Platypus Tokul XC 5 backpack £70

Tested by Neil Watterson, tester for The Bike List

It's always difficult to know how big a pack to take on a ride. Too big and you're lugging around a lot of empty space; too little and you've not enough room for your kit.

The Platypus Tokul XC 5 backpack is primarily a hydration pack with room for just a bit of kit. With a two-litre water bladder and three litres of storage space, it's ideal for a morning's ride, off-road or on it.

The bladder is the two-litre version of the one I tested in the Origin 9. It features Platypus' wide opening top, ideal for quick filling and even better designed for cleaning, and comes with a detachable drinking hose.

The only downside is that you're forced to detach it each time you want to feed it through, or remove it to wash it (so, before and after every ride, really). And though the release mechanism on the bladder stops water from flowing out of the bladder, it doesn't stop it from leaking out from the tube when it is disconnected. So you end up spilling a bit of water when you detach it. That aside, it works fine and stores enough fluid for a mornings' ride - or longer, if you have somewhere to refill.

The three litres of storage space is well thought out and designed for riders, rather than walkers, and includes zipped mesh pockets and a fabric sleeve on the inside to keep your pump in place. Unfortunately, the pump holder isn't quite wide enough to take the girth of my standard-equipment inflator, a Topeak Mountain Morph, so it had to rattle around freely.

I say 'rattle around' but, in truth, it's quite snug in the pack and with a small first aid kit, multi-tool, spare tube, puncture repair kit, a couple of snack bars, phone and lightweight windproof, you're pretty much at your 3-litre capacity. But do you need to carry more on a half-day ride anyway? I'd argue not.

Okay, the capacity may rule out rides where there's a huge temperature fluctuation from start to finish - you'd have little space to store the warmer layer - but if you're into early starts and late finishes, go for the slightly larger capacity Tokul XC 8 with its 3-litre bladder and 5-litres storage.

The narrow design means it sits tightly on your back, almost within your shoulder blades, so there's complete freedom of movement without feeling like the pack is pushing on your back. There's a chest strap to keep things tight and a waist strap, should you feel you need it. Although I used it, I didn't feel that was essential on a pack of this size.

On the outside, there's fabric loops designed to allow you to attach your helmet to the bag, but I find that unless you adjust your helmet's straps to fit, it flops around a bit. It keeps everything together, but I'd rather leave my helmet clipped over the handlebars while I'm stopped for cake.

There's also a loop for a clip-on light and this will take most of the standard rear lights, though if your clip is any wider than 20mm (some of mine are), you won't be able to make use of this feature.

The PU-coated nylon XC 5 is available red, yellow and blue (well, they actually have more exotic names, but in essence that's what the colours are) and the shoulder straps include mesh, so they don't trap sweat like solid straps can do.

Overall, this will be just the job if you're after a backpack for half-day rides, where you know the weather's not going to be too changeable. You won't be lulled into carrying too much kit and it doesn't move about much on your back, so you'll end up riding faster. And that makes cycling more fun!

At a glance

Verdict Ideal size for half-day rides.
Value
Performance

Platypus says:

The Tokul XC 5.0 can handle everything from quick laps to ultralight, full-day rides. There's just enough room for some extra layers, grub, immaculate tool organization and still a full two liters of water.

KEY FEATURES:

2.0L Big Zip™ SL reservoir
Three liters of gear storage
Hydration pocket with reservoir suspension
Ventilated shoulder straps and back panel
Tool pockets and pump sleeve
Helmet/accessory lash points
Reflective detailing
Light loop

CAPACITY:

GEAR 3L + HYDRATION 2L = TOTAL 5L

WEIGHT:

1 lb 2 oz / 510 g

MATERIALS: 210D PU-Coated Diamond Ripstop Nylon, 210D PU-Coated Oxford Nylon, YKK® Zippers

Pack made in China; Reservoir made in USA

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