The FIFTEEN II backpack is a large-capacity pack that’s built to carry everything you need for a full day's riding. It’s big, simple and well thought-out, but there’s not much in the way of airflow to your back, and it doesn’t come with a bladder.
Made from 10% nylon and 90% polyester, the FIFTEEN II is capable of carrying 15 litres worth of kit. Pockets aren’t as plentiful as other bags out there but that’s part of the FIFTEEN II’s charm. What you do get though is a vast main pocket, then two outer pockets that are ideal for phones and smaller items.
Inside the main compartment, you get a few netted pockets that are perfect for tubes, tools, and pumps, and then a space designed for a hydration bladder that’s unfortunately not included. Given the size and price, however, it's not a huge downside.
On the outside of the bag are a couple of helmet hooks, which work really well. They’re big and it’s easy to slip your helmet straps in. The hooks are removable too.
To keep the bag where it should be, it has buckles at the waist and chest. There are also buckles and straps that cinch the back down, so if you're not filling it to the brim it can be compacted to something a little less flappy and rattling. Great if you only want one bag for all rides.
While the FIFTEEN II is big and built reasonably well for the money, there’s not much going on to help you avoid nasty great sweat patches. It would be good to see perforations in the straps and a revised airflow system at the base of the pack, just to keep things a little bit comfier. It can get pretty hot.
The main straps could do with a design tweak to stop the slightly annoying squeak you get if you do run a reservoir, too; the strap tends to rub on the drinks tube.
Merida's FIFTEEN II backpack makes a great second-choice bag for long days or even as a commuter bag, and the price is reasonable. If you're planning serious rides with this as your only pack, however, the basic and rather hot rear panel could well be an issue.
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