The Polaris Bikewear Aquanought backpack is a hydration pack designed for mountain biking with rugged, waterproof qualities and a clever segmented tool organiser. The bag isn’t as stable as other packs of this size though and the design seems better suited to taller riders.
The Aquanought was new to the Polaris range at the beginning of winter last year, and whilst there have been other bags bearing the 'Aquanought name' they've had more of a commuter flavour. This Aquanought is a fully waterproof backpack with sealed seams and waterproof YKK zips that we can safely say don’t let any water in at all. Both on the trails and during the hosepipe test, the bag says watertight throughout. It’s impressive and would do away with the need for a waterproof dry back inside your hydration pack on wet days.
Other features on the pack 10L pack include a segmented and removable tool organiser which when left in, adds rigidity to the structure which I rather liked. The panel velcros into the back of the back fo the rucksack to keep it in place and it's easily removable via the main zip when cleaning or re-organising the bag. There’s space in the tool organiser for a pump, small tools, snacks and valuables up top in the zip pocket.
The bag itself is of simple construction made from waterproof fabric and other materials that won’t absorb or get weighed down by muck and grime. The outside of the pack features an added mesh pocket and also a light attachment point. The light and sparse nature of the pack, the mesh backing and the ventilated shoulder straps mean that this pack that isn’t too hot to wear, the materials used are a little stiff though and I don’t think it’d be my first choice if only wearing one layer of clothing. There’s plenty of room inside the 10L main compartment to house for everything you’ll need on a days ride.
The hydration bladder is inserted down the rear of the pack between the main compartment and the rear panel. It effectively sits ‘outside’ the waterproof compartment exposed to the elements but that’s ok, its only a bladder! There’s a drainage hole at the bottom for any water that gets in to run out from, something that the hosepipe test proved to be very efficient. The bag will take a 3L bladder, although one isn’t included in the £90 price tag. I used an Osprey Hydraulics 3L bladder which fitted perfectly into the oblong bag. The bag doesn’t offer anywhere to tuck and secure the bit valve when riding though meaning it flaps around. I tired to tuck it under the chest strap but it inevitable came loose.
Whilst riding flatter trails the bag is relatively secure but pitch into anything steep or get leant over in a corner and the bag begins to move around on your back. As with any bag that does this it’s pretty off-putting and means a swift reposition or shrug of the shoulders to move the bag back into place.
The bag’s waist straps are pretty thin and the shoulder straps appeared to be cut and positioned for taller or larger riders which, if I were taller or larger than 5’4, maybe would have prevented the bag moving around so much. As you can see in the below phots the chest strap is position too low on my chest, this being the highest position available. Thers is also no where to tuck away excess straps, which means fashioning a keeper out of zip ties. In my experience bags without wider waist straps do tend to be less well supported and prone to movement.
In conclusion, the Polaris Bikewear Aquanought backpack is good to buy pack if the 'fully waterproof' feature is top of your specification needs. As a general purpose riding pack though, the design and strap shapes could so with some work to make it more stable and to suit all sizes of rider. As far as a specific MTB pack goes though it's in a game of its own, without many competitors, other waterproof bags follow a more commuter luggaage vibe. It is, however, worth noting that on the Polaris website right now this bag is at an introductory £65, rather than £90, leaving you pennies for a new bladder.
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