Source Hipster 1.5L hydration pack

Author block

Jon Woodhouse's picture

Jon Woodhouse

Jon was previously the editor here at off.road.cc. Whether it's big days out on the gravel bike or hurtling down technical singletracks, if it's got two wheels and can be ridden on dirt, then he's into it. He's previously been technical editor at BikeRadar.com, editor at What Mountain Bike Magazine and also web editor at Singletrackworld.co.uk. Yes, he's been around the houses.

Product reviews

Say bumbag and you're most likely to think of poorly dressed tourists and regrettable fashion choices from the 1980s, but the basic design is beign reinvented as the 'hip-pack' for outdoorsy types that like to travel fast, light and unencumbered by traditional bags.

The Hipster is really a multisport item, but it lends itself extremely well to cycling. The exterior is made from an extremely lightweight ripstop nylon, with a trio of small pockets on the outside and minimalist but effective padding where it rests on your waist. You also get a pair of elasticated loops that are supposed to be for walking poles but can happily take a rolled-up jacket, though that's about the limit for spare clothing. You can wear it just on your waist alone, but it comes with a removeable, webbing-style harness if you need extra support.

Hipster hydration belt on white

The interior compartment is accessed via a large zip and it's split into two sections, one for the 1.5L bladder and one that's just about big enough to take a mini pump and other essential bits and pieces. There's a pair of spacious zipped mesh side pockets on the waistband that are ideal for keeping multitools or snacks easily to hand and also serve to keep any excess from the adjustable waistband out of the way.

Funk-free bladder technology

The bladder itself uses a number of technologies exclusive to Source. It's made from a plastic material that's much smoother than standard, meaning nasties are much less likely to stick to it over time. They claim it's almost as good as glass in this regard, but there's also a special anti-microbial treatment on the surface too. Despite not bothering to properly empty or dry it at any point during the months I've been using it, nothing nasty has started growing and there were no weird smells or tastes, even from new. The bladder has a wide, flip top opening so it's easy enough to get in there should you need to clean it and it's secure and leak-free in use. There's a quick release valve too, so getting the bladder out to fill it up is a doddle.

The fabric covered hose snakes from the back of the pack and across your waist, being held in place with a magnetic tab. I found it was necessary to hook the bite valve into one of the loops on the back of the pack to prevent it bouncing free in use, but that doesn't make it any more time consuming or difficult to use in a hurry though. The bite valve comes with a small plastic cover on it to keep muck away and you just need to unscrew it a quarter turn before biting to drink. It's not the fastest flowing bite valve out there, but it's certainly up to the task.

Fast, light and comfortable

The real revelation with the Hipster is just how comfortable it is in use. Even without the webbing straps, it stays in place without having to be done up so tight that it becomes uncomfortable, as can happen with some designs. I found that if you're carrying a full bladder and full compliment of kit then the using the webbing harness is preferable and it feels barely more restrictive than the hip pack alone. Either way, I felt unencumbered in a way that you simply don't with a traditional backpack, even a super small one. You don't get a sweaty back on hot days and having the weight slung low down means there's nothing rolling about or waiting to get caught on trees. Though you might want to take more kit on a really long ride or when the weather's so bad you need lots of spare clothing, for 3-4 hour thrashes or races about it's possible to take everything you need. Despite the low capacity, it's rapidly become my go-to riding pack.