Dakine Hot Laps 5L Review
Cons: No quick-connect hose, narrow waist band
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Hot Laps 5L posted some respectable scores in our rating metrics. The relatively low weight is a highlight as well as the low-profile fit and design. Storage is neither too cavernous nor too skimpy. The relatively basic and straightforward design is nothing to write home about, but it is a perfectly functional option.
Ease of Drinking
The Hot Laps pack uses a bladder and hose hydration system. The bladder holds up to 70 ounces or 2-liters of water. A Phaser bite valve is located at the end of the hose. There is a magnetic clip that holds the hose on the waistband. This helps store the hose while riding and makes removing and replacing it for drinking quick and easy.
We found the hose to be of adequate length. Our 6'2" tester with a long torso had plenty of length to reach the mouth. This was true while in the saddle and also when standing up at the top of the climb. We will discuss this in more detail in the ease of filling section, but it is important to load the bladder correctly. If you load the bladder wrong, the hose can get twisted up and feel too short.
When it is time to take a drink, remove the hose from the waistband magnet and have a swig. The Phaser bite valve works well. There is sufficient water flow, and you don't need to pull too hard on the valve to have a drink. You also don't need to twist the valve open or closed to allow water to come out as it is always open. Upon completion, you can lower the hose back to the magnetic buckle that holds it in place. It can require some attention to detail when returning the hose to the buckle. When properly clipped in place, the magnetic buckle holds the hose firmly. The problem is if you don't properly seat the magnetic buckle on the hose into the buckle on the waistband, the connection is weak, and the hose can fall off. It isn't overly difficult, but you really need to make sure the magnets are flush.
Ease of Filling
The Hot Laps bladder is rectangular in shape and measures approximately 6-inches x 11-inches, closing with a slider-top. There is no cap to screw on to seal it back up; simply fold the top of the bladder over, and it will reveal a couple of plastic channels. Next, pull the slider onto those channels and you're done.
The slider system works well but definitely takes some getting used to. If you are new to this design, it's an adjustment. First, you need to make sure you fold the top of the bladder in the correct direction. If you fold in the wrong direction, the slide channels will be hidden, and the slider will not work. In addition, the slider is attached to a length of string, presumably, so you do not lose it. The string is just long enough or, almost too short. It allows you to move the slider into the correct position to begin to engage the channels, but it does not give you much wiggle room.
Other bags have a quick-connect hose where you can very easily detach the hose from the bladder. This is nice as you can leave the hose in place, remove the bladder, and fill it. The Hot Laps does not have this quick-connect system. The hose is more or less fixed in place. It can be removed, but you don't want to have to do this each time you fill the bladder. Each time you fill the bladder, you have a choice to make. Either remove the entire bladder and hose from the pack, fill it, and reinstall, or fill the bladder while the hose is still routed through the bag. Filling the bladder with the hose in place is trickier than it sounds, and it can be difficult to avoid spilling. Removing the bladder and removing/rerouting the hose is the cleaner way to do things, but it is far more difficult. This pack could really use a quick-connect system as pulling the hose out every time is a hassle.
The Hot Laps pack is reasonably comfortable. The straps are of average comfort, although they are a little bit narrower than some of our most comfortable packs. Generally speaking, the broader the waist straps, the higher the level of comfort. Narrow straps can twist up more easily and jab you in the stomach. In addition, they can sometimes interfere with your shorts. The Hot Laps has a respectable waistband.
The shape of the bag is solid, though it isn't as well-articulated as some of the other options in our test. Our favorite bags conform to your back/waist more easily. Still, the Hot Laps has a decent fit. The pack has two straps, one on each side, that run between the main storage area and the hip panels. If you cinch these down, it helps the pack hug your hips a little more effectively. When this pack is fully loaded with 2 liters of water and all of your tools and snacks, it does have a tendency to bounce and jostle around more than our top-rated packs for comfort. We found this pack was most comfortable when it wasn't packed to the brim.
The back panel, or the part of the bag that sits against your back, has some air channels and mesh covering it. The outer part is mesh, and the inner material is some channeled foam to promote airflow. The idea is to let heat escape and let fresh air in. The ventilation is okay but far from amazing. That said, this is far from the hottest, most clammy, pack in our test.
Storage is simple and effective with the Hot Laps 5L. Dakine didn't try to reinvent the wheel or over-engineer this pack. There are two main pockets. One large, open pocket that holds the hydration bladder. and one located closer to the front of the bag. The front storage compartment has organization pockets for things like tools and keys.
The front storage compartment is nice and simple. Upon unzipping the pack, you will find the far wall of this compartment features a few sub-pockets. On the right is a taller, vertical slot that works well with a tube or a cell phone. To the left is a wider zone that features a couple more slots. The biggest organization pocket features a velcro closure system to avoid spillage. The other two are shallower and much smaller, these would be good for a CO2 shooter, tire plugs, and a quick link. On the front side of the pocket, there is one more compartment of decent size. A cell phone would work well in this as well as a larger multi-tool.
The largest compartment that houses the water bladder can also fit some other gear, but there is no sleeve to separate the bladder from the rest of the compartment. The Hot Laps doesn't have substantial pockets on the waistband, though there is a very small stretchy mesh pocket that you could squeeze a credit card and ID into. On the bottom of the pack are two webbing compression straps that you can use to carry a shell jacket or some lightweight kneepads on the outside. This comes in handy if you need some extra storage space.
The storage is well-thought-out and not overdone on this bag. You can easily fit everything you need for a small to moderate-sized ride. Rolling up a rain shell and stuffing it in this pack can be done, but it's tight. If you are trying to carry a sandwich, an apple, and a rain shell, you may struggle to get everything to fit. We would suggest this pack for 2-3-hour rides, there are better choices for all-day epics.
The Hot Laps 5L pack weighs 330-grams without the hydration system installed. We weigh our packs without the hydration system because we find this to be a better apples-to-apples comparison. The bladders vary slightly in size from model to model, and it is nearly impossible to remove all of the water from the bladders once used. This is about mid-pack in terms of weight.
Ease of Cleaning
The Hot Laps pack gets a mediocre score in terms of ease of cleaning. First, the fact that the hose doesn't have a quick-connect system hurts. This makes it harder, and less appealing, to remove the bladder system to hang it out to dry. Removing the hose makes it much, much easier to keep a system clean. Additionally, while the bladder has a slider and the opening is quite wide, there is a flap of material in the middle of the bladder that makes it harder to reach inside for scrubbing.
It is easy to clean out the storage area of the bag, though. Everything is reachable, and it is easy to shake out any crumbs or scrub out the stickiness from that old apple core that was in there for a week.
The Hot Laps 5L is a decent value. It looks great, is functional, and isn't over-designed. This is a great choice for the rider who frequently goes out on quick rips and, you guessed it, hot laps! For riders who like going big, however, we recommend spending a little extra to get more features and space.
The Dakine Hot Laps 5L is a reliable and slick-looking hip pack. It strikes a nice balance of functional space while maintaining a reasonable size. It isn't too bulky, and it isn't too skimpy. The hydration system is a little underwhelming, but the bag functions well, looks great, and comes at a reasonable price point. We recommend this pack to those riders who find themselves on shorter rides and don't require a cavernous amount of space.
— Pat Donahue