The Dakine Hot Laps 5L is a solid performing lumbar pack that stacks up well against the other two lumbar packs in this year's review. The simple, classic fanny-pack style is accented by a built-in 2-liter HydraPak hydration system that was easy to drink from, refill, and keep clean. With some other subtle extras, like external tie-down straps and attachment loops to clip a light onto, the Hot Laps 5L is ready for your next adventure.
The Dakine model was comfortable under lighter loads on a bike or on a hike.
Ease of Drinking
The Hot Laps 5L comes equipped with a built-in 2.0-liter HydraPak hydration bladder, a surprisingly large water capacity for a lumbar style pack. While the stock HydraPak bite valve is a more basic model which lacks a shutoff valve, it still performed as well as the other models' bite valves in both our real-world excursions and our in-home flow tests. Like on most of the Osprey models that we reviewed, we were certainly satisfied with the drinking performance of the HydraPak system, but it didn't wow us quite like the CamelBak Crux drinking system with its Big Bite valves. For a lightweight biking-inspired pack that comes with CamelBak's Crux hydration system we recommend considering the CamelBak Rogue.
The stock HydraPak mouthpiece found on the Dakine Hot Laps lacks the shutoff switch found on the Osprey packs, but still scores well in our ease of drinking category.
The drinking tube easily wraps around the waist belt and attaches to the pack on the left hip with a magnetic bite valve. The magnetic attachment system on this pack was one of the strongest and most effective of any pack we tested.
Ease of Filling
The Hot Laps 5L received an average score for ease of filling. Similar to with the Osprey Seral, we found that working with the somewhat odd-shaped lumbar hydration bladder was awkward compared to the more traditional bladders. However, with its wide-mouth bladder opening and easily accessible hydration pocket, we were still able to recharge the lumbar shaped bladder without much trouble. The bladder housing pocket also includes a nifty hanger clip that, embarrassingly, took us a little while to figure out how to use. Once we figured out that you simply slide the clip through the top of the bladder zipper, we appreciated the simple and effective design.
If you can sacrifice some water bladder capacity and want to trade for some easily re-fillable squeeze bottles, the Osprey Talon 6 scored slightly higher in the ease of filling category.
The Dakine model (left) has a 2-liter capacity, the Talon has a 1.2-liter capacity, while the Seral (right) has a 1.5-liter capacity.
The Hot Laps didn't score quite as highly in our comfort ratings for a couple of reasons. First, while we definitely appreciated the big 2-liter water capacity and the 5-liter pack storage volume, we found that this bag had a tendency to sag or bounce around when fully loaded. To try to offset this, we had to re-tighten the waist belt, which we found a bit awkward with the belt buckle that is offset on the left side of the pack. This made loading the pack onto our back, buckling the belt, and tightening it more difficult than with a centered belt buckle (like on the Osprey Seral), where you can use both hands equally to balance the load and dial-in the belt tension.
The left-side offset belt buckle was a little harder to work with than traditional centered belt buckles.
Our Top Pick lumbar pack Osprey Seral scored higher in our comfort rankings with a more form-fitting feel and an easier to adjust waist belt. Both packs include side compression straps to help secure your load and comfortably padded lower back panels.
With 5-liters of storage space, the Hot Laps does a good job of balancing overall pack storage with a solid 2-liter water capacity. While the bulk of the main compartment is filled by the hydration bladder, the front pocket has several sleeves and pockets to keep all your gear organized. Another notable extra is the external attachment straps on the bottom of the pack, which could be useful for attaching a small bike pump, some knee pads, or even a jacket. While it doesn't have convenient waist belt pockets like on the Seral, we think the Hot Laps has plenty of storage and organization for your shorter rides or hikes.
At a measured 1 lb, 0.5 oz., the Hot Laps 5L is right in the middle of our three lumbar pack contenders, a trio which was only separated by two ounces from heaviest to lightest. As you would expect from a lumbar pack, this came in at roughly half the weight of the more fully-featured hydration backpacks in our lineup, like our Editors' Choice Platypus Duthie A.M. 10 or our unofficial runner-up Osprey Syncro 12.
The Hot Laps 5L weighs a hair over a pound with its bladder empty.
Ease of Cleaning
Like with most packs, the ease of cleaning score is typically similar to the ease of filling score, since they are both mostly based on the same features of the pack. In the case of the Hot Laps 5L, the same applied. The HydraPak hydration system is easily accessible and removable and has a wide mouth opening that's easy to clean. This pack ranks higher in this category than its competitor Osprey Seral because of interior welds in the bladder than of the Seral that made it harder to keep clean.
Our three lumbar packs (left to right: Hot Laps, Talon, and Seral) all tipped the scales right around 1 pound (not including water!). Note the circular welds on the Seral bladder that may make long-term cleaning a bit more challenging.
The Hot Laps 5L is designed as a mountain biking pack, and would make an excellent choice for a lightweight, shoulder strap-free riding pack that you can take along on shorter hikes as well. The excellent combination of storage volume and water capacity makes this pack a capable pick where other packs with smaller capacities might fall short.
While designed with mountain biking in mind, the Hot Laps 5L is comfortable for shorter hikes as well.
The least expensive lumbar pack in our lineup, the Hot Laps 5L provides a strong bang for the buck with its high-quality 2-liter hydration pack and solid overall storage and organization. While there was only a $15 difference in list prices between the highest and lowest priced lumbar style packs, the Hot Laps provides excellent value nonetheless.
With a high-performing HydraPak hydration system, large 5-liter storage volume, classic style, and reasonable price, the Dakine Hot Laps 5L makes a solid choice for those looking to ditch the shoulder straps and go for the freedom of a lumbar pack!