One of only two lumbar-style "fanny" packs in our hydration pack test selection, the Dakine Low Rider 5L is a great option for minimalist mountain bikers or hikers and shorter jaunts in the great outdoors. The Low Rider is a no-frills pack with limited storage, but we found it to be quite comfortable and capable of carrying everything we needed for rides of up to about three hours. This fanny pack has all you backpack-hating riders covered with an included Hydrapack water bladder, organization pockets, and a comfortable fit.
Dakine Low Rider 5L Review
Cons: Bladder takes up storage space, lacks structure, limited storage capacity
Our Analysis and Test Results
Love 'em or hate 'em, fanny packs are trendy in the mountain bike world for a variety of reasons. Dakine's Low Rider 5L was designed with mountain biking in mind, and this incredibly lightweight and inexpensive fanny pack is our Top Pick for Minimalist Mountain Bikers. The Low Rider carries up to 2 liters of water in the included Hyrdrapack bladder, and organization pockets keep your stuff where you want it. The limited storage capacity makes this pack ideal for shorter length rides in warmer weather, or enduro style riders who have tubes and tools attached to their frames.
Ease of Drinking
Of the two fanny pack style hydration packs we tested, we found the Low Rider 5L to be much easier to drink from than the Osprey Talon 6. The primary reason for this is that the Low Rider uses a hydration bladder and drinking hose, while the Talon 6 employs water bottles for its water storage. When used back to back on hikes and mountain bikes rides, there is no denying the convenience and ease of drinking that the Dakine pack offers.
The Low Rider comes with a "Compact 2L" Hydrapack water bladder, hose, and bite valve. This 2-liter bladder fits into the main storage compartment of the pack, and the hose exits the pack on its right side.
The roughly 28 inches of hose wraps around the front of your waist, paralleling the waist strap to a clip on its left side. Unlike backpack style hydration packs that have the hose and bite valve positioned over the shoulder and near the chest, the Low Rider's hose is kept down low and out of the way by the waist. Drinking from the Low Rider involves unclipping the hose from the waist belt and bringing the bite valve up to your mouth. The position of the hose takes a little getting used to, but after a couple of rides, it becomes second nature.
The Compact 2L Hydrapack bladder and bite valve was among the easiest in the test to drink from, and our hang test showed that it was similar to the other Hydrapack bladders and valves that are used in packs like the Osprey Raptor 10 and the Osprey Syncro 10. It took just over 50 seconds to empty one liter of water, and while it wasn't as fast as the Camelbak Mule, Rogue, or Classic, it is certainly adequate. The included bite valve is relatively basic, with no locking anti-leak system, but we never had any issue with the valve leaking all over our car or our riding gear like we've experienced with other bite valves in the past.
Ease of Filling
We found the Hydrapack Compact 2L bladder to be very easy to fill. It was effortless to completely pull the bladder out of the pack, mainly because the main storage compartment of the Low Rider opens fully and taking the bladder out couldn't be easier.
Unlike most backpack style water bladders which are longer than they are wide, the Low Rider's water bladder is more extensive than it is extended to match the shape of the fanny pack storage compartment.
The Hydrapack Compact 2L bladder shares a very similar opening to that of the Osprey Raptor 10 and Syncro 10, as well as the Deuter Compact EXP 12. While it isn't the full width of the bladder, the opening is 5.5 inches wide and can easily be held open with one hand while filling. The material of the opening is slightly more rigid than that of the rest of the bladder which is very supple, giving a little more structure for holding it while filling. The opening is then folded over on itself, and the Slide Seal closure is pulled across to seal the bladder. This style of closure has been proven to work well, and we never experienced any leaking of water from our test pack's closure, even when held upside down and squeezed.
Over the course of our testing, we found the Low Rider 5L to be quite comfortable.
At first, we were a bit skeptical because the pack tends to become somewhat round when packed to the gills and fully loaded with water, but once on your back, everything seems to flatten back out as it's tightened around your waist. The back panel is made of a soft horizontally rippled foam pad that is covered in breathable mesh. While this foam pad doesn't provide much in the way of structure or rigidity to the pack, it does allow for some ventilation once you start to heat up.
The 3.5-inch wide hip straps are attached to both sides of the pack, with 1.5-inch nylon webbing extending from both sides and connecting in the middle with a large plastic fastex style buckle. While we feel the hip strap design is a bit basic and could probably be improved to better cradle around the hips and waist, we did find the straps to work just fine pretty much all of the time. The 1.5-inch wide webbing and buckle closure also handled their duties quite well, and we found the wider webbing to work significantly better than the 1-inch wide strap on the Osprey Talon 6.
When the water bladder was full we felt that the pack was slightly less comfortable than when we put a little less water in the bladder. We felt that 1.5 liters was about the sweet spot for the Low Rider's water storage and comfort, also increasing the pack's other storage slightly. Again, our expectations for the Low Rider's comfort were relatively low due to the somewhat barebones and basic design of the pack. These expectations were exceeded on every mountain bike ride we took it on, however, which truly surprised us.
Dakine claims the Low Rider 5L to have 5 liters of storage capacity.
While this measurement may be accurate, we found that the 2-liter water bladder took up approximately half of this space when filled, reducing the storage to around 2.5-3 liters. The main storage compartment comprises the majority of the storage space and also houses the Hydrapack Compact 2L water bladder. The dimensions of this largest storage compartment are approximately 10x6.5x2 inches, and it has a zipper that opens all the way across the top of it for easy access. As mentioned above, when the water bladder is full it takes up the majority of this space, although the water bladder does sort of shape itself around items stored in here like an extra tube or a small hand pump.
The outer storage compartment has roughly the same dimensions as the main one, although it is a little bit thinner overall. This compartment has a much longer double zipper that allows the entire outer panel of it to open like a flap for super easy access to its contents. Inside this compartment, there are three organization pockets to keep your bike tools and things in order as you ride. There is a fleece lined smartphone pocket that fits phones up to around the size of an iPhone 6, as well as a smaller non-lined pocket next to that. On the inside of the outer flap is a zippered mesh pocket that is the full width of the compartment. In between the two sides of the storage compartment is a fair amount of space for other smaller items.
Outside of both storage compartments is a flap that is secured to the top of the pack with two hook style buckles and compression straps. This outer flap is great for strapping a light jacket or extra layer to the outside of the model, and the compression straps help to tighten down the pack's load. The water bladder can hold up to two liters of water which we found to be adequate for rides of up to around three hours in length. When used in conjunction with a frame mounted water bottle, you can carry additional water for longer trips or hotter days.
Ease of Cleaning
The Hydrapack Compact 2L bladder was quite easy to clean.
The wide opening at the top of the bladder provides easy access, although the wider-than-it-is-long shape of the bladder makes getting to the nooks and crannies of it slightly more challenging than the more standard shaped bladder found in backpack style hydration packs. We never had any issue cleaning the bladder, and the bite valve also comes apart pretty easily to facilitate cleaning those parts as well.
We found the Low Rider 5L was ideal for minimalist mountain bike riders going on shorter length bike rides, and it can double as a minimalist day hiking pack as well. The limited storage capacity of this pack makes it better for warmer days, and shorter rides or hikes where you aren't bringing much along but the bare necessities. That said, we found it to be a great option for those days on the trail where all you need is water, a few snacks, and your basic mountain biking toolkit.
At only $65 retail we feel that the Low Rider is a very reasonably priced pack. While it certainly won't satisfy everyone's hydration pack needs, this is the ideal pack for quite a few people out there. With an included hydration bladder, this lightweight, comfortable, and inexpensive pack has minimalist mountain bikers covered with all the water and storage they need to get after it on the trail.
For shorter length mountain bike rides and day hikes, the Low Rider 5L is a comfortable, compact, and functional fanny pack style hydration pack, earning our Top Pick for Minimalist Mountain Bikers. Storage is minimal in this small pack, but thoughtful features like a water bladder and drinking tube make it easy to drink while you're out on the trail, and organization pockets keep your small things in order. If you don't like wearing a backpack and don't bring much with you out on the trail, then the Low Rider has got you covered.
Other Versions and Accessories
Dakine makes a full line of mountain bike oriented hydration packs in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit a variety of needs.
— Jeremy Benson