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Hands-on Gear Review
WACOOL 2L Review
Cons: Questionable durability of hydration system, mediocre support from odd-fitting shoulder straps
Bottom line: An inexpensive and lightweight option for casual hydration pack users.
Weight (claimed): 11 oz
Pack Size: 8L
As one of the lowest priced options in our hydration pack review, the Wacool 2L waterproof was far from the performance level of our other higher priced options, but was still functional and may suit the needs of some. If you're looking for a simple hydration pack, along with a low cost (we're talking a low price of $25), this could be the ticket.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
If you're on a tight budget and simply want a lightweight pack to carry your water and maybe a couple small items, the Wacool 2L may serve your needs. The pack doesn't have the same quality or features as the other packs in our lineup, but if your pennies are tight and you need a simple pack, this is one worth checking out.
Ease of Drinking
The hydration bladder of the Wacool 2L is a simple, very flexible material, and is BPA-free. When compared to our other test packs, the bladder is most similar to the TETON Sports TrailRunner 2.0. Both bladders are an older style that has been around the past couple of decades. The bladder slides into the main compartment of the bag (into its own stretchy compartment), which keeps the rest of the space free for other items. Once the bladder is in its stretchy sleeve, there are two plastic clips that attach through corresponding holes that are integrated into the top portion of the hydration bladder. While we didn't experience any tearing of the keeper loops, we do wonder about the durability.
The drinking tube of this competitor is a flexible plastic that is adequate in length, possibly even too long. Our testers found there seemed to a tendency for the tube to work its way out of the bag, creating too much length. When it was pushed back into the bag, the tube had a tendency to actually kink and shut off the waterworks. With some fine-tuning, we were able to find a happy balance through careful tube placement, but it seemed a bit finicky.
The bite valve is a soft plastic, much like the others in our test, and was easy to find the sweet spot for maximum flow. We did experience occasional drips when using the pack; these were not excessive, but were almost always there. The bite valve does have a closure built in but it was less than effective. The mechanism is engaged simply by sliding the body of the bite valve back toward the pack to turn off the flow and sliding it forwards approximately two millimeters to turn it back on. We like the simplicity of the design but wish it would have worked more effectively.
An added feature found on the Wacool 2L not found on any of our other test packs is a bite valve cover. The cover keeps the bite valve clean and dirt-free but our testers found they didn't really use it much. When not actually covering the bite valve, the cover dangles from the tube with a thin flexible plastic loop that keeps the cover close by, but we found annoyingly so. Perhaps if you're someone who rides in extremely dusty or muddy conditions and need this valve protection, it may be worthwhile. As far as the models that were the easiest to drink from, we found that all three CamelBak models, the Camelbak Rogue, CamelBak Classic, and CamelBak M.U.L.E., all delivered, earning perfect 10 out of 10s, with the Platypus Duthie falling next in line.
Ease of Filling
We were surprised how easy filling the Wacool pack was, which earned it a high score of 8 out of 10, bested only by a few models. The bladder is accessed through the main compartment zipper and the opening is easily accessible without any other tweaking. The actual bladder opening size of the Wacool 2L is almost identical to the CamelBak M.U.L.E., CamelBak Classic, and CamelBak Rogue.
The bladder is also equipped with a convenient and rigid handle that makes filling up easier. There's no need to remove the hydration bladder, just unzip and fill. Just make sure to REALLY tighten the lid or your back will be soaked. We found this out after a good soaking.
For a simple pack, much like CamelBak Classic, the 2L from Wacool carries light loads just fine. Filled up with water and maybe a light jacket, the pack carries relatively comfortably. When we went beyond that, the comfort level diminished quickly. The pack has an "Airflow Cool Mesh" back and though not the most comfortable or well-ventilated of our test, it worked, kind of, sort of…
When filled to capacity with water and even a light jacket, we noticed the shape of the pack deformed into a cylindrical object strapped to our backs. Thankfully, like the smaller CamelBak packs, we were able to drink our way back to comfort.
The waist belt is a simple continuation of the nylon of the main pack bag but is fairly effective and comfortable. Unfortunately, the nylon wasn't very breathable and made things hotter and sweatier than our other packs. Shoulder straps are a fairly well ventilated multi layer mesh construction that disperses weight reasonably well. This comfort is offset by the wide design of the straps. Our testers, especially our female testers with narrower shoulders, found the straps have a tendency to slide outward too far. This could be countered by fastening the sternum strap and tightening beyond comfortable limits. It was tough to find the right balance to make the pack ride comfortably.
For a simple and inexpensive pack, the storage of the Wacool 2L was adequate. The pack has main compartment storage that is shared with the hydration bladder and has no special features. Although with that being said, we saw that Wacool claims you can fit a 13" laptop into the main compartment and we thought "No way!", but after trying it, this reviewer's 13" MacBook Pro actually fit inside and he was able to zip the zippers easily!
The pack also features two smaller pockets on the sides of the outer bag. These pockets can easily carry things like small food items, bike pumps, and other small gear. The right waist belt has one small zip secured pocket that is large enough for granola bars, lip balm, or keys, but not is too small for the average smartphone. There is also a stretch bungee cord on the back panel that did an adequate job securing jackets and bike helmets.
At just a measured 1 lb 3.2 oz, the 2L comes in substantially heavier than our other minimalist packs like the CamelBak Rogue or TETON Sports TrailerRunner 2.0. It is lighter than our more fully-featured/larger capacity packs but is closer in weight to those than the minimalist packs.
Ease of Cleaning
As was the case with the "Ease of Filling", cleaning this pack is relatively straightforward. With an easily accessed hydration bladder and a wide mouth opening, this pack was similar to the CamelBak Rogue when it came time to clean the bladder.
Cleaning the drinking tube is a little more difficult since we found you have to completely remove the bladder, and pop the tube off the bladder's ridged fitting. This model was not as easy to clean as some of our other test packs with the fully-opening bladders, but still much easier than the skinny openings of hydrations packs in the past.
For someone who doesn't want to spend a ton on a new hydration pack and is a more casual/light user, this may be a good choice. We found it to hold its own while out day hiking without too much weight on board, and casual bike rides.
In a tie with the TETON Sports TrailRunner2.0, this competitor is the lowest cost hydration pack we tested. If you're unsure as to whether or not you'll use a hydration pack, the $25 cost might be worth it. When compared with the Platypus Duthie A.M. 10, our Editors' Choice, this pack comes in at $115 cheaper. Do keep in mind you do get what you pay for. If you're looking for a simple relatively lightweight hydration pack, this might be the one.
If you're a casual hydration pack user who's not out for all the latest and greatest features, but just want a simple and inexpensive way to carry some water and a couple personal items, the 2L from Wacool may be for you!
— Jason Cronk
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