Vibrelli 2L Hydration Backpack Review
Cons: Lower chest strap isn't placed well, no front pockets, hard to secure properly
Our Analysis and Test Results
As the most affordable hydration pack we reviewed, the Vibrelli has a lot going for it with a simple bladder and bite valve, ample reflective markings, and ample storage. We were disappointed that the lower chest strap strikes directly over the diaphragm, significantly impacting breathing while running. Because of this and the lack of accessible storage pockets, this pack didn't score well. That doesn't mean it isn't a good entry-level hydration pack, though — for the price, it is a great fit for staying hydrated while hiking or biking.
There are some qualities of the Vibrelli that make it a comfortable option. To highlight the pros, the mesh material along the shoulder straps is stretchy and comfortable and, paired with the cargo design, it carries liquid and gear well. While many hydration packs slim down the thickness of the shoulder straps to create a vest-like feel, this pack has thicker shoulder straps to accommodate more weight in the main storage on the back. The sternum strap and the hydration hose management is effective and not bothersome.
Our biggest struggle regarding comfort is the lower chest strap and the single adjustable strap along each flank. Both of these cut into the lower ribcage and don't provide the necessary adjustability for a smooth ride.
The lower chest strap (or is it a waist strap?) strikes directly across the diaphragm, making it difficult to get a comfortable, secure fit without seriously impacting the ability to breathe while moving. This limiting factor makes the vest unacceptable for running, an activity prone to jostling. We often use the word suspension to talk about bounce and designs to remedy it. It's fair to say that this pack has no suspension. We found it best for lower intensity activities such as biking and hiking, and we made sure to keep the lower strap looser.
The Vibrelli has a few great features we look for in hydration packs, including effective reflective banding, easy-access external storage, an emergency whistle, and great hydration hose management. While there isn't a designated pole carry, collapsable poles can store and cinch tight in the external pocket.
Simplicity is the name of the game with the design of the Vibrelli hydration system. Some of the more expensive competitors have quick-release clamps that allow the hose to separate from the bladder, adding ease to filling the bladder. This hydration system is merely a bladder with an attached hose and a turn top cover. We appreciate the plastic loop at the top of the bladder and the loop tape fastener within the pack to keep the bladder in place.
The 2L bladder is the extent of the water storage as there are no front pockets for soft flasks. We were delighted with the design of the high-flow bite valve and the locking mechanism that prevents leaking. There is also loop tape and an effective clamp on the front of the pack that keeps the hose stored neatly and makes it easy to manage. This is no small feat; in fact, plenty of high-end packs we have reviewed don't address this as well as this on does.
Volume to Weight Ratio
The Vibrelli 2L is neither the largest nor the lightest pack we tested, and thus, it scored amongst the lowest for this category. For a 2L pack, it holds gear comfortably, though not in the most convenient or accessible places. At 14.5 ounces, it is heavier than most of the packs we tested, despite having such a limited carrying capacity. That said, this pack is not designed for high performance or racing, and we didn't expect it to score highly here.
The design of this pack is more traditionally a backpack that is compatible with a hydration reservoir than it is a hydration pack for running. A simple zippered pocket on the back and an external mesh storage sleeve account for all of the available storage. There are no pockets on the shoulder straps or pockets along the ribcage, limiting the amount of access to gear while on the go. For races or fun longer missions, being able to access nutrients without taking off the pack is one of the main intentions. As the *Vibrelli* does not have any accessible pockets, it scored quite low in this category.
This pack is certainly affordable, but what impact does the low price put on performance? And what does that extremely low price indicate about the quality of the materials? Minor changes to the placement of the lower strap and the addition of accessible pockets along the flanks or on the shoulder straps would make this pack a proper running hydration vest. Where the design stands now positions it as a daypack with a water bladder. That being said, it's a very affordable pack, and if it suits your needs, there is inherent value.
While the Vibrelli can't compete with the other hydration packs for running in this roundup, it does have a use and won't break the bank. It works as an entry-level active pack but is better suited for lower-intensity pursuits than running. If you run occasionally and want to bring water and extra supplies with you, this pack will do the trick. We feel that you will quickly recognize the need for accessible pockets and the strain that the lower strap puts on breathing. However, for hiking or biking, this strain won't impose the same restrictions as it does while running. With reflective markers and an effective hydration system, this pack is suited for trail and urban adventures.
— Jeff Colt
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