Bontrager may not be the first name that springs to mind when it comes to hip packs, but last year they quietly debuted the Rapid Pack, which is designed to carry a water bottle and all the essentials needed for shorter rides. The pack is has a similar shape to a kidney belt – it's wider in the middle, and then tapers where it wraps around a rider's hips. A thin, mesh-covered foam keeps the pack's contents from poking you in the back, along with helping the pack to maintain its shape when it's not fully loaded.
Rapid Pack Details
• Two zippered pockets, middle water bottle pocket
• Foam back panel
• Weight: 233 grams
• 100 cu. in. (1.364L) capacity
• MSRP: $59.99 USD
Two stretchy neoprene sleeves that are sized to fit a smartphone, a smaller mesh pocket, and a key clip are all located inside the right zippered pocket. The left zippered pocket has two smaller mesh sleeves that can easily hold tire levers, a multi-tool, or similarly sized items. MSRP: $59.99. Performance
I'm a big fan of hip packs, especially for rides that are under three hours, and with a little bit of creativity, I've been able to go on even longer rides sans-backpack. Yes, I know there are still riders out there who see wearing one as an inexcusable fashion faux pas, but I wouldn't have started mountain biking if looking cool was my number one priority.
When the Rapid Pack first arrived it didn't immediately capture my attention. It seemed a little flimsy, and when I grabbed onto the pull tab to open the water bottle holster the tab came off in my hand. In other words, not the most promising start. But then I started using it, and now, after over eight months of regular usage, I'd say that it's hands-down the most comfortable hip pack that I've found so far, even when carrying a full water bottle.
The Rapid Pack's shape helps spread out the load, allowing it to wrap comfortably around my back rather than sticking out in one misshapen lump. I usually adjust the waist belt a couple times at the beginning of a ride to fine-tune the fit, but after that, it's rare that I'll need to think about it at all. Tools and water are easily accessed by rotating the pack forwards, and all of the pockets help keep any unwanted rattling at bay. It is possible to pull a water bottle out on the fly, but returning it into its pouch is a little trickier – it's not something that you'd want to try while riding anything remotely technical.
I typically strap a tube to the frame of whatever bike I'm on, and then carry a mini-pump, multi-tool, tire levers, tire plugs, zip ties, and my phone in the pack. If you don't need to carry a water bottle on your back, that central holster can also be used to hold a windbreaker or a light rain jacket in case of a change inclement weather. On the topic of weather, the Rapid Pack isn't waterproof, but its shape is low profile enough that it's easy enough to tuck it under a rain jacket or a jersey. If it does get saturated, the fabric is very quick drying, and even after big rides in the pouring rain I was able to hang it up and it would air dry overnight.
The detaching pull tab that occurred early on was the only durability issue I ran into – other than that the pack has exceeded my expectations, especially for how light the fabric is. It's now sporting a few permanent mud stains, and the fabric on the back panel has pilled up in a couple of spots, but those are acceptable signs of wear considering the number of rides it's been on. Pinkbike's Take