Henty is a no-nonsense company from Tasmania that makes a range of durable, travel-based soft-goods. Their Enduro Backpack is a hybrid that mates the comfort of a hip pack with the stabilizing effects of a conventional-style hydration pack's shoulder straps. It's not high fashion, but it ticks the boxes for storage capacity, durability, and comfort for riders who need to carry essentials that can't easily be stuffed into cargo bib-shorts - like cold-weather layers, photo gear, or a three-liter water bladder.
Henty's Enduro backpack stores up to five liters, and it has a lumbar protector sewn into its wide hip belt. The hydration compartment can easily fit three-liter
Enduro Backpack Details:
• Purpose: Enduro racing, adventure riding • 5 Liters total storage • Easy access mesh zip pockets, 2 side pockets, water-resistant internal zip pocket • 3 liter water storage zip (R&L hose exits) • Mesh back, padded shoulder straps • Weight: 550 grams • MSRP: $110 USD • Contact: Henty
bladders (not included), the zippers are high quality, and there are enough pockets, tie-points, and cargo loops designed into the pack to accommodate a light overnight adventure. The mesh back panel has a map pocket and the straps have loops to secure a hydration hose (right or left). Henty's Enduro Backpack is sold in black for $110 USD, or camo' for $130 USD.
Open the back flap to expose well-organized essentials behind mesh pockets. External elastic loops can secure mini-pumps or fly fishing rods.
Features and Performance
Henty builds their Enduro pack from 500 denier Cordura nylon fabric, which is ultra tough and long wearing. There are no separate slots inside the mesh pockets to organize tools or such, but the layout of the pack's back-flap cargo system keeps all of your essentials within sight, which is a good trade-off. the upper mesh pocket zips, while the lower two are stuff-pockets with elastic rims. The top-flap does not completely cover the contents, so mud and water can (and does) muck up exposed items, which seems short-sighted for an otherwise well-designed pack.
The main, zippered cargo area is intended to house a hydration bladder and hose ports are located on either side. That said, the 110-dollar pack arrives with bladder instructions, but no bladder. I used a Leatt hip-pack bladder, which is designed to operate horizontally, but Henty insists that as long as you bleed out any air trapped in the bag, any hydration bladder system will work fine. You can choose to carry bulky items there instead, and the cavernous pocket extends well into the hip belt, which is a useful feature. Smartphones and fragile items can be stowed in a water-resistant zip pocket tucked behind the bladder compartment, which proved to be a perfect hiding spot for my camera.
Henty's hybrid pack doesn't bounce, and it can be unbuckled to make adjustments or to access items without dropping down.
The wide hip-belt is padded with closed-cell foam that evenly distributes the weight of the pack onto the rider's hips without constricting the abdomen, and it is also advertised to offer impact protection. Additional versatility comes in the form of two quick-access zip pockets and additional cargo loops on the belt, which is secured with a single bayonet buckle.
This is the moment where Joey yells from the back of the classroom: "Isn't getting rid of shoulder straps the whole point of using a hip pack?"
The Burning Question:
This is the moment where Joey yells from the back of the classroom: "Isn't getting rid of shoulder straps the whole point of using a hip pack?" Aaaand, he'd be right. Getting rid of shoulder straps allows fans to read those logos your sponsors printed on your jersey (my home trails are often lined with spectators). Jokes aside, there are compelling reasons to carry essentials in a hip pack. Nixing the sweaty back, and enjoying the ventilation that a loose-fitting jersey affords are two of them.
Hip packs also have some negatives which come with the territory: They need to fit snugly around the waist, and the contents must be compressed. Otherwise, the pack (or its contents) bounce while you are rolling over bumpy terrain. A snug-fitting belt is not the best choice when you need to gulp every bit of air you can stuff into your lungs. And, a heavily loaded hip pack can be like having a beer belly on the wrong side of your body and a maraca stuck in your shorts.
The mesh back is a little warmer than nothing at all, but very breathable and comfortable.
Henty's Enduro Backpack trades style points (which hip-pack wearers have already eschewed) for function. Shoulder straps help stabilize the load, so you don't need to cinch the waist-belt much, which is an instant boost in comfort and performance. The pack's padded belt still lets the hips carry the weight, which leaves minimal tension on the shoulders. Henty's hybrid pack doesn't bounce much (if at all), and it can be unbuckled to make adjustments or to access items without dropping down. Overall, Henty's design is much easier to deal with, especially when it's loaded up.
What the Enduro Backpack can't do, however, is duplicate the airy feel of that unencumbered jersey. Riding with the Henty is super comfortable, but as light as the shoulder straps feel and as breathable as its mesh Y-back panel is, the trade-off for the pack's extra performance and stability is difficult to ignore. If you need the extra water capacity and storage, the Enduro Backpack is a far better option than wearing overstuffed cargo bibs or strapping on a heavy hip pack. If you always travel lightly, however, Henty's option may feel a little like the worst of both worlds.
Henty's Enduro Backpack offers the most comfortable way that I have found to carry two or three liters of water and your essential gear on a bicycle without cramping my riding style or comfort threshold. It's built like a tank, doesn't weigh much and offers little to complain about in its features. I'd like to see a full-coverage back flap and a hydration bag included in the price before I'd rate it ten out of ten. As is, Henty's hybrid hip pack is as good as it gets for riders who need a comfortable way to carry a useful load of gear.—RC