Rocking the Tracer 12 on the amazing trails of Thunder Mountain, Utah
Vaude, a family owned business in the Lake Constance region of Germany who have been making quality outdoor gear since 1974, was started, as most outdoor companies, by a young mountaineer passionate about his sport and the products required to allow him to accomplish his dreams - Albrecht von Dewitz. The company is named after his initials and pronounced in German as "fau' day". Vaude makes a variety of bike specific hydration packs, the new All Mountain Tracer 12 is reviewed here. The Tracer is available in four different sizes with volumes of 12, 16, 20 and 28 liters.
There are five main compartments and smaller pockets to store your stuff
Design and Construction:
- Outer Helmet carry - with unique fastening system
- Zipped felted eyeglass compartment
- Water compartment
- Inner compartment
- Main tool compartment with additional zipped pockets
-Dimensions: 46.0 x 27.0 x 13.0 cm
-1250 grams or 2.7 lbs
The backside of the Tracer 12
The Tracer 12 has a lot going on:
-Colors are lemon/pine or black for 12 and 16 liter packs, black and pine/lemon for 20 and 28 liter packs
-Composed of 600 D (Denier) Polyester Polyurethane coated fabric - durable, abrasion, scuff and tear resistant, will not rot or mildew
-Two smaller side open pockets for easy access and one hip belt pocket
-Large adjustability of the hip belt with belt buckles that only connect when joining pieces face the same way for added strength and security
-Ergo Fit feature is a moveable hip belt which allows for height adjustments of the pack from medium to extra large
-Chest strap can move along the length of the shoulder straps so you can move the strap up and down your chest for comfort
-Unique hook to close helmet carry pocket. This strap also functions as a pack compression strap
-Integrated rain cover in bottom pocket of pack
-Ergo Vent Suspension System consists of two air permeable foam elements designed to lie against the back, running along the left and right side of the spine
-Reflective strip on back and one side of hip belt
-Attachment for safety light
-Reservoir capacity - 100 oz (3 L)
-All the zippers have an extra piece of material to help you grab the zipper. The inner compartment zipper tags even has a snap so you can snap the zippers closed
-$109 USD msrp.
Hooks to secure helmet carrier to the rest of the pack
The Vaude pack is complicated to look at initially. With the many pockets and straps it takes some time to figure it all out, but once you do it all makes sense and becomes a nice tight package. The water compartment is further to the rear of the pack and it zips open and the water bladder goes into a sleeve in the back. This leaves a separate space in the back for more jackets or other things. The inner compartment in the front has a zippered flap opening and the overall capacity of the pack is shared between these two spaces. Keep in mind that over filling one compartment will limit usable space in the other - pack smart! On top of the inner compartment is a smaller, fleeced zippered pouch where I put my glasses, GPS, and other valuable items I may need access to during a ride. The front of the pack sports a separate tool compartment that has inner mesh pockets to store your keys or phone securely, as well as your tools. I did find my shock pump was too long to fit in this pocket and had to be stored in the inner compartment. The Tracer 12's front helmet flap can also hold a jacket for easy access when the weather turns for the worse. This flap is attached to the main pack with two hooks on either side - a unique mechanism we don't often see in North American where clasps are often used. This system was quick and easy to use and far more robust than plastic clasps. I found that the two side pockets are great for storing food or other smaller items you would need quick access to. The rain cover, located in yet another zippered pocket at the bottom of the pack, is a very bright and visible orange. This isn't unique to the Tracer, but it is a great addition for riding in wet or dark areas such as North Vancouver, B.C. The pack's hip belt can be removed or adjusted to be a shorter medium length to longer XL.
Riding in the Utah desert
Fully loaded with water and the gear that I like to carry brought the pack up to 10lbs, but keep in mind that this will vary greatly depending on what you stuff it with. Fitting the Tracer 12 was quick, the straps were easy to adjust to ensure that the pack sat quietly on my back. Although the photo's show the pack quite high on my back, it really didn't feel that way when riding. This could be due to the thick sturdy hip belt and Ergo vent pads helping to distribute the weight of the pack. On top of being quite comfortable overall, the Tracer's ventilation did its job wonderfully. My back never seemed to get overly hot during rides. I'll admit that the dayglo lemon and pine color won't be for everyone, but it provides great visibility when in the bush - how many of you ride during the hunting season? On more technical trails where I was moving around more aggressively the chest strap was essential to keep the pack still and in place on my back, but when adjusted correctly the Tracer stayed put admirably.
The Tracer 12 carries enough spare clothes for snowy rides
Accessing the pack during rides was easy, so long as I remembered which compartment I put whatever it was that I needed. I never felt lacking for space, even in cold weather riding when I would take extra gloves, jersey and extra jackets in case it got colder or rained. Getting to the water compartment required you to unhook the helmet carry to completely unzip, but you can access the inner compartment with the helmet carry hooks hooked. The Cordura-type material picks up dirt quite easily or is more noticeable on the bright colored pack. I spent some time in the rain while wearing the Tracer to see if it would absorb water, but it shed H2o quite well and didn't get any wetter than other packs would have in similar conditions. In other words, you shouldn't find yourself waterlogged when putting in the miles on B.C.'s "wet" coast. One drawback that made itself apparent is the lack of a water hose clamp on the shoulder strap. I had to put the water hose into one of the chest strap loops to keep it accessible and in the front of the pack, otherwise it was free to do as it pleased. This limited the amount I could move the chest strap clip down, since this would make it harder to drink from the water hose.
You can check out Vaude's entire lineup on their website