Source Paragon Hydration Pack - Review

Nov 21, 2014 at 12:38
by Chris Johannes  
 Source Paragon Hydration Pack review

The Source name might not ring a bell at first, especially with those in North America, but the Israeli company has been making bags and travel gear since 1989. In fact, they even make hydration packs for the military. The Paragon pack that's reviewed below has been designed with mountain biking in mind rather than battle, though, and it features a number of clever design details that set it apart from other options out there, including a metal support frame that's designed to provide air flow and distribute the weight on your back to the hip flaps. The 25L Paragon comes with a 3L bladder, and retails for $150 USD. @SourceHydration

Paragon Specs

• Size: 25L (bladder: 3.0L)
• Dimensions: 20” x 10” wide x 8” deep
• Material: lightweight rip-stop 70D Nylon
• Weight: 960g / 2.1 lbs (w/o bladder)
• Colours: orange and black, black and red, dark blue and green
• MSRP: $150 USD

Bag Features

• Helix™ bite valve - round design valve with safety shutoff mode
• Tube comes with our special UV protection thread cover
• Carrying handle
• Music player pocket
• Insulated hydration compartment
• Padded shoulder straps
• Adjustable sternum belt with integrated whistle
• Docking station
• Lightweight buckles
• Hard frame and mesh back system for maximum ventilation
• Elastic helmet holder
• Elastic strap retainers
• Side mesh pockets
• Detachable waist belt
• High visibility reflective stripes
• Reflective LED tab holder
• Essentials compartment with internal Storeganizer™
• Widepac 3L bladder

 Source Paragon Hydration Pack review
Lower padding, wide arm straps, and a wire frame help ensure a comfortable fit when fully loaded.

Materials and Construction - The Paragon is mostly made from a lightweight rip-stop 70D Nylon fabric, and the stitching and construction appear to be of good quality. Both the upper and lower support pads, as well as the 3'' wide straps, use a soft mesh fabric where they might contact the skin, while the center of the back section is made with a stiffer and more durable looking mesh. Weather resistant zippers, complete with loop-style grab tabs, are double stitched into place, with the exception being the internal and rain cover pockets. Black 0.75'' webbing is used throughout, and bar-tack stitching has been done at a few critical points to enhance durability over the long haul. The buckles feel lightweight rather than robust, although that's likely a trivial thing to point out, and there's an integrated whistle for those times you need to call a time-out or let searchers know where you're at. An insulated bladder compartment helps to keep your drink cool on warm days as well. The Paragon also has a carrying handle, well placed reflective strips, rear flasher mount, and subtle branding logos.

 Source Paragon Hydration Pack review
A lot of space for air flow.
 Source Paragon Hydration Pack review
No digging for tools.
 Source Paragon Hydration Pack review
A lined pocket for glasses and most phone sizes.

Space for Gear - The Paragon sports a number of different places to store pretty much anything that you'd want to bring with you on a ride. This includes the bladder compartment, one large and one medium sized compartment with internal zippered pockets, and an apron style pocket for smaller items. There's also a small 6" x 5" (15 x 13 cm) soft-lined zippered pocket located on top, two 9” x 7” (23 x 18 cm) external side mesh pockets that are in-line with the single compression strap, and two more 'fast access' mesh pockets on the hip belt. Commuters will be stoked to see an external pouch that can fit a standard sized U-lock, while there are also four clip-detachable elastic helmet holders that should work well for open-face lids. Source also sells a Whistler 20L model which may be better suited for those you often carry larger armour on the climbs.

 Source Paragon Hydration Pack review
Lightweight fabric and buckles.
 Source Paragon Hydration Pack review
Double stitching for the main zippers.
 Source Paragon Hydration Pack review
Fast access side pockets.
 Source Paragon Hydration Pack review
Adjustable chest strap and a buckle with integrated whistle.

Frame Support - This Paragon features a flexible metal support frame that is designed to provide air flow and distribute the weight on your back to the hip flaps and the rider’s center of gravity. It can be removed through an opening in the bladder compartment to allow the pack to be machine washed. The frame system also ensures that there is no possibility of lumps or tools poking the user in the back while riding.

 Source Paragon Hydration Pack review
A Velcro strap holds the bladder up.
 Source Paragon Hydration Pack review
The Helix valve performed well.

 Source Paragon Hydration Pack review

The Bladder - Source's Widepac bladder can hold up to three liters of fluid and employs an easy-to-close fold and slide system that made it a cinch to work with when full, and the company has a number of trade names (Taste Free, Grunge Guard, Glasslike) that refer to claims of a plastic-free taste and limiting the growth of microbial bacteria. It's also listed as being both BPA and Phthalate free, for those who note such things. The hose sports a 180° twist drinking valve with a soft bite nipple and can be routed through either side of the pack, but there's also a plastic docking station mounted to the arm strap that covers the drinking valve when not in use. Ever had giardiasis? You don't want it. The hose snaps into a quick-release coupling to initiate the flow. If the hose somehow releases from the bladder, the valve will close. A variety of replacement small parts, including both valves, are available on the Source website.

 Source Paragon Hydration Pack review
The Paragon isn't a small pack, especially when fully loaded.
 Source Paragon Hydration Pack review
Integrated rain cover helps keep gear dry, but tends to fit loose if the bag isn't packed at least half full.

Fit and Function - Once packed with tools, tubes, pump, jacket, food, and full bladder, the scale read 10kg (22lbs), which is likely more than most riders would head off into the bush with, but did give me an idea of how the Paragon would deal with a full load. The metal frame and lower support felt different and a bit stiff at first compared to other bags out there, but it was quite comfortable and supported the extra weight well once the chest and waist straps were setup. On the road and in singletrack it felt good overall, with no fit and function issues as ride time and distance increased. This was true even when talking about side-to-side stability - the Paragon did well not to roll on my back, something that pretty much every other bag is guilty of doing.

The number of compartments and space is almost excessive but makes this pack good for extreme weather and long epic rides. The rain cover came in handy, but fits best when the pack is at least half full. Hydrating is easy once the hose is positioned just right, and the 180° twist valve was easy to open, close, and drink from in all riding situations. The valve has good flow, which is important when you're bust suffering up a climb on a hot day, and there is no obvious unwanted dribble when it's not in your mouth.

 Source Paragon Hydration Pack review
Largest compartment for jackets, food, etc.
 Source Paragon Hydration Pack review
Small armour fits; detachable elastic helmet holder.

Issues - The docking station had one rider asking “user error?” It was a bit of a hassle to pull the valve out of the station with one hand or while riding. This was possibly due to its high location on the strap, suction caused by the bladder and hose, or smooth surfaces creating a seal. The problem was solved when the docking station separated from the plastic slider and launched into oblivion on the second ride with the bag. I also found that the two fast-access hip pockets could be more useful if made from a solid fabric, thereby giving riders fast access to music players or energy bars while still being protected from dirt and water.

The Paragon's bladder ended up slipping down in the bag as well, thanks to the 0.75'' wide Velcro strap that couldn't support its weight when full of fluid. I could actually feel the shift in weight on my back when this happened, but Source could easily remedy this with a longer piece of 1'' wide Velcro. And finally, I noticed that the single line of stitching that divides the main pocket of the Storeganizer, which will likely be the most highly used part of the bag, begin to show some signs of failure. Does anyone really need to trademark the term ‘Storeganizer'?

Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesWith a few foibles like the bladder slipping down and what looked to be the start of a stitching failure, the Paragon wasn't faultless. Having said that, its ability to remain both inconspicuous and stable on your back when fully loaded makes it worth considering, especially if you're looking for a bag for extreme weather, all-day epics, or find yourself being the ride leader who often ends up carrying extra gear. - Chris Johannes


  • + 24
 I'm glad I won one in the advent calendar and some other source hydration a packs! I'm lucky as!
  • + 25
 First person that I have seen to come out and say they won something. Congratz sir
  • + 8
 "soft bite nipple" hehe
  • + 1
 Thanks. And I'm from straya too so I though it was super impossible
  • + 2
 @gcmartini I won the bluegrass gloves
  • + 22
 I dunno, I mean 150 usd on a pack that started to show signs of coming apart on test - stop praising it, it should last loads longer than that.
  • + 3
 Yeah I've got a 12yr old camelback that cost about $70 and it's been through everything (including getting tossed in the washing machine 3-4 times a season) and it doesn't have a single seem coming apart. A lot of the newer stuff has cool features and are lighter but seems to be somewhat at the cost of durability.
  • + 2
 Right with you @h82crash, my current camelback is about 5 years old and aside for looking used still works perfectly, not a stitch or zipper out of place.
  • + 3
 Rain covers are dumb. Use a waterproof pack fabric and do away with expense and extra stitching and zippers and hunk of fabric. Narrow packs are kind of dumb too. This one stacks extra storage further away from your back which puts the weight too far out. Wide and flat is much more stable and more comfortable to wear.
  • + 2
 Yeah.... Or put things that need to be dry in waterproof bags... Like a phone, if you know it's gonna piss down... Had my dakine apex for 7yrs now. It's great. Hope never to part with it!
  • + 3
 over two pounds with nothing in it. it seems like this is a trend in the packs I have seen reviewed lately. Good for endure training I guess, but I could take my Vaude pack and add some rocks for nothing.
  • + 5
 Looks like a sweet pack. Reminds me of my osprey manta- perfect size, rain cover, great air flow over my back
  • + 1
 This does look good, however.... my Dakine Nomad from 2006 is still one of the best purchases I ever made. Lasted so many years and still barely showing any signs of wear. Dakine used massive construction on that thing. Now that's impressive and value for money. The original Dakine bladder wasn't nearly as good as Source's, therefore I replaced it with theirs and it's probably the best of both worlds. Really happy with this configuration. As a side note, I really wanted to get a Shuffle from Dakine, but they really screwed up the design this time.
  • + 1
 As someone who rides with a pack all year, it would be nice to see some reviews of my favorite packs, the Ergon packs with the unfortunately named 'FLink' shoulder strap mounting system. Best packs I've ever owned for disappearing while you ride. Comparably priced to other packs, but doesn't come with bladder so you're looking at a few dollars more. Worth every penny in my opinion. They've recently started making them again... after I scoured the interwebs for a year to buy up those I could find when they stopped production for a time.
  • + 2
 I had a source bladder and it broke a year an a half in Frown the part where the hose connected to the bladder split. I really liked the design though. The bag was easy to use and the nozzle was amazing.
  • + 6
 Good for very long trips
  • + 1
 I have one, but I didn't order it soon enough, so there was already snow here when it arrivedFrown
I also ordered on of these bite valve reels from MEC, seems like it may be a better idea than the magnetic style. (odd thing is, I just went to MEC webpage to get URL, cannot find it??)

**Started out with a Whistler, which I sent back, as when I loaded it up with all the trinkets I had in my old pack, it absolutely maxed out the Whistler. Everything fits in the Paragon, but compared to others, I think their rated cargo capacities may be slightly optimistic.

But both the Whistler & Paragon seem like nice peices of kit, I guess we will see how it fares come springSmile
  • + 1
 Source making great products! just bought another product of source - high quality, durable and comfortable. I Don't change a winning horse
  • + 1
 My camelbaks strap came off after its first three days of use. Been using a Shimano unzen since which has faired well but the strap system takes a bit of setting up.
  • + 1
 Is this BPA free hydration pack? Frown
  • + 1
 I'm using Source's Whistler pack for the past 5 yrs. It's just perfect
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