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. www.sourceoutdoor.com @SourceHydration
Materials and Construction
• 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
• 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
Lower padding, wide arm straps, and a wire frame help ensure a comfortable fit when fully loaded.
- 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.
Space for Gear
A lined pocket for glasses and most phone sizes.
- 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. 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. 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.
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. 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
|With 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|