Review: Aldr Works Pika Hip Pack

Dec 14, 2022 at 14:29
by Dario D  

There's a sea of choices when it comes to riding packs these days, with options ranging from some great big-name brands to the many local bagmakers creating excellent purpose-built packs to suit your needs and style. Today I'm highlighting the latter, digging into a well-designed pack from the Bellingham, Washington, based Aldr Works.

Aldr is just a one-to-two person operation, but they were confident enough to let me thrash their little bag through a classically wet Bellingham fall. With a lineup that mostly focuses on gravel and bikepacking bikes, the Pika is Aldr's first foray into mountain bike kit - let's see how it shook out.
Aldr Works Pika Pack
• Made in Bellingham, WA
• Fidlock closure
• X-Pac fabric
• 2L-3.5L volume
• 5 colors
• Weight: 250 grams
• MSRP: $110 USD
• Contact: www.aldrworks.com

Bucket with a belt.
Mesh panel to keep you comfy.

Features & Construction

The 2-3 liter rolltop body of the Pika pack is typically made from X-50 X-PAC, which is known for its lightweight, waterproof, and durable qualities. This example is built with a duck camo Cordura, which has similar properties but weighs a bit more and is more abrasion resistant - all of Aldr's bags are made in limited runs, so fabrics like this come and go. Keep an eye on their Instagram for a head's up on production.

Inside that tough exterior shell, you have a nylon drop liner, which can be fully turned inside-out for cleaning. The back panel has a spacer mesh construction that should allow air to pass through to your back, preventing the hotspot sensation that can often occur with a bag like this. There is one large compartment that rolls open, with an elastic shock cord and Fidlock clasp to hold everything together.

Aldr is quick to point out that the Pika isn't necessarily submersible, with this qualifier: "Although these bags are made with highly water resistant material and are built with integrity, they are not fully waterproof like a dry bag. Important items should be given additional protections (dry bag, garbage bag, zip lock etc) to ensure total dryness on those downpour days!"

The hip belt is nice and simple, with a standard plastic adjuster buckle and a 1.5" wide belt. Velcro straps have been sewn to the end of the webbing, which allows you to roll the excess up into a neat package, keeping things from flapping around. There is one internal divider, simply a flat panel to hold smaller objects closer to your body and keep them from jangling around in the main compartment. One nice detail is the rigid plastic inserts used at the mouth of the rolltop, which keep the opening more splayed when you want to get into the bag, and also make for a cleaner roll when you're closing things down.


Nice details on a simple pack.

Trail Report

For the longest time, my favorite hip pack was a little zip-up number I bought at a convenience store in Japan. Far from high-tech performance, and generally pretty beat, but it is small and it stays in place while I bounce down trail. This little Pika pack is the perfect spiritual successor to that old pack, but honestly it's better in every way. At this point I've used a whole fleet of different hip pack options, and I tend to prefer those that are simple and foolproof. No zippers, no superfluous pockets, no faff. The Pika meets all those requirements handily, and manages to sit better on-body than far more "ergonomically designed" packs I've tried in the past.

Had to add a personal touch.
Developing a nice patina, but no signs of wear.

Even when crammed to capacity or weighed down with dense items, the Pika doesn't shift around my hips, doesn't bounce around, and stays tightly cinched. For me, all other function follows suit, so luckily this pack passes the initial test with flying colors. In terms of waterproofness, despite Aldr's warning about this not being a full-on drybag, I have had zero issues with water ingress, even over the course of some very long rainy rides, where the outside of the pack was soaked - the contents were as dry as can be.

I've used the pack to lug around some clunky items, like a full-frame camera, some beers, and even my full size Silky Big Boy, but it handles everything quite comfortably. To load the Big Boy, I simply rolled the saw into the top flap as I was closing the bag, and the shock cord kept everything nice and tight. Generally, I'm stuffing a jacket, some spare dry gloves, a multitool, and a Dynaplug tool into the pack, with room to spare. I know some folks swear by carrying a second bottle on their hip pack, but I've never been a fan of that method, as it always seems to jostle around, or leak onto my back as I'm riding. If anything I prefer to just pack a little water filter, but that's location-dependent for those of you in drier climes. If I do need to bring a second bottle, I just stick one of these Vapur soft bottles in the pack and fill up my bike bottle when need be.

The durability of the Pika pack has been nothing short of excellent, with the perfect stitching holding up very well to my abuse, and the fabric showing no signs of wear, aside from the customary smear of dirt. If the shock cord is ever to give out, it's easily replaceable and available at any outdoors store. Everything else should last a lifetime, especially given the lack of moving parts. The Fidlock closure is quite simple, and even though it's very easy to open when you want to, I've never had it accidentally open on me, despite a few crashes and pushes through heavy brush.

Simple and effective hip belt.
Just knot off some new shock cord and you're good to go.




Pros
+ Handmade from high quality materials
+ Stays put while riding
+ Ideal volume for most rides
+ Durable and easy to use
Cons
- Stock goes quickly on limited runs
- May lack organization for some users
- Expensive, but made in USA





Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesWith a very high quality construction, and simple features that work well on trail, the Aldr Pika hip pack has quickly become the one I grab when leaving home, regardless of the ride length and weather. With cool fabrics and local small-scale manufacturing, there should be an option for everyone. It may lack some organization for those who desire such a thing, but for me the size, simplicity, and durability are exactly what I hoped for. Dario DiGiulio






124 Comments

  • 71 10
 110UDS for a fanny pack, what a time to be alive!!!
  • 30 0
 Bellingham, Wa is an expensive place to live.
  • 53 16
 Well, if you think it’s expensive go buy the materials and handmake one for yourself.
  • 18 8
 i'll stick to my camo dollar store 5 dollar fanny thanks
  • 36 5
 @kwl1: I want my fanny packs made by people who have to pay for healthcare
  • 14 2
 It’s crazy that Rapha is now the budget brand.
  • 13 0
 @madmon: 5USD for a fanny pack from the dollar store, what a time to be alive!!!
  • 35 7
 @browner: People are far too used to buying cheap things but don’t factor in the human and environmental costs of said cheap things. $110 for a hip pack that is handmade isn’t all that crazy. Especially when you compare it to the mass produced ones. I would rather spend a bit more and have the ability to speak to the maker directly.
  • 11 0
 s a purse
  • 7 19
flag likeittacky (Dec 22, 2022 at 12:29) (Below Threshold)
 Stop calling Hip packs Fanny packs PLEASE, It's so weird!
  • 12 1
 @kwl1: Why do you need to speak to the person that made your hip pack?
  • 2 1
 @kwl1: Also, how long will this one last? You pay for quality and durability too.
  • 15 7
 @kwl1: there is a massive environmental and human cost to manufacturing things in the USA. As I say they don't have universal healthcare nor benefits, and the average footprint of any worker is way higher than most manufacturing countries
  • 14 3
 @kwl1: Made in Bellingham by illegal workers with chinese materials.
  • 5 2
 @tbubier: Well, maybe I have a question about getting a zipper or buckle upgrade. Or maybe I want a custom add on. There’s lots of reasons why I like to talk to owners of small companies where I am buying products from. Don’t you ever ask questions about products you buy?
  • 9 3
 @browner: So don’t buy American because they don’t have universal health care? That’s a pretty weak argument for buying a handmade product from a 2 person business.
  • 11 2
 @kwl1: sorry , no offense but how about

If you think it's expensive, go to your local outdoor coop and buy a Patagonia version for under 35$
They'll repair it, and they invest in well managed environmental projects.
It doesn't have to be all or nothing, we don't have to weave the fabric ourselves.
  • 3 1
 That’s what materials and labor cost in the United States. I know the margins aren’t anymore than some mass produced from larger brands.
  • 6 0
 @likeittacky: would you prefer fupa pouch?
  • 1 1
 @5afety3rd: Id say no and have no desire to know its etymology either.
  • 3 3
 @browner: Meant to upvote, but missed the mark lol. C'mon PB give us the option to change upvotes and downvotes.
  • 4 6
 @kwl1: There is a comedy to comment.
Firstly a Dakine hotlaps 2l is £25. Nothing more needed.
Secondly, about making it yourself….. for that money I am in the ball park of buying a sewing machine at Hobby Craft and then the materials. Not claiming high quality buy I can make many more improving as I go.
  • 3 3
 @kwl1: nope, and I don’t tell chefs to make my meal without onions, or the mechanic how to jet the carb.
  • 2 7
flag JUni101 (Dec 22, 2022 at 21:32) (Below Threshold)
 @ilovedust: But, can you improving your English?
  • 5 0
 @likeittacky: Butt-Bags, Crack-Packs... Take your pick.
  • 6 1
 @kwl1: I am pretty sure that the busy owners of a small company “love” talking to customers that want to make “off menu” changes to their designs. They are so lucky to have you talk to them!
  • 3 0
 $6 pack eggs my friend.
  • 1 0
 @DJ-24 lol. Not even close bud
  • 1 0
 @likeittacky: we call them bumbags over here...
  • 1 0
 @everythingsucks: Inflation, should be called $5 store!
In a even crazier story, check out the 4000+ page US financial budget report?
  • 2 1
 @kwl1: the thinking is, I didn't pay that much more for my Osprey hip pack that came with two water bottles, much more organizational features and comes with a lifetime warranty from a major reputable brand.
These aren't my thing and are definitely niche but I wouldn't knock anyone for their choices.
  • 3 1
 @likeittacky: u wot mate? Don't want your fanny packed inn't
  • 1 3
 @Dagabba: Honestly that's way better than the gay sounding FP!
  • 1 0
 @st-lupo: waist pack or better yet bumbag as the call them in UK which i think is perfect.
  • 1 1
 @likeittacky: I prefer pussypack.
  • 1 1
 @lifeofloon: Yep, the Osprey Savu is the play. Works great and will also forever. Currently 45 dollars from Osprey.com
  • 36 8
 If you complain about the price, you lost the right to complain that everything is made overseas.
  • 6 2
 Lol, for real
  • 21 5
 Guys look over here I found this comment section's rich folk!

Just lookup "Made in USA Hip Pack" to find an uncountable number of cheaper hip packs. Lone Peak, Diamond Brand, Tough Traveler, Topo Designs, Seal Line, R.E.Load, to name a few brands you might encounter. Half of them have more features than this sack with straps attached, most even have *gasp* compartments!

It's good to buy domestic stuff, and it doesn't have to be overpriced.
  • 6 3
 @ryanandrewrogers: It's not really over priced for what it is. The brands you mention are all made in factories in the USA, the brand above is made by one person most likely out of their home.

You can complain all you want about the price but at the end of the day the product may not be for you. No reason to get your knickers in a knot about it.

The person who runs this brand has to pay for all the machines and materials a factory would have plus needs to pay themselves a living wage. I imagine for them to charge any less it wouldn't be worth their time to make it.
  • 8 3
 Ehh I think I can still complain about both actually
  • 2 0
 @Dunlopra: This is a person who understands that products do not grow on trees and many factors go into making everything we consume everyday.
  • 4 2
 @Dunlopra: If they had included a single unique feature (or in fact any features at all) the price could be more justifiable. Featureless, no mention of sustainability, same materials/construction as any other, no mention of lifetime warranty/repairs. Perhaps it wasn't worth their time to make it, because it isn't worth anyone's money to buy it.

@NuckaMan: This product is inconsiderate of certain important factors to us consumers, that is exactly my gripe.
  • 3 0
 @ryanandrewrogers: since they're sold out on the website I would say that you have no idea what the f*ck you're talking about.
  • 1 2
 @Dunlopra: People buy useless trendy shit that wasn't worth their money all the time. If you have more causal fallacies to spew I suggest running for a public office, you'll do great hun.
  • 2 1
 Ugly and pricey - way to go!
  • 2 0
 @Dunlopra: This is all true but to me it illustrates the choice between supporting a business of a hobbiest. Kind of reminds me of the candles my wife likes to buy at the farmers markets, they're way more then similar ones not made by hand by one person, but she feels good about buying them. I'm more in the middle, appreciate boutique crafts, but am always value and function minded first...I rock an Ospery and appreciate the pockets, but this one does look cooler!
  • 26 4
 A picture of it being worn would add a lot for size context. Also the link is broken.
  • 6 0
 Does this pack make my fanny look big?
  • 1 1
 Agree
  • 3 4
 Probably too embarrassed to shown the fanny pack, especially for that price!
  • 15 1
 Fun fact, a pika is a medium size rodent much like a marmot and was the inspiration for Pikachu. Pikas can been seen at the Whistler Bike Park, they are shy so you have sneak up on them.
  • 25 1
 Pikas are very dangerous and aggressive, accounting for thousands of maulings per year at Whistler alone - many involving severe injuries. They’re known to chase you down the trail, reaching speeds upwards of 40mph, or drop on your face from the trees, causing you to crash so they can feed you to their young. DO NOT SNEAK UP ON PIKAS.
  • 13 1
 @idecic: pika dropped on me while I was hiking once. My sweet dog was able to fight it off but lost her life in the process. Don’t disrespect pikas.
  • 10 2
 @olafthemoose: Dude, I’m sorry to hear that. Did that little f*cker get her with its electricity?
  • 6 1
 @idecic: Pikas here in Canada are friendly. So, please leave your firearms at home when you come visit.
  • 4 0
 I see them a lot here in colorado
  • 3 0
 Only up high though in like rmnp and areas like that
  • 7 1
 @CSharp: if you come across a human size pika beware that it’s actually a furry.
  • 3 2
 You're like that person who finds something out for the first time and has to run round telling everyone even though they all knew it already.
  • 3 0
 @olafthemoose: mine needed a new Charger damper
  • 2 0
 Pikas are not rodents. Pikas are cousins of rabbits. Much cuter.
  • 1 0
 @lookseasyfromhere: this is correct. I saw a black and white pika, damn he was impossibly cute, like a little panda.
  • 16 1
 No pics of it on someone? Would be nice.
  • 12 0
 Missing con, Camo pattern hard to find on trailside when you happen to forget where you put it down.
  • 5 0
 It's there to hide the big fat arse.
  • 2 0
 On the other hand, the camo works as a pro in that no one will see the giant fanny pack you're wearing.
  • 3 0
 This seems like a unique option for the rider who wants to be different and buy hand-made and locally, but without compartments or the ability to carry a water bladder/bottle, I would be hard-pressed to buy this over very well-known, tested, and cheaper competitors.
  • 3 0
 I'll gladly pay more and go out of my way to buy locally or from businesses with excellent working conditions. My last bike has a frame made in Peru, brakes from Italy, suspension from the USA, rims made in Canada and tires made in Germany. My winter boots are hand made in Montreal. Tools are mostly made in Japan.

110$ for a fanny pack is crazy though.
  • 1 2
 Are you Japanese ?
  • 9 3
 So it's a sack? That you wear on your waist? Ok.
  • 70 5
 Yes. Similar to how some companies make shoes that you wear on your feet. But different.
  • 3 0
 @mikekazimer: aah that makes total sense now.
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer: Even foot sacks need to apply particularly to mtb in some way shape or form to be good though.
  • 1 0
 You can probably wear it like a loin cloth Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @CSharp: wear it like a thong
  • 2 0
 The pandemic has given us a lot of new bag makers, Aldr, San Util, etc. A neighbor/friend took up sewing over the pandemic and now makes some really nice bags as well, www.instagram.com/evergreenthreadworks, among other wares
  • 1 0
 Except this brand isn’t new and didn’t start during the last pandemic.
  • 1 0
 @bubbrubb: ok, just assumed they were a new brand.
  • 1 0
 @chacou: nope. A few years back they did a brand change, I have a belt-hung pouch for felling wedges and a saw tool from them, it’s incredible quality.
  • 2 0
 Oveja Negra Royale remains my preferred hip pack in this category do to it’s simple roll top closure, adjustability in carrying capacity and that way it stabilizes weight.

www.ovejanegrabikepacking.com/products/royale-hip-pack
  • 3 0
 Had a full frame bag built by him when we lived down the street from me. Great bag. Tried to find a way to keep it even though I sold the bike. Would recommend any of his products.
  • 4 0
 When do we schedule an ALDR vs High Above PPV to determine the champion of Bellingham made biking bags?
  • 3 0
 High above having the different buckle options, and fidlock bottle options is a big selling point for me
  • 2 0
 I have both. The high above is not my cup of tea. For its size and weight it holds deceptively little. As a self described bag whore, my high above collects dust on the shelf save for a XC ski here and there.
  • 2 0
 @bubbrubb: Seems you should change your handle to "Fanny Packwhore"?
  • 3 0
 Brandon (owner/designer/seamster) worked with my company during Covid helping us sew medical gowns. Really great guy, owns an even greater Frankenstein 80’s Toyota pick-up.
  • 5 1
 Wallmart buyers are the problem with the world. Pay more buy local support local family community.
  • 1 1
 Unfortunately some people can’t afford nice things so ….
  • 1 0
 Have an eagle industry USMC Issue Coyote MOLLE Dump Pouch that does just as this does, super tough
and being surplus only cost £25, fit a carry strap or mod for handle bar,
plus its adaptable to carry on pack, belt, shoulder carry, drop leg or even as a nice hand bag : )
  • 5 1
 I don’t see a pack in the photos!?
  • 3 2
 He's making a joke about how he's blind
  • 2 3
 @browner: it’s a joke about how you can’t see the pack because the camouflage pattern is so effective
  • 6 1
 @kingbike2: I'll write whoosh, but I'll write it in camouflage letters
  • 2 0
 @browner: haha that was pretty funny - underplayed, love it - shame the kids didnt get it
  • 2 0
 Probably would have been smart to time the release of this review with actually having available stock...
  • 6 0
 Go to the high above website, they have similar packs made in Bellingham.
  • 3 0
 Looks awesome! Way to go.
  • 9 7
 Seriously - anybody here actually spend $100+ USD on a funny pack? If so I got some stuff to sell to ya
  • 6 4
 Is it made in a high-income country with quality materials?
  • 1 1
 I will pay more for a product that is handmade by people making a GOOD living wage and can support themselves and family to a higher standard. Rather than save money myself all to support companies who make stuff overseas and their employees “might” survive barely on their own.
  • 2 0
 You might want to consider that there are other companies making similar product in North America for much less, Upcycle, LonePeak, Tough traveler come to mind . I'm all for supporting good wages and benefits but $100+ hip pack isn't reasonable
  • 3 1
 @artistformlyknowasdan: I won’t argue with you there. Reasonability is all subjective and I respect that.
Personally, $110 for something that I would “plan” on keeping till it breaks is reasonable to me considering that I don’t replace things till they’re beyond repair.
And I’m personally big into the idea of supporting people to have a better lifestyle for themselves. But if there are other companies charging less and still providing good quality of life to themselves and their employees that’s awesome!
  • 3 2
 @enduromanetti: how do you monitor the treatment of the employees at all the companies you buy from? Seems time consuming to audit their HR practices, ensure that they have sufficient PTO and sick leave, sufficient wages adjusted for their zip code, healthy working conditions, work/life balance, etc. And how far back in the supply chain do you take that?
  • 1 0
 @Hayek: I mean honestly I do try to spend time to look at the business practices and at least get some insight of the materials, working conditions and country of origin of the clothing I buy predominantly. I try to do it in other areas like sustainably sourced food and what not but truthfully it takes no more time for me to Google “X Brand ethics/sustainability/country of origin” as it does for the normal person to watch a football game or something. Nothing against those who do that either. Just saying I prefer to atleast know where my stuff is from.
  • 1 0
 The diff between a fanny pack and a hip pack is it’s utility and applicability to mtb specifically, which this lacks when compared to say, a Dakine Hotlaps.
  • 1 0
 I may be talking out of my arse here, but I wonder if making the little handle point up so it's not digging into your back might lead to a slight comfort benefit.
  • 1 0
 I can’t imagine carrying a full frame camera (with a lens attached, presumably) in a fanny pack. Why do you hate backpacks so much?
  • 2 0
 Where did the patch come from?
  • 2 0
 Let me google that for you:https://www.strikegently.co/products/eat-moss-forget-language-patch
  • 3 0
 Patch is my highlight
  • 2 0
 think i saw these at Anthropologie
  • 1 0
 If you are interested in other handmade bags bikepacking.com has a good article listing a bunch in one spot.
  • 1 0
 FYI, There’s some hip packs on sale at backcountry right now for like 30-40 bucks
  • 1 0
 Where do you store the extra long straw though? Stopping, removing, opening and pouring, seems inefficient
  • 1 0
 Is this like Chevy vs gmc? I have one that looks very similar…
  • 1 0
 this ad makes me want to buy ferns
  • 1 0
 Needs some bottle holders
  • 1 0
 Dario your pawg is impressive Smile
  • 3 2
 How much does a company pay to post a "review" on pb?
  • 2 1
 Hand made from crude oil & other chemicals?
  • 1 0
 If it had a cup holder I'd take one in black.
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