I enjoy collecting outdoor gear and am constantly on the hunt for products which are lighter, more durable, and have a more functional design. As regular readers know, I also have a few favorite products which consistently work well. Source Outdoor has risen to “favorite brand” status for me due to their amazing hydration bladders. The company has developed a number of great hydration packs entered the water sports market earlier this year.
I routinely use a Source Widepac with my Vaikobi PFD when paddling. There are also times when a backpack style hydration pack is applicable and I elected to try out Source’s new Verve hydration pack.
The Verve comes with Source’s 2L Widepac low profile hydration bladder, complete with a durable nylon woven drink tube to provide UV protection. One of the many great features of the Widepac is the low profile design stops water from sloshing around and shifting the weight from side to side.
The hydration pack incorporates Source’s unique “X-Fit” design in the shoulder straps. The design allows the straps to adjust to the natural paddling motion of your body and do not restrict or inhibit your range of motion. The shoulder straps are also designed with a longer than normal length to allow users to wear the pack on top of a life vest. In doing so, Source integrated elastic bands into the straps for easily rolling up the excess strap without contributing additional bulk. Dubbed the “No Flap Straps” system, the elastic bands completely eliminate loose strap ends.
The entire pack has a low profile design with a large grab handle on the top for transport or hanging up after use. There is also a paddle holder bungee and a small zipper pocket on the left and right side, respectively, in addition to an external mesh pocket and bungee system on the back.
Pros and cons
I tested the hydration pack padding SUP and outrigger and found it was incredibly comfortable to wear while paddling. I even wore it during a few high intensity OC-6 practices and had no issues with the comfort of the pack, quickly forgetting it was even there. Simply put, the “X-Fit” strap design exceeded my expectations.
Great magnet on the hydration tube!
Another great feature is the magnet on the hydration tube. There are other packs on the market which utilize a magnet to hold the hydration tube, but the magnet on the Verve is far and away superior. Source’s magnet is stronger, larger and slightly recessed. Together, these three attributes allow the magnet to actually work where most others fail.
The Verve is Source Outdoor’s first foray into designing a hydration pack for water sports, and while some aspects of the pack work extremely well, other areas could be improved upon to take the Verve from good to great.
Based on my testing in multiple paddle craft, I found the paddle holder and small zipper pocket along the sides were both awkward, if not impossible to use without taking off the pack. The paddle holder idea may sound nice, but it really isn’t practical nor necessary. Similarly, the small zipper pocket is out of reach and barely large enough to hold a standard size tube of lip moisturizer. To improve the design, I would do away with the paddle holder and relocate the small pocket to the front of the pack – perhaps on one of the shoulder or sternum straps.
Similarly, the mesh pocket on the back is awkward to use. Since it is on the back, taking off the pack is a necessity. That is fine. The awkwardness arises from the stiff mesh construction. As a result, the mesh inhibited placing and removing items from the pocket. To improve the rear mesh pocket, I recommend using a stretchy mesh material to allow the pocket to slightly expand when holding items.
If the Source designers are able and willing to make a few small adjustments, I think the Verve hydration pack can quickly ascend the ladder from good to great within Source’s amazing product line.
Learn more at: www.sourceoutdoor.com